Friday, May 22, 2009

Stand Down Erap Estrada

To David Frost, Richard Nixon related his biggest regret: "I let down the country. I let down our system of government, and the dreams of all those young people that ought to get into government but now think it too corrupt.…”

In a functioning democracy, where a dishonored leader is expected to fall on his own sword, there is a requirement for all major players to work hard to secure the continued active participation from the most capable, most idealistic and most passionate members of the youth.

Not in our country. Disgraced, convicted criminals like Joseph Estrada continue to posture and act as if they have any moral credibility left to pursue once more the very highest public trust he completely wasted. And behold his large retinue of hangers-on hoping to regain a part of the glory days of plunder.

We can never hope to learn from our mistakes as a nation if we never punish criminals who directly harm the poor and powerless with their corrupt dispensations. There is too much magnanimity going around in our oligarchic society because everyone expects to get a free pass when their day of reckoning arrives, the traditional politician’s version of professional courtesy to one another.

This is the moment to call for a division of the House. Will the very True Marcos Loyalists identify themselves once and for all and proudly proclaim their allegiance to their evolved ideology of greed and selfishness. How many of this demagogic breed openly strut about in the guise of being servant-leaders? Words always come easy to these disciples and it’s fairly easy to identify them because they never seem to yield power and privilege to anyone. They are master survivalists willing to do anything, compromise on everything to maintain, at the people’s expense, their reprehensible hides.

When will our day ever arrive? It is up to you and me.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Heave Ho!

Less than a year before the scheduled Presidential election, the entire country is in great need of Filipinos who are prepared to offer their lives for the implementation of peaceful revolutionary change. Above and beyond the legal requirements stipulated by our Constitution, these candidates must view public service as an absolute sacrifice within a set time frame. Public service must never become a source of livelihood. The acquisition of power and prestige must solely be used towards the promotion of the common good.

For peaceful revolutionary change to advance, four fundamental developments are required:

1. Enforce the anti-dynasty provision in the Constitution by calling for synchronized local and national elections in 2013 for ALL elective positions with each candidate limited to serving only for a single term, while disqualifying spouses, parents and children from succeeding any candidate.

2. Abolition of Pork Barrel. Legislators must focus on their principal role which is law-making. Salaries, emoluments and staff should be drastically reduced. Whatever money that is budgeted for roads and bridges (traditionally a fertile source of graft) must return to the control of the executive branch. Instead of investing inordinately in infrastructure, we must try to invest in human resources: double teacher’s salaries; which will not only attract the more qualified, it will also result in a more effective manner of pump priming the economy due to a wider, more equitable distribution of wealth.

3. Judiciary reform. These days, when even the integrity of the Court of Appeals is in great uncertainty, directly returning to the people the power to determine guilt via jury trials and Grand Jury inquests should be seriously considered. Once again, too many people in our country make a living from the prevailing judicial structure.

4. Agrarian reform. A clear example of how noble intentions may be subverted into creating an even greater disaster. In the 20 years of land reform, productivity has diminished and social inequality has only widened. The principal goal must be the maximization of productivity for the benefit of all and not just the wanton redistribution of land. Partnership over division.

We must finally liberate ourselves from the perspective that our leaders need to gain experience by gradually ascending through our completely corrupted political system that may be compared to a school that has consistently produced disastrous graduates. There are so many qualified Filipinos out there. We only need to get rid of our hopelessness and cynicism; check our petty selfish interests and egos at the door and agree upon non-negotiable core principles that will allow a critical mass of Filipinos to push, together, as one, peaceful revolutionary reform.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Jack Kemp

Jack Kemp died last night, he was 73. He was a quarterback for the Buffalo Bills and he used his popularity to get elected to the US House of Representatives. At first, he was always underestimated as a “dumb jock“ but eventually got noticed when he devoted most of his prodigious energies towards reforming a “tax code that rewards consumption, leisure, debt and borrowing, and punishes savings, investment, work and production.” At that time, in the mid-70’s, I would have paid 70% of my income in taxes (versus 37% today!).

Back then, every successful businessman, doctor or lawyer had a yacht that was used primarily as a tax deduction. Supply-side economics theoretically would have worked if savings wasn’t punished and debt and borrowing weren’t rewarded (we are getting to the point today when you need to start paying the bank for your deposits). By some aberration however, most everybody started borrowing and accumulating debt. The Republican revolution mistakenly gave the go-signal for everyone who worked and felt they were working hard enough to go on a spending-spree and throw prudence to the wind and let their kids worry about who was going to pay for the bills. This was the fatal flaw. Absolutely, let the people making a lot of money pay less taxes and depend on them to make their businesses grow but never encourage everyone else to behave like Warren Buffet because the result will be a surefire recipe for what we are reaping today: a full-blown recession.

Politics is so improbable. How a football player from Occidental College (where Barack Obama spent his early college years) who devoured books by conservative authors during long trips between games would be able to leave a lasting imprint on the colossal US tax code is enough proof for all of us never to underrate the power of politics to change history.