Facts, Opinion, Fake News, and the Long Road to Truth (Part 1)

This meme has been going the rounds of social media the last few years:

6or9

It’s shared by almost everyone trying to prove to other people that their side of the argument isn’t “wrong,” it’s just a different point of view. There’s only one problem: the meme itself is wrong, and has no basis in objective reality.

Let’s examine a few things. If there were no orientation points to speak of, both person in the meme would neither be wrong nor right – they’d just both have inconclusive statements. Take a look at this image for example:

perspective (2)

Now, would you say that’s a 09 or a 60? If we’re to believe the people hewing to the meme above, it can be either-or, and both those saying it’s a 09 or a 60 would both be correct. But in reality, that’s not really the case, is it? Especially when these numbers find themselves in a cheque or a bank account statement. Suddenly, it’s important to find out who is correct.

Which is why ORIENTATION is always important. Without the complete facts of the case, we can’t define conclusively who is correct and who is wrong. However, we’re sure of one thing – one of them is definitely wrong.

perspective.jpg

Ahh. Now we see more clearly with the rest of the picture in place. If this were shown to you, would you still agree with the people saying it’s a 60?

Failures of logic like the meme above are commonplace in today’s online world. Children today are growing up untrained in the rigors of logic. In the U.S., a common curriculum would include the following subjects: Math, Science, English, History, Computer Studies, and Physical Education. Curiously, Logic, as a subject, is missing from the curriculum.

Unlike the ancient Greeks who considered Logic to be of utmost importance that they made it a standalone subject, together with Grammar and Rhetoric, which forms their Trivium, present-day educators treat Logic as a minor study, to be consigned within the major subjects of Math, Science, and English. It appears as elementary proofs in geometry, a discussion of fallacies in English, and a chapter of Boolean Logic in Computer Studies.

In a study conducted by Weinstock & Neuman (2004), results showed that students who were aware of “general argumentation norms,” or what we know as “rules of logic,” performed better at identifying fallacies than those who didn’t.

Likewise, in a successive study done by the same authors, they found out that when presented with context, students were able to correctly identify fallacious arguments compared with those who were lacking context (Neuman, Weinstock, & Glasner, 2006).

Children, it seemed, did not fail for lack of trying or for lack of brain power. They simply failed because they lack training in the art and science of logical thinking. This is a damning indictment of our educational institutions.

Take for example the difference between a fact and an opinion. It seems pretty straightforward for most of us. Quite common sense really. A fact is a statement which can be proven or disproven, while an opinion is a statement which cannot. And yet, to my horror, more than half of my students in senior high hardly knew the difference between the two. I had to teach the entire concept to them before I could proceed to teach writing as a discipline.

In a survey of 5,035 American adults done by the Pew Research Center, conducted between Feb. 22 and March 8, 2018, asking respondents to distinguish between five factual statements and five opinion statements, it was found out that more than a quarter of Americans got most or all wrong in their answers. Even more depressing, of those who got it correct, most were only able to identify three to five statements correctly. That’s as good as merely guessing.

And if you think you’re a bit better than the crowd, think about this: when I mentioned “fact” did you automatically associate it with “true” or did you somehow knew it meant “provable?” Because if you thought the former, then I have a bridge to sell you. The sad truth is, “fact” doesn’t mean “true.” It only means it’s a statement that can be proven or disproven using evidence. Let’s do the following exercise and see how well you fare in distinguishing factual statements from opinionated ones.

fact vs opinion.jpg

Of the eight statements, five are factual while three are opinion. Were you able to guess which three were opinionated? If you guessed the last three, you would be correct. Proving raisins are gross, insects are annoying, and that George Washington was the best president ever are all an exercise in futility because they are all rooted in subjective biases. Who is to say what’s gross and what’s annoying? How would we quantify the word “best” and how would we measure it? In contrast, proving how long it takes someone to ride the bike to the mall is fairly easy. As it is with finding out if mint toothpaste and gum are good for your teeth. A series of experiments can quickly settle the issue. Likewise, a cheetah’s speed can be measured objectively, and the contents of milk scientifically studied. By these precepts, we are able to determine them as factual statements. While factual, they aren’t automatically “true.” They’re merely statements which can be proven to be true or false.

However, things only get muddier from here on. There are indeed “facts” which are held to be “true.” They are called “scientific facts,” and are treated separately from “factual statements,” which are merely statements of provability. Scientific facts carry the weight of evidence behind them, and years of repeatable observation and reproducible experiments. The entire collection of human knowledge was based on the scientific method and the collection of empirical evidence to validate certain facts.

To make matters worse, there’s what we call “evidentiary facts” in legal parlance. These are evidence collected in support of a “fact.” To avoid confusing the three, we must clearly distinguish scientific facts as “scientific facts”, “factual statements” as merely “fact,” and “evidentiary facts” as “evidence.” To fail to do so would invite chaos.

With those distinctions out of the way, let us proceed to a much more controversial topic.

Ever heard the term, “You’re entitled to your own opinion but not to your own facts?” It was either coined by Daniel Patrick Moynihan, James Schlesinger, or Bernard Baruch (depending on your sources) and would go on to infect a large portion of the populace, making them believe that hiding behind the curtain of “opinion” will excuse them from the challenges of rational thought. Sadly, since then, people have used the qualifier “it’s just my opinion” as a catch-all defense to avoid intellectual scrutiny and criticism. They believe that by categorizing their statements as “opinion,” they cannot be criticized or called to answer for it.

Except, that’s not really the case, is it? Going back to our definitions, these people have clearly tagged their views as opinion when it clearly veers into factual territory. Opinions are of such subjective nature that they cannot be proven or disproven conclusively. The arguments of which dessert is better, ice cream or chocolate, will go on ad infinitum because these arguments rest on the subjective definitions of one’s own palate. However, the argument of whether vaccines cause autism should be put to rest since mountains of evidence have been collected proving no link between vaccines and autism. In this case, “vaccines cause autism” is not an “opinion.” It is simply misinformed fact. A myth that grew from fraud and scientific misrepresentation by one person, which now poses a serious threat to worldwide health.

Everyone is still entitled to their own opinion, but no one is entitled to call their views or beliefs as “opinion” when it clearly isn’t. In this case, everyone is only entitled to what they can prove.

References:

Amy Mitchell, J. G., & Sumida, N. (2018). Distinguishing Between Factual and Opinion Statements in the News. Washington, D.C.: Pew Research Center. Retrieved from http://www.journalism.org/2018/06/18/distinguishing-between-factual-and-opinion-statements-in-the-news/

CDC. (2015, November 23). CDC Statement: 2004 Pediatrics Paper on MMR and Autism. Retrieved from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/concerns/autism.html

Neuman, Y., Weinstock, M. P., & Glasner, A. (2006, February 1). The effect of contextual factors on the judgment of informal reasoning fallacies. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 59(2), 411-425. doi:10.1080/17470210500151436

Phadke, V. K., Bednarczyk, R. A., Salmon, D. A., & Omer, S. B. (2016). Association Between Vaccine Refusal and Vaccine-Preventable Diseases in the United States: A Review of Measles and Pertussis. Journal of the American Medical Association, 315(11), 1149–1158. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.1353

Popik, B. (2009, July 30). Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts. Retrieved from The Big Apple: https://www.barrypopik.com/index.php/new_york_city/entry/everyone_is_entitled_to_his_own_opinion_but_not_his_own_facts

Weinstock, M., & Neuman, Y. (2004, January). Missing the point or missing the norms? Epistemological norms as predictors of students’ ability to identify fallacious arguments. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 29(1), 77-94. doi:10.1016/S0361-476X(03)00024-9

 

Advertisements

The Writ of Kalikasan and the Battle to Protect our Life Sources

person s left hand holding green leaf plant
Photo by Alena Koval on Pexels.com

The Writ of Kalikasan – what is it and what does it do?

In “The Environment as Life Sources and the Writ of Kalikasan in the Philippines,” Davide redefines the word “environment” as “life sources,” stating that “it is nothing less than about life and the sources of life of the earth – land, air, and water, or LAW for brevity – the elements of life and the vital organs of the earth” (Davide, 2012).

The Writ of Kalikasan is a legal remedy provided to any citizen of the Republic of the Philippines for the protection of their constitutional right “to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature.” (Section 16 Article II, Philippine Constitution, 1987)

“When the right to life is threatened, and the executive department tasked to protect it fails or is wanting in political will to enforce said right, it is the duty of the court, in an appropriate case, to step in” (Davide, 2012). Davide further states that: “The 1987 Constitution of the Philippines has expanded the judicial power of the courts of the Philippines. Section 1 of Article VIII thereof, on the judicial department, provides:

Judicial power includes the duty of the courts of justice to settle actual controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable, and to determine whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the Government.

The Writ of Kalikasan, or the writ of nature, is available when the environmental damage is of such magnitude that it prejudices the life, health, or property of inhabitants in two or more cities or provinces. The writ is issued by either the Supreme Court or the Court of Appeals within three days after the filing of the application. Hearing of the matter is set within sixty days. No docket or filing fee is required upon the filing of the complaint or petition. The proceedings terminate within sixty days from the submission of the original application (Davide, 2012)

Further,

the writ of Kalikasan may be sought by anyone a) whose constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology is violated, or b) whose constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology is threatened with violation, by an unlawful act of omission of a public official or employee, or private individual or entity and such violation or threat involves “environmental damage of such magnitude as to prejudice the life, health or property of inhabitants of two or more cities, or provinces.” (Rule 7, Section 1)

The petition for the writ of Kalikasan “shall be filed with the Supreme Court or with any of the stations of the Court of Appeals.” (Rule 7, Section 3) Note, however, that the filing of a petition for the issuance of the writ of Kalikasan shall not preclude the filing of separate civil, criminal or administrative actions. (Rule 7, Section 17)

Within 3 days from filing the petition deemed sufficient in form and substance, the Court shall issue the writ and require the respondent to file a return. (Rule 7, Section 5)

In response, the respondent is required to file a return containing his defenses and supporting evidence within a non-extendible 10-day period after the service to him of the writ. He must raise all defenses in the return, otherwise, they are deemed waived.  A general denial of the petitioner’s allegations shall be deemed an admission by the respondent. (Rule 7, Section 8)

If the petition fails to file a return, the hearing shall proceed ex parte (i.e., the hearing will proceed with only 1 side being heard). (Rule 7, Section 10)

The penalty of indirect contempt may be meted out to a) a respondent who refuses to file the return, b) a respondent who unduly delays the filing of a return, c) a respondent who falsifies a return, or d) anyone who disobeys or resists a lawful process of court order. (Rule 7, Section 13)

In further recognition of the importance of a speedy resolution, the following filings are prohibited:
a) motion to dismiss
b) motion for extension of time to file return
c) motion for postponement
d) motion for a bill of particulars
e) counterclaim or cross-claim
f) third-party complaint
g) reply, and
h) motion to declare respondent in default. (Rule 7, Section 9)

However, the following motions are allowed:
motion for ocular inspection (1) indicating the place/s sought to be inspected and (2) supported by “affidavits of witnesses having personal knowledge of the violation or threatened violation of environmental law.” andmotion for production or inspection of documents or things.  (Rule 7, Section 12) 

When the court receives the return, it may call a preliminary conference “to simplify the issues, determine the possibility of obtaining stipulations or admissions from the parties, and set the petition for hearing.” The petition shall be given the same priority as petitions for the writ of habeas corpusamparo and habeas data; thus, the hearing and the preliminary conference shall be all done within 60 days (Rule 7, Section 11)

After the hearing, the case shall be submitted for decision in which case, the court may require the filing of memoranda within a non-extendible 30-day period from the date the case is submitted for decision.

Within 60 days from the time the petition is submitted for decision, the court shall grant or deny the privilege of the writ of kalikasan.  The reliefs that may be granted under the writ are the following:
a) Directing respondent to permanently cease and desist from committing acts or neglecting the performance of a duty in  violation  of  environmental  laws  resulting  in environmental destruction or damage;
b) Directing  the  respondent  public  official,  government agency,  private  person  or  entity  to  protect,  preserve, rehabilitate or restore the environment;
c) Directing  the  respondent  public  official,  government agency,  private  person  or  entity  to  monitor  strict compliance with the decision and orders of the court;
d) Directing  the  respondent  public  official,  government agency, or private person or entity to make periodic reports on the execution of the final judgment; and
e) Such other reliefs which relate to the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology or to the protection, preservation, rehabilitation or restoration of the environment, except the award of damages to individual petitioners. (Rule 7, Section 15)

Appeal to the Supreme Court, under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court (i.e. a petition for review on certiorari), is available within 15 days from the notice of the judgment or denial of motion for reconsideration.  It is important to note that this appeal may raise questions of fact. (Rule 7, Section 16)

This writ is an innovation of the Philippine Supreme Court as one of the legal means to combat the destruction of the environment. This writ is one of a kind, available only within Philippine jurisdiction. It is extraordinary in nature, meaning to say, that it can be resorted to only when other ordinary legal remedies such as injunction or damage suit are unavailing.

 

References:
Hilario G. Davide Jr., The Environment as Life Sources and the Writ of Kalikasan in the Philippines, 29 Pace Envtl. L. Rev. 592 (2012)
“What is a Writ of Kalikasan?” (n.d.) Retrieved from http://notocoal.weebly.com/writ-of-kalikasan.html#.W7NVC2gzbIW

 

 

 

 

Why the Illegal Drug trade is the Perfect Bogeyman for the President

1. Anyone who disagrees with the campaign against it is automatically evil.
2. It’s the perfect distraction from the other ills our country is facing.
3. You can take down your political opponents one by one just by tagging them as purveyors or protectors of it. *Cue the persecution of the Legit 8 after De Lima. Heck, Agot Isidro is now fair game!
4. Obedience from the public is gained more easily because who wants a narco-state?
5. The war against it is never-ending. His 6-year term will be over but he will still be asking for an extension.
6. If his presidency fails, it can all be blamed on the perfect bogeymen – the illegal drug trade, the oligarchs, the biased media, the undiscerning haters. None of it will be his fault. Everyone was against him from the start. Never mind the 91% approval rating.

A Primer on Political Bogeymen

An often used strategy in politics to gain support which would then later translate into votes is to invent a bogeyman, a scapegoat or a fall guy. The thing to which all of society’s problems and ills originate from. That thing usually has no voice, no political power, and no way to defend itself. Inventing a bogeyman and focusing people’s attention on it is so convenient because it removes all the hard analysis needed to identify a problem. It simplifies everything to a single common enemy. Something which the public can easily rally against.

Throughout history, regimes have invented bogeymen to distract the public, keep itself in power, manipulate public perception, and garner obedience from the public. From communism to fascism, to socialism, to terrorism, to yes, illegal drugs.

There is one aspect of this “war on drugs,” which supporters fail to realize. With demand shrinking, prices are rising. Someone, somehow, someway, that void will be filled. It’s just a logical consequence of a money-hungry world. I always point out the Prohibition, as the greatest example of why banning an addictive substance will never succeed. But people “wiser” than me refused to heed the lessons of history. So let them learn it the hard way.

I had a disturbing thought that what if we woke up one day and realize we were conned big time? What if instead of wanting to eradicate it, they just wanted to increase the price, monopolize the market, and control everything?

Where did the President say the drugs are coming from? China?

Maybe that’s why our dear President is going there next week. Maybe he’s finally bringing the war to them.

Meanwhile, all I want is faster internet speeds and less traffic. A few trains on the MRT might be good too. I know these are all his campaign promises which may “take time.” But is it too much to ask what happened to the “No more Pork Barrel or I will close Congress if it refuses” promise?

But maybe I am asking too much. When you believe in a man who says he will not run but runs anyway, you’re bound to get heartbroken. One time a liar, twice incorrigible, thrice pathological.

But never fear, our attention is here: War on Drugs.

 

Are You Rich Enough?

I was browsing the web when I chanced upon a link that says “Are You Rich Enough? The Terrible Tragedy of Income.”

I thought to myself that that was a very profound title, describing perfectly how our society has become twisted and how people have mixed up their priorities in life, and how I would very much like to read what it says.

So I clicked the link and found out the title was incomplete. What the title really said was “Are You Rich Enough? The Terrible Tragedy of Income Inequality.”

I then laughed at myself for thinking I woke up to a different world. How typical. To see people frame the situation as a problem of inequality as opposed to a problem of systems. You know people don’t understand the problem when they think giving everyone the same amount of money fixes everything. It’s a serious misunderstanding of how the economy works. If you gave everyone the same amount of money, everyone would have the same purchasing power – leading to an equal capacity to buy anything. That’s all fine and dandy until you realize that the things you can buy are finite, and that most people probably want to buy the same things you do – which of course leads to an increase in demand – which of course leads to a supply problem – which of course leads to an increase in prices on goods that are in demand – which of course leads to inflation – which finally leads to everyone’s money being devalued. Those who saved their money in a bank now have less purchasing power than what they started out with. Those who spent their money, now don’t have any, and those smart enough to hold onto theirs and sell the goods in demand are now richer than before. And we’re back right where we started. In a world of income inequality.

Simply put, even if everyone started out with the same amount of money, the system works in such a way as to always end up in income inequalty. We will never ever have equality under this financial system. And to think otherwise is simply to be ignorant of the economic interactions at play.

While I was disappointed the article turned out to be not what I expected, I still felt my initial reading of the incomplete title as the real profound lesson that needs to be taught.

Today, when we think of wealth and the richest people in the world, we always frame it in percentages. We’ll say “Oh, they’re the 1 percent of the world.” News outlets carry the headlines “Richest 1 Percent of the World Own Half of Global Wealth.”

I shake my head sometimes at how people view wealth and value in the world. People have a serious misconception of what truly matters and their priorities are seriously messed up. How you view the world truly changes your life.

There’s a sad, sad tale for everyone who thinks wealth = money. And there’s an even sadder tale for those who equate financial wealth = success. The saddest tale meanwhile, is reserved for those who earned their wealth at the cost of losing their loved ones.

Here’s how I view the world:

Do you have someone you love who also loves you back?
You’re part of the 1%.

Are you healthy?
You’re part of the 1%.

Are you happy?
You’re part of the 1%.

Are you contented?
You’re part of the 0.01%.

Do you live a life of love and forgiveness?
You’re part of the 1%.

99% of the people in the world are unhappy, scared, lonely, and always living in fear.

So the next time you envy someone with more money than you, remember that wealth is a state of mind. And happiness is a consequence of viewing the world differently than 99% of the people in the world.

The question isn’t “Are You Rich Enough,” the question is “Are You Wise Enough to Know When You Are Rich Enough?”

Don’t sell your wealth for a couple of lousy bucks.

Why Piracy is Good and Copyright Evil or Why I’d Rather be a Starving Writer than be a Rich A-hole Like Harlan Ellison

Before everything else, let’s read Lloyd Kaufman’s own take on Why Piracy is Good and Copyright Sucks. Improv Everywhere also has a very funny, yet ironically, quite a bitingly truthful protest about copyright infringement which they called: WAP, Writers Against Piracy.

Now, on to the issue.

Piracy is good because it’s tearing down the walls of our insanity. Intellectual property rights should never have been made into a law. For that matter, neither should property rights have been, but let’s tackle that for another day.

Piracy forces society to deal with an obsolete market system. The dawn of the digital era has brought about the dawn of non-scarcity. Value arises out of limited goods. But in a world where a product can be recreated indefinitely without cost, that product loses value. Yet archaic tyrants want to force artificial scarcity on us by enforcing DRM and other IPR protecting mechanisms.

Piracy forces the middle man out of the picture entirely. For while it would soon become unprofitable for them to make a business out of publishing, originators would still continue to find it profitable to continue originating – this time without the presence of publishers.

In the face of great change, we must adapt, or be swept away along the currents of change.

In the near future (hopefully tomorrow), I will be a famous author. I’ll write speculative fiction and have my books devoured hungrily by the masses. I’ll self-publish using all the modern tools self-publishing has to offer me and I’ll skip the middle-man and go straight to the consuming public. I’ll upload my books in my own website and let the public download directly from my website. All this, and I’ll give it all away for free.

For free? But why?

Because I believe that the world should be a free society – free from bondage, control, and market forces. Because I believe civilization isn’t meant to be a community of selfish, competing simians all living for their own self-interests rather than for those of the greater interests of the community. Because I believe, that in reality, the work I created is no more mine than the genes I inherited from my ancestors. All the ideas and inventions we’ve ever made, owe its life to previous ideas and inventions made by others before us. None of us truly own anything that comes out of our mind. Our own way of thinking is shaped and formed by thousands of years of cultural evolution. What I am doing is nothing more than just giving back what I owe to that evolution.

There is but one tiny thing of selfishness that I do withhold. It is but the primitive desire of an egoistic man. It is but one tiny thing, but to me, it is the world. For without it, I would not endeavor to create or write anything of value. Recognition. All I ask is that I be recognized as the originator of my work. Not its owner, but simply the man behind the mask.

And you’ll say, how hypocritical of me. A pretender of the most devious act. Me who peddle my talent for a price. Can there be anyone more hypocritical than a freelancer preaching free books? While I sell my words for a dollar, I want others to give theirs for free? Hypocritical indeed.

Only if you do not distinguish between freelance writing and writing. “But that’s preposterous!” you’ll say. “There’s no difference between the two!” And I’ll say, “but there is, my dear Watson. The former is the act of hiring out my services for another while the latter is simply the act of writing. One is done only upon the reasonable expectation of reward while the other is done purely for self-satisfaction, respect, and recognition.”

Simply put, if I enjoy writing it, you can have it for free. But while you’re the one asking for copy and not me voluntarily creating copy, and while this world is trapped in capitalists mode of thinking, I’ll continue to charge by the dollar for words I care not to write.

Maybe in the future, when we’ve all succeeded in tearing down this house of insanity, and I would not need currency to survive, you can have my services all you want for free. And I’ll write all the words in the world you like and never worry about starvation.

Because some random comments on the web are too precious to be allowed to be lost buried under the din of the crowd

I came accross the comment/s below while reading this article written by Adam Hartung in Forbes.com

it’s just too good a comment/convo to be left to wallow in anonymity. Posted by someone using the handle “kishind,” the comment/s below reflect the same philosophy i believe in, and which i feel, majority of ppl also feel deep in their hearts to be correct.

Occupy Wall Street is so disorganized it doesn’t even appear to have specific leadership, or hierarchy. – Adam Hartung

Adam, you’re half-mistaken. It’s organized, but the organization rejects hierarchy. Personal autonomy is a critical issue for us, so we organize bottom-up instead of top-down. You may think we have “no clear agenda about what [we] would like done differently”, but that’s not the case. We are doing what we want done differently and the plea we make is for others to join us, not for corrupted leaders to placate us with word changes in their paper castle while retaining their undeserved power. Our one demand is “stop interfering with us so we can focus on more important things”. Like ending homelessness, poverty, and hunger in America. For a start.

Left alone, we will create a better monetary system for internal exchange, one that is directly reflective of productive contributions, while ensuring necessities are had by all. Left alone, we will connect to each other on a national and then global scale and express our love for humans all over the world. Left alone, we will acquire the means of small-scale local production, like sewing machines and 3D printers, and use them for good. Left alone, we will create full employment under the principle “many hands make light work”. Left alone, we will create what the bankers fear most: a society that has no use for them.

So tell me, what policy changes will make that happen? What congressional issues will bring that about? What candidate will promote the path towards his own irrelevance? This movement is about People over Profit, and People over Politics. Not even everyone inside the movement realizes how far this can go.

Left alone, we will have a working alternative in place before the next derivative market collapse, before the USD loses its reserve currency status… and when the western economy fails, all the go-along-to-get-along bystanders will simply walk away from a non-functioning political-economic system into a fully functioning one. No depression. No panic. No Mad Max “every man for himself!” dystopia. No totalitarian mandates. No martial law. No need for a new global centralized government or its security force or its currency. Just people working with people for the sake of people. -kishind

Thanks for commenting Kishind. It is difficult for business people to understand the unconventional (to us) organizing principle of OWS. Bottom-up is definitely not the norm in business – as I’m sure you are aware. Thus, we find issues of leadership cloudy. Simultaneously, the fact that these events keep growing in number and size is tantamount to some level of success via the unorthodox approach. I think businesses can learn from this leadership/management approach. However, it will be helpful the more people communicate how it works – so it might be understood better and replicated successfully.

Your goals, such as a strong monetary system and maintaining the U.S. Dollar as a reserve currency are things most business leaders would likely support. Where business leaders struggle is interpreting how “many hands make light work” turns into a jobs policy. Where would you like to see government investments? What policies would help “the 99%” achieve employment and move toward an end to homelessness, poverty and hunger — all goals I think every business leader would endorse?

If you and others can help push toward recommendation specificity I believe it will help those in the business community understand how to interact more effectively with the OWS cause. – Adam

Your reply amuses me immensely. You’re still trying to see how all this could fit inside or merge with the system as it currently exists.

I’m sorry but I’ve lost all faith in the ability of the current power structure to make effective changes. We have a bought congress on both sides of the aisle. We have the wealthiest people in the world subjugating government not for the sake of greater material wealth, but to achieve ever-greater ever-more-centralized control. Seedless crops are a perfect example. It’s not about the money; it’s about creating artificial scarcity in the food supply. It’s about destroying any hope of independence from the corporate behemoths. You have to invert the pyramid – oil subsidies for oil giants and crop subsidies for agribusiness giants are destroying any chance of a new competitor, and friendly competition drives efficiency and innovation.

So when I make these suggestions, don’t get the impression that any of them have a chance with the people and systems of power on this planet. The most essential issue here is that these suggestions DO NOT SERVE THE BOTTOM LINE. As long as that is the primary motivation in our organizational systems, they can’t happen.

Let’s start with the reserve currency. I don’t want the USD to retain that power. The defense of reserve currency status is the real motivation behind the invasion of Iraq – Saddam wanted Euros for oil. That motivation was used to murder over a million Iraqis and litter their land with poisoned weapons (depleted uranium rounds). The strength of one money over another is irrelevant. Does an American farmer that produces two tons of grain produce more value than a Nigerian farmer that produces two tons of grain? The trade imbalance leads to fuel-wasting imports and exports, and can even lead to the starvation of the neighbors of that Nigerian farmer. Money needs to reflect productivity, and by that measure the entire financial industry doesn’t get any, as they do not produce anything. A non-transferability of labor credit eliminates both panhandling and financial traders.

Thanks to technology (computers and automation), people are increasingly freed from monotonous or dangerous work. Rather than using this for layoffs and profits, this would be used to reduce working hours across the board with no change or even increase in weekly pay. While we wait for technology to eliminate work in the health industry, there should be no cost (or even pay the student) for attending education that leads to more doctors and nurses.

Business leaders turn their businesses into democratic co-op models and step down from leadership to join the workforce. Now that the business has no leaders, only workers, the “many hands” policy is easily understood.

So-called “free energy” has been a reality for a long time, possibly as far back as Tesla – at the very least, he was incredibly close. JP Morgan refused to let that happen, since there was no way to limit distribution of this electrical energy – when you have all the material wealth you could desire, you aim for tighter control. We don’t need fossil fuels AT ALL.

The whole system has been set up to consume the planet like cancer and treat the workers like slaves. That is what is rewarded in $ terms. We need a fundamentally different understanding of VALUE. Now, at the small scale money works fairly well, like Newtonian physics. If the only businesses were small businesses, we might not even see these problems. But once you reach relativistic conglomerates, the abuse of the planet and the people is inevitable (because again, the bottom line is served this way). And the people who are TRULY successful in this system, where the wants for material wealth in any form is trivial, are people who will never, ever change the system that got them where they are today. To quote an anonymous senator, “The system isn’t perfect, but it’s the one that got ME elected.”

So again it comes down to this issue: what’s good for people is bad for stockholders. It’s bad for short-term profitability. The BP oil spill happened because the proper safety procedures were expensive. Bad for the bottom line. Decentralized means of production, as public as the library, is bad for bottom lines, and bad for GDP, but good for people. We have to let go, as a species, of our modern understanding of money. Business leaders and politicians are not capable of doing that now. #Occupiers are. So they need to be left alone to create a society that has morality built into its very fabric.

Facilitation training (for GA-style direct democracy) is free on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WfTf2db6YfI). So are videos explaining the variety of hand gestures that expedite the process. These are the issues of (non-)leadership. The approach is publicly available knowledge. It gives everyone a voice. The facilitator has the only unequal voice, and the person who holds that position changes daily.

So here’s my actual, specific recommendation. Assign a handful of cops to each occupation. Their job is to protect the citizens from violent and criminal elements. #Occupy has a good neighbor policy, a non-violence policy, and a sobriety policy, but they cannot legally take over police duties. Every major city can spare a few cops, the way the police state is going. Then, join or watch. That’s all.

We don’t have a strong monetary system. The USD will not maintain its position as the reserve currency. The economy will not survive the next derivative crash. We are nearly past the point of unpayable federal debt. You and I, we can’t affect these things. But we can replace these things. We organize through paper and imagination. Is it so radical to suggest different paper, and different imagination? Maybe it is for now, but just wait a few years. I can’t predict the exact timing of the coming financial apocalypse, but I can see the signs, and I understand that no politician or business leader will take effective action to prevent it. #OWS is just giving us a model for post-apocalyptic society. You’re welcome. – kishind

Financial freedom is when the world becomes a moneyless society

I plan to contribute to the moneyless society movement by sifting through the thousands of material available through the internet and summarizing all ideas into simple, easy to understand articles that will (hopefully) be more accessible to others. This will be the placeholder for this project.

To start, I have bookmarked some websites that have good material regarding the movement. I’ve noticed that the movement is gaining ground and is starting to become mainstream. However, I’ve also noticed that the movement, just like any large organization, has started to fracture into different factions with differing views on how to achieve our goal of a moneyless society.

My hope is that we can encourage differing opinions and plans of action and yet maintain solidarity on the one thing we all agree on – that money needs to go and that we need to build a more sustainable way of living.

Self-regulating greed, SC authority, and PNOY wasting PEOPLE POWER

Self -regulation is an oxymoron where profits are concerned. Wall street has proven it, banks have proven it, and now media, too. Self-regulation cannot work when greed is in the equation. So let me ask the network executives: how do you propose you’ll regulate your –own greed? Right. Didn’t think so.


hurrah for this commentary The Church, demonization and democratic debate


Raul Pangalanan pointed out something very important regarding the Supreme Court’s decision to issue a status quo order on the impeachment proceedings against Merceditas Guttierez in his column The Constitution as political football

If the problem is the constitutional bar on the second impeachment proceeding, then the worst scenario—in other words, the alleged irreparable injury that the injunctive relief is supposed to prevent—is that that second complaint will proceed. There is absolutely no danger that the first complaint could be invalid, because there is no constitutional ban on a first impeachment proceeding. The freeze-order could have limited itself to the second complaint. After all, the two complaints had been separately voted upon and separately adopted by the House committee on justice. It’s not as if these had been conjoined together as one and were inseparable.

I wonder how the Supreme Court plans to explain its way out of this bind.

First, it breaches separation of powers by interfering in a case where its decision isn’t needed. Guttierez’ right isn’t in any way being violated. She’s still free to defend herself, she’s still free to clear her name. No grave abuse of power in the part of Congress. I thought you only go to the Supreme Court as a “last resort” when all legal remedies have failed. Not as a first resort to hide from a perfectly legal proceeding being initiated against you.

Second, it now threatens contempt against Congress if Congress ignores the status quo order. It has the gall to threaten contempt acting as if the Supreme Court ranks higher than Congress, a “co-equal branch.”

Third, but perhaps the most important, the Supreme Court does not realize that it has NO POWER AT ALL from which it can draw it’s authority when a constitutional crisis occurs except for the moral authority it possesses which only the people can confer. The Supreme Court loses that, it becomes nothing but a court composed of 15 asses possessing no authority people will follow. It doesn’t even have the might of arms to enforce its decisions.

You provoke a constitutional crisis, who do you think people will follow? Your decisions are meaningless if it cannot be enforced. Enforcement is only possible with arms. Between the Supreme Court or the President, who do you think police and military will follow? At least some congressmen can boast of private armies. Justices would be lucky to have a couple of bodyguards.


PNOY still does not get it. He cannot govern effectively if he will not tap PEOPLE POWER. The people  are all itching to fight the good fight. All of us are screaming inside ourselves to be rid of this putrid culture of corruption eating away the very fabric of our society. And what does he do? He plays pansy. Every move he makes is as if he fears being overthrown by the forces of evil and corruption still in power. You won by over a fucking 5.7 million votes! Do you know what that means? Do you?

That means that you cannot just simply be overthrown unless you lose the support of those millions who voted for you. Even Congress cannot just force impeachment down people’s throat especially if it does so for the very obvious reason that you will be taking away its pork barrel.

But you did not do it. Even during your inaugural speech, the “explosive” statement I was waiting to hear from you was the fighting words: I will remove the pork barrel even if this costs me my presidency. I expect Congress will try to impeach me. But let them try. I know that the very same people who voted me into power will protect me from these selfish congressmen who will try to impeach me so that they can hold on to their pork barrel.

PNOY, you are not traversing the straight road which you spoke of in your campaign. You’re walking the ambiguous road by playing it safe, electing to compromise instead of going all out against corruption.

What you should realize is that in politics, public perception is everything. By compromising with known crooks and bending rules to gain some imagined political advantage, you slowly lose all the political capital you had when you won. If the public starts to think you’re not what you promised you’d be, that massive base of support that catapulted you to power will slowly whither away, like a fog being blown by the wind.

Don’t be a pansy PNOY. Fight the good fight – or lose the fight altogether.

A confluence of events

Barrack Obama won the White House, inheriting everything lousy that Bush Jr. and the Republicans did to the US. Now, he’s earning the rap for all the bad things happening which was the result of Republican management. The American people gave Bush and the Neo-cons eight years to undo the budget surplus left by Clinton, a Democrat. 4 years for the first term, and another 4 years in re-election. Now, they can’t even wait 4 years to say enough of Obama.

Noynoy Aquino won the Philippine Presidency on the wings of a broad base of support from all classes. Like Obama, he is inheriting a gigantic can of worms left by Arroyo and her ilk. Not even yet 100 days into his Presidency, Aquino is immediately confronted by an ugly incident that marred the start of his administration. The question is, like the Americans, how long will our patience last before we become disillusioned?

That’s what happens when a President inherits a government from a lousy previous administration. You spend your entire term of office just trying to undo all the bad things done to the country that by the end of your term, you realize you haven’t got around to doing what you really promised you’d do.


If you hate religious extremism, then why the hell are you burning the Koran? (or announcing you’re gonna burn it). Aren’t you just displaying religious extremism yourself? History lesson Pastor Jones: Christianity had its Crusades. We have more blood on our religion’s hands than our Muslim brothers have on theirs. And Christianity didn’t just had the Crusades, it also had the Inquisition. More innocent men and women were burned at the stake for charges of devil worship and witchcraft than there are people who died at the Twin Towers. Just putting some perspective into your skewed mind.

And how do you get off with that? Professing faith for Jesus and preaching a gospel of hate?


We have a very big chance to have a clean government. Don’t fuck it up PNOY – and Pinoys. Get involved. Speak up.

I say this now, but if PNOY removes Robredo from his cabinet, he will be effectively turning away a large base of his supporters. They’re the same people who campaigned and voted for him and now are clamoring for him to retain Robredo as DILG secretary.

You just look and see what’s on Robredo’s agenda as DILG Secretary to see that he means to follow PNOY’s “tuwid na daan.” I just wonder if PNOY’s other choices of cabinet secretaries has the same thing in mind.

I have talked with TRAPOS. I have interviewed them. And I know personally that Jesse Robredo is not a TRAPO. He treated me exactly how I expected good politicians to treat a reporter. And for that, he earned my respect.


Perhaps the greatest legacy that the 15th Congress can bequeath us is passing the FOI (Freedom of Information) Bill. This bill has languished long enough in the halls of past congresses. It’s time to make this bill into a law and give the citizens the tool to fight corruption. And I hope this version doesn’t get watered down so much that penalties for refusing access to information is somehow lessened to such a degree it can be considered a walk in the park.

Another proposed bill I support is Escudero’s Senate Bill 2187 – which aims to make it illegal for politicians to name a government project after themselves. I’ve never been an Escudero fan (though my wife is) but I give him credit for proposing this bill. Though I feel this is just another popularity move by Escudero, making him look good to voters (many expect Escudero to run for President next election), I still say: we’ll take whatever good we can out of this, pa-pogi move or not. Thanks Chiz!

and lest I forget, the RH bill too needs to pass before PNOY’s term is over. Damn the church and their protests against the bill. It’s clear they have lost their flock over this debate.


Jueteng issues. walang katapusang Jueteng issue.

Here’s my take on the subject. What’s the difference between Lotto and Jueteng (aside from the mode and way of betting)? Taxes. That’s it. Lotto is taxed and Jueteng is not. It’s the only reason why Lotto is legal. You take Jueteng away from the control of kingpins and gang lords and put it into the hands of the PCSO and you take away the corrupting effect of Jueteng.

It’s the same story as the US Prohibition on alcohol. Prohibition drove the industry undergound and created a black market. Bootlegging ran and flourished because there was a great demand for it. As bootleggers grew in power, they corrupted law enforcement agencies more and more. With the repeal of the Prohibition law, the need to corrupt law enforcement agencies for protection ceased to exist.

I rest my case.

Quirino Grandstand: Anatomy of a Tragedy

For much of the whole day, I was unaware of what was happening in the country. I was busy at work, writing. But at 10 pm, after finishing work, I turned on the TV to watch the news and was shocked by what I was watching.

For those who do not know, a dismissed police officer took a busload of HK tourists hostage and demanded he be reinstated. After 10 hours, the incident ended in bloodshed, with 9 dead, including the hostage taker, dismissed Senior Police Inspector Rolando Mendoza. (for more details, you can read the news here)

As I watched further, my shock turned to rage and then to utter exasperation as I learned how the situation was handled by the authorities. My ire grew as I realized how much damage broadcast media did by not exercising their best judgment.

As the dust settles, and the victims’ families are left to wonder how such senseless killing can happen; how a supposedly calm hostage-taker turned violent and how things can quickly lose control, I’m left to ponder on these points this tragedy has made me realize.

1. Our police still lacks training in hostage situations. Nothing demonstrated this more than the forceful arrest of the hostage taker’s brother. Rule number 1 in a hostage negotiator’s book: NEVER AGITATE THE HOSTAGE TAKER. Whoever ordered the arrest should be summarily dismissed.

2. Ten hours. Ten long hours and no one in the government even thought of issuing a media blackout in the light of the fact that: police movement were being aired live, hampering efforts at tactical positioning. Authorities suspected Mendoza was able to monitor everything through the TV inside the bus. Yet no one even asked the media: pretty please, will you fucking use your minds?

No wonder it took a long time for SWAT to respond when shots were finally fired. They were too far away to act swiftly. In other countries, media blackout is SOP when there are hostage-taking incidents. It should be SOP here too.

3. Network bosses have blood in their hands. Airing tactical police movement. Airing the arrest of Mendoza’s brother. The former hampered police activity, the latter incensed the hostage taker. At the end of the day, someone in each TV station have to be made to pay. With power comes much responsibility. You abused yours.

4. The President issued a statement regarding the incident. As we follow his statement, we learned a few things. One, the authorities believed the situation can be ended peacefully when Mendoza released hostages. Lulled by this, the authorities let down their guard. Two, the authorities are claiming an unknown individual was talking to Mendoza over the phone while he was reading a letter from the Ombudsman promising to review his case. The authorities claim it is this individual  who agitated Mendoza. How they knew he was talking to somebody is beyond me. Perhaps he was talking to his lawyer?

5. The online world exploded with angry and shocked comments regarding the incident. Many were disgusted at how the police handled the situation. A few like me also blamed the media for not exercising their best judgment. Yet somehow, amidst all this, some demented fuck was able to make fun of this situation. Crazier still were the comments on the game. One player commented: i tried playing the game but the Bin Laden Liquor seems to be much more easier. Improvements must be done.

6. HK issued a travel ban against the Philippines. Understandable. As government tries to make the best of the situation, many fear this would affect the country’s tourism. I can only say: WTF? 8 civilians died you insensitive louts, can we put worries about tourism aside? I was half-expecting PNOY to explode when a reporter asked him this question. He should’ve at least been indignant when asked the question. No life can be so trivial as to pale to a country’s tourism worries. What would’ve Boy Abunda said if he was the Dept. Secretary? We wonder.

7. A dismissed police officer possessing a high powered firearm. What happened to surrendering your weapons upon dismissal? The brother too, had a gun. The bus’ driver, had a nail cutter. What are the odds?

8. Psychological profiling and testing is badly needed in PMA and in our police training academies. No police undergrad should ever graduate without passing a very stringent psychological examination. Psychological stress testing should also be done to weed out those who would break under pressure. Admittedly, only sick twist fucks would choose a job which involves killing people.

9. Fastfood was delivered in the early hours of the negotiation. Free advertising for said fastfood chain as their logo was clearly visible in the videos being taken. At one point, I was reminded of the PAGCOR check encashment scandal. Abalos had his “burjer,” the policemen of NCRPO had their 21-M worth of hamburgers, and the hostage taker and the hostages had theirs too. Yes. The Philippines is officially a fastfood nation.

10. Phillipine SWAT – Sorry Wala Akong Training. Sobrang Wala Akong Training. Sorry We Ain’t Trained.

PostScript

11. Just hours after the incident ended, Wikipedia already had a page up about it. In contrast, it took the Aquino administration past midnight to issue a statement.