Friday, January 22, 2016

Strong agriculture and robust homegrown employment can put substance in hollow #Philippines economy

I am still puzzled why there are still people, although in much decreased numbers, who think PNoy has done well. Is it the 5.9% growth in economy? Is it the favorable credit rating? But, we are just like a Mom and Pop grocery store that is sometimes doing good, sometimes bad, but doesn't know why it is so. The owners of the store happen to have a daughter working as a nurse in London and a son working as a programmer in Melbourne. There is a continuous inflow of remittance, so the owners don't care if the grocery becomes a supermarket, or not, or have to be spinned off into another business. It might have to be closed down because there is news that SM, Puregold, or Alfa Mart might come up soon near the subdivision. Of course, any bank will give the owners a good credit rating for they are awash with cash, even if the money is not necessarily from the business itself.

And that is the Philippines; we are awash with cash. The financial managers know PNoy is very slow in implementing projects, so they have flooded the system with cash. By 2016, estimates are that a total of one Trillion of the Budget will be unspent. (Is there a plan in place so that the incumbents will be able to pocket this by the time they step down? Gosh, they will be too-big-to-sue if they would be able to do it; they can buy all the judges, and would still have plenty to spare.) But, how can we sustain the maintenance of all the military hardwares we just bought, if the economy has really just been a bubble. Nothing inside, it is a donut, nothing in the middle. What is evil about these people is that they seem to have installed a switch which they could use to burst the bubble if the next administration is hostile to them. I don't know, but the signs are there for the so called "hot money" have now started its exit. But, if people have not yet realized this, then there is no way they will know who are the enemies. No wonder the debate is confined to who is the lesser evil among the five, when all these bozos are all about continuing the yellow ways.

We can't win a basketball game if there are two or three lousy players in the team, no matter what good intention and "big heart" there is. A soccer team might as well stay in the dug-out and not play if five of its players are injured. And yet, 51% of our population assess themselves to be poor based on the latest survey. How then could we even think of competing in the ASEAN Integration, never mind the global village? (Thailand alone is already making advances in Biotech, and we are contented with launching our own satellites in April. Oh my,we should have done that ten years ago.)

But first thing first. Japan, South Korea, and China aren't where they are because they ignored agriculture. No, that is where they all started; don't forget that Honda, Kawasaki, etc started with supplying crude agricultural implements. It was clear to them that they could not play the game when there are players who cannot play. Food security and employment are first, and agriculture is where that could be achieved. Industries develop because of agricultural needs. And Education will always be on rote transfer of knowledge without industries because it is industries that supply the need for critical thinking. Japan, Korea and China started with much lower quality of education than what we have today.

The problem with the Philippines is it wants to SHORTCUT everything. Forget about foundations, about basics, about principles; we want to be 1st world without the blood, sweat and tears. Thus, the culture is about form and no substance. A consumer society will never outdo a producing nation. OFWs and Call Centers are just paliative measures. Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia will outdo us because they have started streamlining their agriculture some time ago. We avoid agriculture because it requires inter-generational solutions; and we are averse to hard thinking –better that there be Aldub and kiligs, Red Horse, Lotto and sabong.

We tried our hand on land reform, but now are forgetting about it because it is failing. It is failing because we saw it as end not the means. But, the end is about growing the middle class, and land reform is just a mean. We cannot stop once the lands are distributed, there is still the long road to make each -hectare productive for that is how to have a growing middle class. Because we think in terms of form, not substance, we think of large corporate farms. But, nowhere in the world have agriculture started big at the start. They all started as an army of thousand families having their small farms, one to three hectares each, which they attended to with loving care. They all started with so much inefficiency, and yet with time and dedication, have converted unwelcoming land into some of the most productive ones — ask Japan and Korea about it, and maybe in 5 to 10 years, Thailand and Vietnam.

We feel everybody is against us because we are against ourselves. Who would want to ally with losers?. Media have their oligarchic interest. Candidates and their cronies have their pockets as their interest. Other nation have their own interests. And yet, our interest is about protecting the status quo? Ah my gosh, no wonder we are only looked at as supplying domestic helpers, prostitutes, and beauty queens. When will we ever learn to have a winning attitude?

Let us start with 2016. Move the discussion to agriculture and unemployment, Vote the candidates that want Labor and Agriculture as a portfolio or advocacy, and avoid candidates who have no interest in these things.. If there is none among the candidates talking about these things, then it is time for a real revolution, not the fake one as EDSA1.

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