Saturday, May 15, 2021

Inequality 40, Real minimum wage is zero

A good paper on labor policy by Dr. Gerry Sicat, former NEDA Chief and retired Prof. at UPSE:

Making labor policies modern and flexible
Gerardo P. Sicat - May 12, 2021 - 12:00am
(Continued from April 14, 2021)

"Because the minimum wage laws protect the entrenched workers and those with better skills, the young cannot find good jobs that enable them to build upon a work experience. As a result they end up either unemployed or finding very low productivity jobs."

True. Because the real minimum wage is zero. If people cannot be hired because the state-mandated and legislated minimum wage (to fight "labor exploitation") is beyond capacity of the employer, many people become jobless, and that is the "wage" that the jobless get, zero, nada. Very often people employ themselves via the informal sector (street/ambulant vendor, tricycle driver, etc) and there is no fixed and stable income, the average pay is low.

So a true modern labor policy is zero government legislation, zero DOLE or LGU orders on minimum wage. Of course this is easier said than done, socialist and Marxist belief in capitalist "exploitation of workers" is still prevalent until now. (This photo from

Hong kong for many years has no minimum wage law. So the labor market was very dynamic, unempl rate was about 1-2% which is technically, a full employment econ bec the 1-2% are "voluntary unemployed", like being offered salary of X per month but the person has a "reservation wage" of 1.25X and so the person is not taking the job offer. Then the local bleeding hearts activists plus socialists from China lobbied for minimum wage in HK. 

My free market friends at Lion Rock Institute (LRI) in HK opposed the min wage legislation. They asked the HK parliamentarians:

LRI: What will you do for those who won't be hired because of high min wage?

HK parliamentarians: We will give them unemployment allowance. 

LRI: we tell our kids that we must do hard work to prosper, now they see some parents get money even if they are not working, what values do we tell our kids?

HK parliamentarians: (the sound of silence, ala Simon and Garfunkel)

Nonetheless, the socialists and bleeding hearts always win, so HK has a min wage law several years ago.

See also: 
Inequality 37, Freebies forever, March 04, 2019 
Inequality 38, Forbes' billionaires 2019, March 06, 2019 
Inequality 39, Capitalism and its detractors, October 03, 2019.
Welfarism 36, On mandatory 20% discount for seniors, PWDs, June 13, 2020.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

BWorld 487, Vaccination rates and lockdown

* My column in BusinessWorld, May 11, 2021.

One of the promises or hypotheses of all these hurried vaccines is that as more people are vaccinated, COVID-19 cases and deaths will decline as people will no longer suffer severe cases of infection. Has this been achieved?

I personally wanted to see a quantitative answer to this question. I got data on vaccination by country from I chose countries with high vaccination rates. Then I checked their respective COVID-19 cases by country from

The result is interesting, or confusing. There are countries with high vaccination rates (at least one dose) of 45% to 69% of their total population and yet have rising cases. These are the Seychelles, the Maldives, Bahrain, and Mongolia.

Then there are countries that followed the promise and hypothesis, high vaccination rates of 44% to 63%, and cases-deaths are falling. These are Israel, the United Kingdom, the USA, and Hungary (see Chart A).

And there are countries with high vaccination rates of 32% to 44% and cases are fluctuating or mildly declining but still at high levels. These are Chile, Qatar, Canada, Uruguay, and Germany.

I added Japan and the Philippines, with low vaccination rates of only 2.4% and 1.7%, respectively. The Philippines experienced cases of 4,000 per day starting March 12, two weeks after Sinovac started being administered on March 1, then 6,000 to 10,000 per day has become normal from mid-March to the present (see Chart B).

These results are not exactly inspiring or assuring for people to get the rushed vaccines.

Meanwhile, the indefinite lockdown, 14 months straight, continues to damage the Philippine economy. See this column’s previous piece,, and here are additional indicators.

One, the Philippine Stock Exchange remains the worst performer in the Asia Pacific region, year to date (Jan. 1 to May 7, 2021) contraction of -12.3% vs growth in Hong Kong of 5.1%, Japan of 7%, Thailand of 9.4%, South Korea of 11.3%, Singapore of 12.5%, and so on.

Two, government borrowings are worsening. In 2019, government borrowings to cover the budget deficit and other obligations was P0.88 trillion, this rose to P2.5 trillion in 2020 (a nearly threefold increase), and P1.19 trillion in the first quarter 2021 or nearly one half of the full year 2020 level. The outstanding debt stock in 2019 was P8.22 trillion, this rose to P10.25 trillion in 2020 or an increase of P2.03 trillion, and P10.77 trillion in Q1 2021.

Three, more government debt means more taxes, fees, fines and penalties that will be imposed on the public. Among the new taxes being pushed are: 1.) a wealth tax, pushed by former National Economic and Development Authority Secretary Winnie Monsod, 2.) a carbon tax of $25 per ton of CO2 emission, pushed by the IMF, and, 3.) a real property valuation tax hike, pushed by the Bureau of Local Government Finance of the Department of Finance.

Four, the country’s first quarter 2021 GDP (to be released on May 11) is expected to see a continued contraction of -2.6% based on a BusinessWorld poll of 18 analysts. In contrast, our neighbors that already reported their Q1 2021 GDP have already shown recovery: Taiwan’s is 8.2%, Hong Kong’s 7.8%, Vietnam’s 4.5%, South Korea’s 1.8%, and Singapore’s 0.2%.

On May 3, the Concerned Doctors and Citizens of the Philippines met with Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, and a week before that, on April 29, the group also met with Senator Francis Tolentino. Both Senators plus Sen. Bong Revilla have expressed support for the group’s efforts and advocacies to lift the lockdown via a Focused Protection Plan of frontliners and vulnerables (elderly and with comorbidities) with ivermectin and early treatment, and home care treatment for those with symptoms to avoid hospitalization.

The government body, led by the Department of Health, that decided on these 14 months of indefinite lockdown has become the Inter-Agency to Terminate Functional businesses (IATF). The country’s 2020 GDP of P17.5 trillion was even lower than 2018 GDP of P18.3 trillion even though the population has increased by around 3.4 million people. The IATF officials must have the humility to accept that 14 months of lockdown have produced no meaningful decline in cases and deaths. Making people economically and mentally stressed out for more than a year is itself an immune system-depressing policy.

Now that ivermectin can be mass produced with Food and Drug Administration’s pullback from hard opposition to this drug, the IATF must lift the lockdown starting May 15, or at least move to the lowest level of quarantine, Modified General Community Quarantine, nationwide and remove many travel and business restrictions.

See also:
BWorld 484, Earth Day, Greenpeace and the RE lobby, April 22, 2021 
BWorld 485, 10 reasons to lift the lockdown, April 30, 2021 
BWorld 486, What is the optimal energy mix? May 05, 2021.

Covid 36, CDC PH new website, FB disabled-restored again the group page

The Concerned Doctors and Citizens of the Philippines (CDC PH) has a new website,  The group was formed in September 2020 with the main goal of "Lift the Lockdown, Flatten the Fear." 

I am not among the original members, I joined it about a week after its launching when the core group felt they needed an economist in the group to discuss and help explain to the public the economic impact of the lockdown. I have been critical of the lockdown even before it was imposed by the government in March 16, 2020. My first two articles arguing for lifting the lockdown were:

End the lockdown, no more extension
April 22, 2020 | 7:05 pm

Growth lockdown and Solar sa Politika
May 6, 2020 | 9:27 pm

CDC PH has a FB page before with 30k+ members already, then FB just took it down. The group created a new page and when there were few thousand member, FB again took it down.

I created the current CDC PH group,, last April 1, I think. Since then, FB has disabled it twice already, last week, See
Facebook disabled CDC PH group, then restored it, May 05, 2021.

Today, FB disabled again the group's page, and restored after few hours. It has 6,800+ members and followers.

FB hates discussion about Ivermectin (IVM) and its beneficial effect on people both as prophylaxis against Covid (preventive, person is not sick) and early treatment (person has symptoms already, still at home) to avoid hospitalization. FB has "fact checkers" who seem to be heavily biased against IVM and following the main WHO-DOH-pharma-medical groups' main narrative and agenda -- vax vax vax.

So the CDC PH group will likely be disabled again by FB again and again because majority if not all members and followers of the page are pro-IVM. Big tech with Big power to decide which stories and data should be allowed or not allowed.

See also:
Covid 33, CDC PH statement on lifting the lockdown, April 28, 2021 
Covid 34, Drs. Romy Quijano and Iggy Agbayani on IVM, May 05, 2021 
Covid 35, Dr. Rafael Castillo letter to HPAAC, May 06, 2021.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Climate 100, Marc Morano lecture

I watched a lecture by Marc Morano in Heartland Institute and hosted by Sterling Burnett, cool.
ICCC-14 Preview, Ep. 2: Marc Morano on his new best-seller, "Green Fraud",

Marc has many slides, I repost below some interesting ones. To save space, I put them side by side.

Some old stories here.

Brutal 2020/21 Northern Hemisphere Winter One For Record Books…And Continues Into Late April! 
By P Gosselin on 21. April 2021

Where Is The “Climate Emergency”?
Willis Eschenbach  April 25, 2021

UAH Global Temperature Update for April 2021: -0.05 deg. C 
May 2nd, 2021

See also:
Climate 97, Econ and infra implications of a cooling planet, February 24, 2021 
Climate 98, Australia's worst flooding for decades, March 25, 2021 
Climate 99, Cooling trend, virus alarm and climate alarm, April 15, 2021.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Five quarters of consecutive Philippines GDP contraction

Today, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) released the country's Q1 GDP, it's -4.2%. So five quarters of consecutive contraction.

We should congratulate these very bright doctors and groups for endlessly calling for lockdown, which are music to the ears of the DOH and IATF -- Drs. Leachon, Salvana, OCTA, PMA, HPAAC, etc. They are very bright physician-economists, their indefinite lockdown as economic policy, their designation of businesses and work which are essential and non-essential, which businesses should continue and which ones should go bankrupt, have been carried out for 14 months straight, and the above chart is the result of their bright policy.

The -4.2% contraction is also deeper than what many private and academic economists have predicted, median of -2.6%. This was published in BusinessWorld yesterday.

Jonas Ravelas of BDO (-4.5%) and Alvin Ang/Ateneo (-3.8%) have good assumptions and hence, good projections. The others, especially those with -3% or higher have poor assumptions. All projections are as good only as their assumptions. Lousy assumptions, lousy projections. Like climate and ever-warming projections.

In our UP ETC chat group, I have an exchange last night with a friend, ADB guy, he projected -3%. I said my projection is -3% to -4%, or around -3.5%. My basis is electricity consumption. Meralco electricity sales Q1 was -4% drop, WESM electricity consumption for Luzon-Visayas grids Q1 was about -4.3% so I was looking at -4% originally.

Also in Q1 2020, all provincial buses were still running, many hotels and restaurants open, until March 15. Lockdown ECQ was imposed March 16. Whereas in Q1 2021, about 90% of all provincial buses still not running, many hotels and resorts still close. This alone would lead to deep dive in GDP Q1 this year.

IATF policies lead to major economic distortions. Like putting Metro Manila + neighbor provinces Bulacan, Rizal, Cavite under is ECQ or MECQ, then nearby provinces like Tarlac, Pangasinan, N. Ecija, Batangas, etc erect checkpoints and stop ALL vehicles if motorists have travel passes. If they don't have one, they are told to turn back. Government personnel and motorists are often exempted, even if they have no travel pass they just allowed to proceed, among the regular government double talk.

Household consumption constitutes about 70% of GDP. Here are the components and performance.

Notice that Q1 2021 Household consumption of P3.15 trillion is at similar level with Q3 2018 of P3.15 trillion, 2 1/2 years ago.

As of today May 11, seven East Asian economies have reported their Q1 2021 GDP:Taiwan 8.2%, Hong Kong 7.8%, Vietnam 4.5%, South Korea 1.8%, Singapore 0.2%, Indonesia -0.7%, Philippines -4.2%. China reported 18.3% growth but CN is known for doctored and dishonest econ data.
So far PH remains the worst performing economy in the region.a

Is a 7% full year 2021 GDP growth possible? 
No. Best scenario would be 5-6. Here's why.
At -4.2% contraction in Q1, that means average growth in the next three quarters, Q2 to Q4 must be at least 9.3% to have full year 7% growth, Which is impossible. First half of Q2 (April 1 to May 15) we are still in tight lockdown ECQ or MECQ, the best we can grow in Q2 might be 5%.

See also:
The Constitution and FDIs, February 16, 2021 
Household debt to GDP ratio, March 23, 2021 
Modest growth in Q1 2021, some Asian countries, April 30, 2021.

Saturday, May 08, 2021

Weekend Fun 77, Duwag sa curfew, Duwag sa Carpio

Yesterday, the #1 trending topic in Twitter in the Philippines was #DuterteDuwag (Duterte a coward).

Here are some of the memes posted in Twitter, this one is among the funniest :-)


It started with the President challenging early this week the retired SC Justice Antonio Carpio to a debate on the West PH Sea (WPS) or SCS and China stealing of some Philippine territories. Yesterday he backed out -- as expected by many people.

Chill out, Mr. President. Many people are laughing at you.

See also:
Weekend Fun 74, CNN as the US' "Baghdad Bob", August 29, 2020
Weekend Fun 75, Lockdown, inflation, climate memes, April 02, 2021 
Weekend Fun 76, Drunk politicians and other professionals, April 25, 2021.

Thursday, May 06, 2021

Covid 35, Dr. Rafael Castillo letter to HPAAC

This was shared by Doc Raffy Castillo to CDC PH, posted in the group's fb page, shared also in many Viber groups. Doc Raffy is among the most prominent cardiologists in the country. I was there at Brgy. Matandang Balara, QC, event last April 29. I was surprised at the huge number of media people who attended, aside from the locals and Brgy residents who came. I attach three photos I took that day, below.

5 May, 2021

Healthcare Professionals Alliance Against Covid 9 (HPAAC)

Dear Tony, Warm greetings.

I feel saddened to read your statement today, as well as separate but similarly worded statements from the Philippine Medical Association (PMA) and the Philippine College of Physicians (PCP).

This letter is not a complaint but a firm request that HAACP and its member medical organizations, the PMA and PCP, immediately correct the disinformation or misinformation created by your respective advisories that doctors prescribing Ivermectin off-label for Covid-19 outside the compassionate special permit (CSP) are violating the law and may be sanctioned for such act. In effect, you were categorically stating that there is no other legally allowed authorization for the prescription of ivermectin except through the CSP pathway.

May I cite Director-General Eric Domingo’s clarification in various media interviews on this subject that there is no FDA policy prohibiting Ivermectin prescription off-label, with the prescription served by licensed compounding pharmacies. These interviews in print and broadcast media can be easily accessed online.

Quite a number of doctors exercising their right to prescribe a drug they believe to be beneficial to their patients have been unduly threatened by the half-accurate statements and advisories of the HPAAC, PMA and PCP.

Not only were the doctors’ and patients’ rights violated, but your separate unfairly harsh statements have caused them and their families undue anxiety and distress of possible license revocation or criminal prosecution.

Your statement likewise generated a malicious imputation that the medical volunteers including myself who participated in the charity medical mission at Matandang Balara, Quezon City last week (April 29, Thursday) committed an illegal act of disseminating Ivermectin. This is not only an utter show of disrespect to colleagues in the medical profession, but a serious attack on the reputation and integrity of the medical volunteers involved.

You were not even there to witness the kind of service we gave all who sought our assistance face-to-face, not in the comfort, convenience and protection of a telemedicine app. We rendered our service willingly, gladly and wholeheartedly. How many of you and your colleagues will be willing to render free face-to-face consultation in a Covid- infested area?

You know very well that I, an elderly high-risk Covid survivor, would not have risked my health getting another infection if I and the other medical volunteers didn’t strongly believe that we’re doing something that is more important than our own personal safety. Did you and your colleagues in HPAAC, PMA and PCP think of that even for a single moment? Instead, your statements made us appear as irresponsible medical practitioners, prescribing medicines that are unsafe for the public, and we may be compromising their safety and welfare.

The medical volunteers and the other organizers of the QC medical mission seek no recognition for what we have done, but to be subjected to the kind of humiliation and rebuke which your statements have caused us, attacks the very foundation of our society where mutual respect is a fundamental value.

We are truly saddened because your serious imputations on our reputation and integrity could have been easily prevented with a little due diligence of finding out the true facts, instead of relying on malicious fake news. With simple web browsing, you should have updated yourselves of the FDA circular of April 13, 2021, signed by FDA Deputy Director-General Oscar Gutierrez, Jr. who emphasized that ivermectin is “authorized” by the FDA. This means it cannot be considered an illegal drug.

Various newspapers reported it also prominently (FDA: No policy prohibiting Ivermectin,

In several other FDA advisories, the FDA also reiterated that doctors are allowed to prescribe Ivermectin off-label for Covid-19. In several media interviews, Director- General Eric Domingo, also affirmed it, that the FDA does not have a policy banning or prohibiting Ivermectin prescription or consumption within the provisions they have set for either CSP in hospitalized patients, and for off-label prescribing by doctors for ambulatory patients or out-patients.

In the April 13 statement, FDA Deputy Director-General Gutierrez, Jr. emphasized that Ivermectin is “authorized” by the FDA. This means it cannot be considered an illegal drug.

The statement further advised that pharmacists, who hold valid licenses, can compound Ivermectin and dispense compounded drug preparations “upon a written order” of a doctor for patients seen by the doctor. All of these requirements were complied with during the QC medical mission.

Despite the serious actual and moral damages that your statements have caused the medical volunteers in the QC medical mission, and all who prescribe Ivermectin off-label for their patients, we hold no rancor in our hearts.

But we demand that the HPAAC, PMA and PCP immediately correct, within 72 hours from receipt of this letter, the disinformation you had caused and apologize for having unduly violated the rights of the medical volunteers and caused actual and moral damages on them.

If you fail to correct the injustice you had caused the medical volunteers and other Ivermectin advocates within 72 hours, then we shall be compelled to exhaust all possible legal remedies to seek redress for this grave injustice.

We pray that you be guided properly.

Wishing you the love and peace only Jesus can provide,

Sincerely yours,

Rafael R. Castillo, MD, MBA, FPCP, FPCC, FESC, ISHF

Cc: Department of Health,
Professional Regulations Commission,
Philippine Food and Drug Administration,
Philippine Medical Association,
Philippine College of Physicians,
Concerned Doctors and Citizen of the Philippines,
Matandang Balara, QC Medical Mission Organizing Committee

See also:
Covid 27, Dr. Rafael Castillo on vaccine, Ivermectin, and lifting the lockdown, March 24, 2021
Covid 32, Continuing economic damage of indefinite lockdown, April 23, 2021 
Covid 33, CDC PH statement on lifting the lockdown, April 28, 2021 
Covid 34, Drs. Romy Quijano and Iggy Agbayani on IVM, May 05, 2021.

IPR and Innovation 49, Planned compulsory licensing on Covid vax

I just noticed there are many efforts to kill intellectual property rights (IPR) like the proposed compulsory licensing (CL) on patent of new vaccines vs Covid. See these for instance:

1. Calls for Compulsory Licensing and IP Waivers of COVID-19 Vaccines Ignore Technical Complexities 
By Joanna T. Brougher, Esq., MPH & Andrew Kingsbury  March 30, 2021

2. Compulsory licensing and Covid-19 vaccines: when fake news spoil the public debate
Matthieu Dhenne (Ipsilon)/April 14, 2021 

3. Free licensing of vaccines to end the COVID-19 crisis
Kayvan Bozorgmehr, Rosa Jahn, David Stuckler, Martin McKee
Published:March 18, 2021 DOI:

4. U.S. Vaccine Patent Surprise Roils Pharma as WTO Debate Heats Up 
By Jenny Leonard, Eric Martin, and Viktoria Dendrinou
May 6, 2021, 2:57 AM GMT+8

5. EU May Join US In Backing Proposal To Waive COVID Vaccine Patents 
Tyler Durden  THURSDAY, MAY 06, 2021 - 07:00 AM

6. ANALYSIS: In a decision on COVID-19 vaccine patents, Joe Biden chose humanity 
By Stephen Collinson  May 6, 2021 11:08:42 AM

With vax vax vax pushing, there was love affair among Pfizer, AZ, Moderna, JnJ, etc. and WHO, Biden, Fauci, etc. Now with IPR-busting policy like CL of these newly-invented vax, it will be Pfizer, AZ, Moderna, etc. versus WHO, Biden, Fauci, etc. (this meme from

This should be a big fight, Big pharma vs Big government, Big UN/WHO. I will watch with popcorn and whiskey :-)

CNN has joined the ideological attacks on IPR with its cute headline "Joe Biden chose humanity." Fine. But will CNN also pressure China to have CL for their Sinovac so that "Xi Jinping chose humanity"? If No, then CNN further shows its partly (not entirely) becomes the China News Network.

If Biden and WHO will double down on CL for all western vax, CNN, NYT, etc will echo their position. But will these Big media be silent on CL for Sinovac, Sinopharm?

One may ask, who wants CL for Sinovac anyway?

Good question. If they have to be consistent, they must call for CL for Sinovac. But all leftists are inconsistent, they favor one and attack another one.

Now vax-pushing WHO praises China's Sinovac.

Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine effective but some data lacking – WHO 
Reuters, MAY 6, 2021 11:25 AM PHT

Will WHO also call for CL of Sinovac since it's "effective" anyway? Or like CNN, WHO will only threaten western vax with CL but spare Sinovac from their IPR attacks? If Yes, then WHO somehow confirms that it's partly a Wuhan Health Organization.

The free market think tank Geneva Network has a sane and rational view on IPR.

IP rights are the key to Covid-19 vaccines 
Prof. Mark Schultz  February 3, 2021

Meanwhile, suspicious moves by Pfizer. 

1. Pfizer CEO: Third vaccine dose ‘likely’ needed within 12 months
Researchers currently do not know how long vaccines provide protection against the coronavirus.
16 Apr 2021

2. FDA says Pfizer likely to apply for EUA extension of COVID-19 jabs for Filipinos aged 12 to 15
By: Cathrine Gonzales / 09:37 AM May 04, 2021

NYT noticed Pfizer profit, this story could be a precursor for NYT joining the CL attacks. 

Pfizer Reaps Hundreds of Millions in Profits From Covid Vaccine
The company said its vaccine generated $3.5 billion in revenue in the first three months of this year.
By Rebecca Robbins and Peter S. Goodman  May 4, 2021  Updated 9:26 a.m. ET

See also:
IPR and Innovation 46, IP rules and Covid-19, April 17, 2020 
IPR and Innovation 47, Our Joint Declaration on WHA, May 18, May 21, 2020 
IPR and Innovation 48, More medicine access via lower taxes and bureaucracies, November 08, 2020.