Oct 15, 2008

[Blog Action Day] Poverty Perspective

Urban poverty is common in developing countrie...Image via WikipediaToday is Blog Action Day, a day where all participating bloggers try to devote some of their blogging time to writing about one topic. This year, it's Poverty, and that's a pretty big topic to tackle all at once.

Coming from the Philippines, a country where majority of the population lives below the poverty line. Yeah, I think we're bound to have a fairly decent perspective on the world of poverty. It affects so many parts of our lives after all.

I think the biggest effect of living amidst so much poverty is how the political system has adapted to it and ultimately taken advantage of it as well. Instead of trying to focus its policies on addressing the issue directly or ensuring it no longer happens, more often than not we find our government playing to their ignorance and their needs in order to remain in power and perpetuate their own political legacy.

It's no wonder why we continue to live as we do.

I'm sure every politician enters the arena with some measure of good intentions. They might want to give back to their community or perhaps try to live up to the political legacy of their parents before them. However in order for someone to win in this country's political environment, one has to play the game.

In countries like the US, elections are largely issue-driven and people gravitate to one side or another based on their shared beliefs with the candidates. Here, politicians can win by playing to the hearts of the poor and less fortunate and do so very well.

They ensure small tokens are left around communities to remind them of their involvement - everything from community halls to basketball courts with politcal names plastered all over them. Political rallies draw crowds because of the celebrities they tap and the masses start to associate the traits and characteristics of these actors as drawn from the TV shows and movies they appear in and associate these traits with the political candidate in question. Heck, celebrities often go into politics here and do very well to succeed time and time again.

A lot of this stems from ignoring the issues that would really help address these concerns. Our education system remains in shambles and without strong support there, we continue to produce undereducated workers out of future generations. Wages remain low and the labor code theoretically supports the worker but at the same time promotes contractual hiring and non-regularization in favor of not giving government-mandated benefits and the like. The economy surges forward but we are stuck in the trap of the rich getting richer and the poor getting more and more destitute.

How do we fix a problem like that? I'd argue for the need to vote responsibly, but how does one conquer the overwhelming majority of voters who vote more with their hearts than their heads? I don't meant to belittle them in any way - it's just a natural consequence of the system at large.

Of course, the power to change thing starts with every individual making that choice to make a difference. Every vote done responsibly matters. Every time you make the right kind of financial decisions and not give in to overindulgence. Every time you choose to give away things you no longer need instead of greedily keeping them for no good reason. Every time you take the effort to care for someone else and really give a damn, then it matters.

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