Sunday, August 18, 2013

The folly in charity giving . . .

[A]s long as most folks are patting themselves on the back for charitable acts, we’ve got a perpetual poverty machine. It’s an old story; we really need a new one . . . Because of who my father is (Warren Buffett) I’ve been able to occupy some seats I never expected to sit in.” [Peter Buffett, The charitable-industrial complex, The New York Times, 26th Jul 2013] “As more lives and communities are destroyed by the system that creates vast amounts of wealth for the few, the more heroic it sounds to “give back.” It’s what I would call “conscience laundering” – feeling better about accumulating more than any one person could possibly need to live on by sprinkling a little around as an act of charity . . . But this just keeps the existing structure of inequality in place . . . Nearly every time someone feels better by doing good, on the other side of the world (or street), someone else is further locked into a system that will not allow the true flourishing of his or her nature or the opportunity to live a joyful and fulfilled life.”

There were recent articles about how “corruption” has already invaded the expected power supply in Mindanao? With the anticipated surplus, given the frenetic construction of new power facilities courtesy of the big boys, cooperatives are now receiving offers – i.e., no different from electricity [and water] in Manila, franchises [and concessions] expect rate-adjusting mechanisms in their contracts. Arguably, if they are transparent, there is no issue. The real damage to PHL is the heart of oligopoly: the interest groups – well-entrenched and woven into the fabric of our cacique culture – that have shut out foreign investment and dominated the local market while we turned into economic laggards! It is a vicious circle. “Shops were closed and hospitals ran on generators Wednesday in a Philippine province (Albay) that was plunged into darkness when the national power grid operator stopped its supply due to unpaid debts.” [Associated Press, 31st Jul 2013]

My wife's friend from Sofia, who was having dinner with her, was already amazed thinking how it could happen to an entire town, much less a province! Translation: Even at their worst their former communist masters, that forced them to resort to self-immolation, never committed such an egregious act! “The combined net worth of the Philippines’ 50 richest totaled $65.8 billion, more than a quarter of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product,” reports Forbes. It brings to mind Peter [and Catherine] the Great. And not surprisingly, despite the red scare being passé, we still have leftist extremists in the Philippines – even when we Filipinos don’t have firsthand experience of communist rule? Eastern Europeans precisely tapped the outside world to learn the ropes of free market. And despite the global recession (and with EU fumbling the ball to boot) and thus the elevated unemployment in Europe, majority wouldn’t want to go back to what they call their ‘dark ages.’

There is no doubt Metro Manila’s perennial traffic problem can only get worse each day . . . But unless and until we all cooperate and have discipline in our streets and in the long run ultimately develop an effective mass transport system – this Metro Manila headache will never go away. As a matter of fact, it’s already a giant migraine!” [Babe’s Eye, Babe Romualdez, The Philippine Star, 14th Jul 2013]

Is that a microcosm of PHL underdevelopment, and our widespread poverty? We have even institutionalized “learned helplessness”? “The incoming president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on Monday issued the call to lawmakers, saying the pork barrel, officially called the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), had made public governance a system of patronage.” [Philippine Daily Inquirer, 30th Jul 2013]

Learned helplessness [loosely translates to “ganoon ‘yon talaga”?] occurs when an animal is repeatedly subjected to an aversive stimulus that it cannot escape. Eventually, the animal will stop trying to avoid the stimulus and behave as if it is utterly helpless to change the situation. Even when opportunities to escape are presented, this learned helplessness will prevent any action . . . When people feel that they have no control over their situation, they may also begin to behave in a helpless manner. This inaction can lead people to overlook opportunities for relief or change. The concept of learned helplessness was discovered accidentally by psychologists Martin Seligman and Steven F. Maier.” [What Is Learned Helplessness, Kendra Cherry,]

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