Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Pol. Ideology 52: What is the Main Purpose of Government?

* This is my article today in thelobbyist.biz. Quotes below are not part of the original article, I just added them here.
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There are several theories and opinions on the role of government in society and the citizens. This column takes the classic liberal philosophy that the main function of government, its raison d'etre or reason for existence, is to promulgate the rule of law. The law against murder and aggression, the law against stealing and destruction of property, the law protecting individual liberty and freedom of expression.

When people get more private security to protect themselves, their houses and offices, schools and shops, from aggressors and killers, thieves and vandals, then there is clear and widespread government failure. This article discusses that more people now in the Philippines are hiring private security guards in their homes.

Securing peace and order in society is supposedly a government function and responsibility, especially in dealing with organized and armed criminals, or sophisticated ponzi schemes that rob hundreds or thousands of people big time. That is why there is a huge phalanx of armed policemen, investigators and  soldiers. But how come that peace and order is mainly implemented by private security agencies? That peace and order has been implicitly privatized when the budget and personnel of those armed agencies keep rising?

The bigger the number of private security agencies, the bigger is the distrust of the people in government to ensure law and order in society. The bigger the government failure.

If there is widespread government failure in maintaining peace and order, in protecting lives and private properties, why has government expanded into many non-core, non-essential functions? Like running banks and casinos, universities and specialty hospitals, monopolizing pension and social security, extending forever, no timetable welfare and subsidies.

Government failure in its core function should not be exacerbated by another government failure in its non-core functions. The corruption and plunder scandals in various agencies from various administrations are additional proof to this government failure in its non-core functions.

If people spend more on hiring private security agencies, then they are over-taxed. They pay various taxes and fees that sustain the huge bureaucracies at DILG-PNP, DND-AFP, DOJ-NBI, LGUs-barangay tanods. Then they pay extra to hire private security agencies as these guards are not cheap.

The government should be terribly ashamed of this situation, especially when people have to hire private guards to protect their homes, on top of having private guards protecting the village gates. By extension, the NGOs and civil society leaders, media people, foreign aid, etc. who demand ever-expanding government bureaucracies, subsidies and taxes when there is clear and explicit government failure in promulgating the rule of law, should  rethink their advocacies.

Of what value to the poor that they get endless, forever, no timetable subsidies in healthcare, education, agriculture credit and seeds, condoms, etc., but their kids can be abducted and even raped easily, their small investments like a cow or tractor or tricycle can be stolen somewhere, their small plot of land can be land grabbed by some politically influential people?

Where there is peace and order, where the government is truly doing its work in protecting the citizens' right to life, right to private property, right to liberty, enforcing contracts, people will become productive. They can work from morning till midnight if they want, knowing that their family and house are secure. Where people are hard working and have peace of mind that their business contracts, big or small, are respected and enforced, plus civil society support, they can get out of poverty on their own.

A friend, Steve Cutler, suggested that since private guards and drivers and so on are dirt cheap in the Philippines for many rich people, the affluent acquire them as a way of ensuring people know how important and rich they are. There may well be some kind of "threat" but it can also be a fashion accessory.

That angle is highly possible. But having private guards in many shops, schools, cash collections by gas stations, convenience stores, etc. transported by armed vans, speaks of something, that there is grave government failure in tracking and going after the real criminals in society, if not suspicion that some members of government armed forces themselves are actively involved in criminality, like protecting drug lords and organized hold uppers.

If people recognize this big government failure in fulfilling its core function, they should also recognize that government functions and intervention in other sectors should shrink or be discontinued as such government failure will only be replicated elsewhere. The pork barrel scandal is testament to such massive wastes and cheating in government.

Another friend posted this quote from Benjamin Constant (1767-1830), Swiss-born French politician and writer who argued that liberty was essential to moral development.

"Every time the government attempts to handle our affairs, it costs more and the results are worse than if we had handled them ourselves."

This belief is widespread among liberty-oriented people especially the anarchists. Minarchists give government some favor by recognizing certain role for it, ike enforcing the rule of law and contracts between and among people through the justice system, the police and a few other agencies. When government becomes inefficient and wasteful in almost anything it dips its hands on, government credibility as an institution to protect law and order keeps dipping.

Steve Cutler made another comment, that “the guards that work in the vast majority of establishments give a false sense of security, which is an unrecognized issue. They are there only to open doors, clean tables, and so on. Or to raise a bar to allow vehicles to pass through. But they will not really protect people. You're on your own if shots start to fly. Protecting you is not part of the contract. They are there only/only to protect the property of the contracting party...the guy who pays the contract. Unless that's you, don't expect any help from a guard.”

The private guards function somehow as deterrent to petty criminals like shoplifters who may have guns to use when cornered. Such deterrence function helps reduce the possibility of shots flying inside malls. The guards with long firearms in vans are deterrent to organized criminals.

These criminals, petty or organized, can be tracked down at the barangay or street levels, if the LGUs and the police are doing their work seriously, and if government is not distracted from providing so many non-core functions.
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See also: 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Lion Rock 11: Barun Mitra on Democracy, Reading Salon 2013

I still have to write my reflection paper on the Reading Club Salon 2013 of the Lion Rock Institute (LRI) on "Democracy -- Past, Present and Future" held in Harbour Grand Hong Kong last October 19, 2013. It's good that good friend Barun Mitra, Founder and Director of Liberty Institute in India, sent us today his reflection paper about the event. Short and well-argued points by Barun, reposting it below. 

Our group photo after the whole day round table discussion. Barun is 4th from left standing. To his left is Peter Wong, Executive Director of LRI, and to Barun's right (3rd from left) is Simon Lee, LRI co-founder and moderator of the Reading Salon. To my left, 2nd from right sitting, is Andrew Work, co-founder and first Executive Director of LRI. 


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My take home points from the 2013 Salon.

The idea of democracy as the critical political institution has clearly been established. Just over two hundred years ago, the founding fathers of the United States of America, were concerned about the majoritarian aspects of democracy. The debate was encapsulated in the Federalist and Anti-Federalist papers. In the Federalist Papers, the authors underscore the need for a strong central government in order to hold the states together in a nascent country. In the Ant-Federalist paper, many leaders from the states argue the case for strengthening the lower tiers of government, so that a strong people would together strengthen the nation. Two hundred years later, James Buchanan, Nobel prize winning economist, wrote his classic text "Calculus of Consent", where he explored a whole range of ways to restrain the majoritarian threats on the one hand, and prevent capture of state agencies by vested interests on the other hand. These three books, were in the list of readings selected by for this year's salon on democracy.

A number of key points that emerged from the discussions at the salon, underscored the essential features of democratic politics.

Democracy is not about majority rule, but about recognition of and respect for minority opinions. So that the minority view of today, may enjoy the freedom to peacefully persuade others, and could become a majority opinion of tomorrow. This is why democracy requires consent of the governed, so that the diverse minorities do not feel so aggrieved as to try and revolt or secede from the rest.

For democracy to survive in large communities and countries, where only representative democracy is possible and practical, democracy has to be minimal, so that it does not offend or alienate too many people. Secondly, as societies become complex, there is a need to recognise the challenges of centralised government, and devolve greater political authority and autonomy to lower tiers of government and local communities. Because only at such community level, with shared values, can there be a realistic prospect for widest consensus on such complex issues.

Threats to democracy arise from the majoritarian perspective which is reflected in centralisation of decision making. This invariably leads to populism and patronage. Consequent spread of corruption, triggers cynicism, and undermines the legitimacy of democratic polity. Growing illegitimacy provides an incentive for demagogues and dictators to seize the levers of power by promising to solve all the ills of society. And democracy collapses in to despotism.

Democracy and markets are analogous. Democracy empowers the citizens with choices in the political domain. While markets empowers the consumers with choice in the economic domain. Adam Smith had warned about the tendency of businessmen and traders, to collude, seek special protection and privileges from the state, at the cost of the consumers. And others have warned about the special protection and privileges that many politicians seek, in the name of the public, but actually endangering the political freedoms of the citizens. This is why economic competition and open market are critical in keeping businesses focussed on delivering better goods and services in order to win the customers. So too does political competition in a vibrant democracy, ensures that politicians offer a diverse range of political options to the citizens to choose from.

In a competitive democratic environment, politicians could either be businessmen, offering the conventional political ideas and operate within the prevailing political paradigm, or they could be like entrepreneurs, offering radical ideas, in a manner that would be understood and accepted by the people, thereby shifting the centre of political discourse, itself.

Economic and political freedoms go together. All the developed and rich countries are democracies. Even the small principalities and city states, which are rich, people enjoy a very high degree of economic freedom, and share the basic elements of participatory politics, that is democracy.  On the other hand, poor and less developed countries, are much lower on the economic and political freedom scores.

Barun Mitra
Liberty Institute, New Delhi

www.InDefenceofLiberty.org 
www.EmpoweringIndia.org 

www.RighttoProperty.org  
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See also 
Lion Rock 7: Reading Club Salon 2013, Hong Kong, September 17, 2013 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Healthy Aging 3: GCOA-EMHN Policy Dialogue in Bangkok

Yesterday morning, the Emerging Markets Health Network (EMHN) and the Global Coalition On Aging (GCOA) jointly sponsored a "Policy Dialogue on Aging", here at Plaza Athenee Bangkok. There were 16 of us from 8 countries  -- China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines (me), Canada and USA. The forum was led and moderated by Cathy Windels, the President of The Policy Workshop in New York, who represented GCOA, and Wan Saiful Wan Jan, CEO of IDEAS in Malaysia, which handles the EMHN project.


Six participants from five countries: Barun from India, Chris and Cathy from the US, Harsha from Sri Lanka, Shoulong from China, Marc from Japan.


Hiroshi Yoshida also from Japan, speaking.


After Cathy's introduction, the resource speaker, Dr. Anindya Mishra, from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) presented a paper on Social and Economic Challenges of Ageing in Asia: Special Focus on India.



I will make a report about the meeting soon.


It was just a half day meeting and sharing of ideas on the issue of rising aging population in Asia and the rest of the world. The healthcare, public finance and civil society responsibility issues are big.
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See also:
Healthy Ageing 1: The Caregiver Village, February 13, 2012 
Healthy Ageing 2: World Congress on Healthy Ageing, March 08, 2012 
EMHN 10: Forum on Asia's Ageing Societies, Bangkok, October 08, 2013

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

EFN Asia 30: Conference 2013, Day 1

The EFN Asia 2013 Conference ended yesterday, another great event by the biggest network of free market or at least independent think tanks and academic scholars in Asia. This is my article yesterday at the new EFN website.
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The two-day Economic Freedom Network (EFN) Asia conference has tackled many subjects on its first day, October 21, 2013. The welcome remarks were given by Dr. Pirom Kamolratanakul, President of Chulalongkorn University in Thailand,  and Mr. Ulrich Niemann, Director of the Division of International Politics, Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF).

Dr. Kamolratanakul said that Thailand has been growing slower and 42 percent of the working population are stuck in agriculture. The country needs a transparent and efficient public sector and good governance to build the middle class, and must emphasize productivity growth and more investment, especially in infrastructure and education.

Dr. Niemann emphasized the importance of Asia and economic freedom in the world, but developing Asia still has a long way to go to expand economic freedom. Some countries are trapped from becoming advanced and high income countries. Certain vested interests challenge and stall further economic reform. Political reform is also needed and ideas of classical liberalism have to be reintroduced.

Two keynote addresses were also given, first by Mr. Geronimo Sy, Assistant Secretary of the Philippines Department of Justice (DOJ, and Deputy Governor of the Myanmar Central Bank, Mr. Set Aung.

Mr. Sy stressed that with rising modernity in technology, communications should be geared towards shared value. Integrity in government is needed, based on honesty of both individuals and institutions. Good governance can build middle class, aided by economic freedom and simple, transparent rules. The Philippines has a big population that also has a big diaspora. Its middle class can go up or down the economic ladder and they are concerned with regulations and attaining economic freedom, while the poor are less concerned about these.  Different countries have different contexts and the middle income trap is defined by those contexts.

Mr. Aung asked how far do we Asians want to go, fast like a big bang, or how gradual. The ASEAN Economic Community that will materialize by 2015 looks ambitious. AFTA is sometimes called Agree First, Talk After, especially by the ASEAN 6 – Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. Do we plan to take the EU path, which is a long and evolving process? We may be excited but not ready for it, especially Myanmar which is a late comer. With all the economic optimism in the region, there is a need for strong political will to push certain programs and reforms.

After the two keynote speeches, a speed dating was held for all participants where they talked one on one for two minutes, introducing themselves, why they attend the conference and so on. The format was very useful as it provided an excellent opportunity for networking.

Panel 1 of the conference was defining the term “middle income trap”, the myth and realities about the concept. The two speakers were Dr. Laveesh Bhandari, Director of Indicus Analytics Pty. Ltd. India, and Dr. Fred McMahon, Fellow and holder of the Dr. Michael Walker Research Chair in Economic Freedom, Fraser Institute, Canada.

Dr. Bhandari emphasized that jargons on economics and governance must not be confused with reality on the ground and  demands for practical considerations, so that levels of economic development and economic freedom can produce the needed outcomes.

Dr. McMahon showed various indicators that contribute to high income of some countries, and concluded that economic freedom or the lack of it explains a great deal of middle income trap if not everything about it. Rule of law complements economic freedom.

Over lunch, Dr. Kriengsak Chareonwongsak, President of the Institute of Future Studies for Development, made a presentation on “Thailand’s Titles Projects from the Perspective of Economic Freedom.” He underlined the important role of property rights protection as the cornerstone of capitalism and economic freedom. He showed charts indicating that many private lands are not properly titled and such ambiguity in ownership prevents the owners, the poor especially, from developing those lands to high productivity use and hence, contributes to poverty.

The panel 2 discussion was about surveying the trend of middle income trap. The two speakers were Dr. Bibek Debroy, Professor at the Center for Policy Research in India, and Dr. Suthiphand Chirathivat, Chairman of the Chula Global Network in Thailand. The panel moderator was Dr. Chayodom Sabhasri, Dean of the Faculty of Economics, Chulalongkorn University.

Dr. Chirathivat underlined that connectivity is good for economic integration and as international pressure for national governments to integrate with, and learn from, each other, how to avoid middle income trap. Countries cannot rely on cheap labor as pathway to high growth. The average per capita GDP in ASEAN is projected to rise five percent a year from 2010 to 2030, there is a need to move to high skills industries. .

The panel 3 discussion had a particular focus on four countries from four speakers. It was moderated by Dr. Kim Chung ho, Professor at Yonsei University and also founder of a new think tank in S. Korea, the Freedom Factory Ltd.


Assistant Secretary of Philippines DOJ, Geronimo Sy, gave special mention of having a competition policy in each country to enforce rules equally among players, and avoid “regulatory capture” by some regulated players.

Dr. Choi Byung-il, President of the Korea Economic Research Institute (KERI) said that populism is a zero-sum game of distributive politics, rent seeking activities can become rampant, if politics will trump over economics. Economic freedom and prosperity are highly correlated. In the case of S. Korea, growth was fast until the 80s. By 1987 onwards, public demand for more social equity, more labor rights and other entitlements has increased. The weakening global orientation plus rising populism resulted in more inward-looking attitude and protectionism among the people.

Dr. Deunden Nikomborirak, Research Director of Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI) presented a paper on “Middle income trap and the Thai service sector”. Thai sectors are dominated by large conglomerates and reform in services sector is required as 44 percent of the labor force is working in this sector. Labor productivity is stagnant, just half of productivity in manufacturing. FDI in ASEAN flows mainly into the service sector but in Thailand, FDI goes mainly to manufacturing, and Singapore is ASEAN “FDI gate keeper” as it is the most liberal, most economically free country in the region. With the ASEAN Economic Community coming soon, Thailand will get “second hand” FDI after Singapore.

Dr. Harsha De Silva, Member of Parliament of Sri Lanka, agonized that prosperity in his country remains an illusion, that it is facing not only a middle income trap but also debt trap. Government investment priorities are questionable and the public sector, civilian and military, keeps expanding, into more commercial businesses.

Another speed dating was held among all the participants including speakers. This time, the focus was on participants’ reflections of the various presentations in panels 2 and 3.
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See also:

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Mining 36: Tax that can Wipe Out All PH Public Debt

* This is my article yesterday in Mining Week.
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The mining industry is a very useful sector because many of the things that humanity needs in modern life come from mining, like cellphones, tv, cars, buses, electricity, appliances and so on. Yet mining is also highly criticized if not demonized for the various environmental damages attributed to it, real or imaginary.

The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) is an international voluntary system among governments and big mining worlds in many countries that help clear this issue of whether mining indeed deserves to be demonized or be protected, at least on the taxation and output transparency aspect. Its focus is on making revenue payment and collections from the extractive sectors like oil, gas and mining, become more transparent to the public. In the process, this enhances government revenues.

The EITI International Secretariat and the World Bank Washington office jointly sponsored the “Conference on the Adoption of the 2013 EITI Standards” last September 27, 2013 at Crowne Plaza in Ortigas. Among the speakers was Dr. Elmer Billedo, Assistant Director at the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of the Department of Environment. This is one of the slides he showed.

Table 1. Mining Industry Performance, 2008-2012


There is no breakdown how much of those gross value production came from (a) large scale metallic mining (LSMM), (b) small scale metallic/gold mining (SSM), and (c) large non-metallic mining (LNMM) like cement and coal firms. Table 2 below will show breakdown.

Many sectors look down or understate the contribution of mining in the economy, as shown by its low share of only 0.7 to 1.0 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) and only 0.5 to 0.7 percent of total employment in the country. With such a low share, then the country can possibly afford to shut down all mining companies and give the displaced workers alternative work elsewhere, particular in the agriculture, industry and service sectors.

This analysis is wrong. No mining raw materials and products means little or no industrial output as the iron, nickel, copper, chromite and other metallic products are the raw materials to produce various machines, steel and construction materials, cell phones and various electronic products and appliances. If these manufactured products are not available or present at very small amount and very high prices, then construction, transportation, telecommunications, trading and other service sub-sectors will have little or no output.

The analogy may also look like this. Raw and live chicken production is counted in the agriculture sector. Once it becomes litson manok or chicken adobo or chicken curry in food shops, it is counted under the service sector. If it is transformed into chicken cubes or chicken fillet or noodles, it is counted in the manufacturing and industry sector. Valuation in the industry and service sectors is a lot higher than those in the agriculture sector. A P115 per kilo live chicken raised for a month in the chicken farm can become P230 or higher as litson manok or a doubling of gross value after just a few hours.

Thus, raw, lower value mineral products actually have huge multiplier effects in the economy, from the agriculture to industry to service sectors. Even a 1 percent mining share of GDP can enable all the other  sectors to have high share of GDP.

Below is a breakdown of output by the three producing sectors, namely LSMM, SSM and LNMM. Data from the MGB

Table 2. Mining Industry Output and Taxes, 2008-2012


Note that those taxes and fees generally come from LSMM as the firms here are highly regulated and monitored by the BIR-DOF, MGB-DENR and local government units (LGUs). Such taxes, fees and royalties comprise between 43 to 60 percent of the LSMM’s net revenues.

The Philippines has been ranked by the US Geological Survey as being the biggest nickel producer worldwide. The estimated nickel reserves though is not very big compared to those in Australia, Brazil and Russia.

Table 3. Philippines as the world’s biggest nickel producer


During the open forum, I suggested that the BIR-DOF, MGB-DENR and LGUs-DILG should make data on  mining taxes, fees and royalties become more easily available online. Lack of updated and official data makes the anti-mining sentiment and biases become more convoluted. For instance, even known economist Ma’am Winnie Monsod is misinformed to insist that the government collects only two percent excise tax from LSMM which she says is peanuts, and proposed the Malampaya natural gas revenue sharing arrangement where the government gets 60 percent of the net revenues. The IMF says that if the Average Effective Tax Rate (AETR) formula is applied, LSMM in the country is paying up to 60 percent of their net revenues to the government, both local and national.

There is huge industrial potential for the country given our high mineral deposit and wealth. If those companies and investors are following existing environmental regulations, paying various taxes, fees and royalties, spending extra for the community via social development management program (SDMP), and creating lots of direct, indirect and auxiliary jobs to the people especially in rural municipalities and provinces, then they should not be demonized by the public.

With a $0.9 to 1.0 trillion value of mineral potentials, with potential net revenues of $400 billion (about 60 percent of gross production goes to operating costs like personnel salaries, depreciation of expensive capital equipment, fuel and electricity, etc.), and if government will collect about half of that in the form of taxes, fees and royalties, that is a whooping $200 billion revenues or P8.6 trillion at P43/$ exchange rate.

This amount can practically wipe out the total public debt of P5.45 trillion as of June 2013. It is a substantial or giant revenue that the government and the rest of society should recognize.
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See also: 

Monday, October 21, 2013

EFN Asia 29: Speakers in Day 1, Conference 2013 in Bangkok

The two-days Economic Freedom Nework (EFN) Asia conference 2013 will start today here at Plaza Athenee hotel, Bangkok, Thailand. More than 130 international and local participants have registered, a good number. Here are the speakers today, in order of their appearance on stage from morning to afternoon.  See the two-days program here (this blog) or here. (EFN website)

The first four speakers will come from Thailand, Germany, Philippines and India. The keynote speaker will be the Philippines' Department of Justice (DOJ) Assistant Secretary, Geronimo Sy, who is a friend in Manila.


The next four speakers are from Canada, Thailand, India and Thailand, respectively. Fred, me and other speakers in this conference came from Hong Kong yesterday, we attended the Lion Rock Institute's Reading Club Salon 2013 last Saturday.


The batch of speakers are from S. Korea, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Hawaii, USA. Ken Schooland will speak during the farewell dinner tonight.


So there. I will try to blog during the conference today. If not, I will just tweet, so stay tuned.
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See also:

Inequality 16: Inclusive Growth and Central Planning

Two months ago, a friend and fellow UPSE alumni asked me to respond to his ideas, below.

Indeed, the economic  buzzwords  these  days is  how  to  achieve  "inclusive  growth". I'm just  wondering why  we  always  get  fixated  with the decades-old mantra towards “FREER  MARKET"  or   the need to break  down further  "Institutions" to achieve  freer  markets.

While it  is  true  that  there  are  still  institutional  bottlenecks  and  bureaucratic  inefficiencies (i.e., red tapes,  corruption, etc.)  that  need  to  be  scrapped,  I  think  we  are losing sight of what true economics should  mainly  be  all  about----Production and not  fixation with  freer  markets  and consumption.

If  I  am  not  mistaken,  almost  80 percent  of  the  total  economy   is  consumption driven. In short, we are producing much  less  through the years  as  a  percentage  of  total GDP.

If less  and less people  are  creating  physical wealth, there is indeed  some basis  to the analysis  that the economy is  mainly being bailed out  by the OFW  money  that is  circulating around and helping boost consumer and service  industries  like  the malls  and food chains.
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Many people indeed have that "uncontrolled itch to control others".

Consider here: A taxi driver or jeepney driver would wish to have the freedom, the choice, where he can eat lunch cheaply and with parking at the same time. But those with "uncontrolled itch to control" would wish that such freedom should be curtailed. If some of those carinderias that give cheap lunch do not pay taxes and city hall business permit, sanitation permit, etc., then they better be closed down. Control people's freedom of choice. Attack free market, onwards with the command and control thinking.

His fixation with "Economics = Production" is lousy. Remember Econ 11 again, Economics is about WHAT to produce, WHEN and WHERE to produce, HOW to produce it and for WHOM. Economics is about production and consumption and non-consumption (savings, investments). What's so hard to understand here?

It is impossible for micro units (individuals, households, micro and big firms) to answer all the "what, when, where, how and for whom" if there is no free market. Can central planners, whether products of UPSE or Ateneo or Harvard or Timbuktu University,  foresee how many rubber shoes, what color, design and sizes, would be needed in village or municipality A, and in other areas and cities? What if there was an over-production of color blue, size small rubber shoes but under production of color pink, size medium and large rubber shoes? How fast can central planners respond to such consumer demand who will be in shoe stores today or tomorrow?

Only the free market -- producers who are free to produce what/when/where/how/for whom, consumers who are free to buy what/when/where/how/from whom -- can have the flexibility and foresight to see those things.

About "inclusive growth", new terminologies, and perhaps new rackets. Notice that it has already evolved into "inclusive development", "inclusive democracy", "inclusive business", "inclusive politics", what else.

The framers and inventors of such "inclusive _____" are careful that the people will not see them as ultimately gunning for "inclusive pockets" and "inclusive savings". That is, your money in your pocket or savings account is not yours and yours alone. It belongs to the collective, other people have a "claim" and "entitlement" to it already. These "other people" include the poor (regardless of the causes of their poverty), the politicians, the bureaucrats and the various poverty fighters.
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See also::
Inequality 12: Billionaires and the UN Politics of Envy, July 11, 2012

Friday, October 18, 2013

From Pork Barrel to Parliamentary Dumdum

The tirade and personal attacks of the Orion Dumdum camp continues. See, PNoy Government, Pork Barrel and Parliamentarism.  I let them open their mouth more, because the more they do, the more they expose their true personality. They are among the “saviours” of this country against the corrupt and hypocrite politicians, right?

Some are asking why I am posting an exchange in a private fb group in my blog. Simple, it concerns me. They are directly attacking me, and I have two choices. One is rebut them point by point, or simply publicize their “assessment” of me. 

Option one is not practical because it’s a gang up and they use foul language and I do not want to stoop to their style. I remember this warning from Mark Twain: 

Notice that they have shifted the topic from pork barrel to Pnoy administration, to me directly. So again, see their language, see their attitudes, in their own words. Zero alteration, not even comma. Oh boy, this is longer, 2,900+ words, 9 pages.

Have to jump now for the dinner at the hotel, sponsored by LRI.
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Vincent Blas So suddenly, Nonoy Oplas supports the impeachment of the President, and doesn’t care if the Philippines is Presidential or becomes Parliamentary

Orion PĂ©rez D. Fair enough, Nonoy Oplas --- in those posts, sure, you didn't criticize us and attacked Noynoy's statement...

But still, that doesn't change the fact that you have continued to malign me, CoRRECT, or even the Foundation for Economic Freedom, calling us statists JUST BECAUSE you think we do not share your ideas for minimal government.

PNoy Government, Pork Barrel and Parliamentarism

Chilling here in my hotel in Hong Kong, arrived today to attend a full day round table discussion tomorrow on “Democracy – Past, Present and Future”, sponsored by the Lion Rock Institute, HK’s first and only free market think tank. Then on Sunday, some of us participants here will fly to Bangkok  to attend the Economic Freedom Network (EFN) Asia 2013 Conference on “Asia, Middle Income Trap and Economic Freedom”, Monday-Tuesday. I will post articles about these two events in the coming days.

Then checking my facebook, my article, Pork Barrel 8: Forum at DLSU Manila has attracted the attention of some guys hurting over my non-singing “halleluiah” to parliamentary form of government, in the “Kilos Pinoy” fb group. Some guys there dislike it too much, even if I am not singing “halleluiah” to a presidential form of government either. 

See the exchanges below, made only this afternoon. Copy-pasting everything, zero alteration, not even comma or period. Judge for yourself re attitude, arrogance, civility or lack of it. Notice for instance Nigel’s calling me Noynoy repeatedly. Implying something and in the process, showing his mental state.

This is 2,200+ words, 6 pages, enjoy.
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Nigel Pope I love how Noynoy Oplas voted for and campaigned for Aquino but now, suddenly, is lecturing everyone else on corruption in government being wrong.

Seriously, Noynoy, why did you vote for  noy?

Nonoy Oplas Nanggigigil si Pope, hehehe, bakit ba. Anyway, yes I voted for PNoy, the only liberal candidate in the 2010 elections though he's far out from being a classic liberal. The other candidates were more statist, more dangerous than him. But I did not go out campaigning hard for him.

Nigel Pope More statist? More dangerous?

He's an Aquino! That family - and the Cojuangcos - have been big state, pro-oligarch, pro-protectionist for GENERATIONS.

Seriously, mate, you really need to learn a bit more about the free market and small state movement if you think voting for  noy was the best option. Did you honestly think he would be any different that his execrable mother?

Description: Photo

Nonoy Oplas My vote in 2010, none of your business. You crucify PNoy, fine, I'm not his spokesman, not an LP member, not a govt bureaucrat.

Nigel Pope It's not really my business... other than the fact that you sit there lecturing me and damning CoRRECT for not being free market enough for your tastes but...

YOU
ARE
AN
AQUINO
SUPPORTER.

That's hypocrisy. That's intellectual dishonesty. That's not coming to an argument with clean hands. That's the sort of cognitive dissonance with taints every argument you make.

You're a joke, Noynoy, just like your namesake whom you frittered away your vote to.

Also, Noynoy, now that you are revealed as a big state supporter, I am interested in knowing more about your new political party.

Is this a pork barrel thing?
Does your support for Aquino mean you are hopeful of attracting more pork?

Nonoy Oplas Commenting without reading. My blog post was actually an attack on the administration without naming it. Pork as bribe by the Exec to the Legislative so that wasteful and corrupt spending by the former will be tolerated by the latter. The current PNoy admin, past Gloria, Erap, FVR, Cory admins were all guilty of such pork bribery. Hence, I did not single out any admin as all of them were guilty of such wasteful, big govt spending.

Some guys are just groggy or hurting that some people are not convinced by their pol advocacies.

Vincent Blas ^You realize that they’re all guilty, and still you want to keep the Presidency?

Nonoy Oplas If you want to put Binay as successor to Pnoy now, fine, do it, should make you happy. 

Religious Freedom vs. Freedom of Mobility

* This is my article today in thelobbyist.biz.
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Last Monday, October 14, 2013, the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) held a huge medical mission in several places in Manila City. The organizers announced that they expect to gather about 1.5 million people from many places in Metro Manila and neighboring provinces. In anticipation of the huge traffic, Manila Mayor Erap Estrada suspended  all classes from all levels in the city. Other cities in the metropolis also suspended classes up to high school as long convoys of vehicles from many places will be passing by their cities on their way to Manila.

This incident has angered many Filipinos, especially the non-Iglesia members. Hundreds of thousands of students from pre-school to tertiary were deprived of one day of schooling. Those with official and personal trips to and around Manila City suffered super heavy traffic, which started at dawn that day. Many people started queuing at designated places at dawn and hence, travelled to the place at midnight and early morning the previous day. The big volume of buses and jeepneys that ferried the people from different cities and provinces parked at no parking areas, further worsening an already bad traffic situation.

A friend, Dr. Bong Mendoza of the UP Political Science Department, commented in his facebook wall that “Religious freedom is not the freedom to inconvenience the metropolis. And complaining about the inconvenience is not a violation of religious freedom.”

I agree with Bong’s assessment. Freedom without responsibility is stupidity or dictatorship. If the INC officials and members can practice religious freedom, other people also have freedom of mobility,  freedom of education, freedom of commerce and so on. These various freedoms should not be trumped and sacrificed in advancing other people’s religious freedom.

An Iglesia member reacted to Bong’s comment, said that there is a need “to uphold the core value of humanity which is respect.”

I replied to this guy and asked if the INC also respected the right to mobility of other people? No. The INC threw its weight around. They have INC hospitals, churches, schools and so on where they can conduct such medical mission, daily if they want. Luneta and other big open spaces are also alternative venues. Not a bit, INC chose the heavily congested places of Manila, on a weekday.

If the INC wanted respect and understanding from the inconvenienced public, they should have anticipated those problems as it is not the first or second time that their big gatherings cause heavy traffic congestions and trip delays for many other people.

The INC guy replied that “there was no intent to disrespect anyone in the outreach. The argument of respect begets respect clearly does not apply. Why on a Monday? Because Weekends are our days of worship as well as Wed and Thursday…. INC helped thousands of families in Manila. I hope that while you contemplate on the inconvenience, you also realize the medical and relief help we have extended to these families.”

The alibi does not hold water. When you bring a million people or more in a small piece of land like Manila City in one day, the freedom of mobility of other people is immediately disrespected. The Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, lower courts in Manila have all suspended proceedings by afternoon of that day. Classes were suspended whole day. Religious and humanitarian freedom by INC has trumped all other freedoms -- freedom of fair court trial, freedom of education, freedom of mobility, freedom of commerce, others -- these were all rendered secondary or unnecessary that day.

Other INC members may feel that they are being discriminated against because such "rants" are not heard when the Catholics also hold religious-related activities like the Feast of Nazarene and Christmas holidays, where heavy traffic congestion is also experienced.

This is not a valid observation. The Catholic Nazarene Feast and its heavy traffic is confined around Quiapo area only and does not affect the outer rings and streets of Manila City, and definitely does not affect other neighboring cities. The Christmas season is feast and business season. Even atheists and agnostics enjoy the holidays, there are many reunions, partying, perhaps 99 percent of which are not related to religion.

The various city governments in Metro Manila M are also to blame for suspending classes. It is not a far out possibility that there is implicit pressure from INC that if those Mayors do not close schools in their areas, the INC may not support them in the 2016 elections. Many local and national politicians are afraid to antagonize a solid-voting INC bloc.

But even if the other city governments did not close schools that day, the fact that INC brought hundreds of thousands of its followers from northern, central and southern Luzon to Manila City, on a weekday, is already bad. INC has thrown its political weight around.

This should be another warning signal for the rest of Philippine electorates. A big religious bloc can throw its weight around and cause huge public inconvenience for one day or more, when its purported  goal, to conduct medical mission, can be done in other venues, or be phased into several days on smaller venues.


The medical mission was a political mission with a clear political statement. The inconvenienced public should also send a political statement to them: religious freedom cannot and should not undermine other individual freedoms. There are other ways so that any potential conflict between the two can be avoided,  but the INC leadership opted to highlight its own political statement.
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Thursday, October 17, 2013

EFN Asia 28: Program of the 2013 Conference in Bangkok

The EFN Asia 2013 Conference is all set next week, Monday and Tuesday, in Bangkok. The EFN and Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF) have partnered with two think tanks in Bangkok as their co-sponsors.


Here is the program. Department of Justice (DOJ) Assistant Secretary Geronimo "Indian" Sy will be the keynote speaker. ASec "Indian" is a friend since about 2001 when he was among the key debaters of the pilipinasforum@yahoogroups that I co-moderated, with lots of discussions and debates daily, from 2001 to around 2004. There was no facebook or friendster or twitter then.


The panel discussions 2 and 3 will feature speakers from several Asian countries like India, Thailand, Philippines, S. Korea and Sri Lanka. The welcome dinner program looks interesting too, a philosophical dialogue between Lao Tzu and Confucius, wow! It may be like the Socratic dialogue in Plato's "The Republic". I will also join the short talk by EFN member think tanks and individual scholars as Minimal Government Thinkers is among the active members of EFN Asia.

Day 2, Tuesday, will be the presentation of the result of the EFW 2014 Report by the Fraser Institute.


Panel discussions 4 and 5 will feature another batch of speakers from other Asian economies: Malaysia, China, India, Vietnam, Japan, Thailand, plus the US.


What's my role in this conference aside from the short discussion about MG Thinkers during the welcome dinner on Monday? Secret for now, but it's related with a post-conference project.

Stay tuned, I will try to blog and tweet as many panel discussions as possible this coming Monday and Tuesday.
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Lion Rock 10: On Having Centralized or Self-Government

This Saturday, I will attend the Reading Club Salon 2013 of the Lion Rock Institute in Hong Kong. It is a full day round table discussion with the theme this year, "Democracy -- Past, Present and Future".

There are dozens of reading materials. Today I read  Anti-Federalist Paper #3. This portion is cool.

'The only foreign, or at least evil foreign influence, must be obtained through corruption. Where the government is lodged in the body of the people, as in Switzerland, they can never be corrupted; for no prince, or people, can have resources enough to corrupt the majority of a nation; and if they could, the play is not worth the candle. The facility of corruption is increased in proportion as power tends by representation or delegation, to a concentration in the hands of a few. . . ."
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Yes, the main external or foreign source of social disharmony or even decay, is corruption from within, internal and self-inflicted misery. And that is why the more concentration of power in few people, more is corruption unleashed. Thus, people should not give too much power to any few people, even if they look like angels, even if they act and sound like angels.

"Where the people are free there can be no great contrast or distinction among honest citizens in or out of office. In proportion as the people lose their freedom, every gradation of distinction, between the Governors and governed obtains, until the former become masters, and the latter become slaves.... Our people are capable of being made anything that human nature was or is capable of, if we would only have a little patience and give them good and wholesome institutions; but I see none such and very little prospect of such. Alas! I see nothing in my fellow-citizens, that will permit my still fostering the delusion, that they are now capable of sustaining the weight of SELF-GOVERNMENT: a burden to which Greek and Roman shoulders proved unequal."

I agree with the statement that if people are free, corruption, extortion and distrust of the rule of law will significantly decline. And I think the "self government" here refers to a state of civil society. People are mature and responsible enough to run their own lives, their own communities, without much coercion and central planning.

"If the body of the people will not govern themselves, and govern themselves well too, the consequence is unavoidable — a FEW will, and must govern them. Then it is that government becomes truly a government by force only, where men relinquish part of their natural rights to secure the rest, instead of an union of will and force, to protect all their natural rights, which ought to be the foundation of every rightful social compact."

Yes, failure of "self government" would mean the success of coercive government. But such coercion is limited to protecting the people's natural rights. Right to life, right to private property, right to liberty.

"As to any nation attacking a number of confederated independent republics … it is not to be expected, more especially as the wealth of the empire is there universally diffused, and will not be collected into any one overgrown, luxurious and effeminate capital to become a lure to the enterprising ambitious."

Nice term, "overgrown, luxurious and effeminate capital" as magnet for foreign invasion.

"In small independent States contiguous to each other, the people run away and leave despotism to reek its vengeance on itself; and thus it is that moderation becomes with them, the law of self-preservation."

This is possible, so long as people have the freedom to "vote with their feet" or mobility among people across countries and continentis relatively easy.
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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Parliamentary Dumdum Emotionalism

* This is my guest post in antipinoy today.
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Some people have the habit or disease of attaching their particular advocacies to their personalities. They have intertwined the issue or message to their personal identity. Thus, "Advocacy X = Person X". An attack on issue or an advocacy is seen as an attack on that person. This is a pathetic if not psychotic attitude because other people normally criticize an idea, not the person or group of people. There is a distinction between the message and the messenger.

At the facebook group "Kilos Pinoy", owned and administered by a friend, James Mangun, Warlito Vicente posted this poster sometime last week.

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I commented on it by way of posting quotes from some free market thinkers.

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Another free marketer friend, Carlos Tapang, also commented and we have a brief issue-based exchange.

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Then the convenor of CORRECT Movement, Orion Dumdum Perez came in full of personal attacks. This is a type of guy who thinks that his advocacy for Parliamentary form of government is similar to his person. So an attack on the Parliamentary form of government, even being simply unconvinced of it, is considered as an attack on himself.

ap4

I am envious of his CORRECT Movement? Why, am I a politician competing with another politician for a particular political office? Am I competing for funding with his CORRECT donors? None of it. It is an illusory statement from an insecure mind.

I am an ingrate? True that Dumdum introduced me to the host of one GNN tv public affairs program host, and true that I was a guest in one of his programs. I must have failed to thank Dumdum 50x or 100x, I think I thanked him only once or twice, too bad. But I don't think I attacked him or his life and soul advocacy of Parliamentarism. I have been an agnostic on the form of government ever since, until now. I do not attack the Parliamentary of Presidential form of government per se, rather, I attack BIG and intrusive government, whether Parliamentary of Presidential. Dumdum posted long, trying to convince me and everyone who bothers to read his long postings fine. But here's the disease: If those long postings do not work and you remain unconvinced, woe upon you. Personal attacks and emotionalism will be launched upon you.

Then called me "evil as his apprentice and protege Froilan Bersamina... lunatic Talibannic extremist... Insane." This man must be suffering from some mental disorder. My critic above is against BIG and intrusive government, both parliamentary and presidential, never against Parliamentary form or Presidential form per se.  I criticize people though, who fashion themselves as "free marketers" but cannot explicitly criticize BIG and ever-expanding government, but I avoid mentioning names as much as possible.

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See the repeated personal attacks. Too much angst, too much insecurity publicly advertised.

I remember the RH bill debate. Some "free marketers" supported further expansion of government, allowing the State to impose sex education in the elementary and high school curriculum, impose mandatory and obligatory pro-bono (ie, free) RH services by OB Gyne and other RH practitioners for several hours a year, and so on. I did not support that bill not for any religious reason but for the simple reason that it further expands and already intrusive government.

This is one instance where the proponent of that RH law, parliamentary or presidential government, does not matter. What matters is further expansion of that government and it must not be supported, if one advocates for free market and limited government.
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