The Philippines is paid a visit by overseas dignitaries. The road from the airport passes by a slum shantytown. Walls are built to mask the slum from the road so that the dignitaries cannot see the horrible condition in which many Filipinos live.
"We should pretty up our house when guests arrive" says a spokesman on behalf of the walls.
What price that tarp and the printing and the supporting cables, and the labor to install it?
What price decoration?
In the household, we have essentials, and we have discretionary purchases that we can live with, or live without. Rice is essential. A vase by the front door is discretionary.
In this case, the people served by the government go without essentials so that the government can put vases all around.
It is what happens when the emotions and illogic of "face saving" comes to the forefront.
"But Joe, Joe. We all do that. We have pride in our homes."
Well, yes, I suppose in is okay if we have important guests over for dinner, we skip a couple of plates of rice and buy a pot. But that is our choice, for us. It is our food that we decide to sacrifice and our hunger that we elect to bear.
But it is a bad choice when the people who are having guests over make the neighbors, many with no food, buy them some pots.
Put another way, I recognize dumb when I see it. Also, I can feel the humiliation a wall imposes on slum dwellers so that the uppity people can feel superficially more clean and modern.
It is more insane, and less kind, in the Philippines.