#263 cosmetic appearances

I gather the new young generation is going for cosmetic surgery to look better — beautiful or handsome — in order to clinch a job OR get (clinch??) a spouse! If this is true, they’re bucking the trend of the Koreans or the Japanese or the China Chinese!

What a sad state! But then someone has to make money from the naivettes!

Since the recession, even though this has not impacted that much in this part of the world, there is the ‘frugalista’ (from Investopedia) group where these keep up their appearances by buying from 2nd-hand stores for clothes or going for the less expensive trendy cheaper range of clothes but going for expensive haircuts.

Often times I wonder about keeping up with appearances.

I certainly have experienced when I decided to do some real shopping, I’d dressed down. Guess what? I’m NOT served. The salesgirl would look me up and down, and decided to move away. I smiled to myself. I am the queen here as I have the money! If these salespersonnels have jobs of their choice, they would not be in this line.

This experience proves why some salespersonnel bring in more sales. However the sales manager might pitch to them that they need to know which customer would bring in a sale. Psychology or otherwise, it’s the personableness and persuasiveness of the salespersonnel who  brings in a sale.

However when I decide on window-shopping, I would dress better and, well, well, well, I received attention. I smiled to self as I enjoy watching the reaction of the salespersonnel when they could not persuade me.

You see salespersonnel do not know the real value in making money. A sale is a sale so long as the cash register tinkers. By selecting the better-looking and better-dressed customers, one might just lose a sale to a less-dressed customer who had entered!

Job-selection: looks might be important but at the end of the day, it is performance that works the miracle. So whether better-looking or less, it’s one who can deliver the quota or rake in more money for the company that counts. If the company did not make money and go bust, would the staff continue?!

As the proverb goes: Never judge a book by its cover.

Besides, cosmetic surgery makes one look plastic!

Beauty comes from the heart — a gentle and quiet spirit (New Testament Bible) — NOT outward appearance as fashion suggests!

#221 spend, spend, spend

Is spending the only way out of recession? What kind of spending are we referring?

Spending using real money, not credit or borrowed money? How does this work when people have no job translating no income, fraught with problems?

I’m still trying to make sense that’s happening in this financial crisis.

Has man been so dishonest that greed had overtaken turning a blind eye to the future? Or callousness on the part of those leaders who think only for today and let tomorrow suffer for itself! The existential philosphy they subscribed?

Many bailouts today are for companies who relied on credit accumulating huge sums which spirals to affecting large banks. Are bailouts for plugging holes in the banking systems?

Has the era of spending on personal credit over? Will the banks reconsider the use of personal credit cards?

What are the true causes of this economic or financial blackhole? Have we not learnt from the Great Depression in the 1920s-30s? Who is responsible? The policy-makers or those who held top positions in companies or corporations?

Has greed overtaken mankind that virtually there is little or no solution to the problem?

Will a dictator like Hitler arise or war looms?

What will tomorrow bring? I shudder to think. Will there be peace? Will there be democracy? If there is democracy, what kind of democracy?

As we’ve seen the governments have to intervene with little results. Every sector of the flailing economy have been looking for the government to bring about some form of bailouts using tax-payers’ money! Why should the tax-payers bail out those scoundrel corporate leaders or directors who were paid handsomely during their tenures on the job? Will these be prosecuted for decisions made callously?

Even in China, a socialist country, the leaders were startled at the force of this financial crisis that their first bailout of several billions have little effect!

Has the world system gone bonkers? Where are we going? What are we doing? How do we salvage this financial black hole today?

Will there be a creative solution out of this financial crisis?

#215 yo-yo stock market

I cannot believe that I read: yesterday the US stock market soared 900 points or 11% (!) while for the past few days, in spite of monies injected, yet…there was a spiral downwards! Why no stability? Who are the suckers? Who are the winners?

Who has been deciding or manipulating the rise and fall of the stock market?!

Who is pocketing the monies? Surely the monies cannot just evaporate!

28th-29th October is the anniversary of the Great Depression 79 years ago! At the time, there was no government intervention or bailout.

Yet today, in spite all the interventions, there is great votility! What is really happening? Who stand to benefit in this yo-yo?

#209 learning to live within one’s means

Man has short memory indeed! The last recession was about 6 years ago here in Singapore?

Have we picked up since then? Or are we gliding further? Up a little and slide further?

Have we learnt our lessons since?

Recession, panic selling in the stock market, credit crunch gale force sweeping Europe might be blessing in disguise — though painful!

This is perhaps a time when man is forced to wake up to learn living within one’s means — no more borrowed money or assumption to making easy money!

A time to be true and honest with self…no more living in pretense or deception!

#207 who do you trust?

Having money is a problem these days. Putting money in the bank is no consolation either.

You lose your hard earned cash when a financial institution collapsed. I was told you could file for misrepresentation — that the profile of products bought did not suit the personality of one. How does this work?

The high turnover of officers serving you in the banks leaves one insecure and lacking continuity especially for the smaller or new savers. 

Why the high turnover of bank officers? The officer has to perform, otherwise the manager will be breathing down his neck daily. Should he not perform according to portfolio, the officer is shown the exit. If he did well, he was rewarded handsomely.

The latest news: Iceland is a country that is going bankrupt! What does that mean? Will those who had savings in the banks see these evaporate?

#200 spend first pay later

‘Spend first, pay later’ — was the slogan to attract the use of credit cards.

Living on borrowed money was the vogue for the past 40 years conservatively. Instead of regarding this as debt, it was sugared as ‘credit’.

There was a time when it was regarded smart to travel first — to enjoy life first — then pay back later! Many were caught in this and eventually led some to loansharks which spiral into deeper debts and sufferings.

However in the West, this personal credit debt is now beyond control!

While it seems expedient to solve a person’s dilemma on short term but for long term, this means accumulated debts, eventually calling for personal bankruptcy when a person cannot pay up!

Does this mean the banks write-off these debts?

What does it mean for the person going on bankruptcy for short period? What does bankruptcy do to one’s reputation?

Is this one cause that has led the banks to the point of no return today?

Apparently in the US, foreclosures of small banks were common phenomenon. Many on the international scene were not aware that happened on the domestic front.

Is this financial crisis in the US the result where bigger banks are unable to resolve their crunch? Am I too simplistic? Or is there something more sinister?

#198 bail-out plan?

What if there were no bail-out for those scoundrel and irresponsible investment banks? How will this financial quake affect the US and the world economy?

Why such jittery around the world?

According to some pundits, if there were no bail-out, this will filter every aspect of life and economy in the US! 

Was there no regulatory controls for these financial institutions?

It appears those investment banks that offer security bonds are really not secured bonds. If one were to play in stocks and shares market, at least there was some way of retrieving part of the money.

However with Lehman Bros declared bankruptcy, all those who invested with them their hard-earned cash in the name of security bonds have just disappeared into thin air?! This IS not fair!

Is there a way of bringing those managing the financial institutions to court and hold them  answerable for decisions made? Surely they must be fully aware of that happening within the bank for some time now! Why was there no curb? Where is the creditability of the American investment banks? Can we trust these so-called security bonds products in the financial market?

Can one not smell this happening from the annual reports? Or this was so well-covered up by the auditors that even the staff do not know that happening within the institution? If so, dare we trust any of those reports that we receive!

Who should we trust our hard-earned money to in future (i.e. if there was a future…)? Will it not be better if we kept these under our pillow?!

#153 money, money, money

These days, I wonder where my hard-earned money went?  There is marked increase in the prices of food! With the fuel price hike, I wonder when announcements will be made for another transport fare increase?

Why is money so important? No money no talk. Without money one cannot survive.

Wonder how our founding governing leaders manage to bring Singapore to where she is considering a land without any natural resources. They were able to mobilise the human resources and only assets Singapore has was the port and air route…which then created tourism. Today it’s the intelligence resource… The economic downturn or recession is evident…and I can only pray for wisdom for our governing leaders to manage wisely…

Wisdom is a shelter

as money is a shelter,

but the advantage of knowledge is this:

that wisdom preserves the life of its possessor.

(Ecc 7:12)

A feast is made for laughter, and wine makes life merry,

but money is the answer for everything.

Whoever loves money never has money enough;

whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income.

Money is important but the love of money is the root of all evils…

#149 customers

Today, everything and everyone are pegged to the dollar!

Everyone is treated as customers: schools, hospitals…

Are schools not centers or institutions of learning? Customers mean you have to pay and pay! Where are the state services providing for citizens? Will there come a time when education is so expensive that parents cannot afford to educate their child/children? Will this word ‘student’ lost in the vocabulary?

Will a day come when you’re sick, and if you can’t pay, you cannot receive treatment? The ‘customers’ sound palatable, on second thought, this is derogative term for one who is sick and needing the necessary treatment, attention and care. Will there come a time when tender-loving-care is also up for sale? Where is the term ‘patient’?

Then why are citizens made to pay annual income tax? What is income tax for? For building infrastructures; salaries for governing leaders…

Yesteryears there were lots provided through income tax for the citizens…today one has to pay-and-pay!

Has man degenerated or reduced to dollars-and-cents? Just another digit?

I can imagine a day will come when man eats man; man killing man; man violating one another’s right to life; man destroying man; — in the name of money!

Where is humanity?

#142 tomorrow

We are made wise

NOT by the recollection of our past,

but by the responsibility of our future.

George Bernard Shaw

Changes…changes…changes going on all the time…man is always changing…and…rearranging — soaring food prices (no more cheap food), fuel crises, subprime, credit crunch, natural disasters, water shortage, going green, global warming, save extinct species…

How is man to live? These are certainly challenging times not only for governing leaders but the ordinary man-on-the-street.

 At the crux, money is the issue. How does one live without money or having less or little value to the dollar? Who invented money? Human beings live to earn money to feed and provide for oneself… Human beings kill one another for the lack of money!

 Terrorism is one result of madness after money or the lack of it. The destruction of the Twin Tower in New York (911) is a case in point…the terrorists wanted to bring the Americans on their knees through the economy but… The US concertedly rose from ground zero…

Today human beings become bombs to kill or eliminate the innocent civilians! Such hatred in the disguise of religion?!

Has man gone mad, very mad?!

Where are we going?