Thai Addiction – the Economic Aspects
By Mr Anonymous
A lot has already been said about the farang addiction to the Thai ladies, relating to local traits of affection, faithfulness, sexual desire and Buddhism values of giving. Some even addressed the Western women’s negative (and, at times, even repulsive) attitude that pushes so many men away (to the nearest divorce attorney or travel bureau); however, so far, I have not encountered any discussion addressing the economic aspects pertaining to this phenomena thus wish to do it right here and now.
When approaching any social issue (in Thailand or anywhere else) it is essential to examine all related economic aspects that surely must have clear ramifications (no need for alarm, your reluctance is well understood and I promise it won’t be boring like an economics test book).
First, let us examine certain essential facts: Thailand, with a population of over 60 million, is considered a poor country with gross domestic product (GDP) per head much lower than most countries generating its influx of tourists. A Thai Air stewardess, for example, earns 8,000 baht ($200) per month, while the ordinary worker you meet in restaurants, hotels, banks or stores earns even less, averaging about 4,000 baht ($100) per month. Compare that with a US or European stewardess earning, say, $2,000 per month, then you easily get a ratio of 10 to 1 and , if comparing the others, you get 20 to 1. The same ratio would, just about, apply to all other occupations.
Now, these figures apply to given averages but if we look at certain poor areas of Thailand in particular (such as Isaan in the north, where about 90% of the bar girls come from and where earnings are much, much lower) then we get an even higher ratio, possibly 30 to 1.
Believe me that I’m no expert in physics yet have read somewhere that matter is sucked into adjacent space which leads to the conclusion that once there is any sort of encounter between the two (the Western farang representing with his financial means the matter while the poor, Isaan girl, with her poverty representing the emptiness of space), it must lead to all kinds of social, psychological (and emotional) ramifications.
First, it will be followed by an endless influx of girls into the big cities (primarily Bangkok and Pattaya) in search for a baht or two. Now, since these girls are uneducated nor trained for anything, they are bound to obtain those bahts by selling their only available commodity.
Now, we must also look at the other part of this evolving picture and attempt to learn a bit about our eternally searching farang. What do we know about him? What makes him tick? Does anything really bother him too? Is he independent and self-sufficient as the Thai ladies think?
Is he truly happy?
Well, life in the West ain’t easy. Yeah, sure, judging from the Hollywood movies watchers around the globe may well believe (and can you blame them?) that folks there make money, drive beautiful cars, own gorgeous homes, have lovely wives and children, while – at worst – only have to contend with an unsympathetic boss.
But what is not shown by Hollywood?
The movies do not depict the life of an American employee who works under the constant whim of a boss under enormous pressure and who is evaluated by his own superiors strictly by the level of his department’s output. There is room for neither pity nor understanding. As soon as this employee outlives his usefulness he is fired (like no other place outside the North American continent) without a dime’s worth of severance pay (and to the doubtful reader, certainly from another country, I can only ask to believe that this is true).
This, as you may understand yourself, cannot possibly contribute to the worker’s security and peace of mind. Indeed, judging from my own experience, I believe I can state that this aspect is the most predominant one in the life of an American typical male (perhaps with the exception of workers protected by labor unions, which constitute less than 18% of the workforce).
Now, let’s go one step further: what if you lose your job? How does the system handle the ill-fated unemployed?
An understanding landlord? Well, if you miss the rent payment for three consecutive months you will find the movers (with the sheriff) on your doorsteps. What if you own a house? Well, if you miss on three mortgage payments the bank will foreclose and you never even get a single dollar of your down payment (ordinarily 20%). What if your kid is in college? Well, missing payments will most certainly get him/her kicked out of school.
Is it surprising that workers are perpetually worried to lose their job? Is it astonishing that the American male is weaker in this regard than, say, the European one who, even if non-unionized, is protected by national labor laws that make firing difficult, if not impossible, and, if it occurs, he is padded by generous severance pay.
Result: the woman takes over and becomes the stronger, more dominant figure in the family. This may be quite apparent in the Hollywood tales, portraying women bossing husbands around and too often more concerned with her dress than her husband’s dinner. The following figure, then, should not come as a surprise: more than 50% of US marriages end up in divorce.
(Interestingly, Ingmar Bergman, the renowned Swedish movie director, subsequently confirmed this observation, made by me many years ago).
The encounter between this financially insecure, love-hungry male and the baht-starved Thai lady is only bound to create all sorts of conflict while also complementing each other in many ways. Insert into this formula the nature of Thai families and the economic dependence on the much-obliged daughter, add some salt and pepper in the form of love-starved farang, cook for a short period by much needed fantasy and expectations and you get a product in the form of a uniquely interesting relationship of many colors and designs.
One important aspect that contributes to this imbalance is the gap between prices worldwide, with Thailand being so much cheaper; consequently, many commercial transactions (let’s call the baby by its true name) do not terminate with the payment agreed upon but extend to all sorts of promised cash transfers (at times over long periods).
Moreover, it is only natural that additional conflicts emerge in various forms of deceit and fraud, a trap into which, unfortunately, quite a few (naïve) guys fall into.
Is it then wrong for girls to sell love (I prefer this word to sex)?
This question is much more complex than we care to admit. Is it right for a girl in the West to marry a guy because he is a well-paid doctor, or a rich businessman or the son-of-so-and-so? If we accept the fact that females everywhere (just like any animal in the African jungle) seek (at times unconsciously) security for their offspring, the resultant attempts to find the best provider are indeed no different than the Thai girl’s efforts to find a farang for ST, LT, “boyfriend” or, ultimately, a husband.
Anyone refusing to accept this reality might as well hold on to the notion that the earth is flat.
Let me assure him it is not.
One can pain over whether their girlfriend / wife is with them for who they are, for what they are able to provide or for a combination of the two. We all have to deal with this in her own way. Knowing that money is high in the motivation stakes for most women helps to reconcile it.