Is Consumerism Progress?26.10.10
Aired on October 25, 2010
Narration by RG Foncardas
Is Consumerism Progress?
People have been wondering how we seem to be doing well in the midst of the global economic crisis. It is often asked, if the country is poor, why are malls being built left and right? Where do people get the money to buy things? Are businesses earning enough?
One possible answer is that there is spending power, which comes mainly from OFWs bringing in millions of dollars to our country every year. Relatives of OFWs spend the money, thus boosting the economy and helping mainly retail businesses grow. But how long will this last? When will we see the country grow so that we will not need to rely on remittances?
Supposed “economic growth” based on spending alone is illusory. When the well of OFW remittances runs dry, the effects will be devastating.
Our neighbors in Asia may not have the big malls, but they have large industries. These industries process raw materials and turn them into finished goods such as cars and machines. They also have mining sectors that help process raw minerals for production and eventual domestic consumption. Because of this vibrant manufacturing and industrial sector, many jobs are created.
In contrast, our manufacturing sector cannot even produce the nails needed for the shoes we make. A lot of factories are merely assembly plants, taking raw materials produced elsewhere and transforming them here. Our industries do not have natural nor culture fit. Production is not geared towards exploiting the natural raw materials readily available in our rural areas, such as abaca, copra, and minerals.
Such an economy is disastrous. It keeps millions in unemployment and ties many in the rural sector to land that is not even theirs. The challenge for the new government is to encourage instead an economy that is founded upon our own resources, our own industries, and these industries’ ability to create jobs and employment. We need an economy that is built on production, not consumption.
Let us not be deceived by what seems to be progress. Let us rather be watchful, seeing to it that our human resource does not go to waste slaving away overseas, and that we make use of our God-given environmental resources that truly feeds our people.