Friday, January 27, 2012

Kudos to The Manila Times Editorial

. . . When rational decision-making is undermined republicanism and democracy too are subverted. For the success of a republican democracy requires that citizens be fully and wisely informed. Otherwise they cannot perform their essential function of voting for better representatives or officials and choosing the best option for the common good . . . And in a free society it is privately owned mass media that has the burden, more than government-run media, of performing the function of informing—and informing toward wisdom . . . Responsible journalism is always truthful. Putting a spin in news reports, using the news pages for propaganda in favor of one side in a controversy, is an act against truthfulness. It is irresponsible journalism . . .” [The Manila Times Editorial, 18th Jan 2012]

The editorial gives us hope that journalism is still functioning in the country. Consider: Marcos and People Power, the Estrada impeachment trial, the Arroyo election and now corruption prosecution, the Corona impeachment, just to name a few, would give a sense of what unfortunately defines us as a people. Is spin confined to news in politics? Given we now appear to recognize how much we've lagged our neighbors as an economy through several decades, should our national agenda take a new tack? For example, we all rallied behind an OFW- and consumption-driven economy, while our neighbors pursued foreign investments and technology, and tapped the global market; should we then craft our national agenda accordingly instead of staying with our comfort zone? Simply, if we tolerate more of the same, how do we expect to better the wellbeing of Juan de la Cruz?

But it doesn’t appear we are anywhere near displaying maturity in representative democracy? The Aquino administration is pursuing foreign investments yet our actuations say the opposite? How many foreign investors have been burned dealing with us? The latest are the folks behind mining? The industry is controversial, that is a given. But even developed nations are in the industry. Australia and Canada are performing better than other developed nations despite the global recession and mining is a major contributor. To simply invoke populist sentiments is again more of the same. To simply be against anything ‘big and foreign’ is again missing the fundamentals of economies of scale, efficient market economy, sustainability and competitiveness – the reality that the writer’s Eastern European friends learned the hard way. These are the very same elements that our neighbors leveraged and capitalized that elevated them to Asian tigers.

We can’t seem to have a national agenda. If our journalism is spin and populist values undermine economic development, how could we move the nation forward? There is no such thing as perfection in this world! We can’t seem to find common grounds because we believe in absolutes? Our faith may be absolute but we are also commanded to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s. And Caesar isn’t perfect! Thus the key is to find a common ground for the common good especially in economic development – which we’ve messed up for decades. Poverty is the reality or simply the effect of our mismanagement of the economy. But our braggadocio hasn’t ceased?

Writes the master of perspective and geometry, da Vinci: "Perspective, therefore, must be preferred to all the discourses and systems of human learning." How do we find the common ground and the common good? For instance, the 80-20 rule (employed in major enterprises) simply means that absolutes can’t be the platform of decision-making and human undertakings – which given scarcity of resources must be characterized by prioritization. But we struggle to focus on the vital few? There will always be winners and losers especially in ideas and advocacies. To expect everyone to be winners is precisely what our crab mentality is about – everyone is clawing everyone to come crashing down? What is sad is the church could be unwittingly fuelling crab mentality in the spirit of compassion? But the church may not have the expertise to assess an industry. In selling its game plan – especially the pursuit of strategic industries – it behoves the Aquino administration to edify the nation so we don’t end up being our worst enemy.

We need to develop a deeper understanding and commitment to representative democracy. And the operative word is representative which by definition is not absolute! And journalism is not a bad place to start.

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