Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Taking a hierarchical system and structure as a given

Is it because it is our normal? It is our culture and tradition that we must respect and be proud of? But does it explain the dysfunction in PHL society? On the one hand where the family is the nucleus of society, is it also where we derive a nation’s ability to develop? And on the other our hierarchical system and structure has been reinforced by our institutions: political, educational and more so by the church? Defining what truly matters would clarify the paradox? For example, transparency doesn’t assume the absence of respect? Yet respect is suspect if not misplaced when transparency is absent? And is it why the bishops acknowledged that the church is a “sick institution”?

“We’ve sunk even lower than the jungle beasts – for the Law of the Jungle at least mandates “the survival of the fittest,” while in our society it’s the misfits who are rewarded.” [When power becomes evil, Sara Soliven De Guzman, As a matter of fact, The Philippine Star, 14th July 2014] “We’ve been reading about powerful politicians and businessmen who think and act like they are above the law . . . It is so easy for these narcissists to disobey the law and most of the time they get away with it . . . The sad part is that even government officials try to create their own laws. When the law is already very clear in black and white, they still have the audacity to go around it to justify their actions . . . Why do powerful people become evil?”

“The term ‘public service’ has become the sickest joke of all time. What public service are you talking about? Nobody is serving the public anymore . . . The prohibitory norm against nepotism in public service is set out in Section 59, Book V of the Revised Administrative Code of 1987 (also known as E.O. No. 292). Section 59 reads as follows: Nepotism. – (1) All appointments to the national, provincial, city and municipal governments or in any branch or instrumentality thereof, including government owned or controlled corporations, made in favor of a relative of the appointing or recommending authority, or of the chief of the bureau or office, or of the persons exercising immediate supervision over him, are hereby prohibited.”

But then again, the focus on family is something we’re proud of. And between family and the church it is not surprising how our values have been shaped – unfortunately, not necessarily for good?

“AS HE unveiled an extensive shake-up of the Vatican’s financial structures on July 9th, Cardinal George Pell said Pope Francis would soon name an auditor-general, free to ‘go everywhere and anywhere’ in the walled city-state to root out pecuniary lapses. The appointment of the new official would help the Vatican work towards “transcendency”, the cardinal added, before correcting himself to say ‘transparency’.” [The Vatican bank, Managing Mammon, A shake-up of Catholic finances, The Economist, 12th July 2014]

“Religion and finance have always sat together uncomfortably, nowhere more so than in the Catholic church. The Vatican City is a natural tax haven. Its Institute for the Works of Religion (IOR)—better known as the Vatican bank—has been wreathed in mystery and tainted by scandal since its involvement in the collapse in 1982 of Banco Ambrosiano (the bank’s chairman, Roberto Calvi, was found hanged under Blackfriars Bridge in London).”

In other words, how do we Pinoys learn to embrace transparency? That the absence of transparency breeds tyranny . . . and at the same time undermines and emasculates critical and creative thinking? In sum, it explains our inability to put our house in order – from the basics of nation-building and beyond . . . especially including innovation and competitiveness demanded by the 21st century? “The Philippines dropped 10 notches in the Global Innovation Index (GII) 2014, now ranking the 100th most innovative economy in the world out of 143 economies surveyed this year.” [PH drops 10 places in global innovation rankings, Amy R. Remo,Philippine Daily Inquirer, 19th July 2014]

“Based on the results of the GII 2014, the Philippines’ scores and rankings declined in five of the seven main indicators, namely human capital and research, infrastructure, business sophistication, knowledge and technology outputs, and creative outputs . . . This index recognizes the key role of innovation as a driver of economic growth and prosperity, and the need for a broad horizontal vision of innovation applicable to developed and emerging economies. Amid the documented slowdown in the growth of global research and development, the theme of the GII 2014 is ‘The Human Factor in Innovation,’ exploring the role of human capital in the innovation process and underlining the growing interest that firms and governments have shown in identifying and energizing creative individuals and teams.”

“Rather than trying to preserve the past by propping up old industries, officials should focus on managing the transition to new forms of work. This requires a better understanding of emerging technologies, and how they differ from those that they are supplanting.” [How creative destruction revs up progress and jobs, Carl Benedict Frey, Business World, 17th July 2014] “The story of US steel illustrates an important lesson about what the economist Joseph Schumpeter called “creative destruction”: Long-run economic growth involves more than just increasing output in existing factories; it is also implies structural changes in employment.”

“We can observe a similar phenomenon in the current information and communications technology (ICT) revolution, which has affected most areas of the modern workplace, even those not directly associated with computer programming or software engineering. Computer technologies have created prosperous new businesses (even business clusters) while making certain manufacturing workers redundant and sending older manufacturing cities into decline.”

But it doesn't mean we should bypass manufacturing and leapfrog to BPOs like we did in the Philippines, and which Poland has realized. The same can be said of retailing without a manufacturing base to speak of. In both cases, these industries are akin to the low-hanging fruit, and the phenomenon has defined PHL especially when we add OFW remittances. Following our inability to do the basics right and to prioritize, we celebrated our failures after sweeping them under the carpet?

The evidence: our inability to erect basic infrastructure and a core of strategic industries – reflective of our failed institutions as in governance, learning and faith? The reference to basic and strategic must be underscored; meaning, with a solid foundation not only physical but human and thus creative, geared to innovation and competition and broad-based, thus able to optimize the multiplier effect and be inclusive. The reality: we continue to dig ourselves in the hole consumed by retail politics as in the DAP and populist agendas – and we wonder why we're running round in circles?

We have a much bigger problem than the DAP. Until we learn to look outward and forward we shall remain “too close to the trees that we miss the forest”? And it explains why we're riveted by politics, education and religion instead of governance, learning and faith?

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