Rich is an Opinion, Poor is a Fact


Why can’t everybody be rich?

I went to a mall today for grocery shopping and dinner with a friend. Unlike the usual, I spent “only” IDR 65,000 (around USD 6) for an okay meal and a glass of chocolate milk [for your information, I’m a typical middle class Jakartan who never cease to try having good food without being robbed by restaurant business. I’m not poor and I live relatively well — despite the obsession of living humbly and economically]. I need to mention that because what I’m about to say is quite subjective and presumable.

It began with an incident of bumping into one garbage boy on my way out. We looked at each other for a couple of seconds. All of a sudden a flash of images spattered, his story’s flowing through my mind…

He was a high school graduate, just recently worked in that mall for less than 60 days. Being a garbage boy was not his ultimate idea but that’s all he could get for now. He came from a small village in Demak where his parents live. He was single with no potential girlfriend. And he was tired. He was tired of working until late even on Sunday and most of his paycheck was spent for renting a simple 3×2 m2 room, three meals, and fuel for his late 80s scooter. He never smoke unless someone gave him. He was sad he couldn’t spare some money for his parents. He was unhappy and he was envious seeing me with a big shopping bag of a week supplies.

I felt a slight anger in me: why can’t everybody be well-off? I’m not an economist who would answer this question thoughtfully and wisely. In fact, I don’t necessarily demand an answer either. It was just a protest to the universe. And by the way, are there any poor economists?

So I went home with this troubled feeling. I relaxed on my couch reading some news. Guess what the first one I read: an old homeless guy, who’s picking up garbage for a living, found dead in one traditional market after 20 years of loneliness (or solitude?).

This is a mad world.


4 thoughts on “Rich is an Opinion, Poor is a Fact

  1. Tulisan yang sangat empatik. Stumbled upon this blog because of your very useful “standar gaji” article. Ironisnya, malah ketemu tulisan-tulisan empatik seperti ini, yang mencerminkan pandanganmu tentang dunia yang tidak adil, secara ekonomis.

    Kalau kita melihat keadilan hanya dari kacamata komersial, maka dunia tak pernah bisa adil. Utopia komunisme terbukti tak dapat direalisasikan. Manusia butuh “greed” untuk menghasilkan pemimpin dan “menumbuhkan” dunia, dari sisi pandang kapital. Namun pertumbuhan ternyata tak serta merta menyelesaikan masalah-masalah sosial peradaban, bahkan masalah-masalah personal setiap manusia.

    Pendapatan seseorang yang bertambah juga akan menambah kebutuhan, yang awalnya berasal dari keinginan. Greed creates needs. Semakin banyak keinginan, semakin banyak kekecewaan. Penderitaan mental manusia tidak tergantung dari seberapa besar ia bisa memenuhi keinginannya karena pertumbuhan keinginan ternyata terjadi lebih cepat daripada pertumbuhan kemampuan (dan pendapatan). Untuk hidup bahagia, saya rasa bukan tergantung pada penyesuaian dari kemampuan itu, tapi dari penyesuaian harapan dan keinginan. Jadi seorang cleaner di mal pun bisa lebih bahagia daripada pemilik mal-nya sekalipun. Tidak percaya? Mari kita ukur kadar kebahagiaan dalam berbagai fase hidup kita, saat hidup pas-pasan sampai hidup berkecukupan (ngakunya). Apakah ada perbedaan jauh? Apakah uang menentukan kebahagiaan?


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