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Economic Deception

December 6, 2007

It may be true that, according to statistics, the Philippine economy has improved this year due to the continued struggle of peso versus dollar. It may be true also, according to a recent report, that a fewer Filipinos now live on less than a dollar a day, with only 11 million Filipinos now survive on 1 dollar per day based on the survey of International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

Hifalutin economic indicators are now being showcased by the Arroyo regime to advertise its accomplishment for the fiscal year and to hide whatever blunder it has committed in the past. Our good economic performance, the government claimed, is attributed to the increase in dollar remittances by overseas Filipino workers, more investment and more exports.

But it is important to understand the etymology of this claim. Let’s begin with the term economic indicator. Investorword defines economic indicator as “statistical data showing general trends in the economy.” Examples of this are are unemployment, housing starts, Consumer Price Index, industrial production, bankruptcies, GDP, stock market prices, money supply changes, and housing starts.

When a particular government announces a list of economic indicators, it is necessary to look at the politics behind the figures which they reflect. To do this, let me mention the two underlying elements in understanding the etymological value of the said term, which are the following: mathematical and conceptual.

According to an article on the Philippine website, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo assured that the benefits of the growing economy would tickle down to the Filipino people. She said that investments are pouring in, the peso is strong, the stock market has reached historic heights and her government has produced over six million jobs. By mere looking at the given information, it is safe to assume that mathematically, the country really has improved. The mathematical value of such a statement reflects, with all of those enumerated factors now in place (e.g., more investments, stronger peso, etc.), an assumption, or even assertion claiming to be true in all respects, that they represent the true meaning of progress. That if these indicators were met, it can now be said that the country has economically improved.

In the same website, it was announced that “Philippine Stock Market (PSE) continued its record-breaking surge amid growing investor confidence following the country’s peaceful mid-term elections last Monday.” It said: “In today’s trading, the 30-company composite index finished up 31.49 points or 0.92 percent at 3,449.18 close with 3.1 billion shares worth P9.7 billion traded.”

The figures embedded in that report may appear mind-numbing to most allergic in math like me, but common sense tells us that they were there to brandish a better economic performance. The fact that they were being highlighted that way means that their numerical value reflects ought-to-be-bragged economic value.

Like what Benjamin Disraeli said, “there are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.” In economics, common sense tells us that all statistics are part and parcel of mathematics; but not all mathematics are part and parcel of statistics. What I mean is that statistics is simply similar to an elastic wire that can be bent, twisted, curved, knotted— that it can be transformed to any figure or shape. But mathematics cannot. For 1 times 1 will always be equals 1 and 1 plus one squals two. Taxes are under the umbrella of statistics, because they can be reduced or diminished the legal (tax avoidance) or illegal way (tax evasion).

How about the conceptual representation of those economic indicators? Those puffed-up figures and self-aggrandizing terms used by whoever wrote those press releases aimed to attain a specific goal— to show that this country has economically taken off and is now soaring through the horizon of what they call national development. Lest we forget, a government is like a corporation that employs topnotch liars and hard-nosed obscurantists euphemistically called PR men to do some dirty work. Their main job is not to clean, or beautify, the image of the country, or even the government that paid for their salaries. Their primary goal is to serve their appointing power. Their job really is to clean the image of the very person who put them to their rewarding position.

It is not the figures of those statistics per se and the accompanying PR-controlled statements that best describe the status of the country today. It is but the politics (or the determining purpose) behind those hush-hush and mind-boggling figures and nauseating politico-economic muzak that best leads to understanding the true condition of the country.

If they call it science— that obnoxious act by some people in the government of putting decorative shades to statistics they display and statements they release, then it is but a moral thing to crack the foundation upon which that politico-economic design is based and founded.

By what right? By what standards? By what code?

We can have answer to this queries only if we become aware of what they believe in and what they’re thinking about— this is the only way to grasping the right password of the current regime’s statistical deception.

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