Post for Aug 3-9 2014

TaN: Work with or make nature work for man is without any doubt far better than trying — in vain — to subdue or dominate and subjugate it.  Not only is it economically unsound and foolish but it is an impossible dream to expect that man will ever tame and control nature using its current philosophy.  It is not impossible to master nature but man must find the correct philosophy.

Just like in the martial art of jujitsu, use the opponent’s own strength against him.  With nature, it is not beyond simple comprehension that man’s efforts are negligible compared to the immeasurable power and potential of nature.  To quote from the BBC documentary regarding Hurricane Sandy (in the USA), the “amount of energy release by Hurricane Sandy in 20 minutes is equivalent to a 10 megaton bomb”.  There is no existing power facility (today) capable of coming anywhere near that generating capacity — and that energy did not cost the storm a single cent/avo.

Imagine if we work together with each other, conntributing selflessly our talents and expertise, and using our concerted effort to work WITH — NOT AGAINST — nature, what we can accomplish will be beyond imagination.

There are numerous ways in which man can capitalize on what nature has to offer without causing significant detrimental impact — and this is not only possible but very probable if: (1) we use our imagination wisely and (2) we do not permit profit to enter into the picture.  Often, imaginative ways that work best are those that are simplest and are not technology-intensive and are looked (down) upon as “not modern” and are not technologically impressive.  These ways should also be in the public domain and encourage as many as possible to participate in improving and solving whatever flaws and “imperfections” present.

There have been many instances in the past when man sustainably managed and exploited nature to his benefit — “sustainably” here means there is little to negligible negative impact on the environment (taking only what we need and not what we want).  Much of the “old ways” practiced even today by remote ethnic groups (and the Amish of Utah) are excellent examples, where they take care of their surroundings and create minimal wastage because they know and understand that they owe their very existence to their surroundings so it is to their interest that their environment is conserved.

Finally, it does not mean that, just because we employ “low” technology, we are not progressing.  The prevailing impression for most people is to equate high technology with progress and low technology (i.e., those that are not patentable) is no progress.  If we really and honestly look at how so-called backwards or poor countries cope with the times, we begin to see resourceful and imaginative solutions to problems that are low technology.  It is all a matter of working with nature.  It is a win-win situation.

TaN: The mere fact that there are whistle-blowers (in government) is testament that there is no transparency and the need for a Freedom of Information law — to cite Bobby Tuazon in an interview with GMA 7 of the Philippines on July 28, 2014.  Without the FOI law, we can and will always rely on whistle-blowers to expose corruption and evil — both in the administration and in the private sector.

Media and concerned citizens cannot hope to scrutinize the administration’s activities even if the latter touts transparency.  Transparency goes only as far as how much the administration will permit the public to see.  Let us face it, no one is fool enough to reveal wrongdoings and corruption voluntarily.  Accountability can be feasible only if a law is in place that gives the public a means to demand transparency — and that is only by way of compulsion or with the force of law.

In conclusion, prioritizing the passage of the FOI law towards the end of the term of office is little consolation for its enactment is of little value.  It is a case of “too late the hero”.  One major reason behind postponing to such a late date is because the administration — not to confuse administration with government — has plenty to hide and do not want any nosy media or concerned citizen watching everything the administration does.

The controversial DAP issue of the Aquino administration is a good argument.  Had there been an FOI law long before, the public would not have to wait until the revelation in the Senate to bring it to the public.  Had there been true transparency, the unconstitutionality of (certain aspects of) the DAP would have been brought out sooner.  Perhaps, the whole mess would have been avoided.

Another good issue would be why wait until it is too late to start building more power generation plants when it was already brought to the attention of the administration at the start of its term — as claimed by a certain lawmaker.  If the administration did not foresee this years ago, what kind of “experts” do we have in the Energy Department?  [But this is for another time.]

TaN: Education isn’t the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire (from “BC” by Mastroianni and Hart, SUNDAY COMICS OF THE PHILIPPINE STAR; July 27, 2014, pa 4) — how true it is.  Education today has been “redefined” as imparting knowledge and skills to a student for the purpose of enabling and providing the latter with the necessities to get employed.  It has since lost focus on its original intention — which is to produce well-rounded and morally upright individuals.

Today’s education has morphed into a system of just that — cramming as much knowledge and skills (needed to be employable) into halpless students who have been “conditioned” into believing that it is their destiny to become (human) resources — not people but resources, just as part of the forewarning in the Book of Revelations where it prophesied on the well-known but much-misunderstood six hundred three score and six — of business.  Such a system produces only (at best) mediocre graduates that will perform as machines and mindless robots.

In contrast, inspiring and instilling a sense of creativity and passion to perform at one’s best without saturating and overwhelming the student with information that most probably will not be needed on the job will prepare graduates to be more productive and have greater imagination to do a better job.  The motivation is internal rather than external — where when the external stimulus or cause is gone or removed, the motivation disappears.

TaN: GNP, GDP, and all the other conventional instruments of measuring (economic) growth are not only inaccurate but even downright misleading and deceptive.  In a lecture-seminar I attended many years ago in Club Filipino conducted by the eminent Professor Sixto Roxas, he explained — and I paraphrase — that expressing growth in terms of money or wealth and not on economic activity and (decent-paying) employment creates an illusion of improvement in the overall quality of life of the majority.

Prof Roxas gave an example where a tract of land was bought for 10 million and, after a year of waiting and not-doing-anything (no economic activity whatsoever), it was sold for 20 million.  The 100 percent increase in (monetary) value will be reflected in the GDP & GNP but no wealth and (economic) value was generated.  In this situation, conventional and mainstream economists would argue that there is growth.  However, the labor force did not increase, the ranks of the unemployed did not shrink/lessen, and no production or commodity was made.

A true economist — a social scientist — will argue that the original and true purpose of economics is to employ human talents and skills to maximize the benefits humanity can derive from natural resources while causing as little “damage” or negative impact as possible on the environment.  There is nothing in the original intention of economics that pertained to maximization of wealth.  Economics is intended to address man’s needs and not extract as much profit as possible from man.

It is therefore more proper to gauge progress based on how much everyone’s (quality of) life has improved and not on how much wealth has been generated and/or added.  To cite a quote attributed to the late John Fitzergerald Kennedy, Jr: The true measure of a good leader is not by how much he has improved the lives of the rich but by how much he has improved the lives of the poorest of the poor.

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About anotherworldispossibleforall

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