What is the real cause of inflation?
INTROSPECTIVE - Tony Katigbak (The Philippine Star) - September 24, 2018 - 12:00am

Life in the Philippines has become increasingly difficult in the past few months. To be fair though, it didn’t happen overnight. It has become harder and harder over the past few years. How did we find ourselves at this point and what is the real reason that prices are increasingly so dramatically and so many Filipinos are barely struggling to get by? President Duterte is currently placing the blame on the rising cost of oil. This definitely has an impact on the economy – but is it the real culprit of what is happening in the country?

Inflation a hot button topic of debate these days because it is dramatically impacting day-to-day life and our ability to make ends meet. People are talking and they want to know what is causing this terrible increase in prices. Those who are supporting the current administration will place the blame of the current state of the economy on everything and anything but President Duterte and the present government. It’s because of the price of oil or interest rate hikes or international alliances breaking down and US protectionist policies. And of course the favorite culprit for many of those who are pro-administration is the mistakes made by previous governments. Policies from previous governments have caused the economy to slowly plummet and we have not been able to recover.

On the other hand those are not too pleased with the current government and the rising cost of living are placing the blame more squarely on the shoulders of those who are in power right now. Sure, previous governments have made mistakes but you can only blame them for so long before you start to admit that those in charge now need to take stronger actions and implement sounder economic policies that can truly affect change.

Personally I know that President Duterte may not deserve 100% of the blame for the Philippine economy’s downward trajectory or for the country’s inflation jumping the highest it has in over a decade, but he and his government surely need to recognize that they need to strengthen their economic policies and revisit programs that are not working and may just be exacerbating the current situation – I’m looking at you TRAIN Law.

Admittedly, oil prices are high and there may be other external factors involved in our current runaway inflation, but the real truth remains that the current economic policies are not working and if the government does not admit this and address it, things will only continue to get worse. That is one of the biggest hurdles we are going to face when it comes to trying to turn things around. The government does not want to look within when it comes to rising costs but instead chooses to keep blaming outside factors.

If things continue on like this then we just keep expecting inflation to increase. With the government refusing to admit they may need to change the way they do things, they will only continue to proceed down their current path including implementing TRAIN 2 and taking high interest loans from China to fund programs that may not need to take precedence at this time. We need to take a beat – postpone the next phase of TRAIN and determine how best to move forward to address our current economic woes.

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It’s been said that those who are in power are the ones that write history. After all many things in history depend on who is telling the story and their point of view. To borrow lyrics from Stephen Schwartz – “A man’s called a traitor or liberator. A rich man’s a thief of philanthropist. Is one a crusader or ruthless invader? It’s all in which label is able to persist.” There is so much truth to these lines because history is only as good as those who pass down the stories and make sure they endure.

When it comes to history we always strive to remember those amazing moments that make us proud of our nation and our people. We commemorate heroes with special holidays and remind ourselves of what so many brave men and women have sacrificed so we can enjoy the freedoms that we have today. Along the same vein though, we must also remember the dark days or the “days that will live on in infamy” lest we end up repeating them.

In the Philippines we have such a dangerously short memory. When things get tough or when it is really hard, I admit that we can rise up admirably and make a stand. However, once the difficultly has passed and life goes back to normal, it is so easy for Filipinos to forget and move on. In this aspect our resiliency and our determination to “push forward” is both a positive and negative trait. It is definitely important to be strong and be able to endure but we become so quick to push back or push away the bad times that sometimes we end up erasing them all entirely.

These days a huge portion of Filipinos have forgotten the Marcos martial law era. Whether this is due to a failure in the education system to “hand down the stories” as it were or the problem of people pushing away the bad memories so much that they did not share them with the next generation, the fact remains that many young Filipinos don’t know what happened during one of the darkest times in Philippine history. This is strongly evidenced by how so many refer to martial law as beneficial to the country and how the Marcos family has so quickly and painlessly put themselves back in positions of power.

I know we can’t live in the past, but I also know that we can’t rewrite or change what has come before. To deny the tortures that happened and forget the thousands of people who suffered is not only an insult to what they had to endure but a very dangerous way of forgetting where we came from. After all, as they say – those who forget their history are doomed to repeat it. We should not let that happen to us. We need to recognize our past and protect our future.

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