What are you willing to do to get what you want as an individual or as a nation? Certainly, most everyone says that they want to be rich. But most people are not willing to step outside their “comfort zone” of potentially going to prison to rob a bank.
That might seem an extreme example, but in truth it is not. The reality is that you have to put everything in total context and that is particularly true to a nation.
It is certainly acceptable and maybe even necessary to criticize whatever government you have to put up with. But if you are going to start comparing the Philippines—or any other country for that matter—with another nation, you have to look at and then accept the total package.
Therefore, it becomes completely intellectually dishonest to make comparisons that are out of context. And it is annoying. I find this particularly true when people whine and complain that the Philippines should be more like Thailand or Vietnam. In fact, these people know that they are full of carabao dung because they often say that the Philippines should learn from these two nations and “adopt their best practices.” Again, “best practices” are part of a package.
Granted that I am not a big fan of “democracy” as practiced in the 21st century. I am more into “hereditary absolute monarchy.” I am thinking along the lines of a family-controlled corporation, like the SM or Ayala group of companies. The “hereditary” part comes from building on a long legacy that the “family” wants to continue into the future. You bring in outside directors to offer another perspective but control stays with the people that have a vested interest in the two or three generations. But that is another story, I suppose.
Thailand has a “constitutional monarchy” but, in fact, it is a “military dictatorship.” The elected civilian government lasts only as long as it screws things up, which requires the military to completely take over. It has done it three times since the Philippines’s “Edsa People Power Revolution.”
Every three months—after Vietnam reports its economic numbers, including foreign investment—a large group of Filipinos starts wailing that the Philippines should take Vietnam’s best practices. Like most other nonsense, it looks sort of good on paper, but only if you are willing for some painful gains.
One of their best practices the Philippines could follow is to eliminate private ownership and control of land. In Vietnam, the government owns all the land. That fact really helps in getting public works projects completed quickly. If the government wants to build a highway, they do not have to put up with the costly and time-consuming annoyance of “right-of-way” negotiations. Imagine how quickly Metro Manila transportation could move forward.
Vietnam has a great track record in attracting foreign investment. Of course, foreign investors can import everything they want virtually duty-free. No Vietnamese company is ever going to complain about unequal treatment. Bring in enough foreign money and the government will let you use their land for free.
Another little twist that helps Vietnam’s economy is that a Vietnamese cannot invest abroad or even buy a condo in San Francisco without direct and specific government approval. If you make money in Vietnam, it stays in Vietnam.
So, which best practices should we adopt to have higher growth and more foreign investment? The Philippines would, probably, have to start by doing away with that “free election” idea. And any criticism of the government would have to stop also. But as we all know, “no pain, no gain.”
E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit my web site at www.mangunonmarkets.com. Follow me on Twitter @mangunonmarkets. PSE stock-market information and technical analysis tools provided by the COL Financial Group Inc.