Sunday 21st July 2024
Durbar Marg, Kathmandu

Robert Kiyosaki has made a curious assertion in one of his many books. He says that the tax system, the legal system, in fact the whole economic system, has been set up to favour entrepreneurs. He says that everything is there to encourage people to take risks, borrow money, set up businesses, build factories and houses and create jobs. Why? Because that’s what the country needs. We need employment and housing, so we need enterprising individuals who can make that happen. We need these top people. Everything else has to serve their needs, and the system exists to support them.

Down at the bottom of the pile, things look different. ‘The bosses need us’, say the workers, so ask for bigger pay rises. That’s not going to work out. These days, those bosses have a choice. If you’re not willing to work for the dollar rate offered, they’ll find someone who will, often from overseas. In Britain today the argument is about all the East European countries who have joined the European Union recently. It means that their residents now have the right yes, the legal right to travel to Britain and offer themselves for work. The problem for us locals is that these new arrivals are used to working for less money than we need and are grateful for any jobs they can get, no matter how second-rate or poorly paid. They are also willing to work hard and don’t demand time off and holidays. From the point of view of the employers, they’re just what they need.

The example most often quoted is ‘Polish plumbers’. In the last few months, many plumbers and other skilled people have arrived in Britain from places like Poland, and are offering their services. They work hard and they don’t ask for much money. They are suddenly in demand. Everybody wants them. English plumbers are up in arms. ‘Not fair’, they say, forgetting that the economic system doesn’t set out to be fair. It exists to make things, deliver services, create new businesses and provide profits. It never sets out to be ‘fair’. If you want fairness in society, you have to vote for a government that will do something about that. Economics isn’t in that business of being ‘fair’.

English plumbers have forgotten one thing. People don’t like them. People in Britain know that when their washing machine goes mad and starts pumping water all over the kitchen floor, then they are in trouble mainly because it will be practically impossible to find anyone to come round and fix the problem. You will be standing up to your ankles in water, telephone in one hand and Yellow Pages in the other, and you can go down the list for quite a way before even getting an answer. Then there’s the reply, ‘It will be £60 to come out and £20 an hour after that’ too expensive. There’s a lot of, ‘Sorry, too busy right now. I can maybe fit you in sometime next Tuesday’ and the question of time: it’s unheard of to get a plumber out of his cosy house after 6 o’clock at night. After all, he has a family too. He likes watching TV, just like you. He doesn’t want to miss the football, as you don’t. Well, no, he’s not exactly like you. He’s set himself up as a plumber, that’s how he earns a living. To do that, he needs customers. Polish plumbers know that, and are willing to work to please their customers, not themselves. That’s the difference. steady capital solutions

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