Just an Opinion of an Article

I want to dedicate this post to Warren Buffett for his article posted in TIME on 4 January 2018. You can read it through the link there before reading this post because I don’t want to give a false perception to the article. I wrote this under my interpretation thus this might not directly related to what he meant to share.

“I have good news. First, most American children are going to live far better than their parents did. ” – Warren Buffett

There goes his first two sentences. It instantly caught my eyes and I disagree with this statement. Apparently, he knows that I am not the only one who disagreed. In the subsequent paragraphs, he acknowledge that these days, not as many people are as optimistic as him. But the he did some calculation that includes real GDP growth and population growth. Assuming 2% real GDP growth and 0.8% net population growth, he infers:

“In 25 years–a single generation–1.2% annual growth boosts our current $59,000 of GDP per capita to $79,000. This $20,000 increase guarantees a far better life for our children.” – Warren Buffett

The first time I read this, I was nodding my head because the reasoning sound plausible. But, I noticed, he had a strong assumption: the growth are equally divided to everyone. I guess we can all agree that this assumption does not hold. Just do a simple search in Google about wealth and income inequality and some amazing statistics will greet you (i.e. this one); none shows equal distribution. That being said, with the calculation in the article, we can be sure that some children will be better off than their parents but I argue that majority (if not all) of the children in this group will be from the wealthy family or in other words the minority. The other might strive as well but they need arduous effort to be achieve it. Best scenario, of course the one Warren Buffett shows; but it is highly unlikely. Second best scenario, children will be as well off as their parents. I am not trying to be pessimistic but the truths are pointing to that dark side (he did mention this issue in the later part of the article).

I do not entirely disagree Mr. Buffett, especially in his point of innovation and productivity and market economics. Because of innovation that transformed the industry, ways of production, labor and capital, arguably everything today are done differently than decades ago. A lot of people lost their job, some jobs disappeared and new jobs were created. Those who cannot adapt due to lack of skill or opportunity were left behind while those in the upper social class tried their best to absorb as much wealth as possible. Some people called it greed but I say it is human nature. Anyway, getting back to the point, this will increase the probability that more people will have worse prospect that their parents.

“These devastating side effects can be ameliorated: a rich family takes care of all its children, not just those with talents valued by the marketplace.” – Warren Buffett

He mentioned this point just before he concluded his writing. As a parent, it is a very nice advise. All children should be treated the same in hope that they will get the same opportunity to success. But the word ‘rich parent’ made me feel a bit uncomfortable. Does this means that only if rich people care equally to their offspring that the “devastating side effects” i.e. leftover people due to specialization can be lighten. I am skeptical that doing so could make much change. Most of leftover people came from lower proportion of the society, so maybe it would be better for the rich to care for their lower counterpart as to donate or provide opportunity?

Anyway, I am not an American and this has very little impact to my life. I just came across this article by chance and while reading it, I found some odd points which are peculiar to me. Maybe he meant it differently or I interpreted it wrongly, seems impossible to get his answer. However, I just want to share my opinion and the seriousness of our -might be doomed- future.

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Story of the earth and that human

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Retrieved from Google on 10 Jan 2018. All rights reserved.

I am not an animal lovers, nature fanatic or a misanthrope (human hater). But today, as I scrolled down my Facebook feed, it suddenly hit me that human might be the worst thing ever happened to the earth. Wondering what video I saw that triggered that depressing thought? No worry, it is not anything scary or terrible. It is just a normal introduction of something called “organic water“.

 

Disclaimer: I am NOT an expert in the science and the scientific explanation below might not be accurate to the core, but please put your attention in the idea and not the science.

First of all, the company and the video has done nothing wrong and it is NOT their doing that prompt my negative thought. However, think about this: why do people want more organic water? (my answer: the normal water is not clean anymore) Why does the water from normal steam not pure anymore? (my answer: because it was contaminated by various substance, from dirt to deathly chemical). So, who responsible for the water adulteration? Human (your answers might be different the previous questions but I hope we agree at least for the last one). OK, now we have human wants organic water, normal water is contaminated, and human should be held responsible for the water contamination (to be more general, we can say organic water also represents clean water).

Human contaminated normal water and now looking for new source of clean water.
Nothing wrong with that right? but let’s add some details from what we had developed in the previous paragraph: Human contaminated normal water, they should have be held responsible for it but they do not care because they can just look forand now looking for new source of clean water. Hence I argue that human is selfish and greedy.

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Retrieved from Google on 10 Jan 2018. All rights reserved.

Now, let’s think about this from the earth and ecosystem point of view. Earth cannot evolve, it is just as it is. Since early days, various creatures have been living on earth, maybe not so happily but in harmony. However, as the number of human proliferated, it becomes harder to keep the balance. At the present, the soil is full of houses, air is polluted, water is contaminated, ice are melting, ozone is depleting, etc. Anyway, focus on the water. So we all know that water is essential for living creatures, which means the contaminated water will affect EVERY living creatures. You can easily find the consequences of water pollution to living creatures in google (the facts and figures wont be pretty). It is public knowledge that a lot of sea creatures died because of plastics in the sea, or due to lack of oxygen because of algae bloom stemmed from too much pesticide; diseases caused by polluted water, etc. This proved that dirty water affect every creatures, including human.

 

We now know that: human polluted water, dirty water affected all creatures and human wants clean water. Which to me means, even though it was the imprudent human who adulterated the water and exposed all creatures to danger, it is also human who wants clean water and I doubt that they will share this with other creatures. How are they going to get the clean water? Of course, take it from other beings, the tree. Here is the science that I am not very sure of: photosynthesis by plants requires light, water and CO2 and it will produce glucose and release O2 (and possibly water vapor). The water inside the plants should be use to accommodate this process, so I am not sure if the claim of this company of “this water are the waste” is genuine. My understanding is that the tree has trying hard to purify the water and use it as their photosynthesis supply but these humans plan (if not already) to take the credit and sell it. Do you see where am I going?

photosynthesis_equation
Water vapor? Retrieved from Google on 10 Jan 2018. All rights reserved.

 

To be fair, I am also a human and I know it is arbitrary to lump 7.6 billion people as one irresponsible, greedy and horrible species. But I think it is time for us to open our eyes to the sad reality and change the way we think. Surely, accessing clean water, clean air, being healthy are our priority but rather than finding solution to a problem, isn’t it better to prevent the problem from happening at all? All in all, you may agree or disagree or you can just not care because I am no one and not taking action will not caused you any harm. But if even a little of you think that I brought up a point worth considering, please do not throw that thoughts away. Because as one person cannot change anything but as a whole we definitely can. Thanks for reading 🙂

New Year’s Enlightenment

Life is more than the digits in your scale
Life is more than the number in your transcript
Life is more than the amount in your bank account

Life is about the smiles, the tears, the joy and pain
Life is about learning something new, failures and successes
Life is about caring for others, sharing and kindness

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Original photo and design by randomwalk 🙂 All rights reserved.

They said “the grass is always greener in the neighbor’s garden”
Thus some people wished to the star to swap place with the other
Imagining the possible goods and best in the life of the other party
Little that they know that everyone has their own problemsBecause life itself is a chain of never ending problems
…or never ending opportunities

So once again, the value of life is not a math that could be calculated
The value of life is not like housing price that can be estimated
The value of life is also not something assigned by anyone but yourself

Thus only oneself can determine where and how their life will be, doing our best while embracing the unexpected ups and downs. Because nothing is constant, not even change if you don’t want it to 🙂

Disgraceful Job? Think Again

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Screen captured from To Sell is Human page 144 sample Kindle book on 29 August 2017. All rights reserved.

In the process of job seeking I came across with job stereotyping. While sure enough some jobs sound more spectacular, require more skills and bear additional responsibilities, I believe it is not a reason to underestimate other occupations, especially as a fresh graduate. To be fair, if there are peers who got accepted as a traders in prestigious investment firm or researchers, of course we (or actually me) will say “WOW”. But if other peers were to say they got a job as clerk, sales or even HR, most people will frown, give an awkward smile and say “ah… good”.

Like majority of people, I don’t fancy those roles. I used to be those who frowned when I heard the word sales, and honestly never ever want to be associated with that word ever. That was my feeling before. Quite recently, I started to think more about it and somehow it dawned to me that I must have been wrong. All my life I have this terrible stereotype on this profession (you know they force you to buy things) but I realized I was not thinking very openly. Forced selling (such as foot-in-the-door) is so yesterday and it is just a very small thing of sales. Honestly, every business can only sustain if they can sell. Either the products and services are so good and useful thus people will buy it voluntarily, or that you are so good and able to convinced the public to buy things/services they actually might not need. Dig deeper, sales should also be associated to the event when entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to investors, to the social events where there are implicit connections sales a.k.a building connection, interviews (selling one’s qualification), even as a wife convincing the husband to buy her a Zara dress (selling reason) and many more. Selling is what we do everyday and it is not a shameful thing. IB traders is useless when there is no demand in their services, selling is arguably the core of the business. I hope by now you are at least a little convinced of the importance of sales job and how it had been underestimated all these years. So now the important question is how good are you at selling? I believe how far one can take their selling ability will be one of the success measure to which extend he/she  or me will succeed in life.

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Retrieved from Google on 29 August 2017. All rights reserved.

Apparently, I am not the only person that have this view, I have only read the sample chapter from Amazon but I will recommend it anyway for those interested: “To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others” – Daniel H. Pink (Amazon link). The sales approach is changing, less (if there is at all) catalogs and door to door sales, more technology implemented giving the exact suggestions to the right customer. The role of sales is shifting, not to force but to be creative such that they could successfully convinced the other party. This is one of the crucial skill needed by any CEO as well. So you might start as a small sales potato but I firmly believe that learning from it could bring really promising future.

Lastly, in the first paragraph I say not to underestimate any occupation. Sales is underrated but it is hardly the worse job, I mean, some people do choose to be in the field and there is professional terms for them as well. How about cleaning services, cashier? A lot of people never appreciate their doing and maybe even think they are filthy. But here is some evidence why low paying occupations are also important in a business. As you might have guessed I will say “can you imagine if no cleaning service to clean your firm’s toilet” or “imagine if there is no trash collector”, I believe you had imagined it (and maybe now you will say, “well I don’t need cashier because I can be charged online directly from the barcode”)  and yes they play roles there. But take a sit and think about this video

Try to look behind the citizens who are in crisis and waited hours to spend their money to supply their home. Try to think about the cashier officer on the end of that line, he/she cannot buy but have to be stand by there to serve others (and make sure the grocery was not raided), see the back officers who, in the middle of the heavy rain after big storm, came to work to provide others facilities. Then maybe take a look at this news titled: Japan’s Richest Village Can’t Find Workers for Its Factory. A business cannot work effectively and efficiently with only top management, they need people to do the small things too because a lot of small things will turn big in the end. That being said, the news of Elon Musk that fired (or not) his secretary after asking for salary raise. Whether he fired her or she decided to walk away, I cannot appreciate his way of treating her. If he thinks that her job is so easy that he can dispose her then shall he not say it so in the first place? Rather he decided to let her take a vacation while he showed the world he can do her and his job similarly well (I mean she has worked for him in the same position for 12 years). This is somehow more shameful than being fired right away because it is like saying that all those 12 years he was just tolerating her to be there and she added very little value to his company. But anyway, that is just my opinion. The third story is more personal, as the news had covered, typhoon Hato that hit Hong Kong and Macau recently left very bad taste in the city. The condition was terrible the day after the typhoon; trees, trashes, and every other things were scattered all over the place according to the footage. But amazingly, on my way to work the next day, the traffic in most places I passed are cleared and even the foot way have only several obstacles. The dirt of Hato still remains but only on the sides, places where it does not affect anyone. Meanwhile, I also saw the cleaning squad swept the road and clear it. I dare not to guess at what time the team started the cleaning such that the morning traffic went pretty smoothly but I guess there are people who don’t care as long as they can arrive to their office safely. I am too sometimes forget to appreciate their work, but I am trying my best to do a better job at it starting by giving a simple greetings~

Why People are so Scared of Automation?

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Retrieved 31 July 2017 from Google. All rights reserved.

I am just one person so my opinion does not represent any population at all. This post is purely the fruit of my brief thoughts when I was asked if I am afraid that my future job will be looted by robot or not. At first, the idea seems scary because that means I will be unemployed and bored and poor and sad and die earlier – too exaggerated but somehow true. Then I think to myself, why will I be sad? I heard all bad things about working such as stress, harassment, not respected, etc. If I could not work, I should be happier and can have time for myself like what I am doing now; read books, learn language, meet people so on and so forth. Well, by now you might have an idea why people are scared of losing their expertise field to robot. The smaller possibility to earn money in the specific field we had spent most of our life before. No money means life will be harder due to restriction in movement, unable to but utilities and even worse incapability to fulfill daily needs. This is the critical point – MONEY.

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Retrieved 31 July 2017 from Google. All rights reserved.

I am not saying that without money, one cannot be happy but I believe that uncertainty due to financial incapability and absence of source of earnings will affect one’s life severely. Moreover, in today’s society money could be considered essential. With only money we can buy our necessities and rest assured; recent study even proved that money could actually buy even happiness (Whillans, et all,  2017). Also with automation, it is likely that it will increase inequality in the society, business owners for example will be better off while low class workers ended up in a worse condition. Why, of course because the business could reduce labor cost and pile up more revenue while the laid off people can just pack their bag and go home. Bill Gates had previously proposed a solution by taxing the robots (Fortune, 2017). This could be a good measure as the robot tax could be given back to the unfortunate by building more public facilities and give better social supports and securities.

But there is always but, tax is a very sensitive word to me. Earlier today I was discussing tax payment back in my country, which is still developing. Tax paid by the citizen arguably never come back around for the public good. We only observed that the more we pay tax the chubbier our politicians’ belly – if you get what I mean. The point here is, while imposing tax could be beneficial if is done right but since I am not a big fan of politicians, I am skeptical of its effects. At the moment I favor one governmental move which is the universal basic income.

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Retrieved 31 July 2017 from Google. All rights reserved.

This idea is still under experiment in couple European countries pioneered by the Finnish. It has shown both positive and negative effects. Apart from being controversial, it is very unfavorable to the government since it requires HUMONGOUS AMOUNT OF MONEY — imagine how much Chinese government have to provide even just for half of it 1.3 billion citizen? A lot. Anyway, I am sure that people up there will find a way to deny its usefulness or implement it with restrictive measure such that the country will not bankrupt. I am just saying from my dreamy understanding of the scheme, by having a basic income we would be able to life unconcerned of money and do more valuable things. While this exclude eating in Michelin restaurant everyday, buying luxury clothes and queuing for newest iPhone, I think I can live with it. There should be more sharing platform which can be access free publicly, including activities that add value such as library, sport teams, community services, etc. The main idea is there should be a system in which human could live without worry but did not end up stupid due to unavailable access to activities that add value. These people with basic income given to them should be able to utilize their knowledge to make a better environment and thus boost the quality of life around them. No one need to do things they hate just to survive and that they contribute to the best of their expertise. Helping other boost one’s happiness and induced kindness chain (Fowler, Christakis, 2009) research claimed. This really sound so dreamy and jut hope it might come true.

In the end, my answer of the main question: “Are you scared that robot will take over your job?”
Short answer: no.
Long answer: no, but I am afraid of the uncertainty that will follow from the time in which I will be unemployed due to automation. While currently I am sure that job take over will not happen since I am confident in my creative thinking and learn-ability (let be a little positive once in a while) but AI is developing fast and no one knows up to what degree will it evolves in the future. So I just hope that before that happen, the people up there have found the answer or give me a change to work it out i.g. employ me please?

HAHA hope you enjoy~

Inequality in the Contradictory World

At first glance inequality seems very negative and bad but all of these years, the society has failed to come into an agreement on this. While you might have guessed that people who rejected the claim tend to come from the upper social classes, but the important point is this group of people existed. While academics have recently shown how inequality affected the economy negatively, still some economists argue that inequality to a degree is needed as motivation to advance (The Economist, 2015). I personally believe that it might be true but still in process of finding the truth, if there any.

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Retrieved 31 July 2017 from The Economist. All rights reserved.

Here, I don’t want to babble on the hard core part of inequality. The introduction above purpose is just to give something to think about and maybe you would like to check my related post about Piketty. Anyway, in this post I want to share my opinion that perfect equality is impossible. I believe that nature is unfair; firstly all creatures were born unique. For human, some are stronger, some born genius, some talk faster so on and so forth. Not only one’s characteristics but also the environment they were born to; most people were born mediocre but a number of baby was born billionaire or royal. So this clearly shows different starting point. In nature, we know that some animals are stronger than others, some are smarter and they all have their kin’s ability, e.g. while lion is strong on land but they can’t beat jellyfish in the ocean or something like that. Having said so, I think forcing equality is just one of the political tool only. Being fake is part of human nature and we are very contradictory. Some examples apart from inequality above, most are from real encounter:

  • An animal activist who saw a cockroach and ordered to kill it without a second thought;
  • Justify eating pork, beef, chicken, etc. but disagree when other people kill dog for food.
  • Everyone who threw their unfinished food instead of bringing it home or give it away because don’t you know that you also need to eat the next day?

Anyway, I know I did not do a good job in this post. It is a little all over the place but my focal point is that achieving equality in the current world is near to impossible simply because nature was not made equal. The later part was just additional because I feel like sharing how contradictory people can be. If someone say they support equality, I feel that I will never fully trust their words.

Why I am not Vegan Yet?

Or at least vegetarian.

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Retrieved 26 July 2107 from Google. All rights reserved.

First you might want to take a look at this video by PETA and read some articles about human cruel treatment toward our-soon-to-be food. They are all I believe unpleasant and made me wonder why do I still eat meat. However, I was not really interested, I eat what was served and ignore the rest. From time to time I also came across discussion that justified meat eating culture (such as this one) and well I always try to be neutral. So why is that now I decided to write something about the topic? No idea, I just met a lot more vegan/vegetarian people these days and somehow started to sympathize the world of animals. Despite that previous claim, I am still neutral and will just present my reason of not turning vegan…yet.

1. My family make living from livestock
Honestly this is fundamental. At this time I cannot imagine myself as a vegan, it feels like I am betraying my family. Of course I don’t know how I will be in the future but at the moment, no.

2. I cannot afford the pricey vegan diet

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Retrieved 26 July 2017. All rights reserved.

It is not a secret that vegan lifestyle is arguably more expensive than omnivore. Especially if you are a student who don’t have access to kitchen, no salary and is living in the part of the world where the price of fruits and vegetables are more expensive than meat, I think you will understand how hard it is to turn vegan. This is a little exaggerated but my situation is more like be poor and starve to die or be less poor and eat meat; I chose the second. Maybe if I forced myself to squeeze in this price or vegan trade off I will be a junk food eater vegan and live out of these. Guess better not.

 

3. Food choice problem
I was a meat lover long ago but now I am more attracted to soy, beans, nuts, fruits, oats, so on and so forth so I should have no problem going vegan right? Apparently no. Apart from the cost I had mentioned in the previous point, I found it very hard for me to buy these products around where I live. Of course rice is always easy to find but I don’t really eat rice. Bread without egg or noodles without pork broth are rare, not to mention the trend of seemingly add cheese and butter to every dish. So while I don’t mind, actually adore vegan diet but it is just near to impossible to be one with my environment. If I can access tofu, tempeh, peanuts, cashew, almond and their nuts friends, fresh fruits and vegetables, mushrooms and algae easily (and affordably) I will be glad to leave those pile of meat.

4. Last but most important was from a vegetarian friend: never force yourself to give up meat
Basically she told me that to be a long lasting vegan/vegetarian, the urge must come from within naturally and not by force. I believe this is true because a study also mentioned when we are under restriction/limitation, we are more likely to be craving for that limited thing, in this case meat and that will caused unhappiness.

The reason why I wrote this post is not merely share my personal status but I would like to share a message to you readers. You might be omnivore or you might be vegetarian and even vegan. No matter which group you are in, please do show respect to one another. It is good to raise awareness of animal abuse but I feel that pushing the abuse faulty to consumer might not be best way. Arguably, no consumer then production should stop but there are other measure too. Maybe to urge the government to regulate farm to operate with more moral, though of course you can argue that just putting them in a cage is already a crime.

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Retrieved 26 July 2017 from Google. All rights reserved.

Another maybe less heard way is the principal of moderation. You know these days food portion has been larger than ever and people are eating so much more than needed. As I had posted before, the trend is crazy. People are cheering for 10 patties burger, 72 ounce steak (~2.041kg), giant burrito stuffed with BBQ meat, etc. If only people go back to the time where you just eat 70 gram (~2.5 ounces) red meat (source: nhs) then how much live stock will we already be saving despite still able to eat them? My point is that, rather than blaming people for eating meat at all, isn’t it better to questioned the amount of that people eat? Or maybe the amount of animals who were killed but ended up back in dumpster again because the serving size is way too much for one to consume?

This is my opinion and I know some of you disagree with me, I don’t mind. One thing to note, whether you support vegan or omnivore or in between, I would love to discuss the topic to understand it from different perspectives but let’s not make food become a topic that raise anger between us. Thank you 🙂