Viewpoints | Jan 04,2020
Mar 19 , 2022
By Kidist Yidnekachew
The one thing that keeps us from losing our minds due to the rise in the cost of living, especially for the youth, is humour. We certainly are becoming experts in turning our problems into moments of levity.
How else can we cope with them without losing our sanity?
Everybody, the rich, the poor and the middle income, are complaining about inflation. People with regular jobs are finding it difficult to survive with a single source of income, which does not even cover rent. Households with children are the closest to collapse.
It is evident that the cost of living has gotten unsustainable when people start making jokes about food cooked without edible oil being introduced to restaurant menus. The social media memes help, at least for a while. I often look forward to them. It is partly cathartic – we are all suffering and that it is being hotly discussed.
After all, what can be done about it aside from making fun and hoping this too shall pass? But will it?
We hoped for inflation to alleviate a few months ago, but here we are again. In fact, it keeps getting worse. We are overdue for robust government intervention. It does not only mean regulating the prices of commodities and services but perhaps putting in place a minimum wage. This could be done by directly increasing the salaries of civil servants or facilitating opportunities for part-time jobs. Something should be done about inflation before it is too late. If not, the memes will turn into street protests and turn us against each other.
The older generation often talks about how they bought butter, sheep and grains for a ridiculously low price, unadjusted for inflation. It makes me wonder if our grandchildren will say that about our time. But it also makes me realise how lucky the older generation might have been in this particular regard. The government should hold a meaningful discussion with all concerned bodies to come up with a lasting solution to the problem and take action accordingly.
I met a guy the other day and we ended up talking about the price of living getting higher than ever before. He said to me we are our worst enemies, by which he was referring to corrupt individuals. He told me we often point fingers at the government as a single entity responsible for everything but people in different positions who take bribes contribute to the worsening of our living conditions.
There is a person he knows who works as a safety controller who gives the green light for the erection of buildings. If a building does not meet certain requirements then the constructors will be told to adjust or may not even get construction permits. So this guy takes bribes and compromises the lives of many people who would use the building once it is finished. He does not think too much about if one day his children would end up going there and risk their lives as long as he gets extra cash for the moment, which he happened to spend on toys for his children.
But is there a different way to look at this? Are there certain circumstances that push us to choose the wrong path?
I am not justifying his actions, but perhaps whatever he is doing, he is doing for his family. In times like these, even the self-righteous and ethical individuals get tempted to take bribes now and then or even get involved in illegal businesses. A bribe is a corrupt act, no matter the excuses. This line of reasoning will not hold in a court of law but it is also necessary to ask how people are supposed to act if they are pushed to their wit's end. There is no time to waste addressing inflation before the average person starts to look for other ways of survival.
PUBLISHED ON Mar 19,2022 [ VOL 22 , NO 1142]
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