Monday, 10 June 2013

Bronze, Rubber and Rice

The commodities market has always been a bit of a mystery to me, the buying and selling of futures in metals or foodstuffs; fortunes made and lost. I suppose it depends on your social standing which ones have importance to you in real life too.

Politicians and civic leaders are fond of monuments and landmark buildings, their constituents more often than not with feeding and clothing their children. This is certainly true in the area I live in, near Manila bay.

Along the sea front there is a walk-way and dotted along it are a series of bronze sculptures of various people, from General McArthur, to a sea captain, various political figures, and one of a ‘typical’ Filipino family gathered together enjoying each others company.

Many people live by the sea, under the trees or tarpaulin canopies, often whole families and from time to time pieces of the bronze statues are chipped off and find their way to junk shops to be weighed in and sold for money to buy rice most probably. I found the sculpture of the Filipino family to be most striking in this regard. All the arms are missing, the little girl is gone now except for one foot, even the dog’s tail is gone. 

A clash of priorities between state and people but a minor one compared to the latest. The recently passed Reproductive Health bill, in part  aims to provide free condoms and other contraceptives to the people (the poor people). The estimated budget for this is 3 Billion pesos.

Not really in keeping with the culture of a country that is 90% catholic, 5 % other denominations and 5% muslim. Perhaps some enterprising people will recycle them or sell them back unused to the suppliers and there will be some benefit, otherwise a total misuse of public funds to no positive end.

I am reminded of stories I heard from Africa, where rural clinics were pilled high with contraceptives people didn’t want (as its not part of their culture either) but had no medicines at all for the real needs of the people.

Supporters believe the reduction in population will eliminate poverty. As if overpopulation was related to their poverty; with most of the wealth of the nation in the hands of a small minority here, and everyone else scrambling for as much as they can get, poverty is much more related to inequalities in distribution of wealth not a lack of it or an excess of people. But that is an inconvenient truth. So many measures like these around the world; the imposition of lesser values, are little more than a smoke screen for greed to flourish without having to look at the consequences.

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