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2/03/2008

Celebrating the unsung heroes

It is easy to notice the great achievers and share their successes. The fame of entrepreneurs, statesmen, professionals etc are well documented, acknowledged and published in the media. These people are generally those who have acquired fame and wealth. We spoke in awe at the doctor or lawyer who earned several hundred thousands for each case executed. The higher the fees, the more respectable they become. He is good and that is why he can charge more. Looking at another corner, there are great people who have done great things for the people by making their lives liveable at very low cost. They do not pursue high profit margin for themselves. They produce goods and services at the cheapest possible price and at reasonable quality to benefit the masses. The first name that came to my mind is the instant noodle manufacturers. At a few cents, they pack a decent meal for those who cannot afford to be lavished. Millions in the world are living on instant noodles daily, 3 or 4 meals a day, 365 days a year, and for several years. Not only the lonely and the unemployed or retirees are doing it, many students from not too well off families are doing eat, eating instant noodles to get by, saving every cent they could to get their education. For the good that these manufacturers have done and served humankind, their contributions are mostly taken for granted. Then there are the hawkers in some hawker stalls that are selling quality and excellent meals at $2 in this expensive city called Singapore. And they are continuing to do it, happily serving their grateful customers, not raising prices despite all other costs being up. How could they do it? Or why are they so stupid to continue to do it and not ripping off their customers by claiming that costs are up and they need to raise their prices? Or would people be looking down at them for not earning the millions they should be and to claim that they are also talents in their own fields? The answer, i think, is that these people are happy with what they are doing, and they are happy seeing their customers happy. They are happy with the profits they are getting and do not seek to maximise profits at all costs. Basically they are not greedy people. But we should not be too happy about this state of affair. Soon the greedy people will come into the picture to force them out of business, raise their rentals and whatever costs. Then they will have no choice but to raise prices or go out of business. Then people will all claim to be innocent and blame somebody else for the high cost of living. The BSE disease is a very good excuse to fall back on.

1 comment:

Matilah_Singapura said...

Markets which are 'free' (from govt interference) invariably produce goods which are 'good and cheap'.

That is why today's powerful PC's give value for money. Watches, pens, shoes and clothes are all 'good and cheap', although you have the choice to buy 'expensive' if your ego needs stroking.

It doesn't matter what the objectives are, and what resources are needed. If the 'market' is left alone, the best long-term solutions will eventually evolve.

There are no exceptions to this 'natural law'.