These times…

NY Times recently carried a section with user contributed pictures on how they are dealing with recession (link: http://tinyurl.com/czzbu8).

Some, like this one were heartbreaking. It showed how people are working harder to make ends meet. I’ve read numerous stories like these, where people are making compromises having to choose one thing over another, not caring about their health or personal satisfaction just to get by. Some others, like this one showed how during times of desperation, reason gives way to using whatever tactics one can to survive. This picture showed a car dealership urging people to support the country by only buying American cars. The banner implied that this country was not as great because people were buying foreign cars instead. I guess the fact that quality of the cars was the biggest factor in driving people away from buying their own country’s cars was easily forgotten by them. I wonder when they’ll learn that loyalty to one’s country is not precluded by choosing a better quality foreign made car over a domestic car whose engine breaks down in the middle of a highway, or for that matter in the garage within 1-2 years of having bought the car. Or maybe they realized that and as I said, were desperate enough to be able to ignore that fact conveniently. I hope they also realize that relying on these kind of tactics of using misguided propaganda to stoke people’s core values and not investing in improving the quality of their products is what got them into this mess in first place. One could probably consider buying their cars if it said, “Buy Cars from here and help me put food on table for my kids”. At least its honest and makes the customer feel good by having done a good deed rather than making them feel cheated.

The reality of these difficult times was driven even closer by the announcement made at my work yesterday. 2 of my team members were given layoff notices as their jobs were being transferred to an offshore location. I not only worked very closely with both of them, but one of them was also a very good friend of mine. I have known him personally and shared some good times together. I felt miserable for reasons I can’t explain. I dared not to think what would’ve happened if I were in his place. That reality also made me face the fact that this trend of replacing jobs with cheaper offshore alternatives will continue as long as the companies find it profitable. In these times of extreme competitiveness, either you aggressively survive or you sink. The workers in developed part of the world will have to continue to find ways to increase their productivity and justify the costlier rate of their services than the cheaper labor available elsewhere in the world.

I recently saw a truck for a food caterer asking people to enjoy life more by eating out. “Enjoy life, Eat out more often”, it said plainly. The lack of pretense in appealing to people’s desire for simple luxury for the sake of lining up their own pockets struck me as somewhat odd and distasteful. I remember being repulsed at that. The fact that the people at the top of the food chain got away with making some very disastrous decisions that totally altered the economic fundamentals and impact every single person – no matter how honest and truthful they have been is even more repulsive. I’ve always had the belief that if you stick to the core human values and be honest to yourself, you will always do well. The current times and things happening around me everyday now kind of shakes that belief a little. Maybe there’s a silver lining in that cloud…

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Just came back from lunch and the silver lining seemed to get thinner. We wanted to go to the Sumo restaurant close to our work but when we reached there, we found that it had been closed and the place was available for lease. So we went to another one that is a few miles farther away. And that was closed as well.

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