Monday, November 28, 2011

Community sense

Is there in fact an industry out to discredit President Aquino? Whether people are out to discredit the president may not be the real problem of Juan de la Cruz. Our real problem is our lack of community sense?

Our efforts in power generation, for instance, must recognize regional if not global competition because we are competing for foreign investments at the front end and trade at the back end – beyond parochial issues that seem to consume us perpetually! Is the problem simply too big and we don’t have the capacity to solve it? But we would scramble to provide electricity if there is a rule that says: until we become supply- and price-competitive with our neighbors, no electricity will be supplied to all gated communities! And we’d surely call a national campaign? In the meantime, vested interests are celebrating because they have controlled the industry? Are we, as the writer’s Jesuit friend lamented, missing something, like authenticity? Or we simply don’t care? It is a microcosm of our failings or the state of denial we’re in! In Europe once dirt-poor Eastern Europeans couldn’t help give a dig to their neighbors: “4 hours work guaranteed plus 4 hours ouzo break!” “We’re Italians, don’t expect logic from us!” These people are simply blind to reality? What about us?

After President Diosdado Macapagal, with an exception or two, we lost the credibility of leadership and nationhood? (And the US is probably mirroring us – from Clinton on to Obama, Whitehouse leadership credibility has gone kaput!) Put another way, after President Macapagal, we have elevated two if not three amongst the most corrupt leaders of modern times! And their cohorts are still around – protecting their good names? How much more backward-looking do we want to be? We’re still in the “dark ages”!

Of course we have more billionaires today, yet poverty remains stark? What we proudly call our consumption-driven (essentially OFW-driven) economy – as opposed to an investment-driven economy – in fact sets up and strengthens the oligarchic character of our economy! We like to think we’re different from the more progressive-thinking, yet secular West? But are in the same boat? And now we worry that our schools don’t meet international standards – which means our road to the future is on a downward trajectory?

Which comes first, the chicken or the egg? We won’t be able to figure that out unless our starting point is a community sense? Vested interests behind the power industry (and the broader infrastructure industry) believe Juan de la Cruz in fact owes them a debt of gratitude? In the meantime, did the stakeholders behind tourism, one of our strategic industries, finally come together? We are our own worst enemy! Within industries we have pseudo-tsars flexing their muscles especially proud of past accomplishments – that we’re the economic basket case of the region?

What is reality? We are lagging behind our neighbors not just in the infrastructure basics, but more alarming is the stark absence of the building blocks of industrialization! Screams Business Mirror, 10th Nov: “Exports plunge 27.4% to 2-year low.” That is to be expected – i.e., our celebration of oligarchy is a celebration of backwardness manifested by our failure in power generation! And if our best business minds see crony capitalism simply as our way of doing business – “I’m in good company, I am no solitaire” – we are totally out of sync with the 21st century! It is the age of competitiveness, driven by technology- and innovation-focused investments! We can’t cling to “whom you know” – and must move on to “what you know!”

It would take a community sense if we are to move forward with dispatch – whether with NAIA 1 and NAIA 3, for instance; and if we are to indeed prioritize, implement and succeed in the pursuit of the strategic industries we have identified (e.g., ‘Arangkada’) and put us on the path to industrialization. It is heartening that DoTC secretary Roxas is talking about the imperative to prioritize!

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