Thursday, April 7, 2016

Problem-solving can’t start with “destiny”

“Wala tayong magagawa.” It’s the wife’s most dreaded response to a question she would matter-of-factly ask when in the Philippines – for something as simple as an information. And which Google translates to “helplessness.”

Does the sense of helplessness come from the acceptance of “destiny”? The blog has referenced Rizal’s genius for seeing through the fraud personified by Padre Damaso. But that’s over a century ago!

“TO a person, the presidential candidates this year are tripping over themselves to pronounce their support for the 4Ps, the government’s P60-billion dole program that gives poor families a monthly stipend for keeping their children in school. That none of them have questioned the basic premise of the program . . . a measure of how much they are pandering to the poor in the hopes of winning their votes.” [Pandering to the poor, Editorial, The Standard, 23rd Mar 2016]

Helplessness and destiny? Consider: “The surrender of the Empire of Japan was announced by Imperial Japan on August 15 and formally signed on September 2, 1945 . . . The 1964 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XVIII Olympiad, was . . . held in TokyoJapan, from October 10 to 24, 1964 . . . the first Olympics held in Asia.” [Wikipedia]

“The 1964 Tokyo Summer Olympics represented . . . the end of a long, bleak period for many Japanese. It was a moment to recognize and celebrate Japan's progress and reemergence . . .The transformation from devastated enemy to rebuilt friend was accomplished in less than 20 years, a remarkably short time.” [About Japan, Japan Society]

The writer has taken that remarkable accomplishment for granted despite covering Japan during the 10-year period he was an MNC regional manager. Very recently though, the wife organized a trip and while in the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum, history would stare him in the face.

“On August 6, 1945, during World War II (1939-45), an American B-29 bomber dropped the world’s first deployed atomic bomb over the Japanese city of Hiroshima. The explosion wiped out 90 percent of the city and immediately killed 80,000 people; tens of thousands more would later die of radiation exposure. Three days later, a second B-29 dropped another A-bomb on Nagasaki, killing an estimated 40,000 people. Japan’s Emperor Hirohito announced his country’s unconditional surrender in World War II in a radio address on August 15, citing the devastating power of “a new and most cruel bomb.” [“BOMBING OF HIROSHIMA AND NAGASAKI,”]

“After the defeat of Japan in World War II, the United States led the Allies in the occupation and rehabilitation of the Japanese state. Between 1945 and 1952, the U.S. occupying forces, led by General Douglas A. MacArthur, enacted widespread military, political, economic, and social reforms.

“In September, 1945, General Douglas MacArthur took charge of the Supreme Command of Allied Powers (SCAP) . . . MacArthur had the final authority to make all decisions. The occupation of Japan can be divided into three phases: the initial effort to punish and reform Japan, the work to revive the Japanese economy, and the conclusion of a formal peace treaty and alliance.

“The first phase, roughly from the end of the war in 1945 through 1947, involved the most fundamental changes for the Japanese Government and society . . . SCAP dismantled the Japanese army and banned former military officers from taking roles of political leadership in the new government. In the economic field, SCAP introduced land reform, designed to benefit the majority tenant farmers and reduce the power of rich landowners, many of whom had advocated for war and supported Japanese expansionism . . . MacArthur also tried to break up the large Japanese business conglomerates, or zaibatsu, as part of the effort to transform the economy into a free market capitalist system. In 1947, Allied advisors essentially dictated a new constitution to Japan’s leaders. Some of the most profound changes in the document included downgrading the emperor’s status to that of a figurehead without political control and placing more power in the parliamentary system, promoting greater rights and privileges for women, and renouncing the right to wage war. . .” [Occupation and Reconstruction of Japan, 1945–52, U.S. Department of State, Office of the Historian]

What about Vietnam and the Philippines? We can look at a couple of yardsticks – FDIs and investment in fixed capital – 40 years after the Vietnam War and 70 years after WWII. Vietnam = $100.5-B and 24.4%, respectively. Philippines = $60.99-B and 21.7%.

“Facts. In 2014, the government estimated that nearly 26 percent of Filipinos . . . were poor. Today, that will be about 26 million out of 100 million Filipinos. Of the total poor, about 20 million are in the rural areas, or two out of five of the rural population. These are mostly farmers, fishers and landless workers.

“The Philippines failed miserably compared with Asean neighbors, especially Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam in poverty reduction. Poverty incidence in the Philippines is up two to three times.

“Causes and effects. Ragnar Nurske (1907-1959), an Estonian economist, concluded that in the vicious circle (cycle) of poverty, low investment arises from low income, which is due to low productivity. Low productivity is caused, or partly caused, by low investment.

“Nurske pioneered the balanced-growth theory. The theory espouses that a government of an underdeveloped country needs to make large investments in a number of industries simultaneously. This will make the market bigger, increase productivity, and encourage the private sector to invest.” [Memo to presidential aspirants on mass poverty, Rolando T. DyMAPping the FuturePhilippine Daily Inquirer, 14th Mar 2016]

“Wala tayong magagawa.” “As it is, our economy’s growth in recent decades has been largely propelled by services. A scan of the statistics over time readily shows that our consistent growth leaders have been financial services (banking and insurance), real estate and business services, especially business process outsourcing. By no coincidence, our top billionaires derive the bulk of their wealth from these, and less from manufacturing, and hardly from agriculture. All this explains why accelerating economic growth over the past decade has left the poor behind, as poverty incidence actually rose from 24.9 percent in 2003 to 26.5 percent in 2009.

“This experience was in complete contradiction to the experience in Asia, where the Asian Development Bank found poverty incidence to have fallen by an average of 2 percent for every 1 percent rise in GDP. Asia has in fact been more successful in translating economic growth into poverty reduction than the rest of the world, where poverty fell by an average of only 1.5 percent for every 1 percent of GDP growth. The Philippine experience has not only been inferior; it is perverse, with poverty moving in the wrong direction!” [Small firms and manifold challenges, Cielito F. Habito, No Free Lunch, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 22nd Mar 2016]

“But throwing money at a problem never solved anything—and it will not fix poverty. The idea of easy money degrades the value of that money and diminishes the worth of an honest day’s work.” [The Standard, op. cit.]

“Failed experiment at DA,” Marichu A. Villanueva, COMMONSENSE, The Philippine Star, 4th Mar 2016. “Ironically, the contribution to the country’s annual economic growth from the agriculture sector, however, has been declining even while budgetary support grew by unprecedented proportions.”

“Farming systems are important. Farm consolidation, such as what is now being adopted in the Asean countries and China, would shape up the countryside. In China today, some 20 percent of the farmlands are consolidated (Jikun Huang, China Academy of Agriculture Sciences, 2012). Policies, like allowing freedom of leases of land-reform lands and lifting retention limits of five hectares on land ownership, would bring more investments.” [Dy, op. cit.]

“We will also need our small firms to band together through various forms of clustering, if they are to be better integrated into international trade. Export orders invariably involve large volumes that no single small enterprise can readily meet.

“But our entrepreneurs need to be helped in shedding the ‘kanya-kanya’ (individualistic) mind-set to tap the opportunities of international trade.

“The challenges of small business in this country are manifold and daunting, and it will take nothing less than a well-orchestrated effort to unleash the great potential of MSMEs to participate more in our economy’s growth, and spread benefits therefrom much more widely.” [Habito, op. cit.]

“Wala tayong magagawa.” Because our instinct is “kanya-kanya” – that brings the perfect storm when reinforced by parochialism, hierarchy, paternalism, political patronage and dynasties, crony capitalism and oligarchy? They would characterize bygone eras yet they represent what we label our culture?

Japan needed 20 years to get back on its feet [and host the Olympics, read rapid infrastructure and economic development], Vietnam a bit more . . . but the Philippines? “Wala tayong magagawa.”

We cannot learn to look outward and forward – and define our place in the sun and what we stand for? We cannot learn to develop a sense of community and the common good? We don't like unsolicited advice? What about foreigners dictating the PH Constitution? Regardless, problem-solving doesn’t start with “destiny”? Being driven out of Eden and Egypt confirmed the magic of man’s creation?

“Why independence, if the slaves of today will be the tyrants of tomorrow? And that they will be such is not to be doubted, for he who submits to tyranny loves it.” [We are ruled by Rizal’s ‘tyrants of tomorrow,’ Editorial, The Manila Times, 29th Dec 2015]

“As a major component for the education and reorientation of our people, mainstream media – their reporters, writers, photographers, columnists and editors – have an obligation to this country . . .” [Era of documented irrelevance: Mainstream media, critics and protesters, Homobono A. Adaza, The Manila Times, 25th Nov 2015]

“Development [is informed by a people’s] worldview, cognitive capacity, values, moral development, self-identity, spirituality, and leadership . . .” [Frederic Laloux, Reinventing organizations, Nelson Parker, 2014]

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