THE income gap in this country is outrageously wide. Incomes are outrageously unequal. Some have too much for their lifetime of extravagance and many have too little for modest lives. What any government has to do is narrow the gap so that everyone has a job with a living wage. Simultaneously government through implementation of laws already in the books should keep striving to provide as many jobs with a living wage as possible to those seeking employment as well as giving opportunities towards self-sufficiency. We actually have those laws in this country.
Yet present circumstances are that a few and very limited number of Filipinos represented by one hundred or so families are making so much that in the context of today’s conditions, it is obscene. Many are in this class because the laws favor them, the opportunities are given to them and because they hardly share their profits with those who help earn them. Example, are the top-earning corporations providing living wages? In monetary terms they may be giving the minimum or even above minimum wages for their rank and file. Are these wages enough to have the recipients buy a car, a house, their children’s best possible education? Is their employment stable enough to give them a future? Are these wage-earners in possession of means to have health insurance, life insurance, enough disposable income to take a vacation during the year? If not, then they are not earning a living wage. Also, if wages cannot be raised precipitately for market reasons or competitiveness reasons or whatever excuses, how about providing opportunities for employees to own their own homes, educate their children, buy vehicles if needed, have health and life insurance and other benefits with easy credit terms in lieu of higher wages? With the billions that some corporations make, they could certainly sacrifice a fraction to give their employees who help them make the profits a decent share.
The inequality of incomes actually comes from the inequality of how the laws are implemented. Little businesses of modest means are taxed to the nth degree or disciplined to the full extent of the law if they do not pay their licenses, income taxes, benefits for their employees. Yes, it should be thus but meanwhile, big-time tax evaders are untouched or half-heartedly bothered to make them pay up.
Farmers who fell a few trees get the full brunt of the law. One just got six years for felling about four trees. But public officials who do worse such as congressmen who devastate whole forests, contaminate water supplies, put up structures in environmental preserves are handled with kid gloves. Prosecutors shy away from charging them and if they do, do so carelessly, enough to be unsuccessful. These people who are somehow more equal than others get the best lawyers, delay any judicial proceedings, file dilatory moves and laugh all the way to the next re-election or the bank. If by some chance due to the outrageousness of their crime, influentials i.e. rich, public officials, relatives of powers-that-be are imprisoned, they are allowed to build their own castles of comfort within prison walls (or even outside) while serving their so-called sentences while the ordinary felons are in the helllholes of our prison system.
In cases of equal opportunities as mandated by law as in equality for extension of credit facilities or capital, the scarcest resource in this country, the credit extended seems to be confined to the few, usually big businesses becoming bigger because of connections with the credit givers (ironically through government banks that laws require to help small and medium businesses) while the new and ordinary entrepreneur is made to go through hoops by these government banks that are mandated to help them. They are lenient with the big boys and super strict with the small ones. This is not equality, obviously.
There are laws that apply to the criminal cases but they are not implemented for the rich have the ability to buy the best lawyers that money can buy. And furthermore, money can buy everything else too including credit, justice, opportunities, benefits, etc. for those who have it.
So, the real reason for inequality of income is not so much that some are more clever than others–or that some are born rich and stay rich, or that some are lucky in business– but the inequality before the law. The law mandates opportunity and freedom for everyone but in truth it is only for some. So, it is not so much the economy that makes us unequal though it does play a part, it is the laws that are implemented only for some and not for others. These some are the influential, the rich, the established which means they will remain the few such while the many are excluded.
The laws are in place that are supposed to give opportunities in education, in credit facilities, in fair competition, in living wage measurements, even in the form of everyday justice as in retribution for crimes, environmental damage, violation of traffic rules, and zoning regulations, unfair or illegal market practices. But they are not applied equally to the rich and the non-rich. It begins here in the selective implementation of opportunities, fair play and equality that is the essential reason why things become lopsided, particularly in income.
It is the inequality before the law that rankles more than the inequality of income even if it is also the reason why there is such inequality before the law. It is tolerable to have someone have more than you in money and material goods, but it is intolerable to have someone favored over you under the law that is supposed to be for both. Injustice rankles more than poverty. And injustice can result in poverty.
This is a thought for the coming holiday season, the coming 2016 election, the coming new year and for unlimited reflection in this country under the circumstances of the too few too rich, the too many too poor and the law that is poorly and unequally implemented and thoughtlessly violated.