Free Market Economy Conditions & Freedom Of Living: High Cost Of Housing In Cities

Filed under: Colombo Telegraph,MORE OPINION,Opinion |

By Siri Gamage

Dr. Siri Gamage

The neoliberal economic doctrine that dominated the world in the last few decades and still doing so has created conditions in societies, especially their urban centres, that deserve further critical scrutiny by the alert and educated intelligentsia both in developed and developing countries. This is because these new conditions have not only generated highly competitive learning and working life for citizens and in some cases immigrants but also the drastic changes brought about by the new system have compromised the freedom of living for many, particularly the young and the middle aged. Those employed in the private sector in particular seem to live for work and in many cases to pay off heavy mortgages and other loans rather than the other way around.

Ideally, competition is supposed to bring down prices of commodities, other products and services. There are examples of this happening, e.g.telecommunication. However, there are many examples of the opposite. Generally speaking, a healthy society provides conditions for their citizens to be able to educate, acquire skills, be gainfully employed, buy a house, car or have access to transport facilities, medical services, recreation and contribute to the community welfare. Conditions for a good and comfortable life is provided in such societies while preserving the physical and social environment, the latter in a conflict free, cohesive way. Citizens live in happiness and spend their non-working days and hours in pursuit of other interests such as reading, recreation, reflection, writing, sports, travel, helping others and more. There is work and life balance. But the conditions of life that have been created by the free market economy and associated practices have brought many pressures and challenges that have compromised freedom of living.

How does these new conditions appear in everyday life? What can they do to our sense of being, human relations and core values? Has the neoliberal free market economic doctrine done irreparable damage to the social fabric of societies which were based on good old norms, values, fair play, sense of being, community and altruism? In addressing these questions, I need to use the example of Parramatta, an urban suburb of Sydney, to elaborate.

To start with, urban living has been constructed in such away that one or both partners in a family have to work and earn a living. This is not the problem. All have to work and pay taxes to the government which in turn spends them on services, infrastructure etc. However, with the income received one has to pay rent or if one has bought an apartment or house need to pay the mortgage. One has to buy consumables like food, clothing, and medicine. There are various kinds of insurance products and other services one has to pay regularly, eg telecommunication, electricity, water, gas, and local council fees. In addition, there are various indirect taxes too. If the couple has children, there are further expenses. The point is that when a small family pays all these expenses, there is very little left for personal enjoyment and entertainment that can contribute to their quality of life.

When we go for our evening walk along the Parramatta River in the evenings, we see many Indian and other residents in the area doing the same. Indian and Chinese families have three generations together in such walks. They seem to enjoy the walks but many seem to be worried too. In the faces of the old and young, I witness a worried sign, serious outlook. Are they worried about the increasingly expensive urban living? Are they worried about the household budgets? Are they worried about the future prospects of adult children who will never be able to buy an apartment or a house due to sky rocketing prices?

It is a fact that in Sydney and Melbourne for example, housing prices have increased in the last few years beyond any belief. In the year up to February this year, the prices increased by 19 percent in Sydney. Melbourne followed with a 14 percent increase. It is reported that in these two cities, the housing prices more than doubled during the last five years (During the last 5 years property prices increased by 75% in Sydney). Largely investors and speculators drive this increase. The government is not taking steps to cool the housing market down as it relies on housing construction industry to drive economic growth after the end of mining boom. State governments received stamp duty income in billions. In this environment, those who had property before the recent rise are enjoying increased value. First homebuyers are finding it difficult to compete with cashed up investors and others who are trying to capitalise from the rising housing market. Low interest rates provided by the banks add fuel to the fire.

A new class divide has been created between those who own property in these two cities and those who do not but keep renting. Investors who own properties need those who are willing to or compelled to rent. Otherwise, their dreams won’t come true. It is often mentioned in the media that there are some who own more than 15 properties or more and claiming tax concessions. One television presenter who gives property advice owns more than 40 investment properties. There don’t seem to be an end to the greed of some and to the misery of others. What this example shows is that governments who follow free market, neoliberal policies advocating the need for competition, free trade, unfettered freedoms for the investors take the side of the investors over the welfare of large majority of others who are condemned to live a life of daily struggle and misery. Such governments often talk about the need for free market and individual choice for economic growth. They argue that without economic growth, services cannot be provided due to decreased tax revenue. What they don’t talk about is whether there are other models of sustainable economic growth that do not put much pressure on the young and the middle aged. This is not an abstract argument as in Europe where there are some countries that have not followed the neoliberal economic doctrine as in the English speaking countries in full and still able to provide conditions of life and freedom of living to their citizens to an acceptable level e.g. Germany and some Scandinavian countries.

With the new group of cashed up citizens who have benefitted from the property boom in the market whom I call new riches in cities like Sydney and Melbourne on one hand and others with borrowed money in a low interest environment trying to emulate the former, a new game is being played in the town. As a newcomer to Sydney from a regional university city about 450 kms away, I am only beginning to discover the differences in lifestyle between these two groups. I have had no experience so far about the third group who are not part of this competitive game and live in government housing or low rent accommodation mostly with government welfare. New immigrants from Asia, in particular China and India are also being sucked into this game of living and working as I see young couples with and without children visiting display homes in various locations operated by building companies that provide house and land packages that average $800,000. It is lot of money even for someone like me who is approaching retirement. Yet many of these young couples are planning to commit to heavy housing loans that extend to 20-30 years. From their point of view, it is perhaps better to buy a house or an apartment rather than pay rent long term. This is a basic human need whether one is immigrant or born in the country. The problem with Australian immigration policy is that it brings in close to 200,000 immigrants including temporary work visa holders annually and dump them in main cities like Sydney and Melbourne rather than spreading them across the country, especially in regional cities. This has essentially redefined some suburbs, brought in new social problems, and generated resentment among Australians toward new immigrants. It has also created conditions in these two cities that challenge freedom of living, particularly due to the class divide described earlier, the gap between the rich and the poor etc.

If there is a decline in the property prices, as many authoritative figures have pointed out, another disaster can befall those who are struggling to pay their mortgages. Young couples, whether immigrant or born here, can face an uphill battle to keep up with the monthly payments in high interest climate with heavy loans. Political leaders have been advised by many organisations, financial experts, economists, and academics about the need to take precautionary steps to avert such a disaster, eg.remove or reduce tax concessions available to investors currently.  If they don’t heed this advice and the road to riches through the property boom suddenly ends, the meaning of freedom to live can also change quite drastically for many young and middle-aged couples.

What this story tells us is that the propertied class in major cities in the developed countries can enjoy the freedom of living more so than the classes who are not owning property or those who are committed to heavy housing loans in the hope of becoming rich through the property boom. The anxieties and worries shown in the faces of Indian and other immigrant families taking a walk in the park next to Parramatta river in Sydney or sitting on benches in contemplation only tell part of the story. We have to wait for the next cycle in the property story for the other half. Lifestyle and material possessions of the rich class will be the same as they have made enough money by buying and selling. However, the life of others will not be the same.

The greed of some generates hardship to others. In this case those seeking to enter housing market for the first time or those who seek to upgrade.  Those involved in real estate business and property development are further promoting this situation.  For example one such company whose owner is Chinese employs 300 sales consultants who are also Chinese to market properties. There are many others doing the same. The story of Perth in Western Australia, which has faced the brunt of the end of mining boom, is the opposite as the housing prices there are much lower. So is in Brisbane in the State of Queensland.

What has all this got to do with market economy and neoliberal doctrine? The government and regulatory authorities in the name of this economic doctrine, associated principles and practices are allowing all this.

The lesson for us is to be careful when these marketing and sales people approach you to sell a house, apartment, land or any other product. Because, more than the words they utter, what really needs is for you to do independent research and make decisions independently. There are many tricks employed by sales people in this game, I detect. It all relates to money and profits for the seller, in these cases property developers. No one looks after your interest and your freedom to live. It is me, me doctrine that governs the world and city living.

There are lessons to be learned from the tale of these two cities in Australia for other countries that are driving the same model of free market economic growth at any cost and avoid the negative social consequences. When the speculators drive some parts of the economies such as the housing sector for their own ends and the governments provide tax concessions and necessary legal and tax frameworks, conditions of living created for the rest of the population become rather bleak to the point of losing the freedom to live for many.

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22 Responses to Free Market Economy Conditions & Freedom Of Living: High Cost Of Housing In Cities

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    Property has always been a safe investment but in UK where I live, the property market crashed around 2008. Since then, the market has been on a slow recovery but in recent years, property values have appreciated by about 8% annually on average. UK property prices are much higher than in some European countries, such as, Spain & Portugal, & many Brits have been able to sell their property in UK at a considerable profit & retire in sunny parts of Europe, living comfortably with the proceedings. However, all that is now changing with the Brexit as British citizens will not be entitled to certain social benefits, such as, health care, after UK leaves the EU. In my case, I have always been planning my retirement in SL but the property prices in SL have been appreciating exponentially. I still have a few more years to finish paying off my mortgage in UK but all these years I have been paying the mortgage, the interest has been below 7% and even as low as 0.5% a few years ago, making property ownership affordable to most, although, a deposit of over 20% would be required to get the best deal. In contrast, property prices in Sl are similar to that of UK, making SL one of the most expensive countries to buy property, yet, I am surprised at the booming property market in SL. An apartment in Colombo will take off a considerable chunk of my retirement fund & I am not sure if I can maintain my average life style with the balance of my savings in SL. In fact, I would certainly be better off retiring in Europe like my colleagues, if not for the Brexit. Is the property boom in SL sustainable & all those who have invested in, particularly, luxury apartments, need to worry about the bubble bursting? I am having second thoughts about retiring in SL with the ever rising cost of comodities, expensive health care, and a poor public transport system with a chaotic bus service dominated by a privateers & unlicensed 3 wheeler taxis. It seems to me that the middle class in SL are being squeezed out.

    Raj
    April 12, 2017 at 1:24 pm
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      Raj Hold on to your hard cash for a few more years. The luxury apartments and units priced above USD 500,000 will crash in about 2-3 years when all the supply currently under construction comes on board. The mid range apartments below USD 350,000 would remain in demand for sometime. Further by 2020 port city would commence construction of apartments and there would be excess supply. The bubble will burst and hence have the hard cash ready to take advantage. The banks who have extended credit to developers will take a hit. If you have a reasonable monthly retirement income which can support a driver and a maid, SL is the place to retire. Jagath

      Jagath Fernando
      April 12, 2017 at 7:32 pm
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        Jagath, SL is a nice place to live in retirement during the cold weather in the West but not year round. The health care system of SL is lagging, pollution is unbearable, food is toxic and the heat suffocating. Besides, you don’t get to travel much living in Sri Lanka all year. There are so many other beautiful places to visit on earth. Not seeing the same things we’ve been looking at since childhood.

        Rtd. Lt. Reginald Shamal Perera
        April 12, 2017 at 11:04 pm
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        Thanks for the advise. My thoughts exactly. The bubble has to burst sooner or later.

        Raj
        April 13, 2017 at 3:22 pm
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      Born and bred in the countryside, Raj’s comment and the follow up comments remind me of the family living in a hut looking for some salt to add to the “kanchi” (rice porridge)and another person yelling at the slave that the sugar in the warm milk in the crystal mug is insufficient. Will Raj identify the richer person?

      K.Pillai
      April 14, 2017 at 5:14 am
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        Mr Pillai For your information, I think the definition of rich is relative but in terms of materiel wealth, it is obviously those who drink from crystal glasses. I, like many, belong somewhere in the middle of the extremes you have mentioned & my point is, that those in the middle gradually get squeezed out to either not having even salt for the kanji or privileged of being able to have many crystal goblets to drink single malt from. The privileged are those who are entitled to duty free / concessionary car permits which can be sold for profit, tax free salaries, etc & others who are in the gravy train of politics. So as far as retirees like me are concerned, we are being sucked into the poverty trap gradually. Most of my Sri Lankan friends are struggling to keep their heads above water & many are in debt trying to maintain the status quo. Come retirement time, they will have no income & no savings either after paying off their debts.

        Raj
        April 14, 2017 at 3:29 pm
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          Thank you for responding Raj. It is depressing when one thinks of the million or so Lankans slaving in the Middle East. Do they dream of an Altair apartment? Successive GoSL show scant concerns for their future. The “privileged” think of Colombo only because that is where the money is. The hard currency for their cars, air conditioners, swimming pools etc come from the sweat of the workers. Can you think of a SAITM outside Colombo?.

          K.Pillai
          April 14, 2017 at 10:47 pm
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            Mr Pillai We all aspire to uplift our living standards & some of us grab an opportunity to go abroad to seek our fortune. Depending on the level of education, some of us do manual work in harsh conditions while others have better working conditions. Whatever the job, immigrant workers everywhere face hardship, discrimination & often exploited but slog on to save some money to return to motherland & live the rest of their existence in relative comfort. I do not consider my self as privileged but fortunate to have been able to emigrate to a developed country where I enjoy an average life but to maintain the same lifestyle in SL, I need a high income. Despite bringing my hard earned savings to SL & contributing to the FOREX reserves, the current regime will tax my old car unfairly if I am to bring it with me (because I can’t afford to buy even an average new car in SL) & I can barely afford a $300,000 apartment, which Jagath has described, even with a favorable currency rate. So as Reginald has advised, its better for me be where I am, although I may be considered a third class citizen because I can depend on the state, if necessary, in my old age & visit friends & family in SL occasionally. Maybe you should focus your prejudiced views on selfish politicians, their cronies who feed on scraps from the tables, the corrupt state officials & the GMOA Mafia, who are the main reason for poor Sri Lankans to seek their fortune in harsh conditions, in SL or abroad. You should be concerned about the pollution, toxic food & poor health care as Reginald has outlined, which all Sri Lankans have to endure. Maybe you are more concerned about SAITM & support the self centered GMOA, condoning their strike action while the poor, you lament about, suffer in Govt. hospitals due to lack of medical care & indeifference.

            Raj
            April 15, 2017 at 3:14 pm
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              Raj: “………I can barely afford a $300,000 apartment,…… ” Houses outside Colombo will cost you much less. Raj again: “…. So as Reginald has advised, its better for me be where I am,………. ” Come off this whine. You wanted this advice anyway. Raj yet again: “……… Maybe you are more concerned about SAITM & support the self centered GMOA, … ” I pointed out SAITM as an example to show that Colombo is the centre of development. You imply that Lankan poor suffer because of the GMOA strike but otherwise they are contended.

              K.Pillai
              April 15, 2017 at 11:14 pm
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                Mr Pillai We can continue this conversation till the cows come home. My point in relation to the article by Mr Gamage, was that housing, particularly, in SL is out of the reach of many due to a super rich class created by successive govts. Reginald confirmed my decision of not returning to SL after I retire, & as for SATIM, which is irrelevant to the subject, but since you brought it up, I think it is despicable for the GMOA to go on strike, bearing in mind that most have been educated by the state & enjoying privileges, such as, duty concessionary vehicles. Recently, junior doctors in UK went on strike on a couple of days to air their grievances on certain conditions in their employment contract but the GMC, the governing body for medical standards in the UK, clearly stated that they will be held accountable for any deaths of patients that may have caused due to the strike action. The senior doctors did not go on strike in sympathy & made sure patients inconvenience was minimized. That is what is expected from a responsible GMOA, not holding a gun to the head of poor patients to safeguard their monopoly. I have no more to say on this matter but if you want to have the last word, you are welcome.

                Raj
                April 16, 2017 at 4:37 pm
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    “…young couples are planning to commit to heavy housing loans that extend to 20-30 years. From their point of view, it is perhaps better to buy a house or an apartment rather than pay rent long term. This is a basic human need whether one is immigrant or born in the country. The problem with Australian immigration policy is that it brings in close to 200,000 immigrants including temporary work visa holders annually and dump them in main cities like Sydney and Melbourne rather than spreading them across the country, especially in regional cities.” When prices escalate fast, a house is a good investment. In the UK, especially London, there was more than a decade of steep rise followed by another of stagnation. When the property market recovered at the end of the millennium, there was an unprecedented rise in prices for a decade. There are ups and downs. But to buy before prices flatten out at the top is wise, for rents are always rising. Inflation is always there. Wages increase. So, with a secure income there is little risk, unless one buys too expensive a property at the wrong time (as it happened during the artificially stimulated property market boom in the US). Middle and low income groups suffer when the interest rates go up and when unemployment strikes. There as a lot of possession of properties by the lenders. Thus it is a high risk game only for the more vulnerable sections. But who cares about them in a system designed for the wealthy? As for immigration policy, however evenly the state may spread immigrants they will somehow drift towards places with prospects for good earnings. If they do not, there can be issues of poverty. Does Australia have plans to make places other than the few thriving urban regions attractive?

    SJ
    April 12, 2017 at 2:50 pm
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    Increased house prices, cause, increased mortgage payments, reducing the quality of life, Shitty, obscene looking 100 year old semi detaches are sold over half a million Pounds in London now. The borrowers are like bulls tied to bullock carts! They are driving the economy paying these crazy mortgages! It is repeated in many parts of the world and we have seen it crashes spectacularly in many parts of the world with inflation and rate rises. I feel sorry for the young generation who get sucked into these mortgages! It is responsibility of government to make affordable housing available to everyone! I do not think we have this problem in countries like Sweden! Even I am having second thoughts retiring in SL, looking at the prices of commodities, that wont be easy unless you move to a village!

    srinath gunaratne
    April 12, 2017 at 7:33 pm
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    The real question to ask is whether following neoliberal policies as done by our political leaders of both major parties suits our society. Neoliberalism is a theory of individualism that believes that the effort of one in competition with others in working for gain will lift all others as his gain will trickle down when others are employed by him. So, the theory is that the state should give him free rein to bring about material gain. The collective efforts of individuals, so encouraged, will ensure that society profits. In the West, the theory has not worked. It has rather made the rich get richer. The top 1% now control the wealth of the rest. We find elections rigged, populism released and results brought about that political power will pass into the hands of those nominated by the rich. Is this what we want for Sri Lanka? Our religions are opposed to this system. They require that men and women should care for each other, should share wealth and live in harmony (though Sinhala Buddhism unfortunately confines the idea only to the Sinhales). We should try to build a society more consistent with caring and sharing than in the pure pursuit of material wealth as is happening now. The ostentatious display of wealth by the newly rich in Sri Lanka will soon bring trouble. It is best to ensure that there is a more equitable distribution of this wealth usually gotten through corrupt and illegal means. It is a pity that we do not have the old LSSP and the Communist Party anymore which acted as restraints on the gluttony of the rich. There is no safety valve now. Uncontrolled, there will be calamities to come as the poor have really been made to bite the dust and eat it.

    Mama Sinhalam
    April 12, 2017 at 7:51 pm
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      Mama Sinhalam With hatred fermenting in your heart towards the majority of this country no economic model can bring you happiness. Other readers please proceed discussing this important subject. Soma

      soma
      April 13, 2017 at 9:33 am
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      I think there has to be a strike of balance between neo liberalism (posh word for capitalism) and welfare state. The model followed by countries like Sweden has achieved this by balancing the tax and welfare. Under the labor government in Briton, the free fall of capitol thanks to he economic boom, created a huge population who opted not to work but live off benefits, Present government is still struggling to come out from debt the country fell during Blair era! Greece is also another example of welfare state! You have a valid point of economic disparity in SL. The the religious leaders have mostly forgotten (Except some common sense from cardinal) followers and people have been driven to make money even by killing dogs. We have to show empathy and we must look after each other without race or religion barriers, Nobody is preaching this in SL! But your point about Sinhalese Buddhists are wrong and they have always tolerated wealth creation of other communities! It is a pity that we do not have the old LSSP and the Communist Party anymore which acted as restraints on the gluttony of the rich. Very true! The political dick now only think about filling their tummies!

      srinath gunaratne
      April 13, 2017 at 2:46 pm
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      Yes, I see trouble coming owing to growing disparities. I’ve been supporting things like private universities here, instead of sending huge sums of money being sent abroad for education in foreign universities. But all those efforts to privatise certain services gets undermined because the stinking rich here (and that class is growing) has now got undisguised contempt for the poor. The poor are wondering what to do with themselves. An effective rabble rouser could cause havoc. The JVP had been acting responsibly, but now they, too, are trying to cripple the system. Many people (not me!) may decide to forget just how nasty the Rajapaksas were, and bring them back.

      Sinhala_Man
      April 14, 2017 at 1:07 pm
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    It is a timely effort by Dr Gamage to open a discussion on the repercussions of ‘neo-liberalism’ on decent living and freedom of living. As far as I am concerned, John Williamson’s 10 points (Washington Consensus) might be the best to summarize the neo-liberal policies in any country. (1) Reduction of public spending. (2) Reduction of fiscal deficits. (3) Moderate (or low) interest rates. (4) Tax reforms as a larger net and indirect taxes. (5) Competitive and unprotected exchange rates. (6) Trade liberalization (without protection). (7) Liberalization of inward (also outward) capital transfers. (8) Privatization of state enterprises. (9) Deregulation or abolition of regulations on competitive free markets in all spheres. (10) Legal security for property rights. Some of them may be necessary for growth, development and economic management, implemented in a moderate manner. Additional aspects of neo-liberalism are consumerism and rat race. The above ten are neo-liberal policies. Consumerism and rat race are outcomes. The emergence of housing ‘bubbles’ is one outcome of some or all those policies. Housing is a basic right of human beings. Traditionally, Australia and Sri Lanka have been taking measures to ensure the housing affordability. Under the influence of neo-liberalism this effort is given up. Another aspect that Siri Gamage is highlighting is the hectic life styles that the young people are forced to adopt under the influence of consumerism and rate race. Time for leisure, recreation and creative activities are dwindling under the circumstances.

    Dr Laksiri Fernando
    April 13, 2017 at 4:27 am
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      Williamson summarises neo-liberalism well. But, from our point of view, what has been most important is the free access given to the influx of multinational companies. This has meant that they could swamp the country with capital, make profits, and repatriate them. The alternative of building up local companies is what needs to be pursued. The climate that has been created is to look to foreign leadership in development. China of course did that. But, may suffer in the future when the rug is pulled from under its feet as its markets are Western and its assets are in dollars. India, on the other hand, has practised inward led development, depending on their own corporations to induce development through internal markets. For us, the thing to do is to use our assets well. Tourism is something that could be developed by local groups. The plantation sector is already handled successfully by local firms. Dilmah does as good a job as Liptons. Indigenous economic activity, particularly agriculture, must be promoted. True it is that there must be reliance on foreign investment for technology and high end industrial development. What is needed is an astute policy of balance, as Dr Fernando suggests.. Coming back to the wages of envy of the Sinhala Buddhist, this has set us back for a long time. Policies like standardisation and Sinhala only were not born of good hearts of the pure Buddhist. Of course, the reaction to it by the Tamils through violence also set back the country. This episode set us back by 60 years. When Ceylon was independent it had more capital per capita than any Asian state. It is good to go back to what the Buddha taught to guide our economy to a non-materialistic and caring policy of economic development. This way the rat race that afflicts the young could be avoided. Thank you Dr Gamage for initiating this discussion. I do regret introducing the sour note of ethnicity into this but the economy is dependent on politics. We have to have harmony in order to pursue economic policies. The experience of Australia and UK are hardly relevant to a country that does not enjoy such harmony.

      Mama Sinhalam
      April 13, 2017 at 9:52 pm
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        Thanks, dear Mama Sinhalam, You ARE a Tamil speaker aren’t you? No, you have NOT brought a “sour note of ethnicity” in to this discussion. Quite the contrary. You’ve analysed some of the problems faced by us very clearly, and spoken constructively. Pessimism seems to pervade much of what we’re saying, but that is NOT because we’re all born grumblers. Most of the comments are from those who’ve lived in “western countries” for long periods. I’ve not even visited them. We have got to start facing up to the fact that the government that we ushered in 27 months ago has done almost nothing, although I still feel that some of the members are decent people. This is why I don’t criticise President Maithri too much. But he’s also disappointed – especially in not trying to understand that he cannot renege on promises made to the minorities. The UNP is proving a write off, owing to Ranil’s selfishness. He’s just a few months younger than me: we’re old! Why can’t we recognise that and let younger people lead us?

        Sinhala_Man
        April 14, 2017 at 1:58 pm
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    Thank you Sinhala Man. Of course I am Tamil. It is a joke among us. When the Tamil man was assaulted during the communal riots, he shouted Ganda “Eppa, Ganda Epa, Mama Sinhalam” when he should have said mama Sinhala. It is the “m” that separates us. The Tamil man’s wife shooted Mamath Sinhalam. Both were soundy beaten up. Anyway, politics is important to the discussion. Neoliberalism promotes the economic man who thinks that the market will solve everything. It has not happened. Some Sinhalese (and Tamils) have got richer beyond belief. Most rot at the bottom. The rich Sinhalese will always point the finger at the rich Tamil in order to divert the anger of the ordinary man against him. That is how politics has been played in Sri Lanka. The idea should be to fashion economic policies which are based on the moral beliefs of the people which are largely grounded in the Buddhism that the Buddha taught undiluted by ethnic nationalism of the majority. Concern for all mankind and kindness to all living things, caring for others and not having desires, at least not too much of it is what should guide us towards the establishment of a welfare state where no one is left behind.

    Mama Sinhalam
    April 14, 2017 at 5:18 pm
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      Thanks for being so rational and understanding, and for making balanced comments. Also, I appreciate the wry humour.

      Sinhala_Man
      April 16, 2017 at 6:52 pm
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    What Dr. G has described is no different from what is taking place in two major cities in Canada, namely Greater Toronto and Vancouver as well. These are two cities that new immigrants tend to settle down once they arrive.

    Dhana
    April 15, 2017 at 5:56 pm
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