01756: Everyone Wants A Piece Of The Government

So one of the weirder news items going around is the fact that we have Winter Olympian Michael Martinez, who pretty much had to pay his own way to the Olympics (UPDATE: So this may not be entirely true). Of course social media is weighing in and complaining about how it's unfair that the government did nothing to support him financially. And while I agree that it is pretty much unfair that the government was unable to support him, where exactly are expecting the money to come from?

Yes, we all know that our government suffers from tremendous corruption practically from top to bottom. But that doesn't mean that "illegal kickbacks" have a definite line item in the budget. It's winnowed out of every single other generally legal budget item out there. It's a little easier to complain about the lack of such monetary support in countries like the US where you can attack things like the military budget or something. We are a poor country that is still struggling to pay its debts and get its house into order.

The Philippine Olympic Committee hardly has enough funds to deal with the Summer Olympics, and so do you think it would make fiscal sense to push for them to support Winter Olympic sports as well? We've already seen how in the SEA Games we've limited ourselves to trying to invest in sports that have the highest likelihood of winning medals. And when the Philippine Dragon Boat Team came home with a slew of medals from other international competitions, we also clamored for more funding for sports. But no one can ever determine where that money will come from.

We can't reduce military spending - our military forces are a joke in their present condition and even our most aggressive upgrade efforts still rely on purchasing excess World War II hardware being retired by other countries. But we need to bolster our defenses with the likes of China taking a highly aggressive stance in claiming pretty much all of the seas in the area. We definitely can't take away from Education - that's supposed to have the largest chunk of our budget, which of course is also not enough to meet our needs. Public education still suffers from a severe lack of classrooms and teachers and so on and so forth.

Should we take it from agricultural programs? Welfare efforts like the conditional cash transfer program? Should we give up on the RH Bill and divert those funds to our dear athletes? Should we give up on public works like roads and highways and make do with what we have?

For anyone who has ever played games like SimCity, you'd know that when running a government, everything seems important and hard decisions need to be made. You need to do what's best for the country as a whole and find a way to secure its future. And while things like culture, arts, and sports are important, it's hard to argue for their prioritization when you have far more significant problems that need to be addressed first like staggering poverty, over 20% unemployment and a land reform program that has clearly failed. And all this while you're trying to dig out deeply rooted corruption and find a way to restore public trust in the government as an institution.

In theory, we should totally support all athletes and help them achieve their dreams. We should have a robust national healthcare program that cares for the poorest of the poor. The economy needs to be strong enough so that people can borrow money to stat new businesses and purchases homes with little fear of overwhelming interest rates. There are so many things that could be better, but we're not there yet. I'd like to think that well get there someday, but that day is not yet today. We have a heck of a lot of problems and not much money to help resolve these issues, not counting what is probably being skimmed off the top by various government officials.

So before you complain about something not getting funded or what not, take a moment to try and think about what other government program you want to shut down in order for that to happen. Don't think that we'll magically get more funding - we have enough debt as it is. The budget after all is a highly limited amount of funding that can only be allocated by Congress - PNoy may be stupid, but he also has no direct hand in allocating the government's money. We need to do our best to live within our means and try to get a million things done all at the same time.
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