Development and technological progress hascertainly brought much benefits or profit (P) to Malaysians. But I'm certain that there are many undesirable consequences, negative results or losses (L) as well. In economics we learn that Sales Price (Ps)- Cost = Profit. Can we apply this formula to estimate our net gain from development and progress in social and moral terms? For more tangible accounting results let's call the Profit, Assets (A) and Losses, Liabilities (L). Thus:
A - L = Gains ( Social and Moral). This can be a positive or a negative entity.
What are the Assets of Development and Modernization. Let's enumerate them at random and try to label them with some key symbols.
More financial gains ( F) More risk taking, tension ( R)
Better health standard (H) More health hazard (Hz)
More comfort (C) More dependent on technology,
eg electric supply ( D)
Easier physical work (E) More training and skill required (S)
Less time used to
get work done (T) More work pressure (P)
Faster travel (TR) More accident (A)
Faster and Easier
Communication ( CM) More miscommunication, disinformation (MD)
More entertainment (E) More unsavory foreign cultural influence (FI)
So is Sigma A(F,H,C,E,T, Tr,Cm,E etc.)/N > Sigma L(R,Hz, D,S,P,A,Md,Fi etc)/N
or ditto < ditto ?
where N= the number of items icluded.
If one were to put all the Asset factors on a desirability scale of 1 to 10 and all the Liability factors on an undesirability scale of 1 to 10 we can get the value of Sigma for A and L, which I'm sure can give us an indication of the positive (profit) or negative (loss) results of our development efforts. For now this framework can only be used for some intellectual evaluation and value judgement. I just want to share it with some of us who are quite uncertain as to whether development and modernization had given us a more satisfying life than that enjoyed by our forefathers or vice versa.
Crazy question? Think of how much time you spent on work to make money and then dying before you can spend it. Is the time you have with your family better in quantity and quality than that which you had with your parents in the old days? ( Some of us may of course have not enjoyed a good family life with the parents!). Do children enjoy their childhood now more than before? If you're happy with what life has given you now, then enjoy it by all means. Otherwise, we should think of how we can make the life we lead now more meaningful and satisfying, along the items enumerated above and any others that we feel should be included.