Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Drug Innovation 11: They Create Cures or Customers?

The pharmaceutical industry -- mainly grouped between the innovators and the generic producers, but often associated with the former -- always evokes lots of emotive comments, factual or not. Like this image below, posted by "Juicing Vegetables" page in facebook last Sunday.

As of this writing (9:20am, Manila time), it has attracted 6,667 likes, 7,117 shares, and 212 comments.

I am posting below some of those comments. They offer a wide variety of perspectives and opinions. Should be useful to both the pharma industry and its detractors/haters. You may see 212 comments in facebook here. It should become 300+, 500+ later. Enjoy

Glen Kolenc It's naive to think a whole industry can exist without making a profit. I wouldn't work in any industry or job for nothing. Really this is business 101 - a business must profit to survive! Just because pharmaceutical companies profit, doesn't mean they aren't doing something for the good of people.

I also think its naive and irresponsible to think that pharma companies are responsible for our health. We need to take matters into our own hands.... If you are unwell, do as many healthy/natural remedies as possible but also go to the doctors. Take medicine if u need it but don't blindly think a tablet will cure everything. But don't be a fool & ignore the fact that medicines do save lives

Patricia Bruch We're all human guinea pigs. They get rich and some of us survive with no lasting effects. I understand they have to make a profit but at what cost? There are so many side effects from many of the pharmaceuticals out there that you have to wonder is it worth the risk? I for one did not take a prescribed medication because I really want to keep my Esophagus. It was stressed to me several times that erosion was a common side effect. Why would I take it??? 
 Julia Robinson Randolph My husband works for Abbott/Abbvie. He has never once decided to become a scientist for the profit!! He wanted to be a positive influence in this world. There are plenty of diseases out there that cannot be helped by nature alone and need help from medicine. Many meds. are not just chemicals either....Scientist work with nature as well. My husband has a PhD and went to school plus internship for over 10 years to make meds to help very serious diseases!! The amount of money it costs to make a single pill to help desperate people is amazing. There are other people such as celebrities, athletes, political folks, and bankers who make ten times more money than my husband, more actually. We are only middle class and struggle to make payments on bills like everyone else!! Stop poking at the pharma companies for without them, we would all be in serious trouble!! Nature needs alot of help!! I wish I could publicly tell you all that my husband has helped discover for many people's benefit, but I can't...Please stop making my husband look like some sort of profit monster bec. he works many, many hours to help others, and we do not drive new cars or have a million dollar home. 
Terri Basting He is probably a noble man, but somebodys getting rich at the cost of many. 
Aloysius Nelson those that involve in the profit gaining of prescription drugs,and those that support them,will never admits that over the counter drugs cause more problem to people more than it solve them,so who is the naive one? 
Yvone Fuqua It's not that they are making money, it's that they are HELPING the largest ELITE to BLOCK cures when all...... and I MEAN ALL of this was created IN the FOOD PROCESSING. MORE JUNK = MORE ILLNESSES.............. it's called POPULATION CONTROL in all reality. POOR can't afford the 150-200 a WEEK per PERSON to eat HEALTHY - I discovered this Cost and THANKGOD I have assistance to RECLAIM and REGAIN my health!
Angela Demars Roberts Unfortunately you are probably right about your husband, but that is because he is the one who does the work. It is the people employing him who are making the millions, while the middle class slave away trying to do something worthwhile. Also unfortunately the medications that actually help save lives are few and far between and are usually the ones that are used infrequently, not the ones sold as a daily use prescription. And indeed the diseases that might actually seem to warrant a daily prescription are definitely caused by what we are doing to ourselves!! Diet, toxins, etc.

Mary Velez sooo true
After the first pill,.. there's always 20 more bottles to"cure" the damage the first one made.

Christafer Duran "There's no money in the cure. The money is in the medicine. That's how a drug dealer makes his money. On the come back."

Robynne Lewis Ok sheeple. Let me know how it goes when you try to explain that to the parents whose child was murdered by someone suffering from a psychotic break whom could've been successfully treated with antipsychotic medication. It's a blanket statement to say that ALL medications are equally unneccessary. Open your minds - learn the facts for yourself rather than pressing "like" simply b/c you might not require life saving medication at this moment in time. Diet and exercise are critical to health but they're not a cure all, especially when it comes to brain abnormalities.

Fat Free Econ 42: NSCB vs SWS Data on Poverty

* This is my article today in interaksyon.com, TV5's news portal.

Last week, the country was bombarded with stories that carried descriptions such as “high poverty”, “poverty unchanged”, “more than half of Filipinos poor,” among other variations. Two institutions triggered these stories.

Last Tuesday, the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) released its2012 First Semester Provincial Poverty Statisticsreporting that poverty incidence at 28 percent of the population in the first half of last year was unchanged from the same period in 2006. The subsistence incidence based on a food threshold was 13.4 percent last year, slightly lower than the 14.2 percent in 2006.

The following day, the Social Weather Stations (SWS) released its First Quarter 2013 Social Weather Survey: Families rating themselves as Mahirap or Poor at 52%The self-rated food poverty based on food threshold budget stood at 39 percent of the population.

Notice the big gap in Philippine poverty incidence: 28 percent according to the NSCB, but 52 percent according to the SWS. The subsistence incidence stood at 13.4 percent as per NSCB, but three times as per SWS at 39 percent. What explains the big difference?

First, the NSCB report was based on the Family Income and Expenditure Survey (FIES) of the National Statistics Office, whereas the SWS report was "self-rated." The former used highly quantitative measurements while the latter was based on a subjective assessment by the respondents.

The FIES involved nearly 51,000 respondents nationwide, answering 70 pages of a questionnaire, while the SWS involved 1,200 respondents nationwide, answering a few pages of a questionnaire.

Second, the threshold levels were different. Under the NSCB, food and subsistence threshold was P5,458; non-food needs, P7,821, for a minimum P13,279 per month poverty threshold.

The SWS’ food poverty threshold for Metro Manila was P8,000 per month while overall poverty threshold was P15,000 per month. But notice the arbitrary and inconsistent figures through the years.

In March 2013, the self-rated poverty threshold in Metro Manila was P15,000 per month. It was the same in March 2011, September 2009, June 2008, March 2004 and November 2003. The self-rated threshold was highest at P18,000 in October 2009, and was only P10,000 in December 2011 and September 2010, much lower than the P15,000 in March 2004 and November 2003. Very arbitrary and highly subjective.

For self-rated food poverty in Metro Manila, this stood at P8,000 per month in March 2013, March 2011 and March 2010, but at P8,500 in March 2012 and October 2009. Very arbitrary and highly subjective.

There was a tendency for survey respondents to somehow exaggerate their degrees of poverty and needs for at least two reasons. One is that it could prod the government -- both national and local -- to expand existing subsidies, or invent new aid programs on top of existing ones, if poverty and hunger incidence remained high.

Two, people would not reveal that one reason for their poverty and/or hunger was their high consumption of alcohol and tobacco products, or high spending on lotto, jueteng, cockfighting and other forms of gambling, relative to their household income. There is a tendency to under-report or fail to report this kind of spending in poverty surveys, whether done by the government or private outfits like the SWS.

Mentioning the second reason would be considered as “politically incorrect” because it is tantamount to “blaming the victim.” But those who say this should recognize that the ultimate victim in society would be the taxpayers, especially the fixed-income earners, who are automatically deducted 30 or 32 percent monthly, as government keeps expanding its expenditures.

While we cannot stop the SWS –- or any other private survey firm -- from conducting its subjective and even emotion-based “self-rated poverty” survey, people should be informed or warned of the potential for sensationalism and alarmism. They make good news, good headlines -- imagine the stark contrast between persistent poverty and record economic growth.

See also:

Monday, April 29, 2013

Agri Econ 9: On Agrarian Reform and Agri Credit

Below are some exchanges that I and some friends made last January 18-20, 2013 in my facebook wall. Posting their comments with their permission.

Tibs Filbert Arsenal Arceño Hi noy, for me one main factor why local harvested rice have higher prices compared to other asian countries is land ownership. As practiced, most land planted w/ rice are being owned by absentee landowners. Since these lands are cultivated by tenants, workers or renters—a portion of price of produces are considered before taking into account the base price for the market. While in Vietnam majority of rice farmers are landowners. So we end up paying absentee landowners a part of the rice we eat even though they do not take part of the actual production. i believe that agrarian reform is still key to development in the countryside. 

Nonoy Oplas Not really Tibs. Local rice production simply cannot keep pace with rising population (1.7 million a year net of death and migration). Rising rice prices -- along with prices of tilapia, chicken, galunggong, pork, house rental, school tuition fees, etc. -- are natural. Rice farmers themselves want higher price for their palay too as they have rising needs for their households. What is objectionable is using more tax money for agri cronyism like what the NFA is doing.

On agrarian reform, it is among the main sources of agri business instability. You develop an ugly, marginal, cogonal land into a mango orchard or banana, pineapple, rambutan, etc., and when you succeed in making that land productive, DAR people will come to you to say that they will forcibly redistribute your land to your workers. You will not be happy when that happens, so many agri business ventures are postponed, or kept at low key levels.

Shakaru Macht Well, Nonoy, Tibs has a point. For more information, please read Henry George. He has an elegant book entitled Progress and Poverty. Its premises explain how poverty exists despite economic growth. Inequality of access, possession and ownership of natural resources - in particular land is emphasized here.

By the way, I fully agree with you not having forced land transfers, nor practicing the agri-cronyism done by the SUPER-REGULATORY BUREAUCRACIES of our government, who are given virtually divine powers who uses or benefits to what. It's not only inefficient - but also gives undue advantage to the special interests like the big farms and haciendas...

Tibs Filbert Arsenal Arceño yet it could be an additional income for the rice farmers if they own the land. just imagine about 15-25% of the income goes to the absentee landowner.

noy how about a discussion on the rise of the bombay/turko sector and its effect on our economy especially on our SME's. one day you see a turko collecting 5/6 among market stall owners riding a motorcycle. after 5 months he's already using a brand new adventure or a vios. after another 5 months, he is now riding a high-end hi-lux pick-up. how come they end up successful in their business? how come that turkos----who cannot speak our dialect and are oftentimes held-up--- succeed?

Nonoy Oplas Some absentee landlords extract exorbitant rents, some simply lose their lands to land grabbers, rich and poor alike. Squatting for instance, is land grabbing. If a land owner is seldom seen in his property, chances are that farmers won't pay the regular rent while other people will start building houses, other structures in the land.

About the Bombay/Turko lending, they fill up certain sectors of the credit market. In formal sectors like banks, borrowers like those in palengke must go to them, fill up certain forms, present a collateral, convince the bank officers that they have the capacity to pay back, do transactions only on weekdays and non-holidays. In the Bombay system, it's the entire opposite: the lenders go to the borrowers, do not require loan application form, do not require collateral, only word of mouth recommendation from other borrowers, do transactions 7 days a week incl holidays. The bank officers are holed up in air-con, fully guarded place, the Bombay endure heat, dust, rain, traffic, muggers and hold uppers. The admin cost of lending and collecting to each small borrower is high. I am not justifying that their 20% per month interest rate is good, it's just how the lenders would value their effort and risks endured. Which also reflects the failure of the government banking regulation system that force the formal lenders like banks to become extra careful, resulting in their inability to serve the micro but numerous borrowers.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Mining 16: CSR, WWF and Environmental Alarmism

The corporate social responsibility (CSR) of a company is to satisfy its (a) customers via good quality products and services at a good and competitive price, (b) workers via good pay and benefits and safe working conditions, (c) shareholders via good returns on  their investments. For companies in the extractive sector like oil, gas and mining, (d) minimize environmental damage and rehabilitation after site closure.

That's my own understanding or definition of CSR. I don't believe that a company has the "responsibility" to provide scholarships to poor students, conduct medical missions, reforestation, etc. while it bleeds its employees with super low wages and dangerous working conditions, or produce lousy or over-priced products and services to its customers. Any PR services like giving scholarships, medical missions, etc. should be done after satisfying the three (or four) important players in the company. My previous articles on the subject are here,
CSR as "mandatory requirement" = extortionism, April 05, 2006 
CSR of a company is to make profit, March 03, 2011.

Nonetheless, drawing up a CSR varies from one company or industry association to another, there is no single "CSR for all companies" in a given industry, sector or country. And it's good to have variety and diversity in how companies and private enterprises define their own CSR. 

During the Mining Conference 2012 in Sofitel Hotel last September, a presentation by the Institute for Development and Econometric Analysis (IDEAS), CSR Mining Scorecard Initiatives: Zooming in on the CSR Industry Scorecard, these slides were among those shown.

CSR of the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP), and its CSR Guidebook. Each of the six pillars of the Code have "elements" and details. 

The “Australian Minerals Industry Code for Environmental Management” or "The Code‟ of 1996. This is to ensure that the country's practices in uranium mining, milling and rehabilitation meet world-class standards.

And South Africa's “Broad-based Socio-economic Empowerment Charter” (BBSEE), with a vision of  "A globally competitive mining industry that draws on the human and financial resources of all South Africa's people and offers real benefits to all South Africans."   

Then it has a scorecard for SA's mining industry focusing on human resource development, and employment equity.

What caught my attention in Australia's Code is that "The Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) stepped in to review the Code in 1999, coming up with a scorecard to have a more concrete basis in reviewing performance and adherence of companies to the Code."

Labor Econ 11: Employees Forever vs. Entrepreneurship

Whenever I hear or read labor organizers and leaders complaining of how much businessmen and capitalism are "exploiting" and persecuting workers, I would reply that no one is putting a gun on their heads so that they will become employees and workers forever. There is always a way out, like becoming a micro entrepreneur -- have a stall or shop and sell anything that he/she likes, goods or services; drive a taxi or jeepney and own his time. Be a farmer (vegetables, fruits, chicken, goats, etc.) and grow food and sell the extra. The options are many.

Last Tuesday, April 23, 2013, I have another discourse with a socialist friend, Arcy Garcia, in his facebook wall. Arcy is a friend way back in the 80s when I myself was a socialist too. Copy-pasting our entire, raw exchanges. Posting with his permission.

nagpapatawa si herrera. alam niya pala na ang dahilan kung bakit hindi pumupunta rito at nag-iinvest ang mga negosyante ay dahil sa mataas na presyo ng kuryente, corruption, etc. ngunit ang mensahe niya sa manggagawa ngayong Mayo Uno ay: tumanggap tayo ng mababang sahod...basta pumunta lang ang nagosyante sa atin. kapag kumikita na, saka tayo himingi ng taas ng sahod! nagpapatawa...

Nonoy Oplas Ang mga manggagawa ba, dapat habang buhay nakatunganga manghingi ng trabaho, tapos manghingi ng mataas na sweldo, sa malalaking kapitalista? Bakit maraming tao na dating mahirap at hindi ganito ang pag iisip. Nagtayo ng sariling negosyo, maski tindero/ra sa palengke, tricycle driver, waiter, at sa sipat at tyaga, umunlad ang buhay?

Arcy Garcia bro., kapag may magtatayo ng negosyo, dapat, isa-alangalang niya na kaya niyang pasahurin nang makatao ang bawat manggagawa. 2 lang naman ang options bro: kapag manggagawa- kunin sa sahod lahat ng pangangailangan niya, o magtulungan ang negosyante atgobyerno upang tiyaking kayang paaralin , damitan, at paglaruin ang pamilya ng isnag manggagawa. sa ngayon, ang manggagawang sasahod ng minimum wage- walang maasahan sa gobyerno sa transport, edukasyon, medical services (dahil privatized na lahat ) kasama ng kuryente, tubig, etc. etc. paano mabubuhay ang mga 'yan? kung ang usapin ay magnegosyo- nagkalat na yan bro- pati nga mga barker, 3-3 sa bawat terminal...hindi tamad at nakatunganga ang mahihirap. pero ano ang napala nila?

Arcy Garcia trabaho ng gibyerno na atuusin ang bansa niya upang may tamang kapaligiran sa pagnenegosyo- upang lumihkha ng trabaho- hindi yan ginagawa ng ating pamahalaan; ang option mo- kapitalismo! nasaan? wala ngang investors dito. ang mga investors na pumupunta rito, ang alam lang yata, kumita, kahit patayin ang mga manggagawa at sirain ang kapaligiran- basta kumita lang sila- habang pinarurusahan sila ng gobyerno sa buwis at mga walang katapusang red tape.

Nonoy Oplas dictatorship pala ang gusto mo Arcy. Didiktahan ng gobyerno mga negosyante, malaki or maliit, kung magkano sweldo (wage control), magkano presyo (price control), magkano upa (rent control), magkano pamasahe (fare control). Kahit ano basta command and control. Saka mahirap yan puro expectations from the outside like govt. More expectations, more disappointment. Mabuti pa yong mga maliit na negosyante na dating ordinaryong trabahador lang, umunlad ang buhay.

May kakilala ako, 2nd yr HS lang natapos. Naging kargador, nagtitinda ng panggatong, tapos naging trabahador sa construction. Sa sipag at tyaga, naging medium size na negosyante na, glass fabrication and supply, madami sya trabahador, inaalagaan nya. Ayaw lang nya ini-english sya kasi nga di sya nagtapos man lang ng HS. Siguro kung ordinaryong trabahador lang sya, hanggang ngayon nagra rallly at nagmumura lang ng kapitalismo ito, sa halip na maging maliit na kapitalista mismo.

Arcy Garcia hindi bro. hindi dictatorship. may buwis- dapat inuuna ng gobyerno ang medical services, education at mobility (hindi lang para sa manggagawa kundi para sa negosyo rin...moving supplies and products); sa akin, ang mga CBA na nakatuon lang sa taas ng sahod ay mali. kasi hindi dapat obligasyon ng kumpnya na buhayin ang buong pamilya ng manggagawa- nagbabayad sila ng buwis (ang kumpanya); kaya dapat magkatulong sila na buhayin ang mga pamilya...pero hindi rin katwiran ng negosyo na kahit ano pwede nilang gawin- may responsibilidad sila. ang economy, dapat nasa ilalim ng ecology- hindi baligtad.

oks yung halimbawa mo.. may sister-inl law rin ako ngayon na nagnegosyo, nagsimula sa pakilo-kilong manok- ngayon- malinaw na siya ang may pera sa kanilang magkakapatid- pero hindi yan para s alahat. ang marami- ang mas mayorya- trabaho ang kailangan..

Nonoy Oplas Yes, entrepreneurship and risk taking is not for everyone. Pag negosyante ka, iisipin mo lahat: (a) government (national and local) regulations, taxes, fees and penalties, (b) suppliers who can provide good quality products and services at a good price, reliable supply when needed, (c) consumers who can leave you and stop patronizing you anytime, (d) competitors who will outdo your product quality and/or pricing, (e) overhead costs like office rental, electricity and water, (f) labor who may be good or bad, honest or thieves, obedient or militant, (g) mandatory social contributions like SSS, PhilHealth, Pag-IBIG, HMO, etc., (h) other external factors.

Pag worker ka, isa lang isipin mo, yong inutos sa yo ng boss mo, di mo iisipin suppliers, customers, competitors, govt bureaucrats, politicians, Meralco, etc.

Arcy Garcia tama. kaya nga oks lang sa akin na sahod lang ang tatanggapin ng isnag manggagawa. alam kong mas maraming iniisip ang may ari-o kapitalista, maliit man o malaki. naraansan ko yan sa mga solo-parents na on-organize namin noon. maliwanag na may ilan lang na may kapasidad na magnegosyo. may grupo nga nagsabi sa amin na ang gusto lang nila ay magtrabaho. may sahod araw-araw. loans kasi mula sa isang seed fund yung nasa ngo namin.

Nonoy Oplas Isa ko pang friend, may ari ng Pan de Pidro. Dating aktibista din sa UP, palaging nasa kalsada. kulang na lang mamundok. Naging empleyado, sumubok mag negosyo sa palaisdaan, umunlad tapos nalugi. Sumubok sa consulting, umunlad nalugi. Sumubok sa PR andlobbying, umunlad lumubog. Huling subok sa paggawa ng tinapay, saka umunlad. Puro trial and error. Ang mahina ang puso at dibdib, malulugi, at bumalik bilang empleyado. Kaya pag job creator na, wag naman sisihin at i-demonize ng kung ano ano. Subukan nyo maging job creator para makita nyo.

Arcy Garcia kaya oks lang sa akin na mas malaki ang take home pay ng manager, o ng may ari o ng kapitalista. At hindi ko dinedemonize ang enterpreneur. pero kailangang mabuhay nang wasto ang lahat. hindi lang yung may ari.

sa mga unions, ang lagi kong paalala kapag may CBA nego- huwag hingin lahat sa economic provisions nyo sa kumpanya. yan ang recipe for bankruptcy. ang gobyerno may obligasyon sa inyong buhayin din kayo- singilin ang locakl government sa mga services (educ, medical services, etc)- na mula sa buwis ng mga tao at ng mga korporasyon sa lugar...

 may nakita akong CSR summit- diyan ako hindi bilib. yung panglagay nila sa CSR, idagdag na lang nila sa sahod ng mga manggagawa- mas magging mabuti pa ang image nila... pambobola lang ang CSR...

See also:
Labor Econ 8: SWS on Unemployment Survey, June 08, 2012

Friday, April 26, 2013

Drug Innovation 10: Cancer, H7N9 and Government

Various types of cancer is among the leading causes of mortality (death) and morbidity (sickness) in the Philippines and around the world. It is a non-infectious or non-communicable disease (NCD) that is caused more by genetics and/or lifestyle. For instance, tobacco-related lung cancer, and alcohol-related liver cancer, are the top two killers among cancer for men in the Philippines, according to the article by Reiner Gloor of PHAP below.

A friend in the free market movement here, Joshua Lipana, died this week at a young age of 21, due to a rare and aggressive cancer (T-Cell Lymphoblastic Lymphoma). I mentioned a few times here that my own elder brother died of prostate cancer, and his wife (my sis in law) died of colon cancer, several years ago.

As medical science improves, discovery of more rare diseases that used to be lumped or identified with other diseases is becoming easier. But treating them is another matter and will not be easy. Reiner however, says "researchers are working on more than 800 innovative medicines that are either undergoing clinical trials or regulatory review. Due to these developments, cancer can now be better managed and even beaten."

Then early this month or late last month, we read a new strain of bird flu, the A(H7N9) that the WHO called as "one of the most lethal so far". Not as lethal perhaps as the A(H1N1) strain that killed more than 300 people middle of the last decade.

These H1 and H7 strains, unlike cancer or hypertension, are infectious or communicable diseases. Infection usually starts from chicken and other birds, to humans. So the immediate action is isolation of the patient from the rest of population to prevent further infection, while treating the patient.

Government has an important role in controlling infectious diseases, like detecting and isolating infected people who travel from one country to another through airport medical screening. But government, I believe, has little role in controlling NCDs as these are usually difficult, complicated and expensive to treat diseases, requiring more personal responsibility (remind people that over-eating, over-drinking, over-smoking is not good for their health). If government will put more resources on controlling NCDs, it will further worsen already high public indebtedness, which will have negative effect on other public spending over the long term, like spending to maintain peace and order and ensure a credible justice system.

And of course, governments should not make the business and scientific environment antagonistic to drug innovation. They should not politicize innovation and reward rent-seeking via IPR-busting policies.

Below are two articles by Reiner of PHAP, about cancer and H7N9.. Reposting from BusinessWorld. Enjoy.


Posted on 06:05 PM, February 02, 2012 
Medicine Cabinet -- By Reiner W. Gloor
Beating cancer

Major non-communicable diseases were among the important health issues that gained the attention of world leaders in 2010. In a United Nations summit, political leaders agreed to a plan of action that sought to address alarming trends involving four major non-communicable diseases (NCD) that have developed to become the world’s biggest killers.

The four major NCDs are cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases, and cancers that have altogether prematurely claimed the lives of 38 million people, representing about 63% of the total global deaths in 2008. Studies indicate that the major NCDs are affecting the developing world and lower-income populations hardest.

This is particularly true for cancer, which accounted for about 7.6 million global deaths in 2008. By 2030, cancer deaths are also expected to soar to 11 million worldwide. The World Health Organization (WHO) also disclosed that about 70% of all cancer deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.

Cancer can affect any part of the body. A defining feature of cancer is the rapid creation of abnormal cells that grow beyond their usual boundaries, and which can then invade adjoining parts of the body and spread to other organs. This process is referred to as metastasis which is the major cause of death from cancer, the WHO said.

Locally, the Department of Health recently led the observance of the National Cancer Awareness Week in a campaign to boost public consciousness on the disease. Such an awareness drive is important specifically for the Philippine Society of Medical Oncology (PSMO), which considers information as a keystone to preventing and treating cancer.

The need to raise awareness on cancer has become more evident with the GLOBOCAN Project report, which estimated that there had been more than 51,000 cancer deaths in the Philippines in 2010.

The GLOBOCAN Project, which provides global incidence of, mortality and prevalence from major types of cancer, reported that leading new cancer deaths among Filipinos in 2010 include those involving the lung, liver, breast, colon/rectum, leukemia stomach, cervix uteri, brain, prostate and pharynx.

Among Filipino men, lung and liver cancer comprise 43% of all new cancer deaths. These top two killer cancers affected more than 12,000 Filipino men.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Mining 15: Geological Aspects of Mineral Extraction

The "non-renewable" nature of mineral products, oil and gas is among the central arguments by many groups that oppose commercial or large-scale mining, both metallic and non-metallic.  I want to delve on this issue briefly.

In a presentation last April 12, 2013 at Balay Kalinaw, UP Diliman, a researcher of the Legal Research Center (LRC) and a new friend, Japs Hatta, made the following statements in her paper, The Value of Revenue Transparency in Extractives/Mining Industry.
First, natural resource wealth is not made and not produced. It already exists within the bosom of the earth and need only to be extracted.  The production of natural resource wealth therefore “can occur quite independently of other economic processes that take place in a country."
Not made and produced by man, this is true. They are made and produced by the Earth’s geological movement, mainly the flow of magma (molten rock), gases and lava (magma that reached the surface) from the planet’s core up to the mantle and crust.

Two illustrations below, I got from the web. Top image shows the layers of our planet Earth from the core up to the crust. Note the Aesthenosphere on the upper mantle, just below the Lithosphere.

Lower image shows mineral deposits at ocean bed and ridges, the Aesthenosphere and  Lithosphere.layers. Rising magma brings up various mineral products to the mantle and later, the crust.   

The production of natural resources is independent of other economic processes, true. But other economic processes cannot proceed and will not be possible if there are no mineral products as raw materials. There will be no production of cars, trucks, buses, tricycles, airplanes if there are no steel, iron, copper and other materials from mining. There will be no buildings, shops and malls, airports and seaports, if there are no steel and cement. And there will be no electricity, only darkness and candles, for many places without coal-fired power plants. And even if power generation comes from hydro or geothermal, there will be no  transmission cables and electrical wires to bring that power to our homes, offices, shops and schools.

Another set of illustrations below, also from the web, showing areas of certain mineral deposits. They are mostly found near or around volcano areas. Volcanoes are the main outlets of magma and gases rising to the surface and the crust. And that largely explains why countries in the Pacific Rim of Fire where most of the planet's volcanoes are found, have more mineral deposits. The Philippines for instance has about two dozens of volcanoes, less than half are considered active.

Japs further wrote,
Secondly, many natural resources such as minerals, oil and gas, are considered non renewable.  The sciences have not discovered a way yet to reproduce these natural resources.  Thus, once a mineral ore deposit is fully depleted or mined out, a new mineral deposit does not grow back.
As mentioned above, over geological period, mineral products are technically renewable. Upward movement of magma and gases from the core brings up those mineral products or mineralizes "ordinary" rocks and soil. So remnant rocks and soil that previously appeared non-mineralized or have small amount of mineral ores after being mined out, can have high mineral deposits once again, but after thousands of years.

My geologist friend John gave these pointers to me:
For all practical purposes, mineral products are non-renewable. The vast majority of mineral deposits-- gold, copper, petroleum, REEs, chromite, etc.-- are formed and concentrated over geologic timescales, so essentially non-renewable. If you can wait for 10,000 to 1,000,000 years, then new deposits may be formed. 
There are two main reasons why a deposit maybe "done." A deposit may actually be completely mined out after all the ore has been removed and all that is left is "normal" or average crust. Or, there may still be ore that continues at depth, but it is not economical to continue to mine deeper because of the increasing cost to extract the ore. If better mining technology comes about, then, yes, we may be able to continue mining the latter deposit. But in the former case, no new mining technology will help mine the ore if there is in fact no more ore to mine. It is conceivable, but perhaps unlikely, that a completely new method of extracting ore, like gold, may be invented so that we are able to extract gold from "ordinary" rock. But as I say, it is highly unlikely that such a revolutionary technology would be possible for all types of resources that we need.
More points from Japs:
The extraction of minerals, oil and gas therefore bears an intergenerational general purpose... It is of concern that the frontier for mineral, oil and gas extraction are geolocated within these last remaining forest and marine sanctuaries as well. 
Continued mineral, oil and gas extraction therefore threaten the renewable character of other natural resources.

The first sentence is true. Extraction and utilization of minerals and their industrial and consumer products affect both the present and future generations. And most of such effect are positive, not negative, as evidenced by continued modernization of human societies and economies. It should be pointed out that extraction is not as rampant and large-scale as assumed or imagined. In a presentation at De La Salle University (DLSU) last January this year, Prof. Darrel Ablaza of the UP Department of Mining and Metallurgical Engineering said that 
Out of 23,000 prospects worldwide, 500 will be drilled and only 1 will turn into a mine.
Here is one of his slides showing the various processes before an actual mining extraction -- the thing that many people dislike, the extraction -- can begin. So only if stages 1 to 7 have produced positive results, can stage 8, actual mine production, can start. A negative result in any of those stages 1 to 7, meaning non-economical to pursue, would imply No mining.

Another note from Japs,
The nature and opportunities of the natural resources wealth is a breeding ground for rent seeking behavior... monitoring mining revenue is not simply an issue of fiscal flows.  What is being extracted will never come back.... 
mineral extraction … deprives future generations from enjoying such resource and affects the renewable character of other natural resources.

Rent seeking behavior happens in almost all aspects of activities so long as government is involved, whether extractive or not. Gambling, prostitution and drugs are non-extractive human activities and yet rent-seeking, corruption, bribery are all happening. 

Yes, the extracted mineral rocks and soil will not come back as rocks and soil. Rather, they come back as steel and iron, copper and nickel, gold and silver, lead and zinc, etc.-- in the form of cars and buses, malls and buildings, spoon, fork and knives, laptops and cell phones. nails and hammer, coins and jewelries, and so on. 

Again, mineral extraction is not as widespread and large scale as assumed and imagined. And thus, future generations are not deprived of such resources. As the science of mineral exploration and extraction evolves and modernizes, what appears to be "non-economical" today would be "economical" tomorrow.

Unlike "small-scale" mining where safety measures like building tailings pond, and rehabilitation measures like reforesting mined out areas, are not done, large scale mining are generally more economical. The latter creates more jobs, pays more taxes, fees and royalties, does more CSR projects for the communities. 

Understanding some basic geological sciences and mining engineering will help the public distinguish illusion from reality, unfounded fear from actual benefits.

See also
Mining 11: Big Projects in the US, UK, Canada and Australia, April 04, 2013 
Mining 12: Political Risks vs. Natural Risks, April 09, 2013 
Mining 13: Timeline of Policies, April 16, 2013 

Mining 14: Teddy Casino's Environmentalism, April 18, 2013

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Joshua Lipana, Filipino Objectivist and Free Marketer

A sad day for the free market movement in the Philippines. One of the youngest, most articulate, most promising leader among different shades of free marketers in the Philippines, Joshua Lipana, died today at age 21 or 22. He fought cancer for several months now.

His last postings in his facebook wall were:
154,000 WBC down to 13,970 WBC. Chemo is working. (April 13, 2013) 
Operations done. No more 2 litres in my right lung. I feel much better. No more drowning sensation. I want to live. (April 4, 2013)
I heard of him first sometime in 2010 then I started visiting his blog, http://joshualipana.com/. After several email exchanges, I requested for a meet up, along with Froilan, the owner of The Vincenton Post, http://fvdb.wordpress.com/ These two young men are among the prominent leaders in promoting Objectivism and Ayn Rand's philosophy in this country.

Last April 12, 2011, we met up at Starbucks, Shangrila Mall, Ortigas. When I saw him personally, I thought he was only a high school student. He said he was 19. We discussed lots of things -- from objectivism to libertarianism (anarchy, minarchy, other shades), intellectual property rights (IPR), RH bill (now a law). He was very articulate and passionate. He and Froilan are young guys with big, bright minds.

After Starbucks, we went down to a bar on one side of the same mall. And we discussed more until late evening. We should have been exchanging ideas for about 6 hours that day.

I told him and Froilan that I wanted a part 2 of our meeting and discussions. We tried several skeds but they never materialized. Until I learned that Joshua was fighting cancer.

At a young age, Joshua was the Assistant Editor of The Objective Standard (TOS) since October 2011 until he died. After high school, he did not go to college, deliberately, as he wanted to write more about objectivism and the free market, and he thought that pursuing a college degree might be a distraction from his passion.

His blog is not regularly updated as he was busy with TOS. But even if he was fighting cancer, he managed to publish several articles, below.

Subway Founder Fred Deluca Decries the Regulatory StateTOS Blog, March 6, 2013.

The Light Brigade Shines for CapitalismTOS Blog,  February 24, 2013
(LTE)Kerry’s past exploits are tellingThe Washington Times, December 27, 2012.
Medical Device Tax: Immoral and ImpracticalThe Objective Standard Blog, December 10, 2012.

Rest in Peace, my friend. I am very sad.

There should be a big reason for us why you left early...

* See also Filipino free market blogs, part 3, April 14, 2011

Boston, Sandy Hook, Economy, Cyprus

Below is a guest blog from a friend, Banner Conanan. I chose this guest blog than posting my own ideas as I have ambivalent opinion about the lockdown after the bombing of the Boston Marathon. I thought that the heavy police lockdown was eerie and Martial Law-like, but a Filipino friend in Boston suburb supported it even if she and her family were also affected by the police action.

This will be the second time that I feature Banner's ideas and quotes. The first was in Pol. Ideology 31: Quotes on Liberty and Government,May 29, 2012.


Boston, Sandy Hook, Economy, Cyprus and I Give Up

by Banner Conanan
23 April 2013

The same day of the Boston bombings (where 3 were killed), which had dominated the news of late in the US, over 55 people were killed in Iraq.   
For me, the tragedy is no less no matter who dies and where.
But I've viewed what I feel a mob mentality from the mainstream news which really dominates people's perspective.   It had been all the Boston event.
I find it very alarming.  You know, those same news outlets that said Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, we had to invade Libya for some reason, and big banks and financials needed to be bailed because they are "too big to fail" on the dime of cirtizens despite the rise in umemployment. 
Well despite all that people still seem to follow these mainstream news outlets like puppies.
I get Boston is/was a huge event.  So were many things that have happened and since.
There's really a lot more I can say about the news and how it affects people, especially the big brands (Wall Street Journal, CNN, FOX, Yahoo News, New York times, etc.)
I sort of give up on that topic though.
More on Boston
I also was alarmed at the lockdown of the entire city of Boston and surrounding suburbs.  I can see some of the rationale don't get me wrong, but then again the entire city on lockdown?  That sounds like martial law to me.  There are people killed in every major city of the world every day.  Granted, not usually a bombing, but then again, the entire city and surrounding suburbs locked down?
It's like being in Baltimore County, but the bombing suspect is in Anne Arundel County.  Why would I have to stay home?  Why can't I conduct my business/work/errands/play?  That's far away.  Or even in Baltimore City for that matter.
After Sandy Hook, the top of the agenda became gun rights (particularly automatic weapons).  The sentiment of citizen's gun rights is strong enough still and has held on in most cases.  But it just seems interesting it became the top agenda.  We had series of shootings in the news preceding Sandy Hook that were big news items (Empire State Building shooting, the batman Colordado cinema shooting, the Sikh Temple shooting in Wisconsin)
After 9/11, more security.  In came Homeland Security and the TSA. 
So will there be another push for "safety measures" following this?  That would be my bet.  Or pehaps another tragedy happens first, then push forward with it. 
Just note, that any loss of civil liberties or if you like, increased security, would likely be permanent, not temporary.  Homeland Security seems here to stay.  I can bring a pen and pencil on a plane, but not toothpaste.  So if example, additional checkpoints in cities becomes the norm, so be it.  Incremental steps are still steps.  The steps are seldom removed.
The fact remains you are more likely by many many times to be in a car accident, die of cancer/heart disease, an infection, a building fire, or even struck by lightning 4 TIMES than from a terrorist attack. 
Indeed, you are more likely even to drown in your bathtub (1 in 800,000 vs. 1 in 2 million).
So you can be vigilant about terrorism, but I would respectfully include then that you should also be vigilant about civil liberties.  (if you and I disagree on what an individual has a right to, that's fine)
Because temporary measures put into place are easily made permanent.
All these also distract from the economy which fundamentally at its core is the worst it has ever been in the US and Europe (and no picnic for the rest of the globe either).  This affects far more people and livelhoods. 
It hasn't yet manifest fully.
The next 2008 (only magnified) is coming.
Not only did Cypriot banks freeze, limit, then steal from individual accounts (which really as a precedent and even of human decency should alarm EVERYONE and be much bigger news than it was), but it was the EU and IMF that determined the necessity of losses to individual depositors. 
I think about MF Global.
To me there seems in recent years a trend and general sentiment of expense transferred onto citizens and depositors. 
As long as you are unable to access your money 100% on your own without dealing with someone else or some other entity, than it really isn't completley yours.  Even an ATM limits how much you can withdraw of your own money daily.  You never know what new controls come into play.  The money in the bank is yours, no one else's. 
I have ideas on what action one might take, but I won't presume and everyone's situation is different.
The window is getting smaller I think.