Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Having our cake and eating it too

An Australian swim coach has tough love for his compatriots in the Olympics this year: "We're getting too soft. Our work ethic has dropped down," CNN, 9th Aug 2012. “Ken Wood, the swim coach who helped train China's double gold winner Ye Shiwen, one of the Olympic surprises this year, said the Australians “cannot afford to be soft" to compete with Chinese swimmers.”

Deadly floods that have swamped nearly all of the Philippine capital are less a natural disaster and more the result of poor planning, lax enforcement and political self-interest, experts say,” Inquirer.net, 9th Aug 2012. “Damaged watersheds, massive squatter colonies living in danger zones and the neglect of drainage systems are some of the factors that have made the chaotic city of 15 million people much more vulnerable to enormous floods . . . Urban planner Nathaniel Einseidel said the Philippines had enough technical know-how and could find the necessary financing to solve the problem, but there was no vision or political will . . . “It’s a lack of appreciation for the benefits of long-term plans. It’s a vicious cycle when the planning, the policies and enforcement are not very well synchronized,” said Einseidel, who was Manila’s planning chief in1979-89 . . . “I haven’t heard of a local government, a town or city that has a comprehensive drainage master plan.”

We can’t have our cake and eat it too? We reap what we sow? Do we even care? Is it our passive nature? Is it our fatalism? Is it our weather? Is it because we’re an archipelago – and we think like islands unto ourselves? Or are we compliant because we defer to hierarchy?

We have seen Metro Manila descend into the abyss of chaos and environmental degradation – right before our very eyes? During the recent flood the poor were pitiful, but a Metro Manila that is not organized, developed and geared for such density is bound to affect everyone, not just the poor? We can’t be like a sinking ship?

And the wife would interpret “work ethic,” thus: “We’re so used to our assistant – and so we don’t lift a finger when our assistant would have her own assistant”? And that is where inefficiency – and our being oblivious to productivity and competitiveness – starts? And it gets worse as we've valued monopoly power given our insularity – i.e., local enterprises  are not pushed to the edge to satisfy regional if not global yardsticks of excellence? And not being pushed to the edge is why we proudly believe that we’re the happiest people on earth?

Of course, since PHL is an economy of two subsets, we are able to put our best foot forward confident that we’re world-class – where it matters, e.g., our individual successes? But it simply perpetuates our lopsided economy and thus our hierarchical structure. President Aquino has taught us about the “common good” by personally leading the fight against corruption. But beyond that, we now need to define “the vital few” initiatives that could get our economy going. We are way behind development-wise that there is the urge to bite more than we can chew. But that’s precisely why we were like spinning wheels for decades; for example, how come we failed to prioritize power and basic infrastructure?

The Joint Foreign Chambers (JFC) is showing us how to back-off and prioritize – via the 7 strategic industries that they put together working with both the public and the private sectors. But to come together to define our common good and our vital few is not our normal? And the chaos that characterizes Metro Manila and hence its environmental degradation is the price we are paying today?

We can’t have our cake and eat it too?

No comments:

Post a Comment