By ERIK ESPINA
Roughly 75 years after WW II, how did Japan rise from the ashes of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, with an American-sponsored (Douglas MacArthur) constitution, as one of the wealthiest economies in the world? A long dissertation is required. However, the short of it may be summarized in the cardinal question government posed to the Japanese people. “With determinate resources and an insolvent economy, do we prioritize re-building your homes? Or do we re-construct our factories?”. The answer came thus, “Construct the factories first. With factories, employment follows. Then, we can build back our homes.”
In peace, more in war, the establishment of robust industries spells victory in the battle versus poverty. American factories, a giant industrial base, helped win the war in Europe and Asia against the Axis powers. In the 1950s, South Korea, after the “war of division,” realized such formulary, disregarding discourses on “competitive advantage” by Western financial institutions to refrain from tardy industrialization. The result of Korean determination speaks for itself — cars, computers, cell-phones, etc., in many First World countries.
A 1969 Joint House Resolution No. 2 by Speaker Jose Laurel on “The Magna Carta of Social Justice & Economic Freedom” lays out ills plaguing Philippine society. Main obstacles to development: 1) “An economy based essentially on agro-merchandising activity as mainspring of income and employment. 2) A social structure marked by extreme disparity in income distribution with wealth concentrated in the hands of a thin elite.” The resolution counsels, “Only by industrializing the economy through the establishment of basic industries, those that will utilize indigenous raw materials can we hope to resolve the perennial problem of mass unemployment and marginal income…free enterprise accentuates and aggravates the gap between the powerful and the powerless, big business and small business, the rich and the poor.”