Questions on Education, Privatization, Call Center Industry, and the Economy

During the campaign period for the 2010 national elections, I criticized vice-presidential candidate Edu Manzano’s stance on education, saying he was “simply reverberating the statist pragmatism and economic defeatism of the Arroyo administration that doubled the size of the government and its debt in a period of nine years.” As expected, my scathing commentarydrew flak from Edu Manzano’s passionate supporters. They strongly defended Manzano’s education programs and raised a number of issues, which I addressed in the comment section of my blog.The following are the issues raised by my pro-Manzano’s commenters:

COMMENTER: Individual choices and profiteering do not necessarily produce the best results. I agree with Manzano that in

Filipino students usually protest tuition increase.Filipino students usually protest tuition increase.

order to be productive Filipinos have to train more on education. We do need more PhD’s, more teachers, more nurses, more engineers etc. Do you expect the country to feed itself by having young people who work as call center agents?

What would produce the best results then? Government controls and intervention? Individual choice must be respected and businesses have the right to the profits or the fruits of their products. It is profit that motivates businessmen to create wealth and produce more jobs. If you remove this aspect (profit) and sacrifice businesses in the name of common good, then you are going against everything you preach, such as “development,” “progress,” “good” or “wealth,” and so on. This is what is happening now in Venezuela.

Do we need more PhD’s, teachers, nurses, engineers, etc? The evidence is all around you. Where will you put all these nurses, PhDs, engineers, teachers, etc. without capitalists who are willing to invest and create jobs and wealth? The only destination of these professionals are the first world countries that offer greener pasture. And this is what is happening today. All we need is economic freedom and more respect for individual rights. The government must deregulate to attract more investors. If we Filipinos cannot create wealth (especially the revolutionary businesses), then we must be humble enough to admit that we need foreign capitalists who are good at what they do.

In regard to the booming call center industry that is pulling away students from professional disciplines, I expect the government to decontrol and let the creators of wealth and jobs mind their own business. I also expect this government and the politicians to thank the creators of wealth and jobs and not disparage them! If the government decontrolled and respected free market principles, we wouldn’t only attract foreign capitalists who produce call center jobs, but also capitalists who specialize in other industries. This is the only way for this government to create jobs other than call center jobs. Consider the case of Intel that shut down its business due to government regulations and unfriendly corporate tax rate in this country.

The government must lower income and corporate taxes by half, if necessary, in order to attract domestic and foreign investors.”

COMMENTER: Edu Manzano is brave on stating that the call center industry is not good for the Philippines in the long run. I agree with him that the country needs scientists and engineers in order to progress in the 21st century.

I don’t think Edu Manzano is brave enough to utter what he said. I’d rather think he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

The government cannot produce scientists without any economic incentive that would encourage/inspire young people to take technical, highly specialized courses. When I say economic incentive, I mean existing industries and job-creating ventures waiting for the country’s new graduates.

Before taking on the call center industry that’s helping save our economy, you must THINK why young people are taking call center jobs. Apart from poverty, the reason for this is because most young people today see what’s happening around them. There are thousands of nursing graduates who can’t find a decent job in the Philippines because there are no job creators. They see new engineers, architects, PhDs, etc. who remain jobless because there are no job creators to offer specialized jobs.

It is not the government that helps encourage the production of new scientists, engineers, doctors, lawyers, nurses that Mr. Manzano mentioned. It is the existence (or potentiality) of new industries and job-creating ventures/businesses that would encourage young people to become what Mr. Manzano mentioned. Also, it is the existence of economic freedom that would encourage people to invest and do business.

I repeat, the only way to establish an economic incentive that would encourage young people to be engineers, architects, PhDs, etc. is to foster economic freedom and respect individual rights in this country.

I don’t have to be an economist or a PhD to understand this.

COMMENTER: Some people see education as a means to make a living, and the call center industry is, for SOME, a way to “escape” education (i.e. someone will drop out of college to work). I think he just wants to slow the call center industry down so people will “think long-term” and pursue higher learning, because abolishing the industry completely is nuts (and impossible). The idea, though flawed, is a step in the right direction with respect to making education about learning and not just getting a job. “I believe that improving our Philippine education system should involve on making it adherent to the overall economic and social developmental needs and not focus in leading graduates (or undergraduates) to jobs that will address financial security alone.

Ask yourself what improved our education system. It is the private schools and universities that served as impetus for the development of the country’s education. There is no tinge of doubt that private education is better than government rationed education. Now you might say most people can’t afford tuition fees. If the government did not issue excessive regulations and controls, there would have been free and open competition among private schools, a situation that would lower the cost of school fees. Profits give private education the incentive to develop and improve their means of instruction, facilities, methods, research, etc.

COMMENTER: I believe that an education reform that is anchored on research in solving our country’s developmental problems is needed.

It is true that good education must be anchored on research, but the government cannot do this alone unless it spends too much taxpayers’ money. Most reliable and commercially viable research and studies were produced by private schools. In the USA, most life-improving research and studies were produced by private universities, and the same is true in most developed countries like Japan, Australia, Great Britain, etc.
The best thing the government can do to improve our education system is let the private educators do their job and refrain from issuing regulatory policies and reforms.

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