Thursday, 14 January 2010

Critical Philippine issues

John Mangun
Outside the Box
Business Mirror

Stories across Europe center on the incredible snows and cold weather than have killed nearly 200. Great Britain is running low on fuel supplies to heat their homes, and thousands of schools are closed and thousands of homes are without electricity.

Japan’s national airline carrier Japan Airlines, once providing a premier way to travel, is going into bankruptcy and frantic efforts are being made to keep it flying.

In the US, economic recession has turned to economic desperation as real unemployment may be over 20 percent and tens of millions are dependent on government handouts just to survive.

The Middle East continues to boil as Iran moves closer to nuclear capabilities. Pakistan is nearly a failed state as its battle with extremist elements intensifies even as the potential of armed conflict with nuclear India over Kashmir grows.

What is the world coming to? The bad news never stops; it never ends. Look at the Philippines.

From “As many as three out of 10 government employees have mental-health problems. The most common mental disorder found was depression and anxiety disorders, which require professional intervention, said Dr. Edgardo Tolentino Jr. of the Philippine Psychiatric Association.”

If you listen to the radio, you know all about this story. It was pretty much the lead topic of conversation during the drive to work yesterday morning. While almost the rest of the world battles the coldest weather in decades, if not a century, Filipinos have to battle potentially crazed government employees.

If you had been skeptical that one in three government employees you might interact with on a daily basis is nuts, yesterday it seemed that every “expert” interviewed on the radio confirmed this analysis by Dr. Tolentino.

In fact, I heard a couple of government employees, undersecretaries or something like that, agree with Dr. Tolentino. That was really disturbing.

Think about it. Perhaps you went to the Land Transportation Office recently to renew your driver’s license or buy your registration for your car. I think there are six windows you have to visit to transact your business. Envision that two of those six government employees may have mental-health problems like depression.

Want an example of someone who suffered from depression? How about Carlo Gesualdo, an Italian composer, who murdered his wife, her lover and his own son? Or Robert Oppenheimer, the American physicist who is known as the father of the A-bomb? And can you imagine being helped to get your license by one of the most famous recent depression crazies, Brittney Spears?

But you know what? The last time I went to the LTO, all those people behind the counter seemed and acted perfectly normal. So if one in three government employees has a mental problem as the experts have stated, perhaps it is not the lower-level government people who we come in contact with every day who have the problems. Maybe it is the third of government employees who are much further up the chain of command who are potentially unstable mentally.

That would certainly explain a lot of things that happen in the Philippines.

While the world deliberates monumental issues like health and human rights and peace and poverty, there is a proposal from a women’s party-list group, 1-Babae Astig Aasenso (1-ABAA), that there be a 10-year expiration time on marriage contracts.

Until now, marriage has, at least in theory, operated under the “no exchange, no refund” policy. You buy it, you have to live with it. Of course, after you buy it, you can always sort of put it in the bottom of the closet if you don’t like it and are not going to use it. But for the most part, you cannot return your spouse. 1-ABAA is proposing that marriage, like retail sales, come under the Consumer Act of the Philippines which abolished “no exchange, no refund.” The principle is that you can use your wives or husbands for 10 years and then exchange them if you want to, in case they do not meet your expectations. The retail law says that consumers are entitled to either an exchange or refund, as long as there is a defect in the quality of the goods or imperfection in the service.

I am sure that virtually every wife would agree that her husband is defective in some way or that there is imperfection in the service that he gives her.

The only thing that surprises me about this proposal, coming from a group of women, is that the expiration date is 10 years. Given the choice, I would think that most women would want the right to return their malfunctioning husbands in a much shorter amount of time.

When I saw the headline “Expiration date on marriage contracts?” I knew immediately that it had to be a woman who came up with the idea.

A man would rarely think of returning a wife or practically anything else that gave imperfect service. When was that last time you saw a man exchange a shirt or pair of shoes that he did not like. That is definitely a woman’s thing?

On the other hand, if there ever is a 1-Lalaki Astig Aasenso group formed, I know exactly what that group will propose. Instead of eliminating the “no refund, no exchange” policy for marriage, the men would suggest a “buy one, take one” policy.

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