Can you smile when laden with debt? Yes, of course you can but maybe the inclination to do so is not very strong. I was listening to an acquaintance lamenting the fact that the Big C cashier wasn’t smiling. If you get a monthly salary that doesn’t cover your expenses, perhaps you would be thoughtful. Basic state pensions here are about 500 baht per month. Try living on that in Thailand. Yes, all told, the banks have got the Thais tied up in debt and the government has got those tied up….further embroiled (pitiful minimum wage), but the new cars keep on coming and everyone is borrowing.
A capitalist will tell you to invest wisely, or leave your big money in a high-interest account for 30 years (like Robinson Crusoe did, so to speak!). Capitalists also borrow to set up businesses, but the Thais are borrowing to ride a big car down a narrow street, losing half their money in two years. One supposes.
When Polonius said,
“Neither a borrower nor a lender be,
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.”
He wasn’t explaining why Thais are not smiling. He was telling his hot-tempered son, Laertes, not to give money to friends, and not to accept loans unless he wanted to boom-boom less.
Good advice from a prater?
Anyway, if you wonder why Thais are not rosy-smiling, try a debt of 500,000 baht with no way of paying it back soon. Maybe get your house possessed into the bargain. Remember, too, that Thai life-expectancy is short. Try not to invest in perishable goods. Try to be brainy. Throw away that new car! Well, don’t buy it in the first place.