Friday, October 31, 2008

Princess Princess - 世界でいちばん熱い夏

Update Jan-15-2009: Earlier video taken down so i reposted another version.

Update Feb-11-2009: Video taken down again, so i reposted another version.

Update May-26-2012: Video taken down again, so i reposted another version.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Jun Lozada's Open Letter to Joc Joc Bolante

Jun Lozada offers some advice to Joc Joc Bolante.
Dear Joc-Joc,

Allow me to call you Joc-Joc as you have been known in the media and by many Filipinos too. As of this morning of the 24th of October, 2008, news about your lawyer petitioning the Supreme Court to issue a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against the implementation of the arrest warrant issued by the Senate upon your arrival, hugs the headline of the major dailies together with the radio and TV news broadcast. The whole country seems to be anxiously awaiting your return, I am sure your family is also eager to see you back as well.

It is about your family that I am writing you about, because of what my own family went through when I was in a similar situation that you are in now. Being a father myself, I know that the welfare and safety of your family is your foremost concern in the middle of all the controversy and the uncertainty that you are facing.

There is so much fear right now that pervades your life along with your loved ones. Questions such as: how safe are you in Manila? Is there a possibility that someone may attempt to harm you or your family? How are the people that you are covering for, going to help you? How are you going to answer questions from media? How can the people you are covering be trusted with their dilatory tactics to get you off the hook, away from the prying questions of the opposition senators?

We get caught up in all of these questions of “us versus them” way of thinking, that we almost forget to ask the right questions anymore, right questions such as: how are my children hurt with the truth that I am generally perceived as a corrupt criminal by the Filipino nation? How are my children going to explain my involvement in this fertilizer scam to their friends? How is my wife going to face our friends and still be seen as a person with integrity? What legacy am I leaving my children? Is leaving them with millions of money and big houses in Ayala Alabang better than leaving them with a good name?

I am sharing these with you, because if there is one thing that I did regret in telling the truth about how this Arroyo administration has been stealing from the very people it is supposed to serve, it is that I was not able to prepare my wife and my children well enough against the backlash of this government’s wrath against me for telling the people about their crimes. You still have time to discern your next move, whether or not you are going to tell the people the truth about the fertilizer scam or bring the secret to your grave, just like Romy Neri. As a father, I am asking you to please think about your children, please consider the legacy you are going to leave to them. Are you going to forever leave them as pariahs branded as children of a thief–or as children of someone who did wrong and yet chose to serve his country at the end, rather than to be a captive forever of the dark forces he used to serve? And please prepare your family whatever way you may wish to choose. Discuss this together with them because at the end of it all, they will suffer or be affected more as a consequence of your decision.

Secondly as a fellow Rotarian, how about asking the Four Way test as part of your discernment process? Is it the Truth? Is it fair to everyone concerned? Will it build goodwill and better friendship? Will it be beneficial to everyone concerned? You have been a good Rotarian for many good years of your life. Will you now turn your back on these ideals in the biggest test of your Rotarian values?

Lastly, let me share with you one of the most profound lessons I have learned in my own journey towards the truth, a truth not as a goal to be reached but rather as a way of life to be lived. I have found that the opposite of all the fears I am confronted with is not courage but faith. It is faith in a God who said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.”, a just God who will judge us not in terms of the wealth we have on earth but in terms of what we did to our fellow human beings. It is my faith in this God that allowed me to face all the fears that I am confronted with when I decided to tell the truth that I know about the NBN-ZTE scam. May you find the faith to lead you to the Light of God’s love that no darkness can ever defeat, not even a President of the Republic of the Philippines.

May God bless you with the wisdom to choose your path.

Jun Lozada
(Also via Ricky Carandang and Ellen Tordesillas.)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Paul Krugman Wins the Nobel Prize

Excellent and timely choice for the Nobel Prize in Economics. Here's a comprehensive background courtesy of Tyler Cowen as well as an overview of Krugman's New Trade Theory by Alex Tabarrok. Krugman's books The Accidental Theorist and Pedding Prosperity are among my favorites. For more, you can visit his Unofficial Web Page.

Update Oct-16-2008: Here's Paul Krugman explaining in layman's terms the work for which he was given the award.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Why Not the Philippines? the Conservative's 'Canada'. I'm confident the Red State voters will find a lot of ideological soulmates over here.

Update 9:55pm: Let me clarify, this is by no means, an invitation.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Bhangra Michael Jackson

From Britain's Got Talent. (Hat Tip 3Quarksdaily)

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Snapping out of the Financial Crisis

Back in the year 1582, the dates October 5 to 14 (inclusive) did not exist in the Roman Catholic world* by virtue of a decree by Pope Gregory XIII. This meant that October 4 was followed by October 15. Skipping over ten days was a necessary step to compensate for the misalignment with the seasons that crept into the Julian Calendar over the centuries.

I wonder if the Chairman of the United States Federal Reserve (whose authority is often compared with that of the Pope) can fix the current subprime mortgage-induced Financial Crisis in a manner similar to Pope Gregory's approach.

This is not to say that the Fed can solve the USA's very real economic problems by decree, nor do i think that it is possible to avoid a recession. However, i believe that these real economic problems are being compounded by a crisis involving artifacts of finance and accounting. It is this latter element which i believe can be eliminated by decree. The current crisis can be broken down into a few related, but distinct elements:

A. Collapse in House Prices: The bursting of the Housing Bubble has impaired the ability of mortgage holders to pay off their housing loans.

B. Reduced Demand: With the fall in the values of houses and other investments, the elimination of the Wealth Effect has resulted in a decrease in consumer demand which feeds the economic downturn.

C. Credit Crunch (Internal): The reluctance of banks and other financial institutions to extend loans to each other due to the uncertainty in the financial health of these institutions as a result of their having traded in potentially toxic financial instruments.

D. Credit Crunch (External): The unwillingness by banks and financial institutions to extend loans has spilled over to a general to businesses, government and the general public.

Figure 1: Elements of Economic Crisis (click on image to enlarge)

While nothing much can be done with the collapse of house prices ('A') and the resulting decrease in consumer demand ('B'), i believe there may yet be an opportunity to decree-away the Credit Crunch among Financial Institutions ('C'), and save the real economy from the worst effects of such a credit crunch ('D').

Update Oct-6-2008: Economist blogger J. Bradford DeLong, gives an indication of the relative proportions of some of the above categories:

CategoryValue (in US Dollars)
Mortgages (A)11 Trillion
Financial Assets(C)60 Trillion
Business Borrowings (D)**0.2 to 1.4 Trillion

Former Lehman Brothers Chairman Richard Fuld, in his testimony before Congress made the following recommendation moving forward:
"We need to set up a master netting system where all trades and transaction, positions, are all downloaded nightly. The regulator would have a complete view of the financial landscape."
This is an opportune statement since part of what i have in mind is for the Fed (or designated regulator) to set-up and use such a master netting system to offset the toxic financial instruments that these banks and financial institutions owe each other. The other part of what i have in mind involves actions such as a declaration by the regulator that Credit Default Swaps (CDS) will no longer be honored and any premiums paid on this financial instrument will be returned (and any income recognized on these instruments reversed). The objective of such type of regulatory actions would be to untangle the complex web of derivatives that are currently undermining confidence in and paralyzing the global financial system.

Update Oct-7-2008: Economist-blogger Tyler Cowen reports that the proposed clearinghouse for Over the Counter (OTC) derivatives is moving closer to reality. As Cowen explained:
"In essence homogenization and trading through a clearinghouse limits the leverage issue to a single, easily-regulated institution and therefore it limits the problem of counterparty risk"
Update Oct-8-2008: Physicist-blogger Sabine Hossenfelder makes a good point in highlighting the virtual character of much of money (and credit)...
"Now keep in mind that only a negligible amount of the money traded is actually used for consume. The vast amount of it is a pushing back and forth of promises, people trying to be smart, people panicking, people losing faith, people trying to save what they think is left. There are records of all these trades."
...and recommends, among other things, to "Reset the distribution to an earlier state ".

Update Oct-11-2008 10:40am: I just tuned in to CNBC and found the talking heads criticizing the underlying concept behind Credit Default Swaps (CDS). My question is, why only now? Where was such criticism during the good times when CNBC (among others) was cheerleading the bubble? In any case, i sense that the underlying zeitgeist is starting to move toward my suggestion above to declare these instruments null and void.

*As per the referenced Wikipedia entry, among the non-Catholic countries, the Gregorian calendar was adopted much later.
**range of values from 2003 to 2007.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Tokyo Rush

Music starts at 0:40.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Middle Class Revolt Against Democracy

With the benefit of hindsight, we can see that the Philippine Middle Class has served as the bellwether for two trends, the first being the advance of democratic reforms in the 1980's and 1990's, while the second is its subsequent retreat a decade later. The original EDSA People Power Revolution in 1986 which ended the Marcos dictatorship, heralded similar pro-democracy movements notably the Revolutions of 1989 that resulted in the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe.

On the other hand, the second such People Power movement in the Philippines (aka EDSA Dos), while retaining the superficial characteristics of its predecessor, toppled a genuinely elected President, and is therefore considered by many as a reversal of democracy. Whatever the merits and demerits of EDSA Dos, the subsequent silence and rationalizations for inaction by the Philippine Middle Class when confronted with the reality of Electoral Fraud by the incumbent further validates its retreat from previous democratic aspirations. As this featured article observes, this Middle Class-led retreat from democracy is now a worldwide trend.

I believe that the main drivers for such a reactionary turn has been the ability of the poor to assert their numerical superiority to vote in their chosen candidate into Office, as has happened in Latin America's Electoral Revolutions. Unfortunately for the relatively fewer Middle Class, these chosen leaders either do not have their respect (as in the case of the late FPJ) or advocate policies that are perceived to be contrary to Middle Class interests (as in the case of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez or Bolivia's Evo Morales). What makes it easier for the Middle Class to turn away from democracy is the unfortunate fact that many among their ranks are afflicted with an Elitist Mindset and do not consider the poor as equals when it comes to the exercise of democratic rights. In Thailand, this sense of superiority has become the basis for the Thai democracy activists' logic as described by Randy David:
"What Thailand’s democracy activists say they are fighting for seems to be something more. They see the pursuit of democracy as the protracted struggle to organize the poor as empowered political subjects, to wean them away from their subjection as an army of docile voters activated purely by money and patronage. They are determined to keep at bay the traditional politicians that have preyed upon the ignorance and vulnerability of the Thai masses—by constitutional means if possible, or by extra-constitutional pressure if necessary."
These rationalizations are as self-serving as they are familiar. Over here, i expect that similar plans are underway to make the Philippine 2010 elections the last one that formally adheres to the principle of one-man/one-vote.

Related Entries:

Monday, September 01, 2008

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Neville Chamberlain in Context

In response to my reference to Neville Chamberlain in my previous post, my friend Melvin offers the following thought-provoking analyses:
"Interesting thought about your comment that makes it sound as if Neville Chamberlain was responsible for bringing in a predicament to Britain prior to World War Two.

I am of the opinion that Chamberlain was trying to obtain 'peace in [their] time'. He probably could have been aware that British forces were not (yet) ready to face a suddenly and surprisingly resurgent Germany (whose capabilities should have been made in check by the burden of war reparations that was imposed on it as a loser of the previous Great War). It was the depression-hit 1930s after all. Britain, France, and other countries were struggling with the economic crisis at that time (which is probably the reason why a desperate Germany even considered being aggressors, spurred on by a feeling that they were unjustly punished for the Great War).

The isolationist stance of the new world power United States was not comforting -- and it showed during the Manchurian and Ethiopian invasions and the Austrian annexation. The pariah Soviet Union looked very menacing, as she was intent on exporting her revolution outside her borders and undermining the capitalist empires. Winston Churchill could probably have done exactly what Chamberlain did in 1938."
He adds...
"About the situations in the late 1930s. I don't think anyone could be sure whether Hitler will no longer be making more land grabs. Up to that time, Hitler's annexations were territories where Germans lived.

As for Chamberlain's credibility [to lead in World War 2], how similar would his situation be with Woodrow Wilson, who won the 1916 election with the slogan 'He kept us out of the war'...

...Could Chamberlain just have been echoing the sentiments of the British in 1938? The British fought a grueling 4-year war just 20 years before, where she lost many of her citizens and badly dented the mighty British Empire.

I am really wondering whether Britain and France were really ready to fight Germany at that point. World War II was won largely because of two other countries -- the menace Soviet Union fighting on their side and the United States joining in more than 2 years after the war started.

It is hard to imagine Germany allying themselves with the Soviets. Hitler was also strongly anti-Communist and thinks the Slav peoples do not belong to the Aryan race. The Nazis and the Communists were (indirectly) fighting each other in the very bloody Spanish Civil War that was happening at that time. Maybe Chamberlain thought Germany could be exhausted by that war, and he could really trade peace in their time?"
Neville Chamberlain's name is often mentioned in the context of Appeasement, but Melvin's description of the factors that Chamberlain had to consider gives us an idea that reality is never that clear-cut.

Update Sept-07-2008: Commenter Karl adds...
"Maybe another reason for Chamberlain not to go to war aside from war fatigue is that he was dying at that time. After he resigned as PM, he was assigned as an adviser to Churchill for the war but, unfortunately, he had to resign again because he was terminally ill. He died of cancer in 1940."

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Swissy - How It All Started

Cool OPM from Swissy*.

*The above and other similarly good songs are available in her album, She Smiles. Also available on iTunes.

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Day Ninoy Died

I remember it was a weekend, when i heard the news (either on TV or on radio - i no longer remember), i immediately went upstairs and told my Dad. As a fifteen year old high school senior, i really didn't know and care much about politics so i was surprised at the reaction that was etched in his face, as if some part of the world crumbled.

The coming days and months would make it clear to me how much things have changed for the worse and my reaction, along with that of my fellow La Sallites, was anger - at Ninoy, as well as ambivalence. (You can get a flavor of what the prevailing sentiment among the student body at that period, from this contemporary post by fellow blogger Rom. We were such a reactionary bunch.) I was thinking to myself, how dare he come home and ruin the best years of my life? High school was supposed to be a fun time when i was supposed to finally meet girls. Now all i have to look forward to are brownouts, bombings and NPA attacks which means i wouldn't be able to get out of the house that much.

Somehow, we adapted and high school still turned out to be among the best years, and eventually, i came around to realize that Ninoy's coming home was a good idea, if not for him, for the Filipinos in general.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

If it has to be war...

...let's go about it the right way.
  1. Those responsible for getting us into this predicament cannot be the same ones to lead us out of it. At the very least, no one deserves to die just to further their agenda. In the UK, for example, Neville Chamberlain had to be replaced by Winston Churchill.
  2. Related to this, we need to strengthen the Philippine Military by purging it of officers who acted as hired bodyguards of the present leadership and reinstate those who embody its true ideals and know how to fight.
  3. Instead of relying on private armies, vigilante groups, all those fighting on the government side should be regularized. This is to prevent the problem of having to deal with private warlord armies in the aftermath.
  4. Any conflict would not be isolated to Mindanao, so prepare for a general mobilization. Consider conscription.
  5. My fellow bloggers seem to be confident that the MILF does not represent the Muslim people and are no more than bandits. I'm not so sure but even granting that premise, the conduct of the war should be such that we take care not to make this a generalized Christian vs. Muslim conflict. It will be difficult to do this once bombs start going off in Manila, but the Government, Media and Civil Society groups (Secular, Christian and Muslim) should prepare for this. If necessary, laws against Hate Speech must be promulgated.
I'll add to the list if i think of anything else. Feel free to contribute in the comments section.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Cuban Missile Crisis Redux...

...that's what we could be in for if the United States and Russia miscalculate in their respective acts of brinkmanship in and around Georgia.

Source: BBC

The BBC reports that the US Military is going to deliver humanitarian aid to Georgia. While this is consistent with their past actions in Burma after Cyclone Nargis and in the Philippines after Typhoon Fengshen(Frank) where the Americans deployed their Navy for this purpose, doing the same thing in a situation where Russia is one of the belligerents has the potential to further destabilize the situation.

If matters deteriorate further, this time around, Fidel Castro's role* could be reprised by Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili.

Update August 17, 2008: US TV Network Fox News interviews Amanda Kokoeva, a 12-year old American girl visiting relatives in South Ossetia when the Georgian-South Ossetian war started. She clarified...
"...i just wanna say that i was running from Georgian troops bombing our city, not Russian troops. I wanna say 'thank you' to the Russian troops that were helping us out.".

(Hat tip:

*As per Wikipedia, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, "In a personal letter to Khrushchev dated October 27, 1962, Castro urged him to launch a nuclear first strike against the United States if Cuba were invaded, but Khrushchev rejected any first strike response."

Monday, August 04, 2008

A Framework for Making Food Subsidies, Land Reform & Victory Gardens Work

In my previous blog entry, along with the flat tax, i proposed 20 pesos per day food stamps that every Filipino adult (ages 18 to 64) can avail of if he/she chooses to. Since then, i have thought out further details on how this arrangement might work while at the same time help in implementing land reform as well as increase local food production. This approach is summarized in the following diagram:

Figure 1: Framework for Food Subsidies, Land Reform & Victory Gardens
(click on image to enlarge)

(to be continued)

Sunday, August 03, 2008

The Middle Class Way of Life... fragile, and can only be preserved by choosing the right set of values and collectively defending them.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Benefits of Sharing the Income Tax Burden: A Possible Scenario

In the my preceding post, i made some suggestions related to taxes, wages and safety nets. Depending on which segment of society you may belong to, chances are, you would have liked some portions of the proposal and disliked others. However, i believe that the proposals have to be taken as a package because there should be an element of give-and-take, where benefits and burdens are widely shared among the various Economic Classes within Philippine Society. A visual summary of the benefits and burdens allocated to each sector is shown below.
Figure 1: Tax, Wages & Safety Nets: Trade-offs Between the Classes (Click on image to enlarge)

To give a more concrete example on the potential benefits of the above, i'd like to walk through a hypothetical scenario in which the above package of recommendations were implemented back in 2006. I chose this year because this was when the most recent Family Income and Expenditure Survey (FIES) was conducted, the results of which i can then use as basis for this scenario building exercise.

A. The 2006 FIES Results

In terms of average individual incomes per segment (classified in deciles), the FIES for 2006 shows the following:

Table 1: 2006 FIES Average Income, Expenses and Savings by Income Decile

Notice that the annual savings of the richest ten percent of Filipinos (at 156K pesos) is bigger than all the other income segments combined. At the other extreme, you have the poorest thirty percent, on average, actually ending up with a deficit, i.e. having more expenses than income.

Consolidating all the individual incomes within each category, we get the total incomes per decile...

Table 2: 2006 FIES Total Income, Expenses and Savings by Income Decile

...which can in turn be represented visually below:

Figure 2: 2006 FIES Income and Savings
(Click on image to enlarge)

The 2006 FIES reveals a situation where one-third of our population is unable to meet its expenses much less save for the future (as represented by the people who are underwater in the above diagram). What then would the situation be if my mix of proposals were implemented? The rest of this entry describes one possible outcome.*

B. The Possible Impact of 12% Flat Tax and 20 pesos per day Food Subsidies on 2006 FIES Data

With the recommended twelve percent flat tax and 20 pesos food subsidy (that comes in the form of vouchers similar to the food stamps in the United States) for all adults ages 18 to 64, the individual expenses** and savings of the different income segments will become as follows:

Table 3: 12% Flat Tax and 20 pesos Food Subsidies applied to the 2006 FIES Average Income, Expenses and Savings

As can be seen above, with the flat tax and food subsidies, even the bottom thirty percent of income earners are now able to have some savings***

The resulting aggregate income would then be...

Table 4: 12% Flat Tax and 20 pesos per day Food Subsidies applied to the 2006 FIES Total Income, Expenses and Savings

...and the over-all situation**** in terms of savings improves for all segments of society (as represented by the increased number of coins in the diagram below).

Figure 3: 12% Flat Tax and 20 pesos per day Food Subsidies applied to the 2006 FIES Income and Savings
(Click on image to enlarge)

For the Upper Tier of Society, more savings***** means more funds that can be invested in housing, education or business activities.

C. Conclusion

From the above example, we can see that a combination of lowering the income tax to a flat rate of twelve percent and providing food subsidies of twenty pesos for each Filipino adult (18 to 64 years old) may (all other things remaining equal) result in a near doubling of the aggregate savings rate (809 Billion from the original 428 Billion Pesos aggregate savings).

*Outcomes depend on factors such as the accuracy of FIES data (which i used as basis for the above), eventual tax collection efficiency as well as the propensity by which people may try to game the system to avoid paying their share.
**Expenses are reduced because taxes are included as part of household expenses. You can refer to the FIES Method of Computing Family Income and Expenses here.
***Given the assumption that the individual income earner does not choose to increase his/her expenses on other commodities and services.
****I am, of course, talking in terms of averages which means that within a given segment, there will still be those who are better and worse off. Uniformly better outcomes is highly improbable.
*****Included in this savings amount is the amount deducted for Social Security, Housing and Medical Insurance which i also proposed to be at a cumulative 12 percent of taxable income.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Towards A New Social Contract on Taxes, Wages & Safety Nets

The recent blog entries* related to VAT and dole-outs have gotten me to thinking of a holistic package of recommendations related to both the Tax burden and Social Safety Nets.

I. Basic Principles

I believe that any such set of recommendations must be based on a set of principles by which we envision Philippine Society to operate under. The principles that i have identified (so far) are the following**:

A. Principles related to Safety Nets

A.1 No Excuse for Hunger. Given our abundance of resources, there is absolutely no reason why any Filipino (employed or unemployed) should go hungry in his own country. For starters, there is absolutely no excuse to have people resort to recycling garbage for food.***

A.2 Fair burden across sectors. In the interest of fairness and social cohesion (essential to building up social capital****), no segment of Philippine Society should be unduly burdened in sustaining the government and its social programs. In particular, the Middle Class has been feeling particularly besieged and consequently alienated. This is in no small part because they see that they are the only ones paying income taxes while the majority poor, do not.

A.3 Social Security before Taxes. A person's income should first be allocated to social security (i.e. retirement benefits, housing and medical insurance) before it is allocated to taxes. Here in Singapore, for example, the amount deducted for Social Security is higher than the amount deducted for income taxes.

B. Principles Related to Capability Building and Demand Generation

The foundation for industrial development is a healthy domestic base.

B.1 Obligation to Give-back. Every recipient of social welfare should have the responsibility to give back to Society by using his capabilities to contribute to social welfare and economic development.

B.2 Subsidies as Stimulus. In the interest of pump-priming the economy, Safety Nets should first be allocated to consumption. A study by the United State's Congressional Budget Office identified direct injections (such as unemployment or food stamps provisions) to the poor as having the biggest effect to propping up consumption which is important to avoiding a recession. In this sense, the much criticized katas ng VAT dole-outs are actually a step in the right direction in terms of its multiplier effect.

C. Principles Related to Development: Investment, Innovation and Technology

The key to economic development is to build up local capabilities to innovate and continuously improve on existing technologies.

C.1 Savings before Consumption. Tax incentives and disincentives should be structured to prioritize savings over consumption.

C.2 Culture of Entrepreneurship and not Dependence. Entrepreneurial activities should be encouraged and dependence of OFW remittances should be discouraged.

The following are the specific recommendations that are based on the above principles.

II. Specific Recommendations on Taxes, Social Security and Income Subsidies

1. Flat tax on income: For all salary and wage earners, impose a uniform income tax rate. The initial rate can be pegged at 12 percent.

Table 1: Existing***** versus New Income Taxes
Update Oct-18-2008: Just to emphasize, Exemptions not applicable on New Tax Due

As shown on the above table, given this recommendation, any salary or wage earner who receives an annual taxable income of 70,000 pesos or above will receive a tax relief, while those receiving less will have additional tax burden. (Note that in the above, the subsidies for the lower income earners haven't been factored in. The effect of subsidies is shown in Table 2 below.)

2. Equal or bigger Social Security Contributions relative to Income Taxes. Similarly, impose a uniform social security contribution (includes SSS, Pag-Ibig, Medicare and/or GSIS) rate that is equal or higher than the income tax rate, in this case, the cumulative rate could also be pegged twelve percent. This deducted amount will then go into retirement, housing and medical insurance of the employee and/or wage earner's At the same time, the pool of savings can still be made available to extend credit to the contributors or to support the government's socialized housing and health maintenance programs.

The Employer's contributions could be pegged at half of the employee's i.e. six percent. (Additionally, if we want to roughly follow the Singapore model, the total contribution of both employer and employer can be capped at Ten Thousand pesos per month each.)

The benefit of the first two recommendations has to do with principles A.2 and A.3. A flat tax covering all income levels will mean that no segment of the salary and/or wage earning population would feel that they are unduly taking a disproportionate part of the burden and help eradicate the Paano Naman Kaming Mga Middle Class sense of victimhood.

3. Replace tax exemptions with subsidies for both employed and unemployed. The Fair Burden Principle (A.2) above means that the tax base should be widened****** to cover the entire working population. If left as it is, for the lower income groups, this would clash with the No Excuse for Hunger Principle (A.1). Therefore, a survival subsidy, in the form of food stamps, initially pegged at 20 pesos per day per adult (18 to 64 years old) should be provided. Table 2 below calculates the net relief across all the income brackets illustrated in Table 1.

Table 2: Net Tax Relief (Burden)
Update Oct-18-2008: Just to emphasize, Exemptions not applicable on New Tax Due

The above table illustrates that the 20 pesos per day food stamp subsidy covers adults (18 to 64) of all income brackets, even those with zero income, i.e. the unemployed. This institutionalizes and systematizes the katas ng VAT and provides a basic layer of social safety net, one that addresses hunger to fulfill Principle A.1 while at the same time, helping sustain consumer demand that drives the economy (Principle B.2). This is also an improvement over tax exemptions on minimum wage earners because it also considers the welfare of the unemployed who outnumber the employed.

4. Eliminate the minimum wage.******* The minimum wage should be eliminated in order to give business enterprises the flexibility to compete in the world market (in support of Principle C.2). Since the problem is unemployment and chronic underemployment, the priority should be given to creating as many jobs as possible. By comparison, the task of increasing the wages of workers who are already employed is secondary. Besides, reducing unemployment is in the interest of labor because fewer people looking for jobs will ultimately mean a stronger bargaining position.

5. Retain VAT. This is in keeping with the principle of prioritizing savings over consumption (Principle C.1). Retaining VAT will also enable continued funding of food stamps (Principle A.1).

6. Tax OFW remittances. OFW Remittances should be included as part of income and taxed accordingly. This is in keeping with the principle of discouraging a culture of dependence (Principle C.2).

7. Implement a National ID. This National ID could be either the SSS/GSIS ID, the BIR's Tax Identification Number or a separate number altogether. Such an ID is needed to facilitate the distribution of subsidies as well as the collection of taxes and social security. To prevent abuse, the introduction of the National ID should be accompanied by increased safeguards on privacy.

III. Conclusion: A Foundation for Investment, Innovation and Technology Improvement

Each of the preceding recommendations will benefit certain segment of Society and impose a burden on another. It is therefore important to take a holistic approach in the spirit of give and take among the different sectors. Below is a visual summary of the complementary roles of Social Security Contributions and Taxes in achieving our objectives in the areas of Survival, Civilized Living, Capability Building and balancing Consumer Demand with Investment.

Figure 1: Taxes and Social Security Contributions as applied to Areas of Nation Building********

While we should not lose sight of the fact that our economic development ultimately depends on our home-grown ability to innovate by continuously improving existing as well as developing new technologies, not having to be preoccupied with matters of survival is an essential first step.

*An initial formulation of my recommendations can be found in the comments section of this blog entry over at Manolo's. Blog entries on the VAT issue that i have read include:
**I'll update the list as and when i think of additional principles.
***Known as 'pagpag', a term i first heard from fellow blogger The EQualizer.
****I realize that, strictly speaking, social capital brings about social cohesion (and not the other way around) but i nevertheless believe that anything that increases social cohesion increases social capital as well.
***** Refer to the BIR Website for existing guidelines.
******See also Solita Monsod's criticism on the recent law granting tax exemptions on minimum wage earners. (Hat tip to Manolo.)
*******This does not mean that Labor Unions should be discouraged. On the contrary, strong Unions should be encouraged in order to have the workers' interests represented in a tripartite partnership between labor, management and government.
********Not all items shown on the diagram are discussed in this present blog entry. Manolo Quezon reintroduced the idea of Victory Gardens to mitigate the effects of the food crisis. I briefly described my version of a large scale implementation this concept in this comment.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

In the Absence of Empathy or Foresight...

...solving a problem is often a matter of getting the right group of people to feel the pain.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

GK's Agenda

Me : Gawad Kalinga is primarily a racket to win converts.
Tony Meloto: No it's not.
Carlos Palad: Yes, it is.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Western Music and Math

In Seed Magazine, a mathematical explanation of how melody and harmony combine to make [Western*] music. Turns out that musicians have been doing geometry all along.

(Hat tip: 3Quarksdaily.)

Update Jan-31-2009: Gary Granada's exposition gives us a tangible example of this.

*The article explains that many forms of non-Western music have melody, but no harmony.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Stop Sulpicio Lines

I join my fellow bloggers in calling for:

1. Justice for the victims and their families.
2. Retribution against the business owners and management of Sulpicio.
3. Accountability for the failure of government agencies in its safety regulation, disaster prevention and relief efforts.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Black and White Movement Resumes Black Friday Silent Protests

The Black and White Movement has announced that it is restarting its Black Friday Silent Protests.
"The Black and White Movement condemns both the callousness of our leaders, and the policy of deception in addressing our problems. To reawaken our people to these stark realities, we will resume our Black Friday Silent Protest actions on July 4, 2008.

We will gather every Friday at a pre-determined location at a specified time, all of us wearing black. There will be no placards or flags, no speeches, and no program. Our presence will be our message of protest. We will quietly disperse after 30 minutes.

This Friday, the designated time and place is the COMELEC Headquarters, Intramuros, Manila, at 5 PM. This is to dramatize where our problems all started – the cheating in the 2004 elections. With 3 commissioners still to be appointed by GMA, we may see the same transgressions being executed in 2010 due to a lack of qualified overseers."
It's time to stop moving on.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Good luck America!

Kudos to Senator Hillary Clinton for graciously throwing her support behind Barack Obama. For a while, i thought she would be following the lead of another ambitious politician.

I hope the American people vote for the right person this time around for all our sakes.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Jun Lozada's Blog

Kudos to Blogger's Kapihan for launching Jun Lozada's blog. It's not everyday that a genuine Filipino hero joins the ranks of Filipino bloggers.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Interview with Captain Faeldon (Part 4 of 4)

Captain Faeldon emphasizes the need not to be career-oriented:
"...when you think of your career as your number one consideration...everything you do is in preparation for a next promotion, for a higher achievement, and that compromises public service..."
He says that this is the problem with other soldiers i.e. their being too career oriented.

Again, he emphasizes that he will never run for any electoral positon and will never accept any appointive position.

Captain Faeldon says that the most difficult thing he has done is to set his mind to the the worst case scenario...
"Any proponent of ideas [that they think] could eventually survive, and remove them [from their comfort zone]...they will not allow that to happen"
...and says that if he dies fighting and holding on to his beliefs, then he'll be satisfied.

Interview with Captain Faeldon (Part 3 of 4)

In this segment, Capt. Faeldon emphasizes that a political leader is supposed to understand that, "you are supposed to serve [the public] have no power over them, you are their servant".

In the most cryptic part of the interview (at least to me), Faeldon explains that restiveness in the military will be there as long as there are irregularities. However he observes as well that there is growing mistrust among the soldiers that they are just being used to further the personal ambitions of certain people which is why they do not participate "in order to play safe".

Faeldon also says that Gloria Arroyo has no authority to pardon him because she is not a legitimate President.

On the question of whether or not the Filipino people are ready for change, he gives what i think is the best piece of personal advice in this interview...
" aware of what you're thinking because it defines you as a person and it guides your action[s], so when you say that 'the people are not ready for change, the people are not ready to change values, the people are not ready to change their character,' that defines your actions"

Interview with Captain Faeldon (Part 2 of 4)

Faeldon states that another principle of their group is not to engage in partisan politics. (This included refusing to endorse his brother during the elections in 2004.) On the idea of National Consciousness, he emphasizes its required scope...
"...national consciousness cannot be achieved without majority of the people in a certain a nation...adheres to it...hindi puwede iyong magbuo ka lang ng isang milyon sa Metro Manila...then try to make a dent sa pambansa..."
...and clarifies its meaning as:
"...a situation where majority of the Filipino people have agreed united behind one idea and aspiration... [which represents their hope in life]..."
Capt. Faeldon also explains the failure of the post-EDSA (1986) leadership to capitalize on the people's unity at that time to take "strong positions on economic and political policies".

Interview with Captain Faeldon (Part 1 of 4)

Captain Faeldon explains the origin of, and the need for National Consciousness which requires personal sacrifice in the "long haul activity for this nation". He also rejects armed uprising and believes that the means to attain his vision is through democracy and non-violence.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Crispin Beltran

"What happened — his being on the roof, a 75-year old man with a hammer, doing household work and making sure his home and family were safe from the rains — is (was?) so like Ka Bel. He lived and worked from day to day always with meaningful intent, with purpose, with the aim to protect and defend those he cared for and loved the most. And that purpose extended (oh how it it did reach outward and forward like an undeniable force of nature!) beyond his family — he embraced the working class, the Filipino people, and even the poor and oppressed of other nations." - From a tribute by Ina Silverio
Truly an exemplary human being and a rare breed of Congressman. Read the whole thing over at Ellen's blog.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Austronesian Migration: Questions and Links

My friend Melvin, who is also interested in the migrations of peoples through history has some thought-provoking questions on this subject, particularly as it relates to the Austronesian migration to the Philippines, the rest of Southeast Asia and beyond:
  1. Why are Kapampangan speakers completely surrounded by Tagalog speakers (a language that's not really similar to it)?
  2. How did Tagalog -- a Cebuano cousin -- become entrenched in the regions around Laguna de Bay and Taal Lake, instead of languages that developed on Luzon island?
  3. How is it that peninsular Malaysia is part of the Austronesian language region (that originated in Taiwan), when migrations from the Indian subcontinent or from southern China seems easier?
  4. Did volcanic eruptions completely wipe out the original inhabitants of the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia? Did this event, in turn, facilitate the migration of Austronesian peoples?
  5. What led the Austronesians to become master seafarers that populated the Pacific islands and went as far as Madagascar? Was there some important natural event?
  6. [Added May-27-2008] Do you know how related Mon-Khmers are to Austronesians? (Cambodians don't really look that much different from Malays).
Any answers (or links) to the above would be appreciated.

Melvin has also pointed to a useful website, The Austronesian Basic Vocabulary Database**.

Update May-21-2008: In the comments section, Anonymous has provided some information relevant to Questions #1 to #3 above.

Specific to Question #1 and #2, i.e. the encirclement of Kapampangans by the Tagalogs, Anonymous explains:

"Kapampangans used to populate the areas around Tondo, Nueva Ecija, Bulacan, and Bataan. At the arrival of the conquistas there were only around 70,000 Tagalogs and 70,000 Kapampangans, and the areas of Pampanga and Katagalugan were mostly covered in forest. So the areas which are now populated with Tagalogs have just been deforested and populated in the past 150 years. The encroachment of Tagalogs is a recent phenomena (due to Tagalog speaking people's population boom). The policy of Filipino (Tagalog) as national language has converted a lot of native Kapampangan speakers as well.

Tagalogs were sent by Bornean Datus to represent Borneo's trade interests with mainland Chinese merchants in the all important port of Manila. In the beginning, Laguna and Batangas was their heartland, because that's as far as they can push (otherwise they'd meet the bolos of Kapampangan tribes if they pushed harder into Manila!) as Kapampangans had control of the Manila (Rajah Soliman, Lakan Dula and Matanda were Kapampangan). Of course, it should be remembered that Tagalogs and Kapampangans had friendly relations due to diplomacy by familial intermarriages of the aristocracy."

I take the above to mean that the encroachment of Tagalogs in what used to be the domain of the Kapampangans is a consequence of the Pax-Hispanica imposed by the Spanish colonizers which meant that previous tribal boundaries were no longer barriers to free movement.

Regarding Question #3, i.e. the presence of Austronesians in Malaysia, Anonymous offered the following hypothesis:

"Eden in the East, the Drowned Continent of Southeast Asia by Stephen Oppenheimer posits that Austronesians had their native homeland in Sundaland-which is located in the South China Sea area bordered by Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia. The melting of ice after the last ice age drowned the continent, and pushed its people out of Sundaland into the Philippines, Oceania, even as far as Madagascar."

This scenario is possible as seen from the vast areas of Sundaland submerged at the end of the last Ice Age as shown in the before and after pictures below.***

Click on image to enlarge

According to the Genographic Project, Y-DNA marker Haplogroup O1a-M119 associated with the Austronesians emerged 30,000 years ago so the timescales do match. So if Ice Age Sundaland was inhabited by the Austronesians, this would explain their continued presence in the Malay Peninsula. On the other hand, the as per the Wikipedia entry on the Austronesian Languages, the greatest linquistic and genetic diversity is found in Taiwan which supports the competing claim that the Austronesian language originated in that island. These conflicting facts still need to be reconciled to arrive at a coherent historical narrative.

You can read the entirety of Anonymous' explanation in the comments section.

Update May-23-2008: Anonymous has pointed to a blog by Paul K. Manansala with fascinating entries on the Austronesians (with emphasis on the Nusantao). His blog also gives a more detailed account of the Sundaland flooding events, of which there were 3 major episodes.

In one of his blog entries on the topic, Manansala gives an important warning...

"...we should not assume anything about the "race" of the Austronesian speakers, or for that matter the "Melanesians" back in the Neolithic period when these expansions occurred.

Austronesian speakers in the Pacific -- Micronesians, Melanesians and Polynesians -- for example, all have significant percentages of Y chromosome C2 haplogroup. In some Polynesian areas, C2 is the dominant haplotype. However, C2 has not been found in Taiwan so far."
The above advice is especially relevant to my previous blog entry on the Y-DNA Human Family Tree where i use mnemonic shortcuts to denote certain Haplogroups. Each linguistic group may have individuals predominantly belonging to one Haplogroup but clearly the categories of language and genetic genealogy can and do overlap.

In the same blog entry, Manansala also differentiates between the 'Austronesian' and the 'Malayo-Polynesian' expansions.

Update May-27-2008: Related to Question #4 above, Melvin clarifies his question...

"About the volcanic eruption-related questions, I was actually wondering whether later eruptions kept SE Asia sparsely populated, since Sumatra and Java are littered with volcanoes. On the same vein, I also wonder whether Banahaw and Taal had helped ensure that a Visayan language (Tagalog) and not a Kapampangan/Panggalatoc relative take root in the Batangas/Quezon region."
On the Austronesian origins of the Thai language, Melvin shares what he read:

"Thai originated in Taiwan as an Austronesian language but has evolved into a totally different language. Unlike other Austronesian languages that took on the seas, Thai's route was through mainland southern China. The Thais arrived in Thailand during the Song dynasty, where they displaced the Khmer Empire that once ruled the area."
I have also added his Question #6 on the relationship of the Mon-Khmer with the Austronesians.

Over in his blog, Paul K. Manansala points to new research that challenges the 'Out of Taiwan' agriculture-driven origin of the Austronesian people and supports the Sundaland flooding triggered dispersal model.

*Melvin read an article last year that mentioned about a volcanic event that wiped out the population of southern India.
**Greenhill, S. J., Blust. R, & Gray, R.D. (2003-2008) The Austronesian Basic Vocabulary Database.
***Source of Images: The Genographic Project's Atlas of the Human Journey
****Melvin read that Cambodians settled in Southeast Asia quite recently (around 3,000 years ago) and have migrated from somewhere near northern India.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Jonas Burgos and the 'Middle Class Way of Living'

It's been one year since Jonas Burgos was abducted from a Mall in broad daylight. I for one, don't believe that this despicable act can just be blamed on a few bad elements in the military (or even the government). It takes a certain kind of Society to make this possible, one that is populated with individuals who possess a mindset that is on full display in this fortright (but anonymous) comment over at Expectorants:
"It's a simple question of the lesser evil. Who are the aggressive power brokers/stakeholders in the Philippines ba? Military, CPP/NPA, oligarchs.

Pick one. How you might say? Well, let's stop picking on Arroyo for one and start supporting her. She's killing the commies and bribing the soldiers. So stop those middle-class rallies against GMA and support the parliamentary referendum to prolong her and her party's rule.

If the communists or military sweep to power tomorrow and be a little less corrupt than the oligarchs, I would have to agree that there would be an exponential improvement in the lives of the hungry and destitute.

But if helping a lot of poor means that the new military or communist overlords would take away the accumulated wealth of the present rich, then I'm afraid I would have to side with the evil oligarchs.

As much as I can sympathize with the predicament of the poor, I wouldn't allow a power shift that would uplift their standard of living while at the same time lower mine, that is, my middle class way of living.

It may sound selfish, but I've thought this through. I don't want to spend the rest of my life "starting over" to accumulate again the real estate, big savings account, stocks, and bonds from which my I derive my (rent, interest, dividends, coupons) income from. At the moment, I don't work, but I live like semi-royalty because of that accumulated wealth. I'm afraid if commies or military take over then they'll tax me to the hilt or be forced to go overseas where I'll become a common tao (my wealth would be worth less if liquidated, converted to foreign currency, and moved overseas).
The banality of evil, alive and well in 21st Century Philippines.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Human Family Tree: Paternal Side (Y-DNA)

Using the information found on the Genographic Project website's Atlas of Human Journey, i have drawn a Family Tree based on the Y-DNA Haplogroup classifications:

Figure 1: Human Family Tree Y-DNA
Click on image to enlarge

I encourage you to browse the image above as it has some interesting relationships.

Update April-25-2008: Based on the Family Tree above, i have measured the degree of separation of each Haplogroup to every other Haplogroup by working out a route via the nearest common ancestor which i then tabulated below.

Table 1: Degree of Separation between Haplogroups
Click on image to enlarge

For example, as shown below, the degree of separation between Haplogroup O3.M122 (i.e. a marker associated with China's first rice farmers who spread throughout China and Southeast Asia) and Haplogroup O1A.M119 (i.e. associated with the Austronesians, a linguistic group that includes present day Filipinos) is '2'. Both the Austronesians and China's first rice farmers share a common immediate ancestor i.e. Haplogroup O.M175 (i.e. the 'East Asian Clan').

Example 1: China's First Rice Farmers and the Austronesians

By way of comparison, the degree of separation between Haplogroup O3.M122 (i.e. China's first rice farmers) and Haplogroup C3.M217 (i.e. the Mongols with Genghis Khan's Marker) is farther with a value of '6'. In this case, we need to go back a few steps further up the family tree to find their common ancestor Haplogroup M168 (i.e. the 'Eurasian Adam').

Example 2: China's First Rice Farmers and the Mongols

This can be contrasted with the much smaller degree of separation between Haplogroup C3.M217 (i.e. the Mongols or Genghis Khan's Marker) and Haplogroup C.M130 (i.e. the 'Coastal Clan' from where the Australian Aborigines came from) which is '1'. This is because Haplogroup C3.M217 is a direct descendant of C.M130.

Example 3: The Mongols and the Australian Aborigines

It is also interesting to observe that the Coastal Clan Haplogroup C.M130, which includes the Australian Aborigines is more closely related to Haplogroup I.M170, known to be the ancestors of the Vikings...

Example 4: The Australian Aborigines and the Vikings

...than Haplogroup I.M170 is to the Cro-Magnon Haplogroup R1B.M343 to which many of today's Western Europeans belong.

Example 5: The Vikings and the Cro-Magnon

It is clear from the preceding examples that the previously established major racial categories (e.g. Caucasoid, Negroid, Mongoloid, and Australoid) are no longer scientifically valid.

Update April-28-2008: At the comments section, do check out a critique of the Genographic website's Haplogroup descriptions, which according to the commenter, is less accurate than the equivalent entry found in Wikipedia.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Ballistic Re-entry

South Korean Astronaut Yi So-yeon
Source: Xinhua

The ride back was rougher than usual but South Korea's first astronaut made it down safely. Congratulations! May you be the first among many.

Korean Cylon Number Eight

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

What Gödel Proved

As explained by Nagel and Newman in their classic introduction to Kurt Gödel's landmark Incompleteness Theorem,
"...given any consistent set of arithmetical axioms, there are true arithmetical statements that cannot be derived from the set."
A Mathematical System is based on a limited set of axioms, i.e. assertions or statements that are assumed to be true without the need for any proof.

Figure 1: Axioms as Self-evident Truths

Using the internal rules of the Mathematical System, these axioms can then be used as basis to determine whether other assertions within such a system are true or false. Assertions that are proven to be true are accorded the status of Theorems.

Figure 2: Proving Assertions

These theorems can in turn be used (together with axioms or other theorems) to prove or disprove other assertions via the same method of Deductive Reasoning. One would therefore expect that such an ongoing process of generating assertions and proving them would result in a mathematical system that is able to extend itself by uncovering or constructing more mathematical truths while, at the same time, avoiding false assertions that would allow inconsistency(-ies) to creep into the System. Gödel found out that this is not the case.

Figure 3: Consistent and Complete Mathematical System
(Click on image to enlarge)

What Gödel proved in 1931 was that avoiding inconsistency within the system comes at the expense of completeness, i.e. the system's characteristic of being self-contained (in other words, 'complete in itself'). In a mathematical system based on axioms, there will always be assertions that are true, but whose truth cannot be proven from within the system on the basis of its axioms (or by way of the system's theorems). The truth of these assertions can be determined from outside the system [aka the 'Environment'], but not from within.

Figure 4: Consistent but Incomplete Mathematical System
(Click on image to enlarge)

Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem has a number of implications that have been explored at length, but i believe that one of the most significant, as explained by Douglas Hofstadter* is that:
"...provability is a weaker notion than truth** no matter what axiomatic system is involved."
A timely reminder to those who count on a given system to always come up with evidence to establish truth. There are situations when lack of evidence does not negate the truth of an assertion. Sometimes, you just have to step outside the system to see that this is indeed the case.

Update April-16-2008: Here's an excellent discussion on Douglas Hofstadter's book Gödel, Escher, Bach (also known by its shortname GEB).

Update April-25-2008: It is also important to emphasize what Gödel does not prove, i.e. Gödel does not prove the romantic and anti-rationalist notion that "There are true things which cannot be proved".

*in his book Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid
**Emphasis mine.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Matter and Energy: Ordinary and Dark

I just finished reading Lisa Randall's book Warped Passages, which i highly recommend especially now that the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), where many of the theories she discusses in the book will be tested, is about to start operating.

While Randall's main focus is on theories involving extra-dimensions, she explains a lot of related topics along the way, and for me, one of the most striking details she reveals has to do with the varieties and relative proportions of matter and energy in the Universe. Randall explains...
"Dark Matter is the nonluminous matter that pervades the universe and has been discovered through its gravitational influence. Even though about one-quarter (25%) of the energy in the universe* is stored in dark matter, we still don't know what it is...

...The universe contains dark energy** (energy not carried by any matter), that constitutes seventy percent (70%) of the total energy of the universe...No theory [is able to] explain dark energy."
By contrast, ordinary matter from which we are made of makes up the remaining five percent (5%).

Update April-20-2008: Via 3Quarksdaily, an experiment that claims to detect Dark Matter in the form of Weakly Interacting Massive Particles (WIMPs).

Also, here's the web page for NASA's Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) that i mentioned in the comments section. It has further interesting information including this Timeline of the Universe.

Click on image to enlarge

In the above diagram, the acceleration of the Universe's expansion due to Dark Energy is noticeable.

Update April-25-2008: Over at Cosmic Variance, blogger-physicist Sean Carroll explains that the famous equation e=mc2 does not apply in the case of Dark Energy.
"Interestingly, the dark energy that makes up 70% of the energy of the universe doesn’t really have “mass” at all, since it’s not made up of objects (such as particles) that can have a rest frame — it’s a smooth field filling space."
*Matter and energy is intergchangeable via e=mc2.
**This mysterious Dark Energy is also known as Vacuum Energy and was first proposed by Einstein as the Cosmological Constant and more recently theorized as a new substance called Quintessence. Its presence is inferred by the observation that the expansion of the universe seems to be accelerating.