Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Food for thought.....or why you do not always get what you want.

Need to lighten up a bit. Today was an interesting, albeit unusual day. It started when I read my horoscope:

Today, check out the view from the back seat of your life. That means you should accept the direction things are headed in now without wasting your precious energy trying to push things down a different path. Just sit back and let things be what they're going to be. After all, you might end up liking it! Taking this attitude doesn't mean you don't care about what's going on -- it just means you're smart enough to know where your energy is most effective.

Great. I assume this still applies as you are careening over a cliff?


Then, I went on over to visit with Madame Chiang who has found documentary proof of that disturbing observation I made several months ago. Namely that the #1 export of the Philippines is people. Slavery went out of fashion years ago......EXCEPT in the new world of globalization where a an inept government can condemn a whole generation of its people to economic slavery-unless you can meet and marry a rich guy-simply because the government cannot live up to its most fundamental responsibility and provide for its people.


THE PHILIPPINES OF TODAY WAS BORN IN THE oil crisis of the 1970s. Its economy mismanaged with traditional industries (e.g., sugar) wrecked by reckless government speculation and with the setting up of inefficient national cartels exporting Filipinos became the name of the game.

Some would say this a good thing. After all, somebody has to keep me company in Wanchai and in Orchard Towers. Glad to see the government of the Philippines is so proud of itself that after 30 years they still cannot fix this.

It is said that so long as the dollars flow in, and people flow out, the country can be spared the true consequences of the folly of its leaders, the moribund nature of its economy and the essentially directionless and imaginatively bankrupt nature of Philippine society itself. But force the Filipinos overseas to come home, deprive the country's coffers of their dollars and take away from millions of dependents the income that supports them in their joblessness, self-chosen or not, and the country would break apart.

I have often heard it said, that as long as a world war or serious regional conflict could be avoided, somehow or another, the Philippines would muddle through. Not only that, society at large would be spared the consequences of an increasingly discredited political system at home, and of the lack of anything to really show for generations of sacrifice by Filipinos overseas.

Read the rest of the article here. Me, I think they are way too optomistic. If this is the "salvation of the country" then the country is doomed. The new generation will end up like the old one. Full of ideas, but lacking in money. And so they will be sucked overseas by the economic vacuum cleaner. See you in Hari's bar and at Neptunes!

Which is sad. Because the people have the skills and willingness to work. They have yet to discard the burden of their corrupt family and governmental system. So they continue to live with the welfare state.


Ah but according to the great economic mantra of the day, since the Philippines is a democracy they should be able to overcome anything right? That's our creed in Iraq. Just make them into a democracy and good things will follow. My mentor Expat at Large has some thoughts on that. Consider this your economics lesson for the day. Remember this the next time someone tells you how call centers in Lahore help make America great:

The West, weaned on Milton (The Monster) Friedman and feed a diet of unreasoned right-wing Globalisation-friendly crap in the media ever since, consider

Democracy = Capitalism = Free Markets= Free Speech.

The terms have become totally synonymous in The West. If you're from the USA, you can throw in "The American Way" as well. The shock is that Singapore is a country where:

Capitalism = Free Markets ≠ Anything LIKE Democracy or Free Speech.

This is too great a logical discrepancy for many foreign observers to comprehend. It is as classic an example of cognitive dissonance as you'll get.

"But Singapore looks so nice, and has such clean streets, surely it must be a Democracy and everyone must be happy to live here?"

People who say things like that have obviously not spent a lot of time in Singapore. Clean Streets-yes. Liberal Democracy with Free Speech?- not a chance. Singapore is about order and obedience, beautiful women not withstanding.

Read here for the full discussion, especially the allusion that GWB wishes he had the power of Lee Kwan Yeu......More from E@L:

"[O]ur elite is primarily and increasingly managerial. A managerial elite manages. A crisis, unfortunately, requires thought. Thought is not a management function. John Ralston Saul: The Unconsious Civilisation...........
And because for them, Friedman is God's Economic Advisor. According to Friedman, democracy will blossom when markets are allowed to run free...

Hopefully I'm not the only one who disagrees, who sees Singapore as concrete evidence to the contrary.

Third last quote:

"Saul directly challenges the notion that capitalism makes democracy and, hence, individualism possible by critiquing the four pillars of the corporatist ideology: the marketplace, technology, globalization, and the money markets all of which are based in economic theory. Our unconsciousness arises, Saul argues, from the fact that we consider these unshakable realities rather than ideas or practices which may be subject to debate. In its evolution as a "science," , economic theory has come to be considered economic law -John McCrory book review of The Unconcious Civilisation.

Second last quote:

"Fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power." Benito Mussolini, Italian Duce

Final quote:

"Capitalism was reasonably content under Hitler, happy under Mussolini, very happy under Franco and delirious under General Pinochet." -John Ralston Saul: The Doubter's Companion

And under the LKY dynasty? 4 million smiles.

Who says us lust filled, beer swilling, overseas denizens never read? Au contraire-Mon Frer!

Then again, a benign strongman is probably just what the doctor ordered for Iraq, since in an Arab country democracy means "who can steal the most".

Ja ne! Thus endeth the lesson for today.


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