Thursday, April 08, 2010

Government: coercion and corruption

There was an old Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey in 2003, the SWS Enterprises Survey: Business has Resources to Fight Corruption, but Must Cut its Dishonest Practices.

The paper was discussed in one of my yahoogroups. One member considered the Department of Finance (DOF) as the "baddest" agency in terms of corruption.

I think the "baddest" is the Office of the President (OP). Government is all about power, force and coercion. Government is never about voluntary exchange, it's all about coercive exchange. Government says, "I take your money (taxes and fees), I give you this policeman, this DPWH inspector, this BIR assessor,... whether you like them or not, they are your public officials."

The office with the greatest power, greatest force and coercion (being the commander-in- chief of the AFP and the boss of the PNP chief) is the OP. So no agency in the Executive branch can be worse than the OP. And since the head is rotten, many agencies below can be equally rotten. Like the agencies under the DOF (BIR and BOC especially), the AFP, PNP. DPWH, etc.

I do not favor zero taxes. That's equivalent to zero government. I favor minimal taxes for minimal government. Maybe 3 or 4 different taxes and that's all, the rest are abolishable.

A friend working at the DOF commented that the above comment is too denigrating for them and the entire bureaucracy. I apologies to her for the rather harsh indictment of the Executive branch, including the office headed by my former boss 2x, Gary Teves. But it is simply impossible for people to consider many staff of those agencies as "honest". This is not to say that they are 100% rotten, perhaps 75% rotten and 25% decent,or vice versa. But even a 1% rot can give the impression that the rot is bigger than that if that 1% is the frontline people that the public see.

May I expand my indictment to include the institution that I worked for 9 years in the 90s, the House of Representatives. I've seen a number of rotten eggs in that agency, that's why I was very happy when I jumped out of govt and joined the private sector -- Gary Teves' Think Tank, Inc.

All these public noise about "bad governance" mainly refer to the government -- the executive, legislative, judiciary. It's not much with the private sector. If people find Henry Sy as a jack__s, then people have the option to boycott Henry Sy and his companies -- SM, BDO, etc., fine. They can patronize Gokongwei's malls, or Ayala's malls, or other malls, or simply not visit any mall at all. There is choice.

In government, choice is almost zero. Especially if you are a fixed income earner. That is why since government is an imposition, a coercion in body and spirit, then such coercion should not be big. Let there be big coercion and over-regulation of criminals, rapists, killers, thieves, land-grabbers, extortionists, etc. But there should be little or zero coercion in work, entrepreneurship and job creation.

The DOF in particular is in an ugly position. It's mandate is to tax and penalize those who create jobs, those who produce various goods and services in society. Is your job to steal and kidnap children? DOF will not deal with you. Is your job to manufacture food, retail medicines, distribute housing materials, operate an internet shop? DOF and the BIR, BOC will deal with you. If there are only 2-4 taxes to pay each year, at low rates, I guess people won't hate the DOF's frontline agencies. But since there are one dozen to 4 dozen taxes and fees to pay, including those imposed by other agencies and LGUs who also want a slice of the sweat and blood of the job creators and workers, then people begin to dislike, if not hate, them taxes and fees collectors.

No comments: