Tuesday, July 28, 2009

State of the Hungry

Last night's HBO movie PU-239 begins with the following joke about Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev’s program of economic reform and restructuring:

Two dogs meet on the street in Moscow. The first dog says, "How are things different for you with Perestroika?" The second dog says, "Well, the chain is still too short, and the food dish is still too far away...but now we are allowed to bark as much as we want."
President GMA's SONA 2009 is impressive, and looks like a sure winner - at least for an oratorical contest.

A sampler from GMA's SONA:

"The next generation will also benefit from our lower public debt to GDP ratio. It declined from 78% in 2000 to 55% in 2008. We cut in half the debt of government corporations from 15% to 7. Likewise foreign debt from 73% to 32%....Since then, our economy has posted uninterrupted growth for 33 quarters; more than doubled its size from $76 billion to $186 billion. The average GDP growth from 2001 to the first quarter of 2009 is the highest in 43 years...Our administration, with the highest average rate of growth, recording multiple increases in investments, with the largest job creation in history, and which gets a credit upgrade at the height of a world recession, must be doing something right, even if some of those cocooned in corporate privilege refuse to recognize it....Governance, however, is not about looking back and getting even. It is about looking forward and giving more—to the people who gave us the greatest, hardest gift of all: the care of a country."

CBCP president Angel Lagdameo however, is not impressed:

“The state of the nation should also be looked at from the experiences and eyes of the remaining millions who are still suffering from hunger, illiteracy, unemployment, homelessness and sickness. This would balance the picture. They were outside the Sona site,...Arroyo spoke of macro-level statistics which most do not understand.".

Incidentally, on the day that President GMA delivered her ninth (and last?) SONA, the SWS releases new and most recent data on their hunger survey.

* Second Quarter 2009 Social Weather Survey:
* Hunger rises to 20.3% of families;
* Moderate Hunger is 16.0%, Severe Hunger is 4.3%

The Second Quarter 2009 Social Weather Survey, fielded over June 19-22, 2009, found the proportion of families experiencing involuntary hunger at least once in the past three months rising to 20.3% or an estimated 3.7 million families, from 15.5% or an estimated 2.9 million families in the previous quarter.

The new Hunger figure is just 3 points lower than the record-high 23.7% (or estimated 4.3 million families) in December 2008, and is 8 points above the ten-year average of 12.8%.

Hunger has consistently been in double-digits for five years, since June 2004.

The SWS measure of Hunger refers to involuntary suffering because the respondents answer a survey question that specifies hunger due to lack of anything to eat.

It is ironic that on the day the president talked about glowing achievements in the economy and welfare of the people, the people themselves spoke and said hunger rose to 20.3% -- just 3 points lower than the all-time record high.

Still, the masses suffering from involuntary hunger can perhaps bark all they want. Not too loudly I suppose, lest they involuntarily disappear.

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