I recall the story of “The Frog in the Well” – its call is all confined to the walls of the well. It’s only in the still of night or early morning that its calls hit our ears but only faintly. The frog knows not the world outside nor the outside really knows of its existence. What can of the world is that it lives in?
The world is a troubled place as it is. Wars, riot & civil commotion raging everywhere. You simply don’t have time to stand & stare!For “Crying Out Loud” is the way to go to merit survival of the fittest.
People the world over are like frogs in the well. Be they living or existing in US, Greece, Portugal or MALAYSIA . . . all are bogged down in the quagmire of political-economic-social mess!
It’s democracy gone crazy. The rich & powerful dominate reaping the country & the world at large to satisfy their GREED. In Malaysia, the American media flagship CNN is replaced by CCN (Corruption, Croynism & Nepotism). This is where the ruling BN/UMNOputras bloom while the majority of the nationals including their own “sons of the soil” swoon!
Let’s refresh with a little poem of mine on “The Frog in the Well” . . .
DON’T be a frog in the well
It never know it’s living in hell
When it’s able to get out of the well
Then it knows it’s never so swell.
People who live an isolated life
Are confined & restricted in their sight
Such people are difficult & set in their ways
Nothing new & progressive can make them sway.
The story also typifies people with closed mind
They are like ancient miners in thee old coal mine
Alexander, after conquering many kingdoms, was returning home. On the way, he fell ill and it took him to his death bed. With death staring him in his face, Alexander realized how his conquests, his great army, his sharp sword and all his wealth were of no consequence.
He now longed to reach home to see his mother’s face and bid her his last adieu. But, he had to accept the fact that his sinking health would not permit Him to reach his distant homeland. So, the mighty conqueror lay prostrate and pale, helplessly waiting to breathe his last.
He called his generals and said, “I will depart from this world soon, I have three wishes, please carry out them out without fail.”
With tears flowing down their cheeks, the generals agreed to abide by their king’s last wishes.
“My first desire is that”, said Alexander, “My physicians alone must carry my coffin.”
After a pause, he continued, “Secondly, I desire that when my coffin is being carried to the grave, the path leading to the graveyard be strewn with gold, silver and precious stones which I have collected in my treasury”.
The king felt exhausted after saying this. He took a minute’s rest and continued. “My third and last wish is that both my hands be kept dangling out of my coffin”.
The people who had gathered there wondered at the king’s strange wishes. But no one dared bring the question to their lips.. Alexander’s favorite general kissed his hand and pressed them to his heart. “O king, we assure you that your wishes will all be fulfilled. But tell us why do you make such strange wishes?”
At this Alexander took a deep breath and said: “I would like the world to know of the three lessons I have just learnt.
Lessons to learn from last 3 wishes of King Alexander…
I want my physicians to carry my coffin because people should realize that no doctor can really cure any body. They are powerless and cannot save a person from the clutches of death. So let not people take life for granted.
The second wish of strewing gold, silver and other riches on the way to the graveyard is to tell People that not even a fraction of gold will come with me. I spent all my life earning riches but cannot take anything with me. Let people realize that it is a sheer waste of time to chase wealth.
And about my third wish of having my hands dangling out of the coffin, I wish people to know that I came empty handed into this world and empty handed I go out of this world”.
With these words, the king closed his eyes.
As with all mighty kings & conquerors of the past, death ultimately subdued them all.
Will mankind never learn?
Life is ten percent what you make it and ninety percent how you take it!
“Capitalism creates a rational frame of mind which, having destroyed the moral authority of so many other institutions, in the end turns against its own.” – Joseph A. Schumpeter
What’s happening in Europe with the great sovereign debt crisis is nothing but a prelude to greater drama that will eventually unfold when the tsunami waves hit the American shores.
Obama, Geithner, Reid & Pelosi are like four drunken sailors still freely spending hundreds of billions which they don’t possess, and like a deranged counterfeiter, Fed Chief Benjamin Bernanke is still happily printing & supplying them with useless unbacked paper money like there’s no tomorrow!
On top of all these, US is indebted to China & Japan
in terms of trillions of dollars.
Can you just visualise or envisage the magnitude of what the consequences will be when the final crunch strikes?
What will happen to the US dollar? Let’s see what’s happening to the Euro – it has already dropped to a 14-month record lows in the last week alone, a massive loss of 16% of its value in just over four months. At which rate, half of European wealth will be effectively wiped off in just one year.
When global investors awaken to the fact that the US indebtedness is far worst than the European nations, there will be greater economic & social catastrophe! Will the two financial saviours China & Japan able to bail out US then? What about IMF? The scenario may be played out in more horrifying proportions!
If you’ve been following the news on satellite TV, be it Aljazeera or RT-TV and Channel News Asia, you wouldn’t believe the chaos of a civilised nation like Greece. Tens of thousands of protesters, from air traffic controllers to teachers & just about everybody hit the streets, hurling rocks & stones & Molotov cocktails, with fire burning in every corner. Three people were reported to have died in the fire that struck an Athens bank branch. Now it’s not just a question of economic loss, but people are starting to lose their lives.
This madness arose out of the stringent austerity measures imposed by the rest of the European Union & the International Monetary Fund (IMF). They are forcing Greece to slash public sector wages, freeze pensions & boost taxes before they’ll start disbursing the $143 billion in bailout money.
What will the future hold for the Greece’s citizens? They are deadly scared over what’s to come, and no less sick of bearing the brunt of the pain & suffering. They obviously don’t want to see their wages & salaries cut & the collapse of their standard of living. Already their unemployment has been running at a six-year high of 11.3%.
Now is pay-back time. Both the people & the politicians have been courting the good life far too long – way beyond their means! You cannot go on forever borrowing & spending like mad and forgetting the day of reckoning will never come.
Hopefully other nations will learn a lesson from here!
The scenario in Greece is ugly!
Madness surge . . . Chaos reign . . . all is futile & vain!
“Greece is petrified & paralysed . . . Athens is up in smoke & flames . . . rioters are firebombing banks, businesses and government buildings . . . the euro is plunging . . . stock markets are reeling . . .”
Now this run-away freight train of great sovereign debt crisis is speeding towards US!
The whole world seems to be in turmoil . . . hung government election in UK . . . Spain, Portugal, Ireland & Italy also plagued with indebtedness . . . wars & atrocities . . . and natural calamities of earthquakes & volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, floods, hunger, refugees & displacement & climatic change . . .
Are all these signs from Heaven as warnings to mankind?
Now that news is all over about Greece toppling as the first of the dominoes, and the credit downgrading of Spain & Portugal that followed, it appears the rest of the other “PIIGS” nations are just teetering on the fringe. The crucial question is with thepolitical and legal wrangling on what to do with these wayward “PIIGS” nations, will Euro survive?
(“PIIGS” stands for Portugal, Ireland, Italy,Greece & Spain)
This Mediterranean Greek nation, the first major sovereign debt domino to topple, is just the Eye of the Sovereign Debt Hurricane. Greece is buried under a massive load of debts and deficits, and the numbers are indeed shocking.
Social unrest & austerity riots, protests, strikes over fiscal cuts
According to the European Union’s (EU) statistics agency which has been combing through Greece’s books, the country’s 2009 deficit tally up to a whopping 13.6 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) & may even be as high as 14.1 percent.
That’s more than four times the official “limit” for a country in the EU. And the nation’s total debt load is now closing in on $400 billion, or 115 percent of GDP. That’s among the worst ratios on the planet.
Greece is said to be an utterly corrupt nation . . . hence this plight. Towards the end of April 2010, Standard & Poor’s Agency lowered Greek debt to junk causing ripples in the world stock market & shares fell sharply. The other “PIIGS” nations are bound to be contaminated & it would mean just days for Euro to save itself. Already, sooner than expected, Spain & Portugal have also been downgraded by Standard & Poor’s.
Greek interest rates have exploded higher, with yields on 10-year Greek government bonds surging above 10 percent. Meanwhile, two-year note yields soared past 11 percent, more than a sub-prime mortgage borrower pays in the U.S.!
That’s a recipe for disaster for a country that needs to sell $72 billion in debt to cover its deficits just in the coming months.
In a report by Vincent Fernando CFA, from the Business Insider: “ . . . there’s just a broad deterioration in perceived creditworthiness happening right now, but it is particularly severe for the sovereign nation above given that their spreads are hitting record highs.”
Dr Marc Faber, an economic commentator, believed that the “PIIGS” nations will be defaulting & slaughtered. News from BBC carried the same kind of message.
Today’s clever acronym “PIIGS” for these EU nations of Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece & Spain is quite apt.
Facing a full-scale meltdown, Greece did the unthinkable recently by asking for a bailout from the EU and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The lifeline will take the form of up to $40 billion in three-year loans from the 15 other nations that share the Euro currency. Those loans will carry a below-market rate of just 5 percent. Greece can also get its hands on another $20 billion in low-rate loans from the IMF.
Greece is far from being alone. We’ll take at one other of the “PIIGS” countries, Portugal:
GDP shrank 2.7 percent in 2009, the worst recession in more than six decades.
The unemployment rate recently hit a 23-year high of 10.1 percent.
Budget deficit jumped to 9.3 percent of GDP.
Total debt is more than 85 percent of GDP, the worst in 20 years.
What about Ireland?
The budget deficit is almost 12 percent of GDP.
Its total debt load is on track to hit 117 percent of GDP.
Plus, Spain is battling a budget deficit of 11.4 percent of GDP.
The bottom line is among the “PIIGS” nations, Greece is just the first domino to fall. Many other European countries are next in line. If truth be told, Greece hasn’t done anything different from many other countries including the U.S.
The biggest domino of all will be the U.S.! Budget deficit is soaring . . . debt load is exploding . . . bond yields are starting to rise . . . and their risk premium is beginning to climb.
As evident as it is, it’s been reported what we could expect:
“The folks in Washington are sticking their heads in the sand, ignoring the warning signs all around them. They believe the same kind of bond market collapse that just struck Greece can’t happen there. So they’re continuing to bail out banks, brokers, mortgage companies, insurance companies, automakers, unions, homeowners and the unemployed.
But now, with demand for U.S. Treasuries waning — as evidenced by a string of disastrous auctions and continued net selling by China — the only question that remains is, “Who will bail out Washington?”
The simple fact is, no institution or group of institutions on Earth has the resources to save Washington when the bond market finally gives up on their ability to manage their own finances. When that day dawns, the bond market will come apart at the seams. Interest rates will shoot the moon. Their feeble economic recovery could just vanish.”
It’s all very well to go on a spending spree & enjoying lifge as though there’s no tomorrow, but sooner or later, the bills become due which must be paid, and if there’s no cash then what can you expect?
With well over 80% of the American population not trusting Washington with its free spending & free printing of paper money . . . doomsday is predictably not too far off!
In a recent report by Vincent Fernando of the Business Insider, he said that “the U.K. is about to crash along with the sovereign-default “PIIGS”.
Too much freedom in Democracy
Makes control go crazy!
Breaking News Over Aljazeera (Live): “Greekonomics” – Greece been granted a bailout package for 110 Billion Euros for three years from IMF & EU combined.
7 May 2010 Breaking News: Greece is paralyzed … Athens is in flames … rioters are firebombing banks, businesses and government buildings … the euro is plunging … stock markets are reeling …
And now, this great sovereign debt crisis is speeding towards US like a run-away freight train. Other “PIIGS” are cringing – UK included.
By Paul Chong Sunday, 29 November 2009 A Chinese By Descent, An Australian By Consent
China can boast of its silk and tea culture long before any other country in the world. Even the technological plough was first discovered in China. By and large, all discoveries were directed towards peaceful use and the enrichment of life and culture, as with the gun powder. Now the world is witnessing an unprecedented quantum growth in China – all within one generation!
China Foreign Reserve World No. 1
China Oil Consumption World No. 2
China Trade Value World No. 3
China Economic Output World No. 4
Latest: China is the richest nation in the world.
‘Xiang Qian Zou’ – The Road To Riches
Of the nations in the world today, China stands out progressively tall and strong. It is as though a sleeping dragon is finally awakened. This appears to be the fear of the West. Though an economically strong China is good commercially for all the trading nations in the West, politically China poses a great threat. It is feared that “once China stands up, it won’t topple or be toppled.” That was why precisely Napoleon in his wisdom decided to let China be and not to rouse her.
In retrospect, China is undoubtedly the world’s greatest civilised nation over a continuous period of thousands of years – a civilisation undiminished and unbroken, unlike past civilisations like Egypt, Greece, or the Romans. By any reckoning, China should have by now be far more superior than the rest of the world. Why not?
Of the many reasons why China did not progress beyond its initial lead in technology and discovery, the main cause of which can largely be attributed to its inward looking policy . . . viewing all territories outside the Great Wall of China and its boundaries as barbaric in nature. This nationalistic pride and closed door policy led to its seclusion, totally depriving itself from the inter-change of ideas and exposure to new scientific developments and industrial growth. While China lavished in its culture, philosophy and essentially non-materialistic form of development, it began to lag behind the West in terms of economic industrial growth. In preserving its civilisation from being tainted by corruption, disruption and deterioration, it never knew new growth, development and discoveries elsewhere in the whole wide world. The “Middle Kingdom” realised too late the encroachment of other nations upon its shores and territories. Countries like Britain, Portugal, Japan were making inroads into China through modern superior arms of war instead of its age-old “kung-fu”.
To grow, to progress is to change. Sentiment must give way to progress. There is no room for inhibition to changes. Change needs to take place before growth and progress can be attained. It’s attitude more than aptitude that scales the altitude. Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, the great former prime minister of Singapore, is credited for the great strides achieved by the City State. His visionary ideas have no room for inhibition or sentiment to change or any hindrance.
Now, what a change has come about as a result of Deng Xiao Ping’s visionary concept of “Xiang Qian Zou”. In Mandarin, it means “Forward Move”, but by replacing the middle word with the similar pronunciation, it becomes “Moving Forward With Money”. This started a great frenzy for the Chinese striving for monetary progress in all spheres of work and life. China has made a quantum leap – a country virtually with no phone to the modern technology of mobile phones! But capitalistic way of life does have its price. A single generation can witness the most remarkable change & progress. Transformation just sweeps aside all inhibition, resistance and sentiment.
Greed always breed a profound loss of goodness in mankind. Simple honesty, truth, kindness and compassion are lost in the process. The dollar sign is etched prominently on the foreheads of goal-getters. It is evident to an outside observer that the whole civilisation is transformed overnight. China, in its forward economic stride, has done away with its traditional large families, and its door is wide open to the corrupt western way of life. There is a price to be paid, for consequential results cannot be avoided.
Like most economies in the world, the road to riches often affect those who are involved, largely the urban folks, leaving behind a vast majority of the rural peasants. Even then great disparity may result among the urbanites. Encouraged by the concept of “Xiang Qian Zou” and ‘you’ve got to be in it to benefit it’, waves and tides of migrating movement are emptying the youth from the rural and pastoral areas. China is vast country where hundreds of millions of the peasant still labour and toil and are poor by comparison with the urban rich. No doubt, this is creating a set of social chaos unknown before.
Hong Kong, for instance, is a magnetic attraction for mainland Chinese. Tens of thousands cross the border which still has the immigration formality with number restrictions. In 2002 this number has been lifted and the hours of opening has even extended to 12 mid-night. This is largely due to the fact that the constant stream of exchange of people movement just keep on going growing bigger and bigger. The benefits work both ways. The affluent mainland Chinese pour money into Hong Kong, and the Hongkees likewise do the same in respect of investing in cheaper and more attractive housing in Mainland China.
On the more positive & human well being aspects, China has done itself proud by alleviating poverty for the great mass of the population. Consider this report by World Bank: “China has maintained a high growth rate for more than 30 years since the beginning of economic reform in 1978 and this growth has generated a huge increase in average living standards.
China’s sustained growth fueled historically unprecedented poverty reduction. Based on household surveys by the World Bank, the poverty rate in China in 1981 was 63% of the population. This rate declined to 10% in 2004, indicating that about 500 million people have climbed out of poverty during this period.’
Update & in a lighter vein:
China, now second largest economy in the world, has 19% of the world’s population, but consumes
. . . 53% of the world’s cement
. . . 48% of the world’s iron ore
. . . 47% of the world’s coal
. . . and the majority of just about every major commodity.
In 2010, China produced 11 times more steel than the United States.
New World Record: China made and sold 18 million vehicles in 2010.
China currently has the world’s fastest train and the world’s largest high-speed rail network.
China is currently the number one producer in the world of wind and solar power.
China currently controls more than 90% of the total global supply of rare earth elements.
In the past 15 years, China has moved from 14th place to 2nd place in the world in published scientific research articles.
China now possesses the fastest supercomputer on the entire globe.
As at the end of March 2011, China has accumulated US$3.04 trillion in foreign currency reserves- the largest stockpile on the entire globe.
Chinese consume 50,000 cigarettes every second …Not an enviable record though …
And here is the secret to the Chinese miracle: There are more pigs in China than in the next 43 pork producing nations combined.
So it is PORK that is driving China !! ENJOY YOUR PORK !
Now . . . you know why we eat “bak kut the” to be one in spirit with our China cousins.
Your comments are invited.
What problems do you envisage for China in this economic crisis?
How would the rest of the world, particularly US, react or act towards China?
What role do you think that China is likely to play on the world stage?
Do you think that China would follow the path of US & change its basic peaceful co-existence policy?