Election Blues and Failed Promises

It is often easier to fight for one’s principles than to live up with them…. Adlai Stevenson

I’ve been watching elections for quite a stretch in my adult life – Philippine, U.S. and Canadian elections to be exact. Canadian parliamentary elections are slated for October 14 and the U.S. elections November 4. Every election scenario is eeriely familiar – politicians showcasing their grand plans to promote prosperity and the usual promise “to do better” to restore the people’s trust in the government. In truth, everything that comes out of the politician’s mouth during election campaigns are nothing more than horse shit yet poor me, and thousands of gullible citizens like me listen to the dung and crap these people spew into the airwaves. We watch debates and judge candidates of their wit and resolve yet we all know that it’s a sham, a theatrical spectacle designed to delude people and make them believe that there are noble men who are willing to sacrifice their lucrative business careers and opt to receive a quarter of their 7 figure incomes so they can be given the privilege to lead and serve their country.

The Philippines is no exception. Our daily preoccupation is non-stop bickering and throwing of scathing accusations of misgovernance and all forms of tirades to discredit the government in power, every incumbent government for that matter. People are made to believe that principles are being fought for, when in fact it had been proven over and over that changing governments made no difference, for those that fought hard for their principles failed to live with them when given the opportunity.

The recent failure of the U.S. Congress bailout plan is an affirmation that despite the horrific scare of a depression, lawmakers care more about partisan sniping than saving the country from disaster. As one newspaper put it, dissenting Republican congressmen allowed the “entire country to be hurt because they were hurt” by a supposedly injudicious statement of Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi who labeled the bailout a stop gap solution to the Bush administration’s failed policies.

Politicans fight for their principles come hell or high water yet when given the opportunity to govern, fail to live up with them. It is a viscious cycle that happens every 4 years or so. We know it’s a farce but we don’t do much about it. Western countries that call themselves democratic and capitalist are pretty much fucked up like their Asian counterparts, the difference being their people seem content to bask in the halo of their inane prosperity rather than bombing and killing to vent their indignation and frustration .

BLIND DATE

Have you been on a blind date ? Well, here’s something that might interest you. How about going on a blind date and eating your food literally blind ? 🙂 A lady friend of mine who told me about her experience “dining in the dark” in her recent trip to Zurich, Switzerland. She had dinner with a friend, a former “young” actress in the Pinoy cinema. Hey, I am not trying to embellish the story but truth needs to be told 😯 Food is served by servers wearing night vision goggles and consumed by patrons in total darkness. What does one gain by eating pricey food in total darkness? My friend told me it enables one to savor the taste of food much better 🙂 Huh? Methinks it’s just one of those gimmicks, with the likes of the hanging restaurant, to attract people for the experience. I would never dare eat in this joint if I was starving but heck, it would be a real dandy place to go on a blind date when the spookiness might cause you to lose a bit of your inhibitions 🙂 I wish we have one of these restaurants in town. I would love to try it.

I did eat blindfolded once but it was part of a management course on coaching. I was totally deprived of sight and my partner was verbally instructing me the positions of the utensils and dishes and it was truly chaotic. The weird exercise wasn’t done for mere fun but to illustrate the difficulty of coaching and the need for patience which is a necessary ingridient of the endeavor.

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The Capitalist Pig In Me

I’ve always been fixated on the notion that a man’s prosperity is directly proportional to how hard he works to attain such prosperity. In short, for someone who hasn’t inherited a trunk of gold from his ancestors, the only way to succeed is to work his butt off to acquire assets to proudly call his wealth. It follows that a democratic and capitalist society that promotes the virtues of individual initiative is proper and fitting , for such an environment offers a person the much needed latitude to explore his potential and the opportunity to pursue his dreams. Growing up in a capitalist society like Pinas where people had been brainwashed by the proverbial notion of the American Dream, I have seen how the value of government as a primary partner of prosperity diminish and the private sector being hailed as the true agent and purveyor of wealth and prosperity.

When I came to this country, I highly admired the right wing, conservative, pro-business political party agenda because of my unshakeable belief that a government must be run like a business. Working in the corporate world for sometime it was just natural for me to be influenced and blinded by the notion of productivity – less effort for more results, less expense for more profit – there could be no other way. I have survived the trials and tribulations of downsizing and became impervious of its social consequences, convinced that a company must be lean and mean and its loyalty to the almighty dollar the ultimate name of the game.

I lauded political parties that were favorable to businesses and disdained socialist leaning parties that subscribe to the belief that big and strong government is extremely essential, as if people’s lives depended entirely on it. I favored political parties that called for lower taxes and hated those that called for tax increases to boost social assistance programs. I hated the idea of people going on welfare and government subsidy because I never quite understood the concept. From the country where I came from, people never depended on the government for help. If you didn’t work, you didn’t eat – period. I was averse to the idea of my taxes going to those people who don’t work. Deep inside me, I abhorred freeloaders. Heck, if I break my back working to achieve my dreams and wants, why should I support these people who don’t move their butts to support themselves?

After so many years living in this country and witnessing the volatility of politics and the unpredictability of the economy on the global scale, I have come to appreciate more and more the imperfections of society and the unreliable mechanisms that govern it. The Enron imbroglio, the war in Iraq, the oil crisis, the sub-prime mortgage meltdown are examples of the dangers of the wealthy turning a capitalist regime into a plutocracy, distorting the balance of wealth and shattering people’s hopes for a bright future. The trillions of dollars written off by financial institutions all over the world in the sub-prime debacle had shrunk many people’s assets. Many lost their homes, their retirement, their lifetime savings. The root of all of these was the capitalist greed, the desire to amass wealth at every opportunity no matter how risky. Who do they turn to now for help? The government ?

I hated the socialist principles but it was Tommy Douglas, the leader of the first socialist government in Canada and North America for that matter, who introduced and implemented  universal public health care in Canada. It was the socialists who had the fortitude to think that the government must take care of its citizens when they get sick, that everyone, poor and rich alike must be given the same kind of treatment and more importantly, must not be burdened by medical expenses. In a way, the socialist agenda respects the fact that not we are not all equal, that there are the intelligent and not so intelligent among us, there are weak as there are strong, there are wealthy as there are poor, there are the motivated and the discouraged and those who lag must not be left behind and condemned for failing to make the grade.

I am gradually appreciating the virtues of socialism and the notion of a strong government that acts as a social safety net when everything else fails. I believe in the government being a primary partner to prosperity, not only as a universal health care giver and a donor to the underprivileged but also as a catalyst of progress. The capitalist pig in me still believes in prudent fiscal policy and reasonable taxation schemes for businesses and individuals alike. I would like to see an increased presence of socialists in the provincial and federal political arenas not as ruling governments but as strong opposition , to challenge and check the excesses of the capitalist majority agenda. Yes, I admit that I am gradually but cautiously understanding the wisdom of the socialist agenda on the pursuit of equal access and opportunity for all but I am not yet ready to turn into a socialist swine.

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Flashback

flash_2.gifAs I was browsing through my older posts, I found that certain issues I talked about including those I moaned and bitched about had interesting developments. Here’s some of them :

From my Oct 19, 2007 post : ILLEGAL ALIENS TO HAVE DRIVER’S LICENSES

New York Gov. Spitzer’s plan to grant illegal immigrants drivers licenses for increased security, safer roads and an opportunity to bring illegal immigrants “out of the shadows,” backfired and was turned down by the state legislature before the end of last year. It was clearly a risky and utterly unpopular proposal which caused tension and protest within the state government itself. Moreover, the plan got and a very low 30% approval rating from New Yorkers. Looked like public opinion knuckled down the governor to cancel his plan. Frankly, his backing off may have saved his career.

From my Dec 3, 2007 post : POST OFFICE BLUES

I am very glad to say that all the Christmas cards we sent to Pinas last holiday season reached their destinations. My sister in law told us that the delivering postman asked for an acknowledgment signature for every letter delivered. The issue of pilfered mails was reportedly investigated by local reporters and mounds of neglected, opened mails with the contents scattered on the ground were shown on TV. Great news that the postal folks reacted to the criticism and instituted changes. I sincerely hope that these positive changes will continue to happen at the post office 🙂

From my Jan 30, 2008 post : LESS MONEY FOR LESS STRESS

My wife is enjoying her job now – no more irate clients and aggressive sales quotas. But as they say, there is no such thing as a perfect job. Just the other day, a customer came in to update his passbook. In this day and age, only aged and retired folks will bother to come to the branch to do this kind of transaction. Everybody else does online banking. My wife told the old man he had $25,000 in his account whereupon he retorted ” will you marry me then?” LOL 🙂 She replied ” nope, I am married ” and he retorted back ” well, you can always divorce him “. My wife isn’t about to shout harassment even if this was the second instance he bugged her with the same question so the next time she better tell him off – “if you have $25 million maybe ”  😆

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A Typical Breakfast ; My Desktop

breakfast-003.jpgHere’s a typical breakfast for an ordinary working class dude like me – carrot muffin with white cheese, yogurt, banana, a glass of orange juice and coffee ( still in the brew when I took this pic). I would occasionally substitute muffin for a bowl of cereals but this kind of breakfast is good enough to take me all the way to lunch, around 1pm. Tapsilog would be too heavy and quite a luxury for me these days, something I would take along with my buddies after a very early 6am tee off on summer weekends. We usually head out to a Pinoy restaurant and enjoy the tapsilog or longsilog brunch as soon as we finish by 11am.

What about you – what did you have for breakfast today ? 🙂

MY DESKTOP
desktop.jpg I was tagged by SNGLGUY on the desktop meme so here it is – just click on the pic to expand. This is one of the holes at the Mountain Course at the Lake Placid (NY) resort where we stayed last spring. The first time I played I forgot to bring my camera. As I was teeing off the 10th hole from a cliff, I saw a couple of deer grazing off the fairway. It was an amazing scene which I missed ! The next time I played I lugged my rather bulky Fuji S6000fd camera with me which I wasn’t too thrilled to do. I am now absolutely convinced that I need a hi-quality compact point and shoot camera that would easily fit in my pocket. Well, Xmas is on the horizon and I have my sights on the widely acclaimed Fuji Z5fd which won the best ultra-compact digital camera award in Europe. Now I have a Xmas wish to work on 🙂

Illegal Aliens now OK to Have Driver’s Licences

I was just stunned with the news that  Governor Eliot Spizer had ordered his government to start issuing driver’s licences to illegal aliens in the state of New York ! Not too sure about the legal intricacies of such an order ( which I am not prepared to argue about) but I gather that this executive edict did not require state legislation. It was said to be part of Spizer’s election promise and the time for it’s implementation has apparently come.

I am not prepared to take a hard pro nor con side of this debate because Spizer’s rationale seems to focus on the emotional and economic fallout of illegal aliens driving without a legit license and appropriate insurance coverage thereby endagering the lives of its citizens, leaving them no viable option for seeking compensation in event of accidents . What happens if an illegal alien without insurance rams your car? Who would pay for the damages ? This situation had caused insurance companies to raise their rates to protect the public from such occurrences! The economic implication certainly carries weight but the safety factor I think carries the bulk of everyone’s concern. An untrained driver, totally ignorant of driving laws and regulations is a walking time bomb. The governor’s bold decision to bite the bullet and say – we don’t care if you’re legal or not but we want you to get certified to drive like everyone and get yourself covered with approriate insurance – is pretty much the only sensible card left for him to play. Driving without insurance is suicidal. In Ontario the fine is a whopping $5,000 for the infraction.

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STRAIGHT TALK

The Heretic Infidel

Not many people could muster enough bravado to duke it out with an Islamic cleric in an all out, no holds barred debate in front of public television and emerge a winner, at least in the eyes of those people who had been keeping silent for many years, except for Dr. Wafa Sultan, a Syrian-American psychiatrist, activist for Muslim women rights and fearless anti-terrorism crusader. Dr. Sultan, who is also a Muslim seems unwary of the retribution that fundamentalist Islamists might exact on her, with her use of unconstrained yet candid and forceful language that prompted the cleric to call her a heretic on the airwaves.The world had been waiting for someone who could confront the issue head on minus the fear of political incorrectness and harsh backlash and Wafa Sultan chose to do it. We still remember the fatwa and the $5 Million reward the Ayatollah Khomeni of Iran offered for the head of Salman Rushdie when the latter published his controversial novel Satanic Verses, considered an affront to the religion of Islam. Fearing for his life , Rushdie was forced to hide for many years and re-emerged only when the tension had subsided. Dr. Sultan’s crusade against terrorism seems unabated by the pleas from friends and family who fear for her safety.

You may have already seen this but here’s the video of that famous debate on Al-Jazeera TV in Qatar.

 


When It is Thy Time To Go

When you hear a person slip on a banana peel and break his head and die we refer to such as a freak accident, something unusual and senseless that wasn’t supposed to happen. But accidents do happen and the more unlikely it becomes, the more we feel the pain of the tragedy . We dread to see it happen to any human being for that matter. A case of a misstep that resulted in a mishap. Our hearts are filled with a deep sense of loss and our thoughts murmur – ” if only he slowed down and looked he could still be alive today”. Now here’s another scenario. A man driving a car with a passenger in the front seat safely stops at a railroad crossing waiting for the train to pass. He made sure the car was at the right distance from the level crossing. All of a sudden, a speeding Mercedez Benz slams the rear end of his car pushing it onto the path of the moving train. Whammm… Lights out. Theory No 1. It was a Mafia hit. The hit man driving the Mercedes planned the “accident”. Theory No. 2 The driver of the Mercedez was talking on his cell phone, lost his orientation and totally forgot he was driving. Theory No. 3 The driver of the Mercedez was drunk. Whatever – but the outcome was regretfully sad indeed. The driver of the Mercedez deserves to be hanged but does it change the outcome? The man stopping his car on the level crossing did everything right. There was no misstep, no miscalculation on his part. There was absolutely no reason for this to happen. It was just his time to go.