Now that President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III and his Cabinet have “hit the ground running”, it is time to examine the focal point around which spin the complex of platitudes and promises delivered to us over much of Noynoy’s presidential campaign — Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap (translated literally: “If no corruption THEN no poverty”).
A few of my colleagues here have already made an in-depth exploration of the void that describes the logical link between corruption and poverty. So my approach will be to do a deep-dive into what I believe to be the more profound nature of Philippine poverty. It is important that we augment our understanding of the non-link between “corruption” and endemic poverty with the following look into what makes our poverty so poignantly chronic. These two insights will help us gain a better appreciation of the massive amount of work we need to do over the next six years. Much of this work has to do with mitigating the risk of further damage to the Filipino psyche that Noynoy’s promise to eliminate poverty by eliminating corruption is already causing. The false expectations created by such a promise is already inflating a fragile morale bubble of great expectations without a commensurate highlighting of the key role that personal accountability plays in any initiative to alleviate poverty.
Let’s cut to the chase and get what is real squarely in front of our faces. If we are to look back at our track record of economic added-value creation, we can quite easily arrive at the following conclusion:
On the average, every new Filipino born represents a potential subtraction from the aggregate value of the Philippine economy.
In other words, the average Filipino individual will over his or her lifetime generate a total incremental economic value that will not cover the additional cost he or she levies on the economy in becoming a resource-consuming element within it. This is one of the fatter pillars of truth that describes Da Pinoy Condition. It goes to the core of why every effort mounted by the Philippines to prosper simply fails. It is also a key underpinning principle of overpopulation, and it ties squarely into my definition of poverty which I elaborated upon on an article on FilipinoVoices.com from way back:
Poverty is an outcome of our locking ourselves into commitments beyond any inherent ability in us to honour them.
In essence, every new Filipino warm body produced represents a commitment. And our track record of economic output per capita is a sorry record that I believe highlights our inherent inability to honour our commitments. Our impoverishment stems from the very time we enter a commitment to feed, raise, and educate every new Filipino baby born and fail to honour it. Poverty is therefore etched into the very DNA of our society.
This is the source of our poverty. And we have been for the last five decades trying to whitewash that reality with “solutions” that involve an over-dependence on short-term sources of income — overseas foreign workers, raw resources exports (like logs, minerals, metal ore, etc.), and labour-added-value assemblies among others. The big financial windfalls that many of them may deliver confounds in how these never quite manage to seep into the little cracks that interlace the bedrock of our ability to sustain ourselves. These cracks are where a strong ethic of innovation, enterprise, and foresight should have but did not come to fill. Cash windfalls from external sources simply atrophy any inclination to prosper that is driven from within.
Our poverty is not caused by corruption. It is caused by an absence of self reliance and, more glaringly, an absence of personal accountability.
The biggest irony here is that a President who pandered to the Filipino’s need for assurance that their poverty is someone else’s fault is sitting in Malacanang today.
Noynoy’s administration seems set to erode what little sense of personal accountability the Filipino has left. The Aquino Family Newsletter flashed a headline the other day whose oxymoronism will probably all but escape the vacuous sensibilities of its readership. Kayo ang boss ko (“You all are my boss”). That, in essence is the epic cop out of new Philippine President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III.
It is a statement that panders to populist sentiment but is devoid of tangible meaning. What exactly does it mean when the most powerful man of the land says that the “people” are his boss? Nothing much. This moronism draws heavily from the vacuous Edsa “revolution” concept that underpins what passes off as the Aquinoist’s “ideology” — that power “emanates” from the people and that the Edsa “revolution” of 1986 was a phenomenon that manifested a raw but “pure” form of “people” power. So much has this concept been perverted to political ends that it is seen to be a legitimate means for the expressing of the people’s “will” in addition to the recognised channels: elections and representation via elected representatives in the legislature.
So I say to the Inquirer.net, not so fast, dudes. “Boss” in the true sense of someone who directs a subordinate’s actions does not exist in the relationship between the President and his constitutents. Rather, the President (and for that matter, any elected official) is given the mandate to lead and direct his people. In this mandate is enshrined the people’s confidence in the elected official to use his own better judgment to guide his actions, his leadership, and the directives he issues.
By saying that the Filipino people are his “boss”, Noynoy makes a lame attempt to bat accountability back to what, in essence, is an abstraction. Epic fail, Mr President. As with most chief executives, the buck stops at your office. Deal with it. There is no “boss” as far as you are concerned. As your own family mouthpiece editorialised on its top headlined news report:
It was a speech without the usual abstract platitudes but replete with must-do things.
Indeed, Mr President. And now, so you must. Perhaps I might extend for now my sympathies to you seeing that you now find yourself in the untenable situation of being stuck with a promise made on record that you will “eliminate” poverty by “eliminating” corruption. That is what is implied in that now infamous campaign slogan of yours, isn’t it?
Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap.
On this slogan rests the basis of all “hope” harboured by those who look to you for their salvation.
Look who is laughing
all the way to the bank.