Monday, April 20, 2015

North Star against our "bida" culture

If among the bishops in the CBCP – and the cardinals in the Curia – the North Star isn't preeminent, what more in government? A few times this blog pointed out that even in corporate America, the reality exists. And that after seven years of being a witness, someone had to say enough is enough. And so at the first opportunity, as a regional manager, we pushed and called a spade a space and became known as “the father of goal alignment” at this MNC.

Consider how out of sync government bureaucracy can be: (a) “DTI exec warns vs DOF measure that may impede companies’ competiveness”; (b) “Coconut levy funds… so near yet so far” (c) “Volkswagen Philippines President and CEO John Philip Orbeta urged the government to make up its mind . . .”; (d) “Writing off auto manufacturing in PH.”

It’s the human condition. We value our own ideas and which explains why even empires become passé. Isn’t the world waiting for the demise of Uncle Sam with China (not long ago had begged for Western money and technology) rubbing it in via the AIIBank? And the more people and nations think highly of themselves the more they fall into the trap of ideology – that can become archaic?

“The Things I Carried Back,” John F. Burns, The New York Times, 11th Apr 2015; he is a Pulitzer Prize-winning foreign correspondent whose postings over four decades included Bosnia, Afghanistan, Russia, China, Iraq and South Africa. “In my case, poking from the very top of my traveler’s backpack is something you might expect of a reporter who spent long years in what were then some of the nastiest places in the world, each of them fraudulently dressed up, in their enveloping propaganda, as something entirely different, and benign. What those years bred in me, more than anything else, was an abiding revulsion for ideology, in all its guises.”

“From Soviet Russia to Mao’s China, from the Afghanistan ruled by the Taliban to the repression of apartheid-era South Africa, I learned that there is no limit to the lunacy, malice and suffering that can plague any society with a ruling ideology, and no perfidy that cannot be justified by manipulating the precepts of a Mao or a Marx, a Prophet Muhammad or a Kim Il-sung.”

Are we as Catholics ideologues? But then Francis sees ideologues as suffering from leprosy!

As some of my Bulgarian friends would explain, even with the fall of Soviet-style socialism in Eastern Europe, they didn’t expect those that had called the shots to adhere to the new order. “YOUNGER Ukrainian intellectuals look not only to Dr. Khersonsky’s experiences as a Soviet dissident for guidance, but also to his experiences with systemic collapse. While he said he initially welcomed capitalism, the economic turmoil that followed Ukraine’s independence was a disappointment. ‘What we received was a criminal capitalism,’ he said.” [A Craftsman of Russian Verse Helps Ukraine Find Its New Voice, Sally McGrane, The New York Times, 10th Apr 2015]

“In the meantime, his work as a psychiatrist — a dark-red velvet couch sits in the corner of the dacha for patients — helps keep him calm . . . Dr. Khersonsky said that if the opportunity arose, he would be happy to psychoanalyze his country.

“If Ukraine came to lie on my couch, I would say, ‘You need a long process of integration,’ he said. ‘I might also tell her she needs to develop a better sense of reality. And of course I will remind her she should visit me twice a week for one hour. I won’t charge her much, because of her financial difficulties.’

“‘Ukraine can only become a whole state by admitting its differences,’ he said. ‘Admitting, and admiring.’ Dr. Khersonsky — an increasingly influential voice in Ukraine’s intellectual circles — has for years advocated moving away from the idea that Ukrainian nationality should be determined by ethnicity.

“But watching the pro-European protests in 2013 in Kiev, Ukraine’s capital, and the change in leadership in 2014, he became increasingly aware of something else. While his mother tongue, the bulk of his cultural heritage and most of his artistic fame have come from Russia, he felt he was Ukrainian at heart.”

And closer to home: “STEPS should be taken to ensure the controversial measure to monitor incentives being pushed by the Department of Finance (DOF) will not impede the competitiveness of individual companies, said an official of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).”[DTI exec warns vs DOF measure that may impede companies’ competitiveness, Catherine Pillas, Business Mirror, 12th Apr 2015]

“A source privy to the discussions on the Tax Incentive Monitoring and Transparency Act (Timta) reiterated the DTI’s general opposition to the bill, saying the DOF is pushing hard on provisions in the Timta that may violate companies’ confidentiality and pare down their competitiveness.

Should the reality then surprise us? “The Senate and House of Representatives are consolidating their own versions of the two measures separately. However, both the Timta and the rationalization of fiscal incentives (RFI) are still stuck in the committee levels of each chamber, and chances are slim that neither one will be able to pass the RFI or the Timta.”

But can we truly move on? “We are almost there. Let’s rally behind the PCA and get the Coconut Industry Road Map approved by the President and move on!” [Coconut levy funds… so near yet so far, Dr. Emil Javier, Manila Bulletin, 11th Apr 2015]

“The notion of a perpetual trust fund remains valid and relevant . . . The principle could be embedded in the Road Map which the President required of PCA and OPASFAM. The coconut farmers and like-minded scientists, academe, agribusiness professionals and managers should actively engage themselves in the articulation of the Coconut Industry Road Map to make sure this principle of perpetuity as well as the mobilizing of modern technology and management systems are built in into the Road Map.

“Preparing the Coconut Industry Road Map should not be a big deal. We have repeatedly gone over the terrain in the annual coconut summits convened by PCA. Privately the coconut farmers are fed up. As venerable Ka Oscar Santos of Quezon laments, he hopes the preparation of the required Coconut Industry Road Map will not take that long because HE HAS little time left!

“PCA does not have monopoly of competence of the many facets of coconut industry development. In fact the greater part of that competence are in the state colleges and universities (SCUs), in the research institutes of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) as well as in private industry. The strategy therefore for PCA is to use its convening (and funding power) to mobilize all the above public and private organizations in the articulation and prospective implementation of the Coconut Industry Road Map . . .”

So road maps are not a panacea? “Orbeta noted that President Aquino even visited VW facilities during his visit to Germany to show how interested this German carmaker is on the Philippines. ‘So government should really be serious to create an ecosystem for the development of an automotive industry,’ he said.” [Volks PH eyes existing auto policy as entry point, Bernie Magkilat, Manila Bulletin, 13th Apr 2015]

“[T]he frustration at the apparent lack of seriousness behind the Administration’s “roadmap” is still evident . . . The impression one gets from listening to a variety of knowledgeable viewpoints . . . is that the government’s plan was developed without consideration of competitive factors in other countries . . .” [Writing off auto manufacturing in PH, Ben D. Kritz, The Manila Times, 13th Apr 2015]

Ergo: We’re stuck with OFW remittances and services (BPOs) and behind in agribusiness and industry? Will North Star – i.e., the construct of our economy and nation – ever be in our psyche as a people? Or a sense of purpose – and guiding principles? Only if we unlearn parochialism?

Who will teach us like a Lincoln that American presidents to this day would look up to? He is unquestionably the standard . . . He sort of lives somewhere in the stratosphere.” [Abraham Lincoln, the One President All of Them Want to Be More Like, Peter Baker, The New York Times, 14th Apr 2015]

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