I’ve recently heard that Miriam Santiago wants to eliminate the practice of being a “political butterfly” in our country. To the uninitiated a political butterfly is someone who switches political parties every election or when it benefits them the most.
I really don’t even care that the proposal comes from Miriam, one of the most prominent political butterflies in the system. What I do care about is the method that is proposed to solve the situation. She proposes that everyone who changes their party within one year of being elected be forced to give up their position.
What will that accomplish exactly? If you are a politician in a position of power what a party is really after is your vote on the issues. Not whether your name is on their membership list. If a person wanted to jump ship with Miriam’s plan in effect all you would really have to do is stay in your current party and vote with the party you intend to join when applicable. All the bill would have accomplished is to make it so that you officially leave your party one year later than you would have anyway.
If you really want to stop this practice then all you have to do is move to a two-party system and strengthen our parties. I mean could you imagine a person changing from a Republican or Democrat and vice versa every election? With only two recognized parties our politicians would be forced to adhere to one or the other. Constant defections like we have now would leave them with no party to join and get funds from.
This is really a minor issue though. This bill has almost no chance to get passed. It just irks me that some of our supposed brightest minds still solve the symptoms of our problems rather than the root.
Unless you really have not been paying attention these past few weeks you will know that the dispute over the Spratley group of islands have flared up yet again. You have China, Vietnam, Taiwan, and a host of other countries including our very own Philippines are disputing the territory.
I love our response to the situation. Beef up the army! Talk tough with the Chinese then threaten them with the increased might of the glorious Philippine army! Which has, by the way, has been unable to prevent any of the insurgencies that have plagued our country. Nor have they been able to make a dent in the terrorist organizations operating in Mindanao, Even with US military aid and intelligence. I gather they will send our PT boats against that new aircraft carrier the Chinese are building.
I also have more bitter news for the Aquino government. The U.S.A will not come to our aid in a shooting war, no matter what our treaties say. I’m not even thinking about the interests of the big corporations which have a say in American politics. Of course they don’t want a war with their most profitable trading partner. These interests can be set aside for the right price. After all if America goes to war with China they probably won’t have to pay their massive debt to that country. The Americans will not fight because their people are not ready for it. There is no will for another war and rightly so. They have just begun to get out of Iraq and Afghanistan. Asking them to fight now would be like asking them to engage in another war after Vietnam.
What now then? The way I see it our country has two options. Fight the Chinese or try and make a deal and get something out of the Spratley’s to our benefit. In essence sell the Spratley’s to the Chinese. Before I detail what each option would entail I would just like to make a categorical statement. We will not be able to claim the Spratley’s ever. China is just in too strong of a position for them to lose this territorial dispute to a country which is probably not even considered a minor power.
If we still decide to fight after knowing this fact, building up our army is not the way to go about it. The gap is just too large. Even if we spent a hundred times what we have just spent to upgrade our military we would not achieve anything close to parity. Our money and effort should be spent on coalition building. Joint exercise with Taiwan, Vietnam and any other countries who are willing. Diplomatic visits and alliances with other countries bordering China. Essentially we have to make sure that if it comes to war we will not be fighting alone. Ironically when it comes to China countries like Vietnam and Taiwan with more proximity and a higher stake in the situation would actually make more stable allies than the Americans.
A better course of action would be to sell the Spratley’s to the Chinese. Of course the nay-sayers will point out that all that oil is worth more than the money we will receive but again I say that we will never be able to mine that oil. It actually has 0 value to us right now. We might as well get something out of it.
Of course it would be political suicide for any leader to actually suggest that the islands be sold. Any “sale” would have to be achieved by subtler means. There are plenty of territorial dispute cases in the International Court of Justice. The Channel Island dispute with the islands going to England for example. Our country could do everything it can to make sure that it will lose any ICJ case that China starts. In return since China can’t really pay us outright they could assume some of our national debt “in the spirit of greater cooperation and charity with its Asian neighbors”. The Filipino people always ready to believe another conspiracy theory could be told that the Chinese bought the ICJ ruling. There we go the Chinese get the islands and we get a greatly reduced debt and no one is the wiser about it.
These are really only examples of the alternative ways we can approach the problem. The main point is that our current solutions of relying on American intervention and upgrading our military will not solve our problem and will actually lead to disaster.
Filed under Policy, Politics
I’ve had a little bit of a dry spell recently. I just couldn’t see aything I wanted to write about. SO to break the monotony I decided to write about about our political parties. So for this article and any article with a prefix like this I will be focusing on one of our political parties. Analyzing their strategy and of course commenting on it.
We begin with Lakas. The particulars like when it was founded, where, etc. are relatively easy to find thru wikipedia so I won’t bore you by rehashing them here. What is important is that they were a very popular party before. Having, what I think is the most successful presidency in our history after martial law in the Ramos administration. No coup or Edsa attempts happened, unlike every other administration, the economy was doing well till the Asian crisis, and there was no real flare-ups to derail us. Sure there were still corruption charges but that is to be expected. As I said before our system requires public officials to be corrupt. Couple that with the leadership role the party and its members played in the ouster of Estrada and you had the party in a very favorable position.
Enter Gloria. We all know what her administration was like. Corruption charges everywhere, a list of broken promises, Edsa attempts, etc. I don’t really need to go any further. I honestly think the whole thing could have been handled with proper PR, which none of her people really had, but it is what it is. This administration spent all the goodwill that the party had built up over the years, and didn’t really leave anything for it to work with. As a result they now have a very unfavorable image among the people.
The party is in damage control mode right now. They are trying to sever any connections they may have had with the previous administration and would prefer it if the populace forgot any role they may have had in it. Like any party who doesn’t really know what they are doing they just follow what other people have done before them and hope it works. What do criminals do when the law is searching for them after a crime? They hide. They lay low until the heat is off and they can operate again. The problem is they are not a criminal organization. They are a political party which will have to participate in the coming elections. If you spend all the time between then and now hiding, I wonder what will become the one single issue that people remember and define you by? It really doesn’t take a genius to figure it out.
What they should be doing is taking the forefront on any issue. Rh bill, corruption, drug mules, it really doesn’t matter what. Of course they should support bills that are popular or that would help the country, but that is not really important. What is important is that they will be remembered for something other than Gloria. They could be the party that stood up to the church, backed the church, stood up for labor, etc. Sure some people will dislike them for their stances and other people may like them for their stances but they will base their decision on things other than the previous administration. When the election comes the Gloria issue will still hurt. There is really nothing that can stop that. But the party will be defined by multiple issues so people may vote for them on other grounds.
Overall I would give the party failing marks. It’s not really difficult to reach the logical conclusion of their current political strategy and it is a wonder they are still doing it.
It seems that both the U.S. president Obama and our president here Noynoy Aquino are both suffering from lower than expected approval ratings. Obama’s has been increased a little by the execution of Bin Laden but both presidents still have not recovered the shine that their names had in the elections.
Their defenders blame it on the media and the unrealistic expectations of the people towards them. After all they reason. You cannot expect one presidency to change the course of the country within a year or two of his inauguration. The previous administrations just did too much damage. Of course, they also say the media deserves its fair share of the blame since they only report the negative and not the positive.
You know what? It’s their own damn fault. Look at the campaign Obama ran. “Change you can believe in”. “ A new beginning”. “ A leader who can deliver change”. The whole tone of his campaign was to set him up as this pseudo messianic figure who would deliver the country from the hands of Bush onto the promised land. Noynoy’s being patterned after his campaign did the same thing except changing Bush to Gloria Arroyo. How can you not fail to live up to expectations when you set them that high?
They should have read the wimpy kid series. Specifically the second one that was just made a movie. Rodrick gives pretty good advice. “Learn to lower expectations”. That way when you do your job well people are more appreciative of you. Both presidents seem to be actually doing better than their predecessors. It’s just that they set the bar so high for themselves that it doesn’t matter anymore. It’s like Bush promising that the war in Iraq would be over quickly with few casualties. If he said straight up in the onset that it would be a long drawn out affair with many casualties but that it was absolutely needed then the result would have been more acceptable for the people.
I am not saying that it was not a good electoral strategy. It undoubtedly was. They did beat both their opponents by comfortable margins. But in doing so they set up their presidencies to be disappointments for everyone who voted for them. In fact if you think about it. Both presidents did something that is commonplace among all politicians. Lie to the public. Make promises during election time that you know full well you cannot do. Pretty strange for two people running under the banner of change.
Remember when you were a kid? You would ask for lots and lots of candy or chocolate or whatever it is you fancy. You know or at least had an inkling that it would make you sick, but you still asked for it anyway. There would even be a temper-tantrum if you didn’t get it. Why have we not outgrown that yet?
Recently the labor groups have asked for a wage increase. The most militant of them asking for the minimum wage to be increased by P 120 . What’s the wage pegged at now? 400 pesos? 410 pesos? They ask for what amounts to more than a 25% wage increase for every person earning minimum. They claim that that wage level is needed to support a family of six everyday while living in the capital.
Before making my main point in the article let me segue a little. Don’t have a family of six! Try a family of three or four! Why have a family of six when you know perfectly well that you cannot support them? This is precisely why we need something like the RH bill.
Back on topic now. I wonder what would happen to this group if their wish was actually granted. Alright everybody you now make 25% more. How many small and medium businesses would close down? Faced with taxes, competition from bigger companies, and other challenges, would they be able to continue? The big companies that have factories here would be more able to shoulder the burden of adding a quarter to their payroll for the same amount of work. But would they stay here if they had to? Other countries already offer lower wages than us. We are still competing due to other advantages, but add that much expense and most companies here will pack up and leave. Sure some might stay if they think the cost of moving the factory or call center would be too much, but no new factories would be set up. All those children from the family of six would have nowhere to work when they grow up. The people who would be given money by their request would be out of a job next month.
Yet, the labor groups are upset at the “pro-capitalist” administration for denying them the wage increase. Instead only granting a modest 22 peso increase. I get that they might think that that is not enough but seriously ask for something reasonable! How can you ask for something that will almost certainly drive most of your supporters out of employment and then get angry when it is not granted? These groups would appear more credible and garner more sympathy for their cause when they ask a wage increase that could conceivably granted without driving out all business and then get denied for some reason.
Negotiate in good faith. Ask for what you actually want. Instead of using the whole process as a way to garner points with your members. Showing them that you want huge wage increases for them knowing that the government will never grant it. I honestly would like to see these groups given exactly what they ask for one of these days. Then watch as their own members lynch the leaders.
Filed under Policy, rants
So I have been dealing with the BIR lately over some tax matters. Most of them are kind, decent people whom you can negotiate with. However some try to scare you into giving up more than you should because you may not now better.
The issue was about a company’s tax liability. It has been pending for quite some time so the companies accounts have been frozen. Of course this is a problem as the company no longer has money to pay for day to day operations. Negotiations were proceeding smoothly until a certain agent decided to play bad cop and threaten that the BIR will freeze all accounts, not only the corporate one.
Can they do that? Under our laws, and the laws of virtually every country in the world the corporate entity is separate from the personal entity. So the debts of one do not become the debts of the other. However there is a legal principle which can override this law. Under the doctrine of “piercing the veil of corporate fiction” the courts can decide that the company is just a front or just made to shield something else from liability. If the courts decide this then they can order that personal assets be taken to pay for corporate debt.
First off, notice that a court must decide it. Which means that you can give evidence that the corporation is legitimate. The most important thing to get from this is that it will not immediately happen. You will have time to withdraw some assets and place it elsewhere. The second thing to understand is that the courts are very reluctant to do this. Think about it. Every country recognizes corporate entities. If our supreme court routinely employs this doctrine, what would be the incentive for corporations to start here? There are plenty of other places to choose from. Why not just set-up shop in a country whose supreme court is friendlier to corporations? They also know that this kind of doctrine discourages the formation of small and medium industries. Put our self in the shoes of someone who wants to start a business. Would you risk starting a businesses if it meant losing your start-up capital? Would you take the same risk if it meant losing your house and everything you own? For these industries the entire point of a corporation is to limit liability.
Well you know that the courts will not lightly grant this doctrine. Now what? Well you take steps to make sure that there can be no excuse for this to be granted. The most obvious is to keep your personal and corporate accounts separate. Make sure that the proper accounts are used to pay the proper bills. Next make sure that you are paid. Remember you may own the company but you are also an employee, probably in the general manager position. You should have an adequate salary for that. Third , follow all the rules set up for corporations. There should be an existent board of directors, meetings to decide the direction of the company, and minutes for those meetings. Lastly make sure that your company has adequate capitalization. It should have enough money in the bank to run its day to day, pay its employees, and other things of that nature.
So what do you do with this new knowledge? Do you stomp into the BIR and declare that you will pay no taxes due to this? Well, no. The best step is to negotiate the amount with them. Unless truly huge sums of money are involved it would not be practical to argue the amount that you are being charged. They want your business to survive too, if for no other reason than to pay them again next year. Use this information to prevent yourself from being intimidated. If you are doing things properly your only liability is your corporate assets. Nothing else.
Well the country is once again divided! Will we bury our former dictator Marcos in the Cemetery for Heroes or won’t we? Will we forgive him for his past trespasses and let him rest in peace? Or will we hold him up as an example that the Filipino never forgets (on some issues)? Will that red line under Cemetery ever disappear if I don’t use spell check! Interesting times!
Of course like everybody else the Isyw blog has its own opinions. Both sides present some valid arguments and have some impassioned speakers representing them. Both spent plenty of time convincing everybody of the correctness of their position. But still I feel that the most important question has yet to be asked. To wit: DO YOU HAVE NOTHING ELSE TO DO WITH YOUR TIME?
I mean seriously. We have a growing debt crisis. Growing unemployment. Corruption. At least two armed rebellions. And you want to talk about this? What does this matter? The location of his burial is purely symbolic. It doesn’t get us any more jobs, money, etc.You have thousands of other problems to deal with. I would understand if we took this issue seriously if our country was doing very well, we had no looming problems, etc. Then we would really have time on our hands. But debating this useless issue gets us nowhere. Talk about the RH bill. Talk about our budget. Talk about the ARMM elections. Discuss anything which will actually have an impact on our country.
Bury Marcos in a cardboard box. Bury him in the special cemetery. Bury him wherever the hell you want. His final resting place will not have an impact on what he did in history. Everyone already knows what he did. It is already taught in schools, written inside our history books. At the end of the day everyone will make up their own mind about him regardless of where he is buried.
My personal solution is to have him pay for the privilege. Have his family return some of the money that they have stolen/earned (whatever side you believe) and then apply that directly to our debt. Like I said his resting place is not important. At least the country as a whole gets something out of it.
I can already hear the veterans. “But that will mean we did nothing in Edsa!” To them I ask: Really? Were you there protesting that the dictator should not be buried in the national cemetery? Funny I thought you were there because you wanted to remove him from power. And you did it. No matter what happens from now till the end of time, you did what you did. No burial place is strong enough to take that from you.
Of course, the second argument is that with this solution Marcos will have effectively bought his place in the special cemetery. I still don’t really care where he is buried. He isn’t using his body anymore so I doubt he does too. But if it makes you feel better, whatever happened he was still elected president of our country at least once so there is at least some reason for him to be there.
Look at that! That solution took all of what ten minutes? All that remains to be decided is how much we should charge them. Really if anybody is reading this blog. We have more important things to worry about than where some twenty year old corpse is buried!
Filed under Politics, rants