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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Back to Basics

Back to Basics

In family planning, natural is not a program; it means following the natural course of things; natural creates a population explosion and makes paupers of large families.”

by Ducky Paredes

Our current problems – a population of almost 90 million, a population growth rate of 2.04%, unemployment, high oil prices, the rice crisis and others that may seem too trivial to mention compared to those already cited – stem from the fact that no one has confronted our problems with a view of finding a permanent solution to them.

Instead, what we have done was to patch things up, rather than finding a permanent solution. What this country has done is the equivalent of putting a band-aid on a cancer sore with the idea of covering up the ugliness but without curing the cause.

For instance, hasn’t it been clear for some years now that we were not producing enough rice for our rapidly increasing population? So, why has nothing been done about these. Which – the population or the rice? Both!

Why didn’t we seek ways of increasing rice production – either by putting new lands to rice production or cresting higher-yielding varieties or by better framing methods?

Probably because there was money to be made in rice importation? If you could earn even just a peso for every million tons imported, you would have six million pesos today just from the present administration’s importations. Imagine if you earned a hundred pesos per million tons!

Did the thinkers actually believe that the world would just continue selling us rice forever? Why didn’t anyone see that eventually the finite resources that the world has applied to rice production would eventually be used up and that the demand would eventually be more than the supply? Thus, even ten years ago, the people who look at rice on a daily basis should have see this coming.

Yet, our main concern for the moment seems to be more on trying to mitigate the immediate problems of allocating cheap rice to the right persons – those who really need the cheaper rice. Isn’t the more proper response be that of working towards getting as close as possible to self-sufficiency in rice?

Yet, instead, we are talking about extending the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) even as that CARP is certainly one of the reasons why our rice production has fallen so severely. Land that was taken from large landowners who used to produce rice and given to several poor landowners cannot possibly produce rice at the rates that the moneyed landowners were producing. The simple truth is that one needs funds to plant, fertilize, apply pesticide, harvest and mill rice. Without funds, it is impossible to run a rice farm properly.

Our almost 90 million population with a growth rate of 2.04% annually ought to also be addressed. The government touts its natural family planning program. In family planning, natural is not a program; it means following the natural course of things; natural creates a population explosion and makes paupers of large families.

Why is the government doing it this way? Because what is important to those who govern is not that of controlling the population. Rather, what they want to control are the Catholic Bishops. This is why the government rejects any artificial population control methods and go only for the “natural.”

A government that will not address its high population growth is bound to see its population increase beyond its limits to serve their needs or even to govern properly. Clearly, there is a link between the size of the population and the number of poor persons and families and the number of unemployed and even the poverty level of most of its people.

Yet, this government is in denial over that.

The present Philippine economy cannot provide jobs for all who want to work. This is a critical failing. Yet, what have we done? We urge our people to work abroad and send back their earnings. Obviously, this is not a solution. What we need to do is expand our economy so that there will be jobs for all those who want work. Sending them abroad just as importing what we eat are not solutions to what this country needs.

We ought to get back to basics in our economic planning. The band-aid no longer covers what we tried to cover up. It is time to face up to our real problems and get back to basics, chief among which is that of finding solutions – permanent ones, not the band-aids that we have been applying to our problems.