Stickman Readers' Submissions February 24th, 2009

Kind-Hearted Thai Girl Sends Monthly Stipend To Destitute Foreigner

You're joking! Me, you say? Mr 1st world man accepting handouts? I'm educated . . sophisticated. My world has given this 3rd world things like electricity, motor engines, banking and insurance, TV and computers – and I am part of that. We're thinkers . . logical, rational and analytical. We moved past reliance on hand-to-mouth agriculture many decades ago and lead the world in producing engineering, computers and other high technology products. These people are half-starving and I'm on a God sent mission with love and compassion in my heart. These poor people need me! Poor Wan . . she needs me!

A typical attitude of expats and tourists alike. Blind affluence and over-burdened consciences programmed to perceive poverty and desperation wherever they go. We are the aggressors, the exploiters, the ones who manipulate and benefit from the world's bounty at the expense of the developing world. They (Thai girls in this essay) would do anything – nay, they HAVE TO do anything – to help feed themselves and their sick and starving parents and family members – and it's all our fault. The possibility of a passport to a foreign country is their wildest dream as it would mean release from a harsh and grinding existence here into the land of milk and honey that we call 'home'.

He Clinic Bangkok

Sounds rather over-done maybe, but for many years the elite and privileged, the moralists, even right down to the ordinary man in the street sees fit to judge the ways of the world outside their own little fence and take comfort from this pattern of thinking. Criticism infers superiority and it has been this unconscious massaging of our tiny egos that has sold us well down the river in spite of the fact that during the last 10-15 years there has been a huge transfer of our wealth, industry, capital and investment going on right under our noses. And in this great exchange, WE have been, are and will continue to be the losers . . .

The west, in particular the English speaking world is bankrupt – from government right down to the individual – our indebtedness exceeds our ability to repay. It has long been said that we have been relying on the 'kindness of strangers' to fund our increasing debt. We have become mere 'consumers'. But our time has run out as we realise with horror that our manufacturing industries have been decimated. We now create precious little to generate the means to repay. . . . our industries have all but departed our shores. They're now over here!

Industry is always being torn apart and made inefficient by government bureaucracy, meddling and over regulation but this particularly became apparent to many in the 90's and resulted in a large number of Stick's current readership getting the hell out while they still could. Penal rates of taxation required to fund welfare states just made it not worth doing business anymore. The enactment of increasingly strict employment (?) legislation and labour laws plus a fanatical pursuit of 'political correctness' in the workplace had turned the joy of entrepreneurism into a bloody nightmare! The decreasing number of real wealth producers dwindled still further as the army of un-employed and non productive government workers increased. The 'non-producers' outnumbered the producers! Borrowing was the only way out. And so it came to pass . . .

CBD bangkok

The debt binge and so called boom of the last few years was the cherry on the cake. The last straw that brought the whole thing crashing down. Fuelled by cheap money and credit, asset (read house) prices were forced up creating paper millionaires in short order. The value of our homes underpinned our borrowing and spending. Just like the Pattaya "3 week millionaire" who returns home to face massive credit card bills, the west went shopping big time . . . and now faces the consequences . . . huge debt at a time of growing unemployment.

I know that all the South-East Asian economies are highly dependent on exports and are also under threat from the economic malaise the world faces, but where would you rather be? Who do you think has the brightest future?

Thailand is not the same country I returned to in the 90's. There were very few shopping centres and most housing was of the traditional wooden type structure. The road system was in a poor state. Tired pick-ups belching black smoke and two stoke motorcycles used to dominated the roads. Now there are many affluent housing estates and silent new Hondas and Toyotas cruise the highways. You get the picture.

But not for all, you might say. Not all Thais share in this new affluence. I agree. But compare that with the slums and wastelands of the west where the long-term unemployed waste away, shivering in cold and damp houses existing on a poor western diet. The income of the average factory or shop girl in the UK compares less favourably with her Thai counterpart when living costs are factored in. She works just as long hours. Her future is no better. AND that was before foreign exchange values plummeted.

wonderland clinic

So Wan sends a few quid over from Paradise. She's a good heart and she can afford it. She knows when she's well off! Pity we didn't . . . before we gave it all away.

Stickman's thoughts:

Can't see it happening. Asia has got many problems that the West sorted out a very long time ago…

nana plaza