We left a resort in Candelaria Sunday. The drive back to my Lola’s home in Quezon City took hours. I saw rows of shanty houses from the car window. The most run-down are made of cinder blocks with tin roofs. It seems like there are few homeless because the very poor are able to squat on other people’s property. In this way poorly enforced property rights are a benefit to the poor. But they are also a symptom of an ineffective government. Enforcing property rights is the most basic role of government. A government that fails at this basic function likely can’t provide welfare or effectively collect taxes.
I’m not sure what can be done to help the Philippines.I need to learn more about the country. But part of me thinks it’s a lost cause, that maybe the best thing people can do is leave. That’s what my parents did. Leaving thePhilippines might be the most economically beneficial thing they did for us. They likely raised our potential incomes and standards of living by a greater degree than we did by attending college. If only it were possible for everyone.