Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Cost of Change. How much are you Willing to Invest?

Let us talk numbers this time. How much do you think you need to be able to definitively change the country’s course? Let us list four of the ‘how’s’ one can effect change, the size of change each ‘how’ could accomplish, the probability of success say in 10 years for each ‘how’ and compare the costs:

1. Be President. If you are President of the country, you definitely have a great chance to change the country’s course. Problem is, you cannot go one day and declare yourself President. So you have to start politicking right now and get yourself noticed, that is if you have the talent to do that. You may start as a local politician and then work your way up to be Senator, which is the best jumping board to becoming President. Or you may start becoming an actor. Aim to be an action star or a drama queen and be a box office champion for many years. Whatever you do, you still need a huge pot of campaign money in the end. But whatever amount of money (say P5B) you have, you still are not sure if it will get you somewhere. There is still a great chance that after spending a great fortune you still end up not being President. (Or instead of being President, you can make someone whom you can control President. However, the investment and chance of success is still the same.)
Solution proposed: Be President
If successful, chance for Change: Great
Chance of Success: Small
Investment required: PhP5B upwards
2. Change the Charter. Looking at the problems of the country leads many people to conclude that changing the constitution is the best way to go. With the kind of faulty elections we have and the faulty leaders we produce every three (or less) years, the only viable conclusion one can have is either change the rules of the game or change the game altogether. However, the choices one can take on how one can change the charter are few and expensive. In order to do it, you need to control the majority of congress (who has the power to initiate the change), and get the support of the mainstream media (who has the power to make the changes acceptable to the people). And we all know what moves congress: Pork Barrel. You therefore have to match that (at least P10B). You also have to push your cause to the mainstream via mass media costing you perhaps a couple of billions more. Still, your chance of success is small considering that people against your brand of change can match you peso per peso just to oppose you. Worse, your opponents are using money that is not even theirs (most probably tax money).
Solution proposed: Change the Charter
If successful, chance of Change: Great
Chance of Success: Small
Investment required: PhP10B upwards
3. Promote Change via FB. It is said that FaceBook (or Twitter, or the Internet as a whole) is a revolutionary way of communicating with others. Still, many are looking into its possibility as an effective way to launch a revolution (change) by influencing others. Promoting change via the internet virtually requires and costs nothing. And the best part is, you can just be about anyone and anywhere to promote change. As long as you can type on a keyboard and have some wonderful solutions (you think), you can immediately start your grand quest for a better country. Unfortunately, the same accessibility to the internet that you have is the same factor that works against you. On FaceBook for example, there are virtually thousands if not millions of people like you with thousands if not millions of ideas that are not necessarily like yours that you have to compete with. Worse, people against you can work with trolls (i.e. people who disrupt internet forums by posting irrelevant arguments and messages) or be trolls themselves or even employ spammers to sabotage and cancel your efforts, making your chance of success limited if not totally nil.
Solution proposed: Promote Change via FB
If successful, chance of Change: Not applicable, virtually no chance of success
Chance of Success: Virtually zero
Investment required: Virtually zero
4. Compete in the Mass Media. Another solution which mostly everyone ignores is changing the country by competing in the mass media. If people would just look at all the problems of the country, everyone will see that all the problems would not have happened if only the mass media has been doing its job properly. Let us take corruption for example: had the mass media been not corrupt themselves, they would have exposed anomalies before, during and after they are made, making sure they don’t happen again. Let us take the problem of our faulty elections: had the mass media been fair, we would have gotten better leaders with better solutions. Let us take poverty: had the mass media focused our leaders and everyone’s attention on the economy, we would have less poor people and more people with higher paying jobs locally. In fact, all the three solutions mentioned above would benefit much with the help of a fair and popular mass media entity. And the best part is, when you compete in the mass media, you can even make a profit. If you take into consideration that many people are frustrated in the state of the country as a whole and the state of the mainstream mass media in particular, a fair, honest and professional new player can easily acquire audience, audience that would all want this country changed. And in order to affect change, the mass media entity should simply be airing in a popular even in a less expensive medium such as radio, as long as that medium affords you the capability to address and question government officials directly and live in front of a number of audiences. Last time I heard, one can gain control of a popular FM radio station for about Php250M. Or, if that is too expensive, one can go on air on primetime in a popular AM station for merely Php20K per hour. And in the unlikely case you fail in changing the country, you can just settle with the extra money (profit) you gained in running the venture. On the other hand, if you succeed, you can use that success to even produce more programs and acquire more media stations, even newspapers, and effect change some more.
Solution proposed: Compete in the Mass media
If successful, chance of Change: High to Great
Chance of Success: Better
Investment Required: Php20K/hour to Php250M, depending on the chance for change wished.

It is obvious from the above that if we really want change in this country the best way to go is to compete in the Mass Media. No, don’t get me wrong. I do not oppose any of the solutions stated above. In fact I am always in the lookout for good leaders to support in the next elections. Meanwhile, the promotion of changing the charter is one of those advocacies I support and honestly believe in. And, I always check my Facebook and Twitter for any new ideas out there. However, from a businessman’s (such as I usually pretend to be) point of view, I think it is obvious that we have to compete first in the mass media even before we think of solving any of our problems. To me it is very clear that this is a necessary step. For we simply cannot swim where there is no water. We simply cannot breathe where there is no air.