Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Pol. Ideology 20: Liberalism and the Squatters

(This is my article today in thelobbyist.biz with original title, Squatters, land reform and liberalism)

Squatting or settling illegally on land that people do not own or lease, is violation of private property rights. Land reform and forced land redistribution without timetable, is another violation of private property rights. Liberalism is the philosophy that focuses on individual liberty, rule of law and private property rights.

Early last week, there was a news report, Aquino plans massive relocation of squatters. It reported that:
President Beigno Aquino III said late Saturday more than half a million squatter families in Metro Manila will be relocated and receive two hectares of farm land each under his administration’s program on illegal settlers.

He said the government had identified some 1.5 million hectares of farm land that could be distributed to an initial 560,000 squatter families in Metro Manila in a bid to decongest the capital and improve agricultural production nationwide.

 “The Department of Agriculture and the Department of Environment inventory shows we can lend, lease or give two hectares of land per indigent family provided they cultivate agricultural crops, develop, and earn from the land they will live on.

“If they fail to stick to these conditions, the land will be taken from them.”

If this plan will push through, there are several negative implications.

One, it pays to become an illegal settler. By living on other people’s private land, you will be rewarded with land up to two hectares that can become yours. Even ordinary employees cannot afford to buy such huge area of land.

Two, for agribusinessmen and women, the threat of forced land redistribution with no timetable will remain. From former President Cory Aquino’s CARP law of 1998 that was supposed to end in 1998, it was extended to 2008, and further extended to 2013. Looks like it will be re-extended to 2018, or longer. The number of squatters nationwide is rising, not declining. So more private lands will be subjected to forced land redistribution in the next few years to be given to the squatters.

Three, not all squatters are former farmers or have the heart in farming. What can happen is that upon getting the land title or similar proof of ownership or lease, some squatter beneficiaries can sell or transfer the right to use such land to other people, get the money and squat again in other cities, then hope that the existing and the next administrations will give them new subsidies and entitlements.

Four, the spend and spend, borrow and borrow and later, tax and tax policy will continue. Giving away land for free or at highly subsidized price, then provision of various farm and marketing support to land beneficiaries, is a costly and expensive program.

And five, liberalism and (classic) liberal philosophy that are supposed to be implemented by the President and his team who come from the Liberty Party, will be sidelined further, if not forgotten.

One of the big burdens and baggage of the Philippine economy and society is the lack of strict promulgation of the rule of law, of securing private property rights like land. Many people and businessmen will be hesitant to develop certain lands into long-term agribusiness projects because the “land reform with no timetable” will be haunting them for several years more to come.

Liberalism is supposed to be the main philosophy and guiding principle by the current administration that will help shape public policy. But as things unfold, real liberalism is being pushed to the margins while statism and near-socialist policies take center stage.

Let us hope that there will be awakening in the minds of key LP leaders. That LP stands for liberalism and individual liberty, not statism or socialism.

On "No taxes, No Government"

This is among the common misconception, honest or deliberate. that some people, academics and consultants, NGO leaders included, would portray someone who advocates minimal and limited government. Personally, I have NEVER advocated that, and I do not believe in anarchy or zero government.

Government is necessary, I wrote several times, on certain functions. I believe in BIG government -- to run after killers, murderers, thieves, rapists, terrorists, bombers, kidnappers, carnappers, land-grabbers, other criminals, especially the organized and well-armed gangs.

Thus, we need taxes to finance government to perform such function, to promulgate the rule of law, to protect private property rights, and citizens' right to life against aggression. 

But we need no taxes for government to over-regulate entrepreneurship and job creation. We need no taxes to create and expand various bureaucracies that do nothing but make the life of job creators more difficult and more miserable.

"No taxes, no government, no subsidies" is a classic paranoid reply by many people who do not understand or appreciate the philosophy of more personal responsibility, more individual freedom, limited government and free markets.

Someone redefined the excise tax as a tax on goods where "the source is scarce or expensive". This is wrong. If this is correct, then the government should also slap medicines, medical equipment, construction and housing materials, others with excise tax. These are "necessary product/s, but we do not produce it out of thin air."

See also
Pol. Ideology 14: Liberalism, Democratism and Coercion, January 18, 2010
Pol. Ideology 15: Socialism, Conservatism and Liberalism, March 08, 2010
Pol. Ideology 16: Liberalism and Social Opportunity, July 29, 2010
Pol. Ideology 17: The LP and the Philippine President, November 03, 2010
Pol. Ideology 18: John Lennon and Liberty, Purpose of the Law, December 15, 2010
Pol. Ideology 19: What is the Role of Government?, March 08, 2011

1 comment:

leojin said...

What our underprivilege kababayan needs are jobs and the appropriate learning curb on how to acquire their own property through hard work instead of giving them free rides. The government will lease 1.5 million hectares and make a concessions with the recipients. What is this another brilliant advice from WB and IMF to justify another grant of loan that could sink us deeper into oblivion?