Wednesday, March 28, 2007

That mysterious trickledown effect

The country's economic managers say we just have to wait, economic gains don't come easy, but if we are patient the poor will experience the trickledown effect of GMA's well-managed and growing economy. Joey Salceda even said in one interview that it should take about seventeen months (if I remember the figure correctly) for the trickledown effect to be felt.

Before we form a queu and wait for the trickledown effect, it bears asking: Is there really such a thing as a trickledown effect?

As it is always the case in the two-handed discipline called economics (on one hand this, on the other hand that), there is no waterproof consensus, although at first glance it seems commonsensible to assume that economic growth must be good for everybody, including the very poor.

Michael Todaro, in his influential text on Economic Development, says that in the less than idealized state of affairs, there is no trickledown that happens. Some development economists also contend that economic gains from growth trickle up to the middle classes and the very rich. Amartya Sen claims that economic growth does not always generate benefits in terms of numerous nonpecuniary measures of well-being. John Kenneth Galbraith, in contemptuous language, branded the trickledown effect as horse and sparrow economics: feeding horses superior oats so that starving sparrows can forage in their dung.

The above aspersions aside, there is more or less clear evidence that there is indeed such a thing as the trickledown effect, even if nothing is consciously done to make pro-poor growth (see Dollar and Kray, Growth is good for the poor) although where Joey Salceda got his seventeen months I don't know.The problem is that the poor benefit from the trickledown more or less in proportion to what they already have. So even if economic growth is as beneficial to the poor as it is to the rich, the poor would not benefit very much if they don't have anything to begin with.

In short, the trickledown effect will not save the hungry by itself, even if it comes right after the May elections.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Volunteer opportunity

The EcoWaste Coalition is looking for volunteers and interns who can assist in our campaigns and endeavors. The coalition is composed of different groups coming from the non-government organizations, community, youth, religious sector, academe etc., all pushing for zero waste alternatives.

The coalition's campaigns range from different pressing environmental and social issues such as "greening and waste-free" election 2007, junking of the Japan-Philippine Partnership Agreement (JPEPA), closure of dumpsites, landfills and incinerators, plastic use regulation, push for Extended Producers Responsibility (EPR) for product manufacturers, pollution, climate change and full implementation of different environmental laws like Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, Clean Air Act etc.

If you are interested and have some time this vacation, however short, please contact the EcoWaste Coalition at 0927-3209271, (02) 9290376 or email at

Saturday, March 24, 2007

No cake, no bread, no SMS

Critics of the administration, admit impediments: President Arroyo has prudently managed the economy.

The fiscal deficit has been tamed; now all the previous talk about our possibly going the route of Argentina is gone. We have experienced, as the economist Emmanuel de Dios points out, 5 straight years of at least 3% economic growth, a feat never before seen in all our recorded economic history. Also, as Tony Lopez points out here, good money is also being made in the stock market, consumer prices are stable, and the peso stronger.

The opposition says that the problem with the present economy is that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer.

Now, in a capitalist economy, the rich (unless they're profligate) should naturally get richer if only for the simple reason that they control more of the factors of production. If our rich were to get poorer, now that should be a cause for concern since that would mean the economy is contracting. While we get jealous of the rich from time to time (don't we all?), we can't really blame them for being richer unless we start working on our hammer and sickle. The problem is not that the rich are getting richer, only that the poor are getting poorer.

The question that should be asked is: Are our poor really getting poorer?

Yes, they are, if we are to judge based on the SWS surveys on self-rated poverty and hunger incidence in the country. The Arroyo administration must face the issue squarely rather than whimsically suggesting temperance among the poor. The president must realize that the people who are texting all those trite jokes and mawkish proverbs are simply not the same people who go hungry.

Temperance and frugality are virtues that should be vigorously promoted by the government, but belt-tightening as poverty alleviation policy hardly fits the gung-ho and can-do attitude of President Arroyo when it comes to meeting the challenges of economic development. Surely, she can do better than that.

Friday, March 16, 2007

You know you are getting old...

when it has become so hard to organize a get-together. Your friends can no longer come because they're either having a baby (wife can't go out late) or children can't be left home or they're finishing an office report. Also, people you know from college who totally lived degenerate lives on campus have started morphing into model citizens of the republic and need a week's notice in advance. These are the same people during years past whom you could have texted at 2 AM and they'd invariably show up. Well, such is life. The anomie, the anomie!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Web prowl

Various papers and presentations on the Rise of Asia and its Implications from the Eight Annual Global Development Conference held in Beijing last January are available online. Professor Conrado Dayrit's paper on the potential of coconut oil as cure for HIV/AIDS is available online here.Zhang Ziyi and Liu Ye (of Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress and Curse of the Golden Flower) were classmates at the Beijing Theater University before they both became famous and there's a video of them performing a skit back thenduring their college days here. From Time, here's what to do when your spouse is hotter than you.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Will the Pandacan oil depot be moved any time soon?

Probably not despite Manila Mayor Atienza's resolve not to appeal the Supreme Court decision ordering the immediate enforcement of City Council Ordinance 8027 which reclassifies the area occupied by the depot from industrial to commercial. This being an election year, Mayor Atienza and the city council would never dare to contest the SC decision and so they're all trashing the oil companies in radio interviews.

One hint that Mayor Atienza is not really batting for immediate closure is the fact that in the many interviews he granted, he never addressed the issue of City Ordinance 8119 or the Comprehensive Land Use Plan of Manila, which, the oil companies are claiming, superseded City Council Ordinance 8027 and provides them a seven-year period to relocate their terminals (or until 2013, according to Petron public affairs manager Virginia Ruivivar).

After the elections, the new City Council members with three years of newly secured public office can also lean over backward to accomodate the oil companies and issue a new ordinance that would favor a slow-motion closure of the depot. For the Manila residents who want to see the depot shut down, the real battle would be in packing the city council this May 14 with anti-depot councilors.

Friday, March 09, 2007

2007 Maningning Miclat Poetry Awards Call for entries

The Maningning Miclat ArtFoundation, Inc. (MMAFI)is calling on young poets writing in Filipino, English and Chinese to participate in the 2007 Maningning Poetry Competition.

The Poetry Contestconsisting of 3 divisions -Filipino, English and Chinese ?is open toall poets, age 28and below. An entry must consist of at least eight (8) but not more than fifteen (15) poems. Authors may join all the divisions but can submit only one (1) entry in every division. All entries should be original in every language and not a translation of another entry.

All entries should be submitted in four(4) copies, double spaced on 81/2 x 11 inches bond paper with one inch margin on all sides and with ARIAL or TIMES NEW ROMAN size 12 font. Entry should be submitted with pen name only. Real name and pen name should be submitted in a separate sealed envelop together with a biodata, copy of birth certificate and a notarized declaration of originality and authenticity of authorship of the entry.

Entries must be addressed to the Maningning Miclat Art Foundation, Inc. (MMAFI), 2nd Floor Mile Long Building, AmorsoloSt., Legaspi Village, Makati City(Tel No. 816-7490to91) not later than 5:00 P.M. of April 17, 2007. Entries sent by mail should be postmarked/invoiced not later than April 3, 2007.

Maningning Miclat was a multiawarded artist, trilingual poet and creative writer, translator and teacher. Her trilingual book of poetry, "Voice from the Underworld" has earned raves not only from English and Filipino readersbutalsofrom Chinese readers.Miclathas been anthologized in Beijing in a bookfeaturingthe World'sTop 39women poets writing in Chinese, which included her.

The Maningning Miclat Award has been launchedto honor her short but meaningful life and to encourage, recognize and nurture young talentslike her. Every year since 2003, MMAFI has been awarding outstanding poets during odd numbered years and winning painters during even numbered years. This year's grandwinnerswill receive PhP28, 000.00 cash award for eachof the 3 categories, copies of collector's edition of"Voice from the Underworld" and"Beauty for Ashes : Remembering Maningning"as well as the Miclat family journal, Beyond the Great Walland trophiesby theeminent sculptor, Julie Lluch. Log on to www.maningning.comand email formore information.



1. The contest is open to all poets of all nationalities, age 28and below.

2. There are three divisions in the awards: (a) Filipino (b) English (c) Chinese.

3. An entry must consist of at least eight (8) but not more than fifteen (15) poems.

4. Authors may join all the divisions but can submit only one (1) entry in every division.

5. All entries should be original in every language and not a translation of another entry.

6. A work which has been awarded a prize in another contest is not qualified for the awards.

7. Published or unpublished works may be entered in the contest.If published, the date of publication should be within 2006-2007.

8. All entries should be submitted in four (4) copies, double spaced on 8 ?x 11 inches bond paper with one inch margin on all sides and the page number typed consecutively, e.g.,1 of 10, 2 of 10,and so on.Font should be ARIAL or TIMES NEW ROMAN, and the font size should be 12.Entry should be submitted with pen name only and not real name.

Real name and pen name should be submitted in a separate sealed envelope together with a biodata, copy of birth certificate and a notarized declaration of originality and authenticity of authorship of the entry.

9. Entries must be addressed to the Maningning Miclat Art Foundation, Inc. (MMAFI) , 2/F, Mile long Building, Amorsolo St., Legaspi Village, Makati City not later than April 17, 2007.Entries sent by mail or courier should be postmarked/invoiced not later than April 2, 2007.

10. Entries submitted via e-mail should be an RTF (Ritch Text Format) or a Word Document file and should be sent as an attachment together with the author's biodata and copy of birth certificate and notarized certification of originality or authenticity of authorship of entry.The original copy of the notarized certification should then be sent to MMAFI thru mail.Entries submitted via e-mail should be transmitted not later than April 17, 2007.

11. Submitted copies of winning entries shall remain with and become the property of MMAFI. Copyright of the works remains with the author but the latter grants, assigns and transfers into MMAFI the right without necessity of any payment other than the prize which may have been awarded to publish any winning entry or selection or portion thereof as it may at its discretion determine; to make the work available for downloading on the Internet or other electronic medium; and /or to allow students to make copies for research or in connection with their school requirements.

12. Plagiarism is anathema to the contest and MMAFI has the right of action against the author, if it may be later on discovered that said person is not the creator or owner of the copyright to the winning work. The foundation shall not be liable to any court action if a third party files a case against the winner who plagiarized the work of the said third party.

13. There will only be one Grand Prize winner for each division and the prize is P 28,000.00 and a trophy per winning entry.

14. The Board of Judges shall have the discretion not to award any prize if in its judgment, no meritorious entry had been submitted.

15. MMAFI has the sole right to designate the persons who shall constitute the Board of Judges in each division of the contest.The decision of the majority of the Board of Judges in all divisions shall be final.

16. The names of the winners and the members of the Board of Judges shall be announced on September 29, 2007.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Web prowl

There is a great disincentive for liberal democratic change in China because, according to this East-West paper (pdf), both the losers and the winners in the country's capitalist reforms don't want to challenge the Chinese Communist Party. In a related note, Der Siegel asks Does communism work after all? A male suicide bomber is supposed to get women in heaven, what does a female suicide bomber get? asks Slate. Last week, the actress Alicia Meyer appeared in a photo op for PETA Philippines wearing nothing more but lettuce leaves, and many people said she looked better than ever, leading many women to ask where can one find a beginner's guide to vegetarianism. Newsweek writes on the bleak prospects of Ban Ki Moon's tenure in the United Nations. Janet Yellen, chair of Clinton's Council of Economic Advisers in 1997, writes about Lessons of the Asian financial crisis 10 years later. Cebu Pacific is offering seats at greatly discounted prices till March 8 for travel dates from June to December this year.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Communists just wanna have fun

Because of the dance photos released by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and prominently played up in the newspapers, Communist party of the Philippines founder Joma Sison has had to explain in a press statement today that since it was Christmas, "it was perfectly alright for me to have kodakan [picture-taking], yugyugan [dancing] and kantahan [singing] with the Filipina movie and singing star Ara Mina [and singer-actor] Janno Gibbs."

The man is good in swing, must he apologize for it? Communists, unless they're Iglesia, have the inalienable right to dance whenever they feel like dancing--and not only in Christmas time (they're probably atheists anyway). What does the AFP expect Joma Sison to do? Be dour and sullen until the revolution comes? Dancing should be a central committee-approved method of putting away the ennui of alienated labor.

The Manila Standard Today also carries a picture of Sison derisively decribing him in the caption as "well-fed-looking" like some communist pig in Orwell's Animal Farm.

The one good thing that came out of this unfortunate disparagement of a communist's ability to party is that Joma Sison's website (from which the pictures were culled by the military) is more popular than ever.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Job opening

Earth Rights International (ERI) has opening for an Asia Office Manager and an EarthRights School Teacher position. The job descriptions are both on the website at this link:

About EarthRights International

EarthRights International (ERI) combines the power of law and the power of people in defense of human rights and the environment. We focus our work at the intersection of human rights and the environment, which we define as earth rights. We specialize in fact-finding, legal actions against perpetrators of earth rights abuses, training for grassroots and community leaders and advocacy campaigns. Through these strategies, ERI seeks to end earth rights abuses, and to promote and protect earth rights.

ERI has offices in northern Thailand and Washington, D.C. ERI was incorporated in the U.S. and has nonprofit status pursuant to U.S. Tax Code 501(c)(3). The staff is ethnically diverse (evenly divided between people from the Global North and South), and is composed of lawyers, human rights and environmental activists, and experienced NGO workers.