Monday, April 23, 2012

Battling the mantra of “daang matuwid”

It sounds a prelate – together with the members of the Kilusang 99% – is not too happy with the President’s “daang matuwid” (straight path), and “called for a new path to development, stressing that the promise to lead the country to “daang matuwid” (straight path) is not enough if this leads to a dead end which is dangerous and counterproductive.” [Manila Bulletin, 9th April] “. . . What we need is “bagong landas” and not just “daang matuwid.” This is a path that puts people first, not profit; a path that restores power to the people, not concentrates power to just a few; a path that is sustainable, not short-sighted that looks only at economic gains; and a path that promotes peace, not war.”

Is our supposed resiliency now giving way to frustration, if not anger? Hopefully we are not giving way to ideology? Deng Xiaoping understood that very well. For example, social action must not be meant to romanticize socialism. As Deng Xiaoping begged the Americans, “we need your money and your technology”! And the writer immediately understood why the first time he stepped into a Chinese manufacturing facility. “All we can offer is what you see; everything else you want done has to be provided by you – including educating us. It is precisely why we want to partner with you.” That was the Chinese manager responding to: “We are in the hygiene-products business, and if we are to become partners that is the first principle we must both subscribe to – and this facility does not represent that.”

It’s not just Deng Xiaoping, even the Manila Cathedral needs money, writes CJ Panganiban: “The sad news, reminiscent of Black Friday’s woes, is that the Manila Cathedral has been closed due to newly discovered structural deficiencies. But the good news on this happy Easter Sunday is that . . . San Miguel Corp. president Ramon S. Ang graciously agreed to contribute P50 million to lead in saving this veritable center of Catholic worship.” [Philippine Daily Inquirer, 7th April]

The writer has worked and lived with ex-socialists the last nine years and they would not even imagine flirting with socialism. It has – especially to the younger set – become synonymous to Communist rule which they equate to their Dark Ages, of decades of an impoverished life. And they are still digging out of its big hole.

And Bernard Lonergan, SJ comes to mind: “When we try to reconcile opposing moral opinions we usually appeal to shared ethical principles. Yet often enough the principles themselves are opposed. We may then try to reconcile opposing principles by clarifying how we arrived at them. But since most of our principles are cultural inheritances, discussions halt at a tolerant mutual respect, even when we remain convinced that the other person is wrong. What is needed is a method in ethics that can uncover the sources of error. After all, even culturally inherited principles first occurred to someone, and that someone may or may not have been biased. So there is considerable merit to investigating the innate methods of our minds and hearts by which we construe – and sometimes misconstrue – ethical principles. The work of Bernard Lonergan can guide this investigation. His opus covers methodological issues in the natural sciences, the human sciences, historical scholarship, aesthetics, economics, philosophy and theology.” [Tad Dunne, Siena Heights]

Our first goal is to enlarge our economic pie. And that will take away the emotion that seems to be front and center in the life of Juan de la Cruz. And hopefully it would summarize our perspective simply as: to seek the “common good” via a commitment to sustainable profitable growth, which comes from the dynamic of investment, technology and innovation and talent, product and market development. Which unfortunately in the Philippines we have restricted (thus nurturing oligarchy) because of our parochial bias? Ergo: we aren’t blameless ourselves? Simply, said dynamic yields a greater multiplier effect from investment. It is that greater multiplier effect that generates a bigger economic output and thus a wider ecosystem that can sustain itself; and benefit a greater number, thus approximate the common good. Precisely how China was able to drastically reduce poverty! And we would not want to be too proud and smart for our own good, and be left by the train once more? It doesn’t matter if we have a sleeper ticket!

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