Preview of the hell our children will inherit
HIGH GROUND By William M. Esposo 2006-05-08
If you think that we are seeing the worst with our current conditions—you’ll be shocked to know what this problem will be like when it is inherited by our children and grandchildren. So-called worst case scenarios can always get worse. History is replete with so many instances when “worst case scenarios” deteriorated into something even more terrible.
Post-World War I Germans thought that they had experienced the worst because of the humiliation of losing the Great War (as World War I was called) and the economic depression that followed defeat. As it turned out, the Germans went through a worse horror during the subsequent reign of Adolf Hitler. Russians thought that the rule of the Romanov Tsars was the worst period in Russia. Josef Stalin made the Romanov era look like a Sunday at the park.

Our problems today show signs that things can get much worse. The strongest indication is the fact that the nation does not recognize the full scope of the problem and therefore is unable to determine the proper solution. For the most part, Filipinos only see a part of the national problem and are misled into thinking that the solution rests only on fixing that part that they recognize.

The poor factory worker whose salary cannot make ends meet thinks that the solution is simply a wage increase, little realizing that wage increases that are not afforded by business revenues can trigger a worse economic situation where he can find himself with less purchasing power or worse—without a job anymore. On the other end, the businessman, as perhaps exemplified by Donald Dee, thinks that a few economic policies that support business—but does not seriously address the real causes of why we’re forever trapped in boom-bust cycles—sums up the solution.

Many Filipinos think that more call centers in the country and more jobs abroad for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) will solve our economic problems. They do not realize that call centers are neither long term economic solutions nor can they be relied upon to keep on providing jobs. OFW jobs are not also the answer to our economic problems. One does not build a sound economy on the basis of jobs provided by other countries. A sound economy is built on jobs that are provided at home, where families remain united to support each other.

A US war with Iran could transform the Middle East into a conflict zone that can disrupt economic activity and wipe out most of the OFW jobs there. A technological development could make call centers obsolete overnight. If Filipinos who graduated to be engineers, mechanics, managers, doctors and so forth keep diverting to call centers just because these are the only jobs available at home that pay decent wages, then there is no hope that we will ever have a viable economy that will deliver over 40 million Filipinos from the jaws of poverty.

Tiger economies are built on vibrant local industries that complement and support each other. Just compare our manufacturing to that of Malaysia, our agriculture to that of Thailand and our services to that of Singapore and you’ll see why we will remain a mange-stricken pussycat economy compared to the booming tiger economies of our ASEAN neighbors.

These are mere examples of how we fail to recognize our economic problem in its totality and how we are foolishly pursuing the wrong solutions. Add to that the bigger political problem—the root cause of all these economic and social problems—which most Filipinos also do not see as integral to the big picture.

In the political aspect of the problem, many think that it is just a question of finding the right leader. Few Filipinos realize that the problem is systemic—meaning the solution is to reform the system and not to rely on leaders that the failed system produces. Even fewer Filipinos realize that they have to be active players in finding and implementing the solution to the political problem.

Some from the upper and middle classes know the problem but are afraid of the enormous task, not to mention the risk, it will take to reform the system and so they would rather not rock the boat. They hope against hope when they think that the system that produced Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Jose de Venecia can be relied upon to produce the counterparts of a Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore or a Mahathir Mohammad of Malaysia.

Some are even inclined to think that the Charter change that is now being railroaded through a bogus people’s initiative is the reform that we need. Despite all its pretensions to being an agent for change and reform, the Constitution that Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Joe de Venecia want us to buy will merely reinforce the current monopoly of power and preserve the status quo.

The reason why we have been adrift for too long and unable to get on track is because we as a people cannot form a national consensus on what is our problem. We have snatches of the problem but it is nothing more than having only 15 percent of the pieces of a big puzzle. Thus, we fail to see the big picture and arrive at the right solution.

Right now our country is rudderless and fails to chart a course to where we want to go. It is rudderless because of the failure of the leadership and to compound our problem—the system itself fails to provide a remedy to the failed leadership. The Philippine ship of state does not have a qualified captain. It is rocking and swaying in stormy seas and none of its crew members have a clear idea where it should go. If you are a betting person, you won’t bet on the chances of that ship going anywhere except perhaps to run aground.

How will this impact on our next generation twenty years from now and why will it be worse than what we have now?

Assuming that we are unable to solve our problems, just imagine the profile of the next generation that will inherit it.

1. The next generation will be poorly educated compared to the present one. Our high end universities have lost a lot of its ratings. In the 1960s, our neighbors used to send their children here to study. Now we are the ones who need to learn from our neighbors. Our free high school education is negated by the deterioration of public education and worse—many of the beneficiaries of the so-called free high school education cannot afford to go to school.

2. The nutrition problem will seriously affect the quality of the Philippine work force of the future. What kind of minds will over 40 million Filipinos have after relying on basically instant noodles for nutrition? You need protein to have a properly functioning brain. Instant noodles do not provide protein.

3. If our generation that is better schooled and better fed cannot fathom our real problems, how do we expect the next generation to do better than us? Already in our time we have forgotten the lessons of Jose Rizal and Ninoy Aquino and the rest of our heroes. How will the next generation ever get to appreciate what really caused the hell that they will inherit? And not knowing its causes—how will they even hope to solve it?

If we have not remedied our reliance on overseas jobs by then, will those poorly educated and poorly fed Filipinos qualify for those jobs abroad? The other factor to consider is if and when technology renders most of those jobs overseas as redundant. What if by then call centers too are no longer there to provide jobs or if those call center jobs were taken over by Indians just as other nationals will be there to grab those overseas jobs if and when we lose our competitive edge?

What if Ms Macapagal-Arroyo and Joe de Venecia were able to change the Constitution with what they want—what do you think will result from that? Will we get more foreign investors if investors will now have to talk to members of Parliament instead of just the executive branch of government? Just imagine the so-called ‘cost of doing business’ that a Parliament will entail for them.

If today, we are moving towards a civil war because of the discord and divisions in our land—what makes us think that they who will likely be hungrier and angrier will not find themselves engaged in one?

This is all up to us, only us, to save them.

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