Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Financial Intelligence – Part XIII

The Comforting Cocoon of Captivity

Of all the majestic progress achieved by humanity, it is the
Industrial Revolution that I stand in awe of. For the Industrial Revolution spawned a prodigy known to us as the 9 to 5 system. Most of us have experienced the pleasure of working under this system. Even the financially independent would not willingly abandon it; what more of us who need it to put food on our tables? I believe there are three main reasons why the vast majority of us preferred to be cocooned:

(a) Direction
I suspect if I were to carry out a survey in the streets of Kuala Lumpur asking people ‘What is the purpose of your life?’, I would get blank stares or just a plain ‘duh?’. There is a tendency for people to live their lives like lemmings. Many act foolishly believing themselves to be immortals unaware that Death lurks nearby.

The irony of the 9 to 5 system is that it supplies this unspoken need. An all encompassing economic system that allocates jobs based on the invisible hand of Adam Smith. To the laborer, it supplies not only food on the table but to usurp the mantle to the throne of life itself. For the lemmings, by and large:


What could be simpler? There is no need for rambling discourses or philosophical musings. There is work to be done, so one devotes a substantial portion of our life force into work. Perhaps we should think for a moment: Do you Live to Work or Do you Work to Live?

(b) Order
The universe is chaotic, random and arbitrary. Even though things appear orderly on the surface, there has been and always will be
Black Swan events. For the average worker, what could be more comforting than the mundane and dull 9 to 5 system? Day in, day out, one comes to work at the same time, in the same place and does the same things. As time goes by, the mind shuts off and the robot takes over. Why walk out of the comfort zone to experience something new? For many, ‘Ignorance is Bliss!

Yet, when factories are being closed down or when oil prices shoot through the roof, these are the same people who expect *someone* else to assist them. Suddenly, there is a jolt through their system as they realize their skills are obsolete and they have been left behind. Being on auto-pilot for so long, they are unable to adapt. What then?

(c) Pride
For the majority, the work which we perform 9 to 5 is not something that we have consciously chosen. It was arbitrarily chosen and shoved down our throats. ‘Here, take this! You were meant to do this the rest of your life!’

Strangely enough, most people accept this as their Fate and do not attempt to move beyond this. Sure, people b*tch all the time about their bosses, companies, systems, economy, government etc… Yet, they do not b*tch about the number one culprit that placed them there in the first place?


Why? Work is a source of pride for us. It might be drudgery, it might be hellish, it might be harmful, and it might be meaningless or even downright unethical. Still, for the unthinking person, despite all of that, there is pride attached to work. To deride the 9 to 5 system is akin to attacking one’s own sense of worthiness.

It might be wise for us to open our eyes. Workers are being retrenched or laid off through no fault of their own. State-of-the-art systems are failing. Prestigious companies like AIG and Merill Lynch have succumbed to the financial crisis. At times like these, remember that work by itself, cannot give meaning to life. It is we who must give meaning to our lives and our work. For when you know your purpose in life, you will no longer be subject to the vagaries of life. As a
sage once uttered, ‘The unexamined life is not worth living.’

Do you agree? Or vehemently disagree? Comments are most welcome.


Marketing Deviant

Pursue something you like, therefore, it wouldn't be a job anymore but a passion. Everyday would be fast and enriching, giving meaning and defining existence of your own life.


Dear Marketing Deviant,

That's sound advice but I think it's really difficult for people to follow. I just don't understand why though. Maybe something is wrong with our system, right now?


Yours Truly

We are livin' in an age that is much more TEMPORAL than the Industrial Revolution. Frederick Winslow Taylor would have been proud. Maybe even Hitler.

Fascism has always been linked with speed. Be it industrialization, militarism or even just plain daily livin'. The inhabitants of our "megacities" have become little more than sheep. No other preoccupations other than work & PLEASURE.

Where I'm stayin', the locals don't even READ anythin' decent. & in one cosmopolitan city I've been to, the citizens aren't even politically conscious. "Just let the gov't take care of everything," says 'em. Just clamp down on dissentin' views by either bankruptin' opposition leaders or nab 'em & place 'em in gaol. Talk 'bout FASCISM.

Life's becomin' much too FAST for anyone to take TIME to comprehend...


Dear Yours Truly,

Let's hope that some people do take the time to think where we are all seemingly headed towards.


Damien Tan

I suggest a 4th reason to be cocooned - fear. The fear of uncertainty and loss that makes people cling to comfort in the familiar. Its what causes a lawyer to become a lawyer, an accountant to become an accountant. Once a comfort zone is found, people will hang on at all costs. I'm sure to them the meaning of life is lost there's no food on the table (again, the fear of loss determining one's life).


Dear Damien,

Fear? Hmmm, there's some truth in that. Work brings about a sense of normalcy. Breaking out of our comfort zone is not easy. But remaining within it...well, how shall I put it?

It can be a bit stifling.



I think there must be something more to life than work or pursuing something (however worthwhile) with passion. We are born, we grow up, we find work, we find love, we get married, we get children, we grow old, we die. Yes, some make the journey more pleasant for themselves than others but yet at the end of the day, is this the sum of our lives? Well, I don't have all the answers but certainly being spiritually aware helps not only to define our journey of life but also how we make that journey through life.



Dear Paladin,

Welcome back! :)

You're right. I think we all feel that there should be something more to life.

Sometimes, I envy you for making that giant leap of faith into the unknown. Even though the road ahead may be difficult for you, at least you've a clear idea of where you wish to be.

For me, I'm still mulling around thinking hard about things. Sometimes, I feel life is a mystery that I'll never understand. But so long as there's life in this body, I'll keep on trying.



Avatar, by the way, it may interest you to know that Berkshire has acquired some shares in IR.




Looks like IR is doing something right then, for the Guru himself to invest. Either that or IR shares must have hit rock bottom.

Given the current economic situation in US, IR is going to take a long time to break-even on its' recent acquisition.

I think the biggest winner is Fred, who is probably laughing all the way to the bank and swooping on all those depressed shares right now. What great timing!



Paladin : everybody's lookin' for somethin' different. Ain't no magic bullet out in da real world. One dude's panacea's 'nother dude's poison.

Some dudes just wanna be playas & have different gals each season of the year while others just wanna have a decent family life.

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