Reports like these are the reason that I have misgivings about the Freedom of Information Bill that the Philippine Media is lobbying for. As the former Singaporean Prime Minister observes, the Philippines has one of the most active and powerful media in the world yet it does not have a cleaning effect on the public officials of our nation. As he once again observes powerful media people can be bought and the media instead of having a cleansing effect on our public discourse is just another source of slimy bastards(the slimy bastards part is my insertion).
March 25, 2011, 12:45 PM
Regular readers may recall my praise for William Cronon’s Nature’s Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West, a great book that had a big influence on my work in economic geography. Cronon has inspired many other people; Josh Marshall was deeply influenced by his environmental history of New England. Cronon, who teaches at the University of Wisconsin, is, quite simply, a great historian.
He also feels some duty as a citizen, in particular a citizen of his state. So earlier this week he published an op-ed in the Times condemning the power grab by the state’s governor.
And what happened next? Wisconsin Republicans have demanded access to his personal email records.
Yes, personal. Cronon has a wisconsin.edu email address — but nobody, and I mean nobody, considers such academic email addresses something specially reserved for university business. Actually, according to Cronon he has been especially careful, maintaining a separate personal account — but nobody would have considered it out of the ordinary if he mingled personal correspondence with official business on the dot edu address. And no, the fact that he’s at a public university doesn’t change that: when my students take jobs at Berkeley or SUNY, they don’t imagine that they’re entering into a special fishbowl environment that they wouldn’t encounter at Georgetown or Haverford.
But then, we know perfectly well what’s going on here. Republicans aren’t looking for some abuse of Cronon’s position; they’re hoping to find some statement that can be quoted out of context to discredit him. At the very least, they hope that other academics will henceforth feel intimidated. And somehow, we can be sure that people like, say, Richard Vedder of Ohio University wouldn’t be subject to equivalent scrutiny.
As usual, the nakedness of the thing is what’s surprising.
Great speech with several great lines, from gmatv.net here.
“Seven years ago, being myself afflicted with the GFN Complex, I wrestled with The Language Problem. In what tongue was I to express my Filipino soul? In what language was I to write the GFN that I thought was struggling to get out of my skin? Part of the reason I became a college dropout… was the conviction I had arrived at, that the language of my GFN could never be English. The characters I wanted to write about were people who spoke no English at all, or spoke it only when drunk. How could I make a jeepney driver curse the cop on the corner in English? I wrote about a housemaid once and though the story was accepted for publication in this magazine, Free Press, I thought it was funny to have a maid speak like a Maryknoll coed. None of the attempts made by established writers to render native speech in English could satisfy me.”
“I am talking of course, of the so called lower classes, those who have not had much of an education and can only afford the inexpensive pleasures of Tagalog movies and comic books. Higher up on the social scale. Higher up on the social scale,” said Mr. Lacaba, “one needs English to communicate and these are usually the people who are opposed to Pilipino as the national language, knowing as they do that it endangers their position as the current elite.”
And here is poet, critic, teacher and National Artist Bienvenido Lumbera on the language situation:
“In the bourgeois mind of the power elite, the interests of their small group represent the interests of the entire nation. What is good for their class is good for the entire masses…
“Perhaps the Philippine situation can never be fully understood by someone belonging to the power elite. The Westernization of those who have graduated from the university is practically complete. The students who have learned English easily are the same ones who have quickly embraced the culture embodied by the English language. They are the citizens alienated from their fellow Filipinos because they live in an artificial society, a society built on the principle and objectives imported through the use of English. It is surprising that many intellectuals believe that nationalism and the language problem are separate, that is possible to show concern for the country without supporting Pilipino…
The real tragedy lies with us Filipinos: if so many of us truly believe GIBO is the best candidate to navigate the Philippines through these very tough times and we don’t do what we can to make him president. If we believe he’ll make the best president and yet we don’t elect him because other candidates have more money, more machinery, more pedigree or a couple of very powerful media behind them, we’ve basically slammed the door on an opportunity that doesn’t come very often in the history of a country. Truly great presidential material is rare anywhere, but it’s perhaps rarer in countries like ours where real skills and capabilities take the backseat to sentimentalism, showbiz and media perceptions. Don’t we deserve and need the best qualified person as president, especially at this very crucial time for ourselves and the world?
I’ve written about this before but seeing that the MTRCB is still in the process of engaging in a pissing match with ABS-CBN I’m posting about how being a repeater (the “insult” hurled by Rosanna Roces on the teachers) is actually taken in light of evidence with DI (Direct Instruction) is a convoluted form of praise. To be a repeater is a form of acceptance for most teachers. I am unremarkable. I am a cog. I am a replaceable cog. To accept this is in some ways accepting that student’s learning is more important than the sense of validation that people crave from other people. Truly heroic.
In Super Crunchers, Ian Ayres argues that just such a method exists. Overall, Super Crunchers is a light but entertaining account of how large amounts of data and cheap computing power are improving forecasting and decision making in social science, government and business. I enjoyed the book. Chapter 7, however, was a real highlight.
Ayres argues that large experimental studies have shown that the teaching method which works best is Direct Instruction (here and here are two non-academic discussions which summarizes much of the same academic evidence discussed in Ayres). In Direct Instruction the teacher follows a script, a carefully designed and evaluated script. As Ayres notes this is key:
DI is scalable. Its success isn’t contingent on the personality of some uber-teacher….You don’t need to be a genius to be an effective DI teacher. DI can be implemented in dozens upon dozens of classrooms with just ordinary teachers. You just need to be able to follow the script.
Contrary to what you might think, the data also show that DI does not impede creativity or self-esteem. The education establishment, however, hates DI because it is a threat to the power and prestige of teaching, they prefer the model of teacher as hero. As Ayres says “The education establishment is wedded to its pet theories regardless of what the evidence says.” As a result they have fought it tooth and nail so that “Direct Instruction, the oldest and most validated program, has captured only a little more than 1 percent of the grade-school market.”
Posted by Alex Tabarrok on September 27, 2007 at 08:20 AM
This is probably one of the top 5 posts I’ve read about the Philippines this year.
Marketman’s Running Survey
In the survey I am running (or if you read this later, survey that I ran), it seems some 40% of readers actually think the Philippines is POORER than it is, in other words, a fairly negative sentiment. Some 24% of you got it right, with roughly 86-88% of the families earning less than PHP25,000 per month for a family of 5. But approximately 36% of you were varying degrees of being overly optimistic, and believed that many more families earned more than they actually do. Okay, so hold this thought for a moment. Roughly 87% of all families in the Philippines, representing 75.7 million people, are living on less than PHP5,000 (USD110) per month per person on average in income.
Okay a little too over the top. but I really wanted you to read this!!!
There was the book taxing travesty last year and now we have secretary teves trying his best to increase government revenues by increasing E-Vat. Simply put, I am against any increases in the E-VAT. VAT’s are regressive taxes in nature. Regressive in our cases means falls more heavily on the people who can least afford it. Processed foods such as some canned goods etc, or worst the chicheria (junk food) that extremely poor people use to give a little taste to a bowl of rice. All this while politicians maintain multiple houses and businesses , very large businesses evade taxes. This is unacceptable. Tax the poor and the near poor and the middle class (I and most classmates are probably part of the near poor and middle class)while you let the big businesses and even small businesses go to the bank with the paper because their accountants know how to run make money out of accounting software. Increase tax efficiency. Catch the big tax evaders. Close the fucking loop holes that unsavory but slick accountants use to hide profits, revenues etc. In short I salute the creative ways Sec Teves is trying so as to close the budget gap but what he is doing is declaring defeat against the big evaders while lording it over the people like most salaried employees and consumers who have no way of evading the the tax.
PS:: I usually go with the crowd in decrying taxes, but honestly I believe in a fair and equitable society where we help each other out. The fortunate sharing some of their fortune to make the lives of the unfortunate just a little more livable. I am not against taxation. I just hate the thought that people who can least afford the tax are the same people who are the easiest targets for taxation.
Noynoy opposes Teves’s plan to raise 12% E-VAT to 15% PDF Print E-mail
Written by Butch Fernandez / Reporter
Tuesday, 06 April 2010 20:21
FINANCE Secretary Margarito Teves’s plan to jack up the 12-percent expanded value-added tax (E-VAT) to 15 percent met immediate objections from opposition stalwarts, led by Liberal Party standard-bearer Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III.
“This [planned E-VAT increase] is the easy way out,” Aquino said, adding: “We can collect more taxes at the Bureau of Internal Revenue and higher duties at Bureau of Customs if we become more serious in curbing and punishing tax evasion and smuggling.”
In a statement, Aquino assured that if elected, his administration would instead focus on raising revenues by increasing the government’s tax collection efficiency to 17 percent.
Most people travel long distances with the idea that they’ll accept the burden for something better, be it a house, salary, or school. They presume the trade-off is worth the agony. But studies show that commuters are on average much less satisfied with their lives than noncommuters. A commuter who travels one hour, one way, would have to make 40% more than his current salary to be as fully satisfied with his life as a noncommuter, say economists Bruno S. Frey and Alois Stutzer of the University of Zurich’s Institute for Empirical Research in Economics. People usually overestimate the value of the things they’ll obtain by commuting – more money, more material goods, more prestige – and underestimate the benefit of what they are losing: social connections, hobbies, and health. “Commuting is a stress that doesn’t pay off,” says Stutzer…Commuting is also associated with raised blood pressure, musculoskeletal disorders, increased hostility, lateness, absenteeism, and adverse effects on cognitive performance.
ditto. Read the whole thing!
These profiles give an authentic glimpse of a style of life that hasn’t yet been captured by a novel or a movie — the subtle blend of high-achiever successes, trade-offs and deep commitments to others. In the profiles, you see the intoxicating lure of work, which provides an organizing purpose and identity. You see the web of mentor-mentee relationships — the courtship between the young and the middle-aged, and then the tensions as the mentees break off on their own…. You see the way people not only choose a profession, it chooses them. It changes them in a way they probably didn’t anticipate at first.
… Sotomayor’s life also overlaps with a broader class of high achievers. You don’t succeed at that level without developing a single-minded focus, and struggling against its consequences.
Damn, think I’ve made this choice already, sadly subconsciously.
I believe the unvarnished reality about work-life-balance is this: the only people who successfully follow an all-consuming, high-impact professional calling are: a) either single or married to a someone who has a “career” (or less) and not a “calling” and, b) do not have kids.
The most effective men and women of this variety tend to be married to a comparatively passive partner (this does not mean objectively passive) because marriage boosts happiness, and do not have kids.
Yes, there are plenty of exceptions, but that's what they are: exceptions. Yes, Lewis's distinction is too rigid, but it's to make a point.
Many men, including some of Silicon Valley's most famous, do their “calling” early in life and then “career” later in life with kids. Men have the luck of being able to organize their lives in a way that this can work. Women, not so much. Damn biological clock.
I also appreciate the types of bills he has filed: they are clearly reform-oriented in very overarching ways. It comes as no great surprise that Noynoy became a strict fiscalizer in his time, focusing more on accountability in government appropriations and spending than anything else. Among the measures he pushed for were greater restrictions on exemptions to the requirement of public bidding and strengthening legislative oversight over executive spending. He also sought to tighten congressional oversight on the executive’s use of public funds.
More importantly, if one studies the actual bills he filed and the quality of thinking that has gone into what are clearly pro-reform views, what is more striking is how many of them were not passed. How is it that none of these (arguably stellar) initiatives — on PNP reform; an increase in penalties for corporations and work establishments not compliant with minimum wage; the banning of reappointments to the Judicial and Bar Council; the prevention of reappointments and bypassing of the Commission on Appointments; real property valuation based on international standards; and superior responsibility for senior military officers, who are ultimately responsible for their own subordinates — had been passed? Had they been blocked, I had to ask? These were after all not the kind of trivial initiatives one might associate with certain legislators, for instance, and could certainly have benefited the country as a whole…
Noynoy agreed with my reading, noting that the job of an effective legislator goes beyond merely proposing laws. After all, legislators have the responsibility to ensure that the checks and balances system in our government is at work as well. But he had clearly pitted himself against the administration in a score of privileged speeches that questioned the government’s alleged human rights abuses (with respect to the desaparecidos, informal settlers, marginalized groups and extrajudicial killings). He has also continued to question the misuse of public funds (ZTE-NBN, “Euro Generals” and Fertilizer Fund, etc.). So it wouldn’t be entirely surprising if he had rubbed the administration the wrong way, which would certainly explain why so many of his initiatives never saw the light of day. Clearly, he would have been threatening to many in the establishment, which further sheds light on why he was stripped of his post as Deputy Speaker for Luzon after he called for GMA’s resignation at the height of the “Hello, Garci” scandal…