This is a translation of my favorite blogger Onar Åms bloggpost:
Posted on 02/10/2011 by Onar Åm
I translate this because I have a family in the Philippines, that maybe are curious about what I did post on facebook about the Philippines. :)
It is about the history and politics of the nation. And Onar Åms personal experience there. If I remember right, he actually lives in the Philippines right now. Or maybe Singapore or Hong Kong which he admire so much?
As they already know, I am a classical liberal politician here in Norway:
Leader for Liberalistene Oppland.
...And this is about getting them to believe in classical liberal values, and politics. Onar Åm describes how the economy there actually did work under American rule. The nation was the richest country in Asia before the war. I will come back to that later. Later I will also write my own travelouge from the Philippines, as I have traveled to the beautifull place Bohol myself: Tagbilaran, Panglao and the places close to it. Libertad... Oh, I love that name: Libertad. As a classical liberal, that fights for liberty, peace and prosperity. For those of you that does not know what liberty is yet, go to http://www.learnliberty.org/ and learn what it is about!
All that aside.
Here is my translation of Onar Åms text, pluss some additional comments from me in the text:
The Philippines, is a country that almost nobody in the West know about. Many westerners have met Filipino workers, but the actual country itself is for the most of us totaly unknown. In Norway we almost only know Filipinos through norwegian unions (Fagforeninger) that tries to deny them work on norwegian ships or in Norway.
(Onar Åm is referring to what they (the unions) call "fighting social dumping", as we classical liberalists call "social jumping", as people should get the opportunity to work where ever they want; also here in Norway, and in the ships, if they want, when ever they want, as for much as they want, and that this would actualy lead to more income equality, and it is the most fair thing to do. Unions and State artificialy holds the poor down, to protect rich norwegian workers. That is of course a popular thing to do, but it is not nice. And it is not good for economy long term. Wach this video:
Sorry my interuption of Onar Åms text: I needed to clear things up.)
He continues to say:
But aside from being a unknown country, it is a very exciting country. It was for many hundreds of years under Spanish rule, and because of that, many filipinos have spanish like names. The Philippines was then handed over to the USA, and its very probable that the country would have been an american state, as Hawaii, if the Japanese didn't invade the country under second world war.
Before the war, the Philippines was without doubt Asia's richest country. It was under american rule, with a free economy (free from state interventions) and a functioning judiciary.
After the second world war the Philippines became independent, and the countrys long lasting tribal traditions was allowed to spread to the top government levels. The national socialist (as in nazi) Ferdinand Marcos, ruled the nation with an iron fist, for many decades, in a corrupt regime. He borrowed as much money possible on the behalf of citizens and country, and used the government as a personal income source for himself and his luxury-craving wife.
Today Marcos is gone, and the heritage he left behind is the poorest country in Asia. 40 years of corruption, nationalism and socialism destroyed the country. The country does not have a working Constitutional Rule of Law. A Rechtsstaat (Rule of law). Onar Åm writes that it is in fact a form of anarcy, with small islands of order. He says that this is apparent when you go to any shop of a decent standard. Outside McDonald's, in malls, gated communities, and supermarkets, there are guards with weapons. They are armed to the teeth, with bulletproof wests. They are outside gas stations, goldsmith, restaurants etc... Strict control of customers walking in and out of malls (checking your bags etc), not as advanced as in an airport, but a simple form of it, and with almost no delays. I would like to add this to the text of Onar Åm: I actually felt very safe there. Guards are protecting the area, so you feel very safe. It is just a bit strange, and very different from my home country. Here, you will not see any weapons at all when you go to town, in malls, and such. If you see a weapon, its a police baton. We of course have security guards also, at malls, but they are not allowed to be armed. (I think they should by the way).
Armed guards outside malls.
The level of crime is high in the Philippines, even though the big majority of filipinos are hard working, honest, and peacefull citizens.
I would like to add this to Onar Åms text: In Norway, the filipino immigrants are less criminal than the rest of the population. They (filipinos living here) are less criminal than norwegians, and all the other immigrants; so we should allow more filipinos to come to Norway! Yes. Open up for them! (And ban muslims from the Middle East from entering! (just kidding)).
Onar Åm continues:
30 years with dictatorship, corruption and unjust laws is making the life of the poor even worse. These unjust laws causes some of the people to loose their respect of the law. The loss of respect, that is in many cases highly justifiable, also leads to real crime. This is really one of the downsides of a corrupt society with bad laws.
The bad laws manifests itself in many important areas. First: It creates very big gaps between people. Differences. Only the rich and powerful, with the best political connections, can overcome this political force and escape poverty. The result is big contrasts between rich and poor.
View over Cebu City from a rich part of the city.
Lower middle class in Cebu City.
And, it manifests itself as very old and used equipment and property. When the americans left the Philippines after second world war, the whole country was bombed to pieces, and to help them, the americans built a bit of infrastructure and rebuilt a lot of their millitary jeeps, that become known as Jeepney/Jeepneys.
This Jeepneys was ment as a temporary solution until the filipinos got back on their feet, but this never happened. You can therefore see many of these 60 year old Jeepneys that is 60 year old driving around the cities.
Most of the buildings are worn. Capital is so rare and expensive, that one must try the best to avoid new investments.
The third way the lack of capital manifest is in forms of queues. Everywhere in the Philippines, where you depend on cash, there are queues.
Queues in the strangest places. Where in a good economy you would not expect queues.
Of course, there are never-ending traffic jams, as this is runned by the government, as here in Norway, but there are always queues outside the ATM.
The ATM is a western invention and it is capital intensive.
Most of the ATMs are in the city, and if you travel a bit farther from the cities, there is a great shortage of them.
And the money itself is very worn. The farther you get from towns, the more worn are the bills.
The bad laws also make it very difficult to get loans for normal filipinos. The property rights in Philippines is very bad developed/are lacking, very many filipinos doesn't have deeds on the property they live on, and have lived for generations. Because of that, they can not move to town and live in good standard houses, because they can not take up loans with their own property as security.
Many people that have an income similar to middle class therefore live in shacks. In reality they live in a housing queue.
Many people never get out of this queue.
Capital is so expencive in the Philippines that most of the people are doomed to live as tenants. Therefore, the ones that have capital, earn very good money renting out their capital. Much better than they who rent out something in the west on similar capital. Many taxi cab drivers, for example, drives in 20 years, but can only pay the rent of the car. But, in this time, with so much work, they have actually paid enough rent to buy at least 5 cars. This is just one example of the political force that holds people down in the Philippines. In a free market, the capital would be less rare, and the renting prices would be much lower. The taxi driver could simply have been capital owners themselves, in stead of live as tenants all their lifes.
But all isn't that bad on the Philippines. In many ways the country is at same level as Great Britain was for about 150-200 years ago under the industrial revolution. Poor farmers flows into the cities in search of a better life, but for 200 years ago we had no fruits of capitalism to enjoy. Food was extremely expensive 200 years ago , typically 80% of a working day to cover today. Today, Filipinos typically 40 % of their income on food. The industrial revolution has actually made food cheaper, even for the poorest. Furthermore the clothes very expensive 200 years ago. Clothes were so expensive that most people could not afford more than one item in their life. Not so today. Industrialization has made clothes much cheaper. That is the reason we see that even the poorest Filipinos is dressed in jeans and cotton shirts.
200 years ago it was extremely expensive with lighting. A candle that lasted 1 hour cost 6 hours work, while most Filipinos today have the power installed. Lighting is still expensive for them, but now the cost of them for 1 hour lighting (60 watt bulb) fell to about 1 minute work. The fact here is that the Philippines that is one of the world most poorest countries, have a standard of living that far exceeds the middle class and a large part of the nobility in Europe 200 years ago. This is a prosperity they should thank capitalism for in other countries. Although the Philippines is very little capitalist itself and has very bad laws, they still import goods produced in capitalist countries. They also benefit from the innovations that have occurred over the past 200 years in capitalist countries. Philippines is a land of contrasts, and they have not quite discovered capitalism yet, but they are wondering how it was possible for them, who was Asia's richest country, to be passed to such a degree by the poor swamps such as Singapore and Hong Kong in just 30 year. When they find the answer, the Philippines maybe will experience a new spring.