Palmes-Dennis: Gov't should help citizens become self-reliant

Susan Palmes-Dennis

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina -- Why do many people like me think that politics is the reason why citizens are more dependent on the government? This is true not only in the US but in the Philippines, my country of birth.

But at least in the Philippines, dependence on the government is more attributed to lack of opportunities caused by politicking.

These thoughts came to mind when I heard from Rogelio Lawsin, a good friend of ours here in Charlotte and a financial advisor of Premirica.

My husband Ronnie and Ro were in deep conversation about what’s happening in the US political scene while I was having chemotherapy last week and it caught my attention and keep me thinking.

It's the reality of the times. Politics is not only in the Philippines where we have patronage politics but in other under-developed countries especially and even in my adoptive country. Yes, it is true.

Politics as per Greek definition means “of, for, or relating to citizens involves the process of making decisions applying to all members of each group or organized control over a human community.”

Through the years it is very often said that politics is about power. Maybe that is why those who want to wield power want to enter politics. And many want to stay in power and pass it on as an inheritance to their family.

That's why political or public office had become an enterprise and politics is now becoming the problem as people in power want to make citizens their subjects and in the process making them dependent on them and the government they run.

Ideally, all governments should strive to make citizens less dependent and citizens to be independent and carve their future in whatever way they want in life. The government is like the parents to a family.

My previous work before coming here is where I learned that politics is the culprit on why people are at times lazy. Inhabitants are too reliant on government dole outs that they see as like manna from heaven especially during election time or when the election period comes near.

People refuse to work at times when opportunities are limited or when dole outs are given or being promised to them.

I recall during my radio or TV program days that listeners would ask me for help by giving them referrals to hospitals or any government agencies. At first I would ask the top honcho to solve the problem but later I realized that the easiest way to solve the problem is to ask the politicians.

I was reminded of the Piso-Piso program in Cagayan de Oro City where citizens were led to believe that they owned the property where they live because they possessed a paper signed by an elected official.

Of course that was a classic example of patronage politics. And because they need a place which they can call their own the residents held on to these pieces of paper for dear life.

For those in the know, they would just shrug and say that the paper was not proof of ownership. Mayne their possession of the land for many years can revert to ownership but not in their lifetime, maybe in the next generation.

I am pleased that under the administration of Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno, the Piso-Piso program had been corrected with former city councilor Edgar Cabanlas distributing real land titles.

That is good politics because the beneficiaries are not beholden to anyone even to those who gave the titles to them because they could not be ejected.

That is where former mayor Vicente Emano made the mistake. He and his administration didn't work on processing the real titles. The piso-piso program was a good idea only it should have been worked out and fulfilled its end goal to provide housing for the poor.

A noble idea but one that got sidetracked by patronage politics. Going back to my premise that politics is the reason why people are too much dependent on the government.

In the US, it's actually far different. Here there are available resources everywhere. There is state and federal government, non-government organizations (NGOs) foundations, businesses and even churches

That's why a lot of people want to go to the US because of the prospects. But the US is facing a lot of problems brought by a lot of factors including politics.

The fight between the left and the right coupled with the media makes it hard to resolve issues and concerns and it is complicated by politics. Everything revolves around government. Only a few control everything.

It is more on the belief that the bigger government can solve the problems. The intention is good but the problem is it is being used to perpetuate the wrong people in power.
To my mind it is a tyranny of good intentions and it disables a citizen’s self-determination and undermines values especially personal responsibility.

I venture to say that most believe that if government gives people adequate income, food, and shelter, then they are doing a good thing. But people are not pets and by making these decisions for the people, we strip them of their self-reliance and independence.


I wish an enjoyable vacation for my friend Marilyn “Dats” Cabeltes Norville and her husband Kenneth in Cagayan de Oro City, the City of Golden Friendship.

Both are residents of Charlotte, North Carolina and are visiting Cagayan de Oro to escape the cold winter.

Marilyn had been here in NC for more than 20 years. But of course she always loved her old home at 12th Street Barangay Nazareth in Cagayan de Oro.

She is a high school graduate of the former Cagayan Capitol College now known as Capitol University and graduated AB Economics from Xavier University. Enjoy the vacation Dats and tell everyone in CDO that I said hi.

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