, May 24, 2024

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And So It Goes

  •   3 min reads
And So It Goes

Poverty and hunger have been constant afflictions, like death and taxes. They do not linger, for lingering implies a certain end

By Joey Salgado

Our people have grappled with poverty and hunger for decades. Poverty and hunger have been constant afflictions, like death and taxes. They do not linger, for lingering implies a certain end. They persist.

Majority of our people see their lives as cursed with poverty and hunger, where penury is a birthright. Economic freedom, the freedom to be free from want or hunger, is not a freedom but a privilege enjoyed only by the few who were born into comfort.

Every administration since the founding of the republic has declared war on these two scourges in the name of the people.

The early, formative years of every administration is spent huddling, drafting, and unveiling roadmaps to progress, one that is heralded as equitable and pro-poor. The legislature is urged to provide substantial resources, not paltry sums, to bring the nation to its promised destination and liberate the masses.

Resources for seminars, workshops, and propaganda. Bureaucrats and experts need to talk and argue first before telling the people what government is doing to make them less hungry and poor. Resources to buy vehicles and gasoline, breakfasts, snacks, dinners. Bureaucrats and experts cannot plan to fight hunger and poverty inside cramped offices and on empty stomachs.

Resources to feed the hungry, to provide them with sustenance? That is in the realm of private enterprise, which government can only regulate, not control.

Bring down prices? Government cannot repeal the law of supply and demand. Smuggling? Illegal and immoral, yes, and also endemic to the system, especially when crooked bureaucrats partake of the rewards. Was there ever a time we did not have smuggling?

FBenjr123, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Government says it can only extend subsidies to a few. And during calamities, plastic bags with instant noodles and canned goods help ease the hunger but not the trauma of losing one’s meager possessions.

Government is not into retail charity work, they say. That is for church and the saintly. Government thinks macro, big picture.

Resources for jobs? Government can only offer jobs as seasonal street sweepers and casual workers. And besides, competition for jobs in any administration, from clerks to undersecretaries, even Cabinet officials, is limited to those blessed with the proper connections.

Job generation is best left to private enterprise they say. Government cannot control who gets employed. Government cannot interfere in the affairs of the private sector, but private interests of ranking officials can influence the affairs of government.

And at the end of each administration, these roadmaps become part of the archives, relics of promises unfulfilled.

A new set of leaders and administrators take over, propelled to power on the same promises of economic liberation by a people still hungry and poor.

They huddle and draw up a new roadmap and ask the legislature for substantial resources so they can plan to help the poor.

And so it goes.

The poor are admonished to rely on themselves and not on government, to wean themselves from ayuda. Huwag maging tamad. Learn to hustle.

The illusion of upward mobility and success through hard work is foisted at an early age, in komiks and teleserye, in public schools where the children of the poor are crammed in humid, airless classrooms to receive an education that keeps them captive to society’s conventions.

Want an easy buck? Dance on Tiktok. Want more? Be a domestic worker abroad. But be ready for the pain of separation and longing, the bone-breaking hardship, and the wages of indignity.

Kd Madrilejos | Rappler

Meanwhile, those from the ranks of the poor who strive for an equal measure of decency and respect are treated with contempt, patronized, thrown crumbs from tables groaning with the wealth of ill-intent labelled as charity.

And those who argue and assert their right to exist and be rewarded for honest toil, those who demand more from government, are labelled as troublemakers, or worse, subversives.

Still, those who do make it - the few, the lucky, and the exceptional - end up being cogs in a machine which feeds the same hungry beast that made their original decrepit state not only possible but inevitable, commonplace.

And so it goes.

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