Sunday, January 8, 2012

Investment, investment, investment

Country lags behind peers in securing foreign investments,” screams Business World, 2nd Jan 2012. Shouldn’t we be weeping – ashamed of ourselves? That is old news – very old news indeed! It was very old news when the writer started the blog 3 years ago! And why the blog’s reason for being is to urge Juan de la Cruz to focus on investments to drive the economy! So what are we saying today? “We need better infrastructure; we need to make doing business easier; we need consistency in our policies!” Shouldn’t we be feeling sorry this is the 21st century and our issues are so yesterday?

Has anyone counted how many articles on a daily basis are in fact press releases from local interests who are behind these issues we raise – with a little help from their cohorts in politics and our acquiescence? (We’re all in this together, i.e., as a people, we spelled out restrictive economic provisions in our Constitution!) We rail against western influence yet Madison Avenue is our template? [Disclosure: the writer’s office for many years was next block to Madison Avenue and he has friends in the industry. And in Eastern Europe he showed his friends how to do 360-degree marketing, selling products not influence.] Unfortunately, Juan de la Cruz is the biggest victim? To be fooled once is forgivable but to be fooled for over half a century is idiocy?

How could we be so forgiving? Because that is what our faith is about? As a young boy the writer remembers hearing the debate about faith versus works (between an uncle who married a Lutheran from Colorado and the more avid in the family.) And given that the church is very much a part of our culture our focus on faith is indeed powerful? And it translates to: we should feel optimistic about 2012!

What happened to “It’s the economy, stupid” – which is why there is so much poverty around us? Where is the reservoir of change in Juan de la Cruz? Where will it come from if institutions like the media, the church and government are not paragons of change? How about us? The school is where our capacity for change or the lack of it is manifested? If we are too skewed towards parochialism and hierarchy, and paying the price of abuse and the shameless disregard of the rule of law, that would simply be mirrored by the school? Where will academic freedom come from if institutions don’t value it, if we don’t value it? And we wonder why even our premier universities rank poorly? Education is inquisitive and expansive by definition – but that is not how we want to define Juan de la Cruz? And we think we are better than today’s kids because our old system was better? Are the kids running our media? Somebody should put our local media (print and broadcast) side-by-side against more progressive countries and in a flash we would see how our national conversation stacks up against theirs – and why we are cellar dwellers?

The 21st century has inspired egalitarian values – and where technology and innovation from wherever could undo established order and hierarchy. If we still believe that parochial and local efforts would suffice to match the collaboration employed in the more developed parts of the world, we simply would be smothered? It is as though we haven’t left the days of old – of the fabrication era when creating the jeepney was our pride and joy? Today’s technology – moving at warp speed – demands much more than that! Whether it is the space program or Boeing or Apple or IBM, underpinning these major endeavors is the principle of collaboration – that no man is an island!

How the world has evolved ought to teach us the reality of works? And our faith is not confined to being passive; it is proactive as well? And in the contemporary highly competitive global economy we must learn and be predisposed to change before we could even be in the game! But our game is our faith? Yet the Jesuits, among others, see Christ in everything! Thus when we focus on the economy our faith is there? It is even in our favorite oligarchy? Except that they have effectively become barriers to our ability to attract foreign investments? We need to look further and beyond our parochial confines? Or after another 50 years we would still read: “Country lags behind peers in securing foreign investments!”

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