Sunday, November 25, 2007

Ignorance is Bliss

The other day, I was thinking about how much I should increase the price for products that I sell. I knew that inflation will be 10%+ next year. But I can not really increase my prices by that much because there is competition.

Apparently my competition and the vast majority of the Jordanian population are ignorant of the concept of inflation. Which is a good thing. I mean if every one increased their salaries or prices by 7 or 10% then the inflation numbers would be in the mid teens or lower twenties.

Just to get an idea about how much inflation has hurt the Jordanian economy, if you made 300JDs in 2002, you should make 464 Jds in 2008. This is using the official government numbers. And while many people take the government numbers with a grain of salt, I think that on average they are somewhat accurate. Calculation of inflation does not take a lot of things into account. For example, price of laptops, computers, monitors, printers, fax machines, and other office equipment has seen a sharp decline of more than 40% over the last 5years. Blank CDs, and DVDs, USB flash drives have become dirt cheap. You can now have all the office equipment that you want for a fraction of what you would have paid 6 years. I remember that not every one could afford to have a copy machine in their company or office because the price ran in the mid 1500s. On the food front, meat prices on average have remained somewhat stable during the same period as meat is now imported from places like China and Brazil.

So in conclusion it is a great thing that most people do not adjust their income for inflation, otherwise it would be a great mess.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


It has been a while since I last wrote.

The first thing I wanted to talk about is the elections. I am not voting, and I am proud of it. One of our "relatives" is running for elections and I do not think that he will bring any good to the country. This election like all the others before it is still based on kinship and tribal ties. And to further complicate the situation, there are not any candidates with a sufficiently liberal and progressive political program. So I am basically boycotting the elections.

In totally unrelated news, I was very happy to learn during my trip to Germany in October that Germany only recently(last 12 months) passed mandatory building codes that require the use of insulating materials, something I talked about in my last blog post.

In further unrelated news, I had the chance to compare Jordanian Medical care with that of Germany, as we went there to do an operation for my mother. It is unfortunate, but private medical care in Jordan is really expensive when you adjust for income levels, things would look even worse if Euro price went down to 1.2 dollars. For certain types of procedures, an operation in Germany might cost a mere 20-40% more than Jordan.

As for the quality of medical care. The main difference that I could find was in the quality of service provided by the nurses, in Germany it was at least four times as good as it was in Jordan. So much so that I almost wanted to sculpt a statue of the nurses at the ICU.
I spoke to the family neurologist regarding this and he told me that private hospitals "claim" that they can not afford to raise the salaries of the nurses. But neither of us believed this and thought that the hospitals were greedy.

One thing that I should mention is the fact that my mother was discharged, without fully paying the medical bills as they were not all ready at the time of her discharge. They will be later on sent by mail. Something that would happen in Jordan in about a 100 years.

One other thing that I noticed during my mother's hospitalization is that fact that doctors in Germany write medical reports in accordance with a WHO standard wherein each diagnosis is assigned a special code and can be easily looked up on the internet. Because the code is the same regardless of language, it would be great if Jordan used the WHO standard as there is no standardization in medical report writing at hospitals. I will probably write a letter to the minister of health to this effect.

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