Saturday, October 22, 2016

Weekend Fun 62, The invisible hand

I got this from an economist friend's fb wall. Brilliant humor.

“By directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of greatest value, he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention.” -- Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations

This slide I got from an Indonesian friend presented at the EFN Asia conference 2004 in HK.

On another note, it will be the UPSE annual alumni homecoming later today. I will attend, as usual.

These 5 political personalities, either UPSE alumni or faculty member, will come today, except Ben Diokno whom I heard is abroad this weekend.


See also:
Weekend fun 23: Economist Jokes, September 24, 2011

Friday, October 21, 2016

Energy 80, Power outages in 2010

I originally wrote this on March 02, 2010, reposting to look back on some issues more than six years ago.

'Government failure' in energy

Recently, a number of power outages have re-occured in Metro Manila and the provinces. The usual explanation given by the government, the Department of Energy (DOE) in particular, is the "thin reserves" as there are not enough power supply while demand keeps rising every year. El Nino for instance, has been cited as a "cause" as many hydro-power plants could not function well due to low water level in many dams.

A friend in facebook posted this yesterday in his status:
"Secretary of Energy should resign. How is it possible that the Department of Energy did not forsee possibility of power shortage? Now he wants his principal to have emergency power without explaining how those powers will be used."

I actually thought that DOE Sec. Reyes has already resigned because he's running as a Congressman in the coming May 10 elections. Now we don't have enough electrical power, the DOE leadership and Malacanang want emergency political power?

An obviously staff of the Sec. reacted and argued that it's the lack of water for hydropower plants that is a big factor for the brown-outs. I find her explanation lousy. El Nino (and La Nina) occurs every 3-5 years, it's predictable. Population increases by 1.8M/yr, net of death, so demand for drinking, laundry, irrigation, other water uses keeps rising, it's predictable. Now they are implying that depleting water supply was unpredicted.

I agree that the DOE Sec. should resign. He made a lousy job of not predicting properly the power shortage. A better action on his part would have been to humbly accept his mistake, and step down if necessary. But he is asking the opposite. That he keep his job and that we the public give him and the President more political power to deal with power shortfall. Lousy. Get out, period.

This evening, I saw the Sec. on tv. He said, "if people should blame anyone, they should blame God", referring to the lack of water in hydropower plants. Us taxpayers are in deep s__t. We keep sustaining officials who are corrupt like the President, and arrogant like the DOE Sec.

Can't power suppliers or power aggregators just deal with power consumers directly, without going through government energy bureaucracies?

Another friend made a long comment. She said that it was the free market in general and the power deregulation (or EPIRA) law in particular, that contributed to the lack of power supply in the country.

Free market capitalism is rational, even radical and subversive. Why are there bar-bq or fishball or balut stalls on high density streets? Because there is profit and money to be made. Why are there no bar-bq or fishball stalls inside a cemetery? Because there are no buyers and no profit to be made.

Why are there not enough power plants or power aggregators or power transmission lines, etc. considering that power demand keeps rising, non-stop, every single year? Most likely there is not enough profit to be made. Before, energy bureaucrats decide how much profit rate power plants and petrol companies can make. With energy deregulation, energy bureaucrats decide how many signatures will be needed, how many weeks or months or years before those signatures will be affixed, how much taxes, fees, ECC permits, etc. will be paid, before a single power plant can be built. All of these require huge costs.

It is impossible not to make big money in power supply, transmission and distribution, considering the big power demand that becomes bigger every single year. But it is impossible to just build a power plant without passing through a maze of energy bureaucrats and politicians' interventions.

Meanwhile, I saw the DOE 2015-1st half 2016 Accomplishments, it talked a lot about "promoted clean energy" and very little on "unclean" energy that actually gives us electricity 24/7, stable and cheaper electricity, coal power. Here is one chart that is useful.

The bulk of "renewables/RE" there are hydro and geothermal. In 2015, actual electricity generation by wind + solar + biomass combined was only about 1.0%. Very small, very unstable, expensive too, and yet getting lots of government favoritism. Government high intervention in energy development and pricing (like subsidies, guaranteed price via FIT for 20 years, for wind-solar especially) is wrong.

See also:
Energy 77, South Australia's blackout last September 28, October 08, 2016 

Energy 78, AEMO on the S. Australia blackout last Sept. 28, October 13, 2016 

Energy 79, Germany Energiewende's €520 Billion Cost By 2025, October 17, 2016

Monday, October 17, 2016

BWorld 87, Economic, fiscal and energy policies of the Duterte administration

* This is my article in BusinessWorld last October 07, 2016.

The new administration of President Rodrigo Duterte will turn 100 days old this week. The basis for its assessment is still sketchy and raw, so one way to further assess it later is to see some baseline figures when it assumed office.

Stratbase-Albert del Rosario Institute (ADRi) conducted a forum last Sept. 28 on “Raising the Next Tiger: The New Administration’s Economic Priorities” at The Tower Club in Makati. The main speakers were Mr. Aekapol Chongvilaivan, Country Economist, Philippines Country Office, Asian Development Bank (ADB); Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Ben Diokno; and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Deputy Governor for Monetary Stability Sector, Diwa Guinigundo.

The various reactors and discussants included Mr. George Barcelon, president of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI); Mr. Calixto Chikiamco, president of the Foundation for Economic Freedom (FEF); Ambassador Donald Dee, president of the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP); and Mr. George Chua, president of the Financial Executives of the Philippines (FINEX).

These four reactors particularly mentioned the high prices and limited capacity of the Philippine’s energy sector. They pointed out that this factor, among others, reduces the country’s competitiveness compared to our ASEAN neighbors. Mr. Chikiamco and Mr. Chua in particular mentioned the problem of pushing more renewables wind and solar into the national grid as contributing to rising electricity prices and even affecting the grid stability.

Below are some numbers presented during the forum. I added the data on electricity generation (in terawatt hours) to further contextualize the points made by the four mentioned discussants (see Table 1). 

Sec. Diokno did not give comparative data for some ASEAN countries, only the Philippines’ fiscal data. He only emphasized the bigger focus of Duterte administration to expand and improve the country’s infrastructure to address the Philippines’ low rank in global competitiveness surveys.

Public spending by the national government for infrastructure are as follows: P165B in 2010, P175B in 2011, P216B in 2012, P307B in 2013, P346B in 2014, P576B in 2015, P756B in 2016, and P861B proposed in 2017. These numbers indicate a sustained increase in infrastructure spending from 2015 until next year.

So as baseline data: First, the Philippine economy has been growing rather fast until 2015 and the challenge is how to sustain this expansion. Second, overall global competitiveness is good enough but ranking in infrastructure quality is low. And third, growth of our power generation remained low, only 46% after one decade. In contrast, Indonesia’s power capacity has expanded nearly twice after a decade while Vietnam’s has expanded more than three times.

The big challenge therefore is to allocate more public resources for infrastructure development.

To get the additional funds, the new government will have to discontinue -- or at least significantly cut the budgets -- of some programs and projects that have questionable impact on poverty alleviation. These funds should then be reallocated to help bankroll more infrastructure projects.

Second, attract more private players and investors in coal and natural gas power generation, in road tollways, in seaports and airports, in rail-based urban transportation. This process is non-burdensome to taxpayers because these public goods are funded via user-pay principle.

For instance, only those who regularly use NLEx and SLEx pay for the capital expenditure and maintenance of those roads, not taxpayers who live far away who hardly ever use these roads.

It is also good that the President has explicitly declared that we cannot turn our back in using cheaper and stable energy from fossil fuels like coal and natural because of our fast rising energy demand that require 24/7 power. It is not possible to sustain fast growth without cheaper and stable electricity supply. Energy precedes economic development, it is not vice versa.

In the presentation by Mr. Guinigundo, he showed important reform measures from 1993 to 2016. I will show here some, especially those referring to enhancing more economic competition, liberalization and deregulation (see Table 2).

If we remove the uncertainties of murders and disrespect for due process related to the ongoing “war on drugs,” the Duterte administration is starting on good and relatively stable macroeconomic platform. It just needs to sustain the momentum while hastening development and expansion of public infrastructure, especially in roads and energy.

See also:
BWorld 74, Pres. Duterte's anti-corruption programs and Transparency Intl., July 30, 2016 
BWorld 84, Eliminate red tape in the Philippine energy sector, October 08, 2016 
BWorld 85, Drugs war morphed into war on critics of President Duterte? October 11, 2016
BWorld 86, Philippine industrial policy, October 15, 2016

President Duterte and 'Psychopath' comment by Agot Isidro

Last October 9, 2016, Filipina actress Agot Isidro posted in her fb wall 3 points about her opinion of the President, the 3rd of which was the most controversial, "you are not bipolar, you are a psychopath". It was shared several thousand times, re-shared further, picked up by local and foreign media.

Famous fb commentator Bernard Ong posted this in his wall that day:


Psychopathy consists of a specific set of personality traits & behaviors – first described by Dr. Hervey Cleckley in 1941.

Psychopaths are superficially charming, make a good first impression on others. Self-centered, dishonest & undependable. Engage in irresponsible behavior. Devoid of guilt, empathy & love – they have casual & callous interpersonal & romantic relationships. Offer excuses for their reckless & outrageous actions, placing blame on others rather than taking responsibility. Rarely learn from mistakes or negative feedback. Have difficulty controlling their impulses.

Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. Check.

Best-established test is the Psychopathy Checklist Revised (PCL-R) which requires standard interview plus review of criminal & educational history. Covers 3 overlapping sets of traits: interpersonal deficits (grandiosity, arrogance, deceitfulness), affective deficits (lack of guilt & empathy), impulsive & criminal behaviors (including sexual promiscuity, lying, stealing, killing).

Check. Check. Check.

Psychopaths are not psychotic or insane (dissociated from reality). Psychopaths are usually rational. They are aware that their irresponsible or illegal actions are wrong in the eyes of society. They just don’t care anyway.

Psychopathy is treatable, or at least manageable. Most psychopaths resist voluntary treatment. Even if core personality traits of psychopaths are difficult to change, their criminal & reckless behaviors may be amenable to treatment.

Now here’s the twist. Psychopaths are not the same as sociopaths. Both exhibit similar anti-social behaviors (law-breaking, lying & deceit, impulsive acts, fighting & aggression, disregard for safety of others, irresponsible, lack of guilt or remorse).

According to psychologist Michael Tompkins, the main difference is that a psychopath does not have a conscience, he does not feel any moral qualms. A sociopath has a weak conscience. He knows his action is wrong but will do it anyway. Psychopaths are considered more dangerous.

Researchers believe psychopathy is likely a genetic disposition (related to underdeveloped parts of the brain) while sociopathy is likely a result of environmental factors (e.g. upbringing, child abuse, childhood trauma).

A visit to a psychiatrist is advised. They can help diagnose which is which & subsequently plan proper treatment.

So the question is this: Should we be like the adults who pretended to be blind? Or the little girl named Agot who innocently said the obvious - "The Emperor has No Clothes".

During the campaign period last April, at least 2 newspapers carried a story about the findings of a psychologist of former Davao City Mayor and now President Duterte.

The volatile and abrasive character of PDP-Laban presidential bet Rodrigo Duterte has roots from a psychological imbalance based on a report made on his mental health 15 years ago which described him as anti-social and narcissistic.

A psychological assessment on Duterte which appeared in a television news report stated that he has an “Antisocial Narcissistic Personality Disorder” or what psychologists refer to as psychopathy.

The report said the assessment became the basis for the civil annulment of Duterte’s marriage to first wife, Elizabeth Zimmerman.
Because of this personality disorder, the report said Duterte tends to humiliate other people or violate their rights.

International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, tenth edition (ICD-10), of the World Health Organization (WHO) called what afflicts Duterte as a dissocial personality disorder which is characterized by at least three of the following:
- callous unconcern for the feelings of others;
- gross and persistent attitude of irresponsibility and disregard for social norms, rules, and obligations;
- incapacity to maintain enduring relationships, though having no difficulty in establishing them;
- very low tolerance to frustration and a low threshold for discharge of aggression, including violence;
- incapacity to experience guilt or to profit from experience, particularly punishment; and
- marked readiness to blame others or to offer plausible rationali-zations for the behavior that has brought the person into conflict with society.

The WHO paper states that the diagnosis included “amoral, antisocial, asocial, psychopathic, and sociopathic personality.”

The assessment on Duterte’s personality, conducted in 2000, also showed that the mayor has difficulty controlling his emotions. He was also described as impulsive and because of this, he usually does not consider the implications of his acts.

The assessment was undertaken by psychologist Natividad Dayan, former president of the International Council of Psychologists, and concluded that Duterte was suffering from “Antisocial Narcissistic Personality Disorder,” a condition charac-terized by “gross indifference, insensitivity and self-centeredness,” “grandiose sense of self-entitlement and manipulative behaviors” and “pervasive tendency to demean, humiliate others and violate their rights and feelings.”
“For all his wrongdoings, he tends to rationalize and feel justified. Hence, he seldom feels a sense of guilt or remorse,” the assessment said....

And in ABS-CBN news,

President Duterte indeed exhibits a number of those 6 characteristics or symptoms as outlined by WHO-ICD. No or little feeling of remorse, keeps repeating past mistakes and violent behavior (physical or verbal like the frequent SOB or PI, Pakyu,...), always blame others never the self.

See also:
President Duterte and Hugo Chavez, September 30, 2016 
President Duterte and Hitler, October 05, 2016 

Energy 79, Germany Energiewende's €520 Billion Cost By 2025

Now clearer pictures of the cost of Germany's energy transition to the renewables are coming up, the huge financial burden to energy consumers because of heavy government interventions and cronyism -- subsidies to renewables, taxation and over-bureaucratism of coal, gas and nuke.  See these reports last week.

English translation from the original German news report:

German Energiewende To Cost €520 Billion By 2025, New Study Initiative 
Neue Soziale Marktwirtschaft, 10 October 2016

The total cost of Germany’s green energy transition (Energiewende) amounts to over €520 billion euros by 2025 in the electricity sector alone. This is the result of a report commissioned by the Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE) on behalf of the Initiative New Social Market Economy (INSM)....

By far the biggest cost driver with a total of €408 billion is the levy to finance renewable energy (EEG levy). The expansion of electricity and distribution networks totals €55.3 billion. The study is the first full-cost estimate which takes all the costs of the energy transition in the electricity sector into account. In addition to the direct costs of subsidising renewable energy, indirect expenditures such as the cost for the expansion of transmission and distribution networks were included in the calculations, as well as offshore liability expenses and network, capacity and replacement costs.

At the end of 2015, 150 billion euros had already been spent on the Energiewende, not including the cost for network expansion. The bulk of the costs (25.000 euros for a family of four) will have to be paid in coming years." -- Translation by The Global Warming Policy Foundation, UK

And aside from expensive, unstable electricity from renewables like wind and solar, they devour the natural beauty of the countryside. Many German environmentalists are now turning 180 deg, from support to attack.

More news reports:

Vahrenholt writes that already today Germany has the second highest electricity price (after Denmark) in Europe and that the so-called renewable energy feed-in tariff will rise from 6.35 €ct/kwh today “to an astounding 7.3 €ct/kwh in 2017“. Germany’s green energy feed-in act generates an additional cost to consumers of some 25 billion euros annually, paid by citizens via their power bill. This represents “a social transfer from bottom to top of immense dimensions“.

"often wind parks are approved by politician’s who have a direct interest and business dealings in them, meaning the industry is rampant crony capitalism – the very kind that Germans are typically famous for opposing. For example Rannungen mayor Fridolin Zehner had a wind turbine built where none is supposed to be built – on his own land – thus allowing the honorable mayor to cash in on lucrative leasing fees – to the tune of 10,000 euros annually."

"The Institute for Competition Economics at the University of Dusseldorf has calculated the total cost of Germany’s Green Energy Transition. The result: By 2025, an estimated €520 billion euros will be spent. A family of four will pay more than 25,000 euros for the Energiewende.

Seldom was a German environment minister more ridiculed and mocked than Peter Altmaier (CDU): Three years ago, the current Chancellery Minister warned that the cost of the Energiewende could, if nothing were done, “cost the country around one trillion euros by the 2030.”

Major magazines and weekly newspapers from Wirtschaftswoche to Die Zeit immediately snapped that the environment minister must have got it wrong. “Don’t scare the living daylights out of people with horror figures,” Baden-Württemberg’s Prime Minister and Green Party star Winfried Kretschmann demanded."

See also:
Energy 76, PEMC reply to my article on AEMO, WESM, September 11, 2016 

Energy 77, South Australia's blackout last September 28, October 08, 2016 

Energy 78, AEMO on the S. Australia blackout last Sept. 28, October 13, 2016

Saturday, October 15, 2016

The Philippines' 5 Presidents

After President Duterte's first State of the Nation Address (SONA) last July 25, 2016, he convened a security council meeting and all the four past Presidents were invited. Below from left: Joseph "Erap" Estrada (June 1998 - January 2001), Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA, January 2001 - June 2010), Rodrigo Roa Duterte (June 2016 --), Fidel Valdez Ramos (FVR, June 1992 -- June 1998), Benigno Simeon "Noynoy" Aquino III (BSA3, June 2010 -- June 2016).

Not in the photo are two dead Past Presidents, Ferdinand Marcos (1965 -- February 1986) and Corazon "Cory" Aquino (February 1986 -- June 1992).

Of the past four administrations, the most scandalous in terms of corruption and plunder cases were those of Erap and Gloria. Erap did not finish his term, he was ousted in a "People Power 2" revolution and later imprisoned. His VP that time, Gloria, completed the rest of his term. Then she won in the 2004 elections, capped by highly suspicious results. She survived several impeachment proceedings in Congress mainly via technicality. After her term, various plunder cases came and she was jailed.

None of the past administrations were free marketers of course. They instituted several market-oriented reforms but these were diluted by further expansion of the government and bureaucracies.

PDu30 is an outlier among these Presidents. Lots of vitriol in his mouth, highly raw, vulgar and volatile. And in terms of promulgating the rule of law, especially the law on dealing with suspected criminals, he's a big violator as he explicitly and publicly called for murder by the thousands, even a "follow Hitler who killed 3 million" people.

BWorld 86, Philippine industrial policy

* This is my article in BusinessWorld Top 1,000 Corporations 2015, published in November 2015. I forgot to post this earlier, no online copy of that publication, only hard copy.

Quo vadis, industrial policy?

A recurring question in the Philippines that crops up almost anytime anywhere is, “Why has the Philippines not industrialized as much as its East Asian neighbors?” It is a valid question, that opens up a plethora of valid and invalid explanations.

In a paper two years ago by former PIDS economist and now DTI Assistant Secretary Rafaelita M. Aldaba  summarized recent Philippine industrial policy as shown in table 1.

Source: Rafaelita Aldaba, “Twenty years after Philippine trade liberalization and industrialization: what has happened and where do we go from here,” PIDS Discussion Paper No. 2013-21, March 2013, Table 1.
It is a correct assessment, although it seems the import substitution industrialization (ISI) policy was just more than two decades (1950-72), not three. There was a “decontrol” policy or removal of quantitative restrictions (QRs) in 1962, and starting in the mid-60s, a revival of manufacturing was initiated but was not sustained. 

Export orientation on a limited scale was initiated in the mid-70s, coinciding with the world oil price shock in 1973 and the period of cheap foreign loans due to over-flowing petro dollars. It also coincided with some political stability because of political repression during the Martial Law regime.

There is a short but good literature on world and Philippines economic history from the late 1800s to the last decade written by Dr. de Dios of the UP School of Economics (UPSE) and Dr. Williamson of Harvard University. It shows that in Asia, the Philippines was third to Japan and China to attain fast growth of 5 percent or more a century ago. It was not sustained though, in the two decades before World War Two.

(Source: Bénétrix et al. (2012), Table 4. Cited by Emmanuel S. de Dios and Jeffrey G. Williamson, “Deviant Behavior: A Century of Philippine Industrialization”, UPSE Discussion Paper No. 2013-03, April 2013, Table 3.)

The post-World War Two ISI period pushed annual growth rates of Japan, Taiwan and S. Korea to double digits and the Philippines resumed its early century dynamism.

Messrs  de Dios and Williamson noted that “While the Philippines conformed to the industrial convergence pattern, it began to deviate sharply from the pack in the 1980s.”

The years between 1984‐1991 was a “period of large‐scale relocation to Southeast Asia of Japanese manufacturing industries in response to the yen revaluation following the Plaza‐Louvre Accords. This wave of foreign direct investments (FDIs) benefited Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia and led to the build‐up of a significant export‐oriented manufacturing in those countries”, the two academics added.

The Philippines of course could not optimize its FDI harvest that period because its Constitution made and ratified in 1986, does not welcome huge FDIs in many sectors of the economy.

Nonetheless, the government of then President Corazon C. Aquino in 1991 pursued a massive trade liberalization and official abandonment of protectionism when it reduced tariffs to a range of 3%‐30%. The Ramos administration continued the liberalization process capped by the Philippines joining the World Trade Organization (WTO), and undertook a new wave of tariff reductions in his last year in office in 1998.

Trade liberalization in the 90s was not just a Philippines or Asian phenomenon but a global one.
After many decades of trade negotiations and deadlocks at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the WTO was formally created in 1994.

To summarize, the Philippines’ post-WW2 industrialization policy can be categorized into three major periods: (1) trade protectionism and import substitution from 1950-72, (2) limited liberalization and export promotion  from 1973-90, and (3) accelerated trade liberalization from 1991 onwards, with “blips”of protectionism in 1997-99 Asian financial turmoil, then 2008-2010 global  financial crisis that started in the US.

Philippine membership  in the ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) Free Trade Area, Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation, various bilateral FTAs and Economic Partnership Agreements, emerging Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP, ASEAN + 6) and the lure of joining the Trans Pacific Partnership  (TPP), are important alliances to sustain trade and investment  liberalization.

There are two important challenges for the Philippines to optimize its membership  in those mega trade alliances: (1) remove investment protectionism by abolishing the “reserved only for Filipinos” (or zero FDI) in some sectors, and 60-40 restrictions to FDIs in other sectors. And (2) relax services protectionism especially in the practice of profession, where foreign professionals are barred from practicing here while Filipino professionals are allowed in many other countries.

Mr. Oplas is the President of Minimal Government Thinkers, Inc., a Manila-based think tank advocating free market economics, and a Fellow of the South East Asia Network for Development (SEANET), a Kuala Lumpur-based regional center advocating free trade and free mobility of people in  the region.

See also:
BWorld 61, 100 indicators better than GDP, June 03, 2016 
BWorld 71, Free trade and higher income, July 11, 2016
BWorld 72, Economic integration and disruption, July 25, 2016 
BWorld 78, If the US becomes protectionist, who loses? August 11, 2016 
BWorld 84, Eliminate red tape in the Philippine energy sector, October 08, 2016 
BWorld 85, Drugs war morphed into war on critics of President Duterte? October 11, 2016

Friday, October 14, 2016

Social media and politics

Last month, I was one of three speakers in a lecture sponsored by UP Sapul, one of my three student organizations in UP Diliman in the 80s.

Creating political awareness for less/minimal (not zero) government, free market and individual freedom

Free market – free trade, voluntary exchange, zero to little government intervention in many sectors of the economy. More individual freedom, personal and civil society responsibility.

*  3 types of free marketers:
(1) Anarchist – zero state authority, zero central (and local?) government,
      citizens’ self-government by voluntary organizations and individuals.
(2) Minarchist – small or minimal government, function is mainly to enforce the rule of law, protect the citizens against aggression, their right to private property, right  to liberty.
(3) “Minimax” – one side advocates minarchy, another side advocates more government, more or higher taxes. Confused free marketers.

NOT advocating “good governance” under a BIG government

* Advocacy is limited, minimal governance – small government, small and few taxes, few regulations and prohibitions.

* NOT good governance of a big, intrusive, prohibitionist and tax-hungry government. Like “No business, no job creation allowed unless entrepreneurs will first get the signatures and permits of regulators and officials, dozens of permits.”

* Free society: everything is allowed except for a few prohibitions:
No murder, No abduction, No rape, No stealing, No destruction of private property, etc. Drugs, alcohol, gambling, etc allowed so long as none of the NOs mentioned is committed.

* Unfree society: everything is NOT allowed except with government permits. Driving your car, putting up a business, building a house, renovating a house or office, having a pet, etc. – all of them require permits. Relatively easy to comply yet, but moving towards more complicated, more costly permits.

Concluding notes

* Social media provides information competition. Along the lines of anti-oligopoly, anti-central planning and centralized thought conditioning. Even the most well-thought lies and propaganda cannot succeed if they are not shared in social media. Seemingly ordinary fb posts that become viral, shared 5k+, 10k+ and reaching out to tens or hundreds of thousands of readers. (Talo pa ang maraming newspaper stories or columns)

* The free market system can guarantee this type of information competition. Not central planning and big, interventionist government.

* Big challenge now is how a creeping PH dictatorship with little respect for human rights and international rule of law can be countered by vigilant citizens through social media.

Below, the two other speakers were Marielle "Yeng" Marcaida (to my left, white dress) and USC Councilor _____ (sorry, forgot her name; beside Yeng).

The 13-slides presentation is here.