To heaven in a handcart

Thursday, 1 March 2018 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


By T. E., Kotte

The year 2019 is crunch time. Given the outcome of the LG elections and the drastic inflationary measures likely to reduce the cost of living, the chances of meeting foreign debt payments in 2019 will be a pipe dream.

The Government created the current wave of inflation which is now outpacing whatever ad hoc band aid remedies the Government sporadically implements. The imagined remedies maybe no more than sugar-coated placebos. It is debatable whether the published inflation rates are actually real. Placating the public with pre-election incentives has always led to inflation and rising prices.

The President stood by and watched the pre-election promises being made. He is party to the consequences. His current stance that the cost of living be reduced at any cost will pan out being precisely that. ‘At any cost’ will further contribute to, you guessed it, further inflation.

The spiral is never-ending. Remember what happened to the Greek economy which had no option but to embark on a massive austerity program which ran the better part of two years before it barely raised its head to bankable status?

We will be an insolvent, bankrupt, unbankable nation by 2020. We don’t even have the leeway to implement any austerity measures. Except in all of Government. 

We would be back to our 1977 status by 2020. Election year behold. With only misery between now and 2020.

This writer depreciates the publicised prognosis on tourism, real estate, et al. A lot of hype to keep morale up, mainly propagated by ‘experts’ with vested interests and too much to lose if outsourced funding dries up in midstream. They live in hope.

One has only to see the last professional assessment of 16,000 unsold apartments by 2018 and the number of small hotels for sale every week in the weekend HitAds.

Nobody seems to notice the contradictory evidence. The phrase “something is rotten in China” now applies to Sri Lanka. No more to China. The hype pundits will probably preach, “If China can do it, so can we.”

Pull the other leg. The Chinese work. We only talk. The two main activities in SL are politics and cricket. Both contribute nothing to national welfare. Opium for the masses are all they are.

This writer expects no repercussions on citing politics as unproductive. But cricket may bring an avalanche of spiteful rhetoric in its defence. Perhaps those offended can enumerate the economic benefit the country derives from the game.

This writer ventures to suggest that the monetary value of work-time spent watching the game on office TVs and smartphones exceeds any conceivable value derived from the game.

Questionable of course is whether the work-time lost in watching the game is productively used otherwise!

The writer runs the risk of being branded unpatriotic and perhaps devaluing cricket from which no decipherable percentage of the population derive any gain!

Pleasure is a relative emotion. The man watching the game on a large screen at an executive buffet lunch and the man munching a biscuit over a cup of plain tea for lunch at a wayside kiosk cannot possibly enjoy the same emotions. The executive enjoys his entertainment. The villager enjoys a diversion from hunger. Any criticism of value comes only from a source of value. The true value of any self-made person is inversely proportional to the time spent on the mundane. Chew on that before you spit in my direction.

This article is designed to incite people. To think. Not to believe all the hype in the media and the codswallop spouted by the body politic.

We can’t all be blind. The warning signs are staring us in the face. This writer is regularly confounded by people who should know better, living on the edge of five different credit cards. Their first hour in the office on work time is spent balancing their card accounts. Nobody, it seems, is living within their means. Consumerism is contagious. It is now endemic. Bankruptcy, like charity, begins at home. A bankrupt nation is only a collective of bankrupt individuals. Remember that when you default on your next lease payment or whatever gizmo.

So what do we do to avoid the inevitable apocalypse?

Learn Chinese perhaps? Not much point in learning languages of nations that don’t give us hand-outs is there! Besides all the planned industries for the export-driven marathon will be run by Chinese bosses. How to beg for a raise without knowing the language?

The venerable guest columnist for Daily FT, Sarath de Alwis, who this writer is a fan of, was not far off in his column of 14 February when he said the Chinese will probably bail Rajapaksa out of the dilemma by writing off the debt to offset the impact of animosity from Western nations to his re-emergence. The Chinese may write it off whoever is in the catbird seat. Much more likely with Rajapaksa. They wouldn’t have to deal with national backlashes. The lashing can safely be left to MR. Is this writer against Chinese investment? Nope. They are the only major investor in the world today. It is up to us to understand the value of our location to them and extract equal value.

The US commands world influence only because the US dollar is the preferred international trading currency. They are kings only in name. The day any other form of exchange medium finds general acceptance, the US current world primary status ceases.

There will be no tears. Not even from its entrapped allies.

No prizes for guessing who emerges as the undisputed world economic power. They already are the world economic power. Only the prefix “undisputed” remains in the offing.

Is it any wonder that India resists the Chinese Silk Route initiative? They may well not be quite so intransigent had China invited them before Sri Lanka.  Is it possible that our location was far more valuable to China than India is? Is it possible that India would have preferred to have China and their own foot in Sri Lanka first?

Well, read the tea leaves in the cup for the answer. We may not have much tea in the foreseeable future either. But that’s another topic. So, while ‘Go West’ was the early American slogan, it is now ‘Go East’ I guess. Make hay while the sun shines. That sun, in case you have forgotten, rises in the East. That’s where the trade winds will be blowing towards where the sun sets. It will blow across the inhabited side of the world. That’s us.

So take heart. After all, we all love Chinese food. So half the battle is won already.