Saturday, April 28, 2012

CISPA: 5 WAYS TO PROTECT YOURSELF!

George Carlin said it best:
They don
t give a shit about you.
Apparently, three months is all it took for people to shrug their shoulders instead of launching a renewed protest against CISPA, a reincarnation of SOPA.

Unless people deny not just particular laws, but the capacity of a minority to fashion and implement such laws, politicians are going to do as they please. Governments’ attempted control of cyberspace complements its other encroachments (e.g. NDAA and MAP-21).

But people are going to work their way around such prohibitions, as history tells us.

Here are my ideas.


DELETE ALL INTERNET ACCOUNTS

That’s right. Not just your favorite message boards or porn sites, but even e-mail and… gasp, Facebook.


COMMUNICATE WITH FRIENDS AND ASSOCIATES IN (ANALOG) CODE

Choose your manner of cryptography. Personally, I recommend opening-closing of blinds, eye-blinking, passing of notes solvable only by the name of your favorite ice cream flavor, and covering your mouth while mumbling cheek-to-cheek to the recipient of your messages (it isn’t so important for them to hear you as it is to feel the vibrations you make with your vocal cords). Avoid the postal system at all costs.


Time for a change of address.
FILE YOUR DEATH CERTIFICATE

Pose as your relative, obtain blank police or hospital forms, and head to your city hall. Simple! Postmortem facelift optional. Burning off your fingerprints mandatory.


CREATE INTERNET v2.0

You’re going to have to start connecting a whole bunch of servers that may use the same domains (e.g. colorfulrag.com) but be totally separate and independent from what we now know as the internet. This ‘second internet’ (my terminology) will be the black market workaround for those who could not bear to part with webcam shows and Farmville forevermore.


Only in the goddamn movies.
WRITE TO YOUR CONGRESSMAN

With a little bit of persuasive ability, you just might get your congressman to see the light as to the dangers of government intrusion into any field of humanity. Even if you’re not American (like me), go ahead and misrepresent yourself as a constituent. Besides, you’re supposed to be dead, so you have no business writing anyone at all.

Friday, April 27, 2012

RON ARTEST, WORLD PEACE AMBASSADOR, AND THE GOODNESS OF GOVERNMENT


Still a joy to watch.

What a disappointment it’s been to hear of LA Laker star Metta World Peace, the player formerly known as Ron Artest, elbowing OKC Thunder guard James Harden a couple days back. 

With Artest’s name change last year, there was some hope that his days of brawls with players and fans were over, that he would indeed spread awareness of peace and love. Now it appears that it was an empty gimmick all along!

Luckily, we can trust our Philippine government to tell it as it is, to call things by their proper name. Here’s a sample:


‘AGRARIAN REFORM’

Marcos’ program is still going strong 40 years later, if not in terms of actual reform, at least as a popular, sure-to-get-votes strategy for politicians.


‘CONDITIONAL CASH TRANSFER’

This could use a more catchy name such as ‘Hey look at me I’m a freebie!’ But still, cash is indeed transferred upon the meeting of certain conditions ― conditions such as job-quitting-since-the-kids-go-to-school-anyway (thanks to my real-estate agent friend for his anecdote on this). And speaking of kids going to school…


‘DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION’

Shhh Teri! Filipino passing by!
I’m fairly certain that abandoning a three-year-old kid in a library maghapon once a week will produce a more educated specimen in five years, than would an entire 10-year (or 12-year) elementary-high school program overseen by the DepEd. 

But if we are going by a loose definition of education that includes phrases such as “will gonna,” or an indoctrinated ‘love of country,’ i.e. being defensive about the slightest media reference of Filipinos being health-care workers abroad, then hell yes, this department is rightly called one of education.

Ah, the kindness of those
who spend other peoples money.

‘PERA NG BAYAN’

If ‘bayan’ was a living, breathing organism composed of the wills of each individual in a community, then surely one’s monetary property expropriated by the threat of government force would not actually be coercive, would in fact simply be the ‘bayan’ doing as it thinks wise with ‘its’ money.


‘DAANG MATUWID’

The administration of Noynoy! Aquino controls Congress (as Gloria did).
He had his predecessor Gloria arrested (as Gloria did Erap).
Businessmen have to jump through hoops with Customs, BIR, DTI, etc. (as during Gloria’s time).
Some ‘businessmen’ have special privileges through the ‘Public Private Partnership’ program (as Gloria’s cronies did).
Etc. etc.

Now let’s do a little syllogizing.
Gloria unseated corrupt Erap.
Noynoy! is doing the same things as Gloria, and then some (e.g. Corona blitz).
Ergo, Noynoy! is anti-corrupt.
Ergo, daang matuwid nga!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

THE IMPORTANCE OF ADVERSITY, AND BROKEN WINDOWS


One of the worst books I’ve ever read is Greg Stielstra’s ‘Pyromarketing.’ The main idea behind the book is that successful marketing has its similarities to firemaking. For example, gathering wood for burning can be paralleled to finding your target market; and so on. 

The idea itself isn’t so bad, but to stretch this metaphor for 200+ pages was quite a stretch. It got to the point that, for the sake of adding filler, Stielstra inserts a Jack London story excerpt, just because the story had someone making a fire! It is truly a sad and funny book. You should read it for laughs.

Worth reading for being so horrible.
Click here.
But the reason I even bring up the book is because it contained an anecdote about the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. In many people’s view, the rebuilding that took place as a result actually reinvigorated the city, and contributed to making it the great city that it supposedly became.


THE BROKEN WINDOW FALLACY

This smacks of the broken window fallacy as told by Frédéric Bastiat. Like the Chicago fire, we’re made to believe that the breaking of someone’s window is good for the economy, because then a window repairman is given business, and his income is then spent for other goods and services; a ‘multiplier effect’ thus occurs!

What we don’t see is the wealth that would have remained with the window owner had no breaking taken place. He would have used his money elsewhere, also ‘stimulating’ the economy in his fashion, wherein even the window repairman is a beneficiary, to the degree that overall wealth is retained.

And beyond Bastiat’s parable, we learn from the likes of Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek that more accumulated capital makes for greater employment and more efficient production processes. By mistakenly focusing on accelerating consumption, one neglects the efficient/roundabout methods made possible by greater saving (and less window breaking).


OVERCOMING ADVERSITY

But then, isn’t it still possible that the people of Chicago, complacent in their unremarkable lives, needed a jolt as provided by the Great Fire?

And can we really say that adversity never brings out the best in us, does not build character? Look at body builders. Isn’t it integral to face resistance in the achieving of personal records?

Thank you, Bill Wattersons dad, for inspiring this great strip.
Life is full of examples of people making the best of their misfortunes, of becoming even better people than they would have been sans adversity and tragedy. Does this not give some credence to the broken window after all?


DOES THIS MAKE FOR POLICY?

The real question isn’t so much whether destruction makes for prosperity or not. We live in a chaotic world where events and variables are not so easily traceable or formulable. What is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ in our lives is very much based on our perspective or position at the time. There’s the Zen story of someone breaking his leg (bad) but is thus excused from having to go die in war (good).

Krstic, stay in the game till the end of the third.”
What we should really ask ourselves is, can policy be made at all based on deliberate destruction? We already face enough adversity and resistance in life without self-sabotage.

If the Chicago Fire had been started deliberately in order to ‘renew’ the city, this itself would have been indicative of the twisted minds of its people and politicians, minds which are not conducive to rebuilding a community.

Or imagine the Boston Celtics, who often win after trailing their opponents in earlier quarters. What if Doc Rivers tells his players to deliberately score less points until the fourth quarter, so as to bring about the right motivation they need for victory? Do you think this would improve the Celtics’ win-loss record?

While much good can come even out of the bad, a policy rooted in this hope is bound to bring about even greater bad on top of the initial bad.


FINAL REMARKS

Economics is a science of humility, in which one must concede the limitations of one’s ability to trace cause and effect. While opposite outcomes may occur even against the best diagnoses, this is no reason to abandon one’s theoretical tools in favor of more fashionable ideas that supposedly take anomalies into account. That is, unless such a ‘new science’ is likewise rooted in logic and sense. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

CHINA’S SPRATLY CLAIM: HOW THE PHILIPPINES CAN WIN


Can the Philippines win in the Spratly standoff with China? I believe so. Not through military might, of course. International pressure will help somewhat, but China doesn’t seem to care about past agreements.

We have to get in the mind of a corrupt institution, in this case, the People’s Republic of China. Like all states, it is its reason for being. As long as it can help it, it will grow in power.

But a state is still composed of humans; it is they who, through the political means of unrequiting expropriation, take more and more. So a solution would have to satisfy this lust. Something must be offered that is more satisfying to Chinese politicians than Scarborough Shoal and the other contentious islands.


PRINCIPLE OF EXCHANGE: GIVE THE OTHER WHAT THEY WANT

Bring back the good ol’ tariff-free days.
What can the Philippines offer? For one, a guaranteed termination of ALL export tariffs for all time. That has got to count for something, even for the second-largest economy right? Granted, the Philippines is not a top trading partner of China, but surely a zero-tariff policy would boost the Philippines’ position, while increasing China’s sales tax collections.

What’s more, this is a win for the Filipino consumer, who gets to purchase cheaper goods as an immediate result.

I know it may not sound enough compared to the prospect of billions of dollars in oil projects, but the point is to find similar win-win solutions.

A ‘win-draw’ solution might be to rig oil exploration projects in favor of Chinese companies. They have more capital and it doesn’t matter to us if a foreign or local crony is beneficiary.


ADDENDUM 1: TO APPEASE OR NOT

If there were no adverse consequences, I wouldn’t mind seeing the Philippines give up its claim to the islands altogether. I mean, who cares if it’s Philippine officials or if it’s Chinese officials who have control over the place, ’diba?

But such a concession would not appease for long, before more is demanded, until Filipinos wake up one day without Facebook access (which should be Malacañang’s biggest worry). So, no to simple concession.


ADDENDUM 2: SAVE US, US!

And what of the US? They’re basically helpless. China is holding the dollar for ransom, and a sudden sale of China’s trillions in US Treasuries for gold would be devastating. If it weren’t for the US’ desire to keep the world on a leash, there wouldn’t be any troops left here.

But then, a sudden pullout of the US military, in keeping with sound foreign policy (according to Ron Paul) might be a cue for China to invade us. It isn’t so much the US’ departure that will screw us. The problem is that the Philippines has become dependent on the notion that the US was backing it, to the point that presidential spokesmen say they’re not intimidated by China in spite of our lack of military might.

Anyway, don’t expect a complete pullout of US forces, even if the US has no intention of going to war with China. The US still needs a token affirmation of their presence here. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

THANK GOD I’M NOT AMERICAN


Swaying to the symphony of destruction...

On the night of January 15th, I was at the Cardinal Santos Emergency Room, and across the curtain I could hear some guy scolding the staff for what he felt was ineptness. He was complaining about how he couldn’t reach his US-based doctor, and had to settle for the Filipino kind.

Apparently, the guy was a resident-citizen of the US who had an accident while vacationing here. Confined to a wheelchair for some reason, this American of Chinese-Filipino descent in his 50s or 60s directed profanities at everybody, bragging in English that in the US, the services and the culture were so much better. He said he was relieved that he didn’t have to live in the Philippines, and the way he said it was as an insult towards Filipinos. Unlike us, he was too good to stay in this godforsaken country.


EASY LANG, PARE

For a moment there, I was thinking of actually debating the man. I’d like to imagine that I was like Bruce Lee in ‘The big boss’: being provoked to fight but holding myself back, while childlike music is played in the background.

But in actuality, there just would have been no point to telling him that he was an idiot to think that the USA is the glory of the world.


ESCALATING MARTIAL RULE

As a reader of Agora Financial’s daily ‘5 Minute Forecast,’ I get a hint of just how awful America is becoming, and how the ideals of freedom no longer define it. People are living off the capital accumulated over two centuries, but ever-increasing restrictions on economic and social freedoms are a prelude to this empire’s fall.

Here is a list, for starters, of the horrors experienced by regular Americans in this day and age.

But what got me to write this piece was reading about an insane provision in the MAP-21 (Moving Ahead for Progress) Senate bill requiring ‘black boxes’ in automobiles produced 2015 and beyond (for a naïve writer’s take on the provision, click here).

Oh, I get it, moving ahead for progress. Cars move!

More brilliant names for legislation, and we just might forget the contentious content within these bills, I suppose.


POLITICAL, INTELLECTUAL, MORAL DETERIORATION

How can anyone feel safe about a country where senators ­― who are aware of having to make an impression on people ― actually think that these costly impingements on freedom will appeal to the masses?

I quoted H.L. Mencken recently: Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under. Nothing more true can be said when contemplating the depths to which the US is plunging.



FINAL REMARKS

So thank God I’m not American. Not to say that the Philippines is excellent either, or that Filipinos have any more sense than Americans. People are stupid, everywhere. But I’d rather deal with a coercive entity that has far less capability of tracking my every move. The Philippine government just does not have as much capital to waste to begin with.

In that sense, I’m thankful (but not proud) to be Filipino. 




Below: Kay sarap pala maging Pilipino! I like the song anyway.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

SELECTA MAGNUM ICE CREAM OUT OF STOCK EVERYWHERE: MARKET FAILURE ONCE MORE!


With all the word of mouth about it, I’ve been meaning to try Selecta’s Magnum Ice Cream being sold in supermarkets and convenience stores. 

But each time I do go to some store, they’re always out of stock. Just kanina, I asked, and was told that Magnum has been out of stock for a month (this doesn’t stop stores from displaying the MAGNUM karatula thingie though)!

This is obviously a sign of market failure, where due to the limited knowledge available to businessmen, they undersupply what is demanded by consumers.


THE KUPALNESS OF PRICE-FIXING

Adding to this undersupply is the cutthroat pricing conspiracy between Selecta and Mini Stop, where they are selling each unit for P55, as opposed to the P60 in 7-Eleven! Mini Stop is being anti-competitive by being able to price their products lower than 7-Eleven, whose employees may have to be fired due to lower sales!

Truly, we could not trust markets to work on their own. If only the government stepped in sooner, we wouldn’t be faced with inadequate Magnum Ice Cream. It’s so unfair and anti-consumer (and anti-labor)!


COULD HAVE DONE BETTER, NOYNOY!

President Noynoy! Aquino, through the DTI, along with NEDA, FDA, etc. should have seen the Magnum phenomenon coming. Market preferences and trends are very analyzable and predictable... if only there is ‘political will.’

But the administration was caught unawares this time around, in spite of the daang matuwid and all. Noynoy! should find out who is responsible for this oversight, or at least find a scapegoat, and replace them with someone who knows more about ice cream. This way, when another ‘uso’ thing occurs (hopefully ice cream-related too), the government will be more responsive in ensuring continued production and distribution of the product.


Corporations, make my day!
BUT WHAT DO WE DO NOW?!

The President must now organize a Task Force, predictably called ‘Magnum Force,’ to require Selecta to provide its recipe to competitors, so that Nestlé-Magnolia, Sorbetero or whoever else can produce sufficient Magnum for the needs of the people.

If these companies do not have enough resources, Noynoy! must order other sectors to lend a helping hand, to stop production of their usual crap, and start producing Magnum Ice Cream as well. This way, the likes of Mitsubishi, BPI and Fortune Cigarettes can do their part in maintaining national stability. All other products can be lain aside for the meantime, for as long as the crisis persists.

The Bangko Sentral must also be requested to maintain low lending rates to ‘ensure liquidity’ in the manufacturing, marketing and distribution of Magnum.


LEAVE FADS TO THE GOVERNMENT

Could this have been prevented? We will never know.
In the future, perhaps we could not even trust the private sector to come up with trends, or ‘the next big thing.’ They’re so disruptive and unpredictable, especially when not known in advance. 

Even the biggest industry experts never know what will ‘stick’ to consumers, and novelty is really just messy. I say, keep the consumer out of trend-making.

To this end, Noynoy! should form the Fad Stability Task Force, so that another Magnum will not happen again. The Task Force will analyze the market, and then through such intergradial shizzle disequamations (as the Keynesians say), the task force itself can produce what is to become the next trend.

This way, years ahead of the next big thing, government will be able to prepare for it. The most ‘shocking’ trends will be laid out way in advance ­― even ‘viral’ videos will come about in this manner.


LAST HIRIT ― BUDGET CONCERNS

I suspect this proposal, if implemented, would cost near to 736% the lifetime incomes of dead, living and unborn Filipinos combined. But if it eliminates the disequilibrating fractiousness of market forces, I believe it’s worth a shot.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

BEING HONEST SANS (IN SPITE OF?) GOVERNMENT


Thanks journeyingjames.com

My mom was just telling me about how there was an ‘Honesty Coffee Shop’ somewhere in Batanes, where there is no staff to collect your bill. You just  write down what you had ordered and drop off your payment in some box as you leave. 

There’s also a sign saying that your payment goes to taking care of a couple of old folks next door. And if you don’t have change for which to pay, you can either have your money broken up in a nearby shop, or give the excess amount as donation/tip.

Apparently, this system works, if a shop can maintain its operations for an extended period of time! 



WHY COERCION AS SOLUTION?

This goes to show that there are other pressures, perhaps even more effective than the threat of force or retaliation, that make people do ‘the right thing,’ in this case, paying for what you eat. For one thing, there are social standards inculcated in us, the ignoring of which leads to guilt or self-loathing. Sure you can ignore this non-coercive peer pressure, but you shut yourself out from friendly dealings in the future as a result. And who would want it in their conscience that they starved senior citizens?

Yet we’re supposed to believe that sans the state, people will allow themselves to continue to interact and be suckered by the same deviants. Thus we have all sorts of regulations which end up stifling even the most peaceful and agreeable transactions.


GOVERNMENT BEGETS EVEN WORSE GOVERNMENT

Not to mention that government meddling promotes suckering on a grand-scale, via congressional franchises, Customs harassment, Hacienda Luisita, etc., which in turn have their government countermeasures, e.g. antitrust, higher taxes, agrarian reform, etc.

Maybe the Abad dynasty which controls Batanes, and other politicians as well, can take their cue from this café, a simple example of how honesty actually works. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

TO HELL WITH ‘CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY’

[NOTE: Tsk tsk I tell myself. I had earlier confounded the buzzword ‘corporate social responsibility’ with ‘corporate governance’ (which has more to do with ethics in the conduct of business) for which I must now suffer the embarrassment forever. Anyway this article is now corrected.]
Thanks peachkitchen.com

In the States, there’s Bill Gates and Warren Buffett being all philanthropic. In the Philippines, we’ve had ‘corporate social responsibility as a theme in seminars for like a decade now (or maybe longer; I’m not old enough to know). And it looks like this idea, of rich businessmen ‘giving back to society,’ is not going away anytime soon.

Just this lunch, I opened the menu to see one of the restaurant’s executives or founders in a picture with less privileged kids, and sure enough, Mr. Mother Teresa was quoted as relishing the chance to “give back.”

These things are all gimmicks of course, regardless of what nice feelings arise from or originate it.


PROFIT IS EVIL KASI E

The main idea behind it is that, having profited so much, this must have been to the detriment of someone, i.e. society. Indeed, corporations are mistrusted more than governments on account of the ‘profit’ incentive. “We can’t leave that education to the private sector. They’re doing it for profit. We can’t have oil companies do what they want. They only want to make money.” Shit like that.

So it’s no wonder bentang-benta yung tanginang ‘give back’ shit na ’yan.

We, on the other hand, understand that transactions are between entities of differing subjective preferences, where one’s profit is, as a rule, another one’s profit as well.

By coincidence, I was reading a related matter (actually not by coincidence; I’m constantly reading political economy), and in it, Murray Rothbard has this timely thing to say:
The fact that A makes five times as much as B shows that A’s services are individually worth five times as much as B to his fellows on the market. ­― ‘The celebrated Adam Smith

So the desired ‘giving back’ is actually a phenomenon that occurs during trade itself, and not as a charitable afterthought.


JESUS ON CHARITY: SHUT UP ABOUT IT

Jesus to Buffett: STFU
Not to say that giving to causes that one feels strongly about is not something rewarding in itself, ‘profitable’ if you will. But even in the damn bible, it admonishes prattling about charity.

And the best charity remains the ‘teach how to fish’ type: entrepreneurial direction of resources, which entails jobs and raises living standards via increased output. The state has to get out of the way so that sufficient capital can accumulate. For surely, we could not leave the state to carry out these highly individualized yet social phenomena.



FINAL WORDS FROM MURRAY AND ME

For the sake of the consumer, Lebron 
should 

leave this to someone 

who does this for 

a living... 

whatever the hell is being done. 
Whatever society’s claim to part of people’s incomes may be, society ― the division of labour, the body of knowledge and culture, etc. ― is in no sense the state. The state contributes no division of labour to the production process, and does not transmit knowledge or carry civilization forward. Therefore, whatever each of us may owe to ‘society,’ the state can hardly claim, any more than any other group in society [e.g. a bukas-kotse gang], to be surrogate for all social relations in the country. ―Murray Rothbard

Now excuse me, I have to run to catch the replay of the Magic-76ers game. Hope to catch an ‘NBA Cares’ commercial!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

FIVE BLESSINGS SINCE CANCELING MY INQUIRER SUBSCRIPTION

It has been over a quarter since I began my mornings without the debilitatingly moronic Philippine Daily Inquirer. Newspapers suck! Since being without them:

1. My breakfast ritual has become more rationalized, limited to eating and quality time with the family where the news is not discussed.

Oh go fuck yourself Guyito.
2. The burden of stupid ideas has been significantly decreased. I am actually taken by surprise on the relatively rare occasions that I encounter notions such as tax-evasion-as-fraud, or of taking pride in the achievements of a stranger who just happens to have similar ethnicity. Heck my very first memory of the word GOVERNMENT is from an Inquirer banner story. Enough said.

3. I have had less needless grief. The less stories of death and suffering floating in my head, the better.

4. My ignorance in current events allows for longer small talk with acquaintances, as I could ask them more questions. The downside to this, of course, is learning the answers, the information of which is derived from newspapers, which I still want to avoid. But if it saves me from awkward pauses on occasion, it's not too bad.

5. I have had less distractions to finding meaning to my life. Shit like office work and newspaper drivel can divert one's attention, but never satisfy the yearning for making something of this present plane of existence.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

WHY YOU SHOULD LET YOUR CHILD READ/WATCH 'HUNGER GAMES'

Dear Concerned Parent,

No doubt you've heard about 'The hunger games,' the biggest book and film sensation for young adults since 'Harry Potter.' And if you have an inkling of the plot, of kids killing each other in an arena, you might want to keep your kid from it. How morbid, how horrible! How could this be any good for impressionable kids?

I for one do not think that parental censorship should be based on how pleasant or unpleasant something is. Author Suzanne Collins has given us a rather frightening, albeit entertaining, parallel to totalitarianism and war, through the tale of heroine Katniss Everdeen. Indeed, is the idea of "kill or be killed" any more agreeable when we see it occur in the Middle East rather than fictional Panem? Or even less so? If your impulse is still to shelter your child for fear that he will one day go on a shooting rampage in class, you might as well keep him or her away from the news altogether.

Because this is so much more pleasant.
To think that 'Hunger games' in no way casts the games in a good light, while politicians endlessly talk of dead young soldiers in terms of freedom and national glory!

So shut off the news, close the history books, and keep them away from any literature the likes of '1984,' 'Fahrenheit 451' (both given homages in 'Hunger games'), 'Lord of the flies'  and other books that may suggest the possibility of the youth being pawns of the state.

The US, for one, is becoming more and more totalitarian, where reports of warrantless arrests and killings by the police state are increasing, and citizens are left with only the semblance of rights. Ironically, sheltering kids from contemplating a story such as 'Hunger games' serves to bring its dreadful scenarios closer to reality.


Best wishes,
Me


[Earlier] Note: I am writing this on a Kindle, and it is a bitch, pardon my French. Coming back from an out-of-town Easter, the laptop just would not start. So for the meantime, my entries, if any, will lack formatting, and my expression of ideas will be somewhat clunky. I felt like writing the above article upon finding out it was an issue at all. My objection to reading HG has more to do with the frustrating if not depressing ending.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

NOYNOY MOVES EASTER SUNDAY TO MONDAY


President Aquino signing the controversial proclamation.

MANILA, Philippines ― In order to improve people’s quality of life, President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III has moved the celebration of Easter Sunday to Monday, April 9.

“Masyado namang rigid ang Easter kung Sunday siya palagi. Paano mae-enjoy ng ating manggagawa ang muling pagkabuhay ni Hesukristo kung hindi siya weekday?” the chief executive explained in issuing a Presidential Proclamation in this regard.

“Dahil si dating pangulong Arroyo ay walang puso, hindi niya nagawa ito,” he added, managing to attack his predecessor.

Taken from bworldonline.com
Not realizing his microphone was still on, Aquino continued his raving, saying “Siguradong patok ito! SWS and Pulse Asia, here I come!”

Opposition lawmakers criticized the president’s latest move, saying that celebrating Easter on a Monday would detract from the meaning of the Christian holiday. House minority leader Danilo Suarez said, “It’s okay to gain pogi points by shifting Bonifacio or Rizal Day to beyond the weekend, but this is going too far. For once, let’s pretend not to be hypocrites.”

Meanwhile, beleaguered Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona said that “moving the Lord’s day in vain” should be considered “an impeachable offense.”

To read the rest of this story, click here.

MARKET FAILURES I EXPERIENCED TODAY, a.k.a. BRING IN THE STATE!


Sorry for the poor quality.
SAVE A BAG! SAVE THE WORLD!

That damn free market. Where businessmen sell goods and services, for the mere sake of profit. I experienced several ‘market failures’ today, for which I am seriously considering the alternative of socialism, or at the very least, a heavier hand of the state over free enterprise.

1. SM extorting an extra three pesos from me, for the use of a plastic grocery bag. Apparently, Wednesday is ‘My Own Bag Day,’ where customers are supposed to bring their own bags to store their groceries. This is all in line with their adherence to the cult of Al Gore.

While companies are free to come up with their gimmicks to be swallowed by a gullible public, I think this gimmick is particularly meaningless and hollow. If I were a regular shopper in the SM Supermarket, I won’t bring my own bags on a Wednesday, I’d choose to shop on another day. If SM really believed they were helping the environment, why not make ‘My Own Bag’ an everyday thing?

And SM is spreading the notion that plastic is worse than other materials. This is focusing on the wrong thing. What is more important in combating environmental degradation is the manner of disposal.


Because political greed is so much better.
2. Being renewed for a one-year subscription without my say-so. I’m on my eleventh month of a one-year subscription to some newsletter, and I was surprised to find myself charged already for a second year. I’ve complained to the company already, saying I was planning on cancelling my subscription, and I requested a refund. I should receive a reply soon. Greedy bastards.


3. No functional ATMs! I went to three different branches of my bank, all of which have offline ATMs. The bank should have foreseen the wave of withdrawals during Holy Week, right? Alas, I had to go through the inconvenience of dealing with a teller. How ’90s can you get?


CONCLUSION

So there. Three market failures in a day. Isn’t this enough cause to demand state intervention?

But then, if things were nationalized, I’d be deprived of a choice in case some nationalized agency messes up. After all, even these ‘non-profit oriented’ entities are composed of people. Greed does not disappear with the appearance of government. It just changes form, into something less within my control; government begets monopoly. 

Instead of thinking in terms of an ideal alternative to markets, I should consider what system maximizes my choices. And as imperfect as it is, I have to embrace the free market.


ADDENDUM

Of course, big business here and abroad is often a matter of political connectedness. SM is helped in no small way by the inflationary banking system, providing them with additional ‘liquidity’ to the disadvantage of smaller businesses. Not to mention that BDO is owned by the SM folk. I’m pretty sure Henry Sy, Sr. would have managed to create an empire all the same, but if a ‘level playing field’ is to exist, central banking and subsequent monetary inflation must be obliterated.

MENCKEN: INSIGHTS FROM A MISANTHROPIC ELITIST


Been reading quite a bit of H.L. Mencken from his ‘Chrestomathy’ collection. What an asshole.

Two of his essays stand out in my mind.

From ‘The politician’:
“If he is a smart and enterprising fellow, which he usually is, he quickly discovers... that hooey pleases the boobs a great deal more than sense. Indeed, he finds that sense really disquiets and alarms them ― that it makes them uncomfortable, or a speck of dust in the eye, or the thought of Hell. The truth, to the overwhelming majority of mankind, is indistinguishable from a headache.”

From ‘The critical process’:
“The true aim of a critic is certainly not to make converts. He must know that very few of the persons who are susceptible to conversion are worth converting. Their minds are intrinsically flabby and parasitical, and it is certainly not sound sport to agitate minds of that sort.”

About the latter quote, Mencken contrasts such an attitude to the idea that critics criticize for the sake of changing minds. He names the great Henry Hazlitt by name, as exemplifying this other attitude. I’d have to side with Mencken on this one. A critique has more to do with, and reveals more about, the critic than the criticized.

I’ve also enjoyed reading Mencken’s snobbish ideas on music, particularly Beethoven, whom he considers to be the greatest composer in history (I disagree; even Mencken’s favorite, the ‘Eroica’ symphony, is a weaker derivative of Mozart’s 39th from 15 years earlier).

And who can top the opening sentence of ‘The citizen and the state’:
“Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under.”

Sunday, April 1, 2012

METRO BLACKOUT MARS ‘EARTH HOUR 2012’ CELEBRATION


Above: Bird’s-eye view of Ayala, Makati, 

one of the meeting places of environmentalists 

observing Earth Hour 2012, half an hour 
before said celebration was supposed to begin. 

MANILA, Philippines ― Supporters of the most popular display of concern for the environment were dismayed by a partial blackout in the Metro last night.

Thirty minutes before the 8:30-scheduled start of ‘Earth Hour,’ in which people are encouraged to turn their lights off to counter global warming/climate change, a large portion of the Philippine capital and surrounding municipalities was plunged into darkness, thus rendering the lights-off affair moot for many. Electricity returned shortly after midnight.

“How could we spread awareness of the dangers of wanton urbanization and environmental degradation, when Meralco [Manila Electric Co.] can’t keep the power running? I couldn’t even update my Facebook and Twitter with my phone, because the wi-fi was out!” said World Wildlife Fund official Essie Umbrinom during a hastily-called press conference by candlelight.

Related news: Road accidents triple with 
Earth Hour’s ‘lights-out’ challenge, says MMDA.

Read about it here.
“By not having access to power at all, it shifts people’s focus: from that of complaining against traditional power sources, to appreciating the electricity we do have. We can’t have that,” he added.

Meanwhile, a ‘climate skeptic’ who requested anonymity said that the WWF folks behind Earth Hour simply got what they wished for.

“Truly, if manmade global warming didn’t exist ― and it doesn’t ― these politicians and their ‘green’ energy bedfellows would have had to invent it,” he said.

For the complete story, click here.