What goes up must stay up! [Archives:2003/644/Opinion]

June 23 2003

“The way I see it, they are just going to go up; prices never take the down staircase, even if there was a fire upstairs!”, Walid was grouching to his wife as he sat trying to get his monthly budget to balance.
Ruqayyah was less grouchy and just said, “Thank God we have all our basic needs for the month all stocked up. We are really fortunate compared to a majority of the citizens, some of whom do not even have their daily sustenance needs fulfilled”.
“You mean you are not going to ask for anything anymore for the rest of the month? I bet you tomorrow, before my eyes even open up you will already have a list of things we need: meat, vegetables, alfalfa clover leaf for the goats. If you think balancing this budget is easy, you ought to try balancing the state budget” remarked Walid.
“Dad, when are you going to buy me a bicycle? You said that if I get exceptional grades, you were going to buy me a bicycle. Well, I made it, I got a 95 average in all my grades, and an “A” for good behavior and attendance”. Ahmed, the eldest son in the family reminded his father the commitments he has made, without realizing what effect this will have on his budget reconciliation.
“I really want , Ruqayyah sensed the difficult spot the father was in and cut in: “Son, your cycle is on its way and your father never makes a commitment he cannot keep!”
The 12 years old boy jumped high until he hit his head on the top of the unusually small door, as he ran out to tell the whole world that success has its rewards.
“What are you doing Ruqayyah? I have yet to pay the telephone bill, which now only receives calls, because Tele-Yemen has shut up the talking side of the telephone, to anyone who owes even YR 10 to the company for all the gossip you ladies exchange over the phone. Now, you want me to be delinquent in paying my phone bill!” Walid tried to explain the predicament he was in to his wife, as he took the big eraser to fix an error in his calculation. He continued: “Without paying the phone bill we are already in a deficit of YR 20,000, and God only knows how we will cover that up, and now you stick me up with another 20,000. I do not know why I bother going through with this exercise every month. No matter what I do, the equations just don't click right. How can you make things balance, when the prices just sky rocket without following any predictable trend.”
Again, Ruqayyah continued in her praise of the Lord, “My dear, Allah has been kind enough to us by guiding us to an outlet to all our economic pitfalls”. I already bought the bike for Ahmed from the jewelry which I never really wear and only have to carry the burden of paying Zakat on it every year needlessly. The happiness in that boy's face is worth all the jewelry in the world, if I had it.”
“Praise be to Allah that there are women like you in this world, who show a knack for keeping their husband's minds stable and their families together. I really do not know what I would do without you. Still it is not fair that you should be the one to have to dish out the money for commitments I hastily make, based on the calculations of prices that seem not to understand that what goes up must come down! Do you know that the YR is going up every day in the exchange market, yet prices carry on their crazy upward spiral. What is wrong with our country; do not the laws of physics apply to Yemen?” said Walid somewhat proud of his remarkable wife, but nevertheless disturbed by the crazy way the consumer is being double-crossed by uncontrollable price hikes that have no economic basis.
“When greed and selfish motives drive the driving forces that generate economic activity in the country, you should only expect that the common folks are the ones to shoulder the heavy burdens and the heavy arithmetic you have to go through each month. We have greedy merchants, who would bleed their mothers in their graves if they could, just to make a profit. They do not care about the general welfare of their fellow citizens. They are oblivious to all the poverty and the deprivation that overwhelm the general population. We also have government officials that are unable to regulate their own greed, let alone regulate the greedy merchants that are choking our people to death. In fact, many of the officials are part-time businessmen, who have found a niche in the erratic behavior of our economy.” Ruqayyah showed her knack for socio-economic analysis to her husband.
“I tell you, Ruqayyah, I am really worried about the future for our children, Ahmed is now going to Intermediate School and the other two kids are trailing behind him. What kind of future do they have, when we have seen our living standard fall from middle class to knocking on the doors of poverty and having to sell our assets just to try to give whatever happiness we can to our children. What happens when we run out of your jewelry and my few shares of stock that we have? How can we provide our kids some of the simple amenities kids enjoy everywhere?” complained Walid to his understanding wife
Ruqayyah assured her husband, “Have faith, my dear, God will always be on the side of the oppressed”.