Atienza: Hoarding is not the answer

Atienza: Hoarding is not the answer

The first lesson any self-respecting Economics student must learn is the law of supply and demand. In practical layman terms, it simply means that the more drinking water you need to buy (demand) and the less available it is or the more difficult it is to find in the market (supply), the higher the price of water will be.

When Typhoon Odette uprooted Cebu’s trees and Visayan Electric Company’s electrical poles on Dec. 16, 2021, the supply of water sank deeper than the Titanic (no electricity to filter and clean water) and demand for filtered drinking water went stratospheric. Scientists say you can live without food for one week, but you can’t live without water for three days.

The price of a five-gallon tank of filtered water skyrocketed from P15 to P75 in one day. It’s a good thing that human beings do not need to drink diesel fuel to survive. They say the price of diesel rose from P42 to P100 per liter.

Another thing they teach you in Economics class is that hoarding or unusually high stocking up on limited supplies is disastrous for the economy. People hoard for various reasons—some within reason, some totally outside of reason and some for nefarious reasons, such as earning an extra buck or for some diabolical business reasons.

To stock up on canned goods for emergencies sounds pretty much within reason. Then, you may remember the toilet paper hoarding craze that hit the market early in the Covid-19 pandemic. That was totally outside of reason.

But to hoard essential goods for nefarious purposes, such as earning more profit during a disastrous calamity within a cataclysmic pandemic season ... now that is a heinous reason! Hoarding during a disaster inevitably leads to looting, anarchy and further economic deterioration. Those extra pesos that you earn will only end up being eaten by inflation.

Fragile human beings that we are, we are all tempted to hoard for any or all of those reasons. We are all guilty of hoarding in one form or another. How about those hoarded shoes and clothes you couldn’t wear because of quarantine and work-from-home conditions during the pandemic? Or the food you stored in the freezer and fridge that could go rancid as a result of the blackout? Then there is that most egregious temptation of all—to earn more pesos at the expense of survival and economy?

Resilient and practical Cebuanos that we are, we try to understand the ramifications of an economy being held hostage by a disastrous calamity within a cataclysmic pandemic. We know hoarding is not the answer. Above the noise and outcry of a suffering community, we try to remain patient, to share and do our utmost to help.

Our local political leaders from Presidential Assistant Michael Dino to Governor Gwen Garcia to Cebu City Mayor Mike Rama, together with local leaders, are all out there fighting against all odds, despite physical exhaustion, personal limitations and unfounded criticisms. Cebu’s socially responsive private sector is once again rallying together despite difficulty in communication. As a community, people are working side by side to let Cebu rise from the rubble.

Congratulations, Cebuanos. Bangon Cebu!


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