Monday, May 23, 2016

We’ve been in this boat for over a century

But from now it will be different? Yet it’s the singer not the song? Can Juan de la Cruz change his stripes whether he’s a leader or a common tao? We must dig deep into our soul if we are to attain good governance; and be capable of self-government. Is it where our problem lies? 

If a private enterprise is committed to continued growth and profitability – in order to be a contributing member of society – the public sector must be committed to good governance – in order to be of service to the people and the community.

Profitability is not a bad word. It starts with a product or service that responds to a human need such that people become loyal to the product or service – and thus attain a virtuous cycle. Simply, the product or service is self-sustaining. Public service on the other hand must likewise be self-sustaining. And contrary to what people assume, while taxes are visible as the source of public service, the size of government revenues is dependent on the economy. And an economy is simply the aggregate of the goods or products and services it produces.

Let’s say we have a federal system. It is not enough to assume that our favorite regions will get their fair share of government revenues. We are a third-world nation because our economic output is paltry. For decades and until recently we relied on OFW remittances. Thanks to the BPO industry, we are in better financial shape today.

But that is not for the Aquino administration to crow about. Neither was of their making. Better fiscal management is no longer as challenging as during the days of the Binondo Central Bank precisely because of these two income streams.

But they still won’t catapult us to the ranks of developed or wealthy nations. Full stop. But is that in the consciousness of Juan de Cruz?

We have two fundamental problems: (1) Public service is extensively corrupt and not committed to good governance. [We should have more of them in jail.] And (2) our economic output has been restricted by our closed economy – with a little help from all of us because of our parochial-paternalistic-hierarchical-subservient instincts that nurtured political patronage and dynasties, crony capitalism and oligarchy. [In a recent posting the blog discussed the primacy of the JFC’s Arangkada Philippines.]

Every other problem would just be a manifestation of these two follies. In other words, a wealthy economy can afford education reform, world-class health services, social services, etc., etc. and even self-defense.

But what are we talking about? We want to be a wealthy nation.

We need more than a mayor. We don’t necessarily need a federal system. Federalism for PHL is too complicated to even think about. Even in the private sector restructuring is a massive exercise. But more to the point, it has no direct bearing on our two fundamental problems. [While federalism is not secession, it connotes the ability to stand alone in certain respects. For example, the Scots realized they’re not the optimum size to be truly standalone. Or the Quebecois or the Catalans. The writer opted to be a Connecticut resident at the time state taxes were favorable, which is no longer true today. And since it is home, he has to bite the bullet. Perfection is not of this world.]

We don’t need more empowerment of citizens. We need good governance in the three branches. We moved away from the two-party system and entrenched Pinoy crab mentality. Grab mentality is a social cancer. It undermines synergy and the common good. Not surprisingly, the sense of community is alien to us?

And no system of government can solve immaturity. And why there is such a thing as civil wars. And in our case, government especially at the local levels is already in the hands of political dynasties. A federal system will make them bigger monsters!

“Sheldon Silver, Ex-New York Assembly Speaker, Is Found Guilty on All Counts,” The New York Times, 30th Nov 2015. If we think the US is a good example of federalism, we better learn about Albany, NY or New Jersey. And Chicago or Connecticut, etc., etc.

A system to work – federal or otherwise – must uphold the rule of law. But ours is a culture of impunity? And why we’re poor. It’s not the system. It’s not the song, but the singer!

How should we approach our challenges? Or how does the mind work? And here is where the state-of-the-art is.

“From grade school up to college and beyond, we have constantly been fed the same platitude that our first instinct is probably the right answer. We’re told to listen to our gut and believe our intuition, and when in doubt, our subconscious will deliver. But that’s only sometimes how it works.

“Our minds and the way we think actually work in an intricate interplay between two systems of thought. As the research of Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman indicates in his bestseller, Thinking Fast and Slow, the gut instinct (or System 1) is not always to be trusted. While it’s helpful in choosing a latte at Starbucks or indicating that we should move out of the way of oncoming traffic, our gut instinct is at best a snap decision made on incomplete information filtered from our surroundings.

“When we first encounter a problem, System 1 goes to work. System 1 is the immediate responder, the flash of instinct or intuition that provides a fast answer. While System 1 does an excellent job of keeping us alive and out of danger, it works to actually reduce the amount of information that goes into a decision. Standing on a crowded street corner? System 1 filters out the sounds and scents of the noisy city to focus you on an oncoming taxi, telling you not to step into the street. However – if faced with an important business decision in the boardroom – System 1 may lead you astray.

“So how does this apply to the workplace? The problem is, we don’t know the limits of our own knowledge, and where our subconscious is substituting stereotypes or previous biases for real information. What becomes dangerous is a problem our subconscious thinks it can solve, but lacks the necessary information to do so. In these cases, System 1 may substitute superstition, bias and stereotype for actual information in arriving at an answer. In many cases, System 1 substitutes an easier question for the question being asked, and thus arrives at the wrong conclusion.

“System 2, our slow, reasoned thinking, is required to kick in and solve [a vexing] problem by performing a mathematical equation, [for example]. However, many avoid the effort involved in solving a problem correctly by remaining with System 1’s lazy, unreasoned answer.

“System 2 takes more energy and effort, yes, but it is necessary in the workplace to avoid lazy thinking and arrive at a reasoned answer based on logic and hard data. To arrive at process efficiency and world-class operations, the right questions must be asked, and answered. When faced with an analysis of the current state of business, process owners can either choose to ask the lazy question: ‘Are we meeting our KPI’s [key performance indicators]?’ or the considered question: ‘Are our processes improving over time?’ when faced with an efficiency question: ‘Is the staff hardworking?’ or: ‘Is the staff hard at work fixing the wrong problems?’. Substituting an easy question for a hard one can lead to the dangers of backwardness and stagnation.

“To avoid complacency, group-think, and filtered information, we need to overcome the biases of System 1 and utilize System 2 to make decisions.

“Business optimization, [for example], is a process, not a product, and we need to overcome our brain’s automatic, lazy thinking to arrive at the right business decisions. By harnessing our brain’s true power to utilize System 1 and System 2 in harmony, we can overcome our gut reactions and outsmart our own human nature.” [Julia Biedry;]

Should Juan de la Cruz learn to overcome group-think or lazy thinking? We don't want to be in this same boat for another hundred years? It's the singer not the song?

Do we rely heavily on our instincts because we value them – like compassion? And so we forget economies of scale, for instance, because we pity the small farmer or fisherman? We don’t have such basic things as power because we’ve always had compassion for Juan de la Cruz – that electricity would cost him more if we would undo the status quo? 

Aren't we paying a heavy price yet for shortsightedness and poor governance manifested in underdevelopment – the first casualty being Juan de la Cruz, mired in poverty? 

“That a mix of seasoned and young executives would be given the opportunity to serve in the Duterte Cabinet is a good idea—but it presupposes that even the young officials would have sufficient achievements of their own outside of the shadow of their prominent parents. We have too often been let down by this kind of association.

“The Villars, who were supportive of the Duterte campaign, this week joined the so-called coalition of change—a diplomatic way of characterizing an obviously flawed party system ruled by personal interest instead of ideology.

“It appears, however, that ‘change’ will be a word made trite in the next six years, much like ‘the straight path’ was in the previous six years. As before, we need to keep our expectations low.” [An early gaffe, Editorial, The Standard, 19th May 2016]

“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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