I find it hard to take the masses seriously sometimes. Here is a story why that is so.

I attended a Pakatan Rakyat-organized forum a few weeks ago. The organizers were promoting the coalition’s proposed federal budget. There is nothing wrong with that.

My problem is with the audience.

Since the proposal is a plan for public finance at the national level, the numbers do run to the billions. The nominal size of the economy itself is more than a trillion ringgit and the federal government intends to spend more than 200 billion ringgit in 2012. Various ticket items come with large numbers indeed.

These large numbers awed the audience. I found this a bit shocking. Yet another billion mentioned, there came another chatter. These murmurs mostly came in the fashion of “that’s big.” They were too easily impressed with a lot of things. The way they experienced the awe made me doubted that they understood what impressed them.

For instance, they were surprised that the federal government owes billions but they did not know that that is normal all around the world, and what matters is the ability to service the debt. Even so, the absolute billions impressed them. If the Malaysian government had a debt of only one billion ringgit, they would awe still, never mind that a billion to 200 billion is like 0.005 sen to a ringgit. They could not grasp the triviality of the large numbers.

To them, large numbers are, well, large. It is so large that, it has to be awfully serious.

Granted, the most of the audience did not seem like the professional type. They were not the overly-critical wonkish type. They were those whom loved their politics instead.

They are probably the majority within the realm of electoral politics. And democracy demands they are taken seriously. That is dispiriting.

But at least I learned something new. If you want to pull a fast one, just mention something very, very big.

3 Responses to “[2444] Large numbers, small minds, majority voters”

  1. on 19 Oct 2011 at 12:53 Bobby

    Hahaha, so typical.
    The not-so-educated class.
    Unfortunately in this country, they form the majority.
    There’s 2 sides to this story.
    1. It’s true, they are getting hoodwinked, not only by BN but in some measure by PR too.

    2. Unfortunately it has to be done, because they have been under the coconut shell for so long thanks to BN, and that’s the way they’ve been programmed to think.

    The main reason BN has been losing support is because due to globalisation, information technology, new media etc, people are beginning to think for themselves and able to rationalise what is right or not.

  2. on 19 Oct 2011 at 15:08 Marlyn

    Nope, the reasons of why BN lose the votes is the bureaucracy in the government agencies. Because everybody has been thought to take opportunities in every process. Thanks to the politicians. The create the symptom of ‘you want, you pay’.. Even now it still happening, only if you know what NKRA really means.

    Nonetheless, it is not shocking at all why the PR members acting like ‘monyet mendapat bunga’… Don’t we know that the only reasons they want to become Prime Minister is they really anxious to live in the huge mansion at Putrajaya? Lame, very lame…..

    And nothing to be impress about their background. Majorities were a well-trained members of ex-BN themselves. New parties will means easier to be at a higher post, rather than have to fight with the seniors in BN.

    I’m not a fan of politics. They only knows how to give hopes and promises.

  3. […] For this reason, I prefer a more down-to-earth ratio as typically used in business. I prefer the deficit-to-revenue ratio to deficit/GDP. (In fact, if small government is a concern, the absolute deficit figure is a better measure although here, one has to be careful of the context. Absolute figures are important but there are limits.) […]

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