Villanueva: The year that was

ANOTHER year is about to close, and new calendars are about to replace the last leaf. About 50 editions of this column were published, discussing a smorgasbord of topics, mostly related to and relating to Economics.

Somehow, I am achieving my personal goal of providing ordinary Filipinos access to an otherwise highly theoretical subject, making the subject easier to understand by connecting ordinary everyday events to economic concepts. That, no matter how well we hide from it, avoid it or even deplore it, Economics is an inevitable part of human life.

The year started analyzing New Year’s resolutions. It has been established that these resolutions are responses to a bandwagon or “mob effect”. The kind of thinking where “everybody has a list, then I should have a list of my own, too.”

Resolutions are also results of extraordinary ecstasy felt during the holidays, and people think that they need to be better people who are good, loving and generous.

So, business firms take advantage of this “high”, and intentionally extend their “sale” past new year’s day, so that people who like to be generous will still buy presents, particularly for those who like to reciprocate the generosity of others toward them.

There were several editions of this column that journaled the author’s travels particularly in places within the Cordilleras. These were not without challenges and were unique from each other.

The visit to Tinongdan, Itogon and the farthest sitio, Domolpos was recorded. The paradoxical state of the farthest sitio comparing it to the barangay it belongs to, and the significance of a “powerful” firm in this paradox.

To experience Kabayan’s mystical four lakes was a refreshing experience. They still remain unpopular compared to the high and mighty Mt. Pulag, although these lakes are part of the national park named after the highest peak in Luzon.

It would be beneficial if these sites are developed to not only offer alternative activities aside from trekking to the peak, but also as ideal camping sites for trekkers in order to decongest Mt. Pulag camping sites.

Another place visited this year was the Batad Rice Terraces and Tappiyah Falls. This first visit was journaled in this column, as well as the analysis on why buko (among many other goods) is sold at such a high price, and why the seller had such a sour attitude toward a local tourist.

There were a lot of political events and actions of people in power that were analyzed. These include the Cordillera autonomy, Federalism, the Marawi siege and Martial Law, housing problems related to Kabayan group, the war vs. drugs, its effects and its externalities, the advantages of nuclear power, and the mining controversies.

Of course, the more obvious Economics issues did not go unnoticed. A deeper analysis of these issues were presented, showing both the positive and negative side of these issues, and provided conclusion or recommendations related to these issues.

Duterteconomics was something that should have excited everyone. This is the government’s plan to build, build, build infrastructures amounting P3.2T. However, this excitement will not last when we learn where the funds will be coming from. The primary sources will be from foreign borrowings (mostly from China) and tax revenues derived from the new taxation policy.

The Tax Reform Program, which was analyzed several times a few weeks and months earlier than it’s signing into law just last week. I have shown my agreement on the imposition of excise taxes for automobiles and sugary beverages, and more taxes for sin products.

However, expanded VAT and excise taxes for petrol/fuel will not be beneficial to citizens, and the poor will be experiencing the effect of these taxes because of their limited purchasing power.

Administration officials brag about the revised income tax system, and said to benefit the poor because those earning lesser will have lesser tax or even no tax at all. This will stretch the consumption or purchasing power of people, but the effect of VAT and petrol tax will increase the prices of products will definitely neutralize the increase in the take home pay of the poor employees. Quits--quits lang, or even lugi kitdi pay ah.

And lastly, a set of editions of this column analyzing ordinary events or issues close to cmmon tao’s hearts, and explaining them using economic concepts.

One topic was on “unli-rice, analyzing how people can consume more rice than others, and the reaction when Sen. Villar proposed the banning of “unli-rice”, a controversy that many Filipinos reacted adversely.

Another group of topics was on love and relationships. The Economics of Unfaithfulness was subject to heated discussion among my set of friends, at least. A sequel of this topic is yet to be published, a more intense one on infidelity, and will come out some time next year.

Broken hearts economics, Happiness, Risk and Relationships and LDRs were among the great pieces. Many were surprised that these topics can actually be analyzed using economic concepts, proving that ordinary issues can be explained by economics in the most rational, logical manner.

There were a lot more editions of this column that do not fall under any of the categories above. These are considered not-so-significant, but they needed to be talked about which is enough reason to write about them.

Some of the topics that were written about were so sensitive especially that this government tend to frown disagreement or deflection, but bias were minimized (except for the really obvious show of bias on the author’s part which is intentional) and be more logical and rational in analyzing issues.

Rest assured, for the New Year, significant and interesting topics and subjects will be discussed in this column, with the logic and rationality of an Ekonomista.

Also for the New Year, this column becomes more interactive so readers are encouraged to send questions or queries or problems that they like to be clarified on using economic concepts. You may email your questions, problems and queries to Relevant economic analysis may be provided, and some solutions may even be suggested, as well.

Finally, I would like to wish everyone an abundant and eventful 2018. Happy New Year to all!!!
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