Still on the elite

I still stand by my views on the utter underlying reason for what ails Philippine society which is our selfish and narrow minded elite.

To readers, it should be pointed out that I'm not even making a claim to originality as far as the ideas on the elite are concerned. I refer readers to far more thorough writers on the subject and a recommended list of books are as follows, for which Studwell's books should be read alongside with (and notably is merely the most recent on the subject):

> An Anarchy of Families,
> The Anti-Development State,
> The Rulemakers,
> The Modern Principalia,
> Booty Capitalism,
> Sugar and the Origins of Modern Philippine Society, and
> Democracy and Discipline.

Anybody can buy a copy of the above books at Fully Booked, Powerbooks, National Book Store, and i strongly suggest readers to do so and make their own conclusions regarding the matter.

While we're on the subject, I refer readers to pages 54-67 of The Odyssey of Lorenzo Tanada (by Agnes Bailen, 1998). As an exercise, see the names of the people who were charged as collaborators with the Japanese and compare them with the names of people now in the senate, congress, or government. Of course, some may say that the issue is so last century but, if that's the case, perhaps nobody should complain then if Imelda Marcos and the 'cronies' avoid proper trial and judgment, or when Erap got pardoned. However, that is not the point why I brought up the difficulties encountered by then Senator Tanada when he was prosecuting the elite for collaboration. The point is ... why do we still have the same group of people, the same families, leading us? Why are we still relying on the same people who have let us down for so long? Why entrust our future and the solution of our problems to the same group or families who created those same problems in the first place?

That is why I keep saying we recognize the problem first, make no bones about it, admit it, then solve it. The problem is the elite, our oligarchic class. The solution is to make our country no longer rely on them, have them loosen their grip, and create a system that actually encourages more qualified people into positions of leadership.

For me, a deliberate and committed policy of greater and liberalized trade and investment, focus on education, and the refinement of our tax laws (particularly the expansion of a graduated - with big exemptions for the middle class to lower class - estate tax) would be a good start (with emphasis on the word 'start').

Overall, we need to start espousing an overall policy of having a stake in each other, that the success of our neighbor and our community is our success as well. We have to stop this slide into thinking that we are above our fellow Filipinos, of our current idea of success being to escape from our countrymen by either migrating abroad or living smugly/arrogantly in gated/fortified communities or condos.

I am not fostering a class war, it's the elites who did for selfishly insisting that they are the ruling class and the rest as merely the 'exploited'. One illustration of a country going wrong: I see people comfortably driving Jaguars and luxurious SUVs around Powerplant, then I see old women and kindergarten kids scurrying to avoid rainwater and rushing buses at the EDSA crossing, without a proper pedestrian lane or crossing, topped off by MMDA people shouting at them. Even just setting aside the NBN-ZTE issue, the Malacanang cash in bags issue, and just look at the little things would show the utter lack of care for the least of our lot. From this alone we can see how undeserving our current leaders are.

Another example is our lousy education system. The primary victims here are the poor, which obviously don't have the resources to send their kids to Harvard or Georgetown. The Philippines is all the worse for it as the best economic policy is good education. Singapore has shown you don't even need more money to have a good educational system. Singapore actually spends less on it than a lot of other countries (see here). We can do better in this regard if our leaders really wanted to and given much thought to our country's education system. They don't.

I just want a better country, where your talent and hard work matters and not your family or capacity for corruption, where you don't have to be rich to have dignity, and where you don't need to buy an army to feel secure and at peace.

But I digress. First things first, we just obviously need a better set of leaders. At 80 million people, I'm sure we can do a whole lot better than what we have right now.