Policy and moral distortions in the Philippines

Analysis and Opinion

By Chemrock

The previous Society of Honor blog pondered on the difficulties of understanding Malacanang’s love for China, and the intelligent exchanges between two prolific commenters on the failure of the Green Revolution in part due to World Bank guidance that hid an agenda for US imperialism. What have these two issues got to do with each other? Nothing, except that there is a common causation which seems to me is one of the root factors that has stigmatized the economic development of Philippines all these years.

The truth is, Green Revolution initiatives that were rolled out in various 3rd world countries in the 1970s found success in some countries, while in others they failed. Diatribes on the World Bank are familiar katzenjammers of a new universe where messengers get shot and messages are condemned without ever being understood in the first place. The World Bank treasure trove of country economic reports are plentiful. Some take heed and work on highlighted weaknesses, others think the emperor is far away and knows nothing about local conditions. Yet others see in every World Bank initiative a step toward a grand diabolitical political plan to keep certain segments of humankind in eternal chains of poverty and subjucation.

On the Philippines, the World Bank has written much over the past several decades. It has summed up the macros and drilled into the micros and touched all conceivable weaknesses, problems, and mistakes and has made recommendation after recommendation. In the many World Bank Reports that I have read over the years, one consistent blame factor for the Philippines is the country’s history of persistent policy distortions, which has continued to this day. Policy distortions culminate in unintended outcomes, right hand disagreeing with the left hand (the Executive vs the Judiciary on many occassions), mis-allocation of resources, the impossibility of serving conflicting objectives, and all these jeopardizing long term growth. Blaming the World Bank for the country’s ills is throwing the kitchen sink at the exogenous and refusing to accept endogenous factors that lay at our own doorsteps.

On the rights over the West Philippines Seas, how does one pursue sovereignty whilst pivoting toward the country that is infringing on those rights? On economic assistance and priority tariffs, how does one cross the Rubicon and cut the bridges, yet expect trading privileges and military partnerships with the US to be sustained? On rice import policies, how does one keep prices low for consumers with conflicting objectives of monetary incentives for farmers? How does one appoint a staunch environmental activist in the late Gina Lopez as Mining Sceretary, and expect the industry to be business as usual? The so-called ‘Tenants’ Emancipation Act’ under the Marcos land reform project was full of so many distortions, it never had a chance to succeed from day one. Policy distortions from Malacanang, not the World Bank, lie at the heart of the country’s problems.

The community shares in the blame for a full national wilful displacement of the sense of right and wrong. A great moral distortion lies in the psyche of Filipinos. An electorate of distorted mindsets continuously choose to put questionable characters in positions to help find solutions but who themselves are part of the problem.

The execution of Flor Contemplacion in 1995 by the Singapore government brought about an onslaught of condemnation by Filipinos against the Lion City and caused a diplomatic rift between the two countries. Against all evidence and the rights accorded to her in the court proceedings for the murder of her friend and fellow domestic worker Delia Maga, Filipinos concluded Flor was a victim of a Singapore government conspiracy and wrongfully executed. Some senators and members of Congress, the press, celebrities, all championed her and helped swing the mood of the people. Four Filipino movies hit the screens, one of which was a box-office. In all, Flor was lionized and made into a national herione. Amidst all the chest beating for Flor, I remembered clearly the victim’s family commented in an interview, “What about us?”. Today, hardly any ordinary Filipino will know the name Delia Maga, but everyone knows Flor Contemplacion. Just like Flor, a dictator gets to be buried in Libingan as a national hero.

Today, who remembers Muelmar Magallanes, the 18 year old carpenter who lost his life after saving 32 people in the terrible flood of typhoon Ondoy? Who today, salutes a young navy leutenant (and his mates) who went out to sea in the terrible super typhoon of 1998 to search and rescue a crippled vessel? 16m Filipinos will, in fact, spit on the name of Sonny Trillanes. The photo of a DILG Secretary fallen off his motor-bike and in the mud was held in ridicule instead of respect for a man first on the scene to help in an arch political enemy’s township devastated by a super typhoon.

Whilst we ponder on the dysfunctional landscape created by policy distortions and Filipino loss of the moral sense of right and wrong, the world passes us by.

“There is a tide in the affairs of men. Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune”. (Shakespeare)

I see three tides of opportunity for the Philippines to progress on its developmental path toward a better economy, two of which have come and gone, and a third beckons.

The first opportunity was under Marcos’ watch. On the back of rice sufficiency in the early 1970s brought about by the magic IR8 rice, and a boom in commodities during the time, the Philippines was on the path to economic takeoff. The commodity boom was across the board. Most commodity indexes upped twofold. Many third world countries benefited tremendously during this boom. A resource rich Philippines was unable to ride the boom at its flood, and by the end of 1970s, had already lost its rice exporting capability and became once again, a net importer. Marcos’ downfall was the result of balance of payments debacle (due to corruption, crony capitalism, mismanagement) exacerbated by an OPEC oil price hike. Opportunity one squandered.

The second opportunity came under Noynoy Aquino’s presidency. Sound fiscal and monetary management and taking advantage of a cheap money era to cut cost of debt, implementing many policies in line with recommendations of international agencies such as the World Bank, together with well thought out regulatory, judicial, fiscal, and several other reforms, commitment to legal process, anti-corruption drive, clearer communication of government objectives, etc, the Administration made all the right moves that mattered. They rolled up their sleeves and set out to work on key reforms that would set the country on the right path forward, like building classrooms, K12, RH bill, bottom-up budgeting, eliminating pork barrel, increased infra spending, electoral reforms, etc. It brought back confidence of the business and international communities in the country. Country credit rating moved up from junk to investment grade. The general feeling in the air was that the country had a purpose. Macroeconomic metrics all seemed to be fundamentally sound. Going forward, optimism abounded. But that was not to be as the next Administration in 2016 came in and turned the Philippines and government back to its Aegean stable state of messy politics. Opportunity two squandered.

The 3rd opportunity lies in the current demography of the Philippines. It is currently lying in a sweet spot, a point where the majority of the population are at the working age. They form a larger pool than those in the dependents age group. Malacanang economists have referred to this, and other writers have latched on to it. And they all have pointed out correctly that many countries, such as Singapore, Taiwan, and South Korea, had their economies taking off at this juncture. But it’s sheer lunacy to think that we can all simply procreate to this sweet spot and hit the home run. Much hard work is required, and it’s not in the bedrooms. The economic fundamentals need to be correct – proper investments in infras, education, healthcare, law and order, trusted judiciary process, attractive investment climate, functioning markets, visions, international networks, technological advancements, good governance, and so on. Some said the sweet spot will last from 2015 to 2053. That would be within the next 5 Administrations. In reality, I think it is left to the next 2 Administration to get it right or it’s game over.

What are the chances of the Philippines getting it right to reap the benefits of the sweet spot in the demographics? It depends on whether the country recognizes what has gone wrong and sets about to restructure the economy. Structural changes are extremely difficult, and without political will and the electorate and business community behind them, the government has an impossible task. Few actually understand the key economic problem of the country, and why, after all these years, it has not been able to create decent jobs for a rising population.

Economic evolution or development has always been an agrarian economy investing and improving its agricultural productivity which then pushes it into the next phase of labor-intensive dominant manufacturing sector, and eventually into a high-skilled services sector. What do we have in the Philippines today? Depressed productivity in the agriculture sector, a weak and small manufacturing base, a dominant services sector which is low-skilled and low in productivity. It is like a baby who tries to run before it can walk, and in so doing, is running in a very inefficient manner with gawky motor skills. Its development path is in reverse gear and it is a growth pattern unlike all other countries in Asean which have moved past the Philippines. It is the result of decades and continuing persistent policy distortions in both agricultural and manufacturing sectors that have created this lockdown situation and prevented job creation. And why has this come about? Politics of course. Rent seeking families either with direct representation in Congress, or with powerful lobbies, control complex legislation that give birth to policies with disconsonant objectives.

The Malthusian theory the two aforesaid commenters touched on was debunked by the Green Revolution and advances in technology. This has allowed the world to put more food on the table for an ever increasing population and so Thomas Malthus once again fades from our memory. There is, however, always a point of marginal returns as natural resources are finite. Food production growth is linear and population growth is exponential. The Philippine population is now 110m, and the nation is a net importer of rice, our staple food. We will be revisited by Malthusian disaster once again. We are faced with the inability of increasing agricultural productivity as well as creating jobs for a growing population, but the country does not seem to be able to move forward. This Administration will be a total waste of 6 years spent on drama of guns and goons and miscarriages of justice, while the real causes for the country’s ills, enumerated over and over again in World Bank reports, gather cobwebs in the archives.

223 Responses to “Policy and moral distortions in the Philippines”
  1. NHerrera says:

    Beautiful essay, chemrock.

    The Flor Contemplacion story, a non-heroine buried in Libingan ng mga Bayani, not to mention her killing of a fellow forgotten Filipina, Delia Maga, illustrates like the the three others you mentioned (Muelmar Magallanes, Sonny Trillanes, Noynoy Aquino) the moral distortions you wrote about — very sad to say.

    And you creatively inserted a Shakespearean line to emphasize the opportunities lost.

    • NHerrera says:

      I wrote several times before about the constraints that makes it virtually impossible for the country to join the club of countries that solved their sad situations (analogizing such to an unsolvable mathematical problem because of constraints), now reinforced by moral distortions you wrote about. Will covid-19 be the spark that prove me wrong (I hope so)? Or will it be the last big nail that seals the coffin?

      • Policy distortions are highly visible in these days, as they are happening in a very short space of time and their effects are very immediately observable. Unless one belongs to the group which Boom Buencamino addresses with “Paano maging Tanga” by mentioning how people can cheer Digong for Universal Healthcare, blame someone else for the fees, and cheer him again for the (dubious) waiver.

        The street term I have seen for distorted policies is “kalat”. Not coherent/consistent.

        • kasambahay says:

          begging your pardon po, I dont know boom buencamino, never in his radar po bleeping ako but at the behest of me own head, here goes moi:

          por dyos, por santos and por santas, methink buencamino is talking about his friends in uber high places! them being tanga, haha. stood by sila while china encroach ever closer, guns at attention pa and standing within arm’s length of he who smiles like the monalisa, territory grabber and president for life of the virus mother country, clapping and fist pumping all the while.

          I’m presuming boom has friends in high places like in the national security and doing what exactly? encouraging he who gives presscon at night fearing daylight dahil it shows his mala-craterous complexion? yay, and he intends to declare martial law kuno vs the virus, yohooo! and the virus being tanga and unmindful of its own limit, keeps going, going, going and going much like the drug war. under national security watch: both their cup runneth over. cornucopia. national security so love distortion, contortion and misinformation that now, even press has stopgag. goodbye, abscbn. hello, silence.

          where am I? ah, yes, tanga.love love love the word. tectonic plate shifting. dati, tanga kami dahil poor and uneducated; misinformed and living in the fringes: in sementeryos, under bridges, boxes, hobnobs and cast off of all sort. amusing to find contagious pala ang katangahan namin, now they eat off the boss’ table, best and brightest and highly paid, all singing the same song for diner. national security, defense, economics, magical customs who made the contents of magnetic lifters disappear in plain view! sweet toothed immigration with never ending love of pastillas. all lovers of quo warrantos.

          kawawa si boss, the virus humbled him kuno and duly apologized to oligarchs he did: the likes of the ayalas, much to the pleasure of the maligned water concessionaire manny pangilinan. boss vs the virus, and the virus is still reigning supreme. apology not withstanding. sorry, nagkakalat na naman ako and better go beforehand.

          p.s. aside from thinking which public asset to sell, boss has better prepare ground for mass burial. he might need it. my apologies for being kalat po.

          • You should write a novel if you have not already done so. Your dry wit is superlative, on the scale of Rizal on his better days. Populate it with creatures that look like Panelo, Go, and Roque, throw in a priest or two and a professor (modeled after Old Tesio or young Irineo, but not Trillanes ), the latter of whom can be the dashing young man from the hinterlands who provedes wise guidance to our hero, whoever the hell that might be.

    • “There is a Tide in the Affairs of Men”. Paano kung sachet lang ang ma-afford?

      • “Much hard work is required, and it’s not in the bedrooms.”

        chemp, Ireneo…

        I can’t help but think of all the mistresses of old fat politicians and power brokers over there. Of children born out of wed lock and having wrong moms (poor, no DNA testing, no child support laws… ). These stay at home directives over there, its the young poor female servants in a rich households that will have to play the leading role ala Hand Maid’s Tale, alleviating pressure.

        chemp, considering birth rates are down in Korea and Japan, they don’t seem to wanna do the hard work in the bedroom; and since Filipinos are more that willing to do this work, why not export Filipinos instead of rice? That could be policy no? in fact , happening right now, but because of COVID19

        pause button for now. But i gotta feeling the result of all this COVID19 lock down will be a surplus of more Filipinos.

        • Juan Ponce Enrile was born as Juanito Furugunan. Ages ago.

        • chemrock says:

          I thought that line was a click trap for LcplX and you bite haha.
          Hand Maid’s Tale and export Filipinos — that’s rather mysogynistic of you.
          In my time I engaged 5 Pinay domestic helpers, one at time of course, and have always treated them with respect and empathy for soldiering for the family and so far from home.

        • chemp,

          also on TCM lately they’ve been showing movies i’ve never even heard of.

          2 nights ago or so, they showed “Saint Jack” which wasn’t really a great movie, but having been to Singapore in the mid-2000s, it was eye opening to see that Singapore circa late 70s actually looked a lot like Manila, Cebu and Zamboanga. I was surprised at the trash strewn about, and wondered if that was part of movie production or was Singapore really just as dirty back then, becuz if it was then

          basically the rise of Singapore, ie. to 1st world standards actually transpired in the 80s, no?

          • Singapore in 1982 was cleaner than Hong Kong – or Manila except maybe Makati.

            By 1999 it had turned into a fully modern place so you may be right.

          • chemrock says:

            St Jack was released 1979. So filming was possibly 1977. the Singapore backdrop was authentic. Singapore gained independence 1965. It took a while to get things organised and policies straightened out. You got the time-frame just about right. I think round about 1975 the country started on its trajectory. The job market was fantastic. 1980s was when the hectic development took off.

            Jack was an amiable character. Bogandovich did’nt get the acclaim the film derserved. Ben Gazzara’s portrayal of the Jack was superb. Jack was an American who wheels and deals in the underworld and ran a prostitution den. Gazarra’s exudes a man who own’s the place and knows all the crooks and corners. The film was banned in Singapore for the many nude scenes. It seemed Bogandovich submitted a different script to the authorities for approval to shoot in Singapore. Last year we did a rerun of the movie on its 40th anniversary.

  2. karlgarcia says:

    Very good Chemrock!

  3. reading this is painful. Hello Chempo. Hope you are well

  4. karlgarcia says:

    Before I said give the rice production to Thailand and Vietnam and concentrate on other produce.
    Why would we do that?
    All we need are
    Stopping of land conversion.
    Food vs Forest policies
    Land use law
    Land-fill reclamation and biorenediation.
    Reconversion back to agricultural land of residential land
    Young people to be intereted in agriculture.
    And more.

  5. karlgarcia says:

    The sad story of Agriculture.

    The agriculture sector remains of paramount importance to the Philippine economy. It is the lifeblood of about 12 million Filipinos, which comprises 33% of the country’s work force. It contributes 11% to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) valued at about US$15 billion (World Bank, 2014; PSA, 2013). Therefore, its role in economic growth, particularly in rural development, cannot be underplayed.

    Ironically, Filipinos employed in this sector are among the poorest, with most living below the national poverty line. Statistics showed that agricultural workers received the lowest daily wage as compared with workers in industry and service sectors (PSA, 2018). The concentration therefore of poverty in the country is found in the agriculture sector, calling it aptly “a poor man’s sector.” This poor condition of the agricultural workers is indicative that the agriculture sector, despite its national economic contribution, has not been an effective engine of social growth and human development. Suffice it to say, an ordinary Filipino farmer can be characterized by poor living standard, small landholding, low education, vulnerability to physical and economic risks, and zero savings or worse, indebtedness. The association of agriculture to poverty already drove many children of agricultural workers toward finding more lucrative employment opportunities in urban areas. This resulted in low appreciation for agriculture by the young generation and depleting human resource in the pool of agricultural labor force (IRIN, 2013). Gravely laced with poverty, many are becoming more hesitant to venture into farming which can be reflected in the declining number of farming families, area on agricultural production, and share of agriculture in the total economy across years (PSA, 2013).

    • I have read somewhere that Thailand and Vietnam made more use of what was discovered at IRRI, and applied better what they learned at UPLB.

      That Indonesia provides better incentives to its farmers, not to mention Japan. Old Philippine policy of fixed prices only encourages smuggling. New policy is neoliberal. Subsidies like in the EU keep smallholders alive and are good for food security.

      Philippines has destroyed farmland by failing to apply zoning. Mining has ruined aquifers and fishing and farmland too as a result – applied very irresponsibly. Wish popoy would come back, but talking coherently not in riddles like President Duterte. He knows stuff.

  6. karlgarcia says:

    What we lack are not roadmaps
    We have lots of them.

    Let us first have continuity
    The good aspects of build build build must be continued, who ever will be next president must not throw this program to the dust bin.

    But I have no problem discontinuing tokhang and ejk.

    We have many a legislslation that only needs to be refiled and be given priority.
    We know what we need, but we must also know what we want.

    • A lot of Filipinos only want quick money.

      POGOs are easy, big money for those with land and/or real estate to rent. One can earn money and does not even need to have any Filipinos at all, just Filipino land!

      But haciendas, being a 40% silent partner of a foreign firm, utilities, malls, property development are also all easy, quick money.

      Pimping out entire mountains to foreign mining firms without any restoration concept and without considering destruction of aquifers and farmlands, also easy, quick money for whom? National, LGUs? PAGCOR is also easy money, just like hueteng.

      Madrid REFUSED Euro Vegas at it saw easy sleazy money corrupting its youth. A Majorcan told me how tourism made some young people on his island lazy, “sin ambicíon” just content with a job as a bartender with tourist tips, for instance, instead of the patience to study.

      2:1 dollar rate also made it more attractive to sell natural resources and buy foreign goods. Well yes, developing a country takes patience and time. Others more patient are now overtaking the Philippines or have already. Look at the cars in Manila, 1960s and Singapore. Now weren’t the cars in Manila much more “magarbo” and the people more “spooting”? The Philippines was more walastik than SoKor in the 1950s. Thailand was baduy compared to the Philippines in the 1970s or 1980s, but now? Build real capabilities and you have a nation that can hold its own. Just live by selling what you can at the moment – your workers, your natural resources, your crops, the intestines of your islands, the English skills of your workers, your land / real estate – you end up where the Emirates might end up after the oil is gone there. Sure, you might remember what a party it once was. While buying mobile phones from Rwanda. Far-fetched? The first models already exist.

      • karlgarcia says:

        Dahil ang mag tanim at di biro dahil maghapon nakayuko.

        Working hard vs working smart.
        Short cuts, cutting corners and that stuff.

        Gambling lord drug lord war lord rolled into one then be mayor or governor.

        Oligarchs when sed wisely you will end up like Sokor, use them unwisely you will be worse than Russia.
        Warlords, thank goodness we do not have diamonda here or we would have blood diamonds and unnecessary genocide will follow.
        The proceeds of Live Ais and USA for Africa just went to the pockets of the warlords.
        Here in the Philippines we have farm to pocket roads.

        • How to nudge in the direction of institutions as opposed to persons?

          More like Sokor or even Indonesia or Thailand. The Philippines has had institutions in theory but in practice has evolved back to being ruled by order of the day.

      • karlgarcia says:

        Instead of pimping mountains, we should pimp landfills and surroundingvland to mega recyclers / materials recovery companies, rdf companies, cement companies, electronics companies and wte.
        All those precious earth and more can be found in the dump, easy money.

        Mine remediation then reforestation and restoration should be done, our agencies and lgus should mot be permit mills.

  7. chemrock says:

    Hi fellas, I’m fine here and hope you guys are OK too, where ever you may be. These are difficult times, but what we all have at the moment are space for self-contemplation. I do a lot of jogging (it’s still allowed in our city) and have set my target to hit 10km by year end. Quite derring do for my wobbly legs. The 60 mins running is great time for contemplating anything.

    I read of the presidents call to shoot people who give problems during lockdown policing, and the actuality of ex soldier Ragos getting shot to death. The same-O is still going on. I saw the video and the SOP seemed incredible.

    • Juana Pilipinas says:

      It is very heartwarming to read another excellent article from you.

      Your candid and honest views are always a joy to digest and contemplate.

      I believe that if we take care of the moral distortions, everything else will fall in place and that sweet spot will bring us the much deserved progress.

      Going forward, we need strong and smart leaders who can guide us away from our “stinking thinking. Lots of leaders who can walk the talk and lead by example. Enough of the political dynasties, career politicians, and slimy lawyers. What we need are trustworthy subject matter experts, technocrats and advocates.

      • chemrock says:

        Thanks for your encouraging words.

        “What we need are trustworthy subject matter experts, technocrats and advocates”. You need lots of these, and Philippines certainly have your share of these people. You have your fair share of wunderkinds and brainy professorrial kinds. You have your share of Steve Wozniaks, your Diosdado Banatao, Anne Aaron, Rebecca Bustamante-Mills, Nix Nollendo, Stephanie Sy, and many others like these. But you need one Steve Jobs to put things together.

        Looking over the horizon…. it’s worrisome. Who lies in the wings … Bong Go? Sarah Duterte? Leni Robredo — best deal on the table, but moral distortions stand in the way.

        • kasambahay says:

          looking over the horrison is worrisome indeed. last 2016 election there was massive computer glitch of 7hrs. despite having several trial runs that oversaw the smooth functioning of smartmatic, troubleshooting all possible counting problems, still there was the glitch that methink saw the onerous demise of the opposition and the massive rise of duterte’s best and brightest to both senate and congress.

          it was nearly in the same glitchy vein (not computer but of human intervention) that also saw the shocking demise of abs-cbn.

          now this coming election in 2020, if another computer glitch occurs, that is indeed bigger cause for concern.

  8. Who today, salutes a young navy leutenant (and his mates) who went out to sea in the terrible super typhoon of 1998 to search and rescue a crippled vessel? 16m Filipinos will, in fact, spit on the name of Sonny Trillanes.


    As early as 1986, in confronting Ninoy Aquino’s famous statement, “The Filipino is worth dying for,” the late Teodoro M. Locsin reflected on it and dared to ask, “Is he?” He identified the way of thinking that existed even then, but which, in retrospect, has become dominant: “Here is a mystery of human nature that defies solution while humbling us. Evil we know, and understand, knowing our nature. But good is something else. As martyrdom, it has had, history shows, a fascination for some. The cynic would say it is mere inflation of the ego.. ..But cynicism is only fear—fear of knowing what one is. To debase the good is to rise in self-estimation. If all men are vile, then you are not worse than you might think you are. You just know the human score. To face and recognize goodness is to sit in judgment on oneself. Avoid it.”

    In street Tagalog, they say “pare-pareho naman tayong hindi mga santo” = “Hey man, none of us here are saints anyway!”. That “yellows” are accused of “virtue-signalling”, and that people enjoy pulling down Leila De Lima for her “vileness” of having had an affair with her driver in order to make her fight against human rights abuses look like hypocrisy. In the 1970s our annoyance was with the hagiographic depiction of national heroes as way too perfect, how could we hedonistic and lazy high-school students ever to match that?

    Historian Xiao Chua says in one of his videos that the Western concept of hero is based on the Greek heroes like Perseus and Achilles, nearly superheroes, not attainable to ordinary people. While another writer states that the Filipino concept of heroism (bayani) is more like Darna, a simple person given a heroic role by chance (the meteor which gives her superpowers) and that the Filipino idea of heroism is for the community and not self-aggrandizing like the Western one. Anyhow, the biggest ridicule of heroism (in whatever context, Western or Eastern) is Digong’s promise to jetski to the Spratly’s – an open mockery of heroism which he sees as foolish.

    To debase the good is to rise in self-estimation. If all men are vile, then you are not worse than you might think you are. Teodor Locsin Sr.

    • https://opinion.inquirer.net/121916/looking-backwards – this is my POV that MLQ3 captured in an article, proven even more by recent quarantime (sic) events:

      A Filipino abroad, Irineo B.R. Salazar.. ..recently identified that “the trouble and the danger is the direction which anticolonialism and antielitism has taken in the Philippines… [The President] is just a symptom of profound national inferiority complex which shows itself in intentional rudeness, proud ignorance and brutality. Defiance against the old conditioning to be meek and obedient to the masters, but also wanting to be the masters now—including the right to contempt and murder.”

      Here, in a nutshell, is the new that was born while everyone kept their sights on the past.

  9. “and the intelligent exchanges between two prolific commenters on the failure of the Green Revolution in part due to World Bank guidance that hid an agenda for US imperialism. What have these two issues got to do with each other? Nothing… “

    chemp, this I thought was the best intro to an essay i’ve ever read. “intelligent” and “prolific” used as oxymoron, which I laughed heartily to. Then the question posed and then the answer, Nothing. Lol!


    So PBS over here is showing a bunch of really good documentaries lately, all day long. In the spirit of staying and working from home, I’ve gotten caught up on a lot of these documentaries. That day i read Micha’s comment, having just watched American Experience: Norman Borlaug, a little light bulb lit up.

    After much Googling, we know that Imelda Marcos touted the Green Revolution almost as her own over there. And that’s a bit vindicating to see that the reason for the Philippines exporting rice was actually Borlaug’s work.

    Marcos screwed the pooch. Again.

    chemp, so my background in this is next to nil. I’ve never heard of Norman Borlaug or this Green Revolution til last week watching that PBS documentary.

    I remember being in kindergarten having to sing We Are the World, and watching really skinny Africans hungry, then seeing bags of wheat. And I remember as a kid, 4 or 5 thinking, why don’t they have their own bags of wheat?

    If Micha was around back then, and said something like, because of the World Bank and IMF. that would’ve explained it, I think.

    That was the first time I saw bags of food being dropped off, on TV; the next would be in the mid-2000s, involving USAID packaged foods, with my own eyes. Given for free by the US, only to be sold by those of power in the 3rd world.

    But it took me last week watching that documentary, to realize why or how we were able to give away sacks and sacks of wheat and corn, and even rice.

    chemp, your 3 squandered opportunities make a lot of sense,

    i’d add that when I was in Indonesia i saw a lot more rice fields there, in the Philippines not so much. The other difference too was that in Indonesia they had these motorized plows which were hand held, while in the Philippines i just saw plows drawn by carabaos or brahman cows. Why this discrepancy?

    Then you got that whole palm oil stuff. Which i’m sure is related.

    Good stuff, chemp. It all makes more sense now.

  10. Micha says:

    Hey chemp where you’ve been? I thought you were banished or went into self isolation in Timbuktu. I’m surprised you were actually still reading the exchanges here in JoeAm’s tambayan.

    But knowing you, I wasn’t surprised at all by your neo-liberal apologetics in this post even as I maintain that it’s the interventionist policy of the World Bank, acting for and in behalf of the American imperial interest, which doomed Marcos’ attempt to revitalize our agriculture industry. I highly recommend Michael Hudson’s book, Super-imperialism, for a more cogent articulation of this topic.

    This corona pandemic might just serve as a revolutionary game changer in the fields of economics as well. Old norms no longer hold sway and in the coming months we will be seeing a whole lot of resets as severe depression bites. 30 million Americans lost their jobs in one month. What to do?
    MMT can help. But the helicopter money went to the parasites in Wall Street instead. They’re tempting the Gods of redistribution.

    Anyways, glad your back from hibernation. Stay well and be corona safe.

    • chemrock says:

      Thanks and you too, stay safe.

      With lockdowns, internet is a great refuge. I’ve been following. And noted new interest in your MMT.

      You are right, post corona pandemic won’t be business as usual. Globalisation and market liberalisation may be the looser. Once thing for sure, many companies will move out of China. Not just because of a reaction to the vrius problems with countries getting concerned with spreading out their supply chains, but it comes at a time when China is no longer a cheap manufacturing base.

      Let’s hope the exodus from China benefits Philippines as an alternative base for some of these companies.

      • Micha says:

        Noted new interest in my MMT?

        Well, thanks for the attribution but real credit belong to the insightful works of Randall Wray, Stephanie Kelton, Warren Mosler, Bill Mitchell, Scott Fullwiler and many other dedicated scholars in the field. I just happen to be a beneficiary of their liberating wisdom.

        Noted new interest understate the fact that what we’ve just recently seen is a total vindication of what those scholars have been saying all along and the destruction of the old obsolete paradigm in the financial affairs of our national government.

      • karlgarcia says:

        I fully agree with agriculture, but Irineo opined on our penchant for easy money and weak institutions.
        Since the bureacracy is the largest employer in the land they must not just reengineer it but some kind of sterouds must be injected.

  11. NHerrera says:


    Earlier a Doctor in Wuhan was warned by the security police not to repeat his grievous errors in spreading the rumor of the coronavirus. In the US, Medical Experts or Doctors are replaced or side-lined; but in Russia they fall mysteriously from windows.


    The Pandemic indeed is bad for one’s sanity, health or life in the three Nuke-laden Countries.

  12. karlgarcia says:

    It may start with the civil service.
    Make it a powerful agency and not just a commission, same with COMELEC.
    For the agencies and GCCs not to be populated by the military, make the retirement age of military to 65.

    • karlgarcia says:

      Should be under Irineo’s comment.

      Irineo B. R. Salazar on May 5, 2020 at 12:27 pm
      How to nudge in the direction of institutions as opposed to persons?

      More like Sokor or even Indonesia or Thailand. The Philippines has had institutions in theory but in practice has evolved back to being ruled by order of the day.

    • chemrock says:

      There are so many places that one can start with. But of all the places, this admin went for drug war.

      For me, I will go back to basics. Start with the agriculture sector. Agri sector contributed 9% to GDP (2918), Industry 31% and Services 60%. In terms of employment. agri sector had 18%, Industry 25% and Services 57% (2019).

      Why agri?
      – That’s where poverty is.
      – Food security
      – Lots of room for increasing productivity
      – Output from farms are raw materials for a lot of industry. The cost of inefficiency and bad policies impacts competitiveness of Industry sector.

      • Micha says:

        In this we are in complete sync chemp. My only caveat is to get the goddam international bankers out of the project. We have the resource, the research center, a fertile land, and a laboring mass ready to roll up their sleeves. This has to be totally a national government undertaking, deploying all its resources and power to mobilize a food security program. At no time does this need to be made more apparent than today when the threat of global warming and environmental crisis looms larger with each passing day. And to be honest, I anticipate great difficulty in achieving the objective but, really, what other alternative do we have?

        I was hoping that with Manuel Pinol initially at the agri department he will push for just such a program. Turns out the guy is an incompetent jerk.

        Overall, present political environment does not favor for such progress to be realized. Da mayor thinks we could just buy everything what we need from abroad because, you know, China.

      • Food Security should be viewed in the lens of national security.

        • You say so much in so few words.

          • karlgarcia says:

            To Sal Panelo that would mean Martial Law because of threat to national security.

          • sonny says:

            Our non-renewable national resources should be managed in this framework, e.g. coconut industry, mining, tourism. IMO.

            • A good framework. I’d put tourism first, I think. Coconut trees are getting old, I believe, and I don’t know what efforts are underway to refreshen the ‘forests’ that cover mountains in the Visayas. Mining needs good regulation and supervision, and assurance that the nation is collecting proper revenues, and value is not just being carted off to China.

              • sonny says:

                Gian’s framework should fit very well with the limited cash crops that do grow in the PH. The mention of rice production that cannot become an export crop because of our limited hectareage reminded me of the unlimited acreage of the Great Plains, California, the South and the equally unlimited depths of topsoil in those same acreages. The lyrics of the song is not a boast, just fact:

                “Oh beautiful, for spacious skies,
                For amber waves of grain,
                For purple mountain majesties,
                Above the fruited plain …”

              • Sonny, there is also a reason why Thailand and Vietnam are able to mass produce rice so much better. The huge plains along big rivers such as the Mekong are the acreage needed.

                The Philippines seems to be in a tight spot now when it comes to the ratio between population and acreage. The old modes of subsistence farming that worked with 20 Million in the 1950s will not work with 100+ million today. Lessons needed from Israel, Holland.

              • karlgarcia says:

                Re: Israel
                Not yet desalination, but a start.
                Solar powered irrigation.

              • karlgarcia says:

                Ph rejected desalination.


        • chemrock says:

          As it should, Gain. But Karl reads my mind. National security equates martial law to some. The moment you mention national security, you see outpouring of policy distortions for agriculture.

          • Kriegswirtschaft = war economy, is the German term for what was applied by the extreme right-wing Marshall Ludendorff in late world war one. Basically applying military logistics to keeping industry running and people fed.

            Eastern European communism was run by similar methods, as the lack of a profit motive caused things to become inefficient including starvation as a result. The Philippine IATF is trying to set up something similar, and failing. Back to neoliberalism aka GCQ.

  13. Micha says:


    A policy triumph : closure of ABS-CBN, that tube of sensationalism and tabloid journo which makes its viewers even more stupid than they already are.

    One of a few good things happening in the midst of a pandemic.

    • Good for idealists, but not for the poor who used to get two channels, but now, only one. The sign-off was emotional. The national anthem, a reading of the stations shutting down, naming of the engineers, then sign-off. Huge loss.

      • Micha says:

        It’s a huge loss for those who want to addle and numb the brains of the poor so they don’t get the idea they’re being screwed.

    • kasambahay says:

      this time po, micha and duterte’s trolls have one thing in common: both lauded the closure of abs-cbn; trolls more so, proverbially jeering, cartwheeling, clapping and fist pumping in mania.

      • Micha says:

        You are of course aware that I’ve been supporting the proposal to padlock that station when the vengeful dictator first floated the idea several months back, no?

        The closure might just force the poor to do some reflecting on the state of affairs and who knows where might that led in catalyzing some sorely needed change.

        • kasambahay says:

          pls, micha, dont worry about the poor. with the demise of abs-cbn, the poor will soon be flooded with fake news, misinformation, lies and half truths, courtesy of duterte’s trolls and like me, the poor wont know what hit them. we poor have been whipped too long, the lashes rarely hurt now. we may cry but we get over quickly. in god we trust.

          abs-cbn’s vera files used to point out the fakeries, distortions and misinformation of the current regime, as well as the wrongdoings and the missteps of the previous govts. at the height of exponential misinformation of the yr 2016 and onward, vera files’ journalists went around the country educating one and all how to fact find and expose the lies, innuendos and half-truths posted not only by highly charged trolls, but also by the best and brightest appointed officials, one such official does not know where iconic mt mayon is located.

          if you google abs-cbn phillipines, you’ll find it is an achiever that has won multiple awards both national and international. as late as 2018, its documentaries won excellence award in new york and also in australia, just to name a few.

          abs-cbn might be dumb, but good dumb.

          • Micha says:

            If you don’t have that many poor people in the country, you don’t need Vera Files to expose the lies of this administration.

            In a situation where you have a relatively opulent population, majority of your citizens will have possessed the ability for critical thinking and will very easily discern the lies and propaganda of your pledging dictator.

            So why do we have that many poor people again?

            Short answer : Plutocracy Inc.

            • kasambahay says:

              the dictator and you have something in common, lol!

              short reply? you’re a plutocrat that runs a troll farm.

              • Micha says:

                Gago! You better come up with solid evidence to support that.

              • kasambahay says:

                gago! come and get it, bring warrant.

              • Micha says:

                Are saying that you have evidence to the effect that I am indeed running a troll farm?

              • Micha says:

                Since you cannot obviously come up with evidence on your allegation that I am running a troll farm, allow me to return the favor in speculating on who and what you are doing. Here goes: you are Kris Aquino’s housemaid.

                It is, of course, just a guess and here are my reasons for saying that :

                – your handle name,kasambahay, is Tagalog word for househelper.

                – you usually intermix your comments with Tagalog and English words which is how Kris also communicates. Siguro nahawa ka sa kanyang burgis na pananalita.

                – you seem to be very politically engaged with obvious bias against the present admin.

                – and lastly, your troll farm speculation is a take from what Mocha Uson is said to have been engaged; thus, anybody who happens to support some of Duterte’s policies must be a troll from Mocha’s farm. The previous spat between Kris and Mocha must have gotten into your nerves as well.

                I repeat, this is just a guess and you can always say I am mistaken, okey?

              • Micha, kasambahay is obviously MRP again, i believe its his 3rd or 4th iteration.

              • Micha says:

                Hahaha, I don’t think so. MRP is obsessed with affidavits and UP. This one is obsessed with China and Duterte.

              • karlgarcia says:

                That is a low blow.
                Do not make accusations.
                I am not the blog owner, but that it is against the policy of this log to attack fellow commenters.

  14. In the same vein as Chemrock’s comment about Flor Contemplacion is this twitter thread by A Filipino-Italian. Yes, it seems being in conformity with a group and a leader is more important for most Filipinos than individual conscience.


    “I knew, from that point, that the Filipino as a people have lost their sense of principle. I am not a conservative but i modelled those questions along conservative lines because i knew that Filipinos are usually deeply conservative and focus on the lines of respect.”

    • chemrock says:

      I think the great divide between western and eastern minds, is about individualism and collectivism.

      Western civilisation is moulded by their march of history through humanistic thought development – age of enlightenment, reformation, magna carta, empiricism, French Revolution and the idea of Liberte (that was exported to US) etc. Creative individualism is admired, and Freedom for that individual space is something to die for.

      Easter civilisation, without exposure to the same humanistic pathway, sticks to the collectivism of the past. There is deference to a hierarchical social organisation. Whether in Indian, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, etc, there is a Confucianist way of life in respect for elders, for authorities. There is acceptance of trade off of individual space for the greater benefit of the community. There is a bowing down to the idea that the authorities knows better.

      Which is the better way of life? The history of mankind is still a work in progress.

      The downside of western way is chaos. We are seeing that surfacing today.

      The downside of eastern way is subjugation of the citizenry under a bad master. We see this time after time in world history.

      Access to open education has seen westernised easterners returning to their homeland, creating a new schism of thought conflict and bringing tension to collectivism. On the other hand, immigration has brought eastern conservatism into western societies, putting tremendous strains on the experiment of multiculturalism.

      • The great conflict now playing out, individualism vs collectivism, with values of freedom vs obedience, has reached it’s apex. I wrote in a tweet a little earlier today that it seems to me that China will change from within or there will be a war to resolve it, because freedom cannot be contained. It is inspirational in a way that commanded nationalism cannot reach. Plus, it is more productive and inventive. China could indeed come to command much of Asia, but I don’t see Europe or the US learning to obey.

        • the learning to OBEY part is the easiest , Joe. Nazi Germany and an Adolf can happen anywhere really. FEAR, that’s all you need.

          What you’re seeing with these “My Constitutional Rights are ESSENTIAL too” protests, is the lack of fear.

          Understand that sure yeah a bunch of protesters are carrying assault styled rifles and waving all sorts of flags, but they are just kittens really looking at the mirror thinking they ‘re lions. it’s the MAGA version of COMICCON, Joe.

          No one famous or loved really has died here , so until Kim Kardashian dies no fear.

          chemp’s Eastern culture seems pretty much always in fear, fear of ridicule, fear of rejection, fear of the future, fear, fear , fear. shame, shame, shame… so the OBEY part is easier to come by. I agree with Ireneo that brutality is the side effect, but unless that brutality is directed to those with power, same expression of weakness really. still FEAR. still OBEY.

          Sweden seems to have struck the right balance, science w/out false bravado. California under Gov. Newsom will start opening up, albeit carefully, no Georgia moves. But people are realizing that hey people will die.

          We’ll have to absorb it. Here’s a good read on Sweden.


          May 1, 2020 — Sweden has taken a different approach to fighting COVID-19 than most other countries — and it’s causing a global stir.

          Instead of tight lockdowns, Swedish officials have encouraged citizens to use common sense, work from home if possible, and not gather in crowds over 50. Primary schools are open, as are bars and restaurants, with images showing people enjoying drinks and crowding streets.

          Their aim, officials have said, is to slow the pace of the virus, so as not to overwhelm the health care system.

          But they also want healthy people to keep getting infected, to eventually build “herd immunity,” where so many people have survived an infection that they won’t be vulnerable to it again.

          About 80% of people who become sick with COVID-19 will have relatively mild symptoms; some won’t even notice they’re infected.

          Theoretically, if enough people could be mildly infected, they would be protected from the virus and not pass it on to others. Outbreaks end when enough people have become infected or protected with vaccines to stop it from spreading. The trick is to infect only people who will have mild infections — but, of course, no one knows how to do to that.

          • chemrock says:

            On valuing democracy over prosperity, Lee Kuan Yew once said:
            “People want economic development first and foremost. The leaders may talk something else. You take a poll of any people. What is it they want? The right to write an editorial as you like? They want homes, medicine, jobs, schools.”

            In this context, the US as a nation has reached the upper top of Maslow,s pyramid. So the people can focus more on rights and democracy. I like to see where California is headed and whether people will now focus on the shits in the streets or the right to shit in the streets.

            “chemp’s Eastern culture seems pretty much always in fear, fear of ridicule, fear of rejection, fear of the future, fear, fear , fear. shame, shame, shame… so the OBEY part is easier to come by. ”
            Fear is pretty much correct. But it is fear for loss of food on the table. The bogeymen is always economics related.

            • chemp, as an aside (i agree with LKY’s comment) homelessness here in CA comes from 2 places mainly: inside the state, people priced out gentrification ; and outside the state, other states economic collapse so they come here because they are fed. i tend to think more are outsiders than in, especially SF where the homeless there seem younger sans the regular addicts in the Tenderloin area.

              Now with this Roomkey initiative, which to me is a tyrannical use of a states imminent domain powers (sure COVID19 but you get the feeling they’ve been itching to do this, save all the homeless with homes since b4 COVID19, chemp), more homeless from out of state will surely come. So maybe close down the border first (or just Las Vegas/Phoenix interstates that lead to CA, justify as COVID19) then

              really drill down on whose Californian and whose not. They did this back in the 1930s, to control the in flux of Dust Bowl refugees, LAPD guarded the borders, no big police under state back then. That should control shits in the streets. And stop inviting the homeless from all over with these bleeding heart policies, tell ’em to stay in Arizona.

        • There are a few more dimensions to that matter. Examples:

          1) Swedes are anti-authoritarian but orderly as in consensus-based. So they manage without an official curfew but with rules they somehow agreed upon. Probably simple tribal societies like the Vikings did it similarly.

          2) Much of the monotheistic world believes in a morality higher than human authority. Places like China have the Emperor or President for Life, like Egypt had the Pharaohs. Finally even King David had to realize that the 10 commandments applied to him also.

          3) I don’t see disorder here in Europe. I see people going to the higher courts to contest parts of the lockdown orders. Some had to be changed as a result. The idea of a logical set of rules above those of authority dates back to the Romans. Legal Latin and all.

          4) The US seems to go through periods of disorder – and then regroups, reinvents itself. Evolutionary change, mutations of the original. Recombination with other cultures.

          5) The Philippines was considered by Huntington (his Clash of Civilizations is one way of modelling way more complex reality) to be a hinge between East and West. Turkey also. Turkey is where the Greeks defined Asia as East. The West came from the East to PH.

          Will Edgar Lores be classified as a Neo-Confucian or a Christian philosopher in 3030 A.D.?

          • 4). makes sense.

            1). Viking laws I can see. but i’m sure homogeneity too is operating here. and maybe the confidence in saunas.

          • NHerrera says:


            The German and Swedish approaches to the virus infections are interesting. While the Germans have the daily infections in decline with social distancing and other restrictive measures; the Swedish relies on government advices and the citizens taking responsible actions, as already noted, and the infections are on some plateau with hint of a decline.

            See the two charts below. The first refers to the German Case; the second, the Swedish Case.

            I believe, the unwinding or reopening will be more difficult for the Germans. The Swedish need only a few adjustments. How all this will turn out will be interesting.

          • Juana Pilipinas says:

            I miss Edgar Lores so much. Your numbering of the key points made me teary-eyed and whisper some gratitude for his contributions to all of us here.

            Edgar Lores is a freethinking humanistic philosopher. The best example of “East meets West” mindset. Take the good in each and rethink the dysfunctional attributes.

            Mature democracies develop social contracts through modeling and positive reinforcement of desirable behaviors. No one is coerced or intimidated to obey. It is not a form of submission. Being a decent person who does the right thing is part of citizenship. One does the right thing not only because it gives one social affiliation/pride but also because it is the root of non-polarizing societal peace and order.

            PH has a unique position in the East. It could be an Edgar Lores. A country that struck the right harmony between the East and the West. A country that found its peace and wisdom through deep introspection, not shunning the East oe West but embracing both for their goodness and finding ways to neutralize their not-so-good features.

            • Nicely said. Edgar was as close to harmony as one gets, I think. His starting point was peace, his ending point wholly intellectual, undisturbed by the need to dominate. He listened well and spoke orderly. Yes, I miss him, too.

              • I was re-reading Edgar Lores’ blog on the Akashic records, trying to figure out if theres any connection to all the stuff I’m reading now about psychedelic studies, and I would’ve love to have gotten Edgar’s take on both and if they are indeed connected.

                https://www.mindmed.co/ Looks like psychedelic is the new path.

                Most who undergo it, seem to be relating an experience akin to the Akashic records but unlike Edgar Cayce, they seem unable to express said experience in a language coherent to regular folks, whereas Edgar could.

                https://joeam.com/2016/09/01/the-akashic-records/ What a great blog this was.

    • NHerrera says:

      I appreciated Joel (Remodulator) and his rant (as he himself calls it) in the connected series of Twits. He mentioned going to an Engineering school in the Philippines and bumping into a friend who I read as having gone to the same Engineering school — his friend mentioning the closure of ABS-CBN. From which they started a conversation and concluding after hastily departing from his friend that the Filipino has lost it. Good link. Thanks.

      Joel is my type of engineer, not his friend.

  15. “This has allowed the world to put more food on the table for an ever increasing population and so Thomas Malthus once again fades from our memory. There is, however, always a point of marginal returns as natural resources are finite. Food production growth is linear and population growth is exponential. The Philippine population is now 110m, and the nation is a net importer of rice, our staple food.”

    giancarloangulo: “Food Security should be viewed in the lens of national security.”

    I’m pretty sure gian doesn’t mean food security ala martial law, but like over here people should think about food more and where it comes from, supply chain and all. The other facet is people gotta eat healthy. You cannot say food security and be drinking Coke and eat pork everyday.

    Which brings me to chemp’s rice as staple. I’ve always thought it funny that Asians eat so much rice . For breakfast, lunch , dinner , snack, hell dessert is made of rice. Talk about carbo loading. That all leads to diabetes and heart issues. 2 of COVID19’s favourites.

    How about as policy, get the Philippines to enjoy more variety of staple foods, like potatoes or quinoa. hell, if you aren’t in construction or working outside all day, you don’t really need all that starch. Try Keto diet, replace w/ some butter for your plate full of rice.

    I’d love for the Philippines to eat more mushrooms too. Replace rice with whatever, just replace it— if unable to, then lessen your rice intake. how’s that for national security. Less people eating rice, less rice dependence; politicians will have to bribe you with cauliflower instead. 😉

    • ACRES U.S.A. Is it practical to grow mushrooms commercially or for home consumption without special equipment?

      COTTER. Sure. The easiest mushroom to start with would be oyster mushrooms. That’s the training-wheel mushroom. It actually has twice the amount of protein, by dry-weight, as chicken or meat. There’s a lot of water weight, but taking account of their calorie content and rate of growth, mushrooms contain a lot of protein. Oyster mushrooms only take three to four weeks to fruit. To grow oyster mushrooms, you only have to be able to boil water to pasteurize your substrate. You submerge some straw or other agricultural waste in hot water for two hours and then pull it out, mix in spawn and stuff it in a plastic bag. There are other steps involved, but that’s the core of the work. You also need a place to grow mushrooms that maintains temperature and high humidity. You wouldn’t want to grow them in your house. You could create a little greenhouse or humidity tent. Their third requirement is oxygen. In a small, enclosed environment you can offset the carbon dioxide by growing microgreens, sprouts or other plants. This is where permaculture comes in. The plants convert the CO2 to oxygen, making it a closed-loop system.


      That’s a great interview on mushrooms. I Googled Philippine mushroom production and they do grow Oyster mushrooms. but i’ve not yet found a good website.

    • chemrock says:

      Is carbo loading on rice bad?

      A recent international study shows rice eating nations have low obesity problems. Let’s not throw away the rice bowl yet.


      • “Eating rice seems to protect against weight gain. It’s possible that the fibre, nutrients, and plant compounds found in whole grains may increase feelings of fullness and prevent overeating. Rice is also low in fat and has a relatively low postprandial blood glucose level which suppresses insulin secretion. However, there are also reports that people who overeat rice are more likely to develop metabolic syndrome and diabetes. Therefore, an appropriate amount of rice intake may prevent obesity“, says Professor Imai.

        Although the research does not establish a cause-and-effect relationship between country-level rice consumption and obesity, the researchers say that it should be investigated further. Whilst a limitation of cross-sectional studies is the risk of identifying false associations as a result of confounding factors, the association identified between rice consumption and obesity remained even after adjusting for various lifestyle and socioeconomic risk factors. The authors note the need for future studies to demonstrate whether increasing individual consumption of rice leads to improvements in obesity rates in longitudinal studies.

        chemp, although eating rice to create a sensation of fullness makes sense to me, ie. less other foods just rice equals weight loss . I do know most poor people over there just eat rice and salt; near the coast rice and types of sea weed picked up in the ocean.

        What i saw over there, with folks that really just sit and work; or have servants to do the menial tasks, they all seem unhealthy fat, and rice was consumed inordinately, granted on top of rice people who tend to eat a lot of rice also ate other fatty foods too unhealthily.

        for a 3rd world, over there, the amount of obesity in the city was very surprising, chemp; but yeah I did see lots of skinny folks in the country who did just eat rice. i’m curious now who they are studying.

        My point though was rice import,

        the Philippines doesn’t have to be the next rice exporter, but in line with gian’s national security, do people really have to eat so much rice? If you work in the pier and have to carry sacks of rice, maybe; but i’m sure rice intake could be varied more, no? Googling diabetes

        in the Philippines and it looks like its unnaturally high. Is more rice the answer?

        • kasambahay says:

          replace rice with whatever, I say replace rice with corn, or augment rice with corn. kaming mga bisaya are big corn eaters. unlike rice, corn is hardy and easy to grow and the black corn fungus seems to be new fad these days. in our country black corn fungus is thrown away, but now in far america, black corn fungus is eaten as delicacy.

          potato, sweet potato, cassava, ubi, taro, bread fruit, there are crops that can augment rice.

  16. NHerrera says:


    The comments in this blog brings to me — confined at home in these Pandemic days — the fun of reading those that give the important essentials and those that focus on the details that distract. This blog and others in TSH are filled with examples.

    While we admire the truly magnificent high definition details of the digital photo, I suppose the reason why modern painting is still valued is because it brings up the essential message or feelings that the artist such as in an impressionist painting wish to convey.

    In general, most Filipinos have the habit of looking at the details and nitpicking these to death; not standing back or purposely blurring the picture, by tricks of the eyes, to get the broad essentials that, say, an impressionist painting convey. It is tragic that most of the country’s leaders also have this habit.

  17. karlgarcia says:

    They say in other countries is only at the top level while here, even janitors snd messengers are in the take.

    We always say “Kaya di umaasenso ang Pilipinas”
    Knowing is only half the battle.

    Here bribery is to speed up things kuno without removing red tape.

    It is to makes things disapear while only sweeping it under the rug.
    It makes one look the other way with out closing eyes and ears.

    • Juana Pilipinas says:

      In developed nations, tipping is fine. Waitpeople in restaurants are given between 15-20% over the food/beverage bill. Valets in hospitals, hotels, fine dining establishments usually post that they do not accept gratuities or can only accept tips not exceeding a certain amount. People working in minimum wage jobs are usually given gifts as tokens of appreciation.

      The difference is the tip/gratuity/gift is not coerced from the giver. It is given freely. Some even withhold it if the service received is not up to par.

      Kuripot/madamot ba tayo sa Pinas kaya tayo kinikian?

      As far as the bribery in high places, that is a grave form of corruption that should not exist in any country.

      • Aussie traveller in the US explains why she refused to tip

        Tipping isn’t just polite in the US — it’s kind of expected. But one Aussie traveller says she got through a two-week trip by refusing as much as possible.

        Few things really drive home the difference between Australia and the United States as the culture of tipping.

        Here, we might fling a few dollars in the direction of someone who really went out of their way to be excellent.

        In the US, where service wages are so low tips supplement people’s incomes, leaving gratuities isn’t just appreciated: it’s pretty much mandatory.

        But one Australian traveller refused to buy into the practice of tipping in the US, and managed to travel through the country by barely doing it at all.

        Sydney traveller Natasha Cameron, 26, spent two weeks on the east and west coasts of the US before a four-month trip to South America and avoided tipping as much as possible.

        “I had started the first leg of my five-month trip and was on a very tight budget,” Ms Cameron said told news.com.au.

        “I was also uncertain as to how much was acceptable to tip. For some of the trip we bought from the supermarket and takeaway to avoid having to worry about tipping and having that awkward encounter. I had saved for years to go on this trip and was not working for the duration of the holiday, so every last penny really did count.”


        Juana, tipping has gotten way out of hand here.

        Though I ‘m with Australians on tipping, I hate having to do math when I go to restaurants. I went to a restaurant that was obviously run by a family, mom/pop cooked, kids served. And at the end of the meal, there was a tip line (standard receipt), so I was like I’m not gonna tip, this is a business.

        if the kids were workers, and not family, then yeah that makes sense, but they were a family and operating a family business with fairly priced menu. So on principle, I put nothing. Not to be cheap but tipping is generally for workers.

        • Travel experience:

          Swedes hate tips, feel insulted.

          Italians, Spaniards all expect tips.

          Germans don’t, but are happy if you do.

          Dutch don’t expect tips usually.

          Romanians might ask you if you are looking for entertainment.

          • Romanian taxi drivers and hotel clerks over ten years ago..

            I have read that Bucharest is cleaner now, hardly any stray dogs anymore.

            Literally dangerous strays that were going back to wolfish, often very hungry.

      • karlgarcia says:


      • karlgarcia says:

        In restos , most of theservice charge goes to management and crumbs to the service personnel and people would no longer want to tip because of the high service charge.

        In the provinces the rest rooms in gas stations and even churches ask for donations not tips.

        Bribery =/ tips in PH case

        And bribery is more in the form of greese money at the lower levels and if you are in trouble, it is for hush money.

        Now as to bribery = tip look no further

        I remember when I was in Asian terminals working on uploading cargo manifests, some brokers give a hundred bucks just for me to do my job, at first I took it, then I requested the process to be automated ASAP

    • Romania also has corruption at all levels and has been fighting it since 1989.

      The Directie Nationala Anticoruptie has around 400 full-time prosecutors.

      But in 2018 politicians threw out its highly successful boss, Laura Codruţa Kovesi.

      A recent EU ruling judged this to be wrong, but she now has a Brussels job anyhow.

      In Bulgaria allegedly Mafiosi park directly at city hall with their luxury cars.

      BTW Romanian “spaga” was paid to teachers to pass children, to doctors to get appointments in the overloaded public health system, to traffic cops, everywhere.

      They say Western European truck drivers feared the greed of Romanian police in the 1990s.

      Another thing that made me “feel at home” in Bucharest was the bureaucratic inflexibility. Like some insisting on passport when a German ID was enough to enter the country. Also taxi drivers at the airport with overpriced rates so I took those at departures from the city.

  18. caliphman says:

    Welcome back chemrock to blogging here.

    I know not much about why a Philippine Green Revolution has been a dismal failure with the country that invented miracle rice going from a net rice exporter to a huge importer from Thailand and other Asian countries , some imports being variants of that same rice that originated in UP Los Banos.

    Having said that, an understanding of this failure without developing an understanding of the epic failure of its land reform program, CARP. It was land reform that was key to the agricultural transformation and self-sufficoency in Taiwan, South Korea, and many other Third World then underdeveloped countries. Some of these successes were the models used by the World Bank, other I international developmental agencies and Philippine economists in implementing the basic belief that redistributing land ownership from the big haciendas to small tenant farmers would lead to increased productivity given adequate legal, financial, and other infrastructure support.

    One Philippine economist and author whose articles on land reform I have followed is Dr. Calixto Chikiamco. I share his belief that the success and failure of a Philippine Green revolution is not measured in achieving political and social justice goals of alleviating the exploitation of the peasantry and tenant farmers working for the hacienda workers. The conceptual objective is a land reform program that increases agricultural productivity and efficiency, and at the same time allows the efficient and entrepreneurial small farmer to develop, thrive and even expand by acquiring acreage from other less successful and motivated new farm owners.

    There are many forms of land reform programs including the state owned communes such as those in mainland China and the cooperative kibbutz in Israel. But for many reasons the Philippine version of land reform has been an abject failure. Chikiamko believes that the legal constraints preventing the farmer beneficiaries from freely and legally selling or buying land reform acreage is a major obstacle to realizing the increased agricultural productivity underlying the economic rationale of land reform.


    • josephivo says:

      I worked several years for the Department of Agrarian Reform the executers of the CARP program. The 20 million Euro Belgian aid program did put emphasis on an “integrated” approach, not only distributing land, but also improving farming methods, education, health care, micro-finance, infrastructure as irrigation or farm to market roads and “organizational development”. Eventually the program was stopped because of the corruption at the top. DAR only as had 2 or 3 capable and motivated secretaries, the rest enriching themselves through corrupt networks in the organization. (And even then, some of the local DAR employees were motivated and doing their best in helping the farmers.)

      Other problems were the lack of coordination between, DAR, Agriculture, DILG, Health, Landbank … (same for the aid organizations, in the 4 years is was there the different EU program leaders only met once in a resort, having a good time and zero follow-up) Mayors asking money under the table before we could do anything, even repair schools, hospitals or roads were sabotaged when the mayor didn’t get his “share”. The only time the top of DAR was really involved was in the last meeting when our vehicles, computers, desks and similar stuff had to be distributed.

      Only in the previous administration we saw some progress, the previous president, the head of the senate in jail, the Chief Justice impeached, local war-lords removed… But all that is again reversed and just an brief anomaly on the Philippine timeline.

      • karlgarcia says:

        Thanks for this

        • ” The only time the top of DAR was really involved was in the last meeting when our vehicles, computers, desks and similar stuff had to be distributed.”


          did you guys have the power to say, Hey we’re not gonna deal with this guy (or gal) they’re dirrrty. Or could you all have requested another person to liaison with more principled types to ensure, that no thefts/stealing? We had something similar in the military, but no one cared because OPM (other peoples’ money), plus it was policy to throw away said money… which resulted in Louis Vuitton couches and curtains matching too for really sleazy characters.

          • karlgarcia says:

            Next time comment under his reply so he would be alerted to it.

          • josephivo says:

            Contractually everything needed two signatures, a DAR and a Belgian one. But at the liquidation of the project all project assets would be handed over to DAR. So, in the animated last project meeting where it was decided who would get what, we were mere witnesses.

            During the project of course you try to support the strait people. But sometimes it is not possible to tell a poor farmer “Stay hungry, you get nothing because your major/Barangay captain/DAR officer… is corrupt.” (and corruption is on a scale from 1 to 100, so is the quality of the evidence)

      • chemrock says:

        Wow did’nt know we have someone in our midst close to where the action is. You have lots to share I’m sure.

        For starters perhaps you can give us your views on the lastest Rice Tariffication Act 2019 ? It’s already coming under intense pressure. I’m not quite sure how the process for legislation for something like this works. This one authored by Villar (built on works of some other co-authors). I’m just wondering whether the suppositions of the legislation undergoes stress tests or some algorithms to play out various scenarios.

        Lest it be mis-understood, RTA is not an elixir for the country’s rice production problems. It’s just that the country has it’s back against the world on its WTO commitments on rice tariffication. Since 1995 WTO agreement towards global tarrification for open trade, rice has been an exemption on the basis of annual application. 2017 was supposed to be the final year. It has taken the country more than 20 years to do it.

        Instead of tariffs, Philippines preferred the use of Quantitive Restrictions. This is not WTO preferred choice of mechanism because it is open to abuse and corruption.

        Low productivity caused local rice to be much more expensive. QR prevented more importation of cheaper rice, thus allowing local farmers to survive, but distorted retail prices and caused consumers to pay at higher prices. And of cost made millions for rice importers with the right connections to get QR permits.

        Under RTA, import of rice is now open market. The tariffs are 35% from Asean producers and 40% from outside. But such high tariffs are still insufficient to protect local farmers. Philippines rice production is so un-competitive, its production cost is estimated to be 100% that of Vietnam’s. In order to be competitive, the tariff needs to be at 65% level.

        What this means is with RTA, the retail prices are higher, and farmers still cannot compete.

        Bottom line is RTA has done nothing to alleviate the situation. Looks great on paper. Villar et al can congratulate themselves. But nothing has changed in reality.

        RTA has mechanisms to help the farmers — tariff collection goes to fund mechansation, training, research etc. It is a mechanism somewhat like the coconut levy. So be prepared for what’s to come next.

        For long term health of rice production sector, question is can productivity ever be raised when you are 100% more costly than imports? It’s impossible. Thus the billions raised from tariff to be blindly poured into a non-scientifically approached productivity programme is destined for failure. What are the alternatives? I have no idea.

        From 1995 to 2019 to close rice tariffication outstanding documentation under WTO agreement. What a laggard. It’s the same as the ABS-CBN problem. The franchise ended 2020, the company foresee the country’s legislative tortoise pace so they put in their application for renewal 6 years in advance. And we end up with current fiasco. Micha commented on ABS-CBN deserving it, but last I checked, the company had been cleared by all authorities that mattered — the BIR, Telecommunications Commission, Dept of Labour and Commitment, and Securities Commission. Calida’s quo waranto sure is a powerful weapon.

        • chemp,

          in Googling your comment, i didn’t find much re Philippines but I did stumble across this US vs. Mexico dubbed COKE wars , sugar vs. corn syrup. Syrup being the main thing that causes Americans to be fat. Thus we’re making the world fatter. the US is exporting obesity!

          But then you get the hacienda system that josephivo is talking about.

          So on one hand I don’t like corn syrup (i actually prefer honey); but on the other, I also wouldn’t wanna support the hacienda system. is WTO correct? Does World Bank have a say in these WTO issues?

          p.s. My background in trade wars is basically just from the Star Wars franchise.


          Mexico and the United States have long been engaged in a trade war over sugar. Sugar is big business in Mexico, as it is in many parts of the world. In an effort to protect its sugar industry, Mexico has repeatedly tried to inhibit imports of high-fructose corn syrup, which the U.S. had been exporting to Mexico and was being used in place of Mexican sugar to make Coke as well as other products.

          In 1997, the Mexican government passed a levy on high-fructose corn syrup in an attempt to keep the demand—and thus the price—for Mexican sugar higher. The U.S. deemed this an unfair infringement on trade and went to the World Trade Organization (WTO) to make its case, and the WTO decided in favor of the U.S.

          But in 2002, Mexico tried again, enacting a new law calling for a tax on the use of high-fructose corn syrup in the soda industry. Once again, the U.S. went to the WTO, and the organization again ruled in favor of the U.S.

          While some say that cane workers in small Mexican villages are being forced out of business and shouldn’t have to compete with American prices, Liebhold says the situation is more complicated than that.

          “Although there are some small landholders making a living,” he says, “Mexican agriculture today is very much a remnant of the hacienda system.”

          He poses some interesting questions: “If Mexican sugar is supporting a debt-peonage system, is it better to drink a soda made with it, rather than with high-fructose corn syrup? Is it better to support paying workers a decent wage, which is what you’re doing when you drink U.S.-made Coke with high-fructose corn syrup? This love of sodas made with sugar; the more you unpack this, the more unclear it becomes.”

          Many foodies and soda lovers swear there’s a discernible difference between Coke made with sugar and Coke made with high-fructose corn syrup—a truer, less “chemical-y” taste; a realer real thing. And they’re willing to pay the higher prices that Mexican Coke purchased in the U.S. commands. Trendsetting chef David Chang, who owns Momofuku Noodle Bar in New York City as well as several other cutting-edge restaurants, was involved in a social-media spat in 2011 when the gastro-sphere lit up at his charging $5 for a Mexican Coke.

          Chang fought back on Twitter with a simple explanation: “Mexican Coke = hard to obtain in NYC + costs $.” <<<


        • Micha says:

          “Micha commented on ABS-CBN deserving it, but last I checked, the company had been cleared by all authorities that mattered — the BIR, Telecommunications Commission, Dept of Labour and Commitment, and Securities Commission.”

          Hey chemp, do I need to define a dictator for you?

          That it was cleared “by all authorities that mattered”, does not negate the fact that it’s a tabloid broadcast network owned by parasitic oligarchs whose main unstated rationale is to pacify the starving masses.

          • chemrock says:

            Closing down the network and tabloid network are two different issues.

            One is about upholding the law and fairplay in the market place. The other is about the quality of the network.

            As to parasitic oligarchs’ rationale at the network ‘is to pacify the starving masses’ – that is just about the most insane corporate mission there ever is.

            • Micha says:

              Monopoly capitalism is not upholding the law and fairplay in the market place.

              If you’re an oligarch with billions to spare you don’t really care as much about the profit motive anymore. You would care to be able to maintain the power structure and social dynamics that will allow the stranglehold to continue.

              Oligarchs are the most conservative bunch because they’re feeding off and prospering from the status quo.

              • chemrock says:

                How do you propose to create jobs for the 11,000 displaced, including Coco Martin of course?

                Can we get a non-oligarch to take over ABS-CBN.

                Do you know how much the evil oligarch of ABS-CBN contributed to the covid assistance effort?

              • Micha says:

                “How do you propose to create jobs for the 11,000 displaced, including Coco Martin of course?”

                Since when have apologists for free market capitalism cared for job losses, chemp? Unemployment risks has always been viewed as coming with the trade so deal with it with your trusted and proven capitalist formula.

                “Can we get a non-oligarch to take over ABS-CBN?”

                Yes of course. Nationalize that hydra. We don’t really need it. In the age of internet, who still get their news and entertainment from television?

                “Do you know how much the evil oligarch of ABS-CBN contributed to the covid assistance effort?”

                Philanthropy from the oligarchs is their way of making amends after they have gutted and looted everything. It’s a balm, a way to soothe their troubled souls after all their thieving.

    • karlgarcia says:

      Was just waiting gor your reaction to the post.

  19. caliphman says:

    Karl, what chemmy, Chikiamko, myself and other green revolution and land reform economists, technocrats and legislators fail to factor in their grand plans is the extent and degree of corruption that is part and parcel of Filipino culture. It is this culture that has brought PhilHealth, the commendable plan to provide universal and affordable healthcare to all Filipinos, to its financial knees inspite of if what seemed to be a viable conceptual framework. Aside from the Magsaysay administration of the fifties which had zero tolerance for government corruption, succeeding administrations have failed in their big budget economic and social amelioration programs because officials see and use them as opportunities to put money in their pockets. But this has been a perennial topic in this site ever since I started coming here so it’s not clear what can.be done about it.

    • karlgarcia says:

      Yes in this thread, I attempted to discuss bribery but it led to a discussion about tips.

    • Perfect.

      This was the counter-factual I was getting at with Micha on the other blog. chempo and you perfectly offered said counter-factual. Thank you.

      Even w/out the World Bank and IMF, the Philippines would have still not have won, because Filipinos at the end of the day, could not have done it.

      That’s the main problem right there, not the WB/IMF.

      Though I do believe MMT is now the answer, so everyone should walk around w/out masks to ensure MMT gets passed rendering the WB/IMF obsolete.

      • Micha says:

        That is not, for the nth time, the counter-factual about WB intervention in other sovereign countries’ economic policies. What I’ve been waiting to hear from you, as a matter of counter-factual you so many times insist, is to state XYZ reasons why it is not true that the World Bank routinely intervenes.

        Perhaps you entirely missed the point of my original post.

        • “why it is not true that the World Bank routinely intervenes.”

          To “intervene” is its whole stated purpose!!! Can you imagine a U.N. that doesn’t intervene; or a WHO or WTO that just picks its nose all day long. These int’l entities were created precisely to intervene.

          I buy everything you are saying about the World Bank/IMF, Micha— I can’t say that enough. I agree with you. I already agree with you, Micha.

          I’m simply asking you to consider imagining that if there was no World Bank, would Marcos of the 70s have continued to prosper re rice? And what chempo, caliphman and josephivo have indicated is a resounding no to the posed counter-factual scenario.

          Unless you can offer, some magical rice scenario sans corruption then what the 3 on-the-ground (or as close to it as i’ve seen) views stand. You’ve not offer a counter-factual wherein the Philippines could’ve done better alone, Micha.

          p.s.— been Googling a lot of Steph Kelton videos and podcasts, I hope Trump brings her in. She’s the perfect prophet, easy to listen to, and her language and metaphors makes sense.

          • Micha says:

            To “intervene” is its whole stated purpose!!!

            Bullshit! That is not how it was originally intended at all. It was supposed to be the financing arm of the reconstruction effort for war ravaged countries after WW2. That is why one of its major component institution is called International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD).

            The original framework was innocent enough, a conglomeration of countries contributing in an effort to rebuild infrastructures and facilitate economic recovery.

            Its devolution as a US imperial tool is not what other signatory countries signed up for. That it then specifically became an arm to muscle and undermine agricultural development of third world countries such as the Philippines is the reason why Michael Hudson calls it an evil institution.

          • Micha says:

            “I’m simply asking you to consider imagining that if there was no World Bank, would Marcos of the 70s have continued to prosper re rice?”

            I highly think so.

            Remember that Marcos intended to stay in power for life. He knows that the only way he can do that is to deliver some modicum of progress, especially in the countryside. Without the corrupting influence of World Bank dollars and the debt enslavement that ensued, our farmers would have been able to continue harvesting 100+ cavans of rice per hectare as long as irrigation canals and subsidies for farm inputs were maintained..

            • Now youre betting on Marcos? Do your counter-factual , you can subtract the WB/IMF, but you cannot subtract Corruption out of this equation, Micha. Account for Filipino corruption, Micha.

              • Plus Filipino lack of foresight. My father raged about how Indonesia BOUGHT its Embassies in Europe back in the 1960s while the Philippines kept renting, which is cheaper only if you think per Presidential term. Yes, the Berlin Embassy is now owned, this might even be due to Locsin whom Joe does respect, that man is wacko but does make good decisions every now and then. But in general, Locsin might say, “the natives” live from day to day and borrow 50:60 from the Bombay. Even leaders often have poor habits.

                The Filipino utang habit brought about the World Bank debt. The worse equivalent of WB debt is Chinese debt-trap diplomacy, with its Shakespearean pound of flesh. That is what the present admin is prone to, and that will be a scourge for another generation.

              • COA, DBM, and everyone else in between make spending on Capital Outlay extra difficult.

                The hassle is not worth the lifespan reduction such bureaucratic inanities will bring.

                Thus we get the system where we rent because it is faster and less hassle.

                The context is for the government. This is also why we don’t have nice things.

                The risk to one’s pension is immense whilst the benefit accrue to the people who may or probably will not appreciate this. —> See the PNoy and GMA administrations for a good example of a lack of appreciation.

                What I see in my age group, older and younger age group is a focus on ownership, even when it is debilitating. What I mean is, spending more than 50% of your income on a house is almost the norm here.

              • Karl has mentioned LGUs borrowing money from loansharks. Sheesh it is easy to blame one’s villains of choice, but living beyond one’s means is very common in the Philippines. Sure, nobody thought the seemingly frugal Ilocano Marcos would be like that. Until now some blame his Visayan wife for his excesses. But in the end does it matter whether a debt by Napoleon was due to his extravagant creole Empress Josephine?

              • @Gian: becoming “house poor” is the opposite trap. Especially if the fine print of the mortgage means you only pay the interest and hardly reduce the lump sum. Good if you have a bull market for real estate and you manage to sell with a profit. If the opposite happens like in the economic crash in Spain, were a lot of people had such over optimistic borrowings, you have people out of a house and in debt for a lifetime. It also happened to some people in Germany who believed a few slick financial advisers. I know some.

        • p.s. — Micha, i’d remind you that you yourself are already playing this counter-factual too, only your version is that if the World Bank-IMF were’nt around, the Philippines would be heaven. I’m simply saying look at the opposite of that, hell by Filipinos.

          • Micha says:

            And you’re saying that, after 70 odd years of World Bank presence and influence, the Philippines is not at all hellish today?

            What makes you think we can’t really manage our own affairs without the World Bank?

      • Micha says:

        “Even w/out the World Bank and IMF, the Philippines would have still not have won, because Filipinos at the end of the day, could not have done it.”

        What if the source of temptation for Imeldific corruption was the very dollars dangled before our royal couple by international creditors?

        Remember that imperial planners love to co-opt local despots so they don’t get directly blamed for the ensuing carnage.

        • Micha,

          World in World Bank and International in IMF is just that.

          Now of course I know like the UN and NATO the US funds much of these enterprises, WHO for example. And Trump wants to stop or limit funding, does that make him a hero then based on your reasoning?

          Read josephivo’s account of how this works on the ground Micha, who corrupts who??? And if you say, take out funding from the equation, then where would funding come from? Corruption again. Okay, re funding now we’re back to MMT, but specific to agriculture

          you’d have to go with the Borlaug model again, which means same results re yield and pollution and population. And that’s my point here, your world w/out WB/IMF is no better a scenario.

          That’s how counter-factual analysis works, Micha, you have to come up with how your favourite ideal scenario would play out, not just state that w/out WB/IMF the Philippines would be better.

          See how everything connects and that’s just me Googling, Micha. WB/IMF, Green Revolution, MMT, and counter-factuals.

          • Micha says:

            What’s wrong with locally sourcing our funds for agri development?

            • Now we’re talking, Micha!!!

              HOW would that be done? Thru more Wowowee type shows? OFWs donate like the Angeleno card program here? GoFund Me? Quiboloy sells 2 of his jet planes for this effort?

              Of course, its gonna have to be MMT. But then you’ll eventually get to the agri in the agriculture, how do you increase yield? Are Filipinos gonna adopt pitch fork to fork strategy; farm to table; or foot to mouth?

              I’m dubious of course;

              MMT can work over here, we have the dollars and the power; MMT will take lots and lots of work to work there, people have to believe in the peso as sovereign, good luck pulling that off; But what i’m dubious more about is the agriculture part, you wanna increase yield, you’ll have to adopt Borlaug which leads to pollution,

              Filipinos cannot yet do what France is doing (or Italy too) with pitch fork to fork (hell the U.S. can’t, but with COVID19 maybe). Wherein you are essentially re-valuing food, everything grown is cherished. That’s a mental leap I don’t think Filipinos yet can undertake.

              But going forward, not backwards (like your revisionist trope), I can read Manuel Quezon’s quote with more hope, Micha, you make a good point. When you shed the WB/IMF, you’ll have to shed Borlaug too, and not look to the US for examples, look to France and the EU for a newer food paradigm.

              Like kasambahay said, make that fungus growing on corn a delicacy like truffle.

              I’ll sign out with you now, Micha, and just watch you and chemp go at it. Financing is beyond my scope now.

              • Micha says:

                Dollar dominance in global trade and international payment system prompts other pretenders to world power (Russia, China, EU) to devise their own monetary and payment system. The EU, with help from Russia, actually already have initially organized their own payment system independent from SWIFT.

                The careless and brutal application of economic sanctions by the US will give more incentive to other countries to abandon the dollar system.

        • Micha,

          Ever since early March, i’ve started growing Nopal cactus (prickly pear). it’s easy to grow, almost like weed, just keeps on growing. You can eat the wide paddle shape pads, and when it fruits you can eat the prickly pears (a hint of mango, delicious); whilst it flowers you can appreciate its flowers. Just watch out for its spines.

          Very easy to cultivate too cut a pad, re plant, soon it’ll become its own plant.

          My point here is growing food should be this easy. No need for pesticides/inordinate amount of water/ no need for fertilizers, thus no pollution. I doubt i’m just gonna eat Nopal cactus ever, but during times like these, won’t hurt to already be growing some. its hassle free.

          Not to mention nutritious.

          To harvest just cut a pad or two or three, have a grill ready or just a fire nearby, sear the spiny needles off, then cook however you want, lots of recipes on youtube, but its important to sear the needles off from the git go. Having these spine stuck in your mouth or throat is no fun.

          Is there a similar plant in the Philippines like the Nopal cactus, that doesn’t require a lot of resources to grow, able to eat all the plant, and is nutritious at the same time??? Cassava i remember there was said to be easy to grow, put somewhat like the Nopal cactus, certain care has to be taken in its preparation.

          • chemrock says:

            We have folks planting this in gardens here. But I have never seen any one bearing the purple fruits. This is the first time for me to see this. Never knew it can be eaten too. What I know is it has some anti-inflammatory properties. When I was a small kid, I was skewered by a huge rusty nail. It went right through my foot. No hospital, no doctor, no anti-tetanus jabs for me. Mom pulled the nail out and went looking for this cactus. She pounded it into pulp and just applied it on my wounds and a couple of days later I was running around again.

  20. NHerrera says:

    Off topic

    Iyan bay pagtatalunan pa?


    It seems that this conundrum is a serious one in the White House. And this comes to the fore because a Navy Man valet of Trump got the big C — coronavirus. But not to worry, Trump — who does not want to be caught on camera wearing one — and Pence and high officials interacting with him are tested every few days with the Abbott quick-coronavirus-test. [Reportedly, however, there is a 15% false negative associated with the test.]

    This brings me to some technicals about the wearing of mask. I can’t find the link at the moment but it goes something like this. The virus Reproduction Number R0 which, nominally, is about 2.5 in an unrestricted population going about their normal activities can be reduced to R1,

    R1 = R0*(1 – EP)^2

    E = percentage efficacy of the mask
    P = percentage of the community population wearing masks

    Thus, if R0 = 2.5, E = 50% and P = 50%, then R1 = 1.4. When combined with social distancing, frequent washing of the hands and stay-at-home measures this can reduce the Rep Number closer to 1. Testing, tracing and isolating measures can further bring this to a number below 1. [Think Germany with R ~ 0.70.]

    But even the reduction from 2.5 to 1.4 is already substantial as this example illustrates: With 100 starting infections, the cumulative infections becomes, after 6 cycles of reproductions:

    With R0 = 2.5, Total cumulative infections = 40,623
    With R0 = 1.6, total cumulative infections = 2,385

    So guys, please wear masks — not only for yourself, but for the community!

    • NHerrera says:

      The god at the White House is reportedly mad that his valet tested positive. So now he will have a test every day compared to the ordinary American mortal — noting that he said much earlier that coronavirus testing is overrated. Yes indeed for the ordinary Joe or Jane but not for him. Oh, boy.

    • NHerrera says:


      Oh, oh.

      Three top US health officials and members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force — NIH-ID (Fauci), CDC (Redfield), FDA (Hahn) — are on self-imposed 14-day quarantine because of being exposed to the coranavirus.

      Not good news relative to important health activities associated with the virus and how the public will view this news. Especially when one considers that all interacting with Trump and Pence are tested regularly with Abbott Lab quick-result test, but reportedly yielding 15% false negative results. Plus WH is not following its own guideline: social distancing and wearing of mask.

  21. chemrock says:

    On the debate between LcplX and Micha regarding World Bank, IMF, WHO, WTO, if I may have my say.

    First and foremost, I think none of us here are neolibs or neocons.

    Neoberalist: someone who believes strongly in laissez-faire economic liberalism and free market capitalism. Unfettered capitalism that give rise to dictatorial oligarchies.
    Neoconservatist : someone whose politics are conservative or right wing, who believes strongly in the free market and thinks that their country should use its military power to become involved with or try to control problems in other countries

    My confession — I’m a practicalist, someone who prefers what works in the real world in practice or experience, rather than theoreticals. However, for me, my practicalism is tempered by a strong sense of equity. Critics will say I’m a fence-sitter if they are kind, but others may say I tend to flip-flop.

    Micha, if I may venture, is left-leaning, sympathetic socialist, with strong anti-Americanism feelings (for it’s neolib and neocon excesses).

    LcplX is a loose canon, cannot be boxed in by an ‘ism’. I see him more practical-leaning like me, but not too concerned with equity.

    On criticisms of oligarchs, tycoons and billionaires:
    Socialist thoughts harbour the idea that business functions because of capital, labour and raw materials.Capitalist puts in the capital and labourers their muscles/brains/time. Capital earns the interest and labour the wages. The anger of socialists are why should all the profits go to the capitalists who has already earned interest? That’s where the system is so unfair.

    That line of thinking is totally wrong. Firstly, the model is no longer true. The capitalists don’t put in the money.A new group of people put in the money — that’s right, Wall Street and other investors. The bankers earn interest. Some capitalist did’nt even have any cash when they started out. Ask Steve Jobs, Howard Schultz (Starbucks), Larry Edison (Oracle) Kenneth Langone (Home Depot), Sheldon Adelson (Las Vegas Sands), Jack Ma etc. These are the entrepreneurs, and what it is they have that others don’t? Ideas and visions and the capability to get things organised. Why should profits go to them and fellow business owners? Because they carry the yolk. Labourers earn their wages whether the company makes profits or not. Owners loose everything if the company don’t make it. Covid pandemic is good case in point. Lots of business owners will loose everything, workers only loose their jobs.

    The challenge to socialists is very simple. If employees do all the work and owners do nothing but take the cake, then why don’t employees organise themselves and start a similar business. Because they can’t. (Of course there are some good breakaway success stories).

    On US intervenition in international organisation projects in poor countries, the challenge to socialists is very simple.

    Imagine your neighbour Juan who does’nt spend much time looking after his family is in a tight financial spot and he approached you. You said “Juan, I’m going to help you off the hook this time. But you got to promise me this. Stop going to the cockpits and girlie bars. Spend more time to guide your kids with their school work”. Should you be an interventionist or let Juan have the money and wheel and deal his way?

    Why should US boss over these said agencies? Because Uncle Sam’s money is the major source of funds is why. Like you, it would certainly be foolish of the US to let Juan have his way.

    The question to justify Micha’s stand, has US influenced these intl agencies in their outreach programmes in ways that work against the long term interests of recipient countries to the benefit of America? I have seen a whole lot of generalisation by Micha. I would love to see some specifics to convince me.

    The WHAT IF scenario is the contest between LcplX and Micha. Marcos and Philippines could have been better off without IMF or World Bank is Micha’s point. A WHAT IF defence is defending the indefensible.

    We should first appreciate that recipient countries, just like Juan, has the right of rejection. Marcos’ should have taken all those aid money or IRRI project, and do it his way. Marcos and Juan did not walk away. Why? Just like the labourers in a company, they can’t do it their way.

    These internal agencies don’t come in with handcuffs. In the 2008 Asian financial crisis, PM Mahathir or Malaysia rejected IMF’s assistance because it came with the need for a structured devaluation of the Malaysian Ringgit. Mahathir did’nt want to devalue, so he rejected the plan.

    Now these international bodies are never perfect. They came with what they know. Sometimes, their recommendations are wrong. In Malaysia’s case, Mahathir was right. He chose to peg the ringgit to the US$ to prevent a devaluation. Well, actually, he was right in the short term. Eventually, when he decoupled the currencies, he had to face the spectre of devaluation. It’s not what IMF or Mahathir want, it’s what the market wants.

    When plying criticisms on these agencies by way of generalisations, one ought to be accquainted with specific assistance and the work done by these organisations. Take the World Bank for example, just take in these :

    – Latest : On April 9, 2020, the World Bank approved US$500 million in financing to help strengthen the Philippine government’s capacity to address disaster risks, respond to and recover from natural disasters as well as address urgent needs created by the COVID-19 crisis. Such aid comes with WB expertise to set up systems and whatever necessary hard and soft infras. US$100m loan has been poured in for Covid Emergency Response Project.

    – Dec 2019 : WB approved $400M loanto fund a new Country Partnership Framework (CPF) for the Philippines for 2019-2023, which will prioritize investments in human capital (health, education, nutrition), competitiveness and job creation, peace-building, climate and disaster resilience, governance, and digital transformation. This comes with support in financing, global knowledge and technical expertise to support reforms and programs that help speed up poverty reduction and promote greater inclusion.

    Whilst recipient country does a lot of footwork, do not think that everything has been done by Philippines by its own clever self. These international agencies helped in the projects in various ways — building systems, technology and knowledge transfers, project management etc. In so many achievements in the past, the support of these agencies are in the backdrop, so the public has no appreciation of the partnerships and the work involved.

    • Thanks for this, chemp. You are right of course re A WHAT IF defence is defending the indefensible.

      On -isms, i think you’ll find that from the git-go i’ve consistently argued Spinoza-ism. thus you are correct no equity (after all this isn’t a team effort, mind liberation is a lonely affair). and Ethics is amoral largely dependent on where you are in attempting to expand with God’s mind. in Spinoza-ism the only thing of value aside from your own mind, is other like minds. the loose cannon is me simply experimenting with modes. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spinozism#Modes My point, there is some consistency to my stance. A method. Though karl may not agree.

    • Micha says:

      Oh crap, chemp, you just swallowed your own tail after this longish post laced with condescending litany of what we already know.

      We don’t want anymore loans from the World Bank!

      Those are dollar obligations that we have very little ability to pay back because it takes so much of our limited resources just to pay the interests.

      Don’t you still realize at this point that those bank facilities serve exactly as the tool for debt peonage?

      • chemrock says:

        I guess you are right.

        Those billions of pax trips on the MRT — those fellas should have taken the jeepneys or walked.
        Those piped water flowing through the taps — guess everybody will be better off digging wells.
        The sewerage system — guess its better to pee and shit into Pasig River

        Every aspect in Philippines development — airports, ports, roads, health services, transportation, agriculture, etc etc, the World Bank, IMF etc have partnered, financed, supported. Why does Philippines take it? Because it needed the assistance.

        Those dollar obligations that you have very little ability to pay. Those were soft loans. Would you prefer PH take international bank commercial loans?

        Marcos loans during his tenure and part of Cory tenure, rates were extremely high which created many problems for ALL borrowers. That’s got nothing to do with World Bank. That’s the interest volatility that every country/borrower has to manage. That PH could’nt manage well is not the fault of World Bank. That PH has difficulty in debt servicing? Not so. Pnoy admin has brought loan servicing down to manageable levels. We don’t know at this point how the Duterte admin will end with loan servicing situation.

        Every poor nation would want to borrow to develop and improve themselves. Poor credit rating and no excess to financing denies the access to international loan market. IMF & World Bank were created precisely to help these countries. It’s a matter of how the country manages the loans.

        • Micha says:

          Now you’re talking more crap. Do you really think we can’t manage to install plumbing without taking on loans from international bankers?

          • chemrock says:

            I’m sure the plumbing was done by Filipinos.

            I’m sure Filipino plumbers can construct km of aqueducts and tunnels, instal treatment plants with flocculation and sedimentation basins, filters, chemical feed facilities, pumping stations, distribution & transmission systems, etc. I’m sure they knew all these stuff back in 1960s. I’m sure they know all these by their own clever self now without knowledge and technology transfer. Everybody else outside of PH are redundant and irrelevent.

            • Micha says:

              Financial imperialism and technical knowledge are two separate things. You shouldn’t hijack our ability to learn technical stuff (which we are very capable of doing, btw) with our dependence on your dollars.

              • chemrock says:

                Sure Filipinos are brilliant. I don’t contest that. In time everything can be learnt. But everyone learns from someone, is’nt it that way? IMF and World Bank are package deals. So you dont’ want them fine, can still be done. Go out and get your guys from anywhere in the world, including equipment and components and whatever or foreign origin. And those guys are wanna paid in $. So you borrow $ from local banks and cut out the World Bank, IMF. Can be done. Do you think $ from local banks are cheaper or the $ from World Bank and IMF? Like a retailer and wholesaler, who can be cheaper? Who has a cheaper source of funds?.

                Then you may say, lets borrow in pesos instead, and swap into $. Who is gonna bear the swap costs and risks? Is it free? Does your local banks have that huge swap facilities in the first place.

                Next consider this. Govt projects are not small thingies. It’s hundreds of millions and billions, heck in peso terms can aggregate trillions. So the government becomes the monosognist, the one taker of peso funds in Philippines. All other PH businessmen has to scrap the barrels at the banks. Lack of liquidity and peso commercial loan rates can still remain the same? If lending rates goes up, won’t consumers be ultimate bearer of the pain?

              • Micha says:

                If everything can be done, what’s the freaking problem, chemp? Why do you overly fixate on dollar funds? I know you’re a banker, but still. We have remittances and balance of payments. We are not exactly dollar broke.

                Or, if those goddam international bankers insist on squeezing us, we could always have the policy option to de-dollarize the economy.

              • chemrock says:

                I’m not championing the $. I see the world as it is. You talk of de-dollarising the world, cut-off the dependency of the $, sure that;s great. That’s what commies, Islamists and American-haters wanted for the last 100 years.

                Can that be done — sure, take another 100 years, but can be hastened by collapsing the economy of US, and take everyone along with it. Will the phoenix that rises be better? Who knows?

                Why am I so fixated on the $? The question you should ask is why the govt is so fixated on $ debt.

  22. karlgarcia says:

    Here is one link on the criticisms on IMF.


      • chemrock says:

        Thanks Karl, good articles.

        The criticisms are valid, but may aspects are generalisation. When we drill down to the projects, how much of those problems are endogenous and not the agencies’ fault. Josephino’s comment serves to underline this fact. As has LcplX been trying to point out.

        I have been following some World Bank projects in Philippines and for the life of me, I was not able to see how these criticisms can be substantiated. All these projects involved knowledge and technology transfer. World Bank utilised their vast resources and experience from the vast number of projects they have implemented.

        Take your Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, or “4Ps”, a conditional cash transfer program currently benefiting 4.2 million families, including 8.7 million children. Did you know World Bank funded $460m for 2016-2019 and recently approved another $300m in 2019 for additional funding. Included in this programmes are technical assistance to help the government strengthen implementation and impact, including more efficient payment systems, monitoring and evaluation, and family development sessions.

        When we drill down the details, where are the Brenton Wood Inst criticisms?

        Maybe we should get rid of the 4Ps to lessen debt, what do you think?

        • Micha says:

          What’s wrong with locally sourcing our funds for those programs, chemp?

          • chemrock says:

            Micha, I’m with you in this.

            Now I ask you, PH needs hundreds of million of $ for Covid support programs. World bank funding US$100,000,000. Can Philippines commercial bank come up with 5b pesos in one month? How much loan spread from PH banks compared to World Bank. Can local banks give 20 year loan? This particular funding includes some support to DOH to work on certain loboratory needs and other technical and medical areas. Can your local banks provide these?

            There is one thing you need to understand. When someone borrows, it does not necessarily mean they are broke. Rich countries, profitable MNCs, good companies, sovereign wealth funds, rich folks — all borrow money all the time. They are spinning their cashflows.

            • Micha says:

              The US had just dished out a $10 trillion covid support program through sovereign money creation, aka, MMT money.

              Why do you think a sovereign country like the Philippines with its own floating sovereign currency cannot do the same?

              • chemrock says:

                US money creation is not MMT just yet. It is still debt creation.

                Technically, you are correct of course. Every country with sovereign currency can do just like what US is doing. Just create local ccy debt. Sure Domiguez can go ahead and issue Treasury Bills of 100B pesos and we can all have everything free. 10 months lockdown, no problem. Question is who is gonna buying up those debt papers to provide the funds.

                OK I understand what’s in your mind. No need debt. Just computer tricks. Bangko Sentral just credit the PNB account with them for credit Treasury Dept and viola, Secretary Domiguez has 100b pesos to dish out for covid support. Where will the debit be in BS books? What is the nature of the debit? Is it a loan? It’s just a meaningless debit balance, call it a MMT account or suspense or whatever? OK money is for free in MMT, no repayments, so this debit account just goes on and on to perpetuity, just keep piling up the numbers, it’s a meaningless balance.

                How will others see the debit item in the BS balance sheet. Will the Balance Sheet of BS be still as strong with the trillions of pesos in that special debit account that is not a loan or debt? If no one bothers, fine. If others are worried, how will they view the strength of the peso?

                Meanwhile Domiguez has all the money to fund anything under the sun, with no worries of repayment, or if he needed more tomorrow, cool.

                Question is how long will it take before a Mcdonald’s meal cost 1,000 pesos? Is’nt this elementary? Can taxation balance out inflationary impact? Remember there is a one year time lapse with taxation.

                Why the US can do it? Because the $ has a huge external economy that uses the the ccy. So now it’s dishing out trillions for covid support. This is for the local economy. With fractional banking, how much impact on the money supply will these trillions have? When all the dust is settled, inflation will be a challenge.

              • Micha says:

                “US money creation is not MMT just yet. It is still debt creation.
                Technically, you are correct of course.”

                Hahaha, your logical contortion is so ridiculous to the point of it being shameful chemp. Yes it’s all double entry accounting charade. The Treasury and the Fed coordinate their acts in compliance with Congress legislated spending bill. If Congress says, here is our $2 trillion covid bailout bill, Treasury will comply without questions – no hairsplitting over where they will get the money because the Fed will just simply keystroke the amount on their computer and, voila, Treasury can dispense with the money on specific programs as appropriated.

                “Question is who is gonna buying up those debt papers to provide the funds.”

                Well, why, it’s the freaking Central Bank, chemp. In fact, the Duterte admin did exactly that just last month with the billions they rolled out for the covid amelioration fund. It’s the same identical mechanism as in the US.

                “How will others see the debit item in the BS balance sheet?”

                Doesn’t really freakin matter chemp. That’s spendable money, liquid and legit.

                “Question is how long will it take before a Mcdonald’s meal cost 1,000 pesos?’

                Inflation is always supply driven, chemp.

                “When all the dust is settled, inflation will be a challenge.”

                Yeah, your inflation bogeyman just always fails to show up, chemp. Right now in Europe, they are even going the route of a negative interest rate. How’s that for deflation instead, chemp?

              • chemrock says:

                “US money creation is not MMT just yet. It is still debt creation.
                Technically, you are correct of course.”

                By juxtaposing these 2 sentences together, you totally changed the meaning of my comment.

                You like to present your point behind generalisation and I have always tried to get you to go into details which you always pooh-poohed away. So here you go, Congress gives out the trillions (which of course is not the case, Congress has no money). So the Fed key-strokes and Treasury has the money. That’s your favourite line. But what exactly is the Fed doing. Who is the Fed – private entity or govt? Please tell me what happens in the Balance sheet of the Fed? Unlike you who pooh-phoos the bean counters, investors and market players watch the Fed’s balance sheet. And if you do check these balance sheets, you will find the Fed does not key strike the trillions into Tresury Dept’s account. There is no such thing going on, so there is no MMT, It’s still good old-fashioned sales of bonds.

                Technically you are correct — that’s to say you are right, key stroke debit here and credit there for MMT. The journal entries can be posted. But what does it mean? What does the debit and the credits mean in the balance sheet of the central bank?

                Mine :“Question is who is gonna buying up those debt papers to provide the funds.”

                Yours: “Well, why, it’s the freaking Central Bank, chemp. In fact, the Duterte admin did exactly that just last month with the billions they rolled out for the covid amelioration fund. It’s the same identical mechanism as in the US”

                1. For Bangko Sentral to buy up Treasury bills, I suppose that’s possible as it’s all in the family. For Fed to buy Tbills?? Ah ah, the Fed is a private entity owned by a consortium of banks. Different animal.

                2. Where did Duterte get his money? From his account at BPI? The World Bank funded US$100m (5b+ pesos) for Philippines Covid-19 Emergency Response Project.

                Be grateful.

                Mine: “How will others see the debit item in the BS balance sheet?”
                Yours: “Doesn’t really freakin matter chemp. That’s spendable money, liquid and legit.”

                All key players in the world look at your central bank’s balance sheet and through it the see the financial state of affairs of the government and country.

                Technically, how can the debit be spending money? It’s the credit in the reserve accounts of the country’s banks that the so-called MMT pours in that’s the spending money. And it’s already gone. we are left with the mirror debit balance in a funny account in the central bank that represents what?

                “Inflation is always supply driven, chemp”

                I see. So M1, M2 & M3 don’t matter. OK lang, if you say so.

                “Yeah, your inflation bogeyman just always fails to show up, chemp. Right now in Europe, they are even going the route of a negative interest rate. How’s that for deflation instead, chemp?”

                True Micha, and I’m not the only one. As you know, things are always in a flux. It depends at what point in time one refers to. A lot of people also say there won’t be inflation in Venezuela.

              • Micha says:

                “Congress gives out the trillions (which of course is not the case, Congress has no money).”

                Congress does not give out money, it’s function is to legislate; make enabling laws that give legal cover for the executive to act.

                “Please tell me what happens in the Balance sheet of the Fed?”

                Yeah, what happens if the liabilities exceed the asset side of the Fed’s ledger, chemp? You’re the accountant/banker here, so tell us what’s gonna happen? Will the Fed fold up and declare bankruptcy? Will the bond vigilantes come crashing through the gates? Will it be the end of the world as we know it?

                You’ve been harping on this bullshit, I mean, balance sheet thingy for ages but you’re not telling us what exactly happens if the legendary balance sheet doesn’t balance.

                There’s a reason the Fed is called the lender of last resort, chemp. It’s above the fray. It’s not bound by the normal rules of your accounting world. It has the ability to keystroke, as what Bernanke did back in 2008 and now Jerome Powell in 2020. Treasury issues the bond and the Fed is the buyer. Right hand taketh what the left hand giveth. An exchange of a piece of paper with nice intricately printed designs over digital atoms in a computer.

                It’s part of the super structure of our government. It’s a creation of congress and its head, plus the board, are appointed by the President and are likewise confirmed and vetted by congress. We can of course always overhaul this arrangement but that’s in the political side of things. So no, it’s not a private entity, chemp. Otherwise it would have declared bankruptcy a long time ago.

                “A lot of people also say there won’t be inflation in Venezuela.”

                Hahaha, the favorite whipping boy of inflationistas along with Wiemar and Zimbabwe. As I was saying, inflation is always supply driven. And by supply, I mean the supply of goods and services, not the supply of money, chemp.

                Japan has expanded its money supply by over 200% but it’s having problems with deflation instead. So there goes your bugaboo, chemp.

              • chemrock says:

                Micha, you brought 2 good points.
                Let me respond separately.

                Mine: “A lot of people also say there won’t be inflation in Venezuela.”
                Yours: “Inflation is always the supply driven. And by supply, I mean the supply of goods and services, not the supply of money”

                If I may interpret — you’re saying less goods and services, prices go up. That may be true basic theory, but does not explain a lot that’s happened in the world since that basic theory.

                Inflation is caused by:

                Demand-pull on inflation
                Cuts in interest rates, rise in wages, increase in money supply — all these puts more money into consumers hands, thus price levels rise.

                Cost-push inflation/u>
                Increase in wage levels, devaluation or weakening currency, increase in taxes (sales tax, levies, tariffs, duties etc) — all these increases production cost and increases price levels.

                A third cause is consumers’ expectation of inflation. If consumers expect property prices will increase, they jump in to buy before the price increase, thus making the predictions coming true.

                You brought up a good point on why inflation is’nt happening in Japan despite tremendous increase in money supply since late 1990s. If I may add, the same question can be asked why the cheap money and quantitative easing programmes in US that pump a lot of liquidity into the market has’nt caused severe inflation.

                A lot of studies have gone into the Japan and US debacle and a lot of differing explanations offered. Nobody can really put a finger on a definitive answer. They both seemed to have challenged existing theoretical knowledge of economics.

                The Japan situation is seen as an illustration of the ‘Liquidity trap”. No amount of money poured into the system can get price levels up and the economy chucking, instead it goes into a deflation. I volunteer my explanation:

                There are 3 factors at play (1) Japan has the highest savings rate in the world. Thus the propensity to spend is low. Money pumped into the system but a substantial part is saved away. It does not get into the real economy of goods and services. (2) Japan demography has a population where the majority are old. These people do not go into the ginzas to drink and spend. If they do spend, it’s overseas tours. (3) Japan has high dependency on foreign raw materials — oil and most stuff. Thus much of the liquidity flows to foreign lands.

                For the US, the liquidity from QE in the last 2 decades have gone into assets. Equities and property indexes have shot way past the highs before the financial crisis of 2008. It has also gone into a substantial share buy-backs by MNCs.

              • chemrock says:

                Mine : “Please tell me what happens in the Balance sheet of the Fed?”

                Yours : (1) ” you’re not telling us what exactly happens if the legendary balance sheet doesn’t balance…..Yeah, what happens if the liabilities exceed the asset side of the Fed’s ledger, chemp? You’re the accountant/banker here, so tell us what’s gonna happen?”

                You’re running rings round my point. You always give a non-explainer one-line “Fed makes a keystroke”. This key stroke leads to money in the reserves a/c of banks with the Fed. That is, a liability, or credit balances, in the Fed’s balance sheet. I am the one who keeps telling you that there is a corresponding debit balance. where is this and what does that debit mean. The balance sheet always balances.

                Yours (2) There’s a reason the Fed is called the lender of last resort, chemp. It’s above the fray. It’s not bound by the normal rules of your accounting world. It has the ability to keystroke, as what Bernanke did back in 2008 and now Jerome Powell in 2020. Treasury issues the bond and the Fed is the buyer. Right hand taketh what the left hand giveth. An exchange of a piece of paper with nice intricately printed designs over digital atoms in a computer.”

                There goes your non-explainer keystroke again.
                Everybody that keeps a set of books follow the GAAP (US) or IFRS (others) and all accounting principles, the Fed included.

                What you described is the Fed making a direct purchase of Bonds issued by Treasury. So in the Fed’s books the debits and credits are easy. Debit Bonds, Credit Treasury Dept a/c. So now Treasury has money to spend, by a keystroke. (I don’t think there is a Treasury Dept a/c — it will be into the account of Treasury’s banker).

                So in this case there is the debit balance — in Govt Bonds. That’s what I hv been trying to tell you. there is a debit side, and what does this mean? So under MMT, there is no repayment, so this keeps piling up. What does this mean to people reading the balance sheet? An asset?

                In reality, the nitty gritties work in 2 ways :

                (1) In normal operations, Treasury bonds are sold in the market, not to Feds.. The buyer (banks, investors) pays the Treasury Dept (credit to the govt bank).. The operation resulted in transfer of funds for settlement in the reserve accounts of 2 banks in the Fed system. It has nothing to do with keystrokes by the Feds. It fact it has nothing to do with the Fed’s books

                (2) In the various fundings during a crisis
                All these fundings take the form of various funding programmes approved by Congress. The various programmes invariably involve relevant participants such as banks.

                On the Fed’s book there is an asset — this is the debt from whomever is the party in the program that’s receiving the dole. There is a liability side — by keystroke here , the Feds credit the reserves of the bank involved in the program so there is money for them to dish out. That’s how stuff actually works.

              • Micha says:

                Nope, what you’ve described here chemp is only part of the picture. And thus I impugn that you are not here to clarify things but to muddle on purpose; and to be fair it’s not entirely your fault because the bankers and the Fed themselves are complicit in this public deception. It’s what I refer to as the accounting/banking charade.

                For the specific subject of 2020 corona bailout, here is how they pulled it off :

                – Congress passed the spending bill.

                – Treasury issued the necessary bonds.

                – Fed buys majority of those bonds.

                Fed does not disclose the exact figures they bought but it could be in the range of 70 – 80%. The rest, they auctioned off in commercial market.

                One could then be prompted to ask, why not just buy the entire Treasuries? Why still auction part of it to profit seeking private investors? No clear cut answer but I’d reckon it’s part of the charade because the Fed could certainly have that 100% policy option.

                Maybe they don’t want private investors be deprived of their stable source of profits thru interests payments? Hmmn… But the idea that only private creditors can be the source of money to plug the deficit hole is now totally discredited.

                So how did the Fed bought majority of those Treasury bonds? Exactly how MMT described it. Printed the money. Or, to be accurate, keystroked the corresponding amount to the Treasury General Account (TGA) at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Where did the Fed get the money? From nowhere.

                And because the Treasury does not have to redeem those bonds, you are left with your accounting quandary. You were asking, was that an asset or a liability? A debit or a credit? I would say neither, and it doesn’t matter because your human devised accounting rules does not apply. The Fed just played the role of a God, creating something out of nothing. We’re in quantum digital financial world.

                If your human devised accounting rules were broken, what exactly are the projected consequences chemp? Will it mean the end of the world? Will the gods of accounting descend and part the waters in Hudson River?

                Nope, not gonna happen chemp. And it doesn’t matter. And your hairsplitting over balancing the balance sheet does not matter. Your bitching about reconciling debit and credit details does not matter.

                The real gods in the Treasury and the Fed are saying, “we have an economy to run, fuck your accounting rules!”

              • chemrock says:


                I’m ready to hear you out, but each time you come out with generalisations that do not explain anything.

                There is a big void in the understanding of what goes on in the various govt bail out financial packages in US. There is no MMT at work and there is no free money.

                I would like to submit a proper explainer to Joe to see if he likes to publish here. It will clarify everything once and for all. I promise it will be a short one and I trust it is very useful to everyone here.

                I hope Joe will publish it. TSOH will probably be the only blog in the world to carry to this explaination.

                Let’s stop the run-around here and continue in that blog, if and when it is published.


              • chemp,

                can you also address it to Stephanie Kelton, she seems the prophet(ess) of MMT right now, i’m just waiting for her to go on Joe Rogan’s podcast, but FT seems to love her, i dunno if FT is popular with bankers.

                appreciate this whole rubber-meets-the-road perspective , chemp. I do.

                But I’m 100% sold on MMT now, don’t need to know the balance sheet stuff, just implement said theory now, and we’ll see where it goes. What do we have to lose? I expect with all this opening up, despite COVID19 on the rise, a surge will take place, then again, then again, then another

                and all that roller coaster riding, will eventually lead to a bad to worst situation.

                Let’s start by making UBI the new norm, I already got my money, I know a bunch who weren’t really meet the mininum to receive the check but they still got it anyways, so I gotta feeling the checks are just being pushed.

                I don’t know about Singapore, but people are getting into fights here (even shootings) due to argument about wearing masks or sneezing or being too close, its getting out of hand, i’ve seen people in general just being rude. Miserable.

                The stimulus check (UBI really) makes people happy. Alleviates some tension, and worries. To avert more violence, send out the checks. We’ll see what happens.

                Hospitals now all of a sudden are either laying people off, or are now looking at who’s essential who’s not in the hospital, chopping block. So i gotta feeling hospitals will soon be nationalized. This whole profit for health set-up didn’t work.

                Teachers are out. Too redundant , teachers now are just sharing websites and youtube videos, that’s what i’m doing now!!!

                Government workers, especially the non-essentials, will be culled, this COVID19 seems to be demanding that these industries become leaner. Creating more unemployment.

                Revenue is shot, chemp!!! In the negatives! So whether or not MMT makes sense on the balance sheet, now doesn’t matter really, because there is no choice.

                Personally, i think that should be the way to look at MMT, like Well we don’t really have a choice now, let’s do this but let’s tinker with it further, as we’re doing it so we don’t fuck-up too much. But this is it, MMT.

                We laughed at it before, but now we really have no choice. So let’s make it work.

              • Micha says:


                That’s just chempo being your old traditional banker clinging to the old oppressive paradigm.

                Remember that’s the same chempo who, about 5 years ago, predicted doom because of US debt running over $20 trillion. He said economy will collapse within 2 years because of it.

                Before the corona virus struck, US economy is actually doing pretty much fine, with record low unemployment and steady growth. Of course there’s the perennial problem of unequal wealth distribution but, on the whole, it’s stable and nothing in the vicinity of what chempo predicted.

                Now we have this public health crisis severely affecting the economy and the best way economic suffering can be mitigated is by going full MMT.

                Chempo is splitting his hair because that cannot be allowed to happen.

                The guy has zero credibility on this subject matter.

              • chemrock says:

                @ Lance
                I’m not going to discuss the whole MMT thingy. I just want to show, contrary to what some people think, that there is no MMT going on in the way the govt is providing financial support in the conavirus economic meltdown, similarly as in past financial crisis. |
                And also to show what a central bank’s balance sheet is important contrary to Micha’s view that it don’t matter if the balance sheet don’t balance.

                @ Micha
                I wanted to rest the discussion, but you made a very CRITICAL error here that this ‘old traditional banker’ wishes to point out.

                You said :
                ” – Fed buys majority of those bonds (from Treasury).
                Fed does not disclose the exact figures they bought but it could be in the range of 70 – 80%. The rest, they auctioned off in commercial market.
                One could then be prompted to ask, why not just buy the entire Treasuries? Why still auction part of it to profit seeking private investors? No clear cut answer but I’d reckon it’s part of the charade because the Fed could certainly have that 100% policy option”.

                You totally misunderstood the philosophy behind the whole Treasury securities auction.

                The Fed NEVER EVER participates in the PRIMARY MARKET, ie it never buys govt securities directly from Treasury.

                This is actually enshrined in the Federal Reserve Act. The Fed only buys govt securities in the SECONDARY MARKET which is the open market.

                There are three reasons for this:

                (1) The Fed has to establish its INDEPENDENCE from the government. If the Fed were to buy from Treasury directly, then how should the price be fixed. Will it be like the LIBOR scam? The independence of the Central Bank is a fundamental requirement for a healthy financial system in a country.

                (2) The govt securities auction serves a very critical function. It is the underlying core of the entire US economic system. It’s critical function is to allow price discovery of the of US$. It allows the establishment of the short and long term yield curves. The prices of every other investment class on the market are influenced by these yield curves. This is not economics but high finance.

                (3) For an auction system to be functional, it must be open, have a critical mass of players, and have liquidity.

                You misunderstand the process and hit the conspiracy trail suggesting the auction is “part of the charade of the Fed”.

              • chemp, got it, still that would be an interesting blog re balance sheets.

                I’m closely reading you guys’ discussion. and it seems like an analogy is in order here.

                Basically (from my view, chemp) youre the dude the has a scale back when gold and silver coins were around, you gotta weigh to ensure each gold and silver weigh their weights.

                Micha (MMT) comes around and says Hey dummies we don’t have to be lugging all this gold and silver around I’ll just write you a promise note that I have said gold and silver amount at a secure location.

                Totally different systems,

                but chempo is insisting he use his scale still, which is correct still, scale in the end will be used to verify said amount. But for the new promise note system to work, you just gotta trust it.

                We’re at a cusp of this new system, and we’re subject it to old methods. Maybe block chain is what’s needed in MMT? i dunno.

                But from my perch here which isn’t too high, from below looking up, you two are talking past each other, scale vs. promissory note. I’m looking forward to your blog, chemp, can you also explain block chain as it pertains to the balance sheet.

                There’s an element of trust and language that pervades both your talk. Trust via balance sheet, trust via face value. Then also your analogies aren’t syncing up. So i hope you also tackle these, chemp.

                Will await the next blog.

              • Micha says:

                Your auction philosophy, chemp, are just arbitrary rules. Those are not etched in stones or, for that matter, obeying the natural laws of the universe. That’s why there are people like Ron Paul who are calling for reform of our banking and monetary system. They want to, among other things, fully restore the power of sovereign money creation to the public (i.e.,government) and wring it from the private banking cartel.

                Your invoking of central bank independence is exactly the narrative that the private banking mafia want to perpetuate to be able to maintain their privileges because they are the direct conduit of central bank monopoly money in the present scheme of things.

                The reformers want to restore public banking and get the central bank work entirely for public purpose unbeholden to the parasitic private bank gangsters.

                So, you’re the banker here chemp, do you know the exact details of those $2 trillion treasury auction?

        • karlgarcia says:


  23. Sonny, NHerrera, there is a new theory about when Covid started to spread: during the World Military Games in Wuhan, Oct. 2019. Germany wants to do antibody tests on its athletes.

    Japan, Taiwan and the Philippines were among the countries not represented there BTW.

    • sonny says:

      The etiology and propagation of new viruses are certainly different from virus to virus. In the case of Corona the origin may have been Wuhan but the channels of propagation to Italy was laid down within the last 10 years by the global migration and settling of the Chinese in the design and production of the textile industry of Italy, viz Prato & Milan.

        • karlgarcia says:

          If the authors update their article they might make a lot of 180 degree turns.

          • sonny,

            the implications of said theory is actually that corona virus (COVID19) came from the U.S. this is the same conspiracy touted by the Chinese ambassador here that got him summoned to the WH to answer for this theory, no further explanations came out of said meeting.


            • Occam’s razor – simplest possible explanation – still puts Wuhan as the source not the USA.

              Weird dots and dotted lines are showing up, like a Frenchman who got Covid in late Dec.

              Doesn’t make sense anyway for the US to infect its NATO allies, who were there as well.

              • Conspiracy theories about Covid are now dime a dozen.

                Looniest are the ones blaming 5G or Bill Gates.

              • Ireneo,

                I agree 5G is loony, Bill Gates is not so loony, you have to watch “Inside Bill’s Brain”, to get a feel for his motivations (power is already there). Watch this, from Hassan Minhaj’s Patriot Act:

                As for COVID19 in Dec. highly likely,

                I know a girl who vacationed in China (one of those bus tours, went to Wuhan too), came back and got sick this was just after Thanksgiving here, so late November. All symptoms COVID19, went to ER, respirator no ventilator, recovered just fine, but kicked her butt. She’s convinced (as am I) that that was COVID19.

                I did get kinda sick around Christmas, but no biggy, just sore throat.

                Assuming she could spread the virus pre-ER, then post-hospitalization, COVID19 was already spreading in Socal around early Dec. it was just unknown, probably just assumed it was the flu.

              • kasambahay says:

                have you seen the size of wuhan lab? methink, it’s bigger than pentagon. not counting po ako how many levels are there underground. me friends though estimated around ten levels underground, all that tons of supplies coming and going, mind boggling talaga. so much space and very tight security devoted mostly kuno to incongruous virology study. I tend to agree tuloy with my cousin donald trump: wuhan lab is lab by day, different entity at night, no foreign health inspectors allowed to look see one bit of iota of its operation. those heavy lead doors cannot be penetrated by ground radar, time controlled pa.

                pero, if china open wuhan lab to international inspection, china might be able to dispel the world’s paranoia and put to rest conspiracy theories. that wuhan lab is really just your average, everyday lab, nothing more, nothing less. china thus exonerated.

              • karlgarcia says:

                On not knowing you had a disease; this is very likely, the dengvaxia vaccine was said to be lethal to those who had it without knowng they had a strain of dengue before.That is if memory serves me right.

              • karlgarcia says:

                I am wrong Dengvaxia was supposed to be for those who had dengue before, and not by those who never had dengue.

          • sonny says:

            As of now I can only see dots and broken lines, Neph. Positions can still be best determined by triangulation using specific country’s essential needs.

    • I’ve always thought this quote relevant when it comes to dealing with the masses.

  24. karlgarcia says:

    MMT is like saying we will never run out of water because the earth is 75 % water then the establishment says desalination and waste water treatment costs a lot of money so to hell with that.

    Paradigms, new paradigms, Normals, new normals….when in Rome do what the Chinese do…(hat tip to Sonny’s video above.

    • sonny says:


      When observing the physics of cultures remember the cultures of India, China and the Jews. Christians have the prisms, I say.

    • Micha says:

      You can do better with your metaphor karl. Doesn’t seem to wash.

      • karlgarcia says:

        I will think of something.
        It seems that LCX has a better grasp nowadays.

        Before Geocentrism was the norm then came Ptolemy
        Before the world believed the earth was flat until Galileo
        Befire everybody thought MMT was Batshit until ….Micha

      • karlgarcia says:

        With all the world’s water, it still did not wash.

        • Here you go, karl…

          • karlgarcia says:

            I will drop two links for our reference

              • Micha says:

                Excellent articles karl, particularly the one by Nersisyan and Wray

                “MMT has been thrust into the limelight with the response to the pandemic. Not only have Democrats and Republicans alike suddenly discovered a love for trillions of dollars of “unfunded” spending, but they are invoking MMT arguments, to boot. Even President Trump argued in defense of an unprecedented fiscal stimulus, saying that “it’s our money… it’s our currency.”

                “In some sense we would be relearning the forgotten lessons of World War II. The war taught us that the constraint to government spending is the availability of real output—not a lack of finance. Keynes understood it and so did U.S. Treasury officials planning for the war. As Keynes aptly explained in How to Pay for the War, if available resources fall short of what is needed for the war effort and for civilian uses, the solution could not be found in finance. In this competition for limited resources, the government can always outbid the private sector. Prosecuting the war without an appropriate reduction or delay in private spending would simply cause inflation. Thus taxation and bond sales have to be implemented with a view of reducing and delaying demand, not to raise revenue for Treasury spending.”

                “But the most important lesson we must learn is that the ability of the government to run deficits is not limited to times of crisis. We must finally accept that deficits are fine in normal times, just as we accept them to be necessary in times of crises and wars.”

              • karlgarcia says:

                Thanks, I am glad you expounded on it.
                LCX and I is still learning.

  25. karlgarcia says:

    We or some of us question the validity of SWS survey esp the popularity and the self rated poverty surveys.
    This partially answers them.


    • kasambahay says:

      I’ve been questioning sws surveys matagal na po. unless one of us here or anyone we know has been respondent and can talk anonymously about it albeit excitedly, I’ll stick to my durian.

      sws stinks!

  26. karlgarcia says:

    From Richard Bernstein author of Coming conflict with China a,Ong’s others wrote: People like Dutert but not what he does.


    • kasambahay says:

      I’m an abomination po: I cannot separate the man from what he does. where one goes, the other follows, both present at near midnight presscon. conjoined twins.

      anyhow, one has gotta like duterte or expect another tv station to close, haha.

  27. madlanglupa says:

    Sadly, the turbulent drama and execution of Contemplacion and the lessons thereafter were all but forgotten, a mere footnote; the forgetfulness of many is very disturbing, and this forgetfulness is what politicians love to exploit to the hilt. Why many forget is that, I think it’s because becoming too busy to even care for national issues that affect us, when it’s more like taking care of the family that’s consumes more of the Filipino’s attention.

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  1. […] that Filipinos are more worked up about oppression coming from foreigners, as Chemrock noted in an blog article last year: “Against all evidence and the rights accorded to her in the court proceedings for the […]

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