Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Government is Doing a Lot

Reading "Poverty level in Phl unchanged since ’06" does not make sense to me. One could easily dismiss my difficulty to the fact that I am not an economist. But I ask, who is the audience by the way of such a report? Is it the economists or the Filipinos as a whole? If it is the economists, it makes sense why the report is technical. But if the intended audience is the Filipinos, why not make the report comprehensible?

There are parts in the article that I understand. At least, I got the idea that since 2006, poverty level in the Philippines remains the same. In terms of percentage, Ted Torres identifies that almost 28% of Filipinos remain poor. On the other hand, the parts that are incomprehensible to me are those related to the meaning of poverty line, the meaning of family income, the meaning of the different percentages of poverty incidence in different provinces and the meaning of government programs. So I have a problem in understanding the details of the report. 

I want to know how NSCB (National Statistical Coordination Board) determines the poverty line. Is it fixed or subject to change? What causes the change in poverty line? 

The difference in family income that determines a poor family also puzzles me. Does it mean that if a family of five is earning P7,821 per month, such family is no longer below the poverty line? How can a family of five with such an income pay their house rental, electricity and water bill? How about the allowance of children going to school and the transportation fee of the person who works? It is really unthinkable that with such an income the family can already buy other goods aside from food. To my mind, only a magician can expand such income to meet the enumerated needs. 

To my non-economic mind, to complete NSCB's income distribution, I find that the poorest 20% earns 6% of total national income; the middle 60% earns 44% of total national income, and; the upper 20% earns 50 % of total national income. What's the significance of this report? 

The reporter also wrote that "an annual tracking of poverty incidence will now be done to allow the government to make the necessary tactical or short-term changes in its Philippine Development Plan 2011-2016." I wonder when was the government war against poverty started? Is this annual tracking of poverty incidence only done this time?

I still have many questions in mind concerning government program against poverty. What is the meaning of the following phrases and statements: 

  • "...with the timely measures we are now implementing", 

  • "...the government’s massive investment in human development and poverty reduction", 

  • "...the problem of poverty requires a comprehensive, 'multi-pronged and multi-sectoral solution' involving many stakeholders", 

  • “We are making use of the current effort..."

  • “We need value-added activities for our farmers."

  • "We also need to spur their access to markets,” 

I just finished reading the introduction of Mises' economic policy. Reading this report, I think Mises is right that interventionism is very much alive in the country. Of course, the term is not used to describe the existing economic policy, but the reality is there. It is captured in this statement: "the government is doing a lot."