Thursday, November 09, 2006

CSOs and State 2: NGOs and Government Clubs

There are plenty of world forum/meetings by statists and socialist-oriented civil society groups, as well as clubs by governments and international bureaucrats. Among these are:

1. World Social Forum (WSF) – “an annual meeting held by members of the anti-globalization movement to coordinate world campaigns, share and refine organizing strategies”, according to its main website. In the WSF India held in mid-November 2006, it describes it as a forum of “groups and movements of civil society that are opposed to neo- liberalism and to domination of the world by capital and any form of imperialism”. In short, it is the forum of anti-globalization, anti-market, anti-capitalism, anti-free trade, sort of anti-everything NGOs, media people, academics, etc. They mobilize many people in WTO Ministerial meeting, in G8 summit, in annual WB-IMF meeting, in WEF, as well as their own-initiated international meetings.

2. International People’s Forum (IPF) – it “demands for multilateral debt cancellation, transparency and participatory audits of international financial institutions (IFI) lending and policies, and an end to IFI involvement in privatization of public services and environmentally destructive projects”. It was formed in Singapore during the WB-IMF Annual Meeting held in that city-state in September 2006. Many of the IPF members or convenors are also WSF members.

3 World Economic Forum (WEF) – a private international organization that links big businessmen with political leaders around the world, with occasional participation by big NGO leaders. It’s a smaller gathering compared to WSF but more influential economically and politically.

4 WB-IMF Annual Meeting – a gathering of international bureaucrats of these 2 bodies plus finance ministers, central bank governors, other top bureaucrats of member-countries. Selected number of civil society leaders (often among WSF leaders also) are also invited by the WB-IMF guys.

5 G8 Summit – a gathering of the Presidents or Prime Ministers of 8 industrialized countries + big developing countries like China, Brazil, India, etc.

6. Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) – a club of governments of 30 industrialized and industrializing countries around the world promoting “democratic government and the market economy”.

7. United Nations (UN) – the mother of all international bureaucracies. Somehow the name “united nations” is a misnomer; a more appropriate term should have been “United Governments”. Though a number of international “public goods” have been addressed by the UN, it has also introduced a number of international “public bads”, like the justification if not promotion of high taxation in many countries to finance more government- and UN-sponsored projects.

While many civil society groups are very critical of multilateral institutions like the WB-IMF, government clubs like the UN, G8, OECD, and private international for a like WEF, those civil society groups actually have more similarities than differences with them. That is, they are mostly statists and forced collectivists. They want the state to have bigger intervention in the citizens’ lives. They want individual’s incomes to be forcibly collectivized, and individual responsibilities be transformed to state and collective responsibilities.

The only difference between those who criticize and those being criticized, is the degree of intervention to be slapped on the citizens; ie, the level of taxation that will be confiscated from the citizens’ pockets, the level of budgetary reallocation, and level of subsidies that will be given to the poor. While the WB-IMF and government clubs can tolerate a certain level of de-governmentization through privatization and economic deregulations, the statist NGOs want socialism-type of income confiscation and welfare distribution.

Free marketers can criticize both groups because they advocate very small income confiscation, small government intervention, and bigger individual freedom and responsibility. Individuals, not just big corporations, comprise markets. Thus, to liberalize markets is to liberalize individuals.

Last March 23, 2006, I wrote this:

The Elites and the Statists

A friend, Atty. Ime Deinla, called my attention to a paper entitled "Voices from the Top of the Pile: Elite Perceptions of Poverty and the Poor in the Philippines", authored by Gerard Clarke and Marites Sison. It was in a pdf formal file, 28 pages long, no date of publication or name of paper where it was published. I skimmed through the pages and read the concluding points, and this part is a disappointment to me. The authors wrote,
The Filipino elite feel a sense of responsibility to the poor, but this responsibility is met through the provision of assistance on a patron-client or philantrophic activity, rather than more substantive commitment to redistributive action led by the state, involving for instance, elaborate social safety nets financed by higher taxes.
Ouch! We don't have enough taxes, we need to create more? And our taxes ain't high enough, we need to hike them more? Socialists, statists and interventionists really like this line. Confiscate more income and savings from the rich, from the elite, from the productive sectors of society, and give them to the poor, the downtrodden, the weak. And an elaborate maze of bureaucracies, multiple-layers of politicians, with rah-rah boys from many NGOs and civil societies as middlemen between the two.

I have said it and I will say it again: poverty is very often self-inflicted.
Recipe #1 to be poor: Just be a lazy bum, don't work hard (if at all), drink and party too often; you'd rather drink and discuss with other guys how hard life is, how govt. and the church and the rich and your relatives abandon you, while a piece of land near your house which could have been planted to vegetables or raising farm animals are full of tall cogons, other grasses and vines.

Recipe #2: Be lazy and have plenty of kids, be irresponsible; anyway, government will confiscate rich people's income and savings to educate and feed your kids.

Recipe #3: Work hard and earn big (like working abroad), but also spend hard and save nothing; when the rainy days come, nothing to dig from the pockets.

There are other natural causes (like your house and car and land were gobbled by a volcanic eruption or a big landslide, or cracked to pieces by a strong earthquake) and other people-caused miseries (like your house burned, your car stolen, your land grabbed, your family members beaten and imprisoned for unjustified reasons) to explain poverty. And my favorite, government and its underdevelopmental roles of high and multiple taxes; costly and multiple requirements, permits, licenses, registrations, inspections, accreditations, before one can even start a carinderia or vulcanizing shop, if you do not want to be labelled as "underground" economy and "tax evader".

I would also add that philantrophy should not be dismissed as if it's an insignificant and near useless act, not to be pooh-poohed as encouraging patron-client mentality. Philantrophy and charity signify 2 important things:

(1) It is a voluntary act by an individual or group of individuals in a voluntary organization (club, association, brotherhood, etc.), not mandated by the constitution or by legislation or by an executive order; and
(2) Its funding is from the individuals' savings, from hard work, not from taxes and forced contribution.

Of course, some guys and organizations or foundations use charity for tax-shield purposes. But that's primarily because taxes are high and a plenty, and it's not the taxpayers who determine where the tax money goes, but the politicians and top government bureaucrats.

Ooppss, these kind of remarks would probably alert the authors, Clarke and Sison, to call Oplas "one of the elites". Wrrooonnggg!! Este, riiiigghhhtttt pala!
I'm E-lectrifyingly L-ovable, I-nsiduous, and T-antalizingly E-lectrifying! That's ELITE! hehehe, joke.

The paper is commendable though for gathering a big number of insightful interviewees, from politicians to businessmen to academics and NGO leaders.

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