July 9, 2010

Oil Rich Countries

Aah! What prosperity and abundance awaits so many of us who end up in the countries where wealth comes from the ground! One does not realize that instead of an economy based on credit or taxes or hard work and discipline as in most of the West, the wealth seems to be jetting forth constantly from the ground, like from the horn of plenty. One soon notices that everything is cheap but salaries are the same or bigger with no taxes. Soon one’s savings account starts growing without one sacrificing his/her lifestyle. Then, services are also dirt cheap. Soon, one stops budgeting, since one still spends as one would at home, but one still can put away decent chunks of money into one’s bank account.

There are drawbacks, though. While services are, in fact, cheap, they are not of such high quality as back home. Many employees are not as motivated and will not get fired if they do not give you excellent treatment. Many are completely incompetent. Travel agents make mistakes that would cost them their careers in the West; repair shops do not repair items on time, people promise to have an item or a service ready for you on a certain day only to fail to deliver, costing you hours of lost time. The employees are either sullen and unfriendly, or smiley and friendly, but still not able to serve you properly. Many things are simply not available and if you ask them when they arrive, they will give you a date, but even on that date, the goods are still not there. The companies will not go out of business because oil money will keep them as well as the entire economy afloat. Everybody will have some kind of income whether the customer gets served well or not, so why try too hard?

Quality control on imports is very poor. I once bought a pair of sneakers in the Middle East that looked great and felt very comfortable on my feet, however, when I took them to Sydney, the soles fell off after a few hours of walking. I had to limp around until I located a store selling glue and later, had to sit on the street gluing the soles to the shoes in plain view of everybody. It was very embarrassing, and it was even more enlightening when I realized that the glue that I bought to glue those soles back on cost more than the shoes themselves. Eventually, I had to throw them out.

Many of the natives are so rich and so protected by local employment laws that they can live the lives of complete security no matter how badly they fare at work. They can show up late, leave early, screw up all they want and still be better off than you. None of the principles of personal responsibility that are so highly valued in the West apply to them. The world, in fact, owes and provides them with an excellent living that spurts from the ground in jets of black gold. The economic system for nationals of such countries can rightfully be termed Petro-Socialism and it is probably the only types of socialism that works, primarily because money generated by the oil comes from all the Western capitalists that have helped to develop the system to begin with.

It can sometimes drive you nuts, though. Hey, take a chill pill. That is the price you have to pay for living in such naturally prosperous countries and being able to put so much cash away. It still irritates me occasionally, but I have learned to take those things in stride as part of my overall petrodollar experience.


1 comment:

Hero said...

It must be terrifying to visit a doctor or dentist there, if everyone does a half-assed job.