TaN: Every time transportation fuel prices fluctuate, cooking fuel prices go the opposite direction – in the Philippines. If I had a malicious mind, I would say that the (fossil) fuel industry is playing us for fools. It is a way for them to continue enjoying profits even while appearing to be compassionate and concerned and lower prices every now and then.
By lowering prices for transportation fuel and raising prices for cooking fuel, their profits remain the same while they appear to be just observing or following the fluctuation of global market prices. This way, Big Oil projects an image or a semblance of doing business by pretending to follow the dictates of the market. In truth, it simply plays one market against another and, in the process, manages to maintain a steady influx of profits dripping with greed – at the expense of the poverty-stricken working masses, amassing obscene amounts of wealth (that they cannot even take with them when their time to go arrives). A break or even just a slight drop in the inflow of profits is intolerable; profits must continue to roll in – or better yet. increase.
What is most intriguing is why does transport fuel prices always have an inversely proportional movement with respect to cooking fuel prices. How strange, how uncanny, how unbelievable…how coincidental! Not once, not even a single instant when it happened or behaved differently. Until it is made clear as day to me, I would always look at the “machinations” of Big Oil with some degree of skepticism and suspicion.
TaN: There is no real global unemployment epidemic; what people need is work, not jobs. According to ethics and to Buddhist economics, work – not necessarily a job or an occupation – is not only important but essential to man’s flourishing and development. Work is necessary for man to attain a higher existence and to find meaning in life (on his way to happiness, to fulfillment). A major source of confusion is the misunderstanding of what is work and how is it different from a job or an occupation.
Work, for me, is defined as any effort that contributes to the common good and uplifts the spirit of an individual – i.e., the accomplishment brings a feeling of satisfaction and knowledge that one has contributed to the comfort and benefit of everyone in the community – (true) work is meaningful. A job or an occupation is any activity that brings economic or financial returns or gains.
A principal problem today is that people are looking for jobs instead of work. People have become trapped in modern slavery where they have been – through years of constant and consistent bombardment by an “educational” system established for the purpose of brainwashing and for indoctrination, where those who “dare” to ask questions or “think outside the box” are marginalized and demonized and ostracized – to believe that man’s usefulness is achievable only through being subservient to the established power and socio-economic structure and that material and financial gains is the epitome of success and of happiness…the end all. In other words, work is a job and vice versa.
So much unhappiness, dissatisfaction, and misery is everywhere because where people are considered as commodities, that labor is a necessary evil of capitalism and that all efforts must be made to reduce, if not totally eliminate, it to maximize profits and material wealth. Just like in an earlier blog, labor evolved from personnel to manpower to human resource. At least in personnel, there is still PERSON, in manpower there is still MAN, but in human resource HUMAN is but an adjective. Labor has been reduced to a resource.
Labor is being traded in outsourcing and in today’s increasing practice of internship – under the guise of on-the-job training. (Big) Business is ever on the alert to innovate ways to reduce its labor cost – to gain more while spending less.
In truth, most of the so-called jobs today are meaningless and detrimental to human flourishing. People cannot wait for the work day to end, to get away from “work”, and dreading that the weekend is over and it is “back to the old grind”. These are signs that people are not happy with their “work”, that they “still hungry” for meaning to what they are doing, that they are not “growing”, not flourishing.
What the world needs today are real work, something that we can feel we are a part of in the making. Work where our absence or non-participation will be significantly felt or missed. We need the kind of work where our involvement in the process cannot be taken over by machines, by mechanization…that we can only be replaced by another skilled craftsman.
We need the kind of work where we will not be just another statistic, that we matter, that our participation matters, that we are valuable and are (truly) valued – not just lip service by clever advertising and public relations campaigns.
And, we cannot expect the current power and socio-economic structure to provide that kind of work. It can only come from ourselves. We must break the bonds of capitalism and consumerism and establish our own structure. A more just and meaningful structure where everyone gives oneself to the community and receives from the community according to one’s needs. Truly, another world is possible for all.
TaN (addendum): In (reasonable) time with the current controversy and issue of the Philippine “pork barrel” system, it is good that the people have been able to vent their indignation concerning this infuriating issue. It is the people’s right and it is wise that the authorities did not obstruct this event with the usual legalese and obstructionist tactics.
But, now that all the hulabaloo has died down and passed into history, the more important business or the spectre of “What next?” now confronts us. This must be addressed – as thy say, Strike while the iron is hot. The opportunity is at hand and to let this moment slip by without making the slightest attempt to change things for the better is not only a terrible waste (of opportunity) but even makes us party to the problem.
As they say, if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. It is even specifically mentioned in the Holy Scriptures: “So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” – Rev 3:16. This particular passage means that we have to make a stand in anything and everything, we must commit ourselves, we cannot afford to be fence sitters or be undecided. We must take sides and – should we chose the wrong side – take the consequences resulting from our incorrect choice.
We must likewise be wary of those who are deep in the core of the controversy and employ diversionary tactics to draw attention away from them or to “dilute” the negative impact on them. Some case in point are the “kaliwa’t kanan” of proposals that erupted: (1) retention because there are those who are truly benefiting and it would be unfair for them to be deprived just because of the wrongdoings of others; (2) (the original) removal because it is perceived to be a major source or cause of corruption in government and lawmakers have no business dispensing funds because their job is to make laws and appropriate funds but not spend (which is the purview of the executive); and, (3) (which later became the stand of the President Noynoy) replacing or changing the system to another.
In a classic move – like what Monsanto and its biotech allies did in the Proposition 37 of 2012 issue of California – clever and nefarious “alternatives” are proposed and posited with the objective of influencing the results and steer them towards more favorable or to mitigate the negative impacts on the guilty. We must take extra precaution in our subsequent steps forward and be wary against those who wish to hijack what good that has been started to their selfish political agenda. Regardless of the outcome, we must ensure that the taxpayers’ money will be put to the best use – and that is to serve the truly deserving of our fellowmen. [Note: I used “truly deserving” because not all who are needy are deserving of assistance and every precious sentimo given to the undeserving is a sentimo diverted away from those who truly need it.]