Sunday, May 15

The New New Poor

The latest quality of life surveys show a huge discrepancy is the perception of reality of who really is counted among the nation's poor people. According to the government's own tally, only 24.7% of the population can be counted as poor as opposed to the 70% in Pulse Asia's headcount.

Interesting findings include how the poor are actually self-reliant, but also irresponsible: they don't count on the government to make their lives easier anymore. They actually strive to find jobs, make ends meet, and sincerely believe that education is still a way out of the rut they've been in for generations on end.

Newsbreak proposes that the real news is the loss of faith--both in the government and well, faith in general. "Prayer has declined as a coping mechanism," and that icon of prayer former president Cory Aquino also declares, “My fear is that many of our impoverished countrymen are fast losing faith in government.”

The measurement of faith (of whatever kind) perhaps can't be clearly mitigated by using absolute means. Thus, the new barometer that Pulse Asia uses to measure poverty, the Consumption Adequacy Score or CAS, relies mostly on perception-based poverty indicators anchored on self-reported adequacy of families’ consumption of food, clothing, medicine, house, and money for school. This is computed quarterly, which allows for frequent shifts in inflation, economic or political instability.

Ana Tabunda, Pulse Asia executive director, explains the advantages of using CAS: "[I]t captures a sense of relative deprivation that is not captured by absolute measures of poverty." At the current CAS rate of 74.8%, even if the number of families who claim they are now less hungry has declined, the number is still alarming enough. Sure, not a lot of people eat maggots for dinner now, but the question still remains. Until when can we keep ourselves afloat?

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