Inequality before the law

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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.

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8 Comments

  1. Of course Tiu is a dummy. Common sense dictates that if you are a dummy, the property will be registered in your name but in an internal oral/written contract the real owner will be the Binays. Binays’ performance rating dipped so bad that the whole country will wake up to see the true colors of the Binays. It is a Philippine-wide secret that the Binays amassed wealth in the billions of pesos from Makati projects and continuously get money from various Makati projects. Wake up Makati residents. A peso given to you by the Binays means a million pesos that they get from your taxes. To all Filipinos, please let us all PRAY that Binay will not become president of the Philippines. Let us save the Philippines from the Binays through our prayers.

  2. Frank A. Tucker on

    Great article and ‘right-on’! The rich get richer and the poor get poorer essentially because the rich are fro the upper more intelligent class, they generally marry into their own class, they send their children to the best (most expensive) schools & universities all the while perpetuation their gene pool while the poor are left to breed for cheap labor to feed the needs of the rich.

    Note, nowhere have I mentioned ANYTHING about the morality of the rich. Higher intelligence little to do with morality except if anything high intelligence seems to deny morality as illogical. It interferes with the bottom line (profit margins).

    A very good but highly controversial book to read on the subject of the effects of intelligence (IQ) on society is the “THE BELL CURVE”
    Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life

    By: Richard J. Herrnstein & Charles Murray
    Pub New York: Free Press 1994
    First Free Press Paperback Ed. 1996

    This is a professional book written by a professional psychologist and a statistician that amassed their data, assembling it into a clear and precisely written text.

    Although this book centers on the effects of ‘race’ in the USA, the principles therein apply every & any where.

    When you have read it and finally accept the hard to swallow principles you SHALL understand WHY the rich ALWAYS get richer.

  3. An entirely accurate and comprehensive description of Filipino society today.
    We often hear politicians say it is a common goal to reduce poverty. Not True! The comfortable and extravagant lifestyle of those with money here, is based on the very low cost of labor. It is precisely the inequalities which allow the lifestyle of the rich.
    Regrettably, the growth in inequality is a global pattern, as capitalism is increasingly deregulated at the behest of the USA and global corporations. In the UK and in Europe, the wages of ordinary workers are falling, while the wealth of the owners of capital increase massively. Lest this sounds like a leftist rant, there are independent economists in all countries pointing this out. Not a single study has challenged this conclusion. See Capital by Pitkiethly (French) and The Spirit Level by Picket and Wilkinson (UK).

  4. Next year daw, five congressmen will make effort to pass a law so that all Pilipinas government employees will be given a car and house after 5 years of employment. Kung kaya ng gobyerno-Pilipinas from the taxes, eh di mahiya naman ang San Miguel at iba pang Korporasyon kung hindi sila susunod.

  5. A brilliant article & spot on & it seems no one cares. All the government worry about are getting more & more ofw’s then they dont have to worry about the poor filipino left here. Yes they utter a few useless words but actions are not used. Its you scratch my back & ill scratch yours.
    I dont know how to sort it out & i truly hope some at the top are brave enough & clever enough to do it, but i doubt it.

  6. vagoneto rieles on

    Thanks for painting a true, if stark, picture of the Philippines. It would seem though that the root of all the warts and boils of the country goes farther back in our history. We might not have fully discarded the visage of a feudal society. It may be that the old characters of ‘that society’..the ‘encomendero’ and the ‘campesino’ are gone, to all intents and purpose; but the mentality of both..the mindsets of entitlement and subservience..lingers, and is pervasive. What’s more is that the ‘campesinos’ who have succeeded and have transitioned to the other camp, know the old game and are now playing it from their new vantage point. Quite a number of today’s rich, too, have succeeded in buying themselves into high office, and, have shoe-horned some of their kind into sensitive positions. They are now loathe to give up anything. Nothing short of an epiphany on both sides could change the picture entirely. What could bring this epiphany about is up for conjecture.

  7. What you described regarding the law and moneyed people is true. Sadly, the poor are being pushed over the cliff even further by political leaders crafting laws that are beneficial for their friends and benefactors. This may be the order of things in our country for the next generation. If the poor and marginalized must wait for the government and business to have a change of heart, they may be in a long wait. It is not going to happen in this generation nor the next. Or, if they are entertaining the thought of the armed revolution that has been limping along for more than four decades, their energy will seem more productive if focused on how to get out of their dire situation. Actually, who can say that the people out on the hills, fighting to get their chance for power, will be significantly different from what we have now? Poverty is not only a result of unjust laws and greedy businessmen and women but is a product of the lack of imagination. There are significant numbers of people who decided to get out of poverty by whatever means it takes. Most of them became successful in their attempts to liberate themselves from poverty. This is not to say that people should just “play dead” in terms of achieving a just and humane society through legislation. But, a large part of the cause of poverty, I dare say, is embedded in the culture. If a culture is forward-looking, assertive, optimistic, imaginative, and unafraid to do the hard work, there is a good chance things will turn around. As long as a people are stuck in old ways of doing things, still expecting a different result, nothing is going to change. The individual liberates himself or herself from poverty. I submit, that systemic evil is real, but it is not as powerful as many believe. Teach our people to develop a different mind-set and his or her lot will make a pivot to prosperity.

    • One of these days, the Gospel of Prosperity will be more thematic throughout Pilipinas. The timing would be just right — the younger generation rising and the the older generation disappear.