Saturday, May 9, 2020

Is it so wrong for the Lebanese to live within their means?

Before anyone jumps the gun and says I am insensitive to other people's plight, I am not. Actually one of the resolutions I did lately was to be less generous and altruistic. Here's my gripe: I see nothing wrong with the Lebanese living within their means. I know families who'd go out to restaurants weekly now content with house meals, children realizing food done at home is just as good as take away meals they used to order absent-mindedly, a family within my circle is trying to sell one of its two cars, and the list continues.... There is a reason why classification is called socio-economic: it is not your money, it is your social position too. I am/was an engineer/economist/consultant/university lecturer/multimedia artist etc... I grew up within the spectrum of middle class - at times on the upper margin, at others down below. But we always made do with what we have. Maybe it was the war where you were forced to get creative with little, maybe it was my parents' ethics of "want not, waste not" (all while providing us with things we desired within their means), maybe it is my own strict ethos of saving money (all while indulging myself - yet I think I own the least amount of "things" when compared to people my age).
All this is to say, as Lebanon faces the perfect storm of several elements (the least of which is the Coronavirus), financial expert Dan Azzi was on TV telling people to use their cars less. The rationale being that the less fuel we import the better we are economically as a country. I have been living without a car since 2000, and have never been late to any appointment. I rely on the ever efficient mix of public transport and (lately since am outside the highway) private taxis and I save money in the process.
Perhaps the time has come for the Lebanese to face facts and admit they were living in an inflated bubble. The bubble has burst. Now is the time to "make do and mend".
We need to adapt to a new economic order, the faster we do it the better it is.