Friday, December 03, 2010

Filipinos as "assets": a highly-questionable assumption used by "pro-life" advocates

The venerable Abe Margallo in his FilipinoVoices.com article House Bill 5043, quo vadis (whatever the hell does "quo vadis" mean, anyway?) makes another one of those typically irresponsible rah-rah assertions about the issues of population and reproduction -- the sort that fuels primitivism in already hopelessly backward Philippine society. The cornerstones of his thesis are the following ululations:

(1) Filipinos are "assets", so the more such assets we produce, the more value is delivered to the society.

(2) The reason Filipinos remain poor despite their being an "asset" is that they lack "opportunit[ies] to work and earn income".

(3) The "economic elites" have not done their "duty" to invest more of their resources into creating said "opportunities" for the masses.

Guess again, gramps. Here are some reality checks for you...

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Assets need to be developed.

Margallo's biggest assumption is that Filipinos are "assets". But then assets, in the real sense, are such because of their ability to provide an acceptable return commensurate to their intrinsic value. This value is a function of scarcity and income potential. Obviously, Pinoys fail epically in the scarcity aspect as there is enough of us to staff nursing homes around the world twice over. This leaves us with income potential.

What builds income potential?

Consider education as one such input investment into the enhancement of Filipinos' collective income potential. Given a constrained amount of funds, every additional Pinoy born (to the scandalous tune of a growth rate of more than 2 percent per annum), presents a reduction in the per capita density of investment in public education; that is, runaway population growth spreads thin already meagre resources available to educate each pre-adult Filiipino with public funds.

Successfully leading a horse to water does not guarantee that it will drink.

The hollowness of the assumption that Filipinos are intrinsically valuable "assets" puts to question whether providing the "opportunity to work and earn income" will necessarily result in a sustained delivery of productive economic output over a long term.

Reduced investment density per capita reduces the rate of development of said asset and therefore reduces the ability of said asset to deliver productive economic return even with ample opportunity staring it in the face. Margallo's pom pom waving simply fails to account for the reality of the need to develop assets before they can be expected to yield a decent return.

National prosperity is a two-way street.

This blame-the-capitalists emo-ism does not take into account the average Filipino schmoe's personal accountability for securing their own future. Let's not forget that the average savings rate of the average Pinoy schmoe is among the lowest in the region. Sure incomes are low. But that does not excuse not saving and re-investing said savings into secure assets -- such as in savings accounts or other durable assets (in contrast to non-durable consumables like celphones, karaoke machines, and Tommy Hilfiger knock-offs). The Filipino Chinese managed to accumulate enough to re-invest spectacularly under the same conditions back when they were taho and balut vendors. That they made it and the natives did not says something about our character as a people, and theirs.

* * *

It's simple, really™ -- though not for the small-minded.

[This blog is based on a comment I made on FilipinoVoices.com which as of this writing remains under moderation.]

4 comments:

  1. quo vadis means "where are you going?" I assume people like Margallo use phrases like that because they think it makes them look sophisticated. Of course in his case, he's so old Latin may be his native language and he just had kind of brain fart while he was writing his article.

    If people alone are an asset, then how come Singapore with 1/20 of this natural "wealth" compared to RP runs rings around the rest of the world in productivity?

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  2. That kind of insight simply flies over the head of minds that come from an era when masses were delivered in Latin. ;)

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  3. "That kind of insight simply flies over the head of minds that come from an era when masses were delivered in Latin. ;)"

    To be fair to the TLM, however, the aesthetics ensured that churchgoers of different classes experience the same magnificence. Now, we have the unfortunate dumbing down of society in general...

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  4. Perhaps. Kinda like how schools are now resorting to make learning more "visually appealing" to cater to today's more attention-deficited youth.

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