Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Fixing the real problem... It's me, not PNoy.

Last night, I had planned on waking up early to finish a blog post regarding my reaction to President Noynoy Aquino's first SONA.  However, after checking my Facebook account, I found that I had been tagged in Ben Kritz' note on Facebook and this has turned my mind on a different track.

Here is Ben's note:
As I was sitting and letting my mind stretch out and run this evening, a thought occurred to me. Noynoy Aquino is not really the problem here: For all his incompetence, demonstrated lack of understanding of priorities, vindictiveness, and lack of statesmanship, he is not the source nor hardly an aggravating factor of the mess this country is in, but rather the ultimate expression of its dysfunction. When the machinery fails to operate correctly, or operate at all, one can hardly blame the bent screwdriver or wrong-sized wrench used to try to fix it. In essence, Aquino is the human equivalent of someone trying to hammer a 15-mm socket onto a 5/8 inch headbolt -- the best result is going to be something completely half-assed. It's not the socket's fault; blame the lazy mechanic.
Does that mean I believe Aquino should be off the hook for criticism? Absolutely not. He asked for the job and fought hard for it, no matter what he says about "being chosen by the people". He deserves every bit of critical micro-examination everyone can muster. But consider this: what do you do when you have the wrong or a broken tool? You chuck it aside and pick up the RIGHT tool. No amount of constructive criticism is ever going to change 15-mm N/A into the 15.875-mm he needs to be to fit properly on that 5/8" bolt. So whatever criticism -- and God knows there's a lot -- that can be made of him should be made in such a fashion as to address the real problem: the messed-up cultural system and mindset that said, "Eh, we're out of nails, let's just hammer a screw in instead," and put him into office. When we can successfully make it clear to the people that N/A's failures are actually THEIR failures, we will be well on our way to solutions.
Here is my comment on Ben's Note:
In first year highschool, back when cory aquino had just been installed as president, there was a resurgence in organizing student councils and part of the whole exercise was electing classroom presidents. Now, my classroom adviser being a miserable and mean old fart led the process of electing. For some reason, in his twisted mind, he blurted out to the class that they should elect someone big as president. Now, in my class, i was perhaps, the biggest kid and most of my classmates, being hopelessly preconditioned to obey 'authority' figures like zombies by the educational system, did as they were told. I got to be president of the class, a responsibility which i hardly understood and i did a half assed job.
I could have had a hand in articulating student issues and having them resolved. But being ill equipped, i ended up as the class adviser's boy - following his orders, which included keeping the class quiet whenever he decided to step out in the middle of class, selling raffle tickets, erasing the blackboard, et cetera.
Applied to our current situation, the classroom adviser is the co-opted press, the unenlightened economic elite, and opportunist politicians.
Guess what these people want? Oh... Well...
Oddly enough, this sort of reminds me of a series of books by Douglas Adams that I had read through back in college.

The "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" is part of a four part "trilogy" that I had pored through over and over through out college.  First because it took me a while to get all the jokes and second, because the jokes were funny in different ways each time I re-read it.

One part of the book that sort of reflects on Ben's thoughts about President Noynoy today and my recollection of being Class President in first year highschool is the 42 puzzle.
Through archival recordings, he relates the story of a race of hyper-intelligent pan-dimensional beings who built a computer named Deep Thought to calculate the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything. When the answer was revealed to be 42, Deep Thought had predicted that another computer, more powerful than itself would be made and designed by it to calculate the question for the answer.
Now, this stresses on one idea that the Get Realists and I agree on.  It is the idea that one's conclusion of what the problem is, is perhaps the most crucial phase in one's search for a solution.

What is the ultimate question for the
ultimate answer to life, the universe,
 and everything?
The number 42, in my personal lexicon, is more of Douglas Adams way of saying that this entire planet of humans is clueless about what they are for and will only get a glimpse of their true purpose just a few seconds before complete annihilation.

Applied to this country, the Philippines, I think that its people has bungled one way or another through finding the real problem.

Four or five hundred years ago, perhaps the inhabitants of these islands thought the problem was to stop the European invasion.  Rizal thought it was the unequal treatment of Indios and Spanish colonizers (the first Filipinos).  Aguinaldo thought it was the rule of the Spanish and Sakay thought it was the rule of the Americans.  Several Filipino politicians (descendants of the first Filipinos, Japanese Collaborators and partners of the American regime in the Philippines) professed the idea that being an American colony was the problem and so placed themselves in pivotal roles essentially as 'brokers' of Philippine Independence.

After being granted its so-called Independence, Philippine leaders have at consistently professed poverty and corruption (sometimes one more than the other) as the real problems.

What they didn't say is that corruption, in their Lexicon, is really a means of the rich to protect their business interests and vast stores of wealth.  More to the point, what the economic and political elite really mean by stopping corruption is to put an end to having to pay people off so that they can continue what they normally do -- which is to smuggle or misdeclare imported goods, not pay the right taxes or pay as little of it as possible, abuse labor, sell things that are bad for the people, not follow laws that cut into their earnings, swindle one another, etcetera.

Corruption is hardly a concern of the poor, very few of whom actually appreciate what corruption really is and understand the concept of corruption that does not necessarily involve stealing actual money from the Philippine National Treasury -- which, much as it may shock most people, isn't a government office with a huge vault full of cash.

One way of defining corruption more truthfully is that it is the willful and deliberate act of putting one's self interest above that and to the detriment of the common good.

Common Good or the Welfare of All Concerned should be one of the chief values that should guide all actions. (Of course, the theory in Beautiful Mind comes to mind, wherein individuals acting in their self-interest  produces beneficial effects for other individuals.  However, this can only happen if the behavior of all the individuals are uniformly predictable and consistently function within a range of parameters.)

The thing is, the Philippines will not be able to end corruption until a sufficient number (perhaps all) of Filipinos figure out what Common Good is.

So far, the odds of this happening within the next six years is 42 to 90,000,000 and counting.

1 comment:

BenK said...

You've brought up a couple ideas that I think are really fundamental to the whole "Philippine problem": that even the well-intentioned are trying to address and correct effects without understanding -- or being afraid to face -- the causes, and that "corruption" as an explanation for those effects is nothing more than a demagogical device, a scary-sounding abstraction for the vast majority, whose lives are simple enough that they cannot personally relate its effects to the conditions they live under.

Life and how to manage it is a black box to most people, and they will choose whomever can make them "feel" (not even necessarily believe) that he knows what's in that black box and how to operate it. Result: Mr. President The-Budget-Is-Depleted.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...