Thursday, January 15, 2015


These were the words of Winston Churchill when he was arguing for a strong labor class in England as the principal tool to keep the country in peace and prepare it for war. 

He said he saw no glory in an Imperial England that rules the waves but is unable to flush its sewers. 

We may have in this country an Imperial Manila, the source of economic and political power. But the rest of the country may be considered a sewer that has not been exactly flushed by the magnificent powers of the Emperor. 

This is a roundabout way of saying while the country, particularly its financial sector, reaps all the plaudits from the world for staying close to investment grade, the multiplication of jobs that is a normal result of steady growth, has not exactly been that visible. 

At best there is a palpable rise in under-employment. The quality of jobs and the people who fill them may not have improved in step with the growth of the financial sector.

Still, economic regulators should not expect a “work- fits- job- situation” precisely because financial stability does not necessarily bring it about. Not that quickly, anyway. 

If the financial sector must be considered the “emperor who rules the waves”, it may have awakened to the necessity of flushing its sewers. We tirelessly claim the heavier focus to financial lenders to the small, medium enterprise and down to the micro borrowers is a lasting solution to progress attended by industrial peace. 

The mantra or solution is scooping them all up so they flush their own sewers. This is happening in what this space proudly proclaims as sweatshops sprouting in many places. 

The private sector has been attracted to develop huge industrial estates that host foreign companies because labor costs at home are so excessive to be competitive. Foreign electronics business comes to the Philippines with garments exporters precisely to take advantage of wage burden. 

Unhappily, the sweatshop investors find the number of Filipino warm bodies too many for their needs. They cannot take them all. 

The situation could have been worse if an estimated 10 million Filipinos documented  or otherwise  had not been employed in foreign countries. 

The population explosion has divided labor in this country into two distinct classes: the group of educated people who work in offices and the huge mass only a small part of whom are absorbed in the sweatshops. There is a necessity to close the chasm. The other way  apart from the sweatshops  is generating self-employment with the help of the financial sector which comes in two prongs: small loans after basic business education.

The loan sharks are clogging the sewers of the small men. The micro lenders are unclogging them. 

Food in the stomachs for all, seeing children going to schoo and health care are the vital ingredients that will keep democracy alive and  wean the hungry from the tight grip on their minds by the politicians. 

There might come a time --  if it is not already upon us  -- when we proclaim to the world we are under a market economy. But the harsh truth is the system is centrally-planned by the few who hold the nation’s wealth. 

The wielders of power and wealth are themselves scared of the continuing political decay largely brought about by a situation where the mass of voters who by the numbers actually decide the elections do not do so. 

The mind in the body of a voter with an empty stomach is ruled by the “emperor” politician. He will never flush the sewers of his empire.

He will clog it instead. 

In the end, as we have seen from history, nothing but   freedom from want and oppression makes a strong democratic nation ruled by the middle class who elect their elders based on their best lights, not for the kilo of rice before election day.

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