Sunday, December 09, 2007

Equality as a Factor in Economic Takeoffs

Below is my response to Silent Water's comment over at Manolo's has gone under moderation so i'm reposting it here. (You may have to read my preceding comment to follow the discussion.)
"Silent Waters, i'm not a communist but try to look at things objectively. You need only observe at how fast the land of your grandfathers is taking off economically to see that the combination of Communism first and then Market Reforms later, does work. If it's any comfort to you, i'm not advocating communism (especially the Maoist kind). Other countries such as Japan, Taiwan and South Korea was also able to take off without having to go communist. They just addressed the issue of inequality early enough so that it does not get in the way of economic growth. Dictatorship is also not my first preference. The case of India, (another country which followed Socialist prescriptions and then introduced Market reforms) shows that you don't have to be a dictatorship to engineer an economic takeoff.

You seem to believe that what distinguishes the elite, middle class and the poor is hard work. That's not the case since Philippine society is not (and has never been) a meritocracy. If you're born poor, you're likely to die poor no matter how hard you work. The poor people you look down on as being 'lazy' are smart enough to know the odds. It's only people's elitist attitude that keeps them from seeing that.
" - cvj December 9th, 2007 at 1:32 am
Update Feb-01-2008: In an essay at the Boston Review, Pranab Bardhan explains why equality has proven to be a "good launching pad" for market reform:
"China’s earlier socialist period arguably provided a good launching pad for market reform. That foundation provided wide access to education and health care; highly egalitarian land redistribution that created a rural safety net and thus eased the process of market reform, with all its wrenching disruptions and dislocations; increased female labor participation and education that enhanced women’s contribution to economic growth; and a system of regional economic decentralization (that linked the career paths of Communist Party officials to local area performance). County governments were in charge of production enterprises long before Deng Xiaoping’s economic reforms set in, and, even more significantly, the earlier commune system’s production brigades evolved into the highly successful township and village enterprises that led the later phenomenal rise of rural industrialization."
(Via 3Quarksdaily.)


sparks said...

One of the hardest worker I know is Mang Tom, our toothless newspaper (old) boy back home. Early in the morning he would ride his bike to deliver the paper when the whole neighbourhood is asleep. Then he would work at a yet-to-be-disclosed government office, then come back in the evening to collect the payment from each household. All that just to make ends meet.

He wears his poverty with dignity, but it shows on the lines of his face, his gap-toothed smile and his ratty clothes. He works at a government office but needs to do the paper thing so it is safe to assume he has desisted small-time corruption. He is well-spoken and looks you straight in the eye even when, in Philippine society, he might look at you as his "superior." Idol ko si Mang Tom. Would that the likes of him never have to wear poverty at all.

cvj said...

Hi Sparks, thanks. I believe Mang Tom's story needs to be told if only to stop shortchanging the hardworking among the poor because of prejudice among the upper and middle classes.