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FLEA MARKET OF IDEAS

Economic solution to our political problems

A serious misunderstanding is spoiling political debate in our country. On one side, one segment of our population complains about what ails our nation’s body. On the other side, another sector of our people grumbles about what ails our country’s soul.

The misunderstanding is causing a lot of frustration, because the arguments and counterarguments are not meeting toe to toe.

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The multitudes who succumbed to vote-buying in the last elections are among those who are bringing forth in the national debate their complaint against what ails our nation’s body. Their votes are marketable commodities that help stave off hunger. Their acceptance of P500 in exchange for their conscience vote is a clear testament to the fact that what stares them in the eye are the infirmities of our nation’s body more than the ailments of our nation’s soul.

In our just concluded elections, vote-buying was at its worst in all of our history. The very clear message is that poverty is growing despite rosy pictures and statistics on our overall economy.

But our privileged class misreads vote-selling as an ailment of the soul instead of its true nature as a deprivation of the body.

The many who continue to support President Duterte, despite his unprintable diatribes that sicken our nation’s soul, is another attestation that a dense segment of our population see the deprivations of our nation’s body as needing more critical and preferential attention.

It should be pointed out that Mr. Duterte has not done anything very significant that has positively impacted the
segment of our people who are reeling from physical deprivations. His continued enjoyment of solid support from the masses may be coming from two fronts.

First, he is probably viewed by the masses as more predisposed to respond with solutions on the survival needs of
the poor, compared to opposition forces whose messaging is largely confined to issues about the nation’s soul and whose track record of economic governance has disappointed the underprivileged.

Second, the President’s obsession with peace and order, exemplified by his war on drugs, is an ailment of the body that resonates strongly among this segment of society. The meteoric rise of the Tulfo brothers’ Anti-Crime and Terrorism Community Involvement and Support (ACT-CIS) Partylist, garnering the biggest party list vote in its first run, affirms this observation.

The segments of our people that rage over the ailments of the soul are recognizable by the issues they espouse: worsening corruption, political dynasties, human rights violations, the West Philippine Sea, misogyny, religious blasphemy, morality, among others.

These issues rightfully need attention in a country that’s long due for a complete overhaul. But the total trouncing of senatorial candidates who trumpeted these issues as campaign slogans reveals two things. First, the ranks of people who see these ailments of the soul as central issues are dwindling, perhaps in direct proportion to the steady decimation of our middle class. Second, massive numbers of our countrymen are willing to overlook such ailments of the soul because of issues of day-to-day physical survival.

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The national discourse is littered with insults like bobotante, yellowtard and dutertard. The nasty name-calling does not win converts from either side. Both segments of society are espousing issues that respectively hit them in the gut with the strongest impact.

For those espousing issues that ail the nation’s soul, there should be a recognition that the leaders they despise are offspring of poverty. Poverty causes hunger and illiteracy which, like mounds of manure that fertilize a barren ground, allow warped politicians to grow like poisonous mushrooms.

Our intelligentsia and our moneyed classes, who are predisposed to side with those fighting for the nation’s soul, must actively participate in the fight against economic monopolists, unfair traders, usurers, smugglers and price- or supply-fixing syndicates.

Our political problems call for an economic solution.

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TAGS: 2019 elections, economic solutions, Flea Market of Idea, political problems, Rodrigo Duterte, vote buying
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