Post for May 11-17 2014

TaN: [last minute inclusion] Today, May 11, 2014, the Philippine STAR news article, titled “Tuition hike must follow CHED rules”, caught my attention.  It reminds me of an earlier contention of mine that such pronouncements of government agencies — most specifically the CHEd (Commission on Higher Education) and DoLE (Department of Labor and Employment) — are seldom “taken seriously” by the private sector.

What I mean, with respect to the agencies mentioned, is that it is an open secret that certain “influential” prestigious educational institutions and businesses can ride roughshod over government regulations and policies effortlessly and without hesitation, and the government is “ignorant” of the real situtation.  For instance, in the case of schools, the requirement of consulting and getting the required approval or concurrence of the students (and/or their parents/guardians) is rarely conducted properly, if they are conducted at all.  Many a times, what the schools regard as consultation is actually nothing more than an information effort and yet they will claim that the students and parents were “consulted”.  Likewise, what was supposed to be a consensus was really more of a coercion — that it they will no longer be permitted to enrol or their grades will be withheld or something threatening.

As for businesses, the agency that is supposed to be or tasked with looking after the interests of Labor, more often than not, are “in cahoots” with the employer rather than with the employee — often favoring management over labor in arbitration cases.  Not only does the agency not “lift a finger” but frequently even are the ones initiating anti-labor decisions and policies.

Forget about all the other arguments and rhetoric, just observe how often tuition fee hikes are turned down and witness the way the agency validates the (not necessarily even have to be strict) compliance of educational institutions with the requirements that cover the hikes.  And, just take notice of how often the request for better wages are trumped by the threat of business closures, retrenchments, and other anti-labor sanctions and how the cards are stacked up against labor in the so-called tripartite wage councils.  Remember the (new) Golden Rule: He who has the gold makes the rule.

TaN: It seems that for Education to live up to its name and task of being The Great Equalizer, it must be FREE, otherwise it will be available only to those who have the means to get it.  An equalizer is something that is non-discriminatory.  Nothing should impede the free access of anyone — no exceptions — to anything that is considered an equalizer otherwise it becomes self-contradictory.

At present, in practically all formal education worldwide, there is always some sort of a private version of education and this creates a disparity.  Chances are that the for-profit education will have a better quality of education and the graduates will be preferred by business and industry.  This becomes an advantage over those who are graduates of free public education.  In this manner, how can education be an equalizer when it is precisely the one responsible for the disparity.

Now Death, that is a true equalizer.  It does not discriminate.  When it comes for you, it will not matter how much wealth you have, how brilliant you are, how powerful and influential you are, what age you are, what you look like, what your state of health is, where you are or live, etc.  When your number is up, it will come for you and there is nothing you can do to prevent it coming.

TaN: There seems to be a disconnect between and among available (i.e., unemployed but employable) labor, formal education, and prevailing industry — especially or specifically in the Philippine settings.  I think the core of the problem is there does not seem to be a point of intersection or agreement among the stakeholders.

On the one hand, job seekers — the bulk of which are the youth, especially those who just finished formal education and are eager to begin a new chapter in their life, to be a productive and contributing member of society — seem to have a different expectation of what job they will be getting.

On the other hand, industry — because it is hell-bent on generating as much wealth as it can from the blood, sweat, tears, and backs of the toiling masses for their masters while paying as little compensation as possible (especially with unpaid internships or OJTs and misclassification of jobs and wage theft — has a different set of needs and priorities so it creates positions that best suits its ends (not necessarily jibing with the skill sets of the job seekers.

And then formal education — the in-between tasked with providing industry with the labor with the required experience and skill set — should have intimate knowledge of industry’s needs but has been somewhat remiss because much of the curricula contain courses that are neither relevant nor useful to industry, especially private education.  It seems that private education has lost its focus — its primary mission is education, but its sights have been shifted to profit — and is more concerned with making as much money as possible, never mind if the students are employable after they finished.

So, you now have three major players with no common ground, no point of intersection.  This is the principal reason behind the glut of unemployed but educated (read: trained) but with skill sets ill-fitting for the job openings that industry has.

FEI (for everyone’s information), it is not that government is not creating jobs — actually, it is not the job of government to create jobs but provide incentives and level the playing field in order that business and industry will be enticed or encouraged to create jobs.  It is industry or private enterprise that are the job creators; it is their job to create jobs…not government.  The only time government steps in to “create” jobs is in situations like the Great Depression (of the 1930s) or Recession where business and industry is incapable of creating jobs, to provide the much-needed boost to spur job creation by the private sector.

It is only when the three major stakeholders work together for the mutual benefit of all will things make a 180-degree turn-around for unemployment to pick up and the economy to prosper.  Everyone must realize that it is a team effort; we are all in this together; as they say, We hang together or we will surely hang separately.

TaN: With the recent furor over the revelation of Thomas Piketty, the clamor for a drastic revamp of the progressive (income) tax system is to increase the tax as one’s income is increases — especially among the super rich where most of the gains in the economy gravitated to and are concentrated in them — will not really or effectively “socialize” or redistribute the wealth among the population.  The better alternative would be to narrow the salary/wage gap between the highest and lowest paid.

There was attempt in Switzerland to pass legislation to cap CEOs pay to not more than 12 times the lowest paid worker — please see: http://www.thenation.com/print/article/177424/swiss-activists-lets-cap-ceo-pay — but industry CEOs struck back by unleashing a fear-mongering ad campaign threatening to shift operations to “friendlier” places.  However, this initiative was bolstered by an earlier victory (in a referendum last March 2013) where 68 percent voted to ban signing bonuses, “golden parachutes”, and to give shareholders the right to veto excessive executive pay packages.

Further, this setback is not a total loss as it seems that the rest of the EU has picked up on it and there appear to be the stirrings of similar initiatives in Germany, France, and Spain — according to the same article.  The organizers vow to come up with more effective counters to the threat of corporate exit or transmigration.

It is no wrong to be a copycat for as long as what is being copied is good.

Moreover, also better than raising the taxes for the rich — progressively higher as the income bracket increases — is the much-needed but much-abhorred (by Big Business) is raising the salaries and wages of employees.  The rationale here is there is the rich, and especially the uber rich (familiarly known or referred to as the 1% and the 1% of the 1%, respectively), makes up only a tiny percentage of the spending public and a great portion of their spending is identical to those of the greater masses (99%).  Because of this, the impact of the progressive taxation and adding their collective spending does not have a significant impact on the economy.  In contrast, even just a 1% uptick in the spending of the masses will have a noticeable effect on the economy.

It must be remembered and understood that even though quality is normally better than quantity, when the volume reaches a certain point up the curve, quantity has a greater significance.  As an illustration, an elephant is superior to an ant; an elephant is still superior to 100 ants, to 1,000 ants, to 10,000 ants.  However, when the ants number in the millions, the elephant is no match.  The sheer size of the multitude overwhelms whatever advantage quality has over quantity.

So, in the end, pushing for taxation angle is good as an emergency or stop gap measure but it is of little value in the long haul.  Meanwhile, as the short-term immediate remedies are being carried out, the long-term ones must simultaneously be put in place.  Many a times, the strategy of Big Business is to (pretend to) “give in or accede” to the (legitimate) demands of labor and attempt to drag the process long enough that labor will eventually forget about the long-term — hoping somehow that labor will have a short memory and forget about the long-term.

It has been a repeated observance of mine that whenever Big Business decides to raises prices, it meets little or no resistance (even among the regulated industries and businesses, because government will usually accede), whereas whenever the spectre of an increase in the minimum wage is brought up, there are always so many excuses and justifications against it — foremost of which is that the business/industry is hardly making a profit and raising wages will result in retrenchment, closing down, lay-offs, etc and yet you will witness all the wonderful financial reports to the stockholders and the big bonuses and raises in salaries of the (top) executives.

It is high time we devalue money and relegate it to being a mere piece of printed paper.  Let us shift to a system where the greed unscrupulous exploiting cowards — who use any and all means, including government, to siphon hard-earned wealth created by labor into their bottomless pockets — cannot get their dirty grubby hands on.

TaN: In an article (“Seeds of Freedom” by Vandana Shiva taken or reprinted from The Asian Age, http://www.commondreams.org/view/2014/04/30-9?print), the issue of patenting seeds primarily because their genetic materials as been modified — hence, GMO or genetically modified organism — by merely adding a new gene to the existing genes brought up a very interesting notion.  She argues that the seeds we have today are products of the joint effort of nature’s evolution and man’s purposeful selective cross-breeding.

Given this, it stands to reason that nature and farmers, in general and both past and present, are “co-creators” of whatever seeds are in use today.  Then, Big Biotech — represented by Monsanto, Du Pont, and Syngenta — comes along, take the seeds, add or insert an alien gene, and claim that they have monopolistic or exclusive rights and control over their “creation”.

What escapes my understanding is how can Big Biotech make such a claim when they merely took what farmers have already worked on for millennia, added a tiny portion to the genetic material, and claim it as their creation.  It would probably be a different situation — and I will give them that much, at least for argument’s sake — if Big Biotech took the seeds from nature and not from the “evolved” seeds we have today.  If they do, at least they can claim to be “co-creators” with nature, but to hijack what has already been (repeatedly) “altered” by farmers (to improve desired cross-bred character traits) and to stake their claim for work not done by them is blatant arrogance and unabashed, unbridled greed.

At this point, I reiterate my earlier argument that the better alternative would be to “de-staple” our seeds and make it economically unfeasible or unviable — i.e., non-profitable — for Big Biotech to patent and monopolize.  If we diversify and “localize” — i.e., specific seeds are not consumed by enough people to make it profitable to control and commercialize — our seeds, Big Biotech will not be able to maintain or even be slightly interested to control and monopolize them.  Like I said and continue to maintain, with respect to monopolization of the commons, the key is to keep the volume to low that it is not economically viable for Big Business to commercialize and monopolize.  Big Business, like the military, always manages to turn a good thing into something bad — a case in point for the military is the weaponization of nuclear power.  The secret is to make what we need as unattractive as possible commercially.

TaN: Fear is one of the primary causes of man’s misery and disease.  Animals can sense fear (whether in man or other fellow animals) and they respond to it accordingly.  From an lady environmentalist, she related that her experience with bees is that when she first encountered a bee “in the wild”, she was scared and the bee “attacked”.  Later, when she learned from and better understood the bee and was no longer afraid of the bee, subsequent encounters no longer “invited an bee attack”.

I have also witnessed times when a mouse walked casually pass a cat as the latter watched nonchalantly and times when the mouse scurried pass and the cat gave chase.  It is all about fear.  Animals appear to have some kind of 6th sense that can detect fear and I suspect that there is a specific and telltale (fear) hormone exuded by each organism that draws the attention of predators and hostility and those that “smell” this hormone is triggered to move in for “the kill”.  This could also be what bacteria, viruses, and fungi attack diseased and sickly or weak organisms and commence the process of “breaking down” the “dying” organism for that it can chemically be returned to the soil — the general pool from which all life draws its nutrients and essential materials to build and sustain life.

I likewise propose that fear has other dimensions or aspects such as mentally and psychologically.  And it is this mental or psychological fear — fear of the uncertainty and of doubt, fear of not being accepted or becoming an outcast, fear of the unknown and of what the future may bring — that human exploiters capitalize on and use against others.  These “others” would be those unfortunate enough to think and believe that they need to conform and obey the dictates of the miniscule uber rich and power elite in order to be accepted and be considered normal and “one of them” — sadly, these so-called “unfortunates” make up the bulk of humanity.

This fear is often mistaken for or explained away as conformity, compliance, subservience, obedience, etc — anything but fear.  But this fear is unfounded.  It has no basis.

When we conform because we do not like or want to be left out, to be labeled as an oddball or a “killjoy”, to become an outcast, that is fear.  When we comply (against our better judgment) because it is the law or expected of us — usually under threat of reprisal or punitive action or sanctions or anything that will disadvantage us — that is fear.  When we obey blindly or without question, especially if things do not seem right or make sense, that is fear.  When we submit ourselves involuntarily or in resignation or to avoid complications and problems or to anything for the sake of convenience and especially if we have to justify to ourselves our submission, that is fear.

These are the sources of our misery and discomfort.  We exchange one (moral or duty-bound) difficulty or inconvenience for another (more oppressive or detrimental long-term) one out of fear — fear of going against the establishment system when it is wrong, of doing our duty when it situation presents itself, of fighting evil, of questioning what should be questioned — and so we wallow in despair and hopelessness and in our misery.

TaN: The prime and sole directive or mandate of media is to report the TRUTH.  Given this and taken in the context of today’s so-called news agencies and their reportage, mainstream media is not living up to its mission — wittingly or not.

“Leniency” with facts is reasonably to be expected — possibly due to either ignorance of the reporter/writer on the subject matter or urgency of getting the story out — however, inaccuracies and erroneous reportage should never become “permanent”.  What I mean is, once the urgency has lapsed or there are opportunities to rectify the mistake/s, it should be done at the soonest opportunity (and should be accompanied with appropriate apologies and amendments).  It is no excuse or justification to permit inaccuracies and errors to persist otherwise it leads to confusion and complications.

I cannot seem to remember accurately to whom I can attribute it but I remember some sort of a saying that: Most of the problems of the world are due to semantics.  It is how we interpret the information we receive that poses the real and greatest danger.  It has also been said that: Once the message has been sent, one can no longer control how it shall be received.  It is for this reason that the Holy Scriptures said (in Matt 15:11), “Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.”  We are being admonished that we should be very careful of what we say, for once it is said, there are no take backs — the damage is done and cannot be undone.

Media today should take greater pains in ascertaining that what it reports to the public are not just facts or factual but (as to the best of its abilities) Truth/s.  There ought to be nothing to taint the integrity or veracity of media’s reportage.  However, due to our obsession with the material world, specifically financial or material gains, many are more than willing to compromise accuracy and their integrity for just a little more money, fame, power, influence, ego, etc but not for the sake of Truth.

Moreover, much of today’s media contents are “cleverly” guised or masqueraded as “infotainment”, “infomercial”, and whatever excuse Big Business can dream or conjure up to advance their agenda — profit and, ultimately, GREED!  Media has become the witting stooge, the propaganda machinery, the mouthpiece, the spinmaster, the whore — catering to every whim and caprice of Big Business.  [Nota bene: My reference of “media” is to the mainstream and not the alternative or (truly) free press.]

Truly, profit can only be made (today) under an atmosphere of inequity and obscurity, where nobody — except the powers-that-be, the ultimate global and regional elite who manipulate and control even elected government officials — is sure anymore about anything.  Well, Biblical (God’s) prophecy is right on track.  We mortals cannot do anything to derail it, but we can wake up and be on the side of God and remain true and steadfast in our faith.  Let us use our God-given intellect to discern the Truth, never mind the garbage spewed by conventional Big Media.

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