Wicked business leaders
All accusing eyes are cast on our politicians whenever our people engage in a blame game ritual to sort out the mess of a country that we have. There’s consensus that our leaders deserve the scorn thrown their way, not only by the present generation, but even by generations whose futures have been ruined long before they’ve been conceived in this world.
The crucial difference between poor countries which eventually became prosperous and our own poor country which has been stuck in poverty lies in the kind of political leaders that we have. It does not lie in a scarcity of our natural resources because our islands are more endowed with nature’s wealth compared to others. It does not point to an indolent people, because we are naturally hardworking when given the right opportunities and rewarded fairly for the sweat in our brow. This has been demonstrated more than a million times in the lives of our countrymen who are transplanted in foreign countries, which are governed by better leaders.
But while our political leaders merit the blame heaped upon them, there’s a different group of leaders in our society who have managed to stay under the radar in blame game rituals. These are our business leaders, who share equal culpability for our country’s downward trajectory in the developmental ladder.
In our country’s midst are business Goliaths that grew, and are still growing, by leaps and bounds because of schemes and machinations that burden consumers with higher prices, substandard products, and mediocre services; disadvantage legitimate businesses because of undeserved privileges enjoyed by favored entities; and shortchange the government of much-needed revenues. These include business entities that unfairly operate utility monopolies, franchises that abuse captive consumers, natural resources extraction permits that are misused to the detriment of the environment, importation concessions that thrive on smuggling practices, and conglomerates that have coopted government regulators.
There is so much browbeating about how huge the level of corruption is in all branches of our government, and how pernicious its impact is on our country’s development. But there has been no equal reckoning and call for accountability on the harmful consequences of wicked business practices on our people’s welfare. If we are to venture an estimate on how massive the damage is to our country and its people, it will not be too wild to guess that it rivals and may even surpass the ruinous effects of corruption.
Just imagine the daily drain on people’s resources caused by our expensive but poor internet and telecommunication services, our costly electricity rates, our ineptly managed tollways, our food stocks that are manipulated through price fixing and supply hoarding, and the rampant smuggling in our ports. This is not to mention the fact that these practices stunt our local industries and discourage foreign investments.
These business Goliaths have grown so big to such an extent that they now have the capacity to finance a big chunk of the election campaign expenses of key politicians. In return, their enjoyment of unwarranted privileges gets guaranteed for each new administration. It’s an open secret that some of these business giants maintain a stable of politicians who purr or bark at their bidding. It’s likewise an open secret that business families have managed to get their kin elected to political positions in furtherance of more business privileges.
To be fair, there are many business leaders who have achieved success because of merit and competitive business advantage. But their positive contribution to society is offset by the nefarious practices of others in their ranks.
Our country is beset with so many problems that prevent us from attaining our full potential as a nation. But before we can start searching for solutions to all our difficulties, we must unmask the slew of characters in our society who are the sources of our suffering. Let’s continue calling out our political leaders for the troubles they bring, but let’s start equally denouncing our business leaders, who beget even more tribulations in our lives.
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