Inequality is the engine of political change that society and government need to come to terms with

inequality_philippines

What is the biggest problem in the world today? ISIS? No. That is the effect of inequality. Drugs? No. That may be a cause of inequality, but more an effect as well. Over-population? No. The New York Times and other Think Tanks, who used to advocate mandated population control, now say poverty is the cause of over-population and NOT vice-versa; sustainable development is the solution to over-population. Climate Change? Maybe, but that is also tied to inequality if we take a closer look at it..

INEQUALITY. That is the biggest problem today.

It is the reason why Rodrigo Duterte (DU30) got elected. It is the reason why Donald Trump might just win the White House over Hillary Clinton. The campaigns of the two have shown similarity and that is why they have often been compared. No, it is not really about their political incorrectness, though that is what people normally only pick up. It is that the overarching “theme” of their personas, pronouncements and sorties is about addressing inequality. Inequality matters whether we realize it or not.

China has acted as it has acted because she perceives the US is treating her unequally. As the second largest economy, she grapples with how to deal with the largest economy, a Military Power on the other side of the planet and yet who wants to remain a Pacific Power. Both have to be careful about their geopolitics, or they could trigger WWIII. Both act as they do because it is really an effort to find solutions to the inequalities in their respective home fronts.

China is an economic power but thinks and acts like a Third World country because Beijing is still busy trying to hide its roots in the Cultural Revolution of the past. China knows that once Central Government loses its control, a social volcano would likely erupt. We can’t talk of a social volcano in the case of US; we talk of Occupy movements because they remain hopeful a “trickle down” solution might still be found as they have in the past. But with the fast developments over the last decade or so, the Top One Percent has become more and more a normal feature of the US economy and no solution to inequality is in sight.

Inequality matters. But, we can’t be explicit about it. We cannot talk of it as a theme of an election campaign, though it was the undertone of the campaign of DU30; it is of Trump. Inequality is a bitch; it is complex. We are scared of it. It is always the elephant in the room. We tackle it in an INDIRECT manner, groping and hoping. Why? …because social sciences have suddenly no answer. We also know by now that GDP and credit upgrades are very much incomplete measures of the well-being of a country.

No question, social scientists have long been concerned with inequality. This has usually been addressed from specific theoretical and/or political positions – Marxism, liberalism, feminism, anti-racism and so on. But as Mike Savage (Co-director, Institute of International Inequalities, London School of Economics) observed, these have generated foundational disputes and controversies, rather than sets of problems to work on.

Paradigms have now to be questioned. Savage: “…the reason why the work of economists such as Tony Atkinson, Joe Stiglitz and Thomas Piketty; of sociologists such as Beverley Skeggs, John Goldthorpe and David Grusky; of legal scholars such as Kimberlé Crenshaw and Nicola Lacey; of epidemiologists such as Michael Marmot, Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett; of political scientists such as Robert Putnam, Kathleen Thelen, Catherine Boone and Paul Pierson; of geographers such as Danny Dorling, and of social policy researchers such as John Hills, ….have become popular. The work of these social scientists typically commands more attention than their peers working on other fields, and carries sway across much of the wider social sciences. …..many of these proponents criticise their own disciplines as a means of emphasising importance of inequality studies.”

Piketty criticisms of economists do not mince any words:

“To put it bluntly, the discipline of economics has yet to get over its childish passion for mathematics and for purely theoretical and often highly ideological speculation, at the expense of historical research and collaboration with the other social sciences…”

Savage: “…the challenge of rising inequality might just be a real issue which causes genuine and effective cross-disciplinary synergy and is forcing the social sciences to reassess their disciplinary loyalty. …social sciences (have) to retool to demonstrate their contemporary relevance.”

AND YET….

Here we are debating whether the catcall and wolf whistle of DU30 was sexist or not. Okay, let us debate it for whatever lessons it might give us, but to have it as one of our headline news? Aren’t we losing focus on the biggest problem?

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About Add

GRP Featured Comment hall-of-famer. Former executive of the Far East Regional Office of a US-based multinational company living out of a suitcase covering the market from Tokyo to Mumbai to Melbourne, and all the countries within that triangle. Got tired after logging 300k air miles per year. Now, I just have a little trading biz on specialty chemicals.

Post Author: Add

GRP Featured Comment hall-of-famer. Former executive of the Far East Regional Office of a US-based multinational company living out of a suitcase covering the market from Tokyo to Mumbai to Melbourne, and all the countries within that triangle. Got tired after logging 300k air miles per year. Now, I just have a little trading biz on specialty chemicals.

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29 Comments on "Inequality is the engine of political change that society and government need to come to terms with"

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GO RICO
Guest

“If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich” JFK. All Past administrations have had every opportunity to do the right thing, but they failed at every level. Duterte is just a chosen catalyst for change, the people must make it happen. Good luck, Philippines.

fracs
Guest
Here we are debating whether the catcall and wolf whistle of DU30 was sexist or not. Okay, let us debate it for whatever lessons it might give us, but to have it as one of our headline news? Aren’t we losing focus on the biggest problem? Nailed it. Whinge, moan, defend or attack Duterte all you want, but to hold a position on the issue is to accept the rules of engagement as dictated by mainstream media (which includes blogging and wider social media). The system wants you to hate it because that is still energy/vitriol/clicks expended in its name.… Read more »
joeld
Guest

Like what we always say, pinoys are more fond of form more than substance.

fracs
Guest
I mean, just ask benign0. In this analogy, he is the system and we are who we are. Does HE actually care if I or anyone else has a Really Good Point(tm) and writes Really Scathing Criticisms(tm) up and around arbitrary talking points like Duterte or whether or not watching ABS CBN makes me more or less likely to vote with my Bible? I may or may not write very long whiskeys and drink many comments but in the end I’m playing ball on his coding. The revolution will not have a Reply button and if you want to enforce… Read more »
Robert Haighton
Member

Add,
I have a very simple question for you:
What kind of political change do you envision and how will that solve inequality?

ChinoF
Member

An acquaintance once said, there will be violence in the world as long as there is inequality. The problem is, inequality is the basis of many things we take for granted in life. Good example is the house servants we hire. Until now, Filipinos still have this need for maids or servants in the house. Sometimes, they don’t need the servants. It’s nothing but a status symbol, or they want the feeling of having someone to order around. It’s an cbvious overcompensation, especially when you couple in the fact that we’re still a poor country.

Robert Haighton
Member

In a household where 2 mature adults both have a fulltime job (with or without kids) its very likely they will hire an “Au pair” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Au_pair). The knife cuts both ways. The 2 working people come home in a clean house; the Au pair has a paid job, learns a foreign language and see something of a foreign country. For both parties it’s a win-win situation.

ChinoF
Member

That would be a rare situation in someplace like the U.S., I believe. There, they would hire babysitters.

Robert Haighton
Member

Chino,
In households with double incomes with no kids, its a bit silly to hire a ‘baby’sitter, dont you think?

DINK: dual income, no kids
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DINK_(acronym)

Robert Haighton
Member

Chino,
In households with double incomes without kids, it’s a bit silly to hire a ‘baby’sitter, dont you think?

DINK: dual income, no kids
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DINK_(acronym)

DINKY, Double Income No Kids Yet, a term for people who are in relationship or married, but have no children.

ChinoF
Member

Common sense would say DINK wouldn’t hire baby sitters. If they hire an Au Pair, fine, though I believe U.S. culture encourages Do It Yourself, and discourages house servants.

Walter P. Komarnicki
Guest

just a short while ago, I saw a documentary on TV5Monde on the small Andalusian town of Marinaleda where everyone who can work does so at the same wage, and a mortgage takes 90 years to pay off, where inequality seems to be a thing of the distant awful past:

Robert Haighton
Member

So a lawyer, an accountant, a garbage collector and a waitress all have the same salary/wage/income?

Wow, there is no need to go to school anymore.
That is what they had in the former Eastern European countries (Iron curtain). And now today, it collapsed. It wont work, it doesnt work.

vagoneto rieles
Guest
Inequality…? Now, there’s a topic that’s not just timely, (it’s been staring at us for centuries); it is the 800lb. gorilla in the room that we have succeeded in ignoring all this time. Mayor ,(and President-elect) Duterte, in his own inimitable,(controversial), way is so right in addressing this problem early on. He knows that he does not have time to waste, (time is never enough), to ‘right this wrong’, so.. he challenges it even before he is sworn in. I’d give him a ‘pass’ for this, as well we.. all of us.. should. There actually is method in the seeming… Read more »
321Toro007Hyden9999999.999
Guest
321Toro007Hyden9999999.999
Inequality will always be with us. There are people, who are smarter than other people. There are people, who are dumb; as dumb, as most Filipinos; that they cannot help , but stay in the below poverty level in life. And, these people multiply , like Rabbits. So, inequality in our country, grows by leaps and bounds… Marxism and Communism, tried to address this issue of inequality of men. These ideologies failed miserably. Religion tried to sooth the hardship of inequality. It also failed, because religion, like a “shabu”, only made the inequality sufferer , depend on it. Not “on… Read more »
Robert Haighton
Member

Hyden,
hear hear, now you got/get my vote.

“You – the individual – are responsible and accountable for your own achievement and own progress. Otherwise, you stagnate !”

111Hyden007Toro89898.99
Guest
111Hyden007Toro89898.99

@ Robert Haighton:

Unfortunately, I am not running for any office…I do not want to become a politician … Thanks, for your “vote”, anyway !

Robert Haighton
Member

Hyden,
I was and am serious about my vote even when you dont run for any office.

Tobias
Guest

“To put it bluntly, the discipline of economics has yet to get over its childish passion for mathematics and for purely theoretical and often highly ideological speculation, at the expense of historical research and collaboration with the other social sciences…”

That is what mainstream economists have become since the advent of Keynesianism and Monetarism. I strongly recommend reading from Austrian economists since they have outline the flaws of mainstream economic theories before Piketty did.

d_forsaken
Guest
The Failippines is the natural resources rich nation on Earth, but its people are mainly poor, and poor Failipinos are urged to hate themselves. To quote the humorist Kin Hubbard, ‘It ain’t no disgrace to be poor, but it might as well be.’ It is in fact a crime for a Failipino to be poor, even though the Failippines is a nation of poor. Every other nation has folk traditions of men who were poor but extremely wise and virtuous, and therefore more estimable than anyone with power and gold. No such tales are told by the Failipino poor. They… Read more »
zaxx
Member

Ligation and removal of voting rights for all non-tax-payers can help solve the inequality equation. In 2 generations, the poor will be as few as polio victims.

But yeah yeah “human rights”!!! Sorry I know my common sense often gets in the way.

Jim DiGriz
Guest

I say that since way back, you don’t pay tax, you don’t get to vote. Everything would change.

Robert Haighton
Member

Zaxx,
– every time I purchase/buy something, I pay VAT (right?); and
– every time I purchase/buy something, I contribute to the economy.

Mind you, VAT in my country is 21%. So I think I am entitled to vote just for that matter alone. But thank god, everyone who is 18+ is allowed to vote.

Otherwise, voting would become an elite sport once every 4 years.

zaxx
Member

Maybe we can add “College degree” as an extra requirement. I am of course referring to Income Tax Return or Business Tax Receipt to show proof you are a responsible contributing member of society – giving you the right to have s voice in selecting leaders,

Why should the illiterate and squatters decide the fate of the country? What we need is empowerment of the middle class.

Joeld
Guest

Pinoys confuse rights with privilege.

I have a dinosaur SUV. To be able to use it. I needed to pay more to the government. Thus, when manong tricycle driver Shouts at me “karapatan ko din gumamit ng highway”, that’s one of the sure sign something is wrong.

Yamamoto Kansuke
Guest
Inequality will always be there. It’s human nature. There will people who’s smart, dumb, beautiful, ugly, etc. This has been the biggest puzzle for the Communist movement. They tried slaying this monster only to become the same monster themselves. It was a futile struggle that cost a lot of lives in the process. I remember my old professor saying that Communists tried to impose equality by force, but forgot that it’s in human nature to climb to the top. Bottom line is, inequality cannot be killed in it’s entirety. The only thing we can do is circumnavigate over it by… Read more »
BizClizGuy
Guest

I remember an excerpt from George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’ about the inaccuracies and flaws of Communism with this slogan:

“All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others”.

Jose Mobo R.
Guest

Those of you who do not believe that over population is a major cause of inequality and/or poverty must be ignorant of the Law of Supply and Demand.

One only have to look at the population of poor and rich countries, their finite natural resources, and compare how well the poor families and rich families are educated and what are the opportunities of social mobility.

Jose Mobo R.
Guest

Those of you who do not believe that over population is NOT a major cause of inequality and/or poverty must be ignorant of the Law of Supply and Demand.

One only have to look at the population of poor and rich countries, their finite natural resources, and compare how well the poor families and rich families are educated and what are the opportunities of social mobility.

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