Why Gloria’s dole outs are doomed to fail
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2008-06-19
The Focolare Movement’s socio-economic prescription for bridging the wealth gap is still the most rational approach I’ve come across. This is the new economic paradigm known as the Economy of Communion (EoC).

Three historical attempts to bridge the wealth gap — the European Welfare State, US Philanthropy and the Communist and Socialist State — have been proved to be nothing more than spectacular failures.

The EoC experience teaches us that only the poor can help themselves — but not alone.

There are two vital elements that the EoC has which the three historical models lacked in order to succeed in bringing the poor to exit from their generational cycle of poverty. These two vital elements are proximity and reciprocity.

Per the EoC model, proximity is when the person seeking to help the poor maintains a face to face, one-on-one, by name relationship, when the relationship is on-site and where there is a genuine desire to service the real needs of the poor.

Proximity underscores mutual trust. In the EoC experience, when the people in need are helped by a far away institution, the free ride rate is high. What is shared may actually keep them in a condition of abject inferiority.

Reciprocity is mutual giving and receiving, when there is a meaningful response and not just a mere thank you from the person helped. In fact, reciprocity is the big missing element in the three historical failures at bridging the wealth gap.

In the EoC experience, the ultimate dimension of response is when the beneficiary acquires self reliance, transforms into a giver and attains equality with the donor. There is a failure of reciprocity if the people who are helping and receiving are not able to respond to each other as equals and/or if the beneficiary ends up resenting the donor.

Madame Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s (GMA) dole outs fail in practically all counts of the proximity and reciprocity requirements. In fact, dole out recipients have already expressed resentment in some form or another even before they have received anything.

Of course, it is difficult for the government to maintain the proximity and reciprocity requirements especially when one considers how many poor people have to be served. It is difficult but not impossible.

Thus far, the best experiences of successful poverty alleviation are found in the Focolare Bukas Palad and the Gawad Kalinga (GK) communities. The Bukas Palad and GK communities are succeeding because of the elements of proximity, reciprocity and the emphasis on value formation.

More than the financial assistance, the poor needs value reformation. More than the missing gold in their pocket, it is the lack of productive values that breeds poverty.

For instance, both the Bukas Palad and GK experiences registered a high incidence of male predatory tendency among the poor families they served. It is the females that were found to be generally productive. Unless the predatory tendency is transformed to productive attitudes, the male members will not contribute to uplifting their family from poverty.

Many were surprised when the Catholic Church leaders frowned on the GMA regime dole outs. Does not the Church always encourage charity for the needy, they asked? Here is an obvious act of charity, or so it appears, and the Church discouraged GMA from proceeding with it.

That is because the Church knows that all that money will go to waste sans the vital elements of a more holistic approach to poverty alleviation. Not only that, I am sure that many of the Bishops see through the real motives of GMA for the dole outs.

What GMA is doing is token charity — the act of a regime in panic. The P500 power dole out is a sham if one considers how government VAT has added so much to the cost of electricity. Reducing the government VAT on gas, power generation, transmission and distribution will do more for power consumers than the P500 power dole out.

As suggested by Blue Chicken Romy Neri (per Jun Lozada during the ZTE hearings), it will help more poor Filipinos if the GMA regime and its minions can simply moderate their greed.

We can even live with the VAT. The VAT revenues at least go to the government coffers and may be used for health, education, and infrastructure — the bigger, more meaningful investments that can alleviate poverty.

Greed creates a no-win situation. Only the corrupt and the Blue Vultures benefit from insatiable greed. The Filipino people end up paying the stiff price for inferior infrastructure, under-funded health and education — the products of un-moderated greed.

Not only that, but as proved by experience, the money gained from greed are usually stashed overseas and does not benefit the country at all. Weighed by guilt, the crooks cannot sleep well when their loot is within the reach of the Filipino people who would definitely want to take it back.

It is typical criminal psychology to want to store the fruits of the crime as far as possible from the long arm of the law and the Filipino people.

  Previous Columns:

It had to happen on The Ides of March and Holy Week

Suggested guidelines for liability- free Internet posts

Election lawyer: PCOS critics should put up or shut up

All Excited by Pope Francis

A great disservice to P-Noy

[Click here for the Archive]

Home | As I Wreck This Chair | High Ground | Career Brief and Roots | Advocacies | Landmarks Copyright 2006 The Chair Wrecker by William M. Esposo