Wednesday, June 22, 2005


After my mom came back from a 3-week European vacation coupled with news of oil inching towards $60/barrel, it suddenly occured to me that we have it way, way too easy here. We simply have become accustomed to the fact that we can just get water out of a tap when we get thirsty, crank up the heat when it gets cold, turn on the air conditioner when it gets hot, or just drive down to the local fast food outlet when we get hungry.

I'm not as well travelled as I'd like, the farthest I've ever ventured out being New York (something I intend to change really soon, before air travel becomes cost prohibitive). But, what I'm hearing about life in other countries leaves me wondering why we have it so easy.

Among the stories I've been hearing:
-UK: While people have laundry dryers, most of them lay dormant as electricity is expensive. In general, cost of living appears to be much higher (Debbie, if you're reading this, care to comment? You can probably lay on a little better insight than I can).
-Europe: Beer and wine is cheaper than water in most places, plus cars are much smaller, given the fact that gasoline is much more expensive.
-Hong Kong/China: "Westernized" toilets are restricted to hotels catering to non-Asians (ie: you gotta squat everywhere else). I'll leave out the details as to what you're supposed to do with toilet paper after you're done.

All this, and it's a small wonder why Americans tend to generate the most pollution and energy usage per capita on an international level (let's face it -- everything we do hurts). The price of gas shoots past $1/litre, and people complain, but it's still a fraction compared to outside of North America.

Once again getting back to the true cost of doing business, it very much appears to me that somebody is going a long way to ensure that we don't pay too much. All black-helicopter conspiracy theories aside, when the price of stuff goes up while wages stay the same, the economy slows down. But clearly, that isn't happening here (yet).

While I hestitate to say that there should be more rioting in the streets, we're not that far off.

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