Thursday, January 10, 2013

Is it about being Pinoy or being Greek?

[The country’s] economic troubles are often attributed to a public sector packed full of redundant workers . . . Often overlooked, however, is the role played by a handful of wealthy families, politicians and the news media — often owned by the magnates — that make up the [nation's] power structure . . . The average [person] is growing increasingly resentful of an oligarchy that, critics say, presides over an opaque, closed economy that is at the root of many of the country’s problems and operates with virtual impunity. Several dozen powerful families control critical sectors, including banking, shipping and construction, and can usually count on the political class to look out for their interests, sometimes by passing legislation tailored to their specific needs.” [NY Times, 5th Dec 2012, For Greece, Oligarchs Are Obstacle to Recovery.]

The result, analysts say, is a lack of competition that undermines the economy by allowing the magnates to run cartels and enrich themselves through crony capitalism. “That makes it rational for them to form a close, incestuous relationship with politicians and the media, which is then highly vulnerable to corruption,” said Kevin Featherstone, a professor of European Politics at the London School of Economics.”

It is about Greece but could it be said of PHL too? “[The] anticorruption watchdog Transparency International ranked Greece [no. 94, ahead of PHL, no. 105] as the most corrupt nation in Europe, behind former Soviet states like Bulgaria, Romania and Slovakia . . . But it remains an open question whether Greece’s leaders will be able to engineer such a transformation.”

Is it about being Pinoy then or being Greek? The New York Times article spells it out: For Greece, Oligarchs Are Obstacle to Recovery.” It brings to mind the book, “Why Nations Fail,” that the co-author, James A. Robinson, discussed with a cross-section of our society. Dr. Robinson says that societies that succeeded in achieving prosperity for most of their people are those that made both political as well as economic institutions more open and responsive to the majority of the population. These societies rewarded innovation or new and better ways of doing things, and allowed everyone to participate in economic opportunities, not just a few elites, and had governments that were responsive and politically accountable to its people.” [Manila Bulletin, 3rd Dec 2012]

Unfortunately, Juan de la Cruz easily gets it in one ear and out the other? And so a news report like the following is to be expected? Investment goal likely to be missed,” reports Business World, 6th Dec 2012. Too bad so sad – we've had this challenge for decades and like a broken record it just keeps on playing? Garbage-in, garbage-out? Our pathetic economic output and thus poverty is visible from miles away – because we have been protecting ourselves from investments (and technologies) from the outside for decades, and proudly so because of our brand of patriotism?

And, unfortunately, man can defy the obvious? “We targeted around P400 billion [investments] but we will be happy to surpass -- just a little -- last year’s number of P369 billion because the baseline is high . . .” [ibid]. Sounds wishful thinking? Or is it our trademark "pwede na 'yan"? Perhaps we can learn from the new Apple CEO, Tim Cook: "Being gentle and being a pushover are two different things,” is how one analyst described him.

No comments:

Post a Comment