Sunday, August 9, 2015

Stuck in the past

“But to no avail. Dornbusch got the biggest insult of all when he came to the Philippines and was told by a finance undersecretary that he (Dornbusch) didn’t know his macroeconomics. Dornbusch was stunned into speechlessness.” [We lost 17 years of development, Solita Collas-MonsodGet RealPhilippine Daily Inquirer, 8th Aug 2015]

This blog's reason for being is to challenge us to reinvent ourselves and not be stuck in the past. For example, the above quoted article would confirm how we have mismanaged and undermined development. And the consequence is we are the regional laggard unable to move forward while our neighbors have accounted for the drastic reduction in world poverty, left underdevelopment behind and became Asian Tigers. We lost 17 years of development. And unless we reinvent ourselves, we will constantly mirror the referenced finance undersecretary. He is a microcosm; he is Juan de la Cruz?

Our parochial and inward-looking bias has restricted and narrowed our worldview and worse fed crab mentality and, not surprisingly, a culture of impunity? And to reinvent ourselves we must first recognize our instincts because wittingly or not, we have connected the dots not of a virtuous but a vicious circle: (a) hierarchy (instead of an egalitarian system and structure); (b) political patronage (instead of good governance); and (c) oligarchy (instead of a competitive, i.e., inclusive, economy.) More to the point, we don’t want to keep playing with fire, that republican and liberal democracy doesn’t fit our temperament. The Russians are still paying the price for the idiocy?

“Sachs was very critical of International Monetary Fund policy and the Philippines’ stance with respect to its creditors (his position has been validated since then). And my colleagues in Cory Aquino’s Cabinet (those involved in negotiations) treated him cavalierly. At first, he thought that it was because he was young (32 years old at the time, although he was a full professor at Harvard at 28) and baby-faced. So he called on his colleague, Rudiger Dornbusch (economics students will know his stature), to come and do the explaining. Which Dornbusch did, flying, at his own expense, to Washington from Massachusetts. It was something like the Avengers, helping each other.”

“Prof. Jeffrey Sachs flew in earlier this week to give a lecture on sustainable development and launch the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), which is a United Nations initiative. Which is why Sachs was here in the first place . . . ‘Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development . . . a roadmap to ending global poverty, building a life of dignity for all and … is also a clarion call to intensify efforts to heal our planet for the benefit of this and future generations, leaving no one.’”

Of course we expect a Philippine finance undersecretary to be high up in the hierarchy? And what an irony, Goal 4 of the SDG reads: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. And we don't want to be stuck in the past that we cling to ‘knowledge is power.’ And why this blog has discussed Peter Senge’s ‘the learning organization.’

“Learning organizations are those organizations where people continually expand their capacity to create the results they truly desire, where new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, where collective aspiration is set free, and where people are continually learning to see the whole together. [Senge] argues that only those organizations that are able to adapt quickly and effectively will be able to excel . . . Rather than focusing on the individuals within an organization it prefers to look at a larger number of interactions within the organization and in between organizations as a whole.”

Yet because of our parochial bias and value of hierarchy, those in authority would matter-of-factly appropriate infinite knowledge. And who is paying the price? Juan de la Cruz himself. Because of our reality, of being the regional laggard. Do we have the capacity to develop a BlackBerry or a Nokia or a Polaroid, for instance? In 1980, Gulf Oil, IBM and Amoco were in the top 10 of the Fortune 500 list. A generation later, they’ve dropped!
“Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.”[William Pollard, 1911-1989, a physicist and Episcopalian priest and a colleague of Einstein in the Manhattan Project.]

Aren’t we amused how we all keep pointing fingers yet we are the ones behind this failed state? If we've lost 17 years of development, have our instincts changed since?

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