Thursday, October 11, 2007

Crustacean Envy

I just don't understand how ABSCBN News could interpret this survey report by international market research firm, The Nielsen Company to mean that, "the lives of Overseas Filipino Workers and their families have not improved very much"--which was a sound bite on the Wednesday early evening news. Meanwhile the Philippine Daily Innuendo portrays OFW families as lazy lout-abouts just waiting around for the monthly check. Seems they blame the lack of improvement on the fact that some percentage of OFW families eat fast food at least once a week (when they could usefully be part of the SWS hunger stats). They also see something dark in the finding that large numbers of OFW spouses left in the Philippines can afford to quit their jobs and stay at home taking care of things. Maybe it was the materialism of those 800,000 OFW households that spent $12.7 billion last year on homes, cars, appliances, telephones and high-tech gadgetry like mobile phones, digital cameras and home video players, trying, but allegedly failing to improve their lives very much.

But I wonder what exactly is wrong with caring for and feeding the children while waiting for cell phone calls from the OFW family member abroad and the monthly check to pay for rent, food, transportation, education and e-load. In its headline carrying the same news dispatch from Manila regarding the Nielsen survey of OFW families, the London Stock Exchange Market News website put it like this instead: Spending power of Philippines diaspora bulks up middle class (Read it all!) So maybe that's the reason for the crablike sentiments of the mass media--they are feeling crowded out by the lowlier than thou.

Some of the salient facts reported by the Nielsen Co. are: "more than 91 percent of the families of overseas workers receive around 30,000 pesos (677 dollars) a month or less; Of that amount 32.9 percent goes to savings and investments, 8.8 percent to pay off debts and 58.3 percent is used for consumption." Though top real estate firms such as Ayala Corp say 39 percent of their sales are now accounted for by overseas workers, the survey found just 11 percent of these families had credit cards and 39.5 percent called their relatives abroad less than once a week.

Wow! Not bad work at all by the OFWs. They are earning six to seven times minimum wage, saving a third of their income or investing it, drawing down their debts, feeding their kids, have low credit card usage to Ayala's regret and 60% of them call their relatives abroad once a week. Now, that's what I call the rising tide raising all boats, and it is not at all trickle down because that 12.7 billion dollar bonanza is being injected right into the basic unit of society: the family!

Now if only these politicians taxing and spending the living crap out of the OFWs and newspaper columnists insulting them would just get their heads out of their pudendas they might see that it is them not improving very much at all while the OFWs are improving their lives and the ensuring the future of their families away from the evil and oppression of the Archipelago and its potentates and pundits forever slinging mud at each other.

Some people have even made careers of wringing their hands over the tragedy of "broken" or "separated" families among the OFWs--with an immediate segue into some rant about the OFWs lack of nationalism for seeking fortunes abroad, or a resentment of globalization for fueling the diaspora, and other such claptrap. But I think love and Filipino devotion to family, including 12.7 billion dollars of disposable income, can conquer time and distance and ennui. It is certainly much better than the grinding poverty, crime and hopelessness that come from sticking around an archipelago with a failed ruling class served by a media and a government unable to tell fantasy from reality in the nation's way forward.

Come to think of it, I think I know where all this nay saying comes from: ENVY! Just imagine a typical Filipina nurse working in California makes more than most tv anchorpersons and newspaper editors and reporters. No wonder we have so much CRUSTACEAN journalism nowadays when it comes to OFWs.

It is not a phenomenon limited to Filipinos. I was just reading Arthur M. Schlesinger's The Decline of Heroes in which he notes that, "Modern democracy inadvertently gave envy new scope. While the purpose of democracy was to give everyone a fair chance to rise, its method enabled rancorous men to invoke "equality" as the excuse for keeping all down to their own level. Great men make small men aware of their smallness. Rancor is one of the unavowed but potent emoltions of politics; and one must never forget that the envy of the have-nots can be quite as consuming when the haves have character or intelligence as it is when they have merely material possessions."

Perhaps in seeing the OFWs have relatively so much more of material possessions than "the common media man"--it has become necessary to strip them of those qualities others often extol the OFWs for: industry, love of family, self-sacrifice, and most of all, a demand for their talents by other nations where here they would be the clients of a schadenfreudian pity. Crabs just don't like seeing others succeeding without heeding their advice or seeking their help, I guess.


NINE INCONVENIENT TRUTHS: The London Times reports on the resolution of a case in Great Britain. A Judge is allowing Al Gore's Oscar winning film, An Inconvenient Truth, to be shown at schools, but only with nine inconvenient corrections to errors made "in the context of alarmism and exaggeration."
Error one

Al Gore: A sea-level rise of up to 20 feet would be caused by melting of either West Antarctica or Greenland “in the near future”.

The judge’s finding: “This is distinctly alarmist and part of Mr Gore’s ”wake-up call“. It was common ground that if Greenland melted it would release this amount of water - “but only after, and over, millennia.”

Error two

Gore: Low-lying inhabited Pacific atolls are already “being inundated because of anthropogenic global warming.”

Judge: There was no evidence of any evacuation having yet happened.

Error three

Gore: The documentary described global warming potentially “shutting down the Ocean Conveyor” - the process by which the Gulf Stream is carried over the North Atlantic to western Europe.

Judge: According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), it was “very unlikely” it would be shut down, though it might slow down.

Error four

Gore: He asserted - by ridiculing the opposite view - that two graphs, one plotting a rise in C02 and the other the rise in temperature over a period of 650,000 years, showed “an exact fit”.

Judge: Although there was general scientific agreement that there was a connection, “the two graphs do not establish what Mr Gore asserts”.

Error five

Gore: The disappearance of snow on Mt Kilimanjaro was expressly attributable to global warming.

Judge: This “specifically impressed” David Miliband, the Environment Secretary, but the scientific consensus was that it cannot be established that the recession of snows on Mt Kilimanjaro is mainly attributable to human-induced climate change.

Error six

Gore: The drying up of Lake Chad was used in the film as a prime example of a catastrophic result of global warming, said the judge.

Judge: “It is generally accepted that the evidence remains insufficient to establish such an attribution. It is apparently considered to be far more likely to result from other factors, such as population increase and over-grazing, and regional climate variability.”

Error seven

Gore: Hurricane Katrina and the consequent devastation in New Orleans to global warming.

Judge: There is “insufficient evidence to show that”.

Error eight

Gore: Referred to a new scientific study showing that, for the first time, polar bears were being found that had actually drowned “swimming long distances - up to 60 miles - to find the ice”.

Judge: “The only scientific study that either side before me can find is one which indicates that four polar bears have recently been found drowned because of a storm." That was not to say there might not in future be drowning-related deaths of bears if the trend of regression of pack ice continued - “but it plainly does not support Mr Gore’s description”.

Error nine

Gore: Coral reefs all over the world were bleaching because of global warming and other factors.

Judge: The IPCC had reported that, if temperatures were to rise by 1-3 degrees centigrade, there would be increased coral bleaching and mortality, unless the coral could adapt. But separating the impacts of stresses due to climate change from other stresses, such as over-fishing, and pollution was difficult.
WHAT THE HELL IS GEN. DOLORFINO HIDING? It may be his own role in that sorry Basilan Beheading incident, when he, and the rest of the so-called "peace processors" Sec. Jess Dureza and Gen. Rodolfo Garcia pre-empted local authorities from serving warrants of arrest on their partners in the peace process: the self-admitted ambushmen killers of the MILF and the administration ally, Wahab Akbar, the representative of the Abu Sayyaf in Congress.

AMERICA'S SOLDIER OF THE YEAR IS PINOY FROM GEORGIA Here's a guy that won't hide behind "lapses" or other excuses not to do his duty: Spc. Heyz T. Seeker, of the 75th Ranger Regiment at Hunter Army Airfield in Georgia, won the honor after competing with 12 other soldiers in tests of physical fitness and military skills ranging from marksmanship to first aid. He told the Richmond Times he wants to be the first Filipino American to become the US Army's Sergeant Major. Mabuhay ka, sundalo! (via GMATV News)


Makoy said...

Thanks for visiting my site and leaving a comment. I visited your other sites and I was amazed that you have time to compile them.

Care to exchange links?

DJB Rizalist said...

I've linked Makoy to Philippine Commentary blogroll. I give links to anyone who asks, though there is no guarantee of forever. But there is also no need to reciprocate, unless you want to. Thanks for visiting.

viking said...

On Lomborg, Gore, etc.
I've been following Lomborg's work for some time, and he does make substantial contributions to the debate on climate change, especially in guiding people through all the hysterics. His most important point is the question of priorities and cost-effectiveness in handling the world's most serious problems. We simply can't pour all resources to address the problem, which may not be as bad as the doomsayers predict.
On the other hand, the fundamental flaw in his approach is that he looks at it through the prism of do-gooding donors. To the extent that climate change is a problem, it is one of justice. The developed countries most responsible for the accummulation of GHG's have to pay for the damage and the potential damage, not as a matter of charity.
On Al Gore, Incovenient Truths does contain many untruths. It is good propaganda for the campaigners. But I don't agree with the judicial intervention you feature above.
Right after the screening of Inconvenient Truths, a hearing in the U.S. Congress led by the environment committee, I think, he was the featured 'witness'. At about the same time on the same day, there was another joint hearing on the same issue, led by trade and industry commitees, but featuring Lomborg. The former had mostly Democrats in attendance, and the latter Republicans. Most of the questions were ideologically loaded. I think people have to dispense with ideological lenses to approach this problem properly
I do assert that misrepresentations and hysterics do damage the credibility of efforts to solve the problem. This is why I criticized the waste recycling advocacy of the PDI, which you fondly call the Philippine Daily Innuendo, as garbage, because it over-exaggerated' the potential savings or benefits.

DJB Rizalist said...

Great points there. I guess it boils down to really accepting global warming as primarily a scientific and technological problem and not as some would want it to be, a political and ideological one, even if concerted international actions will probably be required to solve it. What I've learned from following Lomborg is the necessity of insisting on careful evaluation of the facts, as well as the proposed solutions and their utility.

Amadeo said...

Political ideology. That is what is essentially fueling those two critical issues highlighted, global warming and the OFW situation.

Philippine media like very much to humiliate the current administration and what better way than to focus on the negative aspects of the exodus. Of which, admittedly there are plenty.

Re global warming discussions, what is ironic is that in spite of all evidences to the contrary, the voices of the alarmists are still stronger. Thus, there is a good likelihood Mr. Gore might bag the Nobel Prize for his efforts. Let’s wait and see. The academy is starting to announce publicly its awardees.

DJB Rizalist said...

Amadeo, and those voices will get much stronger, I guess, if and when Al Gore wins the Nobel Peace Prize.