Pork Quarrel

What’s the big fuss about? I buy our pork from my friend, Paul. He sends me a message. I send back a message with my order. Then, he has someone to deliver it right on our door. It costs Php 300 per kilo. My mother and sister like the meat. My mother even tells me to get some again the next time. People tell me, I’m getting it cheap. But as it seems, much of the nation is having it the other way, the hard way.

This just shows how pork centered the Filipino diet is. (Excuse us, Filipino Muslims, Seventh Day Adventists vegetarians and others.) With all due respect to the pork dealers, there is a whole list of options for alternatives. The food basket is filled with vegetables and fish. So, for the consumer, it’s not really much of a restriction. After all, the roots of our culture gathers around seafood on the table. Have you not noticed that we have the same word in the vernacular for “main course” and “fish”?

The national government tries to solve the crisis with an executive order imposing a price ceiling on the people’s favorite source of protein. NCR pork dealers responded with a pork holiday. Then, Presidential spokesman Harry Roque responds with a humble plea for the dealers to go back to their stalls. In the news, some traders did open shop, but the meat on sale was reportedly of low quality. I presume that’s their little solution to get some profit. What an interesting development from a mandatory order to a modest plea to mediocrity.

I’m not an economics geek, but I suppose we could understand a bit of how business works. Pork retailers on the market sell their products on a high price because they bought them with a high price from the wholesalers, who in turn say they bought it with a high price from the hog raisers and farmers, who also say the expenses for swine raising have come with a high price; and somewhere along that line, some economists say, some players are manipulating prices. In the assumption of fairness, each participant in that relay is making a living from presumably reasonable profit.

Interestingly, the President decided to place a price ceiling on the retailers who come in direct contact with consumers, thereby limiting the way they make their living. So, what happens when living is limited? I guess, one starts to go down the direction of the opposite of living. The government practically ordered businessmen to engage in unprofitable business. It was tantamount to an order for laborers to do unproductive work, for employees to get paid in a salary that is worth than their basic expenses. Of course, no person in his stable mental health would open shop to commit suicide. What cracks me up is that our national leaders reacts with an appeal to dealers to dive compliantly in that pit of non-profit, of non-living, of loss. We have to give applause to those vendors who still submitted to that supplication of the spokesman to sell some, but to the expense of the product’s quality. Have you experienced riding a pedicab with the driver weakly losing his breath? Or getting a massage from a messed up masseur? Or listening to a coughing crooner? Well, that’s how I see it. It’s like expecting excellence from an employee who is experiencing extreme exhaustion, or hoping for high population from a species endangered to extinction. What’s sad is that this is how our government tries to solve crisis. It is supporting survival in self-destruction, resulting to subnormalcy. If this has been the formula that the state has been following in solving the problems, we would be going the reverse direction of development.

What do we make of this? Is this simply a bad solution to a problem or getting absent in economics class? Remarkably, the House of Representatives (or at least, many among them) with the support of the President showed us a similar misunderstanding of economics when they ganged up in withholding the operation of a large national company which has long provided employment to our countrymen, thereby rendering many among the ranks of the establishment to unemployment, and scurrying off to grapple in searching for other forms of livelihood. What is even more remarkable is they accomplished this in the middle of the crisis of the pandemic. Amazing. Maybe they missed out on the principle that employers give employment to employees, even though that sounds so simple.

To spice things up between these anomalies, we have a strong endorsement on a more expensive and less than 100% efficient vaccine, and military intelligence which reports living people as death casualties. What will happen to us?

“Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly.”

Proverbs 14:29