To watch the unfolding of an on-going tragedy in the warmth of one's home is one of the most uncomfortable senses of being that I have ever experienced, so far. The tragedy that is hitting Japan today is a sad moment.
Christchurch and the other earthquake incidents were one-off. There was the quake, and a few tremors. Or, there was the tsunami, and all was gone. But to watch the earthquake and then the tsunami and then the unsteadiness of the nuclear plants and to see crowds of people with nowhere to go, hungry, cold and lost, and then to see the plain devastation of an entire village and town where thousands used to live and are there no more, that scene in my mind is the most heart wretching.
I watched the unfolding drama with my Japanese friend and his wife. They had the nervous laughter, unable to show their sadness in front of their guests, and forever trying to play the perfect host and hostess. Their two boys and a girl are in Tokyo and in the initial hours they could not keep contact. Finally, they found one son walking home seven kilometres, the daughter squeezing in among friends in fear, and the youngest son could only responded: "What, OK!" They have a fallout with their youngest son and my friend concluded that the one consolation of this disaster is that he and his wife could at the very least have some form of communication with their son.
I said to my youngest sister who I discovered has already passed forty when we were watching the tragedy on TV that this is a tragedy only because of the insignificance of the lives of human beings. The earth is nothing but a ball of fire and the other layer has cooled to form a crust which is in a constant state of flux, like the skull. The movement is constant, but in human terms, this is what the engineers called a once in a hundred year event. Well, if a moment for the earth is a hundred years for humans, then our individual lives do not last more than one moment each, in global terms, and probably far less than in cosmic terms. We are like insects that are born in the morning and die by night fall. And what do we do in this shortness of time. We fight, we lie, we cheat, we become generally unhappy with ourselves and everybody else. How silly are we all!
So, there is no big deal to this former prime minister of our who has again distinguished himself by writing a book of lies to justify his wrongdoings, and calling everybody else names. I have find it extremely unpleasant for supposed educated young and old men and women to degrade themselves as intellectual by extreme forms of arguments when good manners should have prevailed. Instead of focusing on the subject matter, they would focus on character assassination and calling people names. Sticking labels on people is one the easiest and lowest forms of human communication and I can see now where our young people are getting their bad manners from. Economists, unfortunately, have become extremely ill-mannered ever since Keynes published The General Theory. He argued that in order to get his argument across and to break through a tough convention, he had to be rude - in his words, to "convict" his opponent. Since then, economists have acquired very bad manners in their talking and writing. I have learned this little thing from my Malay colleagues when I was working in a major bank. The executive director told me: "You might be clever, but you must make people accept you first." I am eternally gratefully to this person, who unfortunately had fallen into disgrace due to his lack of good judgement in his work. If you want to know why economists do not agree, it is because they are rude, no matter how brainy they may imagine themselves to be.
So, what about the economy? I have refrained from making any comments on the economy because I have already said what I have wanted to say about it. The global economy stands in ruin because of the reckless pumping of fiat money by the irresponsible Fed of the US. That extra money is being used to keep its economy by the propagation of war around the world. The mountain of extra printed money flooded rapidly through the financial centres around the world making arrogant stockbrokers and bankers. They lend recklessly to speculators on real estate and financial assets. The pumping of more money to prevent these asset markets from correction and downward adjustment is now being lauded as the saviour of the global economy because economists do not have any new ideas to solve this economic disaster. Any correction of the asset markets would be a political and human disaster. The global economy now swims afloat a sea of greenbacks trying to find dry land. If the stock markets are recovering, do not believe that the global economy is recovering; it is bad money looking for good avenues to surface. In the meantime, China suffers from its own success and the world suffers from the scarce resources that China has the money to buy.
We know from history that the great wars are started by massive inflation especially with respect to food so that whoever or whatever promises to put on the tables of hungry fathers and mothers and brothers and sisters, there is a revolution waiting to happen. China is not like the Middle East or the rest of the world, because China is communist and communists are supposed to live and die for the rakyat. China may yet find a narrow path out of the world of contending factions.