Warning: the moral hazards of the Binay family

Binay moral hazard

by Edgar Lores

Recently I came across three concepts in economics that I think may be applicable to the eruptions of corruption surrounding the Binay family.  These concepts are:

  • Tragedy of the Commons
  • Free Rider
  • Moral Hazard

Tragedy of the Commons

The tragedy of the commons is a situation wherein individuals, acting in their own self-interests, will deplete a shared common resource, which in the long-term is contrary to the interests of the whole group.

Examples of this ethical dilemma abound from sheepherders sharing a common but limited pastureland, through to the concerns for overpopulation, and now to the threat of global warming.

The dilemma for the individual sheepherder is that by adding a sheep to his flock, which is to his own interest, he intensifies the problem of overgrazing and thus hastens the depletion of the grassland and its ability to sustain the flocks of all sheepherders sharing the resource.

I would apply this concept to all political dynasties and in particular to that of the Binay family.  I would ask these questions of the Vice President:

  • Are you aware, sir, that by allowing your spouse and your progeny to compete for public office you are limiting the resource of political opportunity to non-dynastic candidates?
  • Furthermore, sir, by allowing dynastic families to lord it over the land, is not the resource of economic opportunity confined to a few families like yours, thus exacerbating the problem of inequality?

I am aware the analogy is a bit stretched but I would like to stress that while the elevation of the members of political dynasties into public offices is a matter of democratic public choice, one cannot be blind to the allegations against the Binays.  The members of the dynasty are claimed to be taking advantage of their positions in many forms, which have been revealed by Senate subcommittee on the Makati Parking Building.  These forms include rigged bidding, overpricing, the demand for kickbacks and substandard infrastructure.

The tragedy of the commons that is represented by the tragedy that is the Binay family may well be the tragedy of the nation.

Free Rider

A free rider is someone who enjoys a benefit from resources, goods, or services without paying the cost for the benefit.

Unlike the first and third concepts, this is a popular term and a commonplace idea.  I bring it up because of the prevalence of free riders on the gravy train in Makati.  And as a caution.

One is almost tempted to say that all politicians are free riders, especially in the just-now past age of the pork barrel. Politics is a business where the cost is a gift in horse-trading and a gift of the gab.  As the Filipino expression goes, “laway lang ang puhunan.” And the benefits seem to be enormous and unquantifiable, the sky being the limit, depending on how brazen you are.  And, indeed, how brazen they have been!

On the full-speed gravy train, there are several free riders and free rides:

  • Nancy got a free ride to the Senate by virtue of her father’s name, the Makati sister-city connections, and the willful ignorance of the Filipino voter.
  • Hillmarc’s Construction Company got a free ride by rigged bidding to obtaining several juicy contracts with the Makati City Government under 3 successive Binay regimes of the father, the son, and the unholy mother.
  • According to recent news, the three Binay mayorships got a free ride, receiving 13% kickbacks from Hillmarc’s.
  • Makati vice mayors, councilors, department heads, various city employees, and COA auditors got a free ride, pocketing 1% – 6% of kickbacks from infrastructure projects.
  • And, not the least, Mar Roxas in the survey polls is getting a free ride to higher public approval rates without any effort exerted on his part.

It would be one of the greatest ironies in politics if Mar is able to hitch a free ride to Malacanang Palace on the narrow shoulders of Jejomar.  And it would be the second or third greatest tragedies after Marcos and GMA if Binay got a ride, free or not, to the presidency.  I am certain some will contradict me and say Binay would be the mostest.  They will point out and say the first two were mere conjugal partnerships and not a caboodle.

Moral Hazard

Moral hazard is a situation in which someone who is protected from risk will behave differently than if they didn’t have protection.

The term is used in the insurance industry where a customer takes unusual risks or provides misleading information to obtain an advantage.  We encounter this in the case of a home owner who becomes less vigilant and leaves his doors open because he carries home contents insurance.  In the extreme case, we encounter this in a businessman who over declares the value of his business property, and then razes the property to the ground for its inflated value.  Insurance companies would distinguish the first example as a morale hazard – note the ‘e’ – whereas the second is a moral hazard arising out of character flaws of the criminal kind.

Conceivably, the term can be applied to Grace Poe, Ralph Recto, Rene Saguisag and other prominent Filipinos who continue to remain silent and do not speak out in any way, shape or form against the transgressions of the Binays.

In a way, I am applying the term in almost a reverse sense. The risk that Grace et al are taking may be hard to see because they are not providing misleading information nor are they seen to be taking any unusual risks.  The risk is almost impossible to detect, or even classify as a risk, because it is the peril of silence. In truth, Grace et al are calculating the hazard of whether to speak out – and by how much.  But if, as a result of the silence, if Binay is able to weather the storm of public opinion, if he runs and wins in 2016 and things go badly, it is the Filipino people – and not Grace et al – who will suffer.

This reverse sense of the term hews closer to the definition of moral hazard provided by Wikipedia:

  • In economic theory, a moral hazard is a situation in which a party is more likely to take risks because the costs that could result will NOT be borne by the party taking the risk. (Bolding mine.)

The distinction is made between two kinds of moral hazard as to whether the behavior occurs before an event, that is ex-ante, or after an event, that is ex-post.

  • The act of Binay selling his farm to a front, if true, would be an example of an ex-post moral hazard; he has successfully hidden his wealth and is now able to under declare his SALN to fool the people.
  • His act of under declaring a SALN, if true, would be an example of an ex-ante moral hazard in his run for the presidency.
  • Lastly, if Binay wins in 2016, the silence of Grace et al would be an example of a grievous ex-ante moral hazard.

A Moral Example

Against the backdrop of the above ethical dilemmas, permit me to ask: Has there ever been a poor politician?  I need to raise the question because the miasma of the Binay manifestations are toxic and too confronting, and one needs an antitoxin to refresh one’s faith in humanity.  The existence of such a politician should be curative and instructive.

Perhaps we can call Jose Mujica, the president of Uruguay, one.  He was a former Marxist who belonged to a notorious guerrilla group that was engaged in bank robberies and kidnappings.  He served 14 years in a military prison.  As president, he shuns living in a palace and prefers to live austerely in his farmhouse.  He drives an old Volkswagen Beetle.  And he donates 90% of his salary to charity.  As if that were not enough, he has pushed a liberal agenda on abortion, same-sex marriage and the legalization of cannabis.  And still if that were not enough, he has opened his arms to the first wave of Syrian refugees.

There may be a lesson in this for us: leftists, like Teddy Casino, Walden Bello and Risa Hontiveros, and ex-convicts (or detainees) who fought for righteous causes, like Senator Trillanes and unlike Erap and the Ampatuans, should win/stay in public office for the uncommon perspectives they bring.

Comments
90 Responses to “Warning: the moral hazards of the Binay family”
  1. andrewlim8 says:

    I want to pose this question if it is a moral hazard or not:

    A few months back, I attended a Mass where the homily was on forgiveness. The celebrant gave the usual explanations – the need to forgive, the thief who was nailed beside Christ and asked for forgiveness, etc. No problem so far until the priest came to his example of a man who sinned extensively and grievously throughout his life – and a corrupt politician was the perfect example – never repenting till his literal last moments, on his deathbed. If he asks for forgiveness, will it be given? I didnt hear what came after this but I thought he was posing a question, but my wife told me he was affirming that forgiveness would have been given.

    Now let’s enter the mind of a typical corrupt Filipino: “Wait a minute… If anything and everything can be forgiven, If I can be forgiven at the last moment, then a good strategy would be to just continue these deeds as long as I can, and just time my repentance right.”

    In my mind, this is why the corrupt are so brazen, and are able to lead dual lives of piety and corruption. It would have been less jarring if we were an atheist dominated country, but since we are the opposite….

    Has a moral hazard been created here with the unconditional guarantee of forgiveness?

    • josephivo says:

      No need for forgiveness, most of us have effective ways of self-justification. I don’t need forgiveness for my wrongdoings because eventually I believe that I took the right decisions. When I underpaid taxes I was right because combined I paid already much more than average, because others are cheating big way and I’m just a negligible little sinner, because not all the money I pay is used for a good purposes, a lot is stolen anyhow by corrupt politicians and civil servants…. I repeated this reasons so often that I’m convinced by now that I was right, even Saint Peter will understand as he reads my book once fully written. I feel the Binays thinking in a similar way.

      • andrewlim8 says:

        🙂 ha ha ha that’s a good one…just like when Erap (in an interview) considers himself forgiven “because God is so forgiving”…. essentially, he has forgiven himself…. ha ha ha

      • edgar lores says:

        *******
        Joseph,

        The justifications you enumerate are the ones we – and the Binays – make in our day-to-day living. These are the ways we accommodate, or make acceptable, our daily misdeeds. In time, we are so inured that we don’t even need these justifications for misdeeds: we just do it.

        In the larger context of religion that Andrew paints, the need for forgiveness and the cleansing of sins arise before we reach the pearly gates.

        In Filipino thinking, confessions, even deathbed ones, give us a “free ride” into heaven.
        *****

    • edgar lores says:

      *******
      Andrew,

      Whew, what a question! I note you asked this in the thread on your blog post, not in relation to moral hazard, and the answer given was that “absolution is outright forgiveness, deathbed or not.”

      Your scenario is almost the perfect example of a moral hazard situation.

      There are several definitions of the term and many examples in cyberspace. But if we just look at the first definition I have given, there are two stated elements in moral hazard. There is the element of risk and that of protection. The thread that joins these two elements is the notion that a man will behave differently in a situation where he has protection via-a-vis a situation where he does NOT have protection.

      There is a third element that is unstated in this first definition, which is provided in other definitions. This is the element of good faith.

      1. The corrupt politician is taking risks before his deathbed confession, living a sinful earthly life, and unmindful of the consequences in terms of his life in the hereafter.

      2. Why does he do this? Simple: because his faith teaches that when he makes a deathbed confession he will gain the protection of salvation in his afterlife. He is behaving differently now because he has the foreknowledge and the protection of “an unconditional guarantee of forgiveness” as you put it. One would almost have to say that in this respect his faith encourages corruption.

      3. Which brings us to the matter of good faith (or sincerity of intention). Does the dying corrupt politician have good faith? One would have to say that no, by his corrupt acts heretofore, he has not. In his deathbed confession, he may indeed be honest and not provide any misleading info about his various misdeeds, but the long history of those very misdeeds establish the fact that there was no sincerity of intention in trying to live up to the moral tenets of his faith. Now he is in a desperate attempt to earn the profit of eternal life before his life contract ends.
      *****

      • andrewlim8 says:

        Thanks for the reply. I struggle mightily with this question on a regular basis. Which is why I seek a clearer definition of what would constitute forgiveness in this belief system. Does a lesser sin like pride (e.g. away ng magkapatid) have the same requirement as the deeds of Janet Napoles or Jinggoy? Or are they all treated the same? Where does the concept of justice – in the here and now, not just in the hereafter, enter? Is it a requirement for forgiveness in the RCC?

        My persistence in figuring this out, I believe is it would explain the pervasiveness of corruption here, and would pave the way for meaningful change in doctrines and how it is applied.

        • edgar lores says:

          *******
          Andrew,

          If I were to pinpoint the cause of the pervasiveness of corruption here, I would hazard that it is in the absence of the experience of personal conversion touted by Protestants. This is sometimes referred to as the internalization of religion. William James uses the term vastation. From the Greek, we have the term metanoia.

          In Catholicism, conversion does not normally occur because it is not provoked.

          Whereas in Protestantism, conversion becomes a crucial and pivotal matter of choice in that it is presented as a prerequisite for adult baptism. The question normally put to the applicant, which he must seriously consider, is: “Do you accept Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior?” In answering yes and after baptism, the converted is expected to walk consciously – in every minute of his life henceforth – in the footsteps of Jesus.

          Joke: the difference between Catholic and Protestant baptisms is: one sprinkles, the other dunks. 🙂

          Metanoia for Catholics rarely occurs. The exceptions are people like Sonny and you who are innately sincere or who become sincere as the result of a triggering event outside of the church. For Protestants, the triggering event is inside the church.

          But even Protestants lapse. Spiritualism is hard to sustain because there are so many temptations! (Or attachments as Buddhism would have it.) I have made the comment before that for me the true meaning of being a Christian is not only walking in the footsteps of Jesus. One must figuratively, if not literally, become Jesus, and embody the two greatest commandments. This is the true transformation.
          *****

          • edgar lores says:

            *******
            I might add, transformation in most Christian denominations is merely symbolic in the rite of transubstantiation or consubstantiation. In Catholicism, the Eucharist.

            This is the reason why I look askance at rituals and objects of worship. The symbol takes the place of what should be the living reality.

            To keep within the topic: the Binays may come to understand this in a million years.
            *****

    • sonny says:

      @ Andrew

      This question as stated will be encountered in 2nd or 3rd year Catholic high school, if I were the catechist and will apply to any serious sin to be carried into the confessional for absolution. The human condition is not shed away after confession. The presumption to sin no more is inherent in one’s moral journey. This is the view from a negative terminology. To do good is the positive face of the same coin. In sin one loses that state of grace. This sinless state is what we present at the pearly gates. This is the state of soul we ask God’s grace to preserve and give witness to. The mindset of “typical corrupt Filipino” that says “Wait a minute … and just time my repentance right,” is itself a sin – the sin of presumption. To carry this as a way of life will lead to final condemnation.

      • sonny says:

        I hope I do not misstate the dilemma you want to present.

      • andrewlim8 says:

        I agree with you on this! Here’s to hoping it gets hammered home in Sunday homilies in clear, unmistakable language. We are so good in finding the “loophole” in anything, I believe many think they can even outwit God… like Imelda, Napoles, etc.

      • edgar lores says:

        *******
        Sonny,

        The term “sin of presumption” resonates. It can be used as the opposite of good faith. Thanks.
        *****

    • josephivo says:

      A visit to the Chinese cemetery might be revealing. When you see incense and candles for Confucius, Buddha, Santo Niño, the Black Nazarene and some other Saints in the same mausoleum, you understand the need of the deceased (or his descendants) to play it safe, you never know who waits at the other side. But what you do know is that you will need a favorable ear to listen to your explanations. And luckily you can overcome hard, measurable facts as stolen money with elusive things as faith, liturgical acts or good intentions, do not bet on a late confession alone. And karma, thousands of cakes for elderly create enough good karma to offset the bad karma of a few stolen millions, you’re safe.

      • edgar lores says:

        *******
        Joseph,

        Ah, the things we resort to to ensure salvation. You mention two new things here: images of faith and good works.

        Religious images are a subset of objects of faith which can include amulets, talismans, charms, rosaries, mandalas, lingams, yonis, etc. These objects are invested with supernatural power which increases as devotions are directed to them and at them. I will note that some religions and denominations eschew such objects.

        The stance on good works also varies. I am not familiar with the requirement of good works in other religions but, within Christianity, Catholics and Protestants differ in approach.

        – For Protestants, although faith suffices for salvation, salvation is not assured; salvation is a matter of God’s grace. However, good works is taken to be proof of faith.

        – Catholics believe that faith and good works go hand in hand and both are required for salvation. Hence the emphasis on charity and cakes for the elderly!

        There may be a fine distinction in the psychology of giving between the two approaches, which is exemplified by Mother Teresa. She is renowned for charitable works but she admitted to an internal emptiness. For her, a portion of her good works was motion – without emotion.

        We cannot help but wonder if the same is true for the Binays.
        *****

    • Adrian says:

      If you’ll take a closer look, the thief who was nailed beside Christ asked for forgiveness on the right Christ, at least on hindsight. A corrupt politician on his deathbed would likely have just another thief on his side (perhaps a Pajero-driving bishop).

      The priest cited two circumstances that are orders of magnitude different.

      • edgar lores says:

        *******
        Adrian,

        That’s deep.

        Are you suggesting what I think you are suggesting? That the deathbed scenario is a charade? That the forgiveness sought by the dying thief cannot be granted by the confessor thief because the latter is an impostor?

        You may just have shattered… an entire universe.
        *****

  2. manuel buencamino says:

    “Has there ever been a poor politician?”

    We don’t have to go to Uruguay for the answer.

    Anakpawis partylist Rep Crispin Beltran lived and died poor. He died from a fall while doing repairs on the roof of his very modest house.

    Rene Saguisag continues to live in a rented house. He served in Cory’s administration and a term in the Senate but I’m pretty sure he went out with about as much money as he when he came in.

    The Robredos, the late Jesse and Rep. Leni, have not made money from politics.

    There are others but we don’t hear much about them because media does not consider them sexy.

    • edgar lores says:

      *******
      Manuel,

      Ahaha, sexy!

      It is heartening to know there are fine examples of moral rectitude in our backyard. These models show what should be the proper norms and that an alternate universe is possible.

      You are right to highlight the role of the media. No, poverty is not sexy. Media tends to focus on the extremes of corruption and glamour. The SONA has become a fashion parade, and Nancy attracts attention for her weird getup. We should not perhaps begrudge politicians the razzmatazz. They are, after all, representatives of the country, and in fairness to Nancy she is promoting local fabrics . One would only wish that the internals match the external finery.
      *****

      • chit navarro says:

        BUt is it still sexy for Rene Saguisag’s deafening silence on his “friend”?
        But then when the question of who to vote was asked of him a while back, he replied that if there were only 2 – Bongbong Marcos & Binay – he will choose Binay.

        Will he still have the same answer now, after all these issues coming out?

        • edgar lores says:

          *******
          Chit,

          As with you, the nation and I eagerly await the signs from this and other oracles.
          *****

        • manuel buencamino says:

          Chit Navaroo,

          My reply was to the question “Has there ever been a poor politician?”

          Saguisag’s silence on Binay’s problem does not address that question. Saguisag’s role as defense attorney for Erap during his trial for plunder does not address that question either.

          Saguisag’s preference for Binay over BB Marcos seems like he was making a choice based on his perception of lesser evil. I think the right question to ask him is given a free hand to choose anybody who will you vote for?

  3. Joe America says:

    As I think about some examples of the social/economic effects of the Binay candidacy and scandal, it seems the following represent clear impacts:

    1. Tragedy of the commons: what is being sacrificed is good will as various interests grow hostile and nasty with each other, and the undermining of confidence in established institutions. Today’s example is UNA slamming DOJ as playing political ball, which is different than UNA slamming LP, which is generally constructive inter-party political debate. And for sure, the Office of the Vice President is being sullied every day that a stained person holds the office.

    2. The free ride is most amusing, as I think of Roxas getting swept along on the gravy train. He is looking more content these days, it seems. There are a lot of people on the Binay choo choo, for it seems that money is one quantity he has piles of, and I think the sister cities represent huge blocks of mayors and voters who might be flying off the train as the hot wind of understanding blasts past.

    3.Moral hazard is the hardest one for me to grasp. The silence of the lambs, Poe and all, is indeed likely to place the nation at risk. I’m astounded at the lack of a cry from “the people” for the VP’s resignation. His transgression is larger than the President’s on DAP, but even the people are silent. So I think there is a moral price to pay there, too. The lack of ethical discipline in the Philippines is astounding. That will cost a pretty peso, too.

    • edgar lores says:

      *******
      JoeAm,

      In the tragedy of the commons, there is towards the end competition for the scarce resource in which no holds are barred. Peripherals become targets as well as essentials. What I see in comments in social media is that netizens are cognizant of the palusots offered by the Binays and his henchmen. This word has become a convenient shorthand for dismissing irrelevant justifications.

      I see not only irony but comedy in Mar getting a free ride courtesy of Binay. Every time I think of the two together, I cannot help but see them in that picture that contrasts height and weight and girth. It is a study in contrasts with only the smiles matching. 🙂

      I confess I wrestle with the concept of moral hazard. I always have to look at the definitions. It is important in that, rather than using the term “inconsistency” to describe the stance of Grace et al, it gives us a name, a handle, to pin down the sin of their omission. And the term immediately denotes the moral dimension and the peril of the omission.
      *****

      • Joe America says:

        The tragedy of the commons, a nation of criticism and negativity and attack dogs. The excuses and blamecasting done by the Binays is soooooo obviously the same pattern as that which failed Revilla, Estrada, Enrile and every other crook getting too much heat from the investigators. Flip it and make the investigators the bad guys. But anyone watching the Senate subcommittee recognizes that there are REAL answers needed that aren’t being given. Like why Makati paid P32,000 for toilet bowls worth only P8,000. The lack of an answer for such a simple question is a stark fact.

        I enjoy that photo, too. It, with the one showing the three UNA anchors, Estrada the Old, Enrile and Binay praying with Governor Garcia of Cebu don’t have to say 1,000 words. It says only a handful: “we are being played for fools”.

        I wish Cayetano’s survey numbers had shown an uptick. Then we’d likely be hearing more from the now-silent politicians. They may be reading that there is no gain for them to speak. Thus, the sacrifice of the nation. Moral hazard. Crystal clear now.

  4. sonny says:

    @ Andrew & Edgar

    This activity of prayerfully mapping the principles taught & learned in Religion classes to mundane applications of everyday life is the desired manner of internalizing Scripture & Tradition

    • sonny says:

      Scrap preceeding verbiage pls.

    • edgar lores says:

      *******
      Sonny,

      Thanks. The technique you describe is learned behavior through rote application with some challenging creativity thrown in? My sense is that, yes, it would work. But my sense also tells me that, after a time, creativity is lost, pattern recognition of situations and the reactions they evoke become automatic.

      The parallels to this type of behavior would be programming, conditioning, habit formation.

      My sense of metanoia is something different. It’s hard to describe. It is similar in the element of creativity that you describe but metanoia never becomes automatic behavior. It is always present (presence); it is always dynamic (spirit-filled); and it is alive (charisma).

      Apart from Jesus, historical figures that possess this quality would be Gandhi, Mandela, the Dalai Lama and arguably Eckhart Tolle. I would add Francis to the list.

      Makes sense?
      *****

      • sonny says:

        Yes. You have enfleshed it more than I did. The roteness, the quasi-programming, conditioning must be “suffered through” and pass on to the insights one acquires by meditation and contemplation. The metanoia will definitely occur as one advances and participates in the divine stirrings of prayer. Example: a simple devotion like praying the rosary in front of the Blessed Sacrament even at its daily level of one hour meditation will open up one’s internal life. (a spiritual wormhole? 🙂 )

  5. sonny says:

    Edgar,

    what I see here can be looked at under the same economics analogy at the start. The only difference is to devise a parallel economic system that will combat the fraud being clearly perpetrated. We, as the good guys must come up with that parallel economic system that will be capable of tracing/identifying the inputs, long and short term storage, processes of the fraudulent system. Afterall, the good guys will be tracking the same economic goods that are obedient to the same economic/financial laws. It is like using “a thief to catch a thief.” We also keep in mind the truism that money and other resources have the same valuation and utility whether it is the thieves or the good guys processing it. In effect design a security system that will ensure the proper acquisition, “storage,” and distribution of same. Is my drift making sense? I think this because the good guys of Joe America can analyze and synthesize better than the B-guys. 🙂 🙂

    • edgar lores says:

      *******
      Sonny,

      I get your drift – somewhat.

      At the moment, I can only think of the importance of the CoA audit function, but you are suggesting more than a monitoring system (?). To take the analogy of the hemorrhaging of the system mentioned in the last blog, you are suggesting that the bleeding is staunched, that the blood flow is coursed through the proper channels and the plaques are removed – through a new systemic order.

      It is a tall order worthy of thought and a new post. Perhaps the individual and collective grey cells can come up with something.
      *****

  6. I can see the moral hazards of the Binay family when it is juxtaposed with the alleged dummies. The scenario that the Binay family had taken an insurance to the risk of being exposed as corrupt to the peril of the dummies’ life, liberty and reputation is indeed a strike of evil genius and could clearly explain the moral hazard theory. The mastermind(s) get the bounty while the dummy assumes all the risk and cognitive dissonance. I am tempted to make wisecracks so to keep the Society of Honor honorable, I’ll end my comment now.

    • edgar lores says:

      *******
      Juana,

      You have found a new example of the concept of moral hazard in the Binays and their dummies.

      Indeed, some examples of the term speak of the principal and agent relationship.

      From Wikipedia: “The agent usually has more information about his or her actions or intentions than the principal does, because the principal usually cannot completely monitor the agent. The agent may have an incentive to act inappropriately (from the viewpoint of the principal) if the interests of the agent and the principal are not aligned.”

      This puts me in mind of ex-Vice Mayor Mercado who is now exposing to the world the machinations of the entire Binay family.

      Please do not spare us your wisecracks. We are in sore need of comic relief.
      *****

        • edgar lores says:

          *******
          Juana,

          Ahaha, you have found a way of inserting pics… and it’s a simple url.

          Voltaire is right to a point. But it would not be necessary to have shepherds and butchers if the citizenry were not sheep. Refer to my conversation with Cornball.

          Re principal and agent relationships in moral hazards: I gave the example of ex-Vice Mayor Mercado. I overlooked the more ordinary situation where the agent poses a moral hazard because, unlike Mercado, he maintains the secret corrupt relationship with his principal. As you say, the agent takes all of the risks. But if – and when – things do go wrong, the agent does not bear the cost of the risks. Others do.
          *****

          • PI is still an agrarian society. Filipino-style feudalism is alive and well in the islands. It is also populated by an overwhelming number of sheeple who will take all the risk or hide in silence to cover for the corrupt local monarchies.

            • Joe America says:

              I fear that some of the sheeple have been elected to the legislature.

            • edgar lores says:

              *******
              Thanks for “sheeple”. I first read that as “sheepie” and took it as a typo for “sheepies”.

              ***

              The ratio of the urban/rural population is 48.9% to 51.1%. Almost 50-50. Comparatively, the urban population is much lower in Thailand (34%) and Vietnam (30%).

              I’m quite surprised by this. I expected the rural population to be like Vietnam.
              *****

              • No thanks to the sheeple because they are the hindrance to the country’s progress.

                PI has yet to evolve into an industrial or technological society. The last time I looked, only 31% of the labor force work in industries and the rest work in agriculture and services.

  7. josephivo says:

    Trying to tell the story of the different loops involved in the Tragedy of the Commons in a nutshell:

    More dynasty members, more exposure/visibility, easier to be elected, more members. BUT: less outsiders, less choice, less democratic and less competing views generating progress.

    More dynasty members, more opportunities to “collect kickbacks” and better engrained methods, more campaign money, more members. BUT less choice, less democratic and less competing views generating progress.

    Once only dynasties occupy the political arena the challenge shifts to battling competing dynasties either by “killing” competitors or by “intermarriages”
    .
    Outside interference is a typical measure to break a “tragedy of the commons”. The law on party lists as a (poor) example (poor because Arroyo’s elected on party lists).

    Conclusion:
    The dilemma for me is “democratic is to elect without restrictions” and “electing dynasties is undemocratic”

    • edgar lores says:

      *******
      Joseph,

      You have succinctly mapped out in detail the ethical dilemma posed by the tragedy of the commons.

      – The first two insights describe the Binays to a T.

      – The third observation re “killing” applies to the Ampatuans, and “intermarriage” applies to the Marcos-Romualdez conjugal dictatorship.

      – I am trying to digest the fourth observation. Ahhh, you are saying the party list system is a possible antidote to the tragedy of the commons by allowing poor sectors to participate in the democratic process. But that the system has been hijacked by non-poor sectors. Trust wily Filipinos to find the loophole in any system.

      As to the conclusion: Is there real choice if the “choices” are limited beforehand? No, I don’t think so.

      Binay put up his daughter for a position in the Senate, and the people voted her in by name familiarity.

      Political dynasties are a cancer on the body politic. In some countries, the cancer is benign. In ours, it is malignant, it has metastasized, and should be excised.
      *****

  8. Cornball says:

    At the peril of over-analyzing what’s happening to our country, at the end of the day we still have to ask ourselves what can we do individually and collectively to somehow change things around? We can’t just demand change, we have to work for it.

    Criticizing and making fun of the Binays without letup on-line until the 2016 campaign season (assuming Jejomar will still or can run) might help but what else can we do? Take it to the streets? Start a petition for Leni Robredo to run? Start packing and move abroad?

    • edgar lores says:

      *******
      Cornball,

      Welcome. You go to the heart of the problem: what can we do?

      From what has been written and said, it is obvious that the problem is not only the Binays.

      – In the tragedy of the commons, we come to know that political dynasties like the Binay family are part of the problem, together with the voters who vote them in.
      – In the free riders, we learn that officials like the Binay family are at the center of a vast corruption ring, involving contractors, suppliers, government employees, and auditors.
      – In the resulting situation, we see that people who do or say nothing against the tide of corruption increase the risks of moral hazard.

      Everybody, almost everybody, is involved. So, again your question, what to do?

      Individually, depending on what you do in private life, the answers to the question should suggest itself. At this point, one would generally quote things like “Don’t be evil” and “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Specifically, if you are a voter, do not vote for a Binay or a member of a political dynasty. If you are an auditor, be honest and meticulous in your work, like Heidi Mendoza.

      In a way, the things you can do individually are easy to know. In certain situations and at a certain level, you know what to do. It is the doing that’s hard. It takes resolve, guts and persistence. No one can give you these. But you can give these to yourself and, in doing so, give them to others.

      These sound like motherhood statements… and they are, but they contain a grain of truth.

      Collectively, I, being an individualist, am at a loss to suggest anything. I tend to emphasize individual action; with sufficient numbers a tipping point can be reached. Someone in this blog has previously suggested joining social movements like Kaya Natin! I do not know the status or capability of these groups. But look around.
      *****

      • sonny says:

        @ Edgar

        I just read your installment, AGAIN! You don’t have a twisted mind, you’re a certified … something!! 🙂 Seriously, today is the 97th anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun that happened at Fatima, Portugal. So I shot up a silent prayer for everybody in this blog-group. A good prayer, it is.

        http://www.creativeminorityreport.com/2007/10/scientists-explain-away-miracle-of-sun.html

        • edgar lores says:

          *******
          Sonny,

          Many thanks. We need all the help – divine or otherwise – all the help we can get to overcome the perils posed by the Binays, the free riders and those who increase the risks of moral hazards.
          *****

        • edgar lores says:

          *******
          Sonny,

          Certified…something or certifiable? 😉
          *****

          • sonny says:

            Am working on an information flowchart for Tragedy of Commons, Free Riders, and Moral Hazards inspired by the US SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) failed oversight agency that triggered the 2008 global economy breakdown. Can’t promise anything, yet. ??

          • sonny says:

            In light of observations below, our governance is not wanting of sane diagnoses but of strong political will to pursue and execute proposed solutions at all levels (personal & community) and tech systems (manual & computerized) and behavioral persuasions (religious & civic), etc.

      • Cornball says:

        Edgar,

        I try to stir clear of any organized social movements. They tend to say the words that we wanted to hear but we really can’t tell if they have a hidden agenda. A spur of the moment call for assembly something like a million people’s march to Luneta, that I may join.

        Since you brought it up, maybe that’s part of the problem, being an individualist? This is just a thought, an idea to think about. The cult of flaunting our individual worth and uniqueness as if it’s a sacrilege for us to accept that we are just like any other person. The sense of community takes a backseat, instead of giving the appropriate emphasis on what we all have in common, we assert and celebrate the things that make us different with little regard to the consequences of our actions. The I and my take precedence over the we and ours. In some cases we feel good about ourselves only when we think we are better than others which could be real or imagined or have more and better stuffs than others etc.

        So how do we find the balance? Could it be that the scourge of comfort and instant gratifications contributed to the way we think and act? How are we doing now collectively as a me first individuals? Did we dug our own hole?

        Sometimes we get caught up in the intricate webs that we weave in trying to figure things out, we have to state the obvious and restate it maybe to remind ourselves and others how things are, why it happened and maybe what to do next.

        Was it Goethe who said that “Few people have the imagination for reality”? Well, just like the majority, maybe reality is not what I imagined it to be… but wouldn’t it be great in an ideal community to sleep at night knowing that even your asshole neighbor’s priority is more or less for the common good?

        Pardon me if I can’t express myself clearly. I have to play catch up with my disorganized train of thought, sometimes it’s hide and seek especially when alcohol is involved. Cheers.

        • Joe America says:

          From one individualist to another, you express yourself exceptionally clearly, so juice it up. I shall now wait breathlessly for my asshole neighbor to do something for common good . . . 🙂

        • edgar lores says:

          *******
          Cornball,

          Thank you for that nuanced response.

          I don’t think being an individualist is a problem at all. On the contrary, I tend to think it’s the beginning of the solution. No doubt mass movements are effective and necessary. But they become necessary because of the failure of individuals, of each and many individuals.

          I take it from what you say that you equate individualism with selfishness and narcissism. That is true in a particular and narrow sense. Your extended and beautiful description is on the spot in that regard.

          But I interpret individualism at a higher level, more in terms of Jung’s process of individuation, which is one of psychological integration. That integration ultimately includes social integration. Therefore, for me, individualism is not contra-society; it is the foundation of a good society. The integrity of a single brick becomes the cornerstone of a many-splendoured social edifice.

          The “I-you” relationship that you speak of becomes the “I-Thou” relationship. (Reference: Martin Buber)

          Ahaha! As with JoeAm, you make me laugh with the abrupt transition from the great Goethe to the asshole neighbor. (Note to Juana: wisecracks are permitted if they juxtapose the sublime with the ridiculous.) And, indeed, we should all sleep better knowing that our neighbor is an integrated individual.

          You do express yourself clearly and even poetically. E.g., “scourge of comfort” and “the intricate webs that we weave”. Part of the problem is language. In this case, we are using the same term “individualist” to refer to not only contrasting notions but opposite notions.

          Alcohol facilitates a change in and of perception. It is one of the ways we get in touch with divinity. Salud!
          *****

          • Cornball says:

            My bad, I should’ve adopted what Joe was in the habit of doing in defining terms. Thanks, it’s been an interesting read and discussion but I can already feel my liver protesting… so one for the road or sack… Kampai!

            • edgar lores says:

              *******
              Cornball,

              No, no, both of our viewpoints are valid. What you say of individual selfishness is true. And what I say of individual integration can be true. Your definition is more of the reality; mine the ideal.
              *****

  9. “the father, the son, and the unholy mother”

    Haha!

    Mercado’s testimony regarding Dra. Binay was extremely surprising. Her silence had given me the impression that she was a long-suffering, dignified wife, especially after photos of her husband with a pretty young lady circulated online in 2010.

    It was such a shock then to hear allegations that she:
    1. had 900 ghost employees when she was mayor
    2. insisted on receiving over P2 million monthly from a garbage collection contract
    3. complained whenever the duffel-bag kickbacks were short
    4. had delusions of grandeur (queen / princess / first lady)
    5. kept building structures on their farm, but refused to pay the contractor

    Normally, however juicy the story, I believe personal issues are not for public consumption. Especially if a woman is on the losing end. But if it’s the public who are forced to finance those personal issues… ?

    Consider the following:
    – “Hell hath no fury…”
    – Ruby Tuason burning her husband’s Italian-shoe collection (was it 100 pairs?)
    – Cristina Enrile storming the house of JPE’s mistress, then shooting the gate
    – a wife using her philandering husband’s credit card to go on a designer-shopping spree

    Taxpayers don’t suffer and, therefore, it’s none of their business. But the never-ending farm construction which led to overpricing, the garbage-contract kickbacks, the ghost employees!

    If Mercado’s allegations are true, either Dra. Binay is a corrupt psycopath (which doesn’t ring true, as she seems able to sustain meaningful relationships with friends and relatives) OR she’s an angry wife getting back at her husband, taking from him “what she deserves.”

    Except that she’s not taking it from him, really.

    • chit navarro says:

      Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned…perhaps Mon Tulfo was referring to the “Ninang” of Vice Mayor Mercado?
      *****************************************
      “On Holy Thursday, political muckraker Ramon Tulfo wrote about a most unholy topic in the Philippine Daily Inquirer. He claimed that:

      THE WIFE OF A CANDIDATE FOR A national position found out that her husband has a fashion model for a girlfriend. Furious, the wife confronted the candidate about his extramarital affairs. As expected, the candidate denied the accusation.

      Tulfo, who is always armed with several guns, continued:

      But the wife allegedly showed him photographs of the two caught on camera in a public display of affection. The photos were supposedly given to the candidate’s wife by a close rival of their son who is aspiring for a local post. The wife reportedly asked her husband to sign papers for the separation of their conjugal property amounting to billions of pesos. When the candidate refused, she threatened to expose how he amassed wealth while in office and added that she was moving over to his rival’s camp on the campaign trail. Fearing a national scandal, the candidate signed the papers.”
      ************************************
      taken from Raissa’s blog

      • It does seem to fit! And if true that the conjugal property has been separated, then all the construction on the farm suggests that it belongs to her and not her husband!

        What are the implications of that, I wonder?

    • edgar lores says:

      *******
      Dolly,

      Cause and effect: Wives launder, husbands wander.

      Or the other way around which is better and truer: Men wander, women squander.

      ***

      “Except that she’s not taking it from him, really.”

      It’s a chain of moral hazards. The good Doctora is afforded protection by Binay. And Binay is afforded protection by his dummies. And the dummies are, in turn, protected by Binay’s official position and the power and influence that derives from that position. In all these, it is the taxpayers that bear the cost of these different layers of protection.

      ***

      Imelda had both delusions of grandeur – I believe she wanted to marry off Imee to Prince Charles? – and an edifice-complex. Now the good Doctora is exhibiting the same symptoms. We have been warned. We cannot say later, if ever, that we were not warned.
      *****

      • haha, in your cause-and-effect example: the woman either launders or squanders, but the man always wanders!

        edifice complex, yes… the ccp, picc, coconut palace also came to mind when mercado mentioned the non-stop construction. and truly ironic that binay insisted on moving the vp’s office to coconut palace!

    • edgar lores says:

      *****
      Dolly,

      Re ghost employees: The average monthly salary of a government and defence employee is P28,562.

      Source: http://www.salaryexplorer.com/salary-survey.php?loc=171&loctype=1

      – For 900 employees, that would amount to P308.5M assuming a 12-month year.
      – Or P334.2M for a 13-month year.

      The Binays have been in power continuously since 1986. That’s 28 years.

      – For 28 years, the total take is over P8.6B (12-month year) or P9.4B (13-month year).

      True, the assumption is erroneous in taking the average monthly salary to be steady over the years. It surely was lower in 1986. But considering other factors like (a) the use of an average, (b) the non-imputation of interest; and (c) the unknown number of ghost employees, the math still stands as a ballpark figure.

      I gather the salaries of Makati city employees are still processed manually and not computerized. If Junjun is maintaining the same number of ghosts as his mother, imagine the squandering that his wife can indulge in! It’s mind-boggling.

      NOTE: Have revised average salary from P43,174 down to P28,562.
      *****

      • Oh my, a third of a billion a year! And to think that this ghost-employee racket is apparently prevalent in most cities all over the country…

        Yes, that manual salary processing, I keep hoping Trillanes or Cayetano will bring it up in the senate hearing. They can pass a law requiring computerization, if there isn’t yet a law regarding that.

    • Juana Pilipinas says:

      Sounds like blasphemy, but another Makati trinity variation could be called, ” the father, the son and unholy ghost employees. 🙂

      As there as functional alcoholics, there are also functional psychopaths. Ever heard of Ted Bundy?

      • edgar lores says:

        *******
        Juana,

        I took the 12-point psychopathy quiz at PsychCentral pretending to be Binay. I scored 11 followed by 8 on two tries, which are very low scores that equate to “no psychopathic tendencies”. Mainly, Binay fails – or passes? – because he does not have the charisma of the Ted’s (i.e., either Bundy or Mosby).

        I could be wrong because (a) he was known as “Rambotito”; (b) rumored to have an intermittent explosive disorder; (c) has a partner relational problem; (d) has a compulsive lying disorder; (e) has a narcissistic personality disorder (or megalomania); and (f) rumored to have, like Marcos and Enrile, homicidal tendencies.

        (Source on the last item: http://www.newsflash.org/199805/hl/hl000666.htm)
        *****

      • haha! I mean no disrespect either, but this reminds me of a movie where a child innocently thinks it goes: “the father, the son, and the holy goat.”

        Funny you mention Ted Bundy. He also came to mind when I thought of psycopaths. 🙂 I think there’s a common denominator for all who do great harm to society: a great big chip on their shoulder about a specific topic.

        For Bundy, it seemed to be rejection. His victims all eerily resembled a girl whom he was once briefly engaged to, if I remember correctly? She later broke off the engagement. Some suggest that his victims had rejected him, too, and something within him had snapped each time. He did to his victims what he had wanted to do to the first girl (whom he strangely never harmed). Maybe he was reliving the original scene somehow, given that he went after girls who looked like the first one?

        For our politicians, I think a background of poverty isn’t the issue when it comes to corruption. It’s whether they have a chip on their shoulder about money.

        There are those, like Pacquiao, whose humble beginnings lead to generosity once great riches come. Then there are those, like Enrile, Imelda, and now apparently Binay, who constantly try to fill a bottomless pit within themselves, but never quite succeed.

        (I do not stand in judgment, as I’m slightly familiar with that void, haha, whenever I’m tempted to overeat! I can only imagine what it’s like for them, multiplied a million-fold.)

        It’s that chip on the shoulder, the deep-seated insecurity that no amount of money could make up for. The question is: How do we, as voters, identify that chip, so we can stop electing such people into office?

        • edgar lores says:

          *******
          Great observation and imagery: “… the bottomless pit within themselves, but never quite succeed.” combined with the adorable confession, “…I’m slightly familiar with that void…” Ahaha!
          *****

          • haha, food is a constant issue for me, so i know what that struggle’s like. i count myself lucky that i’m aware of it, so it has no chance of getting out of hand, otherwise i’d be obese.

            i can only feel compassion for those who are unaware of that little monster within them, as it obviously wants to be fed constantly, growing and growing, until it’s larger than godzilla!

  10. Micha says:

    “Recently I came across three concepts in economics that I think may be applicable to the eruptions of corruption surrounding the Binay family. These concepts are:”

    Tragedy of the Commons
    Free Rider
    Moral Hazard

    Whether a particular person chooses to be greedy or altruistic, corrupt or honest, socially responsible or irresponsible is a socio-political and moral decision. Those are not, strictly, economic concepts.

    • edgar lores says:

      *******
      Micha,

      Thank you. That was my intention. One could even say that the morality of social justice underlies economics, and is the rationale for the study of economics.
      *****

  11. Joe, your remark in the right column is so true: “the strategy of intimidation no longer works for this family.”

    They don’t quite know what to do with those who aren’t intimidated, like Heidi Mendoza. Now, one Binay spokesperson has taken on Trillanes directly. How likely is it that Trillanes will be cowed by this lawyer? Wrong move, exactly like in the case of Mercado and De Lima, as you point out.

    They’re setting themselves up for failure if they believe this is the way to defeat Trillanes. He didn’t back down from Arroyo, a president, even after he was imprisoned, and he emerged triumphant by winning a senate seat. He also was the first one to stand up to Enrile, a senate president (Santiago only came after), and where is Enrile now? His third heavyweight opponent is Binay, a vice president.

    If I were a betting person, going by the track record, I’d bet on Trillanes.

    • Joe America says:

      Here’s what I wrote:
      ________________

      Perhaps the Binays should rethink their strategy to belittle everyone. They belittled Mercado on his early testimony, accused HIM of being the corrupt person, and made him mad. So he decided to dump everything he knew out on the table.

      Now the Binay camp has attacked DOJ Secretary de Lima. Boy, yes, for sure, that will get her to go away.

      NOT!

      Now they have her angry, too.

      I think the strategy of intimidation no longer works for this family. They can get away with it on lowly security guards. But now they are pushing the wrong buttons.
      ___________________

      I agree the attack tactic will backfire on Binay. Their latest scapegoat was Roxas. People can see this relentless accusing of others, and failure to simply explain.

    • brianitus says:

      Hello, Dolly,

      Can I make singit?

      They know what to do with Heidi. They just havent been that successful. I think their strategy for her is to get the original audit reports. I mean, that’s aside from intimidation. Remember that Comm. Mendoza’s house had been ransacked a couple of times already.That’s assuming that the royal family of Makati is behind that ha.

      Actually, the conspiracy that JV Bautista is saying (Oplan Stop Nognog) isn’t a bad idea. If it’s a lie, then it might be big enough to gain traction among Binay fence-sitting Binay supporters. I mean, if they believe that Binay has been clean all this time, then it won’t take a lot of facts for them to believe that Mar Roxas is behind the move to discredit their supremo.

      I think Trillanes has the most to gain in the senate hearings. He can steer himself to be picked as a VP bet. As for Cayetano, his ship to the presidency is sunk even before it leaves the pier if he thinks of taking on Binay. He doesn’t have the machinery to beat the VP.

      Here’s another take on why Binay can win in 2016: http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/382852/opinion/blogs/blind-idolatry-and-the-irrational-elites

      Here’s another one from Boo Chanco of the Star: http://www.philstar.com/business/2014/10/13/1379445/binay-good-business

      Bottom line is this: Who stands to benefit the most from a Binay presidency? With the Pinoy’s built-in tolerance for indiscretion, the VP is surely a shoo-in as long as he doesn’t forget to provide “benefits” to those who help him.

      What will it take to stop Binay? Allow a full investigation by the DoJ/NBI. The Executive branch of government should police one of its members. What seems to be stopping that? Utang na loob? The government should hunt him down full force like what they did to Corona. Send him to jail. Put an end to those rumors of legendary Binay corruption. Like, if a rumor persists for more than 20 years. Why don’t those rumors ever die out? Pretty soon, those rumors will be like the persistent Area 51/UFO stories.

      Anyway, if Binay is clean, then let him serve as a savior to those who believe in him. We’ll live.I mean, we survived a Marcos, Erap and a GMA, (and for some, including a PNoy). What’s the worst that a Binay can do?

      brianitus

      • ‘Oplan Stop Nognog.’ Haha! Reminds me of ‘Oplan Put the Little Girl To Sleep’ 🙂 The GMA version could not even insult her, even if they were attributing it to their enemy. While Oplan Nognog is probably meant to make an underdog of the VP, in the vein of ‘indio vs ilustrado.’

        I agree with you about the difference between Trillanes’ and Cayetano’s chances. I guess it also has something to do with the fact that Cayetano is aiming for the presidency, while Trillanes for vice? Maybe if their goals were switched, their survey results would reverse, too?

        As for who stands to benefit the most from a Binay presidency… In the past year, those rallying behind him are all those who’ve failed to manipulate PNoy for their own gain. But now, with their candidate doomed (and that’s just my inner Madame Auring speaking), whom can they support for 2016 president?

        – Who will appoint a DoJ Sec to sabotage the PDAF cases?
        – Who will allow a hero’s burial for Marcos?
        – Who will NOT stand up to China’s bullying?
        – Who will be willing to “fix” the RH Law?
        – Who will return Mindanao to its pre-BBL state?
        – Who will leave Customs alone, and PNP syndicates?

        • The rather late involvement of theDoJ, the way I see it, is more a political strategy than an unwillingness to go against Binay (like Grace Poe, for instance). Notice how De Lima is very careful to distance PNoy and Roxas, precisely because that’s what the opposition would provide as headlines to their friends-for-rent in media. Persecution by the PNoy admin. The exact same sob story of Jinggoy and Bong, which will successfully tug at the heartstrings of Binay’s supporters.

          • ps.
            sorry to insert this… super off-topic… but speaking of BBL, was just now in rustans and saw sec. ging deles. (she doesn’t know me.) i briefly congratulated her on the bbl, and she said there’s plenty more work ahead. people who make a difference in society are my celebrities! i wanted a selfie, haha, but it was her private time, so i just walked on…

            i meant to say thanks, not congratulations, but i didn’t have my wits about me. i hope she understood i was thanking her for her noble role in the peace process 🙂

          • brianitus says:

            Better late than never. At least now, I won’t go posting that PNoy isn’t doing anything. Good enough for now. Better if the investigation goes ahead.

            As for Binay, he’ll keep playing that “prosecution” angle like an all stocks must go sale.

        • edgar lores says:

          *******
          Dolly,

          Very pointed questions. Appreciate the list of major issues to be faced.

          I presume you have a someone in mind? Or are you at a lost like JoeAm who has cast his net long and wide but only found fingerlings? What does your crystal ball show – man or woman? Cloven-footed or fork-tongued?
          *****

          • no one in mind 🙂 just felt that binay benefited greatly from the combined support of all those interest groups.

            now, they’ll each find someone to represent their interests (according to the crystal ball, haha!)… i doubt they’ll all support the same person. their votes will be divided among several candidates.

        • brianitus says:

          I guess someone who thinks business as usual is the same as corruption as usual. That sounds like the perfect interview answer.

  12. klonoa says:

    The use of the 3 economic concepts are, as you say, a bit stretched. As a result, they have taken on completely different meanings.

  13. Julie del Rosario says:

    Too bad…information like this is limited only to people who has access to the internet. I wish this will be made available to the voting public lalo na sa mga hindi makapagbasa ng english (Binay’s crowd).

    • edgar lores says:

      *******
      Thanks, Julie.

      These are deeper reasons for rejecting Binay. The moral transgressions of the Binays are so obvious, so out there, that not to see them constitutes willful ignorance.

      We keep battering the wall of that ignorance… and hopefully the cracks will pull the wall down… or at least allow people to see through the other side.
      *****

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