Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Anti Rich: Economic Discrimination Goes Both Ways

Many people talk about economic discrimination particularly for the poor. But in social reality, specially in impoverished nations, it actually goes both ways. The poor retaliate by overpricing the rich for goods or services which they would otherwise render as free or for a small and fair price to those who belong to the same economic class.

They could also retaliate by not according the same courtesy and respect that is due to everyone in society regardless of social and economic class if one unfortunately finds themselves in locations where poverty is prevalent and one is perceived to be rich.

"He should pay more because he is rich"
I hear this phrase a lot.

Though it may be subdued today, it is prevalent and an unspoken reality that wafts through the air. One need only to look at the rhetoric being used by both parties in the Tulfo-Barreto airport scandal, to see how all sorts of unrelated social issues crop up and how economic discrimination as a topic get played out inaccurately.

The Barretos invoke their ties with the feminist organization Gabriela purportedly because the act of Tulfo kicking Claudine is considered as Violence Against Women. Suffice to say, their lawyers must be going all out for them. I'm not a lawyer but I see this law as being mainly used in the context of domestic relationships between spouses or domestic partners.

Tulfo on the other hand, plays the "rich are abusive" card by saying the rich can do anything they like - like kick him in the groin in a public airport and even get away with it. He shows himself as the undercard, the dehado party where in truth he's quite a bully himself, and a much worst one. The man actually has bodyguards - but not in this particular case.You don't want to bump into these guys in the mall.

The truth is, this issue isn't about the rich and the poor. The issue is whether it was right for Barreto and company to beat up Tulfo. Don't get me wrong, I dislike both parties and I think both are wrong in one way or another.

I'm not rich - I only look rich...



Victimized By the Anti Rich
Unfortunately, today, while at the hospital in the Lipa City District Hospital a public hospital in Lipa City, the same economic enmity reared its ugly head to victimize me and my daughter. We were visiting the congested ward where my wife is waiting, to be unceremoniously shooed by the quasi-security guard. We left, but not without me reminding the person that there are others inside the ward who also shouldn't belong there. It doesn't matter, I should be the only one to leave.

The policy of course is valid, no children and no males in the room as minders. But what got my goat was that the policy was only applied to me - a person who looked rich. If we were rich, we wouldn't go to a public hospital. It's that simple, really.

Writing this is personally humiliating of course, but this subject needs to be brought out in the light for all concerned citizens who think that economic disparity should not be an issue - anywhere. Fair price should be applied to all whether rich or poor, fair treatment should be applied to all anywhere, whether rich or poor. Policies should be applied to all.

The law should apply to all or none at all. 

The problem is, this issue will never be resolved as simple as a blog post. It's an unfortunate reality that one must live in today. Given the graver abuses perpetrated by the real rich for the poor.

Both the rich and poor are always welcome to eat at my table.
As a person, I personally adapt the policy of letting anyone regardless of credo, race, economic status eat at my table. That is the kind of person that I am. Sadly, situations such as these tend to make me want to practice the same economic enmity. My parents taught me humility and to remember our roots as coming from a very poor family ourselves.

I do not judge people according to their economic status, but according to what they do and how they treat others.

But these days are different, these are the days when people do not forgive and do not forget.

The lines of ethics, morality, right, wrong, just and unjust are as blurred and hazed as the minds of people who have nothing but hatred and discrimination in their hearts retaliate on each other. The endless cycle of class war rolls on and on.

But now it has new incarnations.



Filipinos and Pakikisama
The concept of "pakikisama" may be hard to understand for foreigners but it is basically, bonding and joining a specific clique in a certain segment of society or community.


My problem with "pakikisama" is that it's like a fraternity initiation process. "Pakikisama" entails that you do what the clique wants you to do. If they want you to drink alcoholic beverages, you have to drink alcoholic beverages despite having health concerns.

Every clique or social strata has its own established norms, social processes and practices. The problem is, what if what the clique wants is illegal? What if it is morally reprehensible?

This is one of the reasons why I chose to close the resort

People wanted to turn it into a beerhouse and wanted to have women dance naked within the premises. I took a stand, and I said, "take your activities elsewhere". Of course, I've said it emphatically to the point that they may have been offended.

I didn't care, because it was wrong to have these strangers have naked women dance not only in our premises but also our home. It's a moral and a business decision that I had to take however detrimental it may be.

Why?

Because it's just wrong. Period. 

For as long as I am standing, there would be no prostitutes dancing in our place. If that means having to close down the resort and not earning money, fine. Then I will find money elsewhere. That is the only thing I have - what is left of my integrity. That is what I will fight, even if it means offending people.