Carvajal: New Year prospects

Carvajal: New Year prospects

Globally, armed conflicts between dictatorships (Russia, China etc.) and democracies (Ukraine, Taiwan etc.) will spill over into 2024. So also will the bloody Israeli-Palestinian (Hamas) conflict. These will siphon away precious time and resource that are best used to push down global warming that is threatening to destroy us with the entire planet. Finally, neoliberal capitalism, the favored economic system of both dictatorial and democratic governments, will push more people down to poverty and heighten inequality in the world.

Locally, the authoritarianism of our government will go with the global trend and worsen. With decision-making firmly in the grip of the elite, more Filipinos will slide below the poverty line. A mainly agricultural country, we will be most vulnerable to the environmental disasters wrought by ecologically inimical practices of industrialized economies.

Yet our leaders continue to bank on indirect solutions to the problem of mass poverty like, for 2024, peace talks with the CPP-NPA and Charter Change (Cha-Cha). Even if the talks successfully ended the communist rebellion, which I doubt, there is no guarantee the country will shift to a proportionately representative democratic government and an inclusive and equitable economic system. Nor is the elimination of corruption, a major aggravation of the problem, guaranteed after the talks.

Extending the terms of elected officials makes me hit the ceiling for its utter stupidity. I can think of a thousand reasons to shorten terms but only one to extend them… more time for elected officials to dip their dirty paws into the country’s coffers.

Nor will opening the economy to foreign investment cut it. Congress is peopled by big business, big landlords and their surrogates; hence it would take a miracle for them to initiate essential economic changes that would increase the share of ordinary industry and farm workers in the benefits of the nation’s economy.

Besides, if they really want to open the country to foreign investments, they could have enacted laws the constitution is open to for the purpose. Yet why is it that they have consistently refused, on shallow pretexts, to enact the most basic and critical law needed to implement the constitutional prohibition on political dynasties? Because what they really want is to maintain the status quo on the economic system that gives them exclusive access to the country’s wealth and power, that’s why.

In any case, and because I still believe in miracles, I wish all a prosperous year even as I know things are not looking up in 2024. Not for the poor anyway. The macroeconomic success (high gross domestic product growth and controlled inflation) touted by the President in the last quarter of 2023 does not mean anything to the poor who barely survive within a system that affords them neither an effective voice in government nor a fair share of the country’s economic and cultural (educational) resources.

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