The Rich and the Poor

Manila Bulletin, February 4, 2013 | Go to article overview

The Rich and the Poor


"Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me."

- F. Scott Fitzgerald

The 6.6 percent consumption-led GDP growth in 2012 is probably accurate and true.

The year 2012 has been a banner year for the Philippine economy and relatively tranquil compared to the lingering economic doldrums in the United States, persistent economic stagnation in Europe, and widespread violence in the Middle East and major nations in Africa.

At closer scrutiny, the question is: where is the substance of the GDP growth headed to? Who benefited the most, and who benefited the least?

The answer will determine whether the growth will be sustainable, or merely a flash-in-the-pan, and whether the rich received a big chunk of the GDP while the poor scramble for the crumbs.

At first blush, it appears that the one percent of 100 million population very rich families have enjoyed and reaped huge profits, dividends, IPOs (Initial Public Offerings), and investments that only they can engage in, while one percent of the desperately poor, due to hardship and unemployment, are forced to engage in robbing jewelry stores, carnapping, burglaries, murders, and hold-ups to survive.

The fact is that the rich in the Philippines are scandalously rich and comfortable while the burgeoning masses, on a per capita income basis, are unable to rise above and escape from their social milieu. The trickle down effect is minimal.

However, in fairness to the authorities, the renewed infrastructure spending, booming housing construction, government public works, conditional cash transfer (CCT) scheme, BPO and OFW earnings have not only lowered the unemployment threshold, though hopelessly inadequate, but have also provided the general public with spending money. …

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