It’s SONA (State of the Nation Address) time again, and the usual polemics and tautology that comes with the annual practice always lead to one conclusion: more government responsibility, less individual freedom and responsibility.
This week, I have attended several fora on different topics, all of which will most probably be included in the President’s last SONA to the jointly convened Houses of Congress and the public this coming Monday, July 27.
Last Tuesday, there was a forum on “The 7th Plague: threats to public health due to global climate change” sponsored by the Philippine College of Physicians (PCP) at Annabel’s in Quezon City. Two bright physicians spoke in the event: Dr. Romy de Villa, Dean of the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Manila (PLM) College of Medicine, and Dr. Irma Makalinao, Dean of the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Medicine.
Climate change equals global warming is a dominant and continuing myth that pollutes the public’s mind. Philippine temperatures (as measured by PAGASA Science Garden station) and global temperatures (as measured by UAH satellite data) have been going from 2003 up to the present, and the cooling trend points to several decades more. The two physician-speakers in the forum did not join the warming bandwagon and spoke of the various diseases that threaten the public because of changing lifestyle. Dr. de Villa for instance predicted that by 2015, he sees that malignant neoplasm like cancer and hypertension-related diseases will become the top killers as contagious diseases become more and more controllable and preventable. Dr. Makalinao talked about the dangers of mercury, among others.
Lifestyle-related diseases are actually a result of growing economic development (as measured partly by rising life expectancy) coupled with growing inequality. Te plight of the poor becomes more pronounced as the rest of society progresses.
Last Wednesday, I attended the “Come, Elect: National conference on ensuring successful automation in 2010” sponsored by the Transparency and Accountability Network (TAN) and the Ateneo School of Government, held at Astoria Plaza, Ortigas. In the morning, COMELEC officials spoke, and in the afternoon, Smartmatic showed what their poll computer can do, and what it cannot do. I realized in that forum that there are still plenty of questions, both administrative and technical, that still cannot be answered by the winning bidder, Smartmatic. After this, there was the NGO workshop and plenary on their perceived role in the coming computerized elections.
I could sense, and I think everybody does, the level of distrust in the Philippine electoral system, whether manual or automated. It’s just that there is less distrust in the latter than in the former, but the level of distrust remains high. The distrust and lack of integrity of the electoral procedures should be directly proportional to the distrust and lack of integrity of the political parties and their politicians in the minds of the public. Makes me wonder: if the people so distrust government and the electoral process that elects and put people in government, why do we keep a big government that requires election of a big number of people to fill such a monster institution, both as elected politicians and as appointed bureaucrats?
And yesterday, I attended the 6th DOH Advisory Council meeting on price regulation, held at the Manila Pavilion. The usual participants – representatives from the pharma industry, both multinational and local, from the drugstores, NGOs, and various government agencies involved in formulating and implementing the drug maximum retail price (MRP, now fondly and satirically called “Mar Roxas for President”).
If there is distrust in the electoral process, there is also distrust in the principle that government should dictate the price of something, and there is distrust in the mechanics and details in implementing it. But politics have already taken over, so those two concerns are no longer relevant. A tidal wave of political pressures coming from different directions converged: coming from a Senator who co-authored the cheaper medicines law with high Presidential aspirations; coming the President riding the last 10 months of her 9 years in power; coming from some NGOs, academic and media people with deep hatred for capitalism, its profit motive and the multinationals; and coming from some bureaucrats with hands itching for more regulations and intervention.
Climate change, poll automation, drug price control, these 3 will probably be among the key issues that the President and her government will “address” when she speaks this Monday for her last SONA. The SONAnyms for these can be summarized as “more intervention to address the distrust in past interventions.” Poll automation though, is a valid intervention to mitigate the deep distrust in an ever-expanding, ever-longer list of political names and political parties that hunger so much to “serve the public”.
Where’s the anthology of names (Anthonames) that provide the warm bodies for such SONAnyms? Too many to enumerate. They range from those in the administration to the so-called opposition. But whether administration or opposition, they are all similar – similar in their hunger for using government coercive powers to coerce people and the public to follow their political and social engineering designs to make the country and the planet a better place.
For these people, individual, parental and enterprise responsibility sucks, and individual freedom equally sucks. Only government responsibility matters. Therefore, only government coercion and taxation matters.
The size and depth of the government bureaucracy and regulations – from local to national to international or multilateral bodies – are directly proportional to (a) the number of minds that have been polluted and poisoned that individual freedom and responsibility is not important, and (b) the level of coercion that those deep in the bureaucracy have projected and actually implemented, in order to intimidate and harass those who are seeking to question and invalidate the so-called supremacy of the forced collective over the individual.
Judging from the ongoing turn of events, both at the national and global levels, the forced collectivists are winning. But life goes on. Communism and central planning have been proven to be ineffective already. Current ecological central planning, health central planning, and related disciplines are just counting their years and moments.