Economic Ironies

MANILA, Philippines -- ''I'll have the glory of dying without a penny of convertible currency... Vengeance can find no place in a revolutionary's heart.''

- Fidel Castro's ''My Life''

OWING to the energy and time wasted on the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona, and President Benigno Aquino's obsession to see him convicted, the economy appears to be coasting aimlessly for want of a leader and a roadmap.

Yet, paradoxically, businesses appear to be sailing along smoothly at their own steam with the general economy mercifully spared and relatively insulated from the financial turmoil in Europe and the United States.

On the rosy side, financial reports, Initial Public Offerings (IPOs), corporate net incomes, OFW remittances, call centers, fixed investments, and stock market trading are all reporting impressive performances that President Aquino can always claim as his own accomplishments.

Thus, conglomerates and universal banks from the Metrobank Group of companies to PLDT, San Miguel, JG Summit, Filinvest, to BPI and BDO as well as middle income businesses, such as GMA-7, commercial banks, Jollibee, and others have all declared healthy operations and positive net incomes.

This is an exemplary performance by Philippine business at minimal governmental intervention as the principals, notably President Benigno Aquino, are busy running after political enemies and pet peeves.

This is the economic paradox that is turning out to be beneficial.

Needles to say, if there are paradoxes, there are also ironies that are depressing and alarming.

First, the middle class is not expanding or growing as fast a rate as the population.

That is, the gap between the very rich, despite their token attempts at Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), and the very poor, owing to the failure of the State to slow down the birth rate, is widening and deepening.

Even the gap between the upper-crust conglomerates and the middle class is also widening to the extent that the middle class cannot bridge the gap between the obscene rich and the dirt poor.

In short, this is the irony of the paradox of success that needs to be narrowed.

When all is said and done, the poor are growing in numbers, and the rich are getting richer, and fewer as a percentage of the total population.

That is the paradox and irony.

You be the judge

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A congressman from southern Luzon believes that a pro-Aquino party mate congressman, who is not incurably greedy, need not engage in irregularities in his district or steal taxpayer's money as he pockets enough allowances, office savings, and windfall incomes from projects to assure his reelection... If the representative is in the good graces of the administration, hardworking and smart, he (she) can generate or line up infrastructure and social projects as much as P700 million or more per year from which he receives confidential and substantial kickbacks from favored local contractors and brokers ranging from 15 percent to 30 percent of gross project cost... Additionally, a congressman receives P500,000 cash per month for himself... Further, if he is stingy or parsimonious in hiring staff members, scrimps on office supplies, and miscellaneous expenses, he also pockets the savings... Even left-leaning party-list representatives have abandoned the streets and their working-class background... They have become part of the bourgeoisie... Meanwhile, Japan has decided to de-commission all its nuclear reactors until further notice, resulting in 60 percent rise in electricity rates and imported fuels which has been aggravated by a persistently strong Japanese yen versus the US dollar... Incidentally, Rep Manny Pacquiao of Sarangani should retire from boxing while he is ahead being the richest member of Congress... If he loses to Tim Bradley in their June encounter, Manny Pacquiao would have lost not only his iconic hero status in the eyes of the people but would also derail his plans of aspiring for a higher political post... He will be an ordinary rich boxing hasbeen... Abangan.

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