The reduction of the public space

This week, we talked about neoliberalism in Professor Arocha’s session. I must say I enjoyed that one a lot. He started by asking us to share the two things that immediately come to our minds when we hear the word neoliberalism. We all said different yet very connected things: McDonald’s, free trade, globalization, etc.. What was so fascinating to me was even though the majority of the words were very linked, not all of them linked in a positive relationship. In fact, Professor Arocha highlighted the irony of neoliberalism. He was very good at making us understand this concept.


In addition, he highlighted the dangers of the reduction of the public space. This caught my attention because this is a phenomenon that has been bothering me for quite a while now. Learning from our biggest teacher (the United States), my country the Philippines is also highly privatized. There is an understood convention that everything private is better and public is bad or substandard. This is not a lie at all. Abundant evidence shows that properties and facilities that are managed privately are managed better, staffed better, and almost everything better. Meanwhile, the public system that is relying on corrupt politicians and a poor society for taxes can barely compete. However, this causes multiples problems to our society. It excludes plenty of our low-income people because of the high prices of the goods and services. It removes the focus on improving the quality of public infrastructure because the people who have the power to complain, considering that filing a complaint signifies a long, costly bureaucratic process, would rather just pay to private companies that deal with the public system. Also, it changes the responsibility of the government. The system is now serving the businesses through protecting their private property rights. This is not completely bad. It becomes bad when this is done at the expense of the public. When this happens, how do we respond?


This question of public vs. private is very important to ask and reflect on. Let’s all think about it.