Thursday, May 07, 2015

Career in Free Market Think Tanks

Yesterday, I was of four UP ETC alumni-speakers in the student organization's "Career Workshop". The purpose of the forum was to give the members who are undergrad students, additional ideas how alumni found jobs or change jobs after they graduated from  UP. I spoke about my current professional engagements.

ETC gave about eight guide questions  for the alumni talk or presentation. I answered them but first I gave some definition of terms with these two background info.

The free market think tanks are more prominent in the US, Canada, UK and other developed economies. A few exist in Asia but there are  some Asian countries where not a single market-oriented research institute  exists yet.

Then I answered the guide questions, like "What is your current career and occupation?" I included the logo of the organizations that I am currently engaged, both full- and part-time.

And the two books that I have written so far. A 3rd book should be published by SEANET within the year, and I must submit the manuscript to them very soon as I already exceeded the deadline.

The three other speakers yesterday, all are fellow ETC alumni, were (1) Ms. Clarissa Laysa, Head Technical Assistant to the Administrator of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), a PH government corporation, (2) Justin Muyco of the Presidential Management Staff (PMS), Office of the President (OP), and (3) George, forgot his family name, and  he works at WB Philippine office. All are good speakers; Clarissa in particular speaks lively and wittily.

The other guide questions and my response to them:

3. How did you search this career?

* Maybe it’s the reverse: the career discovered me J
Consistent belief in individual freedom, personal and civil society Responsibility, free market competition and spontaneous non-state regulation.

* There are other free market-leaning institutes and groups in the PH, but either they are (a) informal, unregistered with SEC, or (b) formal but less consistent with free market, limited government advocacy.

* MGT remains a small, under-funded think tank. Consistent advocacy for less or minimal government intervention in various sectors, posted online, makes it relatively visible.

4. Challenges in current path, how to overcome them?

* Mainly funding, limited entrepreneurial capacity to mobilize more private donations.

* Approaching some local NGOs, industry groups, sympathetic individual for support, in cash and in kind.
* Zero overhead cost, no office rentals, electricity, water, internet, telephone, etc. Courtesy of sibling assistance, MGT holding office at her big  medium size company.

* Moving towards regional perspectives in analyzing national issues and advocacies: Trade and investments, energy and agriculture, territory and security, taxation and borrowings, and so on.

* Organize public events, conduct classroom lectures, book writing on other issues in the coming months.

5. Lessons learned as  ETCer (and UPSE) alumni?

* Extra-curricular activities, good human relations, professional networking, are as important as academic performance.

* Article, “Why do many intellectuals oppose capitalism?” by Robert Nozick.

* About 20 years from now, only about 15% of Econ graduates will be doing directly Econ research and teaching (academe, NEDA, PIDS, WB, ADB, private bank economists,…). Most will go to private business, become lawyers, IT and other professions.

* Econ concepts and tools are applied unconsciously..
Ex. MR = MC. Profit is optimized when the Marginal Revenue is equal to the Marginal Cost.
Employers who have 10 employees – why not 8 or 9 or 11? Because with only 9 or less employees, MR > MC while with 11 or more employees, MR < MC.

6. Benefits or difficulties to expect if we enter the institution you’re in?

* Compensation, career development -- if you are entrepreneurial, good pay and travels. Unlike most academic papers that are purported to produce “objective” studies, free market think tanks have clear advocacies and are often contradictory to policies of governments (local and national) and the foreign aid/multilateral institutions. Governments want endless expansion like amoeba, they can produce endless justifications and alibi for such endless expansion.

 * Difficulties – some funding as it is not advisable to accept or solicit government money. Keep institute independence at all times.

Maybe 40+ members and officers of UP ETC came. This is a dynamic student organization. The current Chairman of the University Student Council (USC) of UP Diliman, RJay Mercado, is from ETC; about 1 or 2 USC Councilors is/are also from ETC. To succeed them next school year, the newly-elected USC Vice-Chairman, AJ Montesa, along with USC Councilor Baba Foronda, SE Student Council (SESC) rep to the USC, etc. are all from ETC.

During the open forum, among the questions asked of the speakers was "Who was/were your mentor/s" in deciding your career path, related questions. I answered that when I was still a student Marxist (3 decades ago), UPSE faculty members Dr. Gon Jurado and Dr. Dick Ferrer were among those that I followed. Dr. Jurado for instance wrote a paper estimating the "rate of exploitation" in the Philippine manufacturing sector and sub-sectors in the late 70s or early 80s. This "rate of exploitation" of labor is a Marxist concept showing the quotient of surplus value (s) over variable capital (v) and constant capital (c).

But when I turned around and abandoned Marxism and socialism, among my mentors were other UPSE Professors like Dr. Raul Fabella and Dr. Noel de Dios. I learned and relearned from Sir Raul the beauty of David Ricardo's theory of comparative advantage and free trade, Hecksher-Ohlin theorem, etc. And once I asked Sir Noel if he is open to the idea of privatizing (not abolishing) all state universities including UP. And he said Yes, just give UP a one-time endowment of xx billion pesos plus full control of its land property rights, and it will allow UP to continue giving high quality education without raising school fees too high.

Thanks again ETC officers, particularly Wenny Canoy, the VP for Alumni Liaison, for that opportunity to share my ideas and experience with the  resident members of ETC.

See the 10-slides presentation in slideshare.

See also: 
EFN Asia 44: Day 2 of Conference 2014, November 10, 2014
ALF 3: Photos with Friends, Kathmandu Conference, January 20, 2015
The 1st PRPX, May 2007 in Hawaii, Photos, May 04, 2015

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