by Nathan Chua
It did not take long for our current president to announce his positive outlook for the Philippine economy. To borrow his words, he said, “We are ready for take off!” Again? I think I have heard this said time and again. The only difference is the way each new president would phrase it.
There is little doubt that this upbeat prediction is based on investment figures and the stock market index, which at the moment continues on its bull run. If you would pardon the poor analogy, this bold prognostication is premised on the idea that a strong Wall street would automatically mean a bonanza for Main street.
I think that every president we’ve had in the past cannot seem to call a spade a spade. They have all thought that our economy will take care of itself within the matrix of our existing government policies. It’s what they euphemistically call the trickle down effect. This notion that people from the bottom rung can somehow be mercifully pulled out of their miseries by the more fortunate among us, is simply a tried and tested failure. It is downright illogical and a stark testament to our continued ignorance about policy formation as a nation.
For as long as our leaders are wont to avoid calling our economic system by its real name, we will continue to see the continued disparity of wealth in our country and the unequal distribution of resources to a powerful minority. And to answer the question posed by the title of this article, our economy can simply be called a feudal aristocracy. Plain and simple!
As a lawyer, our president’s silence on the issue of policies that prevent the poor from having opportunities to open their own businesses without or with minimal costs, that prevent the poor from getting decent education and health-care is nothing short of unconscionable. At the crux of our weak economy is the fact that laws are strongly bent towards keeping the riches of our nation in the hands of a few. Furthermore, our stock market itself is the very symbol of oppression and the dominance that a few affluent families have over our country.
We need a president who will start talking about policy changes rather than blustering about it’s capacity to prosecute laws that have been in the first place onerous to the poor, the small businesspeople, and the middle class. We need a change not in execution but in legislation. We need laws that are practicable and enforceable. We need laws that help the middle class, the small entrepreneurs, and the very least among us. We need laws that provide opportunity rather than stunt it. As it is now, our laws do not encourage the millions in the underground economy to surface. They continue to languish in the shadows of people who continue to enjoy the imbalances of the status quo. This is because of the fact that for any kind of oppression, there are those who stand to benefit from it.
So do I foresee any big change coming to our society? Yes I do. But most of them will be happening to the upper echelons of power and the corner offices. They will make a big killing and nobody will even notice it because the millions out there with no hope for the future will be asking, “What economic progress are you talking about, Mr. President?” And the poor and less educated among us will never have a clue what hit them.