Friday, October 17, 2008

“New Deal” vs. Raw Deal for Filipinos

The “New Deal” was Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s response to the last Great Depression in 1929. It used state intervention to rein in Big Business and bankers’ greed and stimulate the production side of the economy. It instituted such measure as the Glass-Steagall Act barring banks from investment functions, a law and a regulatory policy eroded during the 1970s when “universal banking”( banking with investment services) was forced on the rest of the world, as well as the Philippines. The US formally repealed the Glass-Steagall Act under Clinton, although Reagan had already begun to erode its application with his deregulation of the US economy. Now the world discovers this deregulation as a “raw deal” and victimized it.

The “raw deal” espouses the diminution of the role of the state and removal of affirmative action for the nation-state in economic activity. It ushered in the rule of the Western financial class which imposed on the world the removal of the state’s tariff protection (globalization); transfer of public utilities and assets to private corporations, removing profit limits and transparency requirements; gave license to speculative and predatory capital flow and speculation on exchange rates. The Philippines is one of the most damaged victims of the “raw deal” of the economic regime of liberalization, deregulation and privatization, thanks to the Cory Aquino-FVR-Arroyo triad’s eager-beaver embrace of the “globalization” of the economy.

It took 125 years in the Philippines for the grave inequities embedded in “raw deal” to surface. Now, the evil of that deal is painfully evident. Even much maligned and autocratic Myanmar has much lower hunger indicators compared to the Philippines, ranking 66 to the Philippines’ 67 in the 2007 Global Hunger Index, while nationalistic Indonesia fares even better at number 56 with a hunger rating of 11.57 compared to 15.8 and 16.23 of Myanmar and the Philippines. Under Arroyo, the height of globalization in the Philippines’ UN Human Development Index rank fell from No. 77 in 2000 to 90 in 2007. Only the obfuscation of Arroyo and her business, academic and government conspirators manage to hide these facts from the people.

The worse from the “raw deal” will come in early 2009, aggravating every month from thereon. The DoLE has admitted it is expecting 50,000 OFWs to lose their jobs and come back home, but we know the government cannot help but understate the figures to stall the outpouring of public rage. With the contracting economies in the OFW hiring economies in the West and the richer countries of Asia, we can definitely expect hundreds of thousands of OFWs to be let go by their employers for the rest of next year. We hate to be the bearer of such bad news, but it is better to know the truth now and prepare for the inevitable than to bury our head in the sand like Gloria Arroyo is doing. This column has consistently been correct in its political-economic projections.

We have been short only in our estimate of the Arroyo regime’s capacity for corrupting the system for survival. She’s exchanged every national treasure, including territory, for clinging to power. For this, the US has preferred to keep the regime on despite its increasing corruption and unpopularity - more averse to the idea of changing horses midstream and accepting some splatter of Arroyo’s scum on Uncle Sam’s shirt sleeves.

The year 2010 is fast approaching and the window for Charter change (Cha-Cha) and the Constituent options is closing. On foreign influence, the US is receding as an economic-political power and its tentacles in the Philippines are growing weak and weary.

One of the pillars of US influence in the Philippines, the AIG, has collapsed; its associated financial organizations and personalities on Ayala Avenue are also waning in power. The time to move against the corrupt regime is soon, but maybe the holiday months would not be conducive. The 2010 elections are also too close and some prefer to wait until then when victory is a forgone conclusion. The 2010 elections are less than two years away and it’s almost certain Gloria can’t pull her Cha-cha off or even the Con-Ass. Besides, a Con-Ass would bring the extra-constitutional action closer to reality and sooner, otherwise it is the 2010 elections.

In 2010, the only real prospect of uniting anti-Gloria forces and winning against the regime’s surrogates will be former President Joseph Estrada - if he decides to run. Whichever the final option for the opposition will be, it is definite that regime change is forthcoming and we better prepare to implement of a new financial-economic paradigm for the country. This is how we should implement the “New Deal for Filipinos”:

Restore political power to the people, rein in the greed of oligarchs and the corporatocracy; review and cut the national debt; re-nationalize the public utilities and strategic state corporations such as Petron and the National Power Corp. generating assets, particularly those from natural sources such as geothermal and hydro; prioritize indigenous energy, as well as rice and milk development and production; impose CEC (currency and exchange control a la Mahathir and Chavez); return to import-substitution and self-reliance economics; quash the foreign subversion in Mindanao and expose the leftist tools of Western imperialism. These would put on this nation on course towards stability, growth and prosperity - a new deal for a new Philippines.

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