The final solution

“It is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.” – Abraham Maslow

Mama gave her 12 year old child a laptop because he needs it for school. One day she catches him watching porn. She freaks. So she installs all sorts of parental controls in the laptop. But the kid is a horny techie and breaks through mama’s walls easily.

Mama catches the kid again. This time she is super freaked and takes the laptop away.

“Absolutely no more internet for you until you are 18,” she says.

“But I need it for school, mama.”

“Not anymore,” she replies, “I’m moving you to another high school where they don’t use the internet.”

“You’re moving me to Flintstones High?”

“Yes, because as far as I’m concerned that’s the only way to keep you away from porn,” she said with finality.

Later that evening mama is watching the news and she learns about Janet Napoles. She is aghast.

“My God! Those crooks should be jailed!”

Cynical papa who is sitting beside her on the couch replies, “Honey, you can jail those crooks but others will just take their place.”

“But we cannot tolerate corruption. We have to do something,” she protests.

Papa replies, “You could ask the government to put in stricter controls.”

“Good idea,” she says.

She gathered her friends the following day.

“I’m sure you saw the news. You must be as outraged as I am by the Napoles scam,” she said.

“Yes, how awful,” they replied. “We have to do something about it. We can’t have our children growing up in that kind of world.”

Someone stood up and said, “Let’s make our voices heard. Let’s march. Let’s call for plugging the leaks and jailing the crooks.” And they all began to chant, “Plug the leaks, plug the leaks, jail the crooks, jail the crooks.”

The problems of the world were solved and they all went home happy. Over dinner, mama told papa about the meeting.

“But you’ve been overtaken by events,” he said

“What do you mean?” she asked.

“The administration announced it is adding stricter controls,” he told her.

“That’s great news!” she exclaimed.

He replied, “I hate to be the one to tell you this but I’m pretty sure crooks will still find a way to get their hands on the money.”

Mama was appalled. She called another meeting to tell her friends the ugly reality she learned from papa.

“It seems that we can’t eliminate stealing just like that,” she told them.

“What do we do now?” they asked each other.

“We need to learn more about the issue,” one observed.

“Let’s invite experts to explain it to us,” another proposed.

And so experts were invited to a series of merienda lectures. Scholars from academe, political analysts, economists, lawyers, politicians, clerics, business and civil society leaders, communists, columnists, and anybody who had an opinion on anything showed up. And they lectured. And they ate. Between bites, one said this, the other said that, and on and on and on. There were so many opinions expressed and so many nuances pointed out that no one came out any wiser, only fatter from gorging on too many meriendas.

Halfway through the merienda lecture series, mama told her group, “No more lectures! I have a simple solution. Let’s just take away the money!”

“That’s right!” the group replied. And they began to chant, “Take away the money! Take away the money!”

At long last the final solution to the problem of corruption was found. Take away the money. Everyone would be going home happy and self-satisfied. And then it happened.

There is always, in any gathering, someone who has to say the most uncomfortable thing at the worst possible time. She said, “Take away the money, take away the laptop. That’s how we solve problems?”

Manuel Buencamino

Buencamino was a weekly columnist for Today and Business Mirror. He has also written articles in other publications like Malaya, Newsbreak, "Yellow Pad" in Business World, and "Talk of the Town" in the Inquirer. He is currently with Interaksyon, the news site of TV5. MB blogged for Filipino Voices, blogs for ProPinoy and maintains a blog, Uniffors.com. Game-changers for him, as far as music goes, are Monk, Miles, Jimi, and Santana.

  • GabbyBD

    I like it. but if i may suggest an even better way to present the analogy.

    i think its inaccurate to have a 12 year old and a mother. the problem is a child can be expected to develop good habits that persist unto adulthood. this leads to the fact that the state controlling what a child views is important.

    on the other hand, its not clear that the politicians (allegorical child) here are expected to change in the same time frame. further, the mother in this case, doesnt hold the same power.

    perhaps a better one, and a bit soap operaish, would be a battered woman in an abusive relationship with her manic-depresive alcoholic husband.

    • manuelbuencamino

      Pwede din but we live in a matriarchal society and the anti-pork movement looks at politicians like they need a spanking.

      Actually my point was simplistic solutions are solutions at all.

      • manuelbuencamino

        Correction: Actually my point was simplistic solutions are NOT solutions at all.

      • GabbyBD

        oh yeah, i got your point. i merely suggested an analogy that fits their reality counterparts better.

  • UPnnGrd

    Malakaniyang, of course, says Filipinos should listen instead to President Noynoy. President Noynoy : “I am not a crook!!!”, he exclaims.