Sunday, April 22, 2007

Ideas Worth Spreading: Political Triage

Many believe that the Philippines faces myriad of problems. We can rattle it all off at the top of our heads: Graft, Corruption, Education, lack of Basic services such as clean water, electricity, housing. We can also add to that list the absence of adequate healthcare, weakened political institutions, mediocre economic performance, population explosion, just to name a few. It is very easy to understand in the face of these challenges, a lot are daunted by the sheer magnitude of our national problems. While we may also argue that these are nothing, most especially when compared to say the problems that Africa for instance, faces: after 20 years of restoring democracy, Filipinos question, why have we not done more?

Economist Bjorn Lomborg in his TEDTalk asked this question: Given $50 billion to spend, which would you solve first, AIDS or global warming? Now you might say, what has this got to do with us? We neither have US$50 billion, we don't have that much problem with AIDS (or do we?), our economy is the top priority over concerns about global warming, what has Bjorn Lomborg said that we should listen to?

Simply put Bjorn Lomborg said that given unlimited resources, certainly we have to fight AIDS, we have to fight global warming, we have to fight Malaria. But in a World where resources are scarce: we need to prioritize, which ones are we going to solve first to make the greatest good.

Bjorn Lomborg is not saying, Climate Change isn't important. He is saying that curing Malaria, ensuring Free Trade, fighting off AIDS will do far more impact right here, right now than those people in 2100 who will undoubtedly suffer from the effects of Climate Change. He is saying that if we build our economy now, it isn't some poor Bangladeshi who will feel the effects of Global Warming, but a more well off one.

Here's the video of his talk:

In a word, Bjorn Lomborg advocates: triage.

Whether you agree with Bjorn Lomborg or not. He does have a point.

Doctors are familiar with triage. In war or some disaster where there are many patients and not enough doctors and/or resources: you pick the patients that you can help the most. It is gut wrenching. it is what some people would say "evil", but we've got to pick and choose which ones to fight, make the most impact.

It's sort of like battlefield tactics: hit-strike-kill-move on.

This style also has its benefits in that as we tackle those problems that we can resolve, right here, right now: we learn new strategies and new tactics and gain new insights and strength that may help us solve the other pressing issues of our time (but more on that in subsequent posts).

This is what it means for Filipinos. Given our own limited resources, maybe it is time for us to consider, which ones are we going to choose first to accomplish. of the long myriad problems facing our nation, isn't it the moment for us to be serious about making a dent in it? What should we prioritize? Let's get serious: it is time for Political Triage. Given our limited resources, what issue do you think we should solve first?


MLQ3 said...

i believe some local politicians have been talking about this for some time, esp. mar roxas.

Cocoy said...

that's excellent to hear!

cvj said...

Kind of hard to operationalize triage in an environment of 'Tim Yap-style' conspicuous consumption.

Cocoy said...

cvj, you have impeccable timing! look at my post today for an answer to your comment.