Thongchai Thailand

The human cost of austerity budget cuts

Posted on: July 6, 2010

Reference: The human cost of austerity budget cuts, Bangkok Post, July 6, 2010

All British citizens, regardless of income, receive cash payments from their government equal to 50,000 Baht per year if they have one child, 86,000 per year if they have two, and 120,000 Baht/year if they have three children. Such is the largess of a nation that has become used to the idea of being fabulously wealthy.

Even if you ignore the market value of free housing, citizens on welfare receive the equivalent of 300,000 Baht per year – about twice the salary of a mid-level government officer with a college degree in Thailand.

Sadly for these welfare recipients, reality has caught up with the West. The extreme concentration of wealth and the huge divide between rich and poor nations have been eroding of late helped along by the financial crisis of 2008 and the Euro crisis of 2010.

It now appears that the rich nations are not as relatively rich as they once were and so they now find themselves having to take so called “austerity measures” to balance their budget as a way of keeping the value of their sovereign debt and that of their currency from collapse.

One of the proposed measures is to cut welfare payments by 20% – from 300,000 to 240,000 Baht per year and we are asked by analysts to feel sorry for those affected because the welfare cut will raise alcohol related deaths by 2.8%  (Human cost of austerity budget cuts, Bangkok Post, July 6, 2010).

I am sure good natured Thais will commiserate with the misery of the West but it would be difficult for Thais working very hard to eke out a living on 9,000 Baht per month or less to shed a tear for welfare recipients limited to monthly handouts of a mere 20,000 Baht.

What they might be tempted to do instead is to advise Westerners to get used a new reality of globalization that includes a gradual easing of the extreme disparity in wealth between the rich nations and the developing world.

Cha-am Jamal


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