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Location: Penang, Malaysia

January 27, 2008

Supply, demand, and job security

The basic concept of supply-demand is always "if there is demand, there will always be supply". So, demand comes first. When the demand is more than supply, either price will go up or supply will increase to balance up the demand. Think about a job that requires some kind of skill.

When the innovative Sony created the very first Walkman at that time, nobody actually needed to listen to music while they are on the go. Sony hired many people, or models, to wear the Walkman and walk along the streets in New York. So, this launched some kind of iconic culture or some craze for youngsters to catch up with the fashion thus, the demand suddenly existed.

India has one of the worst traffic in the world. There are basically no rules on the road but there are exceptions though, which I will mention later. The road is full of cars, taxis, buses, motorcycles, scooters, bicycles, and the infamous three-wheel auto rickshaw (pronounced as something like Atol by the locals, i.e. the Indian accent for auto). To add on to the complexity, there are also tricycles, bullock carts, horse carriages, pedestrians etc. They all share the same road.

By the way, don't be distracted by people urinating by the road side, beggars knocking on car windows asking for money, and even children performing acrobatic act at the traffic light junction!

Depending on which city you are in, there will also be constant honking. I would suggest Fear Factor to organize a competition on driving in India rather than the standard "yucky factor" with insects or stinking stuffs.

If you are Indians and you can drive, I am sure you are used to it already and that shouldn't be an issue. Now, if you are a foreigner and you need to go place in India, please forget about the buses. It is always packed like sardines in a can. So, the alternatives will be either taxi of atol. This is what I and actually referring to the demand. You always need their service! If you can afford it every time, taxi is always the best choice. If you are on budget, then the atol guy will be the next best bet. They will take you go anywhere like there is no tomorrow. Sometimes, the felling is like they are fighting for you with their life. Damn it, don’t forget that we are in the same atol!!!

To my surprise, the only exceptions to the bad traffic is that everyone stops at the traffic light. Whereas in China, people will only stop at the instruction of a traffic cop. Traffic lights in China are "for reference only".

You can call this Indian traffic a chicken-and-egg problem. The bad traffic situation first, or atol first? Maybe, I need to drive an atol first in order to answer that question. So, supply and demand is always there. How about job security?

In the US, cheaper is always a factor, and that's why 90% of the stuffs in Target or Fred Meyer are labeled "Made in China". In countries like Japan, talking about importing rice is something taboo. Yes, the protect the local rice farmer very well. Rice outside of Japan is much, much cheaper. However, importing rice is not an option except some Thai fragrant rice for dogs. I am not exaggerating, a Japanese told us last time. Again, don’t blame him, he his from a different culture. If he understands our culture too well, then we will not learn anything new. I just illustrate this for contrast purposes.

So, for the case of atol driver in India, you can't take their job away even if they let you do so. You will crash into someone at least 5 times in an hour... hahaha. These Indian drivers are so skillful that the deserve to keep their job! There is no incentives for you to compete with them. You have to experience it as the first person especially navigating through the rush hour in the morning.

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