Scarcity of Rice

25 Jan
English: Coat of arms of the Philippines

English: Coat of arms of the Philippines (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There is something so important about rice to me.  It is how I was brought up, and I’ve eaten it with more than half my meals.  It symbolizes fertility and wealth.  I can’t go a week without it.  It explains my culture in so many ways.  The rice cooker is nearly synonymous with being a Filipino.  The Philippines used to be an exporter of rice and may soon be again, but it is importing it in the meantime.

I became nostalgic about the power that rice gave the Philippines in the past from the NPR‘s Planet Money How Fear Turned a Surplus into a Scarcity.  The Philippines, like so many other South East Asian countries, were on the same level in terms of national economies, GDP, per capita income, GINI index, and other economic statistics.  Now, the Philippines is is woefully behind a lot of the other nations surrounding it such China, Singapore, Thailand, South Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Japan.  It was WWII that basically started the separation of those nations in which one group is vaulting to, or has reached, 1st-world status, and those that have been left behind, in which the Philippines is unfortunately in the latter group.  Rice has tracked the Philippine economy and global status pretty well, with the exportation of rice at approximately the lowest time of the Philippines (Marcos’ dictatorship/presidency).

I’ve said it before that I wish the Philippines become the 49th state of the United States in the 1940s.  They didn’t join because they were colonized by the Spanish, the US, and then by the Japanese.  I’m glad that they were able to fight their way to become independent.  But it is still sad that they are referred to as a 3rd world country, which I know they are.  It looks like they’re getting better in a lot of respects, but the Philippines has a long way to go.  The politicians are still very corrupt, they lack the infrastructure to support their massive population, and they are not as globally recognized in nearly all respects.

I hope the Philippines will be able to join the global elite and really turn their scarcity, both of rice and of everything else, into a surplus.

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Boris Shor, PhD

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