No shortcuts

By: Reyshimar Arguelles

WEALTH appalls me, but I won’t mind winning a hundred million pesos from the lottery. With that much cash, I could finally afford the joys of a simple life: a sisig factory for my own personal satisfaction and a lifetime supply of the sourest gummy candies.

Why would I spend all that money on Gucci bags and a mansion in the middle of a gated community anyway? To be affluent doesn’t mean you have to wear the most expensive threads and eat wherever rich people spend their late evening bouts of debauchery. One can only take in so much senseless trifle to know what true happiness actually entails.

Seriously, no amount of wealth will ever satisfy a person. Then again, many people have valid reasons for getting rich. Chief among these is a desire to escape from one’s debtors and become so financially independent you won’t have to lift a finger just so you could buy another asinine product from Apple.

Considering you’re in a country where you have to struggle just to live decently, the pursuit of wealth becomes an accepted fact of life in a country where severe income inequality worsens year by year. This is aptly demonstrated by a mass media that continues to view poverty as a dramatic trope rather than as a complex real-world problem requiring radical solutions.

But we shouldn’t blame ourselves for drawing out value in TV shows that package indigence as something independent of the actual forces maintaining it. It’s the system itself that makes poverty acceptable and forces us into believing the issue to be a personal malady.

The result of this is that we look for creative ways to escape the economic situation we’re in. No concept captures this more profoundly like the Filipino impulse to find a diskarte, a clever way out of the problems we find ourselves in. And no doubt, this impulse is what pushes us into “get rich quick” schemes where you can amass a fortune the easiest (but obviously the most unconventional) way possible.

Perhaps, politicians are a great example of people who apply this mode of thinking by using public service as a conduit for corruption. The same goes for the contractors who employ whatever shady means necessary to win contracts in spite of rigorous procurement processes. After all, working hard is pointless so long as there’s a less tedious way of doing things. Why work your butt off when you could use your brains to get easy cash?

If only things were that easy. We see ordinary citizens use this logic to make investment decisions out of impulse without so much as reading the fine print on the contracts they unwittingly sign. But who wouldn’t want to earn as much as P500,000 in a month and out of a meager initial investment? If you’re someone who believes in all the rags-to-riches stories permeating our TV sets, you might want to jump on any opportunity to earn your first million.

Surely, this has allowed investment scams to flourish. Themselves believing in the “get rich quick” mantra, the hustlers operating these scams would end up looting people drawn to the promise of high returns. The pursuit leads ultimately lead to a trap that renders people even more miserable.

Recently, the government has been very keen on a crackdown on such companies that operate a flimsy and unstable investment model. Acting on complaints from people supposedly duped by Southern Mindanao-based investment scheme Kapa, President Duterte wants an immediate stop to similar companies whom he accuses of taking part in “syndicated estafa.”

Who knows how many more of these investment schemes are operating under the noses of the Securities and Exchange Commission and who knows how many more people have fallen to outrageous claims of instant wealth.

But what we know for sure is that the pursuit for wealth and investment scams like Kapa are nothing short of being conditions of a system anchored on consumption and accumulation. There are no shortcuts after all as we live under conditions that necessitate the exploitation and manipulation.