The “debate” around the best short-term solution to combat the rise of the prices of rice mirrors the overall flaw in the traditional “activist” rhetoric. Shrill communist and Opposition “activists” want lower prices (supposedly empathising with the kawawa naman poor). Yet they cannot reconcile this cry for cheap rice with the plight of the farmers who will further be impoverished by lower prices.
These same activists are going all rah-rah over the sophomoric recommendations of their demi-god Mar Roxas who wants all roadblocks to importation lifted to flood the market with piles of rice and exert this much-needed crushing effect on prices. Farmers left out of the equation just the same. Filipino-farmed rice is, of course, no match for the rice produced from the high-yield farms of excellent farmers in Thailand and Vietnam that is moved through their world-class infrastructure and logistics chains up until these are unloaded on Philippine ports.
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This is the trouble with mere virtue signalling and the appeals to emotion this dishonest approach to advocacy produces. It is easy for “activists” to come up with their quaint picketline chants to demand “lower rice prices” and conveniently fail to understand that if you pull back one lever in the economic equation, another lever pushes forward. This is no different from all the other “advocacies” of these militant “activists”. They campaign against “increased tuition fees”, rail against a lack of state dole-outs, and strike at the first sign of a fuel price increase. Yet when asked to balance the fiscals and cough up tax revenues, they balk and coddle the “victimised” members of the “informal” economy who are subsidised by the minority Filipino taxpaying community.
People need to understand that there are deeper systemic problems at play in the way commodity prices behave in a national economy. Indeed, a no-brainer factor that just literally stormed in was Typhoon Ompong itself which decimated harvests across much of Luzon further putting pressure on domestic supply and, as the Law of Supply-and-Demand dictates, puts more rockets underneath the inflation rate.
Much as the Philippine Opposition led by the Liberal Party (a.k.a. the Yellowtards) would like to think that their nemesis, current Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, is a major contributor to the ebbs and flows of the Philippine economy, the reality is that much of the way the economy behaves has nothing to do with who is sitting in the Office of the President. Come to think of it, when one considers that the Philippines is Asia’s most prayerful nation, it seems God himself has nothing to do with Filipinos’ fortunes either.
The bottomline is that things happen as an outcome of a chain of cause-and-effect that can be explained if modern intelligence is applied to the “debate”. If Filipinos can learn to analyse and solve their problems without undue reference to mysterious and imagined political and religious “forces”, they will go a longer way towards truly understanding what needs to be done to change their personal and collective fortunes.
For now, political agendas rule the “debate” over the prices of rice. There are short-term solutions where some may win (consumers) and many will lose (domestic producers) much the same way as combatting overall inflation (reducing consumption) will not make certain retail barons very happy this Christmas. Long-term solutions offer more win-win scenarios. But these demand the energies of smart people to implement. And therein lies the million-dollar question: Are Filipinos smart enough to come up with real solutions to their problems?
The answer to that question will likely be a confronting one.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.