Nov 6, 2011

It's a material world......

Excerpts from various media... reports

*(The Star): Despite the rising cost of living, Malaysian consumers identify strongly with expensive branded products, said the Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations (Fomca).Its chief executive officer Datuk Paul Selvaraj said instead of buying cheaper in-house brands, consumers opt for branded items that are usually more expensive.“This shows we have become a materialistic society,” he said during The Star's “Protect Our Pockets” roundtable on the rising cost of living on Tuesday.He said Malaysians have become obsessed with brands until they overlook cheaper price items which they think have less quality.“Appearances have become more important than substance. They buy a car not because it could bring them from one place to another but to make them feel better.“It is about our value system. One example is buying a Honda City when they can only afford a Perodua Kancil,” said Selvaraj (taken off The Star Newspaper.)*

*A man who doesn't have a stable job and money is neither beautiful nor intelligent. A man who has money is beautiful as well as intelligent.

A son who doesn't do a job and give money to his mother after one month is not a son. A son who earns and gives it to his mother is actually a son.

A husband who works 18 hours a day but can't give a handsome amount of money to his wife is not her husband despite of the fact that he works for 18 hours and tries his best. A husband who takes bribes and gives handsome money to his wife is a good husband.

A society built upon the ideology of Greed. And where people don't appreciate one's effort but the product which the other person is providing, no matter it is from legal ways or illegal ways, is a society I call a failed society full of Pimps.(taken off*

*The impact of materialism in society is a complex subject. Materialism can be defined as a dominating sense of desire to pursue wealth and other tangible things that can provide physical comforts that ignores the importance of spiritual values. The characteristics of such materialistic people are greed for money, tendency to become rich quickly even if it involves a lot of risk. It also involves the desire to live in plush houses, wearing highly expensive clothes and jewelry and driving flashy cars. In short, the urge to lead an extravagant life.Personal satisfaction and greed are the most important aspects of life of the society driven by materialism. Many people echo the sentiment that the real cause of the economic problems that has hit the world is the greed caused by materialism. The real problem may not be so simple but it could be one of the reasons. Here the greed is not only confined to acquisition of money but also power. Where there is power, corruption is bound to happen.

Materialism promotes many other negative feelings as well like lust, selfishness, jealousy, sense of hopelessness, etc. People are forgetting their moral values and often fail to understand the distinction between right choices and the wrong ones. The only thing that matters is good quality life and false comforts. They think that everything around them is dictated by need of humans and is being provided by the environment. All their beliefs are based on scientific inference only. The worst of all they have lost faith in God as they refuse to believe in anything that we cannot see or hear or touch. As a result, they remain unrepentant after committing sin. Thus materialism has adversely affected the entire framework of our society.*

*(part of the lyrics to "Material Girl" by Madonna. )

Some boys kiss me, some boys hug me I think they're O.K.

If they don't give me proper credit I just walk away

They can beg and they can plead But they can't see the light, that's right
'Cause the boy with the cold hard cash Is always Mister Right,

'cause we are living in a material world and I am a material girl

You know that we are living in a material world and I am a material girl .....*

“Money can’t buy happiness.” True, money can’t buy happiness, but spent wisely, it can contribute mightily to a happy life. Some people are too materialistic – meaning that some people place too much value on owning things and showing them off to others in order to make an impression. Some, even go to the extent of competing with their rivals, friends or neighbours. (example: Neighbour 'A ' bought a new car because he or she had a bonus. Neighbour 'B' sees it, and hurries off to get one of equal or more value because he or she is 'kiasu'.

(Note: Kiasu (kee-ah-soo) = Kiasu describes being (or a person who is) greedy, unwilling to share, or competitive in order to advance one's self. Examples of Kiasu include driving aggressively to get to the front of a traffic line or registering young children early at top schools, prior even to knowing the child's aptitude. Kiasu describes the idea that one must outdo and outshine all others, have more of any given thing, pay the least amount for items (thereby getting the best deal) and always be the first or best. )

However, if you are the guy who always buys the latest tech gadget – not from a desire to show that he can afford the most expensive new device, but to feed his fascination with technology, and perhaps also to maintain his reputation as an expert in technology and the person to whom everyone can go for advice, or if you are part of the couple who constantly renovate their house by adding a deck, adding a garden, putting in a new kitchen – not to show off to the neighbors, but as a way to get some satisfaction in their lives, it is ok, as after working hard for it, you do deserve some form of satisfaction and self reward.

However, in society today, and even just amongst ourselves, our children, people are too 'kiasu' or afraid to lose out to the peers and buy the latest gadgets, latest and most expensive items they can afford, just to let others know they can and to show off among their peers.

I have seen even young children with the latest technology, PSP, PS3, the latest iPhone, iPad and they keep changing it, because they parents can afford to. I have seen and know people who just stroll along to their neighbours house to check out what their neighbour has acquired so they can do the same or to tell their neighbour that, 'Oh, I just bought this LV bag for RM5,000' without being asked....

It is ok if you want to reward yourself with a nice branded bag, that nice dress, or a nice car. I am not saying that you can't. Just remember to live within your means, and buy it because you really want it, not for showing it off to other people and also that nothing in this life lasts forever. Material things can be stolen, can be spoiled, and cannot be taken to the afterlife after one dies.

Besides, another point to ponder is that having all the branded stuff and expensive items does not make you rich!! Maybe you can pretend to be rich for a few days, but the truly rich people often scrimp and save as much money as they can. I know a few very rich people who just move around in their daily lives in plain clothing, some even wear torn clothing, driving normal everyday cars, like a Toyota or a Proton Saga, even motorcycles and eating at roadside hawker stalls. One of them is in the top 50 richest men list in Malaysia, but when you meet him, you almost can't believe it. They probably have a very nice home or bungalows, but they wear normal brand clothes you can buy below RM100, and they drive normal cars, and behave normally.

(A very good example is Ingvar Kamprad, the founder of Ikea

Ingvar Kamprad may not be a household name, but the company that has perhaps made him the world's richest man certainly is. Statistics analysed by the Swedish business magazine Veckans Affarer suggest that the founder of Ikea is now richer than Bill Gates of Microsoft, being worth nearly £29bn. The most recent Forbes magazine rich list put Mr Gates at £25.5bn. Mr Kamprad, a reclusive 77-year-old known for his frugal habits, lives in Switzerland and no longer takes part in the daily running of the privately-owned company. The company Mr Kamprad founded has 180 stores in more than 30 countries and sells a lifestyle as much as its trademark cheery and functional goods. Mr Kamprad's thrift is as legendary as his wealth: he drives an old Volvo, lives discreetly near Lausanne, travels second-class by train, and looks for a good deal wherever he can find one.When he was upgraded to the penthouse at a New York hotel which he did not realise he owned, he had himself downgraded back to the small single room he had originally booked. His idea of fun is cycling across rural Sweden.)


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