Something to think about
“The mass had been clamoring for nothing more than equality. Just to site one example, a lot of poor families have insufficient resources to sustain their meals. All they want is for the Government to help them so they could at least have full stomachs. How hard can that be? It seems to be very straightforward, right? Why can’t the Government and the politicians just give them what they want? It doesn’t even matter if the leaders have some other motives – political, that is. It doesn’t matter if they choose to do it just to get the votes of the masses.”
“But they don’t.”
“Why so? When so many Filipinos die of hunger? And if not hunger, malnutrition? If not that, then from diseases, diseases that aren’t even supposed to be terminal?”
“Well, it’s because we have limited resources in the form of funds. Of money. So, the Government has to prioritize. It’s a challenge.”
“How, when, and where should the money be spent? Most importantly, for whom should the money be spent?”
“Then the Government should prioritize the poor families. Anyway, who wouldn’t agree that they are the ones who need the support the most? See, some are so unfortunate that they can’t even eat thrice a day! So, really, do we need to debate and argue about it when it is so straightforward? If children are not given enough food and nutrients, then they can’t absorb what they study. That is the case even if primary education is free. And so with that, the free access to primary education is compromised or worse – rendered useless. And then the cycle repeats when they grow up illiterate and when they get discouraged from searching jobs that won’t accept them. They would settle for jobs that pay much, much less. So less that the wage they receive wouldn’t be enough to sustain their needs. And the cycle of poverty repeats itself.”
“Yes, I get what you mean. But I refuse to believe that it is as simple as that. Remember that the fund used by the Government comes from taxes.”
“Yes, I know that. What’s your point, then?”
“The amount of taxes collected, they are not equal for all. Taxes collected from higher earners are higher. The higher the income of the individual, the higher the tax collected from that individual. ”
“I do know about that. And I believe that is just fair. Well, don’t you?”
“Yes, it is fair. Well, as long as the funds are used for projects that prioritize the higher income earners which are also the higher tax payers.”
“Just try to imagine a simpler model. Perhaps a nation is too large for you to really get down to brass tacks.
Imagine a household with four members: a mother, a father, a daughter, and a son. Now, it’s Family Day. They do not have enough resources, so the mother decided to prepare a chocolate cake and nothing more. Her eldest child, her daughter, went to the mall and bought all the ingredients needed for the preparation. Meanwhile, her son, being only eight years old, stayed at home and played with his friends as he waited.
The daughter went through hell.
Since it was Family Day, the mall was really crowded. Some of the ingredients were already out of stock to make things worse. And so she had to go to another store to look for these missing ingredients. After everything, her patience gets tested by a very jammed traffic flow.
Finally, she arrives.
Her mother asks her to help in preparing and in baking the said cake.
Done. Now, the daughter just needs to do one extra assignment. That is, to wash all the dishes heavy with hard-to-remove icing.
The son is asked by the mother to wash his hands after playing outside with his friends. The father helped in setting the table. Now that everyone is seated, it is time to pray.
Now, it’s time to eat!
Their limited budget produced a quarter-foot radius chocolate cake. How do you think the cake has to be sliced?”
“Well, of course it has to be sliced equally.”
“Do you think that’s fair? No. That may be equal. But that is not fair.
The mother sliced the cake unevenly. Two were substantially larger than the other two. The bigger slices she gave to her husband and to her hungry son who was very tired from running a while ago. Meanwhile, she and her daughter got the two smaller slices.”
“I don’t see why the daughter should receive a small piece, after everything. If I were her, I’d be quite hurt.”
“Exactly. That is exactly why the Government could not just give priority to the poor. In the first place, most of the funds come from the sweat and blood of those who are said to be more fortunate, those who have more money.”
“But the son was too young to help. Moreover, I do believe a lot of ‘sons ‘do not have the capacity to contribute, even if they wanted to. In fact, a lot of them are not even given the chance to contribute more than what they give primarily because they do not have high-paying jobs. Do you think they would hate having higher-paying jobs? No. But they are left with no choice. As I said earlier, no food, no energy. Nothing fuels their minds. It’s hard to study. Also, secondary and tertiary education are very costly. Even if they get to finish primary education, that wouldn’t be sufficient to alleviate them from poverty. You know that. So the Government should help them to prevent the cycle from repeating.”
“I do get what you mean, and I agree. My only point is, it is not as simple as that. Let us not forget that the richer members of our society are the ones who create jobs. They are responsible for employment generation. Even if the poor finish high school or even college, the lack of available jobs will also hinder them from financially progressing. All I am saying is, there are other factors that have to be weighed before the Government could decide on how to allocate the funds. It’s not just about who needs it the most. It’s also about who have contributed the most.
Just try to imagine the behavioral response of the daughter after learning that the fruits of her efforts were given not to her, but to the ones who had little to give during the planting period. Do you think she will be inspired or motivated to help next time? Perhaps she will be coerced to help. But this time around, she might do things a little different. She’d be giving a little less effort.”
“And what about the son? Do you think he would be driven to help? When he could just play around with his friends and get the largest piece in the end? There is no way he would. Giving too much support to the mass may give similar results. It is a form of disincentive to work harder.”
“Then that arrangement can be a disincentive to work for both the rich and the poor?”
“Yes, in its extreme case.
Also, I think the Government can give support in other ways. You know, train them to fish and not give them fish. That will prove to be much more helpful, I believe.”
“Much more sustainable as well.”