“POOREST AMONG THE POOR”: ‘MANTRA’ POLITICS

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By Joey Natividad

“Poorest among the poor” has become the most used and abused cliche’ by bureaucrats and politicians in order that more money can be squeezed from the national treasury.

The words “poorest among the poor” have turned into a “mantra”, their mere utterances by repetition on the “whereas” clauses can already unlock the treasury vaults.

There is much mystique behind the “poorest among the poor” than the generalized usage of “poor”.

But, that “mystique” vanishes when the “poorest among the poor” start demanding their dues, whom the bureaucrats and politicians are inclined to deny them, except for crumbs already allotted for them.

This is the cliche’ that has glazed the “social amelioration package” making its objective “noble” that would calm down the social discontent already brewing on the streets.

But, poverty survivors have known there is a wide gap between the “poorest” and the “poor”, also the gap between the urban poor and rural poor.

For instance, the “urban poor” are highly vulnerable when there are turbulences affecting their stomachs and incomes, while the rural poor can manifest resiliency amid the lockdown owing to their backyard animal-raising, vegetable gardens, small lots planted with food crops – these things the urban poor do not have.

The rural poor can still manage their food security from animal-raising and small farms, while the lockdown disables the capability of the urban poor to produce their own food when there are work shutdowns, lost income and unemployment, and the strong order to stay home amid threats of penalty if quarantine measures are violated.

The “poor” in general can be quantified by their monthly income, but the statistics are deceiving that they may be employed on contractual basis, below minimum wage, or a wage rate a little bit higher, but its end-of-contract period may extend for several weeks without jobs.

The “poor” are close cousins of the “lower middle class” who easily slide down toward the “poor rank” when the economy takes a downturn.

In normal times, the “lower middle class” work so hard to keep themselves afloat, maintaining their dignified “middle class” status, despite being lower, rather than slide down at the level of the “poor”.

These are the favorite target sectors by politicians, technocrats, and bureaucrats who want to dip their hands into the national treasury by justifying the much-repeated phrase “urgency of the situation to address the needs of the poor and the poorest among the poor”.

It is fair game among the states men to use the “poor” as excuse or justifications to adorn the objectives of their development programs as to make their programs “pro-poor”, the perfect mantra to open the vaults of the national treasury.

By crafting development programs, the middle class, the rich are ignored in the justifications, but in the final end, these affluent social classes benefit more from these government programs, while the poor will be cast aside temporarily, to be used again as “justification” for the next program-development cycle.

For the bureaucrats, politicians, and technocrats, the “poor and the poorest among the poor” shall be maintained at their level, never to be alleviated since they are needed as target justifications in the next cycle of project developments to be cooked up yearly.

For them, the poor sectors are needed, to be used as mantras to open up the national treasury for more funding.

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