Wheels & more -- Motoring quarterly
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The poor middle class

They caused a stir in the beginning, but now the likes of Uber and GrabCar are becoming more popular alternatives to traditional means of transportation.

They use the Internet and Global Positioning System technology to get a passenger a car from point A to point B, with a known driver and vehicle plate number, and a determined fee based on the distance between the two points plus a little more.

The drivers are normally owners of the vehicles they drive and are normally friendly, courteous, and safe.

It’s an angry shoutout to the collective taxi drivers from our past who refused to take us in when we need a ride the most; complained and grumbled about our destination; expressed bewilderment at the heavy traffic here as though it were the passengers’ fault; demanded additional fees even before you set foot inside their cabs; take crazy routes to your destination to throw you off guard; displayed rude, boorish behavior; and made their passengers smell weird chemicals so they could steal from and even rape them.

And it’s not like we’re asking them for free rides. We’re willing to pay even if the fare would eat up a considerable portion of our budget for the day.

After all, that’s still better than subjecting yourself, twice a day, to the dehumanizing experience that is taking the Metro Rail Transit-3.

The poor middle class, who have to plod through day after day of working to earn a living, suffer the inadequacies of our nation the most.

The poor are taken care of by the conditional cash transfer program, for instance. It has been argued many times that the practice breeds only mendicancy and a misplaced gratitude to the disbursing agency/ administration when in fact these are public funds to begin with.

The poor, too, are coddled by local politicians recognizing their voting power. Legitimate landowners walk on eggshells evicting them from their property because they, especially the so-called professional squatters, sometimes put up violent protests when their shanties are demolished. 

At the other end of the spectrum, you have the rich and the elite.

They, too, do not have to suffer the everyday hassles that the ordinary commuting/ motoring public has to endure. But of course! Their vehicles are chauffeured and sometimes they even hop from place to place on board a helicopter. That, or their own people go to where they are.

Sure, they pay taxes, they tell their executives to undergo corporate social responsibility activities and join hands with the government for some partnership. But who’s to say they are paying the right taxes?  Who’s to say that their labor practices are just?

That leaves the workhorses of the economy - the middle class - torn in the middle, enjoying little of the benefits and more of the hassles.

It’s not just the daily travails of going to and from their workplaces. It’s the oppressive taxes, disproportionate to their take-home pay.

It’s the insult to their intelligence whenever some politician comes in and promises them change, and eventually under-delivers.

It’s the sore lack of opportunities for sustainable employment, for upward mobility, that drives them to look at other options like overseas jobs and expose themselves to the social and psychological costs of being away from their loved ones.

•••

The next administration must recognize this. It’s those from the middle class, who break their backs regularly to achieve a semblance of comfort in their lives, who are most affected by what happens, and what does not, in this country.

It is they who enjoy the least protection, because they are perceived to be relatively better off, better able to take care of themselves. 

The fact is they should be assisted the most because of their potential to take the country to greater heights. They were born with no special privileges as enjoyed by the elite. They were raised to believe that plain hard work is key to success and that they should not rely on other people to make things happen for themselves.

The least the government can do is to make things easier for the middle class as they strive every day, taking nothing from no one and throwing no weight around.

Efficient services, reasonable costs, courteous treatment, a safe and comfortable ride to make us productive. That’s all they really need.

They take care of the rest, as they always do.

 

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