Events Explicate Techniques Of Politics
By Popoy del R. Cartanio
I did write in the previous piece that the eleven political issues listed were EVENTS, not judgments and criticisms but red flags and wake up calls. Let me re-post the events in random order:
- PNP and the murder of the Korean businessman inside the Police National Headquarters,
- Waking up from deep sleep of the Catholic Church on the issue of EJK,
- the completion (not the end) of the peace talk and cancellation of the cease fire truce both by the CPP-NDP-NPPA and Philippines government,
- failed visit of UN official to monitor the drug war,
- the burial of late President Marcos to the Heroes Cemetery;
- the investigation and report of the AI (Amnesty International) about EJK (extra judicial killings) as a crime of genocide as sufficient case for trial by the International Criminal Court, and for sanctions by the International Court of Justice,
- the sudden stoppage or suspension of the anti-illegal drug program and activities;
- the irreparable verdict by the President of the PNP as a damaged institution;
- continuing operations against Muslim rebels in Mindanao,
- continuing loss of lives of AFP soldiers to operations of the NPA, and
- the expected resurgence of guerrilla war waged by the Communists New Peoples Army.
A few more words (meaning a lot as always from me) might clarify EVENTS as the underbelly of the article. Yet to be formulated and recognized as technique in political analysis, e.g. the “event technique” it could be the simple math of political issues. One need to have attended or taught simple project scheduling course called PERT/CPM (Program Evaluation Review Technique/Critical Path Method). It was fifty years ago so I am no longer aware of its ramifications through time, or its obsolescence because of the ascendancy of computers in development project planning on a scale of say planning for a nuclear war or something tiny like planning to win the election for Donald Trump; or beauteous planning for a million pesos project like the 2017 Miss Universe Pageant.
Anyway (from fading memory) the basics define the animal and definitions must rule. An event is a point in time. It does not consume time. It does not consume resources. Time is not a resource, IT IS A CONSTRAINT. Everybody has the same amount. A predecessor event is followed by a successor event conjoined by actvities. A single event or hundreds of them might constitute a political issue easily simplified like the election to the Presidency of Rodrigo Roa Duterte. Events are mere solitary dots, almost useless except to pundits and opinion makers and bloggers (like me) who can spin events into nuggets or fool’s gold.
ACTIVITIES connect events to other events. Activities consume time and resources. In governance, job time is defined by law: eight hours a day; forty hours to a week, etc. Resources conventionally include the four Ms: Money is most important because it can buy all the other Ms; Men, Methods, Machines, Metcetera. Social particularly political issues are better dissected as multifarious activities than as events. Activities can be concurrent and parallel ending in the same event. Critical activities must be completed before other activities can be started.
For example, the concept of corruption is better analyzed as numerous activities and not as an EVENT. Resources expended or earned by corrupt activities could run into billions of pesos. Genocide and EJK can be analyzed from both perspectives as Event or as Activity. It is not a flat either/or conundrum. The pendulum swing of analysis from being an event to an activity and vice versa should widen instead of narrowing; deepen instead of superficializing insights.
In a limited sense, it is causation too: when activities cause or lead to an event. That’s like when too many bullying activities cause or lead to eventual suicide of the victim. Activities consume resources and as such have direct and indirect costs. Human lives depending on the objectives of a policy (for example the policy of eradication of illegal drugs) could be direct costs or indirect costs.
Because activities required to implement a policy consume time, underperformance (failure to complete on targeted time) could result in time slippage. Time slippage means cost slippage: COST OVERUNS.
The execution of a national policy entails tremendous cost to the government. National policy almost always implicates and requires interdisciplinary participation of several government agencies. Applying a set time to completion on the manageable control of a social disease, say from one year to six years, means ENORMOUS cost to the taxpayers who pay (like in “hulidap”) through mandatory withholding tax.
Constant cost overruns sourced from national policy failures caused by ineptness, by corruption and unmitigated perennial force majeure (like typhoons and floods) may have committed the public and private sector wage earners to permanent “make both ends meet” lives. Mistakes made in performing governance activities are EXPENSIVE.
Mistakes are not ERRORS. The former, like accidents, can be avoided and are usually man-caused while the latter can be traced to vagaries and features of nature which can not be avoided. Being gay is more a genetic error than a mistake in fertilization, conception and gestation. Passenger jets crashing can’t be due to pilot error which could be pilot mistakes that are expensive to insurance companies, also to lives lost. To say, “Sorry, my error,” is erroneous. Better to say, “Sorry, my bad, este my mistakes. So I must pay.”
In the same vein, Congress by its Senate and HoR should have reduced annual salaries and perks as rectification if they have COMMITTED THE MISTAKE (not the lawmaking error) of allowing themselves to put their hands – through endorsement and approval — on policy activity resources (pork barrel projects) which have nothing to do with law making.
PLUNDER is an event resulting from mistakes which happened while consuming Activity resources in a corrupt way –very expensive indeed to the taxpayers.
When and only when the Executive, the Legislative and the Judicial Branches of the government make constant mistakes, the result is intermittent diarrhea to the lowly taxpayers and their dependents. The people should thank God that diarrhea is not cholera.
Consumed policy resources attributed to cost slippage and cost overruns can make the Cost/Benefit Analysis technique an economist’s big joke. However, to explain WHY will be like beating dead meat.
Finally, Policy Events may have its serendipity (THE GOOD) and its opposite which I will tentatively call by analogy the “malevolent hiding hand principle” (THE BAD AND UGLY) first coined by economist Albert O. Hirschman and later modified by Bent Flyvbjerg and Cass Sunstein. Serendipitous it is when, for example, as an unforeseen result of the illegal drug policy, the taipans of Malls and government agencies unexpectedly give priority to employing rehab(ed) addicts.
On the deleterious contrary, the illegal drug policy might unexpectedly alienate the large population from government authority resulting in unrest and imposition of more drastic measures of behavior control like martial law.