In 2006 or 2007 I would have probably questioned the sanity of Juti Krairiskh with his “sufficiency economy” idea.
At that time, the Junta, the clowns in their shiny uniforms (yes we had a military Junta… people forget so easily) were toying with the “sufficiency economy” philosophy, while buying mountains of military gears.
It’s was a scam. A vulgar scam.
Fast forward. 2009. The Big Freaking Global Crisis.
Most of the politicians don’t know how to react. Because the situation is unprecedented. And when it’s unprecedented, politicians have only one strategy : the head into the sand and the bullshit wrapped with gift paper.
But good news, at least one thai politician is giving a realistic (AKA harsh) summary of the current crisis, in the thai english press.
Let’s have a closer look.
MP Juti Krairiskh from Phitsanulok yesterday called for the government to turn to sufficiency economics to save Thailand because most other countries are now tanking into the “toilet”.
“Today the European Union, China and the United States, which are our export markets, are all reeling under recession. All the countries will be dumping their goods like crazy. Trade agreements will be breached,” he said.
Juti, who belongs to the New Decade Group led by Banyat Bantadtan, urged the government to come clean on the real state of the economy, given the deterioration in exports and the current account.
“The global economy is facing a recession. The US won’t recover for three years. China might be the only hope, while most countries have crashed into the toilet. But China is waiting to crash into the toilet too,” he said. (Nation)
This man is full of common sense.
“Trade war”, “3 years” and “toilets” those are prescient words… Key words.
Now that we have the diagnosis, please pass the salt and the prognosis.
Under the circumstances, Thailand must rely on sufficiency economics, as championed by His Majesty the King, to save itself, Juti said.
The government has the responsibility to promote and educate the people about the philosophy of sufficiency economics, he said.
In practice, Thailand would not shy away completely from external demand but would focus on promoting domestic resources and consumption so that despite any external shocks or depression, it could stay afloat.
The economic difficulties will continue into next year so the government must tell the people how it intends to relieve their hardship and get revenue for its spending plans.
“It must be based on reality and on how to realistically save the country,” he added.
“Sufficiency economy” is nothing more than “living by your means”. It’s common sense. Royal or not, that shouldn’t be the question.
When it’s not used as a scam against the people (“be poor, shut the fuck up, and let me buy an obscene Mercedes“), this basic idea is certainly a good one.
It’s a gauge. Abhisit The Clown with his 2000 THB special allowance given to every living organisms doesn’t understand the meaning of it. Obviously.
Let’s go further : Thailand will suffer. It’s unavoidable. But it seems that the country has good cards to suffer less than western societies.
A few reasons :
-Thailand doesn’t have the huge liabilities, unfunded promises, that are going to totally zombify and shake the economies of western countries (social security in Europe, medicare in the US, retirement funds, pensions etc.).
Just think about retirement funds and pensions… It’s an atomic bomb. US model or french model… it’s nothing less than a Ponzzi scheme… A super huge Madoff Fund… You can’t defeat demography. But so many stupid people think they can, it’s scary.
-Thai people can obviously live with much less than westerners, therefore (base effect) to go lower will be less painful.
–Even though Thailand has an inefficient and kafkaian administration and public sector… it costs much less in proportion than in Europe for instance. Therefore, it will be less a burden to maintain.
-Unemployment ? Sure. It will to rise. But we already have 42 % of the labor force in agriculture… That’s a huge cushion. Do we have a cushion in Europe ? In the US ? Nil. Nada. Zero. Plus, they will always find buyers outside the country for the thai food surplus.
We might not find new buyers for new cars… But food will always trade.
-Informal economy. To rely on official GDP figures (like myself too often)… is certainly a mistake. Black, gray, underground, informal you name it… this second or even third economy is well developed in Thailand. It’s like a national sport ;-). And it could surely provide another cushion to absorb the shocks.
-Resourcefulness. Necessity is always law. Many thai are probably more resourceful than people living in Europe, totally addicted to state’s Nanny support (that is going to be under great stress because of the crisis).
Add the classic ideas : weather, family support, social structure, Thailand has oil, etc.
So as you see, me too I can be optimistic. Sometimes.
But watch out… to have trump cards in your hand, doesn’t imply that you will be able or willing to use them…
The biggest risk actually for the country is of course the political risk…
Dumb and corrupted politicians and elite, plus the perspective of the royal succession… those are the biggest challenges.