Friday, March 24, 2006

Inane proposals on migrant labor

Why restrict the overseas Filipino professional? So asks this Inquirer columnist, who talks about a full page ad put out by Fair Trade Alliance. I didn't read the ad myself, but I have a pretty good idea what it would say ... and Mr. Pagalangan relates the gist of it: keep them home.

What the %^&*@#$$?!!!

The skilled Filipino worker gets paid higher wages outside. His or her well-being goes up; as a fellow Filipino this should count for something, no? Even if he or she happens to be living abroad? What is more, he or she remits income back to the Philippines, increasing the well-being of the family. So far so good.

The cost? We back home get deprived of some cheap skilled workers. Well, time to get real folks - other people overseas are willing to pay for our workers. And we pretty well have to learn to match these wages if we want to keep them here.

What about our health care, and all those "critical professions"? Same thing. It's the price system at work. You get what you pay for - whether it's food, drugs, or people. Any suppression of the price system (say, by inane regulations on overseas work), is going to backfire. Probably the regulation won't work as workers, placement agencies, and public officials themselves circumvent its obvious stupidity. Worse still, it may work - and in the medium to long term you will see fewer people investing in quality education and training. (Those prospective high wages abroad have got everything to do with all that studying!)

How about "return service"? I've got a better idea. Why subsidize all that higher education anyway? Do away with tertiary education subsidies entirely. All that money is better spent on providing quality education at the primary and secondary level. Then let the professional - who has invested in their own human capital - make their free choice about where to work.

Disclaimer: I had a brief stint abroad (in Malaysia, 2 years) doing research in an agricultural research center. I probably have a vested interest in this issue. So? The idea is still $%%^&$#!! stupid. And I'm still right.


Eu-Leh said...

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Econblogger said...

Eu - leh,

Thanks for the kind words. Checked out your site, and looks very informative. Gives me an idea or two...

Anonymous said...


Love your site! I put it into my faves and will probably visit it more often so I could be updated with the Philippine Economy. Keep it up.

J from Philadelphia

Palacpac said...

Unless the "keep them home" faction can quantify the net loss of "losing" a filipino professional versus the remittance gains (easily quantifiable)resulting from the OFW working abroad, their argument stands on thin air -- they got nothing.