Oh the Joy of Money

For people who are so engrossed with money or the lack thereof, we aren’t so business savvy, which to me is quite perplexing.

With our president saying the government is basically bankrupt (both in competency, morals, and monetary-wise) for the rest the year, and with taxes higher than any point in time in our history, with inflation higher than the interest rates of banks and also the increase of the salaries of normal workers, it makes me scratch my head as to why people are not paying more attention to business.

As much as money is a part of our lives, business is money, and so naturally one should mind his own business (i.e. money). Confusing? Yes, I too am rather confused.

But in any case, I wrote that statement out that way in order to illustrate the problem of communicating business to the public: it’s jargon.

For most Filipinos, especially those in the College of Mass Communications (CMC) here in the University of the Philippines Diliman, mathematics is a dreaded subject. A long running joke says that people go to CMC in order to get away from math.

I don’t really blame people for loathing mathematics. As a person who has had the pleasure (or not) of taking statistical mathematics, which incorporates algebraic, trigonometric, analytical, and calculus–yes, it the c-word… calculus!–all wrapped up into one bundle of pure ecstasy, if you’re a masochist, that is…

But the problem is that people associate that kind of hellish mathematics to ALL mathematics, which is totally unfair to mathematics as a whole. For one, percentage and ratios are basically common-sense, but we’ve somehow wired ourselves to think of them as “math”.

If there are 5 pieces of pie, and you’re 5 people, all of whom wants pie, you can easily divide the pie 5 ways and just give each person 1 pie. Simple fractions can allow one to understand, to an extent, how companies give dividends.

Simple addition and substraction can suffice when looking over balance sheets to determine whether this year was a profitable one or not simply by substracting the total expenses to the total profit.

It’s all simple.

But, as was already said, it’s the language that makes it Greek. Most financial reports come out as account statements, wherein you have a piece of paper with numbers on it and one needs to gleen from it what you need and without specialty, one cannot do so competently.

Therefore, business journalists are required in order to bridge the gap. To decipher the language of business and put it in plain English (or Filipino).

Business journalism is important, first because it safeguards society by keeping tabs on government and how they spend our taxes through investigative reports on government dealings and taking a closer look at the taxes of our politicians.

Second, it informs the public of market trends that affected, may affect, or is affecting them and their lives and businesses.

Third, it bolsters confidence in the public to go the distance–to brave the waters of business. And with more business, comes prosperity to all as it’s effects does not only improve employment, but the country’s GDP, global business-rating and competitiveness, and thus may increase foreign investments.

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