Sunday, April 29, 2007

Imago - Sundo


A well produced local music video.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Manolo Quezon's Language Wars: On Teaching Science and Math

Over at Manolo's blog, a lively and substantive discussion on whether to use English or Pilipino as a medium of instruction . As of this writing *, especially interesting are the comments by 'Blackshama' and 'Iniduro ni Emilie'.

Blackshama commented on teaching and learning science in the vernacular.

First, he makes a good point on aiming for the right level of English proficiency based on one's professional goals and requirements.

"I agree that if one would like to go into a science career one has to master English. But not all citizens would want to become scientists. The level of English competency should match their career needs. Service workers should at least master to a level equivalent to IELTS band of 5-6. Academics at 8.0. Those who feel English is not for them at least should have studied basic English. Now since a lot of people believe English will make them more competitive, many would try to attain a band 6-7, like many nurses do."

As a practicing scientist, he gives the following tips on how to teach science in Filipino:

"Also for science teaching in Filipino, scientific terms in English with Filipino counterparts may be used. Velocity = bilis, acceleration = arangkada. Latin and Greek terms should remain as is to preserve their exact meaning. While some of the Latin terms have counterparts in Spanish, our linguists should be able to offer advice if we would adopt the Spanish terms. During a period of transition it may be permissible to use the English words per se." (I strongly agree with the last sentence. He then cited a passage teaching Evolution which i found very readable.)

Indiuro ni Emilie, for his part, provided excellent insights (complete with illustrations) on improper and oftentimes unnecessary translations of math into natural language (whether in English or Filipino) which is worth quoting in full [all emphasis mine]:

"there goes the errors in translation.

multiplication: pagpaparami?
subtraction: pagpababawas?

in the everyday languge context, yes! but in the language of mathematics: not necessarily!

example 1.
consider: what is 1/2 of 12?
answer: 6.
equation: 1/2 x 12.
operation used: multiplication
question: dumami ba yung twelve?

example 2.
consider: 1 - -3 = 1 + 3
answer: 4
operation used: subtraction, which turned into addition
question: nabawasan nga ba ang 1?

my point: math has its own language. the natural language is often used only to help build our understanding of the concepts made intricate by the mathematical language. often it is the natural language that impedes the understanding of the language of math. but we can’t help the use of it because that’s how our learning processes are governed. but certainly there are natural languages that make for better support in concept building.

consider example 1. often the danger among filipino math teachers is to use the word “times”, as in 1/2 times 12, when in fact, it should be read one half of 12. in plain filipino: ano ang kalahati nang 12? in the language of math, 1/2 x 12 is the semoitic representation, not the semantic reading of the problem. that’s how complicated the language of math is to begin with. and this has to be explained in english? “of”? that that preposition come natural to us?

as to djb’s exercise: “Three and three fourths divided by six point two equals?”

am sure what you have in mind in the natural language translation. what you’re missing out is that it can be translated pure and simple in the semiotic language of math as: 3¾ / 6.2 = ?
"

Oo nga naman.

Update (04-28-2007 11:51pm): Big Mango believes the whole issue is a waste of time. I indicated my disagreement in his comments section. While he may be comfortable with learning Math and Science in English, studies by our educators have shown that majority of students are not in the same position.

Update (04-30-2007 7:50pm): It turns out that Blackshama has a blog where he has posted his take on this issue. (Hat tip: Manolo)

* April 28, at 2:04PM, Philippine time

Public Management Methodology and Tools: NPM and Citistat

Via mlq3, New Public Management (NPM) principles as written about by Willy Prilles, and Governing by Numbers via Citistat as explained by Urbano de la Cruz.

Update (05-01-07): Willy Prilles explains his thoughts on NPM and Privatization where he states three conclusions:

"One, it is unwise to put our faith wholly on market forces to provide all the goods and services required by society. Two, it is a disservice to NPM to assume that privatization is the only way achieve a lean state; there are other tools that can pretty much achieve the same objective, such as decentralization. Finally, the devil is in the details; there is no one-size-fits-all formula to pursue NPM, and the choice of the most appropriate tools depends on a given context."

I agree 100%.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Huwag Iboto

As i mentioned in this post, getting the required number of 79 pro-impeachment Members of the House of Representatives would require the voting in of the Party List groups listed in the sidebar (courtesy of the Black and White Movement's White List).

The illegitimate occupant of Malacanang Gloria Arroyo also realizes this, which is why they have put up fronts that will protect its interest in the House. The black list (as compiled by KONTRA DAYA*) can be found in the Black and White Movement's blog.

Sa darating na halalan, huwag po nating tangkilikin ang mga kandidato ni Gloria Arroyo, tago man o lantaran.

*A broad-based election watchdog formed to expose the very possible repeat of wholesale election fraud in the May Philippine elections.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Industrial Development: Hamilton vs. Jefferson

Readers of mlq3's blog who have followed Hvrds' comments would notice that he makes frequent references to Alexander Hamilton (e.g. here) and the Hamiltonian model (e.g. here). For his part, Abe Margallo has proposed a Philippines Inc. model to economic development which favors Hamilton's approach over that of Thomas Jefferson's.

What exactly is behind Hamilton (and Jefferson's) model? While both Abe and Hvrds, in their respective posts, provide clear explanations of the model(s), Alice H. Amsden and Wan Wen Chu in their book Beyond Late Development: Taiwan's Upgrading Policies , are able to give additional insight in distinguishing the two, and it has to do with what kind of firm acts as the primary agent of industrial development:

"Two classic approaches offer conflicting answers. One may be characterized as 'Jeffersonian' and the other as 'Hamiltonian' in perspective.

The
[Jeffersonian model]...emphasizes collectivity and cooperation. The relatively small, highly specialized firm is the agent of progressive change. It is able to cut bureaucratic costs through individual initiative and achieve speed and flexibility in entering new industries by being networked. What it lacks internally it overcomes by being part of a cluster of firms that mutually create 'external economies' (as analyzed by Alfred Marshall in his Principles of Economics). Such economies promote innovation and the efficiency needed to compete abroad.

[Hamilton's model], on the other hand, attributes modern manufacturing success to big business and internal economies, with Joseph Schumpeter as one of its most prominent partisans (see his Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy). It posits that in the course of economic development, as more and more physical and human capital is applied to manufacturing, the agent of change becomes the firm that makes a 'three-pronged' investment in (1) plants with minimum efficient scale, (2) in managerial hierarchies and proprietary knowledge-based assets, and in (3) global systems of marketing and distribution. The 'first mover' to do so enjoys advantages in the form of entrepreneurial rents that arise from scale economies, novel products and processes, and the managerial skills and capital to diversify into still newer industries."

In terms of the relative standing of these two theories in the marketplace of ideas, Amsden and Chu has this to say:

"By far, Jeffersonianism has proved to be the more attractive of the two theories. It champions individualism, cooperation, and democracy. In especially the United States, whose economic theories tend to dominate the global marketplace of ideas, the ideology of the small entrepreneur is supreme. The hero is imbued with the attributes of innovativeness, eficiency, and flexibility."

They then assert that in the real world, the situation is reversed:

"Arguably however, Hamiltonianism has in fact ruled the modern industrial world. The visible hand and internal economies may be said to predominate in most modern industries over the invisible hand and external economies. Whatever the tendencies toward disintegration and greater specialization, firm-level expansion has increasingly taken the mode of diversification, merger, and acquisition."

From the above passages, we are able to notice more than passing (but not exact) similarities in the recent debate between Manolo's Cult of the Market and John Nery's Myth of the State which i referred to in this post. Most specifically, embedded in the mental models of proponents of private initiatives for entrepreneurship are the ideas behind the Jefferson model, particularly that of the heroic entrepreneur. On the other hand, for those (like Abe Margallo and Hvrds) who believe that Hamilton's model is the key to economic take-off, the hand of the State is absolutely essential with the 'Cult of the Market' taking on the status of a false religion.

Update (04-28-2007): Over at mlq3's, hvrds has stated that "That dichotomy no longer exists.". From the discussions in this blog as well as in Abe's and mlq3's, i believe this dichotomy is still pretty much alive.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Kerala: Human Development without Industrial Development

While the recent discussions in the blogs i've visited focus on how to invest in industrialization, the Kerala Model offers something different. What is peculiar about this Indian state (population 30 million) is that it has attained life expectancy, literacy and population growth rates comparable to that of countries that have a much higher GDP. As indicated in this article What is True Development? The Kerala Model by Bill McKibben:

"with a per capita income estimated by various surveys to be between $298 and $350 a year, about one-seventieth the American average...

  • The life expectancy for a North American male, with all his chairs and cushions, is 72 years, while the life expectancy for a Keralite male is 70.

  • After the latest in a long series of literacy campaigns, the United Nations in 1991 certified Kerala as 100 percent literate. Your chances of having an informed conversation are at least as high in Kerala as in Kansas.

  • Kerala's birth rate hovers near 18 per thousand, compared with 16 per thousand in the United States--and is falling faster.


  • Demographically, in other words, Kerala mirrors the United States on about one-seventieth the cash.
    "

    How has Kerala been able to achieve so much with the little it has? Nobel Prize winning economist Amartya Sen explains*:

    "The explanation of Kerala's success in the important space of basic capabilities has to be sought in the history of public policy involving education (including female literacy) and health services (including communal medical care, and to some extent, food distribution, in contrast with the rest of India.

    There are also other factors involved, including a more favourable position of women in property rights and in inheritance among a substantial and influential section of Kerala's population, and the greater public activism connected with educational campaigns as well as politics in general. The history of public action in Kerala goes back a long time, with remarkable literacy campaigns in the native states of Travancore and Cochin in the nineteenth century
    " [Emphasis mine]

    Why do i bring up the Kerala experience? There is always a chance that any industrial policy may fail, simply because the wrong industry has been targetted, deficiencies in execution or simply bad luck. There is also the very real possiblity that our present deadbeat Philippine elite won't be up to the historic task unlike their counterparts in East Asia and India. We may have to bide our time while we let the process of replacing the current elite with a more functional one (from the ranks of the poor and middle class) takes place. In the meantime, the welfare of the rest has to be looked after. The policies implemented in Kerala is one which a future Philippine government can consider emulating.**

    Related links:

    A Kerala experience by R. Krishnakumar - Kerala honors Amartya Sen, and worth reading for his quotes on education, democracy, globalization and inequality.

    Tyler Cowen's blog post over at marginalrevolution regarding Questions about Sen which got me started on this entry. He provides a fair summary on Sen's contributions. Especially relevant to the discussion is his point #5 i.e. "If there any shortcoming of Sen’s thought or his theory, what would it be?"

    An article in Salon about Open Source Software and Kerala's Socialist government.

    *Inequality Reexamined by Amartya Sen
    **I also wouldn't rule out the possibility of industrialization policies being implemented side by side with Kerala's social welfare oriented policies. After all, India was able to pursue this track.

    Update (04-25-2007): Abe Margallo provides his analysis and critique on the above here. The message i get from his post is that the strategy of expanding human capital without developing local industry is, ultimately, a limited one. As he explains:

    "So after a successful capacity expansion, Kerala, I believe, must take the next sequence - which is opportunity expansion. This is where Kerala, Inc. as in my proposed Philippine, Inc., must be pursued. Without opportunity expansion, the human capital they have produced, just as Philippines’ best and brightest, will emigrate to where there are opportunities."

    Sunday, April 22, 2007

    Tears for You


    I watched this Japanese movie on the plane because it was based on Rimi Natsukawa's song of the same title which i previously posted last month. It stars up and coming actress Masami Nagasawa and some guy. For followers of Korean dramas, the story could be considered relatively light and predictable, but imho, it's still worth watching (in its entirety) for the subtle acting.

    (Note: The background music for this clip is taken from an earlier movie, for which Nagasawa won a best supporting actress award. From the synopsis, it sounds like a heavier duty drama.)

    Friday, April 20, 2007

    Abe Margallo on the American Free Market Model

    Here is Abe Margallo's take on the Cult of Market vs. Myth of State discussion that Manolo Quezon and John Nery started over at Inquirer's Current blog and which i commented upon in this post.

    (I'll update this entry with my reactions as soon as time permits.)

    Update (05-02-2007): My update is here.

    Wednesday, April 18, 2007

    BnW's List of Candidates for the House

    The Black and White Movement has released its 'Black and White' list of Candidates to endorse for the House of Representatives. As stated in their rationale for coming up with such a list:

    "We need to elect into Congress 79 men and women of moral courage who will initiate the process of impeachment. Then and only then can we determine with finality whether GMA is accountable for the unabated corruption, extrajudicial killings, fertilizer scam, and cheating in the 2004 elections."

    I've posted the list of names (as of April 17) in the right side-bar for easier reference. If you belong to any of the Congressional Districts listed, please consider voting for the corresponding candidate. The names highlighted in blue are running in races that are considered specially significant for one reason or other as explained in the above link. For Overseas voters, you can choose a Party List to vote for.

    There are 48 names plus eleven Party Lists, each of which can be entitled to up to 3 elected members. That makes a total of eighty one (81) potential opposition members in the House. As previously stated, the target is seventy nine (79) so meeting the numbers will be a challenge (but is nevertheless doable). Every vote counts.

    Update (6:32pm): Added hyperlinks to Party List candidates.

    Tuesday, April 17, 2007

    Globalization and the Trifurcation of the State

    Over at the PDI's Current blog, Manolo Quezon and John Nery have an ongoing debate on whether the traditional role of the State is being replaced by the Cult of the Market and whether such a development is desirable or not.

    Manolo, for his part, is troubled:
    "THE Cult of the Market is something that’s been bothering me for some time. To me, this is the idea that politics has become less relevant to people’s lives, because it can’t deliver change or an improvement in lives better than attending to business -and letting the “free market” sort the things that politics used to consider its mission to sort out....But it seems to me that the most troubling thing remains: the growing belief that the market is the solution, not politics (whatever kind it is that floats your boat)."

    On the other side, it is clear that John Nery laments that the process has not gone far enough:
    "I happen to believe, not only in a smaller government, but in a smaller role for government. The Ramosian techno-speak of level playing fields, to give just one example, appealed to me — as long as the idea was sustained; that is, the government saw its role as allowing other players onto the level field too."

    What Manolo worries about and what John looks forward to can be understood as a consequence of society's acceptance of the narrative of globalization, which has redefined the nature and role of the State as explained by Cameron and Palan in The Imagined Economies of Globalization. Within the globalization story "the 'idea of state' itself has moved from a 'public' principle of universal inclusion (implying an identification of and engagement with a single population of citizens) to a 'private' principle of competitiveness".

    Cognitively speaking, the state (and society) has been reimagined and split into three economies, two of which share in the benefits of the system while the third remaining excluded. The table below (as presented by Cameron and Palan in their book) maps these three spaces*, i.e. the offshore, private and anti-economies in terms of its representative institutions, processes and normative characteristics.

    Cognitive Map of the Imagined Economies of Globalization and Social Exclusion**
    Private SectorThird Sector / Social Economy
    Public Sector
    Offshore EconomyPrivate EconomyAnti-Economy
    Institutions:Institutions:Institutions:
    World/Global economy
    Global markets
    Global firms Merchant banking
    Global cities
    Media corporations
    Global governance (WTO, UN, OECD, World Bank, etc.)
    TNCs
    Alliance capitalism
    National economy
    National state bodies
    Formal labour market
    Local state bodies
    Domestic firms Borders Domestic market Retail banking
    Local/peripheral economy, Community
    Family
    Neighbourhood Welfare state
    Informal labour market
    Processes:Processes:Processes:
    Globalization
    Technicization
    Securitization
    Virtualization
    Growth
    Privatization
    Liberalization
    Deregulation
    Modernization
    Globalization
    Growth
    Dependency
    Stagnation
    Decline
    Exclusion
    Marginalization
    Obsolescence
    Normative Characteristics:Normative Characteristics:Normative Characteristics:
    Economic
    Dynamic
    Site of Competition
    Impersonal
    Apolitical
    Fluid
    Future-oriented
    Developing
    Expanding
    Technological
    Real
    Political
    Dynamic
    Competitive
    Entrepreneurial
    Flexible
    Globalizing
    Privatizing
    Enabling (business)
    Modernizing
    Market-led
    Employed
    Onshore
    Static
    Uncompetitive
    Inflexible
    Pre-global
    Residual
    Dependent (aid or welfare)
    Un- or de-skilled
    Outmoded
    Third World
    Unemployed
    Underclass
    'MAINSTREAM ECONOMY'
    ('SOCIAL INCLUSION')
    'WELFARE' and/or 'INFORMAL ECONOMY'
    ('SOCIAL EXCLUSION')
    **Source: The Imagined Economies of Globalization, Angus Cameron & Ronen Palan

    While John Nery celebrates the benefits and hopes for the expansion of the first and second columns above (via expansion of the 'market'), he laments the continued reliance of many on government. Once we are able to see the three economies above, we begin to see why those who have been excluded, i.e. consigned to the anti-economy, continue to be dependent on government. The exclusionary mindset of those who belong to the offshore and private economy has also tranformed Civil Society's values:

    "Civil society, therefore, is no longer identified by a set of core values, rights and responsibilities but by levels of access to, and participation in, 'opportunities' in the mainstream economy...the key distinction made in the mainstream debate over social exclusion is not between exlusion and inclusion, but between exclusion and 'competitiveness'."

    Finally, the above map also helps in explaining the typical Filipino middle class mindset that is the source of Iniibig ko Ang Pilipinas' critique. Ultimately, Gawad Kalinga and other community based efforts are limited at the local and community level (i.e. the third column above) which as Cameron and Palan explain, is typical of the scope of anti-exclusion projects:

    "Despite the enormous range of different places, peoples and problems included in these databases," [of anti-exclusion projects as compiled by the UNESCO] "their one constant feature is that social exclusion is assumed to ber manifest at the local level. Furthermore, by suggesting that the local scale is most salient and, in practice, the only scale at which social exclusion ought to be tackled, the possibilities for intervention in poverty are similarly restricted."

    The Cult of the Market and the Myth of the State is the direct offshoot of the prevailing Globalization narrative that has literally captured our imagination.

    *These three economies are explained in this post.

    Sunday, April 15, 2007

    Rebecca - Vanity Angel

    From Japan, a quintessential 80's music video. The band's name is "Rebecca", the lead singer is Nokko.

    Saturday, April 14, 2007

    Authoritarianism: What is it Good For?

    Tyler Cowen of marginalrevolution gives his take on Bong Austero's bargain* in response to this question - "Is authoritarianism excusable or permissible - for any length of time - if it is justified by a need for economic growth/reform (e.g. Lee Kwan Yew, Pinochet, Park Chung Hee)?"

    You can read it here. From the comments section, i learned of a Nigerian proverb - "He whose head is used to open the coconut does not get to participate in the eating."

    As for me, i have given my views on what authoritarianism (in the Philippine setting) may be good for in this comment over at mlq3's which i am reproducing in part below:

    "If we were to map the various combinations of democracy/dictatorship and elitist/populist arrangements, i would rank the following from best to worst (with corresponding role models identified) as follows**:

    1. Populist Democracy - the ideal arrangement from a political and economic standpoint. Possible Role Models: India, Brazil, Chile, Venezuela, Bolivia etc.
    2. Populist Dictatorship - good track record for economic take-offs Possible Role Models: China (Phase 1 Mao's revolution, Phase 2 Deng's reforms) and Vietnam (Phase 1 Ho Chi Minh, Phase 2 'Doi Moi' Reforms). Negative Role Model: Zimbabwe under Mugabe
    3. Elitist Democracy - where we are now. Other countries: Russia
    4. Elitist Dictatorship - where Gloria and her middle class supporters want to take us. Role Model: Singapore. IMHO, this option sucks.
    "

    If it ever has to come to a dictatorship***, from the above you can guess whose heads i would prefer to use as coconuts.

    *"we are prepared to lose our freedoms and our rights just to move this country forward." - Bong Austero
    **I have speculated on how these various situations may come about in a previous post.
    ***Which i've repeatedly made clear i do not want to happen.

    Friday, April 13, 2007

    From Cosmicvariance: What I Believe but Cannot Prove

    Relevant to the previous post and discussion in this blog, is an essay by Sean Carroll from Cosmicvariance on What I Believe But Cannot Prove. With regards to scientific belief he has this to say:

    "There is no sharp bright line that we cross, at which the idea goes from being 'just a theory' to being 'proven correct'. Rather, maintaining skepticism about the theory goes from being 'prudent caution' to being 'crackpottery'."

    Particularly relevant (to the exchange between Jego and me in the previous post), is the following passage:

    "'Proof' has an interesting an useful meaning, in the context of logical demonstration. But it only gives us access to an infinitesimal fraction of the things we can reasonably believe. Philosophers have gone over this ground pretty thoroughly, and arrived at a sensible solution. The young Wittgenstein would not admit to Bertrand Russell that there was not a rhinocerous in the room, because he couldn't be absolutely sure (in the sense of logical proof) that his senses weren't tricking him But the later Wittgenstein understood that taking such a purist stance renders the notion of 'to know' (or 'to believe') completely useless"

    Worth reading the whole thing.

    Thursday, April 12, 2007

    Classification of Ideas According to Authentication

    As an offshoot of our discussion over at Resty's, fellow blogger Jego took mild exception to my use of the word 'proof' in this remark - Life itself cannot be used as proof of such intelligence because there are more straightforward, alternative explanations in the form of evolution.

    He further explained:

    "He uses the words 'proof' and 'proven' rather loosely. When he uses 'proof' or 'proven' he actually means 'inferred from observed facts'. But no problem. I do get his drift. We're laymen so we can't all the time be expected to use words like 'proof' and 'theory' as a scientist would use them...I think he uses 'proof' to mean 'inference'."

    Actually, in the context of the above exchange, and more importantly, on the basis the intent of those who believe and promote the idea of intelligent design, i would infer that proof is the more appropriate word to use. Let me explain.

    Thomas Sowell, in his book Knowledge and Decisions, says that "Various ideas can be classified by their relationship to the authentication process". He then goes on the enumerate these different kinds of Ideas:

    Theories"ideas systematically prepared for authentication"
    Visions"ideas not derived from any systematic process"
    Illusions"ideas which could not survive any reasonable authentication process"
    Myth"ideas which exempt themselves from any authentication process"
    Facts"ideas which have already passed the authentication process"
    Falsehoods"ideas known to have failed - or certain to fail - such processes"..."both mistakes and lies"

    From the point of view its proponents, Intelligent Design is a theory. Being a theory, it had to undergo an authentication process. What then is used to authenticate intelligent design? According to biochemist Michael Behe, it is something called irreducible complexity, which is none other than life itself (or to be less loose, the chemical processes that lead to life).

    In summary, for someone who believes in this theory, the processes behind life, that are supposedly irreducably complex, serve to authenticate (and not merely infer) Intelligent Design. As far as i know, no other scientific means is used to authenticate this theory.

    Prebiotic News: Creating Amino Acids

    This recent news is relevant to the continuing series of posts and discussions on the Origin of Life by Resty of Expectorants, the latest of which discuss the Prebiotic Soup and the Krebs cycle.

    "Chemist Jeffrey Bada was able to conduct a laboratory experiment, the results suggest that Earth's early atmosphere could have produced chemicals necessary for life—contradicting the view that life's building blocks had to come from comets and meteors."

    Bada's experiment produced amino-acids, building blocks of proteins. While this represents significant progress towards recreating life under realistic early-earth conditions, the article cautions that this still falls short of the entire process:

    "But James Ferris, a prebiotic chemist at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., doubts that atmospheric electricity could have been the only source of organic molecules. 'You get a fair amount of amino acids,' he says. 'What you don't get are things like building blocks of nucleic acids.'

    It goes on to explain that "Meteors, comets or primordial ponds of hydrogen cyanide would still need to provide those molecules."

    BTW, i'm surprised to learn from the linked article that most scientists in the field believe that the building blocks of life originated from comets and meteors. I've read about this years ago, but did not realize that this has since become the majority view.

    Wednesday, April 11, 2007

    Criticizing Religion's Critics: Rationality as Faith

    On the heels of a recent issue raised by an atheist blogger, here's a timely essay by Abbas Razza of 3quarksdaily. It is a response to common criticisms against those who criticize religious belief.

    What i'm particularly interested in is the author's response to the charge that rationality itself is just another form of religion, therefore, it should not claim any sort of superiority as compared to other faiths. As i understand it, the author explains that while it is true that, at bottom, rationality itself is based on a certain kind of faith, it is still valid to criticize religion on this basis. This is because rationality is sufficiently commonplace that it is able to provide a shared understanding which individuals of varying degrees of belief and unbelief can take advantage of in their communication with each other. It is a common benchmark that can be used to assess the quality of one's beliefs as demonstrated by the author in the following example:

    "It is perfectly legitimate of Harris or Dawkins or Dennett to make an argument of the following sort to a religious person, 'Since you agree that sodium and chlorine combine to produce salt, and you agree that X, and you agree that Y, and you agree that Z, ... and you agree that such and such is a good method of deciding these things, and this thing, and that thing, and... then you should also agree that the Earth is more than 6,000 years old.'"

    Of course if you take away this shared rationality, then the basis for such communication disappears.

    Sunday, April 08, 2007

    Happy Sad (English Version)


    Nineties hit Happy Sad by Pizzicato Five featuring the always watcheable lead singer Nomiya Maki. (I have transcribed the lyrics below using this as the base.)

    I'm so mad about you, going out of my mind

    Say you want me, baby could you send me a sign?

    Coz' every time we're together you keep me guessing
    Thinking about the mood in your eyes
    Smile as I see you walking on the runway
    Love you and it's no surprise

    Happy Sad, honto ni okashi na adana ne!

    Fukigen na 'pose' kidotteru

    And every time that I see you walking away
    You know I don't know what to do
    Just like living on a rollercoaster
    My heart just belongs to you

    My moody blues could stay or go away
    Boy just call my name
    My heart can make brand new kind of sweet soul music
    Don't care if I'm mad or glad
    Make me feel so Happy Sad

    Mmmm, anata to futari nara itsudatte,
    'Happy Sad, Happy Sad, ooh ooh'
    Mmmm, anata o aishitara itsudatte,
    'Happy Sad, Happy Sad'

    My moody blues could stay or go away
    Boy just call my name
    My heart can make brand new kind of sweet soul music
    Don't care if I'm mad or glad
    Make me feel so Happy Sad

    Friday, April 06, 2007

    Amsden's Reciprocal Control Mechanism

    This is a continuation of the discussion over at mlq3's on Abe's proposal. Over there, Abe asked me to explain Amsden's concept of reciprocity.

    In Amsden's framework, the concept of reciprocity is an alternative or supplementary control mechanism to that of the free market.

    According to Amsden,

    "A control mechanism is a set of institutions that imposes discipline on economic behavior. The control mechanism of 'the rest' revolved around the principle of reciprocity. Subsidies ('intermediate assets') were allocated to make manufacturing profitable - to facilitate the flow of resources from primary product assets to knowledge-based assets - but did not become giveaways. Recipients of subsidies were subjected to monitorable performance standards that were redistributive in nature and results-oriented.

    The reciprocal control mechanism of 'the rest' thus transformed the inefficiency and venality associated with government intervention into collective good, just as the 'invisible hand' of the North Atlantic's market-driven control mechanism transformed the chaos and selfishness of market forces into general well-being. The reciprocal control mechanism of the North Atlantic minimized market failure. The reciprocal control mechanism of 'the rest' minimized government failure.
    "

    We should note that by 'the rest', it does not only mean just the East Asian tiger economies. In this classification, Amsden includes Argentina, Brazil, Chile, China, India, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Taiwan, Thailand and Turkey. These are the countries that, after World War 2, "had acquired enough manufacturing experience in the production of silk, cotton textiles, foodstuffs, and light consumer goods to move into mid-technology and later high-technology sectors. The 'remainder'" [which includes us] "which comprised countries that had been less exposed to modern factory life in the prewar period, failed thereafter to achieve anywhere near 'the rest's' industrial diversification."

    [Source: The Rise of 'The Rest' - Here's a concise summary (and critique at the end).]

    Wednesday, April 04, 2007

    BERI Forecasts: Most Probable Scenarios (2004 to 2006)

    As mentioned in this blog entry from last week, one of the sources of the World Bank's Governance Indicators is an outfit called Business Environment Risk Intelligence (BERI). As stated in this review:

    " BERI is known in political risk for having trumped all competitors, including the Economist Intelligence Unit...in an academic study of the accuracy of various country analysis firms' risk ratings."

    Below are extracts of the Most Probable Political Scenario from the Busines Risk Service reports published from April 2004 to December 2006*:

    April, 2004: "President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo fails to restore fiscal order. The budget deficit, having received no drastic action in 2003 because of the insurgency war becomes a problem in 2004-2005. The government's popularity is diminished by the threat of bombings and kidnappings, but before the 10 May 2004 election, economic growth results in more job creation, and the incumbent wins reelection. Subsequently, the instability and use of American troops causes periodic demonstrations. The power structure, including senior officers and the business elite, continue to support her in her second term. The decrease in crony capitalism and corruption is apparent, and the administration's economic management becomes more decisive in 2005. The Philippines adopts some economic reforms, and foreign investment beigins to flow into the economy, assisting recovery from weak demand in key export markets." [Source: Business Risk Service 2004-I]

    August 2004: Gloria Macapagal Arroyo "...having won reelection fails to restore fiscal order despite promises of reform. The budget deficit, having received no drastic action in 2003 because of the insurgency war becomes a problem in 2004-2005. The government's popularity is diminished by the threat of bombings and kidnappings, but economic growth results in more job creation. The power structure, including senior officers and the business elite, continue to support the President in her second term. The Philippines adopts some economic reforms, and foreign investment begins to flow into the economy, assisting recovery from weak demand in key export markets." [Source: Business Risk Service 2004-II]

    December 2004: Gloria Macapagal Arroyo "...fails to improve the fiscal situation despite adopting unpopular tax increases. Poverty and rising prices add to public frustration. Terrorist incidents weaken security and contribute to declining popularity of the government. Foreign relations with the U.S. are stilll captive to the country's decision to withdraw troops from Iraq. The administration takes advantage of its majority in the Senate and passes key measures to reduce corruption and bureaucracy. Consequently, foreign investment begins to increase and buoy economic growth. The country increases its attractiveness as an offshore outsourcing destination but is unable to challenge India's dominance in the field. Relations with China strengthen in the next two years." [Source: Business Risk Service 2004-III]

    August 2005: Gloria Macapagal Arroyo "...steadily loses popularity and fails to prove conclusively that no wrong-doing occurred in the May 2004 presidential election. Sentiment against the President among politicians and voters is so strong that she can no longer govern. Although she resists resigning in 2005, she has no other choice and leaves office in early 2006. As was the case in January 2001 when Joseph Estrada was deposed by the Supreme Court and Vice President Macapagal Arroyo became president, Vice President Noli de Castro replaces Mrs. Macapagal Arroyo. No military action or bloodshed occurs during the transition in Manila. The Supreme Court, citing probable irregularities in the May 2004 presidential contest, orders a new election in mid-2006. The House of Representatives continues to conduct business and passes measures to prevent the abuses of power that caused the downfall of Mrs. Macapagal Arroyo." [Source: Business Risk Service 2005-II]

    December 2005: Gloria Macapagal Arroyo "...survives opposition attempts to depose her, weakened by the 158-51 impeachment vote in her favor, but her popularity remains low. National security threats temporarily boost Mrs. Arroyo's support, and her anti-terror bill is accepted in the Congress. Dissent also decreases with large-scale job formation and reduced unemployment. Sporadic attacks take place against security forces throughout the country, and a large-scale terrorist attack occurs during 2006-2007. Relations with Washington, D.C., improve in this period despite factions lobbying for a government change in Manila." [Source: Business Risk Service 2005-III]

    April 2006: Gloria Macapagal Arroyo "...survives current opposition attempts to unseat her but fails to complete her term, scheduled to end in 2010. Congressional elections strengthen the oppostion in 2007 because Ms Arroyo continues to lose popularity. A growing number of demonstrations take place, and defectors within the administration increase. The government enhances security measures in an effort to prevent a potential terror attack. President Arroyo uses the opportunity to consolidate her position through curtailment of freedoms, but this causes further dissent. Eventually, she is forced to resign, and early presidential elections are held." [Source: Business Risk Service 2006-I]

    August 2006: Gloria Macapagal Arroyo "...survives additional attempts to force her out of office during 2006-2007 despite constant pressure from the opposition. However, Mrs. Arroyo does not complete her term in 2010, succumbing to public pressure rather than opposition efforts to unseat her. Although Mrs. Arroyo continues to lose voter popularity, the governing party, Lakas-CMD, wins a plurality in 2007 congressional elections. The government remains alert to possible terrorist attacks, increasing security measures. Peace discussions are attempted, but the administration continues a military offensive against Communist guerillas in the south." [Source: Business Risk Service 2006-II]

    December 2006: Gloria Macapagal Arroyo "...survives attempts to force her out of the office, but her power is visibly weakened as a result of the efforts. Ms Arroyo has the support of the military, but she decides to step down on her own before her term concludes in 2010. Lakas-CMD, the governing party, manages to keep a plurality in the House elections during May next year. Constitutional reform measures are discussed, but progress is minimal. The Philippines takes new measures to thwart potential terror attacks and is generally successful. However, political assassinations increase in number. The military offensive against the Communist guerillas continues in 2007-2008."

    Noted without comment (for now). You can judge for yourself their accuracy in making forecasts.


    *Except for April 2005, a copy of which i couldn't find.

    Monday, April 02, 2007

    Reverse Foreign Aid and Reverse Globalization

    Related to my previous post on foreign debt payments, here's an article from the NY Times (via 3quarksdaily), on how the poorer countries subsidize their richer counterparts. It reports that "According to the United Nations, in 2006 the net transfer of capital from poorer countries to rich ones was $784 billion, up from $229 billion in 2002." The article goes on to explain that reverse foreign aid happens through the following:

    1. Investment in US Treasury Bills
    2. Honoring international intellectual property agreements.
    3. Tax holidays for foreign investors
    4. Brain drain (e.g. OFW doctors and nurses)
    5. Subsidies to First World agriculture
    6. Environmental damage due to global warming.

    ...and how above phenomenon is a burden to the third world countries like ours.

    #1 above seems more relevant to China and the US Budget Deficit, and less relevant to us (unless this eventually leads to a dollar crisis). On #2, i mentioned over at mlq3 that:

    "While the focus of the law has been on the pirates, the greater danger lies with the corporations (and their allies in government), who, as agents of Empire, seek to close off the intellectual frontier through strict interpretation and aggressive enforcement of intellectual property laws, in the name of profits. Among scientific and medical communities where open collaboration and information sharing is the key to new discoveries and innovation, restrictive intellectual property laws and practices are emerging as a real threat." (This led into further discussion in that comments section with DJB on this matter.)

    On #3, i don't have the article on hand now so i may be mistaken, but i seem to remember that Mar Roxas saying something about giving too much tax holidays to foreign investors. #4 is a known, much discussed issue related to the OFW phenomenon. #5 is a key point of contention when it comes to WTO-related negotiations and #6 is an unfortunate reality that has a lot to do with geography.

    A comment in that same post in 3quarksdaily also links to Brad Setser's web blog, who has an article on a more benign (to the third world), but related phenomena they call reverse globalization which is a situation where "Emerging markets will be buying companies – not just bonds – in the developed world.". The participants in this are the rapidly developing and relatively capital-rich developing countries like China and the Gulf States.

    Abe Margallo on Foreign Debt & Development, Sparks on State Reform

    Here's a proposal by Abe Margallo, on a strategy for handling foreign debt and implementing industrial development.

    "Our economic elites (who own half of the debt burden), imbued with a deep sense of country, consider the possibility of entering into some form of “forbearance” with the national government with a view to a short-term moratorium on debt service payment, say, an 8-year temporary cessation. (This indulgence by the elites is in a way a matching counterpart to the acknowledged sacrifices of the OFWs, serving to keep the ship of the nation afloat.)

    During the moratorium, the government in partnership with the same forbearing private sector, or vice versa, ventures into vigorous investments, targeting specific industries such as: the manufacture of the imported component of the electronic exports; bio-fuel as alternative source of energy; or exploration in the extractive sector. (I’d prefer to treat the forbearance as some sort of passive investment on the part of the economic elites; after all, the first beneficiary of dependable institutions and infrastructures, productive workforce and booming economy would be none other than the elites themselves.)

    What’s withheld as otherwise rent payment, which, doubtless, is a considerable sum, may now be available for physical and social (certainly together with educational) infrastructure outlays as well as for state support for R&D. On the other hand, appropriate incentives like “tax holidays” for entrepreneurs directly involved in these targeted sectors are worked out.

    Aside from moratorium on debt service and on capital strike, similar challenge is posed to the labor sector to bite the bullet by committing to a moratorium on labor strikes and other concerted actions during the experimental phase.

    Foreign creditors and investors, not being importuned to make a change of position, are expected to regard the arrangement as a real honest-to-goodness resolve for internally driven strategic economic plan. On the other hand, in virtue of its ownership by local leaderships, the initiative is perceivable as one designed with a visceral sense of stewardship (to have lasting positive consequences for the next generation of Filipinos); hence, stabilizing and producing the effect of strengthening the country’s creditworthiness and standing in the world economy.
    "

    In a later comment, he added his thoughts on development models, particularly the ones followed by South Korea, Taiwan and China:

    "I have also considered as viable alternative the South Korean route. South Korea, a highly homogeneous society, took the innovative route of (officially) embracing crony-capitalism while subjecting it to strict discipline by imposing performance standards, down to the activities in the shop floor, upon business recipients of state largesse. The chaebols then assumed industrial leadership by risking into productive enterprises instead of simply preserving their rent-seeking activities. The state subsidy (from borrowed foreign funds) for diversification into new industries proceeded in tandem with the decision to invest heavily in education. Official cronyism and education, while still conforming to market mechanism, lay at the heart of the late-industrial expansion of South Korea. With fewer multi-national corporations in Korea than in any late-industrializing countries, its economy took off on the basis of nationally owned firms.

    I’ve likewise looked at Taiwan as another best practice model. Through broad distribution of land ownership and capital, and high returns to labor (this may be address what cvj calls as “a program of promoting equality”) the individual Chinese was greatly motivated to produce much of the rapid growth of Taiwan’s economy. Taiwan’s small-scale capitalism (“letting a thousand flowers boom”?) as a base for industrial development can indeed serve as just another paradigm for accumulation.

    There certainly are other economic models that could be investigated for the best practices we can learn from or from which we could “indigenize” our own. (The China model, playing the globalization game by the Hamiltonian or Keynesian rule-book, stares us in face today.) But the ones that appear to stand out as common denominators for success are:

    1) the reciprocal relations between the state and the private sector (businesses, as well as civil societies I wish to add),
    2) extensive investment in education and
    3) the grandiose ambitions of their pioneering leaders.
    " [emphasis mine]

    The above models obviously require active participation by the State to which Sparks, in this comment poses a valid challenge:

    "If we assume that the State must play a central role in development, as it has in countless other examples, then we have two tasks:

    1. Reform the state
    2. Selectively eschew the neoliberal orthodoxy to which we have blindly subscribed through our WTO and IMF commitments.

    The question is how do we first reform the state, then enable the state, when neoliberal policies have weakened the state in favour of the private sector? Can we reverse a process that has gone on for 20 years?
    "

    I have taken a stab at a response, but i realize that this is a complex issue and much more is required before we can resolve these interconnected questions.

    Sunday, April 01, 2007

    Chillitees-Ikaw


    IMO, one of the best local bands around.

    Update Nov-04-2007 4:05pm: Reposted video.