Tuesday, May 29, 2012

CORONA CONVICTED AS PREDICTED: PHILIPPINES’ NEXT TOP JUDGE AND OTHER POSTMORTEM ANALYSES


Yes! John Lloyd and Bea have a new soap opera!!!

The great thing about being sarcastic 86% of the time is that I can always flip-flop on any of my statements, with the excuse that I was being sarcastic.

Still, I was quite right in my prediction that Renato Corona would be convicted and removed as chief justice. My reason was the fact that the continuation of Corona’s justiceship would be boring as compared to the ratings-boosting ‘talent search’ for a new chief justice.


OTHER FACTORS

But the ABS-CBN machine is not the whole story, even as some very powerful political people run the media company officially and unofficially (e.g. Kris Aquino, sister of President Noynoy!). There’s the elections angle, for instance, where anti-Corona/Gloria Malacañang has the resources for funding candidates. And in general, politicians realize that the people want to see a scapegoat crucified (imagine the ratings of a literal Corona crucifixion holy shit!), and the people must be appeased.


NO SUCH THING AS THE WILL OF A ‘BAYAN’

Anyway, the hilarious Tito Sotto mentioned that he was voting according to what he perceived as the people’s wishes. As if ‘The Filipino People’ were a real, living breathing entity with one opinion! What crap.

Stop speaking for some collective ‘people,’ you honorable, honorable men. And you’d want to claim that your vote was ‘not political’ at all, but who are you kidding? You’re in politics, engaging in political processes; everything you do, no matter how noble your sentiments, is political.


Yes! Yes! You did it! You saved us!
AND NOW WE WAIT…

Alright, now that Corona’s been convicted, here are some things to expect:

- Red tape in the starting and conducting of businesses will magically decrease, thereby boosting investments and output.
- All ill-gotten money will magically be transferred from bank accounts of crooks to their rightful owners, e.g. ‘the people.’
-  From now on, kickbacks from government programs will magically disappear, thereby ensuring the ‘proper’ use of taxes.
- All thieves in government will be magically convicted.
- Etc.

Wow! Who would have thought that Noynoy!’s anti-corruption campaign was genuine!

WHY CORONA WILL BE CONVICTED: IT’S ALL ABOUT THE RATINGS!


Yeah it only takes eight out of 23 votes of senator-judges to be acquitted, but how could I make such a bold claim?

I am basing my prediction on the fact that this political turmoil makes for great TV. ABS-CBN is doing great ratings-wise during afternoons, and everyone is in on this. I believe ABS-CBN, as a crony franchisee, has influence in the ‘hallowed halls’ of Congress.

If Corona is acquitted, how boring is that? No, they’d want a new reality show: The Search for A New Chief Justice. Although such an appointment by the president has never been an exciting thing, ABS-CBN is going to milk it for what its worth. Si Carpio nga ba ang makikinabang? Or will Noynoy! choose someone else less obvious? And then there’ll be the token candidates as well, as recommended by the Judicial and Bar Council.

For the record, Angara is only beginning his boring speech defending whatever his vote is. Let’s see how my prediction pans out.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

SHARON STONE SUED BY FILIPINA EX-NANNY FOR RACISM


Would YOU want your kids singing 
“Twinkol twinkol…”?

I am anti-racism; I proved this by my article criticizing Filipinos’ bias for Jessica Sanchez, and also by the fact that most of my friends are considered ‘minorities’ in the US.

But I could not agree with Sharon Stone’s former yaya, a Filipina named Erlinda Elemen, who is suing the actress for alleged derogatory remarks about Filipinos being stupid and whatnot. First of all, how dare this nanny sue Sharon Stone? She’s the star of ‘Basic instinct’ and ‘Sliver’ for God’s sake!


BEING OFFENSIVE DOES NOT VIOLATE RIGHTS

Second, making racist remarks is no more a violation of another’s rights than any other thing said in the mass media. They’re just fucking words! Anyone who appreciates freedom of expression and anti-censorship should get what I’m saying.

It’s moronic to talk about “limits” to freedom or regard it as “not absolute.” Such conditions to the idea of freedom are often used to make the state the delineator of such freedoms.


SIMPLISTIC VIEW OF RACISM

“And then, and then,
she called me a ‘brown nigger’!”
Indeed, the problem is in supposing that, because something such as racism is wrong, it’s up to the government to sort things out. As if government is even capable of sorting things out! Racism is not a sickness to be cured by punishing offenders, wherein if only all racists are jailed or fined heavily, the battle will be won.

In ‘our’ thirst for vengeance, we neglect to counter whatever fatuous claims are made by racists. We’re more intent to blame and punish, to vent and catharsize.

And because the debate on race remains unresolved, thanks to reliance on government to deliver ‘justice,’ the longer it takes for genuine tolerance to be achieved via reason.


RACISM IS TECHNICALLY, NOT JUST MORALLY, WRONG

Racism is to be rejected not on account of how offensive it is, but because of its untruth. Race is a mere abstraction, a generalization that ignores individual differences.

Supposed attributes of certain races are constantly challenged by exceptions to a prejudice, which aren’t actually exceptions but displays of the very real variety among individuals made possible by sexual reproduction, a process that excludes no member of the species.


WHAT TO DO ABOUT THE ICEPICK MURDERER?

Acquit na yan, sigurado.
How is Sharon Stone then to be ‘punished’ for her supposed ignorance? If people felt strongly about it, they’d boycott her films and appearances, make her not viable in the market. And if, in spite of a reputation as a racist she remains popular, well, we can’t blame her for her continued celebrity. Or are we then going to sue her fans for not giving a shit about her racism?

So no, suing is not the way to tolerance and appreciation of diversity among humans.


ADDENDUM ON LABOR CONTRACTS

There’s also the wage aspect of the lawsuit. Inasmuch as Stone violated labor laws, the charges are specious. Employer-employee contracts are between two parties, and no third party has any business in it unless otherwise permitted by both. Now if Stone had an explicit agreement as to the amount of compensation or whatever, then the suit is valid.  

Friday, May 25, 2012

CORONA SIGNS UNCONDITIONAL WAIVER: ALL GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES’ BANK ACCOUNTS SHOULD BE OPEN TO THE PUBLIC ANYWAY


Hypocrites.

Cheerleaders for Noynoy! are struggling to belittle Chief Justice Renato Corona’s waiving of the privacy of his bank accounts. It must be humiliating to see such a gesture of openness on the part of one’s antagonist.

Already, congressmen Erin Tañada, Miro Quimbo and Sonny Angara have made comments on how it’s too late to investigate Corona’s bank accounts, since the Senate impeachment trial court is wrapping up its gathering of evidence. But of course they know, but don’t mention, that the Ombudsman, with its all-too-eager former Corona colleague Conchita Carpio-Morales, is very capable of indicting Corona with whatever information they obtain from the bank accounts, even without the Senate submitting recommendations of that sort.


YOUR MOVE, NOYNOY!

Siyempre, Corona’s waiver would have been more explosive had it been done unconditionally last Tuesday. But it’s nonetheless a blow to the credibility of Corona’s accusers in Congress, the Ombudsman and Malacañang. Now the burden of proof is on Corona’s enemies, to show that Corona’s $2.4 million (not the bloated $12 million as earlier claimed by Conchie) is ill-gotten.

(Personally, I’m inclined to believe that, while not having taken anything from taxpayers, part of Corona’s wealth consists to some degree of gifts, not necessarily for specific favors rendered. This is more than can be said about pork-hungry legislators. But this is just my divination.)


FULL DISCLOSURE SHOULD BE THE NORM

The thing is, while it now seems like a supreme show of transparency for Corona to disclose his dollar accounts, such disclosure should be a given upon joining government ‘service.’

It is preferable that such a coercive bureaucracy not exist at all; but given that it exists, government employees (not just officials) should be subject to ‘forced transparency’ (my terminology). This should actually not be limited to monetary property, but even real estate and personal belongings, which would really make someone think before entering government.

But let’s assume a forced transparency of just bank accounts. This would be akin to a holdupper being mandated to submit to you a business card by which you can reach them after the commission of the crime. Hey, it’s the least they can do after robbing you, ’diba? But since people, sick in the head as they are, distinguish informal crime (holduppers) from institutionalized crime (government), we can settle for now with a full-disclosure policy of the latter’s employees.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

JESSICA SANCHEZ HEARTBREAK: 5 WAYS TO DEAL WITH YOUR GRIEF


Photographer to Phillip and Jessica:
That
s right, pretend not to hate each other!

If you are a Pinoy reading this, you are surely stricken with grief with the ‘luto’ results that made Phillip Phillips winner of American Idol 2012 rather than Jessica Sanchez. Outrageous, you must have been telling yourself since this morning (May 24, 2012 in Manila, May 23 night in US); there’s NO WAY Sanchez lost to that bluesy crooner no-talent. I mean come on diba, like if all Pinoys, estimated at 100 million, voted for Sanchez 800 times each, that means there should have been EIGHTY BILLION votes for Sanchez, but the official tally shows ONLY 132 million votes. Clearly something’s amiss.

But it’s over, as heartbreaking as it is. Here are some strategies for coping with your grief, specially assembled by top psychologists specializing in tribe-fixated syndrome (TFS):

1. Blame Sanchez’ Mexican side.

2. With Jessica Sanchez losing, you now have a chance to actually get on with your life! No parades to attend/watch, no Senate or House resolutions to waste taxpayers’ money, no endless replays of her videos, etc.

3. You can take comfort in the fact that Phillip Phillips has the same name as the Philippines, twice over! That makes him somewhat of a kababayan. Mabuhay ang Phinoy!

4. Honestly, would you have bought a CD of Jessica Sanchez? The American Idol prize is a recording contract, with a presumption that people would pay to listen to the winner. Sure you’re all gung-ho about posting Youtube videos, but do you see yourself ever being part of a PAYING fan base? Get real. And a flying vote doesn’t pay twice.

5. Use the following affirmation/mantra at least ten times an hour, until you’re cured: WHO CARES?!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

JESSICA SANCHEZ, NEXT AMERICAN IDOL (MAYBE): A VOTE FOR RACISM


Perhaps Jessica Sanchez really holds her own against the contestants of American Idol 2012. But when you hear of Filipinos calling dozens of times to vote, distributing VOTE JESSICA leaflets at tanginang church, or when the Filipino supporters of Jessica Sanchez are disproportionately large in comparison to non-Filipinos, you realize that ‘American Idol’ is no longer a talent show but a display of tribalism, or, to use an uglier word, racism.

Were Caucasian Americans torn between whom to vote for among the Caucasian contestants? Did they repeatedly post on Facebook “Please support Caucasian blah blah” or “Please vote for Caucasian blah blah” as though the outcome of a contest based on flying votes meant anything?

So what’s with this attempt at crowning Jessica Sanchez? What is it all meant to prove? And to whom?

All a Jessica Sanchez victory would show is that many Filipinos here and abroad have nothing better to do, and have such desperate need of self-affirmation, even if such ‘self’ is someone whose only relation to them is mere ethnicity.


Related article: Filipino pride, about Manny Pacquiao naman, the issues of which are the same as the Jessica Sanchez phenomenon.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

3 HARD TRUTHS FROM CORONA’S SENATE APPEARANCE


1. Political partiality makes insensitive jerks of normally ‘nice’ people. I would have thought that even my Noynoy!-loving friends would have at least kept schtum or given the benefit of the doubt upon seeing a human being suffering under a stressful situation. Not only did they totally ignore Chief Justice Renato Corona’s refutations of the administration’s outlandish accusations against him, they reduced his opening statement to a mere act full of phony emotionalizing.

I do not doubt that he did try to win over the public with some WWF-style ‘shout-outs’ to his accusers, but I’ve never seen a better ‘actor’ struggling not to break down.


But my point is, this choosing of antagonistic sides where otherwise people sympathize and trade for mutual benefit, just goes to show how divisive politics is. The ironic thing is that you’re more likely to hear about ‘unity’ or ‘pagkakaisa’ from the politicos!

2. Coercive power is not only accepted by people, but applauded. When Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile had the Senate gates shut, as a means of keeping Corona from ‘escaping,’ people cheered this show of force as a sign of strong leadership. But to what end? Was there a danger of Corona fleeing the country, or not being held accountable to the Senate impeachment court?

We’re so used to having things acquired by force, as long as it’s done ‘officially’ (via government), that we do not even conceive of a peaceful alternative.

By the power of numbskulls,
I have the poweeeeerrr...
Court summons are coercive. Why? Because if people weren’t forced to participate, no one would want to clear their reputation and regain people’s trust?

Is the only way people can be held accountable for wrongdoings via being locked up or executed? What about boycotts, ostracism? But no, we leave it to monopolistic courts to decide. 


No establishment bothers to deny out of principle their goods and services, even to convicted plunderers. When the state ‘pardons’ such an offender, society as a whole acts accordingly, regardless of what individual judgments would otherwise dictate.

Please dont challenge us to sign,
please dont challenge us to sign...
3. People would rather wish for bad things to be true, than for their ‘manok’ to be proven wrong. Noynoy! supporters were horrified that Corona was making the huge gesture of transparency by appearing to waive the privacy of his foreign currency deposits. Holy shit, the pro-Noynoy! crowd said to themselves, if he’s this cocky about having nothing to hide, this would mean the remaining allegations of the prosecution team are empty!

And what a huge sigh of relief, masked as contempt, when Corona made his waiver conditional on his accusers doing the same thing. Whew, since the 188 congressmen who signed the impeachment complaint would never organize to have their accounts inspected, this means that Corona was bluffing, and is thus still guilty!


Indeed, political partisanship reveals the petty vanity of apparently decent folk.

CORONA OPENING STATEMENT: BORING (THEN CRYING) HIS WAY TO ACQUITTAL

Corona opening statement,
a.k.a. Enrile coffee break
Not a fan of Chief Justice Renato Corona, but I’m afraid the administration’s exaggerated accusations are backfiring on them. 

You could almost see the looks of disappointment in the faces of pro-Noynoy! folks as they struggle to counter Corona’s refutations. Oh, if only such anomalous properties exist! That would be a face-saver.

In fact, the only advantage of Noynoy! is the length and boring-ness of Corona’s opening statement, which prosecutors hope would draw public ire.


[Update: This was written before the speech got interesting with Corona’s tears. Not boring at all! Appealing to emotion, coupled with the simple task of refuting the prosecution’s claims, AND waiving his claim to privacy of his bank accounts, AND challenging his accusers to do the same, serve him well. Galing ng coach niya. But the damage is done, and his rulings are forever questionable.]




WERE CARPIO-MORALES AND CORONA LOVERS?


Incumbent Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales and Corona were once Supreme Court associate justices at the same time. Could there have been a love affair back then?... 


I have no evidence whatsoever of such but it explains so much of the passion of the allegations, and denials (all done through PowerPoint, whose real relevance to the two possible lovebirds remains a mystery).



A NOTE TO MY READERS/SPAMBOTS

I honestly do not care what happens here. The only reason I am writing now is to accomplish my duty to you, the reader, to provide you with insights (e.g. Conchita-Renato love angle) on Philippine issues. But the outcome of the Corona trial has no implications on the reduction of government. 

Whether Noynoy! controls two or three branches of government is not as important as the fact that people still think that the government has anything to do with peaceful society. 

I, for one, do not have political connections/enemies, so the success of one or another political party is something of which I do not care. Nor should you.

KEVIN SMITH, FUNNY BUT TYPICAL ‘LIBERAL’


I enjoyed reading filmmaker Kevin Smith’s ‘Tough shit.’ He has some very amusing stories about Bruce Willis, being fat, etc. But I’m just too sensitive for my own good that I regret Smith’s utterance of typical anti-market sentiments.


CAPITALISM =/= MONEY

Smith narrates how he had invited the late George Carlin to appear in ‘Dogma.’ As they were threshing out their contract, Smith was worried that Carlin was a “capitalist pig” and would ask for too large a salary.

Is the desire for money then to be equated with being ‘capitalist’? Can we call a holdupper a ‘capitalist’ because he demands your wallet?

The problem here is defining markets or capitalism as being primarily about money. In fact, it’s about the freedom to exchange property as one judges best. Money is simply the most exchangeable product there is.

But who is the one insisting
on equating labor with their
whole being?
Foo.
George Carlin would have just been as ‘capitalistic’ to have exchanged his comedic services for the satisfaction of appearing in a movie influenced by Carlin, as opposed to the satisfaction of receiving a large check.


ZERO-SUM BULLSHIT IN HUMAN AFFAIRS

Here’s something Smith said:

In order for you to ascend, someone somewhere has to descend. In order for you to have so much, someone somewhere has to have far less. Someone has to sacrifice in order for you to succeed ― even the audience, which gives up its money for your art.

This is a careless statement obviously made by someone who has never really thought through politics, who has been fed the same intellectual garbage propounded by the political elite.


IT’S CALLED EXCHANGE, NOT SACRIFICE

Whats in it for the virgin?
The value of a product is not derived from another’s sacrifice, but on its ability to satisfy certain wants, which may or may not involve ‘sacrifice.’ The idea that my enjoyment of a Quarter Pounder is at the expense of some dying child elsewhere, is precisely the guilt-tripping used by politicians to milk citizens of their money. In fact, the remaining starvation on Earth in this prosperous day and age has nothing to do with insufficient resources but capital- and choice-destroying governments that inhibit the conditions that do make for economic growth.

And while it is understandable for Smith to be grateful to an audience willing to pay to hear him talk, this does not mean they are worse off than he is as a result of buying tickets. In fact, they’re better off than if they had been coerced to keep their money.

Even Smith would admit that his wife ‘sacrificed’ her career for the ‘greater good’ that is their family.


HOW TO REACH A TYPICAL ARTIST-SOCIALIST

Most artists or artists-kuno are vehemently anti-censorship. They recognize the importance of allowing freedom of expression, in that this is precisely how goods ideas evolve and propagate in a kind of ‘natural selection’ of ideas.

(The fact that the common intellect is so abhorrent should not be discouraging, since sound philosophical and aesthetic ideas have always been a minority.)



WHAT TO TELL THE ARTIST-SOCIALIST

So I imagine I could reason with artists thus:

Why should your logic in support of freedom of expression not be extended to freedom to trade goods and services? Why is exchanging ideas any different from allowing markets to thrive sans state intervention? 

Does it follow that if you don’t agree with the morality of a certain economic transaction, that you should ‘censor’/regulate it? So why not censor ideas that may be considered immoral by some?

Not someone with whom
I would use this argument.
And once that open-mindedness to the concept of free enterprise is reached, you can get to the technical aspects of the real impossibility, and not just inadvisability, of government intervention.


CAVEAT

The only hitch that I see here is if a so-called anti-censorship person still believes in libel/slander laws, the belief of which is inconsistent with freedom of expression. 

In that case, just tell your debating opponent, “Oh yeah? Fuck you!” (I’m kidding. Tell them to read this blog and download my books.)

Monday, May 21, 2012

INSPIRING WORDS FROM LADY GAGA’S ONE-TIME SAX PLAYER (LADY GAGA LIVE IN MANILA, MAY 21-22, 2012)


I can never believe something that feels so good earns me money. ― The late Clarence Clemons, saxophone player of Bruce Springstreen’s E Street Band, and sessionist for Lady Gaga’s ‘Born this way’ album

Taken from this great Rolling Stone article.
Somewhere tonight in Pasay City (advertised as ‘Live in Manila’ of course), one of the largest performing artists of this century is singing to a crowd of thousands, regaling them with stories about her lonely adolescence and her hatred of money.

***

There is no greater system imaginable than the market system. To even call it a ‘system’ is misleading, in that there is no grand planner over the centuries that has raised living standards amidst an exponentially-growing population.

You might think that you appreciate this phenomenon of ‘spontaneous order,’ but you may in fact be unknowingly harboring notions contrary to it, e.g. belief in the state’s necessity in any facet of civilization.

BELIEF IN THE STATE MEANS BAD ECONOMICS


Statists are typically of the persuasion that the value of something is determined by the suffering or sacrifice involved. Karl Marx and Adam Smith believed that labor in itself made for value, and from this originates delusions of state interference in the economic decisions of a free people.

(The Marxian line goes something like this: Because the capitalists are profiting from the sole bringers of value, the laborers, it is left to an institution like government, allegedly a representative of public interest, to deliver ‘social justice,’ at the expense of propriety/property.)

In fact, value has to do with subjective preferences, after which value of labor and other costs are imputed.

Depiction of Job by the great mystic William Blake


VALUE IS IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDING CONSUMER


It is only by dismissing the labor theory of value that one grasps the implications of Clemons’ remark as quoted above. Indeed, why should a sax player, who loves what he does, be paid at all? The answer has nothing to do with his effort in learning the sax, or the time taken away or ‘exploited’ from him by greedy record executives, but rather in the simple fact that end-consumers like what they hear.

Providing others with something they want often entails hard work, but hard work is a mere means and is not the determinant of the ends.



LOVE OF LABOR


Sadly, most people go about their jobs as drudgery. I wonder if it is a coincidence that the Book of Job is named as such.

In the absence of the state, I am sure that the higher standard of living would allow greater leisure time, including time for hobbies that ultimately become lucrative careers in themselves. But the driving force for following one’s ambitions will not be automatic, even with widespread economic security.

It is thus encouraging that, even in our relatively government-dominated world, there are shining examples such as the late Clarence Clemons who got to live their dreams and define ‘work’ in an as-yet unconventional sense.

***

Below: I love this Springsteen song so much, and Clemons brings the house down. 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

LADY GAGA IN BILIBID: THE BENEFITS OF FIGHTING IMMORALITY


The SM people are being threatened with lawsuits for staging Lady Gaga’s two Manila shows this May 21 and 22, 2012. What’s more, Lady Gaga herself could be jailed daw for years because of some anti-immorality law (Article 201 of the Revised Penal Code).

(Ex-Cong. Benny Abante, the Biblemode Youth Philippines and other saintly people must be thrilled at the publicity they’re getting thanks to the Born This Way tour!)

Lady Gaga’s imprisonment, as fascistic as it may be, will have its benefits:

  1.       US’ withdrawal of military support, end of ‘Balikatan’ training. The US government may choose to let Lady Gaga rot in prison, but may terminate whatever assistance it provides the Philippine government. As lovers of freedom know, foreign aid and nation building make bitches out of the ‘benefiting’ natives. Imperialism divides the country into the politically privileged minority and their subjects. The less of it, the better. Of course, such a withdrawal of US troops would also mean a humbling of Malacañang, which until now thinks it can afford to act arrogant against China.
2.       Lady Gaga, an unabashed Democrat, may just see for herself the horrors of entrusting the state with people’s lives, whether it be with regards to freedom of expression, or in the universalizing of parasitism known as Obamacare. Thus enlightened, Lady Gaga might then write a libertarian album in prison, thus promoting principles of freedom for a new generation to appreciate.
3.       In connection with #2, it might be good for the lady born as Stefani Germanotta to be isolated from the rest of the world, so as to come up with original ideas (‘You and I’ is basically 4 Non Blondes’ ‘What’s up?’; compare ‘Marry the night’ with J. Lo’s ‘Waiting for tonight’; ‘I like it rough’ is to Depeche Mode’s ‘Strangelove,’ etc.).
4.       To the benefit of Ladlad (transl. ‘Coming Out’), reportedly the world’s sole political party for gay people, they just might have a willing spokesperson extolling being ‘born that way.’ Of course, pro-gay legislation is bullshit discrimination itself and anti-freedom, but it’d be interesting to see legislative campaigns with Lady Gaga in them. (This is contrary to #2, but in case you haven’t figured it out, this entire entry is a joke)
Never come back, agents of Satan!
   5.       No more foreign acts coming to the Philippines. Who’d want to come here at the risk of being incarcerated for having written an ‘immoral’ song or two? Even old acts such as America or Air Supply can have some songs interpreted satanically. For example, ‘Every woman in the world’ promotes adultery of a sort, in that the singer is practically fantasizing about making love with many women. And when these groups stop coming over to provide oldies with nostalgic trips, maybe people will live in the present more.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

GOVERNMENT MONOPOLY ON MARRIAGE BREEDS CONFLICT


The title says it all. When we surrender our wills to government, we allow an elite minority to dictate the preferences and convictions of all.

Because people have different preferences and convictions, as we can see in numerous private churches and sects, an all-encompassing decision left to government (“Should gay marriage be allowed or not?”) makes people even more divisive than if such preferences were sorted out among voluntary groups.

Manny Pacquiao’s ‘sawsaw’ in the US issue of gay marriage wouldn’t be so offensive to American homosexuals if they weren’t worried that other Americans of great political influence think the same way as Manny.

Living in peace need not involve agreeing on all things. Through market exchanges, there is much to be gained between a bible toter and a heretical hedonist, regardless of their conflicting beliefs. But such mutual benefit can only arise and continue when such beliefs are not thrust on the other by force.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

107.5 WIN RADIO ­― MARKETS RULE, FOR BETTER AND WORSE


I’d been forced by circumstance to take the taxi the past week, and one thing that struck me was the preference for 107.5 Win Radio among taxi drivers. Apparently, there’s something appealing about the little kid repeating “Win Radio! Win Radio!” and the phrase “Pinag-iisipan pa ba ’yan?” Son of a bitch.

I remember the fuss when NU107 closed down for good the midnight of November 7, 2010. For loyal listeners, it was a tragic triumph of business interests over ‘real’ music, the kind that didn’t have that large and profitable an audience.


RADIO NO LONGER SO GAGA

I disagree. In the first place, NU played a lot of shit, especially over its past decade of existence. Britney Spears was more interesting than most of the alternative crap they spewed out. But the NU107 case also highlights the importance of changing with the times. I don’t mean NU management should have changed their music to stupid masa pop music. Rather, there comes a time to accept that the medium of radio becomes irrelevant, especially among people whose aesthetic tastes are not in keeping with the mainstream.


INTERNET! INTERNET! INTERNET! (SAID THE WIN RADIO BOY)

I myself had stopped regularly listening to the radio around 1998, because I was perfectly happy buying my music, which I normally wouldn’t hear on radio anyway. 

The internet soon after provided music that would have otherwise remained alien to me. Thanks to ‘piracy,’ I got interested in rather obscure groups of whom I later bought CDs, which goes to show the benefit of abolishing copyright restrictions.


PROGRESS AND THE INDIVIDUAL

My point is, we shouldn’t be discouraged at the degradation of culture we witness in radio, a medium which is descending to obsolescence. What’s great about social and technological evolution is the increased capacity of the most individualistic and anti-mainstream of us to be satisfied, the herd be damned.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

EXTERMINATE WINDSHIELD-CLEANING STREETCHILDREN

Back in 2007-2008, I had a problem going home from the Senate: at the Quirino-Osmeña intersection, there were streetchildren who would, without asking, start wiping their raggedy squeegees on my windshield. No matter what I did or said, I couldn’t find a way to stop such ‘service.’ I would feel drained, violated, helpless.

Even back then, I knew the problem had nothing to do with the kids, who were merely being instructed in their tasks by some sindikato. But I was hoping that the MMDA or city enforcers would put a stop to this practice of ‘wipe and singil.’

Fast forward four years later, and this practice continues throughout the Metro, as long as there are intersections with traffic lights. Just awhile ago, I had the experience at EDSA-Ortigas.


GOVERNMENT MEANS IGNORING THE PEOPLE

The problem is that roads, being government-owned, operate sans accountability. All road use is arbitrary to the wills of politicians and their appointees. The market dynamic is absent, which otherwise makes for an alignment between the interests of users (motorists) and owners.

If roads weren’t ‘public,’ road users would actually have a choice as to having intrusive, non-permission-asking windshield-cleaning services. If it is as undesirable an experience as it is at present, it would be to the interests of the road owners to bar passage of these fucking kids, who could be directed towards more productive endeavors such as basic education or things that customers actually want.

At present, road privatization is beyond conceivable for most, and this myopia means having to suffer an unresponsive government system.

Monday, May 14, 2012

ABUSIVE PARENTS AND THE GOVERNMENT (MOTHER’S DAY 2012)


While shooting free throws last Friday in my village, I witnessed child abuse. Some Chinese-ish dude around 40 was with his pre-adolescent son, and he was making the kid run the length of the basketball court over and over. And when the kid wanted to stop, with a little bit of pa-drama to show his exhaustion, the dad would admonish him not to be “bakla,” essentially forcing the kid to continue. What a father-son moment.

It is rare for a 10-year-old to see a parent as a fallible, possibly wicked person, and the parent’s command is akin to coercive law. In this sense, the parent has quasi-state powers. Of course, in an actual free society, the kid has a choice to seek guardianship elsewhere, but this idea does not normally occur before adolescence.


RULE BY FORCE = STATISM

You would think that a parent would take this pedestalizing more responsibly, but I guess for some, it’s just easier to vent one’s frustrations, disappointments and traumas on the next generation. 

Such behavior, of succumbing to and making use of threats and insults, is reflected elsewhere, in subservience to and rent-seeking through the state.

I don’t deny that there are certain things a parent must do against the will of a child that could be classified as ‘coercive.’ For one, a child can’t be allowed to just run across the street, or touch hot surfaces, or whatnot. And due to the absence of an alternative instructor (least of all a centralized one such as the national government), such ‘coercion’ must be carried out by the parent or guardian.


BEING A ROLE MODEL INVOLVES ACTION

And sometimes, tough love is needed to motivate kids into overcoming the resistance of unproductive leisure. Let’s look back at the parent I mentioned above, who wanted to improve his kid’s stamina. How inspiring is it to be told to run up and down the court by a lazy fuck who calls you names and probably couldn’t even do two laps without collapsing?

Teaching by example is far more effective. If you want your kid to run a mile, run the mile with him. If you’re not in shape to begin with, why should your kid listen to you?

(This also shows how there is so much useless crap we’re taught in schools, so much so that we are of no help if our kids want our assistance in, say, algebra. Not to put down algebra; my point is that lessons ought to be relevant beyond graduation. I, for one, still make loose use of algebraic equations for all sorts of purposes.)


FINAL WORD

Kace-celebrate lang ng Mother’s Day so I guess my above rant is quite timely. And I have to thank both my mom and dad for somehow inculcating in me a healthy aversion towards the state and other rigid, counterproductive institutions (a little bit of youthful rebellion may have played a part in my political leanings, but hey, all’s well that ends well). 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

DOES THE COMPLEXITY OF SOCIETY ENTAIL ‘SOCIAL JUSTICE’?


Less in substance, more in rhetoric.

The case of ACCFA versus ACCFA workers is an interesting look at how the notion of government intervention became so ingrained in Philippine law as to be taken for granted. The 1969 Supreme Court decision is full of citations of local and foreign sources that reinforce the role of government beyond the maintenance of peace and order, particularly in economic affairs. By the time the 1987 Constitution was written, it was simply assumed that the state had no limits in serving ‘the public interest.’

Justice J. Makalintal says:
“The growing complexities of modern society have rendered th[e] traditional classification of the functions of government [crime prevention, protection of property, etc.] quite unrealistic, not to say obsolete.
The areas which used to be left to private enterprise and initiative and which the government was called upon to enter optionally, and only ‘because it was better equipped to administer for the public welfare than is any private individual or group of individuals,’ continue to lose their well-defined boundaries and to be absorbed within activities that the government must undertake in its sovereign capacity if it is to meet the increasing social challenges of the times.
Here as almost everywhere else the tendency is undoubtedly towards a greater socialization of economic forces. Here of course this development was envisioned, indeed adopted as a national policy, by the [1935] Constitution itself in its declaration of principle concerning the promotion of social justice.”


MARKET HATE IS OLD HAT

What’s surprising about the 1969 decision is that it still makes an issue of ‘laissez-faire or not laissez-faire’ at all. A decade earlier, president Ramon Magsaysay was already a big hit with his “those who have less in life should have more in law” crap. The 1935 Constitution, Article II, Section 5, spells out the social justice policy clearly. But it appears that even in this intellectual shithole, lawyers and judges were still aware of the concept of the absence of government in the economy, or limited government.

Not to say that Makalintal’s argument for state intervention holds any water. In the first place, how does social ‘complexity’ equate to the need for government? Do economic principles change in a more complex society? What’s more, is government any better a tool for coping with such complexity than free enterprise? Indeed, the fact that individuals’ preferences and actions are so complex makes central planning all the more difficult, if not impossible.


FAULTY PREMISE, FAULTY CONCLUSION

To even accept a role of government at all is to necessarily defy people’s wills which otherwise manifest as self-bettering economic action. By subverting this actual will of the people, government thus breeds social conflict, the very class antagonism that many seek to remedy via government.

And to even assume that some sectors such as electricity or mining require government monopoly, is the beginning of Makalintal’s error. Because when these agencies and franchises screw up, or when government regulations limit competition and decrease quality of goods, laissez-faire is blamed, and the scope of government intervention widens so as to prevent such ‘exploitation.’


(MY) FINAL WORD

The notion of social justice became popular due to the faults of the state, with the free market as scapegoat. Given that we have a whole century of bullshit legislation and jurisprudence biased against the market, it will probably take at least seven generations for Filipinos, and humanity in general, to be weaned off glorification of the state.


HAYEK FOR THE ROAD

“If we wish everybody to be well off, we shall get closest to our goal, not by commanding by law that this should be achieved, or giving everybody a legal claim to what we think he ought to have, but by providing inducements for all to do as much as they can that will benefit others. To speak of rights where what are in question are merely aspirations which only a voluntary system can fulfill, not only misdirects attention from what are the effective determinants of the wealth which we wish for all, but also debases the word ‘right’, the strict meaning of which it is very important to preserve if we are to maintain a free society.” ­― From Law, legislation and liberty, Book II.