Saturday, December 28, 2019

Climate Tricks 90, Forecast in 2004 of apocalypse by 2020

February 2004, climate alarmism at the Pentagon painted catastrophe by year 2020, that's next week, wow.

Remember also in June 1989 or 30 1/2 years ago, that the US Pentagon has declared warming catastrophe by 2000 or 19 years ago.

No catastrophe, no cry baby, life goes on.

Many governments and the UN remain hopelessly dishonest and invent all types of alarmism whether there is less rain or more rain, less snow or more snow, less storms and more storms. Shame.

And last January 2019, Congw AOC declared that global catastrophe will occur within 12 years. One year has passed, only 11 years left? hahaha.

See also:
Climate Tricks 80, UN prediction of warming apocalypse by year 2000, July 05, 2019

BWorld 398, Culion in Christmas

* My column in BusinessWorld last December 26, 2019.

Imagine these four cases of emotional hardships and social stigma in one island in the Philippines in the late 1930s.

One, an unwed mother who got pregnant — she wished that the life in her tummy be aborted, or that she would get a miscarriage, but the baby was born safely. Motherly love takes over but she cannot touch her daughter until it is a toddler, though she can see the child daily. Then the child is brought to Manila to live a “normal life” without her permission and she can only scream and cry in deep sadness.

Two, a sick lady who has not been visited by her family and her boyfriend for years — then the boyfriend appears to visit her, with flowers. They see each other but they cannot embrace, the guard handing the flower to her, and they can only stare at each other, in deep sadness and tears that they can not even hold each other’s hands.

Three, another sick lady who has a persistent admirer but does not love him back yet. She then develops a crush on a foreigner and when that foreigner escaped to the mountains ashamed of his disease, she follows him, tries to befriend him. The foreigner rape her. In deep sadness at what happened to her, she jumps from a cliff and dies.

Four, the father of the child who was brought to Manila, escapes the island to look for his daughter. On a bus, his fellow passengers see his disease, he is forced to get out and is verbally assaulted, his bag that contains his savings was thrown away leaving him penniless and deeply disappointed. He is forced to go back to the island.

These are the stories of Anna, Ditas, Doris, and Kanor. Different individuals, different stories, but they have a common experience — they all have Hansen’s disease or leprosy or ketong in Filipino, and they all live in the Culion Leper Colony in Palawan.

Theirs’ and other patients’ riveting stories and experiences were fantastically captured in the movie Culion, the first movie produced by iOptions Ventures Corp. owned by Palawan-based entrepreneurs Peter and Gilie Sing.

I saw the premier showing of Culion on Dec. 21 at SM Megamall cinema and I was stuck in my seat, cried two times in the scenes of Anna (Iza Calzado) and Ditas (Merryl Soriano). The scene between Ditas and her boyfriend Greg (John Lloyd Cruz) was so powerful — no words, no conversation, only tears, deep sadness, and music.

After the movie, I saw Peter and I jokingly told him, “F___ you Peter, you made me cry!” I was also happy to see that a friend, Upeng Galang-Fernandez, is one of the characters and actresses in the movie.

This is a “must see” movie in the Metro Manila Film Festival 2019, and is showing nationwide from Dec. 25 to Jan. 7. Kudos to the team — scriptwriter Ricky Lee, director Alvin Yapan, cinematographer Neil Daza, producer Mark Shandii Bacolod, actresses Iza, Merryl, Jasmine Curtis-Smith (Doris), and the many other cast and crew.

Fast forward to 2019, leprosy is now a curable disease since about two decades ago and only very few people have the disease. And now more people die of non-infectious or non-communicable diseases (NCDs) because infectious or communicable diseases are now largely curable and preventable (see Table).

And that is why people now are effectively living longer, healthier, wealthier. A good reminder this holiday season for us to be more hopeful about the future.

Merry Christmas, readers and friends.

See also:

Friday, December 27, 2019

Most read article, "Thank you water" companies

Since last Monday, my paper is #1 most read article in BusinessWorld, thank you, readers.

I also received 3 hate mails for that paper and about 3 congrats mails.  The haters and Duterte fanatics, many of them are very poor in grammar, they cannot write good English Many likes, shares and reshares in FB.

A former friend in fb attacked me again because I reject the narratives of their idol President. Fanaticism breeds idiocy.

This id___ can no longer attack me anytime in my fb wall. Cannot produce good numbers to counter my data and arguments, only ad homs.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

BWorld 397, Thank you Maynilad, Manila Water

* My article in BusinessWorld yesterday, December 23, 2019.

After President Rodrigo Duterte lashed out at the two water companies that hold concession agreements (CA) with the government via the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) Regulatory Office (MWSS-RO) on Dec. 3, the stock prices of Manila Water (owned by Ayala) and companies that own Maynilad Water (MPIC, DMCI, a Japanese firm) suffered significant declines starting Dec. 4 (see Table 1).

Supporters and fanatics of the President echoed his tirade that both companies are abusive and engage in “economic sabotage.” Fake news, lousy and dishonest accusations. The public, the residents of Metro Manila and neighboring areas, have greatly benefitted from water privatization with higher, cleaner water connection direct to their houses. Let the numbers speak (see Table 2).

Two myths stand out in the heavily politicized water issue.

One, government interference in rate setting is “not allowed” in the CA. A flat out lie. In every step of rate setting, MWSS-RO and other agencies are involved: approval of tariff rates and schedules after public hearing, approval of auditing which expenditures are prudent and efficient, approval of cost of capital that the concessionaires will receive, and so on. Thanks Romy Bernardo for pointing these out in your article.

Two, the water rates are “onerous.” Say that again, purveyors of fake news and lies? In our latest water bill for November 2019 with 11 cubic meters consumption, the basic charge was P124.83, something like P11.35/cu.m. One cu.m. is 1,000 liters, or nearly five drums because one drum is 208 liters. My family take a bath daily, wash dishes, clothes, the floor, etc. and the water company charges us only P125 in one month — the price of one cup of coffee in Starbucks, etc. — and people call it “onerous,” “abusive”? Big lie.

This Christmas season, aside from celebrating the birth of Christ, we also express gratitude to friends, families and partners, and companies that make our life more modern, more comfortable. In this case, I say thank you, Maynilad Water and Manila Water. But no thanks to the President and his fanatics.

See also:

Monday, December 23, 2019

Brexit win and a promising US-UK partnership

I like new UK PM Boris Johnson or "Bojo". So I was happy when his Conservative Party won big time last December 13 elections.

(Infographics from BBC)

Now leaving the EU and its horrible bureaucracies and restrictions is becoming more certain. June 2016, majority of UK voters already decided in a referendum that they wanted to leave the EU, after 3 1/2 years it's not yet done. 

I like this plan by Bojo during the campaign period -- focus on what the UK taxpayers need, not what the EU and UN bureaucracies need. Protect your people from criminals and diseases, get talented and ambitious immigrants and not welfare-seeking ones, strong economy and cheap energy, not expensive energy to "save the planet" (ie, EU and UN climacrats and junketers).

Brexit means exit from EU prohibitions to have FTA, zero or low tariff with US, Malaysia, Canada Australia, etc. aside from UK-EU FTA. Free trade and people mobility should apply to as many countries and territories as possible, not just to fellow EU members. 

I remember that after the Brexit victory in June 2016, leaders wanted a 16% corporate income tax (CIT) for UK. They can do that outside the EU, but never inside the EU. EU hates tax competition, only tax harmonization and monotony.
A country cannot have tax cut because that will undermine investment attractiveness of other EU members. Cannot cut tariff with other countries outside the EU because that's trade competition. Only trade and tariff harmonization is allowed. EU is free trade only among members but protectionism with other countries outside the EU.

Meanwhile, two interesting articles here. 

(1) What the Boris landslide means for the climate debate
By Christopher Monckton of Brenchley  December 15, 2019

“he will make the abolition of the Bolshevik Broadcasting Commisariat’s licence fee his first priority."

(2) Boris Johnson's Victory Heralds A Golden Era In US-UK Relations
Mon, 12/23/2019 - 05:00
Authored by Con Coughlin via The Gatestone Institute

“The US president said a future US-UK trade agreement has "the potential to be far bigger and more lucrative" than any deal that could have been made with the EU.

Indeed, with Mr Johnson assured of being Britain's prime minister for the next five years, and Mr Trump well-placed to secure re-election in next year's presidential election contest, there is every prospect that the two leaders could herald a new golden era of transatlantic relations not seen since the alliance of Mrs Thatcher and US President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s.”

BWorld 396, Price control, fare control and tax decontrol

* My column in BusinessWorld, December 19, 2019.

“If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. If it stops moving, subsidize it.”

— Ronald Reagan, former US President

There are many price interventions by the government, proposed or already implemented, that set a cap or ceiling price. Like drug price control, fare surge control for transport network vehicle services (TNVS), electricity price control via primary and secondary price cap in WESM, housing rent control. Or a floor price like mandatory minimum wage and minimum fare for jeepneys and buses.

There are also indirect forms of price control like mandatory discounts for senior citizens and students. Rich or poor, they get the obligatory and forced discounts for things such as meals in restaurants and airline tickets.

The price distortion can be represented by the graph below. If there are no laws on mandatory price interventions, the market price (P mkt) and market quantity (Q mkt) will be at point A where supply meets demand.

To simplify, we assume here that consumers’ demand curve (downward sloping, lower price will lead to more quantity desired) will not move up or down, only the supply curve (upward sloping, lower price will lead to less quantity produced) will adjust.

Price control (P con), fare surge control, rent control will bring artificial lower price and formal businesses respond by reducing the supply curve to the left resulting in lower quantity (Q con) and consumer diswelfare.

Similarly, lots of taxes, old and new will raise the price of commodities and services (P tax). Like the recent higher oil tax, coal tax, sugar tax, tobacco tax under the TRAIN law. Government’s tax decontrol has a similar distortionary effect on market pricing (see graph).

Price control adversely affects the supply decision of formal businesses while encouraging the supply of informal, illegal, illicit businesses. Fare control and surge control will lead to lower quantity by legal TNVS and illegal transpo, and “colorum” vehicles fill the supply gap.

Higher prices via more taxes also distort pricing and supply. Higher tobacco and alcohol taxes for legal companies result in higher prices. Illicit, smuggled tobacco and alcohol come in because consumers want cheaper products.

Mandatory fare discounts for senior citizens, persons with disabilities (PWDs) and students in airlines, shipping lines, bus lines, TNVS, etc. will lead to demand distortion. Poor oldies and students will not fly often despite the 20% mandatory discount because they are poor; it is the richer oldies and students who will fly often. And this will lead to higher overall fares since the reduced price must be compensated for by non-senior citizens and non-students.

The best price regulator toward lower prices and/or improved quality of goods and services is more market competition, not more government price intervention.

Aside from price control, government should also stop or minimize supply control of various services and players. More supply of TNVS cars and drivers, more airplanes and boats from existing airlines and shipping lines, more competing players, will help bring down prices and fares.

Finally, government should stop or minimize its tax decontrol itch and minimize fanning, if not creating, crisis stories – climate crisis, garbage crisis, plastic pollution crisis, tobacco/alcohol/NCD crisis, sugar and obesity crisis, inequality crisis, and so on. Anywhere in the world, people are living longer and healthier as shown by rising life expectancy. Proposals like higher sugar tax, plastic tax, sodium tax are based on alarmism, not health and environment realism.

See also:

Friday, December 20, 2019

Trump not really impeached?

Trump technically impeached, really?
A good article and opinion here.

House-Senate Impeachment Impasse Would Mean Trump Wasn't Impeached At All: Harvard Law Prof
by Tyler Durden  Fri, 12/20/2019 - 05:25

“If the House does not communicate its impeachment to the Senate, it hasn’t actually impeached the president. If the articles are not transmitted, Trump could legitimately say that he wasn’t truly impeached at all.

“That’s because “impeachment” under the Constitution means the House sending its approved articles of to the Senate, with House managers standing up in the Senate and saying the president is impeached.

“As for the headlines we saw after the House vote saying, “TRUMP IMPEACHED,” those are a media shorthand, not a technically correct legal statement. So far, the House has voted to impeach (future tense) Trump. He isn’t impeached (past tense) until the articles go to the Senate and the House members deliver the message. -Noah Feldman"


"The reason the Democrats don’t want to submit the Articles of Impeachment to the Senate is that they don’t want corrupt politician Adam Shifty Schiff to testify under oath, nor do they want the Whistleblower, the missing second Whistleblower, the informer, the Bidens, to testify!"

"So after the Democrats gave me no Due Process in the House, no lawyers, no witnesses, no nothing, they now want to tell the Senate how to run their trial. Actually, they have zero proof of anything, they will never even show up. They want out. I want an immediate trial!"

"The House Democrats were unable to get even a single vote from the Republicans on their Impeachment Hoax. The Republicans have never been so united! The Dem’s case is so bad that they don’t even want to go to trial!"

“Dems called it an emergency. They had to rush the impeachment through Congress.
Now AFTER a sham impeachment process, they’re going to wait to send the actual Articles to the Senate?
They don’t take the Constitution seriously. This is all about attacking the President.”

The Bee Explains: Impeachment
December 17th, 2019

The bee is correct. Trump is impeached for the crime of winning the elections in 2016, for the crime of beating HRC. Now Pelosi and her key Dem leaders know that they cannot win in 2020.

Pelosi and gang will postpone the transmittal, if ever, of the impeachment articles to the Senate unless they can dictate the terms favorable to them. Good luck.

BWorld 395, Culion the movie and SMB

* My column in BusinessWorld, December 17, 2019.

Leprosy or Hansen’s disease, ketong in Tagalog and aro in Ilongo, was a dreaded disease. People with the disease, or even just suspected of having it, were avoided, even ridiculed and ostracized. And the Culion leper colony in Palawan became the national dumping ground of people with leprosy, even those without the disease but who were victims of witch hunts by some politicians or envious neighbors.

Over bottles of beer, a former dorm-mate in the Narra Residence Hall in UP Diliman, Peter Sing, mentioned his observations about the Culion leper colony in Palawan and said that his company, iOptions Ventures Corp., would produce a movie about it.

I must admit that I myself was among those who dreaded people with leprosy when I was young in the 1970s. After a brief research about Culion, here is what I gathered. (See the Table. — Ed.)

So it was a harrowing, dangerous situation from 1907 to the 1930s with “compulsory apprehension, detention” of people. Literal abduction of people by the hundreds, or thousands, from around the country who were brought to Culion against their will, with actual or fictional leprosy.

The social stigma was horrible — in some areas patients were forced to wear demeaning bells to warn everyone of their presence so others could avoid them. It was also believed that the disease was a curse and punishment for sinners and the “unclean.”

Although Culion was “the largest and best known institution of its kind in the world, and beyond comparison in area and natural facilities,” scientific understanding at that time was still limited and so social ostracization based on myths and unscientific beliefs persisted.

And since land and sea transportation that time was poor, it was very difficult or impossible for many families of the detained or abducted to visit their loved ones. Bordering on inhumanity.

Now Culion is one of the few selected movies to be shown in the up-coming Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) 2019. The team behind it is composed of some big shots in the Philippines movie industry — scriptwriter Ricky Lee, director Alvin Yapan, cinematographer Neil Daza, producer Mark Shandii Bacolod, actresses Iza Calzado, Merryl Soriano, and Jasmine Curtis-Smith.

I am very happy to learn that the couple behind iOptions Ventures Corp., Peter and Gilie Sing, both fellow UP alumni, put lots of time, money, and other resources to produce this kind of movie. Put faces and cinematic facts to those harrowing experiences of many decades, among the dark days of the Philippines’ medical history. With families separated by disease, ignorance, and sometimes politics, the human suffering and anguish was terrible. But in the end, human spirit, hope, and resilience prevailed.

This is a recommended movie to watch starting next week. Also a recommended place to visit, Culion island in Palawan.

Now, speaking of beer, I want to share this “translation/explanation” revolving around the words found on the San Miguel bottle that I heard from many drinking buddies in UP Diliman in the 1980s. On the bottle, we see these marks, from top to bottom:

“Pale Pilsen/ San Miguel/ Expertly Brewed Beer

Pale Pilsen/ And Bottled By

San Miguel Brewery/ Philippines.”

The older bottles have this mark at the bottom, “Net Contents 320 ml.”

Here’s what the letters stand for:

PALE PILSEN — Pag Ang Labanan E Pabilisan, Ingat Lang Sapagkat Etong Nangyari. (If the fight is fast, be careful as this is what happens.)

SAN MIGUEL — Sa Aming Nayon May Isang Grupo Uminom E Lasing) In our town there was this group that drank and got drunk)

EXPERTLY BREWED BEER — Erbe at Ekis, Pinaghalo, Eh Rindi, Talagang Lasingan Yan (Beer and gin were mixed, that is really getting drunk)

Bawat Round E War freak Eh Di / Bawat Enuman E Riot (With each round they’s become war freaks/ after each drink a riot)

PALE PILSEN — Pati Ako Lasing Eh, P__ Ina, Lasing Sila, Enjoy Na (Even I would get drunk, son of a bitch, they were drunk, time to enjoy)

AND BOTTLED BY — Ang Nangyari Dito, Bawat Order Tiyak Trouble, Lasing Eh, Dumampot/ Buti Yelo (What happened here is with each order, trouble was sure, they were drunk, picked something up/ good thing it was ice)

SAN MIGUEL BREWERY — Sampu Ang Naupakan, May Isang Gago, Umeksena Eh Loko. Binanatan, Rumesbak Eh Walang Enabutan, Riot Yan (Ten were beaten up, there was one idiot, acted crazy. Beaten, fought back but got nowhere, it was a riot)

PHILIPPINES — Pati Hostess Inupakan, Lahat Inupakan, Pati Pulis Inupakan, Nahuli Eh Stockade (Even the hostess was beaten up, all were beaten up, even the police were beaten up, they were caught and landed in the stockade)

NET CONTENTS 320 ML — Ngayon Etong Tangang COnstabulary Nakatulog Tangengot Eh, Nakatakas, Tumuloy Sauna, 320 Masahe Lang (Now this idiot of a Constabulary policeman slept, he is an idiot you see, escaped, went to the sauna, P320 for just a massage).

See also:

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Water politics and stocks of MWC, AC, MPIC, DMCI

After President Rodrigo Duterte started lashing at the two water concessionaires, Manila Water (owned by Ayala) and Maynilad Water (owned by MPIC, DMCI, a Jap firm) last December 3, the stocks of companies associated with these two concessions suffered significant decline.

The declines started December 4. I copy-paste here some data from the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) website over the past 15 trading days. The change in average prices from Dec. 3 (before the Duterte outburst) to Dec. 13 (last Friday) for MWC was.... -44.4%, in just eight trading days.

1. Stock average prices, volume and value of MWC.

The mother company, AC, and Ayala Land were also affected but not big enough. From Dec. 3 to 13, AC was down -5.4%, ALLHC down -10.0%.

2. Stock average prices, volume and value of AC and ALLHC,

For the Maynilad camp, the changes in average prices from Dec. 3 to Dec. 13 are as follows:  MPIC -31.0%, DMCI -14.9%.

3. Stock average prices, volume and value of MPIC and DMCI

The two water firms' concession terms are supposed to end by 2037 after the extension agreement during President Gloria Arroyo's term. Then this week the MWSS cancelled the extension, meaning the concessions will end by 2022.

The conspiracy theory that Manny Villar and family are going after one or both concessions is getting louder. I hear it from friends in UP, from other independent observers. Consider the following.

Water is real estate. Manny Villar is a big real estate player. DPWH Secretary Mark Villar is the son. MWSS is under DPWH. The DOJ investigates the two concessions; one DOJ UnderSecretary is the wife of Mark Villar. House Speaker Cayetano is from the NP Villar wing.

Sige, Duterte pa more.

Friday, December 13, 2019

BWorld 394, Water politics and power price control

* My article in BusinessWorld the other day.

“Adam Smith said people who intend only to seek their own benefit are ‘led by an invisible hand to serve a public interest which was no part of their intention. I say that there is a reverse invisible hand: People who intend to serve only the public interest are led by an invisible hand to serve private interests which was no part of their intention.”

— Milton Friedman, “Why Government is the Problem”, Essays in Public Policy, no. 39. Stanford, California: Hoover Institution Press, 1993.

Government populism is the trick of demonizing big corporations so that it can impose new sets of interventions, regulations, prohibitions, price control, and even engineer corporate takeover by crony firms. This is happening in the country’s water and power or electricity sector now.

When Maynilad Water and Manila Water went to the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in Singapore to seek damages when the Philippine government did not allow price adjustments in 2013–2017, i.e., water price control, the two firms won. PCA ruled that the government should pay Manila Water P7.4 billion, Maynilad Water P3.4 billion.

From there, President Rodrigo Duterte lambasted the two companies daily. Then Congressional hearings and harassment, new contracts drafted by the DOJ, then MWSS officially cancelled the concession extension to 2037. The two firms that earlier signified that they will no longer collect the penalty from government can stay only until end-2022, after which new private concessionaires will be named by the administration before its term ends by June 2022. Very likely only crony firms will be entertained.

The two firms made good performance actually (see table 1).

For improving and raising water delivery to households, for saving poor families from buying expensive water from water trucks, for expanding sewerage and water treatment services, they are now demonized and penalized. At P30 to P35 per cubic meter tariff, five drums of water, that is not expensive. The P30–40 for one liter of bottled water is expensive, but people do not complain.

Recently the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) drafted a new order that will further bring down the secondary price cap or second-layer price control at the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) from P6.24/kWh to P4.50/kWh.

When this will be implemented, consumers will suffer, rich and poor, residential and commercial, industrial. They will suffer from more yellow-red alerts during the hot months of March to June, planned or actual rotating blackouts and darkness.

Why? Because no one has been investing in peaking plants, power plants that run only during peak hours in high-demand months.

In 2018, Luzon grid had 16.55 GW of installed capacity with total electricity generation of 72.73 terawatt-hours (TWH). I constructed a separate table where I computed the implied capacity factor (ICF = Generation/(installed capacity x 24 hours x 365 days)) and implied available capacity (IAC = capacity factor x installed capacity). For brevity purposes, I summarize the ICF as follows: oil-based 90%, natural gas 70%, coal 68%, biomass 64%, geothermal 51%, wind 32%, hydro 27%, solar 16%. The IAC was 11.23 GW.

New capacity additions in the Luzon grid, committed projects are as follows: 2019, 874 MW (800 coal, 74 biomass and hydro); 2020, 1,363 MW (1,336 coal, 12.6 hydro); 2021, 1,253 MW (600 coal, 650 gas, 3 hydro); 2022, 31 MW geothermal.

See — not a single plant, not even 1 MW of oil-based peaking plant to address demand spikes during rush hours. This is dangerous.

I made power reserves projections to 2023. The peak demand from 2015-2018 was rising by 5.7% a year on average; for 2019–2023, a 5% annual increase due to GDP growth deceleration recently is made. And assuming an average capacity factor (CF) of 85% for new plants in 2019–2021 (mostly coal) and 65% for a new geothermal plant, we can derive the projected reserves (see table 2).

Even without new power price control via lower secondary price cap, Luzon grid is already in danger due to low reserves margin, especially by 2022–23. Add forced outages and unscheduled shutdowns due to many old and ageing conventional plants and intermittent energy from renewables, the risk of blackouts go up. Yellow-red alerts will surely be back in 2020 and beyond.

The ERC should not proceed with the planned new power price control. In fact they — ERC, DOE, IEMOP — should lift and abolish price control, at least the secondary price cap. Attract investors in peaking plants and avoid the risks of blackouts.

And this water politics and harassment by the Duterte administration, the arbitrary change of rules midway, is bad news for foreign investments. Lack of rule of law, disrespect of contracts, bad.

See also:

Millenials and entitlement thinking

Aside from the reasons outlined in this CNBC article below, I think two other important factors why mental health for millenials seem to be deteriorating: (1) too many scare frankenstein stories (climate crisis, garbage/plastic crisis, inequality crisis, NCDs crisis, tobacco crisis, sugar/obesity crisis, water crisis, energy crisis,...), and (2) socialistic, entitlement thinking, many young people are surprised that they have to work? Aren't they supposed to get universal healthcare (UHC), universal education (until university), universal housing, universal basic income, other freebies?

(This quote above, CTTO, not mine, thanks.)

Half of millennials and 75% of Gen Zers have left their job for mental health reasons
OCT 11 201910:43 AM EDTUPDATED TUE, OCT 15 201911:24 AM EDT
Todd Wasserman

* A recent study by Mind Share Partners, Qualtrics and SAP reveals that half of millennials and 75% of Gen Zers have left a job for mental health reasons.

* In addition, the American Psychological Association found the percentage of people dealing with suicidal thoughts increased 47% from 2008 to 2017.

* Companies like Cisco, which claims that 7% of its U.S. workforce is accessing some form of mental health and substance abuse treatment, is confronting the issue head-on, with several programs available to its 75,000 employees and 11,000 managers.

And this article from Wapo below promoting entitlement -- government should give away more cash transfer to the poor, working or not working, saving or not saving, gambling or not gambling, just give away more tax money (or borrowed money) and the "multiplier effect" will be big, hahaha, wow.

Government will get money from the people via taxes and borrowings, give to the legislators and agencies, then give back to the people. A P100 tax revenue can net only perhaps P60 back to the people after deducting salaries, travels, offices, etc in government (legislature, executive). Then there will be big multiplier effect? I don't think so.

What would happen if we randomly gave $1,000 to poor families? Now we know.
By Francisco Toro   Dec. 4, 2019 at 1:57 a.m. GMT+8

“There’s more and more interest in running these programs at scale,” Berkeley’s Miguel, one of the study’s authors, told me in a phone interview in November. “More and more governments are coming around to the benefits of cash transfers.”

I posted the above notes and links in my fb wall, a young friend Sarah Mishael Maderazo commented, good points:

"1. Why does saving the planet have to mean taking people’s money? Because it’s not about the climate, it’s about power.
2. When the youth don’t know how to govern themselves and take responsibility for their lives, they turn to government to take care of them. Also, they are constantly bombarded by propaganda/rhetoric that tells them they live in hell. Ugh socialism sucks."

Thursday, December 12, 2019

BWorld 393, Employment and e-cig ment

* My column in BusinessWorld, December 10, 2019.

The good news in the country’s labor force survey reported by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) is that unemployment rate has significantly declined, from 6% in October 2014 to only 4.5% in October 2019. The underemployment rate has also declined to only 13%.

The bad news is that the labor force participation rate (LFPR) is declining, from 64.3% in October 2014 to 61.5% in October 2019. Declining LFPR means people are less optimistic, less confident that they will be hired or they can hire themselves, so they postpone seeking jobs or entrepreneurship and pursue more studies, training, or bumming around. Those who join the labor force are more confident, more skilled and that partly explains the lower unemployment and underemployment rates (see Table 1).

We should still aim for a 2.5% or below unemployment rate. That number can be considered as “full employment” as the 2.5% are considered as short-term “voluntary unemployment,” like people who are offered a P20,000/month job and refuse to take it as they wait for P25,000/month or higher job offers.

One recent issue that can have an adverse impact on employment — on the manufacturers, shops, and sellers — is the vaping ban, or heavy regulations and higher taxation of e-cigarettes and tobacco substitutes like vaping products.

We often hear many “crisis” and catastrophe stories — climate crisis, plastic crisis, non-communicable diseases (NCD) crisis, sugar/obesity crisis, tobacco crisis, vaping crisis, etc. Most if not all are exaggerations. If any or all of them are true, people should be living shorter, sicklier lives. Far out as people now are living longer, healthier, and wealthier as shown by the rising life expectancy.

When more people die of NCDs, that is good news. That means less people die of communicable and infectious diseases, less people die of wars and violence. More people though can die of injuries and accidents as people are now more mobile across islands and countries. Death by injury in the Philippines is declining but is higher than those in Japan, Singapore, and Indonesia, but lower than those in South Korea, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam (see Table 2).

“Harm reduction” is being done to mitigate injuries and diseases as people do what they want without harming others. Like helmets and body protection for cyclists and motorcycle riders, low alcohol content drinks like beer vs “high octane” hard drinks, and using vapor/heating instead of burning nicotine.

Dr. Carrie Wade, Director for Harm Reduction Policy, R Street Institute in Washington DC, USA, has good scientific research work on the biological mechanisms of opioid and drug addiction, addiction as a disease, and how the neuroadaptations of an addicted brain can result in destructive behaviors. She believes that “harm reduction practices can shift really risky behaviors to more neutral behaviors, decrease disease transmission and health care costs.”

In a paper, “E-Cigarette Bans Come at the Expense of Public Health,” she wrote, “Is it right to ban a largely successful quitting tool at the expense of people who benefit from it? Policymakers need to recognize that not all tobacco products are created equally, and it doesn’t make sense to prohibit and overly restrict safer alternatives when fatal ones are cemented in the landscape of our laws, economy and culture.”

If the nanny state is to be consistent in protecting people from themselves, it should also impose more regulations and prohibitions on sky jumping, rock climbing, downhill bicycle and motorcycle riding, and many full contact sports. Since the nanny state is not consistent, it should reduce its appetite for more regulations and prohibitions and recognize that people own their body, not the state or NGOs. There should be more personal, parental, and civil society responsibility in public health, not more state command and control.

See also:

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Water price control, Duterte attacks and his shameless fanatic

Water price control of the previous administration was wrong. Penalty payment control of the current administration is wrong. Arbitrary dishonor of contracts and changing of rules midway is wrong. But then, could other players wanting to snatch the contract from the existing two water concessionaires be behind the aggressive attacks of Duterte?

See these recent stories. 

Really, expropriation? Then government will go back to water distribution business like the 80s and 90s, or give the concession to friends and cronies?

Posting here some good opinion articles...

Never waste a good crisis
April 1, 2019 | 12:27 am
Introspective   By Romeo L. Bernardo

"the water PPP has “contributed much to improve public welfare by having more than doubled the number of customers served, provided 24 hour water service availability that meets health standards, while addressing the needs of millions in the poor communities. The improvements in service delivery came after the two concessionaires poured in a combined P105 billion in investments to expand and upgrade the water and sewage network, achieved without adding to government’s fiscal burden or public debt exposure.”

Twilight of the rule of law
April 28, 2019 | 9:25 pm
Introspective  By Raul V. Fabella

"The MWSS decision constitutes a rape of the rule of law even if the concessionaires decided to hold their horses. If left to stand, it establishes a precedent that a guilty party can to reap political pogi points by scapegoating a vulnerable party. The scapegoating of Manila Water certainly deflects the conversation from the threatened firing of the MWSS leadership for incompetence."

FIRST PERSON - Alex Magno (The Philippine Star) - December 7, 2019 - 12:00am

"If the concession contracts are cancelled arbitrarily, there will be panic in the business community. All the gains we made improving the ease of doing business will be cancelled.
Instead of terrorizing the concessions, it will be more constructive to work with them for better outcomes."

Let the facts speak
December 9, 2019, 12:47 AM

"Prior to Manila Water, 63% of every liter produced never reached the intended customer because of broken MWSS pipes and pilferage. Manila Water was able to reduce “system loss” or non-revenue water to only 11%. This is at par with international standards of water distribution efficiency.
An ADB study says the reduction in system loss is equivalent to having built a new water dam!"

And this report, could the "new contract" being drafted by the DOJ be properly worded to suit the qualifications of whoever they want to snatch the concession/s?

Gov’t draft of new water contracts expected to be ready by year’s end
December 9, 2019 | 11:13 pm

Meanwhile, I posted the above notes and links in my fb wall when a friend from UP in the 80s suddenly butt in. He is a son of a brave politician in Negros Occidental who consistently opposed the Marcos dictatorship in the 80s, the late Assemblyman Wilson Gamboa. Now a Duterte fanatic, this guy would quickly resort to personal attacks when ideas do not suit his illusions of the Duterte government. See this, he turned his lousy ego on me, tsk tsk tsk. Shameless Lauro Gamboa.

Monday, December 09, 2019

Climate Tricks 89, Fear of principled inaction vs alarmism

President Trump is a brave man. His inaction -- on more carbon tax, more US taxpayers money to UN climacrats and endless climate junkets, more global ecological central planning -- is too politically risky yet he pursues it. Some related news reports here.

(1) Principled Inaction in the Face of Climate Change Extremism.
President Trump’s courageous commitment to America first on the issue of energy emissions.
By Gregory Wrightstone  on December 2, 2019

"President Trump’s refusal to cosign radical climate extremism is a courageous gesture of principled inaction."

Last week, the UN sounded they want more climate money, want US taxpayers should also send them more money.

(2) U.N. Cries Poor [Again]: Issues Unprecedented $29 Billion Emergency Funding Appeal
By SIMON KENT  4 Dec 2019

“The cash-strapped United Nations has issued an unprecedented global appeal for funds, claiming Wednesday it needs an immediate injection of $29 billion of global taxpayer money as “climate change” and global conflicts pressure existing budgets.”

Meanwhile, Princeton physicist Will Happer, former Senior Director at the National Security Council, finished his term at the WH and went back to academe said this:

“[Mr. Trump] is very sympathetic to trying to get some more rationality into climate policies. Personally, he feels very strongly that way. Many of the people in the White House who advise him are nervous about the political implications of that, which I can understand, too.”

(3) Ex-Trump official: White House aides too 'nervous' about fallout to dispute 'climate crisis' claims
Princeton's Will Happer praises Trump for seeking to bring 'rationality into climate policies'
By Valerie Richardson - The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 4, 2019

(4) Democrats fly to Madrid to conceal Paris Agreement’s colossal failure from Americans
Guest essay by Larry Hamlin   December 3, 2019

Pelosi Will Always Have Paris
By The Editorial Board  Dec. 2, 2019 7:00 pm ET

“President Trump didn’t jet off to Madrid for this week’s United Nations climate klatsch, but Nancy Pelosi brought a congressional delegation..."

(5) US Becomes A Net Fossil Fuel Exporter Under Trump As His Dem Opponents Vow To Bludgeon Big Oil
CHRIS WHITE   December 03, 2019  12:16 PM ET

"The U.S. exported roughly 89,000 barrels of fossil fuels per day during September, according to data the Energy Information Administration (EIA) released Nov. 29. That’s the first full month the U.S. has exported more than it imported since the U.S. began tracking such data in 1949."

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Saturday, December 07, 2019

BWorld 392, Business bureaucracies and regulations

* My column in BusinessWorld, December 5, 2019.

“There is no art which one government sooner learns of another than that of draining money from the pockets of the people.”

— Adam Smith,
The Wealth of Nations (1776), Book V, Chapter II, Part II

Last week, on Nov. 28, I attended a conference on Cutting Red Tape for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) organized by the AIM Rizalino S. Navarro Policy Center for Competitiveness and the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) held at Discovery Primea in Makati. A very interesting paper, “Cost of Regulatory Compliance for SMEs in the Philippines: Methodology and Survey Results,” was presented by the authors Jamil Paolo Francisco and Georgina Gonzales.

The authors and their team made a survey and they covered 300 SMEs from Metro Manila, 145 each from Cebu and Davao cities, for a total 590 SMEs, with average employment of 29 for Metro Manila, and 18 for Cebu and Davao. The survey was done from August to October this year.

The study had some interesting or troubling results. I summarize many charts and sub-topics into a table which accompanies this column.

The study made the following Summary from their survey results:

• SMEs find regulatory compliance, on average, moderately burdensome and they consider compliance as a concern as soon as the business is being established.

• Tax and local government regulations are perceived as most burdensome, and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and local government units (LGUs) as most difficult to deal with.

• On average, SMEs spent 30 hours to comply with regulations, about a third of which was spent on tax compliance.

• The burdens on SMEs are more on time and effort, so to save time and effort, almost a fifth of SMEs surveyed reported making informal payments of an average of 2% of their total expenses.

• When it comes to monetary costs, businesses spend around 17% of their total expenses for regulatory compliance and 20% for tax requirements. Figures include both direct and indirect payments such as salaries, transportation, supplies, etc.

There, Adam Smith’s words from some 243 years ago are still spot on.

Bureaucracies in SMEs can expand as companies become large. Take the case of transport network companies (TNCs). Recently, PBA Partylist Jericho Nograles unleashed a political attack on one private company, saying that “Grab owes government P15 billion in fines for overcharging 3 million riders.”

Again, the term “overcharging.” When people fly business class or first class instead of economy class, they do so voluntarily and pay for the ticket, do not cry about being over-charged. When people watch a concert or sports game with a ringside ticket instead of lower box or upper box, they just pay and do not cry that they are being over-charged.

So when people take an expensive ride, the fare they already know before clicking “Book a ride,” they just pay for reasons of safety and comfort and do not cry about being over-charged. Otherwise they can take the ordinary taxi, or motorcycle taxi, or an aircon van, jeepney, bus, the MRT/LRT and save money. A person carrying six or seven-digits in cash, or important documents, or rushing to the airport and paying P500 for a safe TNC ride instead of P300 for a regular taxi or P150 for a motorcycle taxi will not cry that they are being over-charged. People decide what rides are important for them, not politicians or bureaucrats.

So when politicians like Mr. Nograles charge billions of pesos that a private company “owes” to the passengers they have safely and comfortably served, there is clear malice.

The more political harassment from politicians, the more restrictions from agencies like the LTFRB (Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board) on expanding the supply of accredited cars or players, then the more public suffering via long waiting time for the few accredited cars, or shorter waiting times but more expensive rides.

Can new government regulations like the Anti-Red Tape Act address problems that government agencies themselves created? Perhaps yes.

Methinks that one lasting solution is to limit government people from staying in government, for a maximum of 20 years combined work in local and national agencies, appointed and elected positions. Many government officials intend to be regulators and politicians until retirement, meaning the hardships they create and implement will not apply to them and their friends. If they know that their taxation, regulations, and prohibitions will apply to them someday, they will think two times or ten times about crafting legislation for irrational taxation and regulations.

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