Sonia Ambrosio –
It is interesting to look at approaches of communication, or sometimes, the lack of it. Some recent episodes made me reflect on the communication theories of a number of contemporary philosophers. In this marvelous journey, I have scratched on the understanding of how communication-style decisions can contribute to an array of discrimination.
One of the episodes was like this: “What is the problem?” I was asked. Well, there is no problem, I just have a question, I replied. “Why are twenty days reduced from my just-renewed driving licence?” I am renewing it before the due date because I will not be available on the date or close to that. A smiley face with a stark pair of eyes replied politely: “It is the system.”
System or procedure, how one can know the intricacies and complexity of communication, I thought as I left the building.
I spent a few minutes sitting behind the wheel in the car park pondering on the various occasions when the lack of proper and clear information affected the end-user. I also thought about the need for an eye test every two years. Is it applicable to everyone? After all, safety is safety.
The lack of clear information took me to another experience: the credit card. If you do not use it at least once during a six-month period, it is gone. You lose it. That is a banking rule, I am told. One feels obliged to use a credit card — if you want to have one.
It is not just to have to use the credit card within a period; if the client has reached a certain age, the customer must have a fixed deposit in order to be allowed to hold a credit card. Nobody said anything about that before. I have never seen the media addressing the issue. Is this rule applicable to all the senior clients?
Then, there was the case of buying a new car. Ageism is played up front. “At your age, you are not allowed to pay in installments. It has to be full payment or you can get a loan from the bank.” Sarcastically I thought if the bank has already penalised a client because of his age, for sure the bank is not going to be any kind in providing a loan — to an expatriate. Can you see the tangled lines?
Still examining the incidents, I thought, in order to pay for a car without a loan or installment, one must have liquidity — and who are the people who can afford it; the same is true to have the free cash to have it tied to a fixed deposit — to have the privilege of holding a credit card.
Well, when economic actors can produce goods and services efficiently, we have economic growth, theorists say. However, if consumers are penalised for whatever reason it can result in asphyxiation of the economy. We just have to look into the social fabric to understand the complexity of the issue.
Generally, young people do not have readily available cash; the middle-aged group is struggling to meet the ends. The social divide tends to be sharper, even discriminatory. Then, the average foreigner worker might think twice before spending the hard-earned money.
Therefore, what seems to occur is a lack of clear information on the sets of systems and procedures to the public in many areas. The media could and should address ordinary information, and keep citizens, residents, and visitors well-informed. Small details are — perhaps — obvious to those in their areas of work, but individuals pay a price for their ignorance. At the end of the line, it is about the demand for goods, efficient services, and trust that can result in economic growth.