Monday, March 26, 2012

What's Wrong?


Looking at the bigger picture of the Philippines, why are we still so poor? Does it mean we are a country whose investment priorities got it all wrong? Why are we still left behind by our Asian neighbors? I don't even believe we are a country with low IQ, when we export human capital of the highest caliber.

So whats wrong, sir?


Dear Anonymous,

Based on my observations and some academic articles that I've read, two possible answers come to mind:

1) In general, we are selfish and greedy
2) We favor short-term gains over long-term objectives

I know that a lot of readers would think that this is an "unfair" accusation, that not all of us are like this. But come on, take a look around you and you'll see how both of these points are true. We would rather risk our lives and jaywalk rather than use an overpass that's just a few meters away for the same reason that we would throw our cigarette butt or candy wrapper on the floor rather than walk a few steps to the nearest trash bin. We buy tingi even if buying in bulk is cheaper in the long run. We tend to spend and consume rather than save. We see how business decisions are made mostly to drive short-term profits and stock price increases and how the government under-invests in education, infrastructure, and health care. Finally, to a great degree, these are the reasons why corruption is so pervasive in all sectors of our society.

So maybe what we need is a shift from this "me, now" to an "all of us, in the long term" mentality; though it is not likely to happen anytime soon, it would not hurt to start this change of attitude in ourselves and in our own homes.

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