Monday, February 06, 2006

Blaming poverty

The recent crowd disaster at the Philsport (aka the ULTRA) in Pasig City, Metro Manila was tragic. My condolences to the families of the victims.

Some of the usual suspects have blamed the disaster on poverty. Given that they were poor, sure, the prizes up for grabs attracted a big crowd of them. In this shallow sense, the attribution is correct. However there were many other necessary conditions for such a disaster to materialize. Remove one, and it all passes by as just another show at the ULTRA.

The most glaring necessary condition was the absence of adequate crowd control measures. Hence, the responsibility falls squarely on the shoulders of those tasked to enforce crowd control, and those who are in the authority over them.

Poverty is an age-old problem in the country and will continue to be so in the foreseeable future. Everybody knows this, for heaven's sake. One cannot eliminate poverty just like that. But one can put adequate crowd control measures, just like that.

The reality folks is that nobody is to blame for "poverty". Yes, someone is to blame for specific acts that abuse the poor. But nobody is responsible for poverty in toto, anymore than anyone is responsible for GDP growth. Blaming poverty is a useless exercise. But focusing on adequate crowd control is useful, meaningful, and necessary, because crowds will emerge under any circumstance, in countries rich, poor, or middling. We should not exploit this disaster to gain publicity, or worse, flaunt our own political agenda.

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