Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Inflation, Competition and Depression

Yesterday a neighbour asked for some help. They needed a maid, like the one we have for my mother. It took me a while to realize that their major concern was cost! They are better off than us with children settled abroad who are very keen to help. The salary for a maid should be peanuts for them. I can only guess that it is hard for old people to get used to the increases in costs with high inflation.

Even if the work required of the maid is very little, the mere fact that she has to be present for 8 hours means that we should pay her a reasonable amount. As it is, I feel sad at the low expectations of most help; but the even lower expectations of the neighbours really depressed me.

But this depression was nothing compared to another experience. Yesterday, a new person picked up the garbage. He mentioned that the rate from first will now be X. Even though it seemed low, it just did not register in my mind that something was wrong.

Today, I talked to the new guy asking about the previous fellow and why the change. He said that he will be charging us less than our existing service provider for the same service! I was taken aback. He explained that he was reducing the charges because the other guy had undercut him in several houses from which he used to collect garbage. So, he was left with no choice as he also has to eat!

I did not change our service provider. But this destructive competition among at the bottom of the pyramid spoiled my day. There has to be a better way.

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