THE DAILY NEWS Sarah Carmona, Section C09
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GREECE AND CHINA DEMONSTRATE EXTREMES OF SLOW TIME AND FAST TIME Terms coined by Thomas Eriksen, slow time and fast time are here used to classify one’s overall pace of life as relaxed or rushed. In this issue, we research how Greece and China are demonstrating the extremes of these lifestyles in the 21st century. Each country’s
worker/civilian happiness index and economic stability level have combined to produce intense effects, such as the recent riots in Greece. The results of China’s extreme fast time are currently unknown, but will most likely be made apparent within the next few decades.
Date today 06/07/10
GREECE vs. CHINA—LIVING According to the Mercer survey on the quality of living in 20081,2, Beijing, China ranked 116 out of 215 cities being studied, while Athens, Greece ranked 77th. Although the general happiness level will vary from city to city, it is safe to say that the Greek live a little more luxurious than the Chinese. Most Greek property is on or close to a beautiful
blue beach, and many houses boast additional pools3. Living in China, on the other hand, is somewhat less desirable from a US perspective. Ranging from overcrowded, industrialized metropolitan areas to small, rural villages, China has considerably lower hygiene and service standards (compared to those in the US)4. However, the cost of living, in even the largest cities, is considerably less than elsewhere in the world, as people get by with less.
GREECE vs. CHINA—WORKING
The working conditions in Chinese factories (where 400 thousand employees in Shenzhen alone, eat, sleep, and work on assembly lines) are worse than those seen elsewhere in the world. “The ‘normal’ working conditions include 12-hour shifts, with a ban on speaking with colleagues…5.” A recent suicide trend in some factories also paints a picture of working life in China. Greece, on the other hand, lives in slow time where people work less hours a day and retire at an average age of 55-60. While still earning minimum wage, people are able to enjoy their slower-paced jobs more in Greece.
Date today 06/07/10
ECONOMIC STABILITY FINANCIAL CRISIS
refining, machine building, construction of armaments, Greek workers were the textiles and apparel, happier ones over the Chinese… until their country petroleum, cement, chemicals, fertilizers, and ran out of money. One reason for this is the sheer consumer products (the actual list includes 14 more number of products that major areas of industry). Greece churns out every This all totaled around a year. According to the US $1.5 trillion in Chinese Department of State, 7 Greece made $21.37 billion exports for 2008. Therefore, from sheer number of in exports, all from products alone, China’s fast “processed foods, shoes, textiles, metals, chemicals, time atmosphere produces a much more stable economy electrical equipment, than Greek’s slow time. cement, glass, transport equipment, petroleum The work force itself is also products, construction, and a leading cause of Greece’s electrical power.”6 China, financial woes. In 2009, only however, was in charge of .04% of the country’s total mining and ore processing, population made up the iron, steel, aluminum and working class. other metal
Left: a Greek man hand-making shoes. Right: a Chinese factory making toys with an assembly line. In contrast, about 60% of the entire Chinese population held a job in 2008. This all boils down to lower worker happiness in China (considering, too, the average Chinese working conditions), but a much more stable economy. Finally, due to the global financial crisis, the tourism industry in Greece has suffered. Since tourist money makes up 15% of the country’s GDP 8, a lower number of foreign visitors has seriously hurt the Greek economy.
Date today 06/07/10
RESULTS OF EXTREME SLOW TIME
RIOT China currently has one of the world’s most prosperous economies. But in Greece, people are being forced to take pay cuts, pay higher taxes and work more years before retirement simply to keep their country from going further in debt.9 These cuts lit the fuse for the riots seen in Athens and throughout Greece on May 19, 2010.
ECONOMIC FUTURE Many “investors are concerned that the debt problems in Greece and Portugal will spill over to other countries in Europe, causing a cascade of losses for big banks and will in turn halt the economic recovery in the United States and elsewhere10. Such concerns are echoing around the world right now. Analysts are also worried about (cont’d)
ECONOMIC FUTURE, cont’d.
a severe decline in the value of the euro, which would crush the economic stability of the European Union. Multiple European companies will now “need to adopt stringent spending cuts to pay down their heavy debt loans. …Such cuts would likely lead to long economic slumps for those countries, a prospect that investors may now be accepting as reality…10.” Slow time lifestyle is facing large opposition during the faster- paced 21 st century. Although a relaxed work force seems desirable, slow time’s extreme results are leading to more problems than happiness.
Date today 06/07/10
FUTURE RESULTS OF FAST TIME IN THE NEWS China continues to demonstrate its mastery over fast time, currently sporting the “world’s fastestgrowing economy.” Living conditions are on the rise, and more people have (at least minimum paying) jobs. Business owners have focused on developing their own powerful companies rather than investing too much money in foreign goods.11 But what will happen to this economic powerhouse in future years?
CHINA AS A GLOBAL INFLUENCE The country has served as political guidance for developing countries. Others see “anxiety in America, paralysis in Japan, and growth and stability in China. Which is the more attractive model?13”
United States analysts are worried that such developing countries will follow China’s lead and focus their energies on state-owned companies, reducing economic competition and According to USA Today, prosperity for the rest of the “China is taking steps to world. Some even see slow down its robust economy to avoid excesses China’s form of capitalism as “a threat to the future of getting out of control.12” free markets.13”
EXTREME FAST TIME While slow time’s extremes are being uncovered today in Greece, what can we expect from fast time in the future? Global dominance for China? Worker unrest bringing about more and more suicide trends? Only time will tell….
Date today 06/07/10
BIBLIOGRAPHY 1. Mercer, Quality of living global city rankings, 2008. Press release: http://www.stadtzuerich.ch/content/dam/stzh/prd/Deutsch/Stadtentwicklung/Publikation en_und_Broschueren/Unternehmen/Mercer20Ranking20Lebensqualit e4t202008.pdf 2. Mercer, Quality of living global city rankings, 2008. Living, Working, Musing, & Misadventures in Greece: http://livingingreece.gr/2008/06/20/athens-greece-quality-of-living/ 3. Darbey, Janet. Buying Property in Corfu, Greece. Looking for Paradise. EscapeArtist, June 9, 2010. http://www.escapeartist.com/Live_In_Greece/ 4. Strother, Barbra and Stuart. Make Your Move to the Middle Kingdom. Transitions Abroad, accessed June 8, 2010. http://www.transitionsabroad.com/publications/magazine/0701/work_in _china.shtml 5. AsiaNews.it. The "new" Chinese working class, willing to commit suicide rather than bend to oppression. June 2, 2010. http://www.asianews.it/news-en/The-new-Chinese-working-class,willing-to-commit-suicide-rather-than-bend-to-oppression-18569.html 6. Background Note: Greece. Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, US Department of State. April 28, 2010. http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/3395.htm 7. Background Note: China. Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, US Department of State. October 30, 2009. http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/18902.htm 8. Velinska, Ellie. Saving Greece… by saving the USA first! Big Bureaucracy, May 10, 2010. http://www.bigbureaucracy.com/?p=1023
NEWS 9. Elliott, Larry. Greece’s financial crisis puts the future of the euro in question. Guardian News, UK. The Observer: February 7, 2010. http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/feb/07/greece-fiscal-crisiseuropean-union-euro 10. Jacobs, Stevenson; Paradis, Tim. Triple-Digit Tumble. The San Diego Union-Tribune: Business section. May 21, 2010. 11. Lynch, David J. U.S., China discussions may be testy. USA Today: Money section. May 24, 2010 12. Shell, Adam. If markets fall 15%, bear might be coming. USA Today: Money section. May 26, 2010. 13. Bremmer, Ian. As free-market democracies flail, China is the rare ‘success.’ USA Today: Front page. May 26, 2010.