09 February 2008

Why condom ads should be regulated

Finally, a saner, more rational way to explain why condom ads should be regulated.

The discussion on condoms and AIDS prevention is unfortunately being dominated by forces at the extreme ends of the liberal-conservative divide. There is a burgeoning population problem in our country, and there is no sense in denying it or saying that we are better off than most 1st world countries who now face the problem of a growing senior citizenry vs. a smaller number of young people (which is also a population problem).

The Church, with its conservative official teachings and its tradition of compassion and reason, has much to offer in the discussion of solving the population problem and the AIDS menace. If both sides, are only willing to dialogue.

There is much common ground to cover. It's a pity it seems most people only wander about their ideological comfort zones.

Why condom ads should be regulated

11 Luis Sianghio St., 1103 Kamuning, Quezon City
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Letter to the Editor
First Posted 23:26:00 02/07/2008

As much as I want to understand Rina Jimenez-David (“Once more with condoms,” Inquirer, 1/26/08), I don’t find DKT’s condom ads to be a blessing. I share her desire to help women in the sex trade. I agree that the reasons given by those who are against condom ads are old -- as old as 2,000 years, maybe. But I also find them as current as the latest edition of the Inquirer.

For three reasons, DKT’s condom ads should be regulated.

1. According to information taken from DKT’s website, the firm distributed 277 million condoms in 15 years of operation in the Philippines. Condom sales grew by an average annual rate of 29 percent, which far exceeds the economy’s average growth. This does not include the 67 million pills and over one millions injectables also sold.

The proceeds from these sales would be enough to build a war chest for pricy ads. But the firm may have made a mistake by posting that in 2006 they sold 184,000 lubes and inserted 500 intra-uterine devices (IUDs). Medical textbooks and scientific references agree that human life begins at conception. Isn’t this firm breaking the law, considering that it is explicitly stated in the Constitution that the state shall protect the life of the unborn from conception?

2. Condoms don’t stop the spread of HIV/AIDS. Take the case of our country and Thailand. In 1987, we had 135 AIDS cases. Thailand had 112 cases. In the early 1990s both took different directions against the spread of the HIV virus. In 1991 the Thai health minister adopted a “100% Condom Use program.” We did not.

Instead our government signed into the effort of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines to set up the group AIDS-Free Philippines as the official program to fight AIDS nationwide. By 2003, there were 570,000 Thais with HIV, half a million more than the 9,000 Filipinos who had been infected with HIV by then. Also in 2003, 58,000 Thais died of AIDS -- 16 times more than the 500 Filipinos who died that same year.

A 2001 USAID report cited two reasons we had a low incidence of HIV/AIDS: a relatively high rate of abstinence among the youth; and the practice of married Filipinos to largely remain faithful to their spouses. The report stated that “The Catholic Church must be credited with influencing sexual behavior.”

3. My desire to be a responsible father. As such, I would not want anybody to just throw garbage inside my home. I feel far from blessed when I see or hear condom ads. This prompts me into writing in behalf of those who feel the same.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for finding the letter noteworthy. I'll share to you fourteen other letters that saw print.


    Jose Leo Lemuel G. Caparas Jr.

    1. Catholic stand on vital issues
    2. Dubious claim
    3. Value of a mother’s work is hard to measure
    4. Well-researched report on population
    5. Prostitution is a selfish act
    6. Population vs. Poverty
    7. A warning to small investors
    8. Neverending fatherhood
    9. In disagreement
    10. MRT is a great help
    11. ‘Grandma’s wisdom’ in elections
    12. Poverty: Eradication, not alleviation, is the goal
    13. The zero-sum-game fallacy
    14. ‘If economy’s growth is impressive, then why am I not rich?’

    1. Catholic stand on vital issues
    This is with regard to Mr. Armando Ang’s letter to the editor published last Dec. 28. He claimed that the Catholic Church’s stand against contraception is out of touch with reality and used four arguments to support this claim:

    * Poverty makes it difficult to promote the Catholic’s pro-life stand. Those with small families have better chances of breaking the bond of poverty.

    * The Catholic Church has not taken concrete steps to alleviate poverty.

    * There were instances suggesting that Pope Pius XI and Pope Paul VI felt the burden of the pro-choice stance and gave in to the clamor to limit the rate of birth. Pope Pius XI, in the encyclical Casti connubii (1930), allowed the use of rhythm method for married couples provided that they have a serious reason. Similarly, Pope Paul VI was pressured by the papal birth control commission to liberalize birth control. However, he reaffirmed the Church’s traditional doctrine against contraception in the encyclical Humanae Vitae (1968). This was met with a lot of strong opposition. His non-issuance of any encyclical during the last 10 years of his pontificate was seen as a silent consent to the party affirming birth control.

    * Over 30,000 priest requested to be freed from their vow of celibacy. This is suggestive of the conflicts and struggles within the Church. Sadly, this was seen as one of the indicators why many Catholics disregard the Church’s teaching authority.

    I’ve been thinking about the merits of these arguments. Some of these are well known. Indeed, the Catholic Church’s history is rich with intrigue. It is a miracle that after 2,000 years she is still alive.

    Yes, the Catholic Church is a female. She is a universal mother that brings all men to the light of Christ. She is also my mother.

    I believe that Ang’s letter was well intended. He must be convinced, though no fault of his own, that he is doing us a favor. I would like to respond like a son coming to the defense of his mother.

    The Catholic Church has no monopoly in either promoting or alleviating poverty. On one hand, breaking the bond of poverty is not necessarily dependent of the number of family members. Part of it could be attributed to access to education, employment, and credit.

    On the other hand, a small family is not a sufficient condition to be rich. At the same time, wealth does not always make happy families. I believe that in large families, the joys are multiplied and the sorrows are divided by the number of its members.

    The late Mother Teresa of Calcutta would disagree that the Catholic Church has not taken steps to alleviate poverty. Many charity institutions and private initiatives by Catholics are done to help the poor. These are done in ordinary ways that does not hit the headlines.

    Both Pope Pius XI and Pope Paul VI were true to the Church’s stand against artificial contraception. On one hand, Pope Pius XI’s encyclical Casti connubii more than just allowed the use of rhythm method. He explained the inseparable connection between the unitive and procreative end that are both inherent to the marital act.

    It is true that Humanae Vitae was Pope Paul VI’s last encyclical. But it is likely that everything that mattered with regard to the issues has already been written. There is nothing more to add. Silence does not necessarily mean agreeing with the opposition. Besides, after Humanae Vitae, Pope Pius VI has written two Apostolic Constitutions, two Apostolic Exhalations, and two discourses.

    The Church is in touch with reality. Pope John Paul II in 1995 wrote Evangelium Vitae (Gospel of Life) to explain in greater detail why the Church is against artificial contraception. It also clarifies the Church’s stand on issues such as abortion, euthanasia, genetic cloning, and other current bio-ethical questions.

    Statistics, when used to prove a point, should be accompanied by the scope, duration and source. None of these were presented. But, indeed, many religious are leaving their vocation. This is sad but true.

    Some Catholic beliefs need the gift of faith. Most would only need common sense and are based on objective truths. Three objective truths come to mind. One, do good and avoid evil. Two, do to others what you want others do to you. Three, the end does not justify the means. The use of artificial contraception goes against these truths.

    These truths are written from the beginning in man’s heart—in his conscience. Hence, we have to form our conscience well. This requires contrite and diligent study under the guidance of the Church. This prompted Prof. Scott Hahn, a renowned scholar and anti-Catholic minister, to be converted. He was surprised by the truth. Catholics don’t just follow blindly. Catholics have faith and seek understanding.

    2. Dubious claim
    Those pushing for the reproductive health bill (HB4110) made a poor choice. The bill undermines the dignity of the human person. It tries to legalize abortion. Here are three reasons why abortion is always bad.

    1. The unborn child is completely innocent.
    2. The unborn child is completely defenseless.
    3. The mother cooperates in killing the unborn child. Is it not the mother who is supposed to love her child the most?

    HB4110 contradicts common sense. It tries to make the end justify the means. It is against the golden rule (do to others what you want them to do to you).

    Those pursuing the passage of HB4110 would be held accountable to the unborn child and the family he would have created.

    3. Value of a mother's work is hard to measure
    RINA Jimenez-David is partly right. The economic cost to mothers who stay home is high. Fortunately, the real world is not just economics. Consider the following points:

    1. Unlike the earnings of a prostitute, a mother's work cannot be estimated in the country's gross domestic product. A mother's work may be measured by the satisfaction she gets, and this depends on the amount of love she puts into her work.

    2. Rational economic agents look at trade-offs. Is it worthwhile to leave your children in the care of the least competent type of laborer at the lowest pay? There seems to be an economic law governing the raising of children: pay now or pay later.

    3. David cited the woes of her friend who lives in the United States. My godmother, Luisa Gerns, has more reason to worry. She is a Spaniard based in Germany. She has foregone the income she could have made working as doctor of languages to take care of her seven children. She is managing with the help of her husband, an architect. In economic terms, Luisa has the higher potential to earn more. With much love, she has made the better choice.

    Related story: Cost of Staying at Home, Rina Jimenez-David, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 4 June 2003.

    4. Well-researched report on population
    I've read, with much delight, your banner story "Population policy hit" by Mr. Rommer M. Balaba and Hannah Ira V. Alcoseba. It is a treat to have news that is researched well. Your reporters upheld the value of a person. Filipinos are the country's most important resource. We, like all people, have the capacity to have a well-formed intellect and a strong will to freely control our passions. I agree with your paper that poverty is caused, among other things, by poor governance. Here are four facts that show why population growth is not the problem.

    Fact 1: Mr. Manny Arejola, a former regional director of the Commission on Population, swore that local government executives would normally negotiate an increase in population count to be reported “officially” after each Census because each one was trying to elevate the city’s classification. This is done because the higher the classification, the higher the percentage rate of computation for one’s share in the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA). In Mr. Arejola’s 13 years in Western Mindanao, he estimates the population count to be bloated by at least one million people.

    Fact 2: Dr. Eliseo de Guzman of the U.P. Population Institute Demographic Research and Development Foundation claims that the country’s Total Fertility Rate is targeted to drop below the replacement fertility rate by the year 2020. By coincidence, Dr. de Guzman claim is bolstered by the US News & World Report. The report showed that by the year 2020, developing countries would have people over 60 years old to outnumber kids 14 years old and younger by 20.6% . In truth, the problem starts when the number of productive workers is not enough to support the growing number of the aged.

    Fact 3: It is true that population growth puts pressure on resources. But what has been the score on the world’s resources? Any first year economics student can say that, assuming all things constant, prices go down because supply exceeds demand. But has demand for natural resources exceeded supply? Look at prices. In 1990, an environmentalist Dr. Paul Ehrlich sent an economist Dr. Julian Simon a check for $570 in settlement of a bet. Dr. Ehrlich chose five minerals. They agreed how much of these metals $1,000 would buy in 1980, then ten years later recalculated how much that amount of metal will cost (still in 1980 dollars) and Dr. Ehrlich agreed to pay the difference if the price fell; Dr. Simon would pay if the price rose. Dr. Simon won easily. He would have won even if they had not adjusted the prices for inflation, and no matter what mineral was chosen. Dr. Simon frequently offers to repeat the bet with any prominent doomsayer, but has not yet found a taker. Forecasters of scarcity and doom have a track record of being wrong.

    Fact 4: Mang Enteng Caya, arguably the best barber in Kamuning, Quezon City, has 13 children. He claims that his children are the greatest source of his happiness. They inspire him to work hard and work well. So many people line up for his service. Recently, he saved enough to set up his own barbershop with his wife as manicurist and children as fellow barbers. Had population control taken effect a generation ago, Mang Enteng would have less hair to cut. Businessmen could learn from this. High population would mean high domestic demand. This must be why during times of external crises, the economies with high population, such as China and India, keep growing. And why those countries with relatively small population such as Singapore and Malaysia, take a beating. And, yes, why the food, consumer, and education businesses pull through. Ask Mr. Arejola, Dr. de Guzman, Dr. Simon, and Mang Enteng. I’m sure they would agree that it would be better for the business sector to focus on doing their business well than be distracted with problems that do not exist.

    5. Prostitution is a selfish act
    In reaction to “Decriminalizing prostitution” published by The Manila Times on February 4, 11 and 18:

    Prostituted sex is bad. It is a selfish act that degrades the dignity of both man and woman.

    The state should promote the common good, as stated in the preamble of the 1987 Philippine Constitution. Common good is defined as that which gives every person in society a chance to develop himself or herself to the fullest materially, culturally and spiritually. It is the good of all and not just of the majority or minority.

    The author of those articles, my friend Ms. Reeza Singzon, was right to suggest that intellectually, woman is man’s equal. However women can accomplish more in pursuits that contribute to the common good—for example in such careers as law and medicine.

    The common good of society demands economic development that leads to the unity and stability of the family.

    Ms. Singzon is correct in that we should all respect the prostitute as a human being. I agree, the prostitute and her customer are not bad because of who they are. However it is their act of prostitution that is bad.

    6. Population vs. poverty

    This is with regard to Solita Monsod's article, "Using the wrong figure" (BW, 18 November 2004). She cited the latest 2003 National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) yield results that show that Filipino women generally want one less child than they actually have. The difference between the actual and wanted fertility rates is larger for the poor than for the rich.

    I believe in the accuracy of the survey. The surveys of the National Statistics Office (NSO) are widely known to be scientific. NSO dies independent research and is not beholden to any private interest such as that of the USAID that helped finance the 2003 NDHS.

    However, population growth is not the sure cause of poverty. I believe that there is no strong and significant positive or negative relationship between poverty and population growth. This is also the conclusion of two groups of international researches.

    The first group was cited by William Easterly, a former World Bank economist, in his book Elusive Quest for Growth; the studies were by Ross Levine and David Renett (1992), Lant Prichett (1994) and Jeff Kling and Lant Prichett (1995). Prof. Easterly managed some of the World Bank's population programs.

    Second, Dr. Geoffrey McNicoll (1999) of the Australian National University believed that "the relationship between population growth and poverty is neither obvious nor well established." He noted five scientific studies that claim there are no solid evidences that population growth would cause or even worsen poverty. These are Gerry Rodgers (1984 and 1989); United Nations Population Fund 1993 report on the Consultative Meeting of Economists; Gale D. Johnson (1994); and, Dennis A. Ahlburg (1996).

    Several social scientists in the Philippines are of the same mind. They doubt the popular thought that population growth necessarily causes poverty. Dr. Cid Terosa, of UA&P, wrote that population growth is a latent factor for growth just like knowledge. To realize the potential of population growth, the right institutions must tap the potential of a country's population. Others, like former Social Welfare Undersecretary Rosa Linda G. Valenzona and Ms. Cristine R. Atienza from the UP School of Economics are convinced that poverty is caused by, among other things, poor governance.

    To find our if cities with higher population growth necessarily have higher poverty, I compared NSO's latest population census and the most recent regional poverty incidence. My hypothesis is that growth begets growth. This must be why the rich tend to become richer. Like a magnet, rich cities attract the best workers. These migrant workers earn higher wages that are eventually spent. It is likely that this spending is poured into the rich city, priming the pump for a higher standard of living. Does this observation generally hold true for 54 urban areas in 2000? It does not. A scatter plot comparing population growth rate and poverty incidence shows unpersuasive results. Cities with higher population growth shoes neither a weak nor a strong relationship with areas having higher poverty incidence. It does not lead me to conclude that population growth (or decline) causes poverty. Higher wages, which can translate to access to contraceptives, do not necessarily lift us out of poverty. Factors other than higher population growth due to lack of access to contraceptives may be more convincing causes of poverty.

    7. A warning to small investors
    I’m a Battered Pinoy Investor. Four years ago, I was blinded by an income opportunity advertisement in this newspaper. The ad was about the government’s retail treasury bonds. It was meant to encourage small savers to earn over 14% interest every year for the next four years. This interest rate was around five percentage points higher than the time deposit rate of 9% at that time. I lent the government around P15,000 through an accredited bank. The government kept its promise. Around P430 was deposited to my account every quarter. It has been doing so for the past 13 quarters. I trusted that saving then would be more worthwhile rather than spending the money. Not so.
    It was bad enough that prices in Metro Manila rose by 9% from November 2001 until April 2005. This means that the value of the cash that I had then is worth less now due to rising prices.
    Worse is that the accredited bank has been promptly deducting P100 every month for service charge from my account. There was even a month when I was deducted an extra service charge. In effect, before I earned P430 at the end of three months, I was deducted at least P300 the previous months. The accredited bank ate up more than 70% of my income even before I earned it.
    This will give you an idea how the investment was a significant part of my income. I was one of those fixed income earners that last April paid income taxes worth more than 20% of total taxable income. This left me with less than 80% of my total income pie to chew on essentials. Any savings squeezed from this shrunken pie would be of great value.
    What happened? It is likely that the money that I deposited was not part of the minimum account balance of the accredited bank. Hence the deduction. On hindsight, I would have made the extra deposit upon opening the savings account had I been properly informed.
    I take all the blame. Thinking about it now I would be better off parking the money on time deposit. Then I would have more money to eat at either Jollibee or Greenwich; these are firms that withdrew their advertisement on talk shows that featured sexy videos. I would have more money to drink Coke—even if it makes me sick; my satisfaction would be maximized knowing that I directly contributed to the welfare of retailers, wholesalers, and sugar farmers. I would gladly do these than do business with a bank that is insensitive to the needs of small savers like myself.
    Let this experience be a warning to small savers to be wary of big banks that do not bother to explain details that may turn to savers’ disadvantage. As a Battered Pinoy Investor, I will not do business with this bank again. Thank you.

    8. Neverending fatherhood

    The Neverending Story” by Michael Ende
    “THE NEVERENDING STORY” TAUGHT me never to judge a book by its movie. It is more than just saving the world of Fantastica. It is about a son’s search for his father’s affection.
    I feel deeply for this quest since my son, José Ma. (6 years old), and I are forced to live apart. The book reminds me not to fall short of my fatherly duties.
    The surreal cast in Fantastica brings to mind the people who grant me visitation rights. The time given to me and my son is too short. Planning to spend it well seems neverending.
    There is hope, though. Recently, my son asked me to keep repeating a corny joke. He laughed so much that he threw up. I took a deep sigh, looked into his face, and smiled.
    I told him, “I love you, anak.” He did the same.

    9. In disagreement

    I disagree with the premises raised in the article “ADB economists say population management key to realistic strategy in addressing unemployment” (BusinessWorld 13 March 2006). Consider these three points:

    1. The National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) contradicts the claim that the Philippine population might hit 100 M by 2014 if the current population growth rate of at least 2% persists. Assuming all things constant, government estimates show that population growth is dropping steadily below 2%.

    2. It is true that, in absolute terms, 2.6 million (M) were unemployed as of October 2005. But it is also true that, in percentage terms, there has been an improvement. The unemployment rate in October 2005 is down to 7.4% from 12.7% in April 2005. This is the lowest rate since the National Statistics Office started collecting data based on the new definition of unemployment in April 2005.

    3. The suggestion for the government to implement a “sensible” population management plan to temper unemployment does not make sense since it would limit the potential supply of workers in the employment-generating sectors The recent National Manpower Summit spearheaded by the Department of Labor and Employment and the United Nations Development Programme identified the following key employment-generating sectors—cyber services, aviation, agribusiness, health services, mining, creative industries, hotels and restaurants, medical tourism, and overseas employment. The demand for workers in these sectors is bright. The demand for cyber services workers, for instance, is projected to jump to 1.1 M in 2010, from some 163,000 employed as of 2005.

    Because of these considerations, I believe that there is no significant relation between population growth and unemployment rate. The government has more important things to do than create a population management plan that is pointless.

    10. MRT is a great help

    I UNDERSTAND THAT A RIDE ON THE METRO Rail Transit (MRT) train is getting to be stressful. (PDI, 5/9/06) But I’m writing to thank MRT Corp. and to suggest how it can make my ride less stressful.
    To criticize is easy, but to give a compliment is hard. I commend the MRT for keeping its trains rolling. It had to borrow $465 million in 1997 at the exchange rate of P26.50 to $1. This loan must have ballooned since the peso has weakened against the dollar by around 100 percent. A firm made of lesser stuff would have crumbled. The MRT withstood this drawback. It still runs 17 hours a day. It hauled around 350,000 passengers a day in 2005.

    But then there is no such thing as a free lunch. I am, therefore, willing to share the cost of maintaining the MRT’s services. If the air-conditioning eventually conks out, then I’ll just console myself with the thought that it is hotter in hell.
    The writer’s gripes must be the result of the fare cut in 2001. I find the present P9.50-P15
    MRT fare cheap and the benefit I get from it is of much higher value. I suggest that MRT Corp. be given the freedom to set its fares based on a just market price. This freedom, however, should be used responsibly. The fare hike must be adequate to meet the MRT’s reason for being.

    11. ‘Grandma’s wisdom’ in elections

    I did not like Ely De Leon’s statement that Inquirer columnist Antonio J. Montalvan II is a person “with limited views and of dark-age mentality.” (INQUIRER, 3/13/07). But even though I found Mr. De Leon’s letter in defense of pro-death legislators intolerable, I respect his right to think that Montalvan’s “Pro-life, pro-death list” (INQUIRER, 2/26/07) did not treat the Filipino voting public well.

    When people with a strong sense of history speak, it is wise to listen to them politely. Take, for instance, our grandmothers and elders whose common sense has been honed by their experiences with how things work and how people behave. They have seen almost all aspects of life up close. Unfortunately, today, shortsighted people consider their religious faith old-fashioned; and the educated and legalistic have only low regard for “grandma’s wisdom.”

    My grandmother taught me many timeless truths. One of them is the beauty of a permanent, exclusive, divinely ordained love between a man and a woman. This truth will not change even if surveys show that the vast majority of human beings hold the contrary view.

    Opinion polls do not change objective realities. Those promoting abortion, artificial contraception, euthanasia, divorce, and same-sex marriage are going against the natural, moral law. Montalvan’s column named the legislators who support anti-life and anti-family bills. But he also named the pro-life candidates who are cooperating to promote the good of all--and not just the good perceived by majority of survey respondents. Whether or not more pro-life candidates would win elections the essential truths will always remain the same. Just ask grandma.

    12. Poverty: Eradication, not alleviation, is the goal

    Kudos to Solita Collas-Monsod for her column on “Statistics show RP less poor.” (Inquirer, 4/21/07) The way she separated perception from facts was like a cool breeze after a whiff of body odor. Her take on the poverty situation was no different from a good confession -- clear, concise and complete.

    I will forward a copy of her article to public school teachers in the regions. May these friends of mine, who cannot afford to buy a copy of the Inquirer, explain Monsod’s column to a wider audience. Economic literacy is a must.

    Measuring poverty is as elusive as the quest for the Holy Grail. Independent experts like Dr. Arsenio Balisacan have done their fair share of pushing this frontier of knowledge. The National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) helped a lot by coming out with data at par with international standards.

    I grappled with the issue of measuring poverty when I visited a friend in Liège, Belgium. She asked me about poverty in the Philippines. After I rattled off the latest statistics, she said that their poverty incidence was “3.” I asked if she meant 3 percent. She said, “No, they have only three poor families.” And her country(wo)men knew who these families were, and were working on ways to help.

    This may be an extreme comparison to make since Belgium’s economy took thousands of years to develop. Our civilization is just a few hundred years young. May we someday not just alleviate poverty but also eradicate it.

    13. The zero-sum-game fallacy
    Gerald T. Magno might have been misinformed when he wrote the letter “Overpopulation is not a myth” (Inquirer, 6/8/07).
    The United Nation’s “World Population Prospects: The 2006 Revision” shows that the Philippines is not the world’s 12th most populous country. Our population density of 282 people per square kilometer (2005) puts us near the 40th out of 230 countries; Italy ranks around 50th.
    Overpopulation is not simply a function of the size or density of the population. It can be determined using the ratio of population to available resources. If a given environment has a population of 90 million people but there is enough food, shelter or water for more than 90 million, then there is no overpopulation.
    The United Nations report “The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2006” states that a smaller percentage of the population of developing countries is undernourished today compared to that of 1990-1992. Projections suggest that it will become better. The report also states: “The world is richer today than it was 10 years ago. There is more food available and still more could be produced without excessive upward pressure on prices. The knowledge and resources to reduce hunger are there. What is lacking is sufficient political will to mobilize those resources for the benefit of the hungry.”
    It is easy to think that population growth causes poverty. But economics does not bear out that reducing population would also reduce poverty. There is a fallacy called zero-sum-game. It reduces the economy to a pie with fixed ingredients. There’s nothing more erroneous. People do more than consume. People produce. Technology, a product of human creativity, helps economies grow. There is no strong and significant positive or negative relationship between poverty and population growth.
    Michael Miller, in his article “Population and Poverty,” wrote: “Factors that create economic growth and development: consistent rule of law for all citizens, property rights, sensible regulation, and a culture that encourages and rewards entrepreneurial behavior.”
    Overpopulation, like poverty, is a condition. It is a situation when the population of a given area is more than the surrounding environment can support. Magno is entitled to think that our country is overpopulated. For the economic reasons cited previously, I agree with Nicolo F. Bernardo’s view: Overpopulation is a 20th-century myth. (Inquirer, 5/26/07)

    14. ‘If economy’s growth is impressive, then why am I not rich?’
    Mahar Mangahas explained it well in “GNP grew, but incomes fell.” (Inquirer, 10/20/07) The Gross National Product (GNP) and Family Income and Expenditure Survey (FIES) are done by professional statisticians using generally accepted techniques. Even though these two are subject to error, it is likely that the trends they reflect match up to reality. Mangahas defined “Greek-sounding” economic terms in a way that is simple without being simplistic.
    But I disagree on one point. I believe the GNP is a superior indicator of economic growth compared to family income. Growth is not the same as development. On one hand, economic growth is the capacity to satisfy the needs of people. This capacity could be best expressed in numbers, either real national income (GNP) or real national income per person (per capita GNP). On the other hand, economic development is a process. This process leads to innovations for a happy, healthy and wealthy life. The economy may grow but not necessarily develop -- the way that a person may grow old but not grow up.
    Family income can also be used to show income distribution. It is usually done by surveying households. But the GNP is a better indicator of economic growth since it is done by looking at the production of firms.
    The second quarter statistics showed the GNP grew 8.3 percent in real terms from the same time last year. Also, the per capita GNP of the 88.5 million or so Filipinos grew to P4,230. How long would it take us to double the per capita income should we continue to grow at this amazing rate? I crunched the numbers assuming all other things will hold constant. It will take us about eight years or until 2015 to double the real national income. I hope this would be enough to eradicate extreme poverty.
    I wonder. If the economy’s growth is impressive then why am I not rich? While some bureaucrats have unexplained wealth, I am one of the legions with unexplained poverty. If I were to be asked to explain the disparity of GNP growth to my lot as a fixed-income earner, I would point out the following:
    • The GNP shows the economy’s total growth. The growth in the variety of sectors in the economy may differ. I might belong to a sector that is not growing as fast as the nation’s production records.
    • Like a coin, the economy has two sides: private and public. The public sector is having difficulties in meeting its revenue targets. The higher portion of the nation’s income pie is in the private sector’s hands. This has been the one fueling the growth.
    • I must examine my performance relative to other workers’ in the same industry. Is it possible that the cause of my economic standing is internal and not external to me?
    • If the problem is internal then I should study hard, work harder and pray much more. I must live within my means. I should earn enough to provide for the basic needs of my son -- the only one I know of.