And Do You Not Profuse!

By Jumana Ghunaimat

تم نشره في Wed 23 August / Aug 2017. 12:00 AM
  • Jumana Ghunaimat

For long officials have criticised the Jordanian society for its deformed consumerism, and rightly so.

As the officials put it, many Jordanians own several phone numbers and own more than one car, notwithstanding other aspects of spreading consumerism in our society over the last two or three decades.

The household consumption pattern has changed a lot in recent times.

Of course, this isn’t a random change without cause.

First, many of our own expats and their families, who returned to Jordan from the Arab Gulf, brought this consumerist culture with them.

It is no secret that this culture is widely spread in the Gulf.

Second, the Jordanian market opening up to global marketplace played no little role in this, not to mention technology.

As a result, we became non-productive and mostly consumer societies.

Meanwhile, domestically, the shortcoming public policy in regards to encouraging national economic production has helped deepen the problem.

Nearly two thirds of the Country’s productive power is suspended, and a significantly large part of society still depends on the non-productive public sector.

Of course, consumerism weakened the citizen’s stand in the face of more government decisions to increase taxation and make life harder for Jordanians.

More taxation, obviously, means more income erosion.

The fact that so many Jordanians own two cell phones, gave the government leverage, morally and economically, to increase taxation on the mobile telecommunications sector.

Likewise, the more cars people own, the less solid the public’s stand is against floating fuel prices.

The same goes for other taxation hikes on imported commodities.

The more citizen consumed, the more “okay” it is for the government to increase taxation.

In my previous article “Like Citizen, Like Government!” I said that the government and the citizenry are almost equally drowned in debt.

The debt-to-income per capita in Jordan stands at nearly 70 per cent, almost just as bad as the government’s rate of debt-to-GDP.

Naturally, this similarity does not stop at the measure of indebtedness.

The two are also similar in the disproportionate, deformed consumption and expenditure patterns, which significantly erode income; be it the Treasury’s or the typical Jordanian’s.

Over the course of the decade, maybe more, consecutive governments drove public spending well beyond the capabilities and capacities of a poor country like Jordan, with our limited resources.

Not once was a thought given to our economic capabilities to cover these expenditures!

For years, spending spiralled out of control, with needless, extravagant spending, which has led us to where we stand today.

Is this not profusion? Is this not the macro-equivalent of state consumerism?

In just seven years, public spending skyrocketed, from JOD5.7 billion to nearly JOD9 billion. Much of it unnecessary.

While we discuss citizen consumption patterns, and all the things wrong with it, we might as well take a look at our government’s spending!

Why has debt increased so monumentally in such a brief period of time? Why has the pension bill exploded to such proportions while there stands a Social Security Corporation which should cover all employers; public and private, military and civil?!

If we were to say that the average Jordanian is living a life far beyond their capacity, then the same goes for our governments.

Similarly, if society is unable to run and manage its own resources rationally and realistically, then our governments are worse at it!

Obviously, whose house is made of glass should not cast stones at people.

And do you not too profuse?!

In the end, you too; the government that is, are behaving in the same way we are; the public.

You do not get to cast stones!

The same consumeristic pattern is obvious in both the people and the government.

Hence, it would be wise that we all revisit our behaviours, before it’s too late.

This article is an edited translation of the Arabic version, published by AlGhad.