Archive for the ‘economics’ category

NEO-NATIONALISM’S PREMISES & CONTENTIONS / Promote synergy with civil society in the development path

February 5, 2015

 

NEO-NATIONALISM’S PREMISES & CONTENTIONS / Promote synergy with civil society in the development path

 

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

In the old formulations, development was an exclusive endeavor of state and market players. That is, the directions of development were largely the handiworks of political, bureaucratic and corporate elites. There should be an admission that this structural formulation was a factor in generating the crisis-level ailments of mass poverty, large-scale unemployment, low wages, sluggish growth and dependence. So why retain a formula that had failed us miserably?

The current context, where a dynamic and colossal civil society operates, points to the ever-growing recognition of the potent role of civil society in co-determining the compass of development. At the grassroots level, development efforts will be accelerated to a great extent by involving civil society formations acting as ‘social capital’ base, as studies have positively demonstrated (citations from Peter Evans’ works on ‘state-society synergy’). Insulating the state from grassroots folks, as the same studies have shown, have produced dismal if not tragic effects, e.g. India’s non-involvement of ‘social capital’ in the erection and maintenance of irrigation facilities resulted to program failure in the end.

Building and maintaining ecologically sound, clean cities can likewise be effected through the tri-partnership of state, civil society and market, as demonstrated by the Puerto Princesa case. Under the stewardship of the dynamic city mayor (Mr. Hagedorn), the tri-partnership was galvanized. Businesses have since been conscious of operating on clean technologies and environmental responsibilities, city streets sustain hygienic images, traffic is well managed as motorists exude discipline, and civil society groups constantly monitor the initiatives that saw their hands dipped into their (initiatives) making. All we need to do is replicate this same Puerto Princesan trilateral partnering at all level and in all communities to ensure better results for our development efforts.

The ‘state-society synergy’ in our country had just recently been appreciated and grasped by many state players. Being at its ‘take-off’ phase, it is understandable that synergy is only a lip-service among many state players, notably the local officials. State players still regard civil society groups with ambivalence, while civil society groups are suspicious of state players whose sincerity can only be as low as their Machiavellian propensities would dictate. Such local state players desire to subordinate civil society groups, and many politicians have constituted ‘government-initiated NGOs’ or GRINGOS as cases of non-authentic subordinated groups. On the other hand, local-level volunteer groups can at best perceive domestic politicians as ‘Santa Claus’ providers, and utilize them largely as gift-giving patrons. Strengthening state-society synergy has a long way to yet, but it is not exactly starting at ground zero in this country. It is, by and large, a core variable in developing citizenry and constituencies, and must be advanced beyond its current take-off phase.

 

 

[From: Erle Frayne D. Argonza, “New Nationalism: Grandeur and Glory at Work!”. August 2004. For the Office of External Affairs – Political Cabinet Cluster, Office of the President, Malacaňan Palace.]

 

NEO-NATIONALISM’S PREMISES & CONTENTIONS / Shift intervention from the ‘provider state’ to the ‘enabler state’

January 28, 2015

 

NEO-NATIONALISM’S PREMISES & CONTENTIONS / Shift intervention from the ‘provider state’ to the ‘enabler state’

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

The failure of neo-liberal policy regimes does not mean that the state should go back to a full interventionist role, performing a guardian regulator and ‘provider’ for all sorts of services. The problem with the excessive ‘provider’ role is that it had (a) bred rent-seeking on a massive scale among market players, (b) reinforced dependence among grassroots folks who have since been always expecting for a ‘Santa Claus state’ to provide abundant candies, (c) produced new forms of rent-seeking, with civil society groups serving as the beneficiaries, and (d) further reinforced graft practices in both the public and private sectors. Thus, the ‘provider state’ further reinforced the patron-client relations in the various spheres of life (‘feudalism’ is the term used by Maoists for clientelism), consequently dragging all of our development efforts into a turtle-paced sojourn.

In the new intervention mode, the state, armed with a leaner organization and trimmed down budgetary purse, performs a superb catalytic role. It engages various stakeholders in the growth & development efforts, challenges them to directly embark on development pursuits, and demonstrates unto them how welfare can be accessed to through alternative means other than through the state’s baskets. As the state continuously engages the stakeholders through dialogue and cooperation, institutions will also become strengthened along the way. The state will gain its esteem as an ‘activist state’, while at the same time receive acclaim as a truly ‘modernizing state’ as it propels society gradually away from clientelism towards a context marked by rule-based (modern) institutions, citizenry and dynamic/autonomous constituencies.

However, within a transition period from ‘maximum provider’ to ‘maximum enabler,’ the state should continue to perform a provider role in such areas as education, health and such other human development concerns that are, in the main, crucial to building national wealth. Combining state regulations and at the same time giving ‘fiscal autonomy’ in tertiary education and vocational-technical level would remain to be a fitful strategy of ‘minimal enabler’. A similar strategy will have to be applied to some other economic sectors to be able to advance gender equity, by recognizing rights of marginalized gender to education, employment, representation in managerial positions and other related concerns.

[From: Erle Frayne D. Argonza, “New Nationalism: Grandeur and Glory at Work!”. August 2004. For the Office of External Affairs – Political Cabinet Cluster, Office of the President, Malacaňan Palace.]

NEO-NATIONALISM’S PREMISES & CONTENTIONS / Go back to basic needs

January 20, 2015

NEO-NATIONALISM’S PREMISES & CONTENTIONS / Go back to basic needs

 

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

 

 

“Spend for your needs but save as much as you can!” would be an apt idiom that could encapsulate the need to build up national savings within the context of an increasingly consumer-driven economy. It is argued that moderate consumption would be a most fitting behavior in today’s context, while under-consumption and over-consumption are out as they could burn us all out in the process. Consumption saved the day for us in the aftermath of the Asian crisis in 1997, so there is no reason to be morally repulsive about consumerism—provided that it should be a moderated consumerism. Low consumerism brings us back to export-driven strategies, our aggregated wealth production subjected to the vagaries of external markets that are beyond our control; high consumerism, contributing further to high debt levels, as the credit card culture entice people to acquire more articles of consumption through debts, perennially driving our economy to ‘bubble bursts’.

The emerging situation should have taught our market players the appropriate lessons at this time. The era of omnipresent and omnipotent markets—for goods of relatively ageless utility, stored in large inventories—is now a foregone era. What we have now is fragmented markets (chaos economics explains this well; see Tom Peters’ works), so the adjustment would be in the form of market niches. Market players should veer away from storing large inventories of a broad array of products, as obsolescence and changing consumer taste undermine the profit-gaining side of such a practice. Rather, they should be sensitive to emerging demands, and customize services and/or tangible goods based on such demands. We Filipinos particularly change taste so often, “madaling magsawa” as we say it in the vernacular. Which means that fixed products, based on fixed ideas, are simply out of context and out-of-date, and must be reformulated towards more flexible product mixes matrixed with constantly emerging ideas.

On a macro-scale, there is the continuing need to ensure ‘food security’ and its expression in other sectors as well. We should continue to be sensitive to the needs of the larger economy, such as the need for capital goods. We should design ‘vital & strategic commodity security’ frameworks and policies through a combination of domestic production of such goods as well as importation strategies. The continuing absence of strategic industries such as integrated steel could prove degenerative for development efforts such as it has done to our country, while completely shutting us off the international markets for some other goods could likewise be deleterious in the long run since domestic producers would be exercising rent-seeking, pricing articles way beyond five hundred percent (500%) of their opportunity costs as amply demonstrated by industrial chemicals (before the country began importing from China). As current experiments in grain & livestock management show, with appreciable success, the strategy should be to combine domestically produced goods with imported articles, the proper mix of which should be the subject of continuing eco-scanning and constant studies. In the end, all of our individual, community and national needs will be met, building stability and security amid a ‘chaotic’ or turbulent global condition.

[From: Erle Frayne D. Argonza, “New Nationalism: Grandeur and Glory at Work!”. August 2004. For the Office of External Affairs – Political Cabinet Cluster, Office of the President, Malacaňan Palace.]

NEO-NATIONALISM’S PREMISES & CONTENTIONS / Make room for value-based & integrated frameworks

January 12, 2015

NEO-NATIONALISM’S PREMISES & CONTENTIONS / Make room for value-based & integrated frameworks

 

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

 

 

Not only should we look up to the West for paradigms with which to construct frameworks and models of growth & development. We should also welcome the initiatives of our emerging thinkers and practitioner-gurus to integrate the Eastern paradigms in their conceptualizations, system designs and related matters. These efforts will fortify our understanding of economics, Philippine-style, in as much as we are a people forged in the cultural smelters of both Eastern and Western civilizations.

Among civil society groups, the modeling of entrepreneurship and social enterprises based on integrated East-West paradigms have been demonstrated with success and clarity. We should welcome such perspectives, and do our share of the task to transport such frameworks from the margins to the mainstream of national consciousness. The resultant frameworks are often value-based in form, though they do not necessarily shun scientistic/empiricist treatment of economic problems. The common theme among such frameworks is synergy: an interconnection among various ‘social enterprises’ and NGOs reaching a far broader scale, resulting to a broad   movement. This I am well aware of, having immersed myself in civil society for a long time in the past.

[From: Erle Frayne D. Argonza, “New Nationalism: Grandeur and Glory at Work!”. August 2004. For the Office of External Affairs – Political Cabinet Cluster, Office of the President, Malacaňan Palace.]

NEO-NATIONALISM’S PREMISES & CONTENTIONS/ Strong nation can thrive & grow amid globalization

January 5, 2015

NEO-NATIONALISM’S PREMISES & CONTENTIONS/ Strong nation can thrive & grow amid globalization

 

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

The nation can continue to exist, even become strengthened, while it sails deep into the middle of the ocean of globalization. The two are not necessarily contradictory. Nationhood can continuously be pursued, patriotism can move ahead while paddling astride the powerful waves of globalization. For as earlier stated, globalization holds the promise of growth through the vast opportunities it has opened. Nations must strive to concur cooperation with other nations to extend the scope and limits of the opportunities, while at the same time build internal opportunities to further optimize inducements for investments.

Just recently, our entrepreneurs and professionals made waves through the international awards they respectively received, such as Tan Caktiong (top entrepreneur) and F. Palafox (the only ASEAN architect to make it to the world’s Top 200 architects), signifying the high level of competitiveness our compatriots are capable of achieving. Such sterling achievements surely inspire us to continue to strengthen nationhood and to forge new areas of cooperation and growth-inducing endeavors. While forces exist that work to tear the nation asunder, forces are likewise growing that lead to the nation’s strengthening. We should all work hard to make sure that the latter forces prevail, while neutralizing and diminishing the potencies of those forces that destroy nationhood.

[From: Erle Frayne D. Argonza, “New Nationalism: Grandeur and Glory at Work!”. August 2004. For the Office of External Affairs – Political Cabinet Cluster, Office of the President, Malacaňan Palace.]

LAISSEZ FAIRE VERSUS DIRIGISM: PARADIGMS AND FAIRY TALES

December 18, 2014

LAISSEZ FAIRE VERSUS DIRIGISM: PARADIGMS AND FAIRY TALES

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Across the continents, where markets have predominance in the economic sphere, there has always been the antipodal tendentialities of laissez faire and dirigisme. The bone of contention has been the state’s role in the economy. These tendentialities have surely represented two (2) hard-line oppositional streams.

Mercantilism, the progenitor of dirigism, contended that regulation should govern production, distribution, consumption and exchange. The (interventionist) state should be at the center of regulation, with the central goal of all economic pursuits being the accumulation of the wealth for King. Old Nationalism had held on to this contention, with the revision that wealth should be accumulated for the nation as a whole and no longer merely for the King, wealth that is correspondingly allocated to the folks in the form of wages and welfare (this ‘wealth for nation’ line is admittedly a concession to the Smithian physiocracy, a competitor discourse). Only the state, not the market, can best perform redistributive responsibilities for welfare, jobs and wages. Necessarily, development should be undertaken with strong state regulations in the four intervention areas mentioned. The Keynesian revolution revived the dirigist contention, using a demand-side premise, and held sway across the globe for around half a century since its inception.

Laissez faire, whose earliest articulators were the physiocrats, opposed dirigist doctrines with extreme zeal. Accordingly, the state should only intervene in matters of defense, justice and public works, and should keep its hands off the market. Accumulating wealth is a matter of private sector concern (industrialists and landlords), while free trade must be the condition of international exchange and distribution. Even matters of welfare must be left to market mechanisms to provide. Development efforts, i.e. the ones undertaken by ‘3rd world’ economies, must follow the laissez faire path. The logic behind the contention is that the market will produce the entrepreneurs who will be enticed to embark on bold ventures should they be left on their own to take off ‘infantile enterprises’.

The problem arises when, due to the predominance of non-market mechanisms, such as clientelist relations and redistribution-based exchange systems (haciendas, latifundia), development could hardly take off at all. In cases where entrepreneurs are of residual numbers, such as the one demonstrated by Philippine experience, laissez faire strategies would prove pathetic in results. This entrepreneurial scarcity had justified the adoption of dirigist policy frameworks, the principle ones being those that guided the ‘import substitution industrialization’ of 1947-1968. Various 3rd world states have sponsored the dirigist path, employing diverse models (socialist, mixed market-socialist), with fairly good results for many of them. The articulators of such states have argued that no country had ever prospered thru the laissez faire route, and that laissez faire can only work out when development had reached a highly mature level when consumerism propels growth, and where economic fundamentals are very strong and stable.

Many developing economies actually encountered tremendous snags as their states chiefly sponsored development efforts. Rent-seekers of every kind appeared on the scene, serving as barriers to the effective entry of possible investors from among potential competitors. In the Philippine case, asset reform in the agrarian sector had been a perennial failure, thus further complicating the already complex maize of structural problems. What happened, according to the defenders of laissez faire doctrines, was that dirigisme made the ensconced patrimonial groups become further entrenched, thus leading to a vicious cycle of slow growth, high poverty, high unemployment, and relative stagnation.

Such a situation served as the impetus for embracing neo-liberal reforms over the last twenty-five (25) years by the developing economies, the Philippines included. Laissez faire returned with a vengeance, popularizing free trade in the international sphere, and structural adjustments in the domestic sphere and public sector, to note: liberalization, deregulation, privatization, liberalized currency markets/devaluation, down-sizing, minimal/residual fiscal stimulus & budgets for social services, tax reforms and decentralization. Such a policy regime of ‘structural adjustments’ were instrumental in integrating national markets into a globalized one where there is freer flow of tradable goods, investments, information and labor. Not only that, the antipathy of foundational physiocracy towards manufacturing (biased for agriculture) returned, as cheap imports (owing to liberalized trade) destroyed established industries leading to ‘de-industrialization’.

Where are we twenty-five (25) years after instituting market reforms under the aegis of ‘structural adjustments’ (note: we began through the ‘structural adjustment loans’ of the World Bank, c. 1979)? National income continues to grow at dismally low rates, poverty had increased during the latter phase of the reforms (decreased only recently), unemployment remains high amid positive growth, and our developmental stage continues to be stuck up in the ‘growth stage’ (failed to reach ‘maturity’). Globalization, with its attendant ‘structural adjustment’ policies, has weakened nations, even caused fragmentation in others, a fact that had likewise been replicated in the Philippines with its separatist movements. Free trade had destroyed domestic industries (the USA case was hit so hard by this one), as some had to fold up (Marikina shoes exemplifies the Philippine case) and transfer elsewhere (Procter & Gamble-Philippine is an example). With weak or nil ‘safety nets’, chances are that many producers (e.g. fruits, vegetables) will lose against cheaply-priced imports. One thing is clear for the case of many developing economies, including the Philippines: market reforms failed miserably to get them to development maturity, even as it set back the development path of others.

So if both dirigisme and laissez faire have been failing in making life better for the nation and the majority of the people, what discourse than can work out to salve the ailments of most developing states? Expectedly, a ‘renaissance of nation-states’ has become the wave of the present, with many of its articulators defending a return to dirigisme in its old form—in its highly protectionist form. I used to be among such articulators, even as I now argue that Old Nationalism can have deleterious results when pushed to the extremes. We can’t wish globalization away, it is here to stay and galvanize some more, even as it challenges us all to path-find the opportunities that it can offer while neutralizing the threats that could result from it. In other words, re-echoing Herr Reich’s and Mdm Arroyo’s elucidations on the subject, I am now wont to advocate for a New Nationalism or neo-nationalism, a discourse that advances beyond the narrow confines of extremist dirigisme and laissez faire.

Let me move next to the key premises and contentions of ‘new nationalism’-Philippine style.

[From: Erle Frayne D. Argonza, “New Nationalism: Grandeur and Glory at Work!”. August 2004. For the Office of External Affairs – Political Cabinet Cluster, Office of the President, Malacaňan Palace.]

ZAIBATSU GLOBALIZATION ‘VOODOO ECONOMICS’ BOWING OUT

November 3, 2014

ZAIBATSU GLOBALIZATION ‘VOODOO ECONOMICS’ BOWING OUT
Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Magandang hapon! Good afternoon!

Let me share to you at this moment some notes regarding the ‘globalization’ experiment and the flawed policies that sustained it. There has been much ballyhoo about the global economy’s integration, over the last three (3) decades, as having been carved out supposedly by the Anglo-Saxon policy architects, using Thatcher & Reagan as the face for the ‘neo-liberal’ policy regime they installed.

Little do peoples across the globe, including experts who are so mired in their own parochial perspectives, know that the liberalization of country economies has a great deal to do with the Zaibatsu offensive. The West should better accept the facts: that their technocrats and policy shapers have run out of fresh ideas since the 1970s onwards (i.e. mentally bankrupt), a gap that they filled up by looking up to Japan and the NICs (newly industrializing countries) for copycat purposes.

Reaganomics, as neo-liberal policies of ‘privatization’ was dubbed (Thatcher of the UK preceded Reagan by a year), is as voodoo as one can get, seductive as any enchanting mantra-resonating principle can be, and was indeed potent in erasing the vestiges of the Regulated Economics doctrines that preceded the era. In the emerging markets, they were dubbed as ‘structural adjustment policies’ or SAPs, were imposed by the IMF-World Bank Group on debtor nations, and can be summed up as follows:

• Core principles: Privatization, Liberalization, Deregulation
• Subsidiary Principles: Tax reforms, trade liberalization, free floating exchange rates, diminished state subsidies for welfare, increased utility prices (revenue generation)
• Governance Principle: Decentralization (local government autonomy)

Such policy reform measures, as far as developing countries or DCs were concerned, came in as very harsh, cruel ‘austerity measures’ imposed by the IMF. We citizens from the ‘margins’ can never forget these measures, the pauperization that they effected, the dislocation of marginal producers, the decline of health services and rise of morbidity rates, and so on. In the Philippines, our very own capital goods industries were either delayed or un-implementable (such as integrated steel), as the money allocated for their purposes simply dried as dictated by the World Bank.

But there’s another set of policy architecture that wasn’t Anglo-Saxon, and didn’t receive their inspiration from the classicists (Smith, Ricardo) and the monetarists (Friedman, Hayek). This set of liberalization policies came from Zaibatsu country, and were crafted by Japanese technocrats. Not only policies, but also institutions were addressed by them, giving rise to the globalized economy that we have today.

Chief among those technocrats was Kenichi Ohmae, who in the 1980s was a think-tank executive. Further down the line were many other technocrats, who were organically linked to the Zaibatsus (landlord-industrialist-financier oligarchs), taking up cudgels for Ohmae.

Globalization, as one better realize, was never meant as any ‘win/win’ formula for nation-states in the arena of international trade as the liberal thinkers came to defend it later. It was outright a strategy to pre-position Zaibatsu corporate interests outside of Japan, notably the U.S. and European markets.

At that time of conceptualization, Zaibatsus have already efficaciously penetrated the Asian markets, and had leveraged their investments’ entry via aid and technical knowledge diffusion (including sponsoring Developing Country scholars in Japanese universities & special institutes). The old doctrine of ‘Asia Co-prosperity sphere’ was finally won, without firing a shot this time (unlike Imperial Japan era expansionism).

In the 1980s, the clamor for mooring investments and trade in the Western markets became ever stronger. The offensive tactic adapted was rather two-pronged, which made the new voodoo mantra even more potent:

• On the micro-level, permeate other markets with new concepts such as ‘Theory Z’ (decentralized authority, see W. Ouichi), total quality management or TQM, new tools for strategic planning, mergers and de-mergers. Till these days, the tools are considered sacrosanct in all sectors of society, including the Catholic Church that now uses ‘bottom-up’ planning added to strategic planning (my observations done in 2001-02 in a California diocese).

• On the macro-level, blend the Reagan-Thatcher ‘structural adjustments’ with the ‘globalization’ doctrine. The Zaibatsu technocrats fanned out across the globe, some of whom were positioned inside international bodies, and sweetened liberalization via a supposedly ‘win/win’ growth strategy for participating countries. This brilliant blending, which Western thinkers didn’t perceive at all as any subtle tactic by a predatory class (Zaibatsu), soon caught up fire and became buzz word for nigh three decades.

Before long, the Japan Inc. was being bandied across the globe as worth any country’s emulation. Southeast Asia and Korea went for it. Even the former presidents of the USA admired the Japanese Inc. doctrine of renewed private initiatives and shift from macro- to micro-economics as stabilization and growth measure. Bill Clinton of the USA spoke so fondly of ‘globalization’ like some captive fan of an economic icon, and moved to negotiate the NAFTA.

Little do unsuspecting, gullible peoples across the planet, more so the policy experts of the West, realize that the Japanese voodoo economics was largely intended to permit Zaibatsu investments to breed and morph inside their economies. Using merger and buy-in tactics, the Zaibatsu agents made it appear that their sponsors came in for benign purposes or so. If there is any group in the world today that is enjoying its last laugh, it is the Japanese militarists of the past, who finally saw the success of their nation’s offensives and the decline of the West via ‘organized chaos’.

Around 1994, the magic of the Japan Inc. began to cramble. Recession came, and before long many banks and investment houses were catching fire. That was the origin of the bankrupt and immoral Bush-Paulson ‘bailout’, which began with the ‘crisis management’ tactic in Japan to save ailing banks and financial institutions. Eventually, Zaibatsu technocrats were forced to revive the Western tool of ‘interest rates’ intervention, to the extent of bringing down interest rates to zero percent and sustaining it there for many years.

There also came that moment, in the late 1990s through 2006, when Zaibatsu financiers suddenly were so awash with funds (liquidities), at a time when Western economies reached low growths. The ‘yen initiative’ package was therefore conceptualized as another last-ditch voodoo tactic, which was implemented by loaning out large funds at zero or low interest, which Western financiers than re-loaned at profitable interest rates. Many such funds reached the USA& EU realty subprime mortgage markets, to recall. Again, note the seemingly benign nature of the financial gesture.

Just as when the realty markets were beginning to sneeze in America, the last voodoo measure was pulled out. The ‘crisis management’ was already folded up earlier, as Japan’s economic growth was propelled up anew by the Asian markets notably China’s. Just as when USA & EU needed the Zaibatsu loans very badly, and ditto for portfolio investments, they were pulled out, thus ensuring the crash of both economies.

Japananese voodoo economics is now bowing out, as the compass of policy initiatives at present is pointing to the reconstruction of macro-economic, New Deal type measures intended to attack problems both on short-term (bail out on productive sectors) and long-term basis (induce physical economy rather than predatory finance). But the withdrawal of the voodoo regime is not being done without witnessing its catastrophic results.

That’s surely tragic for the West or North. I wonder how Zaibatsus & technocrats perceive peoples outside their borders: whether they regard the latter as human beings worth co-partnering with, or as hungry lizards that must subsist on crumbs of investments & finance from Japan that have been buttressed by enormous tons of gold acquired through production and plunder of occupied lands, across the 2,000 years of Japan’s existence from kingdom to nation.

Honestly, I don’t know the answer. But if the Zaibatsus are receiving flaks from outside their borders, it wouldn’t be a surprise. There are no more borders for Zaibatsus by the way, just an entire planet with seamless web, cocooned in all corners by their corporate money.

[Philippines, 14 November 2008]

CORPORATE PHILANTHROPY: CAN IT SURVIVE THE COMING ‘TECHNOTRONIC’ CAPITALISM?

October 25, 2014

CORPORATE PHILANTHROPY: CAN IT SURVIVE THE COMING ‘TECHNOTRONIC’ CAPITALISM?
Erle Frayne D. Argonza

‘Late’ capitalism, this current phase that replaced the ‘monopoly’ capitalism of the pre-war era, is now DEAD. As elucidated by Jurgen Habermas, thinker of the Frankfurt school, capitalism was able to move to its present state but only with massive state planning/intervention. State intervention had since the early 70s been relaxed, via globalization, but this only created monstrous predatory finance that hastened the collapse of the system.

As already elaborated in previous articles, the system is now DEAD. In the late 1990s yet, we Fellows of the Independent Review (a circle of economists and experts in Manila) were of the opinion that the system will be dead in couples of years. The ‘virtual economy’ based on magical statistics, speculation, fictitiously valued investments, and conspicuous consumption, can never be sustained, and is bound to crash and die. It was just a matter of time, as we all noted in 2000 (the last time I met the Fellows), before the bubble will burst somewhere (we forecast it will the USA) and the global economy will come crashing down…And it did, beginning last 2007 yet. That descent to the marshes of death is still going on today.

As I also declared in some previous articles, capitalism can still survive, though no longer the ‘late’ capitalism of state planning-to-globalization era. It will be a capitalism in an era of state terror heretofore unparalleled: ‘technotronic’ capitalism in the aegis of global police-state. Nation-states are enemies of the global oligarchy which will re-engineer the world by destroying nations (aftermath of atrocious World War III and global synarchy) and replacing them with city-states and region-states.

If corporate social responsibility or CSR will survive the times, it must be re-tooled at this juncture when the tumultuous changes are gathering winds. Failure to do so, many CSR pursuits will disappear in time, while only those CSR platforms of the most powerful and wealthy oligarchs can survive. All the CSR formats of today can last in relevance maybe till 2040 at the most, after which my forecast is their relevance will have reached its end.

By the year 2050, when populations will have leveled down to a census target of 2 Billion warm bodies, a figure that will be more manageable to the global elites, every member of society will be chipped and provided for. By that time, there will be no further need for ideological movements as Pied Pipers of the new system. Everyone else will be programmed by the system, from cradle to grave the chipped Manchurian Candidate or MC will be provided for. Poverty will end by then, the Millenium Development Goal of the UN will be finally met (the UN will be transformed into the tyrannical global state headed by a global Bonaparte, armed with its own police/military forces), and then will end the ‘sustainable development’ or ‘social development’ pursuits of ‘late’ capitalism.

The chipped Manchurian Candidate or MC will be half-human half-machine hybrid, and will be well provided for as mentioned. Population will be totally controlled, weak and senior members of the population will be ‘oven-baked’ or eliminated, natality will be controlled following China’s pattern of today, criminality will be almost nil, and no one will ever be poor again. Hybrid-human behavior can be easily modified using those advanced cybernetic prototype programs past 2050, and so nobody can fool around with the system.

Tell me, fellows, in a situation such as that coming context of advanced cybernetics or ‘technotronics’ (machine-controlled humans), what need will there be for CSR? Maybe CSR will go back to Victorian Era philanthropy practices, whereby wealthy sponsors will fund the theaters and chipped performers whose performances will be perfected all the more by cybernetics. The staff of the CSR formats of that era, if indeed applicable, will be chipped as well, like those outfits that will be funded because they will perform before the oligarchic-intellectual crowd by then.

When that next capitalist system comes, there will be no more activists or revolutionaries save for those who will proclaim Hallelujah forever to the radically altered, new system. Libertarian activists will be the species of yesteryears, the CSR proto-activism of today will be consigned to history, and anybody who will go against the system will be easily eliminated by sentinel robots of the most advanced prototypes.

Let me end with the challenge: CSR better retool now and reshape its image if it desires to exceed its institutional career. Now is the time.

[Philippines, 28 August 2008]
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BONAPARTISM: ‘TECHNOTRONIC’ CAPITALIST STATE IDEOLOGY

October 2, 2014

BONAPARTISM: ‘TECHNOTRONIC’ CAPITALIST STATE IDEOLOGY
Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Hail Bonaparte! Hail Empire! Hail new capitalism! Hail oligarchic Gods of Olympus! – Tomorrow’s slogans

Bonaparte is back today, I see him alive again. I don’t mean the personal Napoleon Bonaparte of yesteryears, I mean the state system built by Him the Emperor par excellence. Bonapartism is the hyper-convergence of all totalitarian systems of the past to the present. Old state ideologies are dying, some are already dead in fact (Old Bonapartism, Bolshevism), but a hyper-convergence of the totalitarianisms is happening….That convergence will congeal in New Bonapartism, the state ideology of the era lasting from World War III through those centuries of ‘technotronic’ capitalism of the morrows.

Let me clarify that ‘state ideology’, or the doctrine of state that will justify its essential governance, structures & rules, nay its philosophy, is distinct from mass ideology. The mass ideologies forthcoming may vary from one country to another, such as China’s seeming Marxist-welfare statist fusion, and the rising environmentalism that could be tomorrow’s most popular.

Mass ideologies can be allowed to germinate and take hold among the masses, provided that they support the state formation in a ‘social contract’ of corporatism. In the future population of cyborg Manchurian Candidates, mass ideology will be irrelevant and unnecessary, as behavior will be pre-planned and/or pre-programmed, and re-programmable.

What I am referring to at this juncture is STATE IDEOLOGY or philosophy. As you can see above, this New Bonapartist ideology may not have a foreign policy facet in it, since ‘foreign’ and ‘domestic/national’ has already been broken by globalization. The future state will be a GLOBAL STATE, remember, so the term ‘foreign’ is of noxious impertinence for a globalized or borderless state.

‘Foreign’ could mean, later, those states of intelligences from planets across the Milky Way and elsewhere, but let me not touch on that. I’d focus on the continental and global states, such as the EU, forthcoming North American Union, perhaps an Asia-Pacific Union too, and the Planetary Union or whatever.

Let me go through the essentials of Bonapartism, culling the premises from the pass but re-constructing it for the emerging context. Take note of the following briefer:

• Centralized, Authoritarian Governance: The former Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, Phallangist Spain, and today’s China provided the models for this one. Napoleon Bonaparte only partly succeeded in experimenting on this one, and then he was overthrown. The New Bonapartist state will be sustained, like China’s, and will last for nigh 200-300 years perhaps as far as visible future is concerned. State Terror will be official ‘stick’ mechanism.

• Strong Central Institutions: Centralized authority doesn’t mean strong institutions. This is where China is weak. The Emperor Bonaparte of tomorrow will ensure that institutions will be (a) centralized and (b) strong. The link between the Continental and Platenary states will be a continuous one. Likewise will the thread of governance between the Planetary state and the local region- and city-states, the building blocks of ‘technotronic’ capitalist society.

• Strong Central Financial Institutions: How could one maintain an Empire without strong global bank, strong global currency, strong securitization system (gold standard will return)? Bonaparte knew well the importance of strong national banking for sustaining his Empire and wars. The Emperor Bonaparte of tomorrow will just need to replace ‘national’ with ‘global’ and the formula is complete. Yes, the gold standard is forecast to return, and is bound to back up the financial-monetary operations of the global state. Yes too, a global currency will be instituted, and will be strong as it is backed up by ‘global gold’ or precious metals/crystals and global reserves instruments.

• Strong Global Army/Police: As instruments of state terror, a (a) global army and (b) global police will be instituted. No such army nor police exists today, and necessity dictates that they will arise tomorrow. The individuals and units of these ‘stick’ institutions will be loyal only to the global state. Beyond the 2050s, cyborgs and robots will constitute the main forces of these enforcement ‘sticks’.

• ‘Bombard the Old World’ of Nations: Bonaparte’s favorite cliché is coming back. Napoleon’s old world was the kingdom, the nascent world was the nation. Today’s ‘old world’ is the nation-state, and the nations will be literally bombarded. In a sweeping World War III scenario, as much as 90% of the nations of today (of which there are 200+) will be dismantled. Those that will resist will face the wrath of the global state before 2050. Most likely, no more nation will exist beyond 2050. The new world of region-states and city-states will be in place. This new world will be the New Feudalism, as discussed earlier.

I guess I need to end there. Just five (5) features, remember. It is so easy to note them. They were Bonaparte’s formula for governance in the past, and they will be the standard formulas for the future ‘technotronic’ capitalist state. In previous articles, I already discoursed that capitalism cannot be revived without totalitarian tyranny, so I didn’t expound on that facet here. Let me now close the article at thus juncture.

Hail Bonaparte! Hail Empire! – tomorrow’s slogans

[Philippines, 23 August 2008]

CAPITALISM’S DEMISE: WHAT WENT WRONG?

September 26, 2014

CAPITALISM’S DEMISE: WHAT WENT WRONG?
Erle Frayne Argonza

To all fellow men and women out there who may have deep fondness for the liberal capitalist model of economic adaptation, I hope that you can make some adjustments in your cognitive banks. Capitalism is not a permanent facet of human life, but merely one among various epochs that will come to pass. Only impermanence is sacrosanct in the cosmos, so please refrain from singing hallelujah to a world system that is on its death knell as I articulated in a previous article.

And please refrain from swallowing hook-line-&-sinker the contentious propaganda of Francis Fukuyama about the ‘end of history’, that accordingly history had concluded with the galvanization of liberal capitalism, that history makes no more sense. Fukuyama’s theory is a slapstick narrative of hyper-valuation of the ‘mad economics’ of late capitalism and hypo-statization of reality that has no relation at all to the real in the world out there. Fukuyama had taken as ‘real’ what is actually ‘virtual’, and froze time much like unto a fairy tale of timelessness, of history-less Nietzschean moment that is fit more for infants than for adult humans.

Fukuyama epitomizes the ‘mad economics’ of all those Pied Pipers of the global oligarchy for whom he works, and his discourse is akin to the ‘mad discourse’ so described by the late Michel Foucault. The ‘mad economics’ of Friedman, Hayek, Fukuyama, and all those technocrats who serve as processors and bagmen for the global oligarchy, is precisely symptomatic of that colossal ailment of a world system, and as we all know, madness can never salve ailments but rather hasten the system’s death. Caput! Blow your horns, prepare dirges to this Dead One!

Unless that you yourselves have become maddened by the seemingly infinite monies flowing unto your purses as you are among the beneficiaries of ‘late’ capital, unless that you are indeed now suffering from combined maladies of sociopathy and schizophrenia, unless that sanity had departed from thee forever, please heed the last plea of your own conscience where sanity had retreated: CAPITALISM IS DEAD! No amount of propagandizing, of contorted interpretations, can ever change the course of history at this juncture, as we are all headed for a TOTAL SYSTEM COLLAPSE in the months ahead. Read that please: MONTHS AHEAD, not years ahead.

What went wrong with capitalism? I’m sure all of you fellows knew what went wrong, do I even need to answer that? Your previous thinker mentors, among economists and sociologists, forewarned you all of the forthcoming demise of capitalism, but you paid nary an attention to those brilliant minds as you were so engrossed in your ‘conspicuous consumption’, behaving more like some infantile EATERS or as anthropoids rather than as thinking and spiritually evolving humans. You are all very much human, so please consistently behave like one, and begin by listening to the Inner Voice of your conscience, for that voice is your soul’s.

Let me summarize the diagnostics, forewarnings and/or prophecies of our thinker mentors from the West, and I’d stress WEST because there are some other thinker mentors from the EAST and SOUTH whose peregrinations are so recondite they are not so easily digestible. Let me just stress the WEST as this is what is common to us all. So let me re-echo the thinkers and their theories:

• Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels: The internal contradictions between the private nature of capital (ownership of means of production) and the social nature of production. The ‘crisis of overproduction’ and the ‘law of the falling rate of profit’ are attendant patterns. Social revolution results, then the alternative society will be constructed.

• Max Weber: Industrial capitalism’s granite product, the bureaucracy, led to dehumanization. He never forecast though whether this dehumanizing system can be sustained—but please read between the lines. (His contemporary Emile Durkheim had a similar observation about ‘anomie’ or normless state of urban/industrial society.)

• Thorsten Veblen: The end-phase of industrial capitalism is markedly pathological. ‘Conspicuous consumption’ is the disease of this phase, the toxic behavior from the ruling class that later filtered down to the emerging middle class.

• Joseph Schumpeter: The internal contradiction between the desire for profit and the revolutionary character of innovation. The demise of capitalism will see the possibility of the technical class taking over society and build that alternative system later.

• Daniel Bell: The ‘post-industrial’ society had already been born right inside capitalism. A distinct modality in itself, post-industrialism will eventually prevail in a system that isn’t capitalist (or money economy) but rather knowledge-based. The ‘service worker’ had arrived on the social landscape, the prototype class of the future.

• Theodore Adorno, Jurgen Habermas, Herbert Marcuse: ‘Late’ capital is characterized by the pervasiveness of ‘instrumental reason’, where reason is used to justify the non-rational (‘madness’ in Foucault’s argot), where state planning/intervention was infused into a system that scorned intervention.

• Alvin Toffler: Both capitalism and socialism are based on hoarding, both are variants of the same industrial society of yesteryears, both are based on ‘2nd wave’ capital-intensive technologies and non-renewable energy sources. The ‘post-industrial’ society is altogether distinct, isn’t based on hoarding, production-consumption (‘prosumer’) is based on ‘3rd wave’ knowledge-intensive technologies and renewable energy sources, knowledge cannot be hoarded.

I need not articulate further, do I? They all converged on one theme: capitalism is transitory, it bred social maladies (alienation, dehumanization, anomie, conspicuous consumption,…), is systemically flawed, and will be dismantled at sometime in the future.

No matter how delimited their theories maybe, as they all proceeded from certain perspectives (they were all ‘paradigm’-based in the jargon of Thomas Kuhn), they all proclaimed—in either tacit or explicit fashion—the coming demise of the system. They weren’t as silly as Fukuyama who popularized seemingly ‘satanic verses’ (distorted precepts) about a non-changing, permanent economic landscape called ‘liberal capitalism’, but were rather so adroit at social forecasting that they saw a vision of the future as they were articulating on their empirical observations of the present society.

So, fellows out there, prepare for the months and years ahead. We are headed towards those stormy months, years, maybe even decades. How the future society will come to shape is not easy to forecast. “Something blurs the Force, darkens our sight of the future,” declared a Jedi Master in the Star Wars cinema fame. Let me end right here.

[22 August 2008, Quezon City]

GLOBAL TOTALITARIAN POLICE-STATE & TECHNOTRONIC SOCIETY: EXTENDING CAPITALIST LIFE

September 19, 2014

GLOBAL TOTALITARIAN POLICE-STATE & TECHNOTRONIC SOCIETY: EXTENDING CAPITALIST LIFE
Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Let me go back to the question of what lies ahead of us—when ‘late’ capitalism dies and yet capitalism will be extended. I am not discounting the possibility that capitalism’s life span will be extended, but this will no longer be ‘late’ capital, just to remind everyone.

You better fasten your seat belts, as the stormy days ahead will come for sure, and as this heraldry from me will sound as stormy already as those times ahead. Stormy heraldry, because (a) you will not come to like it and that (b) its impact will be so nauseating and revolting that you’d rather sedate yourself most quickly with wine, liquor, pot or anything that can reduce that revulsion. I forgot, for the fundamentalists, you’d pray for hours to allay your fears.

By the time ‘late’ capital arrived up to the current juncture, or roughly the whole of the post-Great Depression era, the following developments have come about:

• State intervention/planning was infused into the system. Post-war former colonies proceeded on their industrial development tracks along this dirigist market model. The USA and Europe were saved from collapsing, emerging markets appeared.

• Market reforms were later introduced, bringing back free market and free trade principles. Centrally planned economies China and Vietnam infused market reforms to construct a ‘social market’ model, while former socialist states folded up in Eastern Europe and 3rd world states.

• The era of ‘mad economics’ resulted from the system integration efforts of ‘instrumental reason’. The dividing line between the rational and the mad in decision-making and system maintenance was effectively deconstructed and erased. In esoteric-mystical argot, this era is the period of the Demonic Mind, the era of Anti-Christ.

• ‘Virtual economy’ based on predatory financial practices of creating values from out of money flows (rather than from concrete production) was exemplified by ‘bubble economies’. Bubble bursts were followed by destructive, catastrophic crises and shrinkages of affected economies.

• Nation-states’ economies came to be integrated into a single economy, via globalization. A planetary economy was already institutionalized, yet no planetary state exists to regulate conduct of commerce and business at a global level. The contradiction between the norms of the planetary economy and the interests of the nation-state has led in no small measure to the fragmentation of nation-states and emergence of mini-states. Globalization has been undermining the nation-state in general.

• All of such developments will hyper-converge in the months ahead in a general system crisis characterized by hyper-inflation, great depression, and total system collapse. As the economist Lyndon LaRouche correctly perceived, that collapse phase is now taking place at a rapid rate.

• Wars and hostilities are intensifying across the globe. Surrogate wars of world powers have also been rehearsed, such as the Georgia-Russia conflict. All of these conflicts will hyper-converge in a World War III or intercontinental war, the duration of which no one can forecast so easily.

So, going back to the issue, if the ‘virtual economy’ cannot be sustained and its collapse will bring the final death blow on ‘late’ capital, is it possible to extend capitalism’s life span? Yes, the possibility is very likely. But the context emerging from the resolution of the general global crisis will hardly resemble what you’ve ever seen before nor imagine.

First of all, the consolidation of the system and attempts to prolong it can never take place without draconian police state tactics. As Lenin correctly emphasized, the dividing line between liberalism and fascism is a superficial one. Neo-fascism will become the political modality in order to save capitalism and bring it to its next phase. State terror heretofore untold will unravel the old order of things and bring the ‘new world order’ into place, resulting to pogroms that will dwarf both Hitler’s ‘final solution’ and Stalin’s ‘purges’ combined.

The possibility of a global state will finally become granite rock, with the United Nations most likely the base for creating that global regulatory mechanism governed by a demonic ‘world rule of law’. This global state will have its own military and police forces, and will have no qualms in quelling dissent and enforcing global fiats in order to bring forth the ‘new world order’.

The global corporations of the moment, whose assets and revenues are already so huge that they dwarf those of nation-states’, will all the more become gigantic. The same corporations will then declare their respective turfs among region-states and city-states that will be created from the dismantled nations. Each mega-corporation will be endowed with its own private army, akin to the British East India Company or BEIC of old, of professional mercenaries beholden to no state but to the corporation, but which can be mandated by the global state to engage hostile forces in other regions and cities.

The era of New Feudalism will then ensue from the social and urban-ecological arrangements emerging. The era of ancient Florence, Venice, or city-states with their own respective armies and ruled by powerful commercial families, will come back though in more sophisticated vogue.
The competing powerful & wealthy city-states will then give rise to new conflicts in the form of ‘wars of the cities’, much akin to the ancient Greek city-states’ conflicts. Before this century’s end, no more nations shall exist, but rather a world of cities and regions integrated largely through the mediative and regulative planetary state. Weaker cities and regions will become the vassals of powerful cities and corporate groups, at a time when technology will even be more revolutionary. The New Feudalism will be based on an integration of capital and information, contrasted to the Old Feudalism that was based on land.

As soon as 3rd phase cybernetics will conclude, and probably a 4th phase will begin, which will all the more erase the barrier between human and machine, the envisioned Technotronic Society will become the manifest order. Cyborgs and machines will then become perfected and endowed with quasi-human intelligence, while those humans with weak minds will be totally controlled via perfected chips, mega-computers, and new cybernetic systems. Large numbers of subhuman ‘Manchurian candidates’ or MCs will become the docile slave labor of the day, well fed and provided for, but whose behavior will be totally programmed and re-programmable.
That technoronic society of the neo-feudal capitalist ‘new world order’, or simply Technotronic capitalism, was fitfully described and forecast in the film series Matrix and Terminator. As 3rd phase cybernetics is advancing today in laboratory incubators of the North, cybernetics that will dismantle the barrier between human and machine, the possibility of an early arrival of that dreaded machine-controlled ‘new world order’ has become concrete. The question is no longer ‘will technotronics come’, but rather ‘when will it come’? Matrix and Terminator are no film fantasies but are rather scientific extrapolations based on existing and developing cybernetic principles.

So, fellows out there, would you count yourself among the fanatical supporters of ‘capitalist life-span extension’, or would you rather opt for a new economy & society other than the ‘new world order’ that has been engineered by the global oligarchy? Or, would you rather be silent about the matter, as the ‘silence of the lambs’ means the Keynesian “In the long run, all of us will be dead!” Caput!

Let me now end here. Suffice that I shared my notes about the possible extension of the favorite economy of the pro-capitalists or the most abhorred society by capitalism’s detractors. At least I didn’t fail to show you the possibilities, I being a sociologist and economist who learned from my thinker mentors the craft of social forecasting or ‘futurology’.

Till next writing! Adios! Adieu! Paalam! Farewell!

[Philippines, 23 August 2008]

ADAM SMITH’S CLASSICAL THEORY IS COPYCAT/UN-ORIGINAL

August 27, 2014

ADAM SMITH’S CLASSICAL THEORY IS COPYCAT/UN-ORIGINAL
Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Magandang umaga! Good morning from Manila!

As one can see in the title, Adam Smith’s ideas about political economy were unoriginal or copycat. So I’m going to articulate some notes about the matter. This may come as a shocker to the devotees of Smith and fanatical ideologues of liberal or free market capitalism, but it had to be accepted. This is a matter of fact, not of speculation or libel.

This note is not intended to demean Smith nor to denigrate those whose actions are copycat, far from it. Doing copycat items is among the pathways to success, this lesson is greatly stressed most specially among marketing professionals. If one cannot succeed through innovative or original ideas and practices, then take the ‘copycat way’. Network marketing had already perfected the ‘copycat way’ in fact, by way of optimizing the principle of duplication (duplicate those presentation lines and themes before your niche customers or clients).

There are people who have this wrong notion that Smith invented liberal capitalism, and this has to be corrected. A simple knowledge of economic history will do. Having taught economic history at the Philippine’s premier university (U. Philippines) for some time, I know as a matter of fact that couples of influential writers emerged in the theoretic domain—who were focused on economic questions—before Smith appeared in the social landscape. Smith appeared when physiocracy, to which Smith properly belongs, was already making waves in France through the works of such gentlemen as Quesnay and Mirabeau.

But as one can see, Smith was a Scot, of the British Isle, and right in his own backyard there were couples of gentlemen too who wrote voluminously on the subject of political economy, from a vantage point that was already departing from the mercantilism of the previous couple of centuries. The departure concerned the sources of wealth, where the same thinkers opined that the ‘sphere of production’ had to be emphasized more than the ‘sphere of exchange’ which the mercantilists, notably Thomas Mun, discoursed on.

Some representative thinkers who preceded Smith were the following:

• Sir William Petty (1623-87): Considered the founder of political economy. A charter member of the Royal Society.

• John Locke, Sir Dudley North, David Hume, David Hume: Further propounded on basic principles of political economy. E.g. rent, trade, role of government.

• Richard Cantillon: His book Essai sur la nature du commerce en general (1755) was “the most systematic statement of economic principles” (E. Roll, A History of Economic Thought).

• Sir James Steuart: Wrote the voluminous Principles of Political Economy (1767), which was among the first textbooks in economics of that time.

• Honore Gabriel Riqueti, Comte de Mirabeau: Enlightenment thinker, involved with the French revolution, a political moderate who opined that modernizing France better follow the US model of industrialization path. He influenced many younger physiocrates.

• Francois Quesnay: Formally a fellow of the ‘economistes’ or ‘physiocrates’, was known for his popularization of the ‘tableau economique’ (economic table, title of his book), bringing political economy closer to empirical science.

• Jean C.M.V. de Gournay: Another eminent fellow of the ‘physiocrates’, who collaborated with Quesnay in advancing principles of political economy.

• Nicolas Baudeau : Wrote Introduction a la philosophie économique (1771).

• G. F. Le Trosne: wrote De l’ordre social (1777).

• André Morellet: “ best known by his controversy with Galiani on the freedom of the grain trade during the Flour War” (quoted from Wikipedia).

• Mercier Larivière and Dupont de Nemours: Also eminent members of the ‘physiocrates’.

Smith actually lived in Paris during his youthful heydays, where he stayed with the equally youthful Duke of Buccleuch circa 1764-1766. The Parisian exposure was Smith’s way of baptism into the illustrious physiocrats’ thought streams, and the rest was history.

So to my fellows in the professional world and this planet who continue to churn thoughts that Smith was the ‘originator of capitalism’, please rethink your opinions. Historical facts do not the least substantiate your thesis. Rather, what is right is that Smith brought political economy even closer to empirical science than ever, and his Wealth of Nations was a monumental effort during his time to construct a text book on the subject that was considerably a scientific material more than philosophy (ethics, metaphysics) though Smith still wrote philosophical treatises within the ambit of the methods of philosophy.

I need not belabor the point that Smith didn’t invent empiricism. Just by reflecting on the names above, one can see the names of giant figures in British empiricism (e.g Hume, Locke), who themselves took off from intellectual giants that preceded them (e.g. Francis Bacon).

So, please disabuse yourselves of Smith as ‘originator’ of anything. He never even boasted of originating anything at all. Rather, he systematized thought constructs that were already prevalent during his heyday. The purposes of his economic doctrines were already explained in some other articles writ by me.

[Philippines, 22 August 2008]

TRADE & HUNGER: SALVING HUNGER VIA TRADE POLICY

August 18, 2014

TRADE & HUNGER: SALVING HUNGER VIA TRADE POLICY
Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Let me continue on the issue of hunger, which many politicians are raising howls this early in time for the 2010 polls. The tendency right now, with politicians’ short-sightedness and poverty of wisdom, is that hunger will be perpetuated and sustained even long after the same politicians are all dead.

In the study on fair trade & food security I did for the national center for fair trade and food security (KAISAMPALAD), I already raised the howl about hunger and recommended policy and institutional intervention.

Since other experts, notably nutritionists, already highlighted many factors to hunger and under-nutrition, such as lifestyle problems, economics, and lack of appropriate public policy, I preferred to highlight in that study the factor of trade on food insecurity and the hunger malaise. Let me cite some cases here to show how trade and hunger are directly related:

• Immediately after the termination of the sugar quota of the USA for Philippine-sourced sugar in the early 80s, the domestic sugar industry collapsed. 500,000 hungry sugar workers and their dependents had to line up for food, a tragedy and calamity that shamed the country before the international community. Till these days, the trauma caused by that ‘line up for porridge’ solution remains among those children of those days who are now adults, one of whom became my student at the University of the Philippines Manila campus (a girl).

• Two years ago, a cargo ship carrying PETRON oil to the Visayas got struck with leaks and a tragic spillage covering wide swaths of sea waters. The island province of Guimaras suffered catastrophically from that incident, its economy was as bad as a war-torn economy for one year. Its marginal fishers couldn’t fish for at least one year as the sea spillage had to cleaned up. The hunger and under-nutrition caused by that tragedy is indubitably related to a trade activity: oil being transported to a predefined destination.

• At the instance of trade liberalization on fruits upon the implementation of a series of GATT-related and IMF-World Bank sanctioned measures that began during the Cory Aquino regime, the massive entry of apples and fruit imports immediately crashed tens of thousands of producers of local mangoes, guavas and oranges, as domestic consumers (with their colonial flair for anything imported) chose to buy fruit imports in place of local ones. Economic dislocation and hunger instantly resulted from the trade liberalization policy.

The list could go on and on, as we go from one economic and/or population to another. What is clear here is that trade measures and activities do directly lead to food insecurity and the attendant problems of malnutrition and hunger. In the case of the Guimaras oil spillage calamity, humanitarian hands such as the Visayan provinces and Manila’s mayors’ offices, added to private and NGO groups, quickly moved to help the affected residents. Of course the PETRON itself took responsibility for the spillage, clean up, and offered humanitarian help as well. But did trade stakeholders ever paid for the hunger malaise suffered by the sugar workers and families, fruit small planters, and other families in the aftermath of shifting trade policy?

A strategic solution to trade-related hunger would be to constitute a Hunger Fund, whose funds shall come from at least 0.1% of all tariffs (on imports). A 0.1% tariff alone today translates to P800 million approximately, or close to $20 Million. This can serve as an insurance of sorts for trade-induced hunger. The funds will then be administered by an appropriate body, comprising of representatives from diverse sectors and headed by a nutritional scientist of international repute (e.g Dr. Florencio) rather than by a politician or ignoramus species.

Furthermore, insurance groups here can begin to innovate on food production-related insurance to cover force majeure damages. Cyclone insurance and earthquake insurance would be strong options for agricultural producers, even as other options can be designed most urgently.

I would admit that trade-related hunger and its solutions are practicable for the productive sectors of our population. There are 2.3 million street people today who comprise the relatively ‘unproductive sectors’, who all suffer from hunger. This need to be tackled as a distinct sector and problem, and discussed separately.

[Phiippines, 28 July 2008]
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FISCAL DECENTRALIZATION: SHOWCASING PHILIPPINES

February 18, 2012

FISCAL DECENTRALIZATION: SHOWCASING PHILIPPINES

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

The government decentralization that has been going on in the Philippines for the duration of the post-Martial Law/Dictatorship era (dictatorship deposed in 1986) seems to have caught the attention of urban observers worldwide.

As a gesture of interest on the Philippine experience, the United Nations recently published a book showcasing the same country’s fiscal decentralization. The series of laws (since the legislation of the local government code) and practices has come a long way since the mid-80s yet, which renders the ASEAN member state as an exemplar for global studies on urbanization, public administration, and taxation economics.

Below is the information about the said publication.

[Philippines, 07 February 2012]

Source: http://www.unhabitat.org/pmss/listItemDetails.aspx?publicationID=3262

Fiscal Decentralisation in Philippines
Global Urban Economic dialogue series (Series title)
This report examines the fiscal decentralisation experience in Philippines. Since 1991, the central government has devolved significant spending, taxing, and borrowing powers to local governments. This paper discusses fiscal decentralization in the Philippines. It reviews the tax regimes in view of the vertical and horizontal fiscal gaps. Local governments receive intergovernmental fiscal transfer or block grants called the ‘internal revenue allotment’ based on a formula that has population, land size and equal sharing as criteria. In contrast, performance-based grants seem to open pathways for instilling greater accountability on the part of local governments. To make financing more accessible and competitive to local governments, it demonstrates the need to pursue further reforms in credit markets.
Other titles in Global Urban Economic dialogue series:
• Economic Development and Housing Markets in Hong Kong and Singapore 2011
• Economic Role of Cities 2011
• Fiscal Decentralisation in Philippines 2011
• Gender and Economic Development 2011
• Impact of Global Financial Crisis on Housing Finance 2011
• Infrastructure for Poverty Reduction and Economic Development in Africa 2011
• Microfinance, Poverty Reduction and Millennium Development Goals 2011
• Organisation, Management and Evaluation of Housing Cooperatives in Kenya 2010
• Public-Private Partnership in Housing and Urban Development 2011
The Sub Prime Crisis: The Crisis of Over-Spending 2011

DOWNLOAD: (906 Kb)

ISBN Series Number: 978-92-1-132027-5
ISBN: 978-92-1-132414-3
HS Number: 129/11E
Series Title: Global Urban Economic dialogue series
Pages: 52
Year: 2012
Publisher: UN-HABITAT
Co-Publisher : – Not available –
Languages: English
Themes: Urban Finance, Urban Economy and Financing Shelter
Countries:
Branch/Office: Executive Director

HIMALAYAS’ GREEN TECH BOOMS, WHO OWNS IT?

January 26, 2012

HIMALAYAS’ GREEN TECH BOOMS, WHO OWNS IT?

 

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

 

We have a gladdening news about the Himalayan region regarding the potentialities of renewable energy or RE as impetus for economic prosperity. Eight (8) countries in the Hindu-Kush Himalayan region particularly manifest high potentials for RE-driven growth.

 

The question that is now rising from the emerging green tech boom there is: who owns the said RE boom altogether? Who is in control, who pays up the greatest for the boom, what yields will there be for the peoples of the 8-country region?

 

Without such a control over the boom’s compass and yields, there is always the danger of financial predators using the RE boom to  extract the greatest profits out of their greedy pursuits, which will cancel out the people-prospering side of development.

 

Below is a report on the subject from the SciDev.net.

 

[Philippines, 27 December 2011]

 

Source: http://www.scidev.net/en/news/himalayan-countries-urged-to-own-their-green-tech-boom.html

Himalayan countries urged to own their green tech boom

Smriti Mallapaty

21 November 2011

[KATHMANDU] Himalayan countries should support and invest in green technologies if such initiatives are to succeed and bring benefits to the economy in the long term, a meeting has heard.

Eight countries in the Hindu-Kush Himalayan region are making progress in development and uptake of renewable energy technologies, which can maintain sustainable economic growth for mountain communities, a workshop in Kathmandu heard earlier this month (2–4 November).

Further investments could provide environmental, social and economic benefits to mountain communities, experts told the meeting, which was organised by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD).

But it is uncertain whether poorer countries could sustain investment in green technology development without external support and this dependency on donor funding could hamper the progress made so far, experts warned.

Suresh Kumar Dhungel, senior scientist at Nepal National Academy of Science and Technology, told SciDev.Net: “The sad part is that Nepal’s efforts are not solely ours, it is all guided by funds from international donor agencies. Policymakers need to realise the importance of a green society.”

Golam Rasul, head of ICIMOD’s economic analysis division said: “The initial cost of renewable energy is high compared with fossil fuel based energy. The technology we are using now is not very cost-effective. Technologically advanced countries should support research in this field.”

Rasul said regional cooperation and transboundary energy trade could offer a way out.

“Bhutan and Nepal have huge hydropower potential but lack technical capacity and large markets, whereas India and Bangladesh are power hungry,” Rasul said.

Ghulam Mohammad Malikyar, deputy director-general of the National Environmental Protection Agency, of the Afghanistan, told SciDev.Net climatic environments may need different green technologies, appropriate for local circumstances.

Prem Pokhrel, climate and energy programme officer at the Alternative Energy Promotion Centre, Nepal, said that almost a million households in Nepal are benefiting from micro-hydro power plants, improved cooking stoves, domestic biogas plants, and solar home systems. This saves an estimated 12 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions each year.

Pokhrel described an ‘energy ladder’ of rising income, where households transition from wood and animal-based fuels to electricity and other clean energy, as they get richer. This also translated into better health for women and children, said Pokhrel. He added that uptake of clean energy can also help generate better income.

ICIMOD organised a conference on Green Economy and Sustainable Mountain Development: Opportunities and Challenges in View of Rio+20 in September, which produced a concept paper ‘Green Economy for Sustainable Mountain Development’.

One of the key recommendations to the national governments from the concept paper was to “adopt alternative forms of energy such as hydropower, wind power, biogas, and solar energy to reduce negative impacts from the use of fossil fuels and fuel wood”.

Link to ‘Green Economy for Sustainable Mountain Development: a concept paper for Rio+20 and beyond’

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