"THE 'JOBLESS SYNDROME' was at the heart of the cacophony at Cancun, where the ministers of member countries of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) recently had a big meeting that dramatically fell apart", wrote UCLA professor Tom Plate for the Sept 29 edition of The Straits Times.
"...The killer issue was farm subsidies: import taxes or tax-relief benefits that governments hand farmers to protect their home-grown produce from being under-priced by imported produce. Such protectionism is particularly rampant in France, Japan and the US. The point of subsidies is to protect existing jobs; the ambition of globalisation is to create new jobs. The worldwide economy is now in equipoise between the conservatism of protectionism and the liberalism of globalisation.
"Some high profile jobs were on the line, too. After all, the leaders of the rich countries do not want to lose their jobs. And so the US delegates resisted lowering tariffs on various imports so farmers and ranchers [in the rich countries] would not lose their jobs... In the poor countries, the politicians' goal is to keep their jobs by creating new jobs, not saving existing ones, those being in short supply anyway. But the poor cannot gain unless the rich give up something. The rich were in no such mood...
"Is it morally right for rich countries to maintain (if not increase) their level of wealth if the poor are left behind? Is a resource-distribution system that does not benefit those who are the least well-off in any sense moral -- or even functional?"
SO, IS THIS WHY a Korean farmer committed suicide at one of the WTO meetings at Cancun?
This morning, i rushed out of home for office with a heavy handbag (containing a Palm organizer, a handphone, an umbrella, a wallet, pouches, pens, a rosary, etc.) slung over my right shoulders, a plastic bag of newspapers and books in one hand and some food in the other. While walking into the lift, i thought, "Here's another greedy person."
i do not pine for bungalows, cars, fine dining or the like. Nor have i ever chosen a person or career just because it pays well. But i'm greedy nevertheless.
Since young, whenever i went to the National Library with my brothers and sisters, i'd bring a huge stack of books to return and another huge stack of books back to read. Now, having grown up, worked for many years, and given/thrown away lots of stuff during spring cleaning, i still have hundreds of books in my home and dozens of books in my office.
My life is also full of activities. Nowadays, i'd alternately boast or groan that i've many concurrent threads of activities going on at the same time -- a full-time job, part-time teaching (once or twice a year, and six to eight weeks of work each time), part-time online learning, professional society activities (such as giving talks and organizing conferences), toastmasters duties and meetings, scripture study, gym exercises (or tennis) and this web-logging.
A few days ago, received a notice that i can be admitted to the January 2004 intake of the Masters of Art in Instructional Design & Technology program in the National Institute of Education. YAY! But also oh-oh, here comes more work -- work that i enjoy, but work nonetheless.
i realize that i'm behaving more like a Martha than a Mary, and that i must drop some activities or burn out eventually. Furthermore, i know of some people who have been out of job for at least one or two years. Yet, here i am, holding two jobs at the same time. Shall i give somebody else a chance to take up that part-time job? Wait, i need teaching experiences to do my job better. Anyway, the salary earned is only equivalent to one month's pay. Won't make that much difference to anyone, right? How about dropping part-time learning? Same thing -- my job's about teaching and learning afterall.
Shall i drop those professional society activities? How to? The new committee is counting on my support. Shall i drop those toastmasters duties and meetings? How can i, after giving my word? Besides, being able to give good speeches would mean better teaching -- again, it's my beloved job.
How about scripture study? But, this is my only avenue right now for keeping in touch with God, church community and self spiritually. What about those exercise/tennis sessions? No way, i need to keep fit. What about this web-logging? Just when i'm beginning to warm up to this? Didn't i keep getting the message since the beginning of this year that i must start journalling again?
So, SIGH! What now?
(See also The Problem of Greed.)