Wednesday, March 08, 2006

GMA Replays her Dad

What will another Macapagal presidency be like?
By Aya Fabros, CYBERDYARYO, November 16, 2000

WHAT WE FILIPINOS SHOULD KNOW: Some of us think and believe that our inherited economic and political systems need radical changes if we were to see them work for the common good. Thus, to concentrate and/or to place blame on individual personalities of the power elite as the only causes of our predicament would not be completely addressing the fundamental issues.

But then, we sometimes have to discuss a specific regime if only to highlight or demonstrate the kinds of governance that have facilitated the social, economic and political regressions in our homeland. And there are many in our national history and current crop of public officials who, with their decisions and actions, were and are in effect traitors to the native Filipino people of the past, present and future generations.

From Diosdado Macapagal to Ferdinand Marcos, Cory Aquino to Fidel Ramos, Joseph Estrada to Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, them all while with political power duped the citizenry and prepared the homeland for: its plunder by themselves with help from cronies and relatives, the preservation and expansion of their economic power, the demise of our productive sectors and further exploitation of our national patrimony by their resident alien friends and transnationals.

By following the path towards absolute free trade (aka economic liberalism, economic globalization or neocolonialism) for much of the 60 years continuing past, it may be said that we Filipinos really deserve our endless and deepening national miseries because we have never wanted to recognize that we made and are still making a mistake; and/or that we have an irrational fear of not following economic liberalization, as dictated by the IMF/WB/ADB, enforced via WTO rules -designed by the G7 for poor countries to follow (but not necessarily followed by the same G7/rich nations). With economic liberalism came the powerful but subtle cultural globalization to bolster our already damaged culture.

As long as we have Americanized minds in the leadership of our government and social institutions; and among the educated citizenry, we will always have similar minded people in power positions whose honest and primary concerns do not coincide with our homeland's national interests, that is, not of the native Filipino people. Such leadership will continue rationalizing and perpetuating the dictates of their foreign masters at our peoples' expense.

Sadly, we Filipinos have no patience nor desire to think, to revisit and learn from the past, telling ourselves to forget our history, always itching to "move on" but carrying along our cultural baggages filled with colonial mentality and dependence.

Consequently, we end up continually reinventing the wheel, wasting effort/time, i.e. windows of opportunities for domestic economic development (of comparative advantages that have melted and disappeared); and repeatedly stumble on the same disastrous and compounded errors of the past. Thanks to our unFilipino leaderships and to our ignorance and denial of history.

The below Cyberdyaryo article, now a bit dated but very relevant to today's news, shows us the traitorous attitude and outlook, deceitful ways and lip service of the present regime. The commentaries and predictions of Alejandro Lichauco, Jr. and Renato Constantino are being proven correct.

What luck for rulers that men do not think" - Adolf Hitler

"If the people are not completely free and happy, the fault will be entirely their own." - George Washington, shortly after the end of the American Revolution

"The selfish spirit of commerce knows no country, and feels no passion or principle but that of gain" - Thomas Jefferson, 1809

"You show me a capitalist, I'll show you a bloodsucker" - Malcolm X, 1965

""Capitalism and altruism are incompatible; they are philosophical opposites; they cannot coexist in the same man or in the same society" - Ayn Rand, 1961

"The chief business of America is business" - President Calvin Coolidge, 1925

"The glory of the United States is business" - Wendell L. Willkie, 1936

"What else do bankers do -- walk-in and turn-off the lights in the country." - William Slee, 1978
What will another Macapagal presidency be like?
By Aya Fabros,
CYBERDYARYO, November 16, 2000

On the threshold of the presidency, Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo believes she is her father's daughter.

.....It is not yet clear what she stands for as a politician and as a leader. What is certain so far is that she overwhelmingly won the two electoral races she has taken part in--for senator and for vice president--some say, largely on the basis of her family name. (Partly for looking somewhat like Nora Aunor, others would add.)

.....She is, after all, a daughter of the late former President Diosdado Macapagal. On more than one occasion, when asked what kind of president she would make, she would invariably say with obvious pride: "[You] can look at my father. I am my father's daughter in almost every sense, personally and politically."

.....Nationalist economist Alejandro Lichauco Jr. agrees that, indeed, Gloria has taken after her father, but he says this in an entirely different context that is not likely to elate the Vice President.

....."You must understand history for you to know Gloria Macapagal," Lichauco told PNI in an interview on Monday, November13.

Strong parallelisms?
.....He noted "too many strong parallelisms" between experiences of previous administrations, including the Macapagal administration of the early 1960s, and the current national crisis. "It's a historical continuum, everything is connected," he said.

....."Before her father, we had a very nationalistic economic policy, implemented by currency and import controls. That was imposed for about ten years. We became the number one economy in Asia because of that," he said.

.....What happened during the Macapagal administration?
....."We were not number one during her father's time," Lichauco said. "That's when we started going down. But since we were way up, it took a while for our fall to take effect."

Major issues in 1961Diosdado Macapagal, then the vice president, ran against reelectionist President Carlos P. Garcia in 1961 on the issue of widespread corruption and loss of confidence in the government. While currency and import controls enforced by previous administrations reflected a nationalist policy, these had created opportunities for graft and corruption in high and low places, with government officials using their positions to sell import licenses.

.....Left at the sidelines during Garcia's and the Nacionalista reign, Macapagal of the Liberal Party toured the countryside "denouncing the Garcia administration as wasteful and riddled with graft and corruption," Teodoro Agoncillo wrote in the History of the Filipino People.

.....By Agoncillo's reckoning, the nationalist stance of President Garcia and his "Filipino First Policy" failed to meet the expectations of the Filipino electorate. "In desperation, the people voted Macapagal into office. He immediately set the machinery of the government in motion to implement his socio-economic integrated program by doing away with the economic controls and, significantly for the agrarian economy, by pushing through Congress the Land Reform Code."

.....In his first State of the Nation address on Jan. 22, 1962, Macapagal outlined before Congress the objectives of his socioeconomic program: 1) immediate restoration of economic stability; 2) alleviation of the common man's plight; and 3) the establishment of a "dynamic basis for future growth."

.....Five goals were set:
Reduction of unemployment.
Self-sufficiency in two staples, namely, rice and corn.
Creation of conditions that will provide more income to the people'income for those who have none and more income for those whose earnings are inadequate for their basic needs.
Establishment of practices that will strengthen the moral fiber of the nation and reintroduce those values that invigorate democracy.
Launching of a bold and well-formulated socioeconomic program that shall place the country on the road to prosperity.

From "Filipino First" to free enterprise
.....The people's disillusionment and their cry for change made it easy for Macapagal, who gained American support during the elections, to switch to a "free enterprise" policy of decontrol and devaluation from Garcia's "Filipino First Policy"

....."On January 21, 1962, President Macapagal, proclaiming his faith in the virtues of free enterprise, lifted exchange controls," wrote Renato Constantino in The Continuing Past.

.....Macapagal explained in his State of the Nation address: "The urgency of the problems of the present definitely calls for drastic changes in our monetary, fiscal and exchange policies". We have taken the measure of genuine decontrol for the well-being of our people."

.....Licenses were no longer required for imports, the only condition being that imports must be covered by letters of credit, accompanied by special time deposits.

IMF-World Bank imprimatur
.....The new President said his decision had the prior approval of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. He also proudly announced that the US government and private banking institutions had committed $304 million as a stabilization fund to support his decontrol program.

....."Macapagal's decontrol program set off a process which successively depressed the living standards of the ordinary citizen, wiped out many infant industries owned by Filipinos and with them the hope that Filipinos would eventually dominate their own economy," Constantino wrote.

.....He also said "the Central bank floated the peso in the free market until the rate reached P3.90 to a dollar."

Blow to Filipino enterprises
.....Decontrol put an end to the protection of Filipino enterprises. "As soon as exchange controls were lifted, American corporations remitted out of the country around $300 million representing profits they had accumulated and which they had not been able to repatriate under exchange controls," Lichauco wrote in his book Nationalist Economics.

.....After remitting their profits in dollars, foreign companies borrowed pesos from local financial institutions to finance their operations, thus depriving Filipino businessmen of already scarce credit resources. This scarcity was made worse by the IMF demand that the government impose a restrictive credit policy.

.....Profit remittances and virtually unrestricted imports seriously depleted international reserves, creating further dependence on the US and on the international financing agencies. "The Philippines was trapped in a vicious cycle in which low reserves made the government seek so-called "stabilization loans" from US-dominated international banks and lending institutions which in turn enforced conditions that further depleted these reserves," Constantino said.

.....In theory, devaluation inhibits expensive imports and encourages exports with a promise of larger profits; hence, the argument that devaluation hastens national growth. In practice, however, Constantino said, "devaluation, given the historical circumstances obtaining in the country, becomes only another weapon for greater control of the national economy by foreign business interests."

....."One of the clearest examples of how devaluation worked against Filipino industries and in favor of foreign-owned enterprises was the case of Filoil Corporation, set up in 1959 by Filipino entrepreneurs to break the hold of international oil companies on oil refining and marketing," Constantino said.

....."To ensure a supply of crude oil imports and technical aid, a minority share allowance was given to the US Gulf Oil Company. But decontrol and a tight government credit policy plus the competitive efforts of international oil companies to get a larger share of the market finally drove Filoil to bankruptcy in 1964. It was taken over by Gulf Oil."

Independence rhetoric
.....Constantino said the Macapagal administration sought to foster "the appearance of greater independence" while at the same time "inaugurating a new stage of dependence" by acceding to US wishes for decontrol and evaluation.

....."President Macapagal reinforced this illusion of Philippine sovereignty by moving the celebration of Philippine independence from July 4 to June 12," he said.

.....Unfortunately, Macapagal did not go beyond his "independence" rhetoric. According to Constantino, Macapagal's "foreign policy remained basically pro-American while his domestic economic policy faithfully followed the program outline by the IMF and the World Bank."

....."The Macapagal years were actually both the culmination of the postwar cycle of neocolonial policies and the beginning of a new cycle of neocolonial practices with deep and far-reaching effects on the life of the nation," Constantino wrote.

.....Aside from opening up the country to free enterprise, President Macapagal launched a land reform program to remedy the desperate situation in the countryside.

.....The Land Reform Code (Republic Act 3944) was considered an improvement on previous land legislation. It sought to establish an agricultural leasehold system to abolish share tenancy. But the code was riddled with legal loopholes favorable to landlords.

.....Despite his efforts, "Macapagal's administration failed to arrest the spiraling of prices, smuggling, criminality and graft and corruption," Agoncillo said. "He was now in the situation of former President Garcia whom he defeated in 1961."

....."The continued rise in the prices of consumer goods, the seemingly insoluble problem of peace and order, the rampant graft and corruption, and the continued smuggling of dutiable goods, led the people, particularly the common man, to believe that the Macapagal administration was inept."

....."Senate President Ferdinand E. Marcos, who had in the meantime affiliated with the Nacionalista Party and had been nominated by this party as its presidential candidate, raised practically the same issues Macapagal raised against Garcia. Marcos like Macapagal was elected by the people in a surge of new hope that he could change the social and economic scene for the better," wrote Agoncillo.

.....This must be the "historical continuum," of everything being "connected," that Lichauco talked about.

....."By 1965, three years after Macapagal was elected, we were in a political crisis, very similar to today's," Lichauco said. "From 1950 to 1962, we were posting a growth rate annually of 6-7 percent. During the time of Macapagal, our growth rate plunged to about 4.5 percent. That is why a crisis arose then. In the elections of 1965 he was beaten by Marcos."

Similar agendas
.....The similarities between the agenda of then-President Macapagal and his daughter are striking, going by the four-point agenda that Vice President Arroyo outlined in an interview with the Sunday Inquirer Magazine (November 5, 2000 issue).

.....Asked about her main concerns, the Vice President said: "Poverty, globalization: the need to be able to compete and also to provide safety nets, backwardness and inequity in our agricultural sector in our rural areas, deteriorating moral standards in government and in society, the politics of personality and patronage rather than programs and consultation with the people."

....."Addressing these precisely is what my own four-point agenda is made up of," she said. "The first one, with regard to poverty"? it's all related. When we talk about the 21st century, for the businessman to compete in the 21st century, he needs transparency and a level playing field. Because that's the way he can compete in the global world. But also, we have the potential of information technology and we should maximize that through the development of the needed physical infrastructure, the legislative, and policy environment and also human resource development.

....."Second, with regard to the problem of poverty that we have inherited from the past, here the tools are not so much computers and capital markets; the tools are safety nets for those affected by globalization, asset reform, concern for the environment.

....."The third one is modernization and equity in the agricultural sector.

....."The fourth one is to improve moral standards in government and in society through transparency in all transactions in all levels of government and the leadership by example. The other one is promoting an ethic of effective implementation in the bureaucracy."

Economic liberalization
.....Like her father, Vice President Arroyo favors economic liberalization. As senator, she co-authored 55 economic laws, including those in support of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and the World Trade Organization, which many sectors have opposed.

....."Free enterprise, they're doing it again. This free trade that brought us down," Lichauco said, referring to past and present government leaders.

....."And this time, it is not only we who are protesting (against free trade). The whole world [is]. In Seattle, in Prague. The problem with these people is that the facts are staring them in the face and they won't acknowledge it. They will never admit they made a mistake. And it is the people who suffer," he pointed out.

.....Lichauco called for no less than a sweeping change in governance. "If it were up to me, they both should go," he said, referring to both President Estrada and Vice President Arroyo. "They all have to go. Take out all the traditional politicians from the government, and let the people's organizations, the farmers, the students, etc. decide."

.....As for Vice President Arroyo being her father's daughter, Lichauco said: "If she will just repeat what her father did, then she [had] better not [aspire for the presidency]."

.....He urged Filipinos to learn from the country's past. "History repeats itself for people who never learn their lessons," he warned.

—Pan-Philippine News and Information Network


“The HISTORY of an oppressed people is hidden in the lies and the agreed myth of its conquerors.” - Meridel Le Sueur, American writer, 1900-1996

Neocolonialism - The dominance of strong nations over weak nations, not by direct political control (as in traditional
colonialism), but by economic and cultural influence.

"In order to read the destiny of a people, it is necessary to open the book of its past" - Dr. Jose P. Rizal

"Upang maitindig natin ang bantayog ng ating lipunan, kailangang radikal nating baguhin hindi lamang ang ating mga institusyon kundi maging ang ating pag-iisip at pamumuhay. Kailangan ang rebolusyon, hindi lamang sa panlabas, kundi lalo na sa panloob!" --Apolinario Mabini, La Revolucion Filipina (1898)

“The true Filipino is a decolonized Filipino.” – Renato Constantino


Anonymous said...

Hi Bert (may I call you Bert):
Thanks for bringing up this piece.

(I knew Tato Constantino both as a professor in FEU when I was a student, and as fellow member of the National Press Club. We were both life members of the Club. I worked briefly with Ding Lichauco in the Congressional Economic Planning Office of the late Speaker Jose B. Laurel and we're good friends).

The one phase of development that is never quite stressed in our national push forward since the Americans came at the turn of the last century is:EDUCATION.

In fact our education was in-ward looking. Even now in the age of globalication, we are as a people--and it is truly the fault of our leadership--are almost unaware of the daily events out there in the region and the whole world. Media partly shares this blame (in my books, at least) because the Philippine newspapers devote only less than six percent of their total pages for foreign news and events' analyses.

What exacerbates this further is the shortage of critical thinking numbers in our population. We do not have a reading people; they prefer, even now, to watch and be entertained by--and laugh at--comedies and sitcoms totally irrelevant to national development.

Education is dynamic and must be conducted to teach the Filipino student how to survive international economic competition primarily, serving only our national interests.

There are only a few leaders in our history who had the truly broad nationalistic fibers in their
decisions and actions I can think about. Most of them are either limited in their visions or mere prisoners of the warped and narrow concepts of democracy,freedom and governance which gave rise to corruption and greed--the present leadership included.

When Carlos P. Romulo was U.P. president I verbally suggested that there be an exclusive Filipino information service for Philippine enterprises,educational institutions and the Government to source out strategic development data. It would have equipped us with information vital to help business and industry, the academe and the government in their tactical moves.

I was willing to leave my job as
Associated Press and Dow Jones correspondent to work on it. But it was not a priority for the late President Marcos so we never got past the thinking and talking stages.

Thanks. Gil H. A. Santos

Bert M. Drona said...

Hello Gil,

Thanks for your response. I wonder how it was being a student of "Tato."

I heartily agree with you about our most important area of neglect: education. In times of peace, in times of rebellion or in times of revolution, education of the "masses," i.e. majority of the populace is imperative.

Education of course to teach about knowledge and skills to have a means of livelihood/professions AND also as you alluded to, the ability to critically think, i.e. not just about technical problems in one's specialty but as it applies to society: politics, political economy, religion, etc..

As you correctly observed, we have and are still continuing the "dumbing of the Filipino" by the lack of meaningful products in the media, especially radio and TV, the two most powerful cultural means of influences/transfers. Most of what we have are means of "escapes."

I am at a loss how we can peacefully redirect our educational system given the present economic predicament, corruption in the system itself (one of the most per PCIJ) and the kinds of public officials we have in the last 2 decades. The few nationalists in public office and in our institutions seems to have vanished, most belonging to a dying generation. It is alarmingly sad since much fewer seem to be carrying their torch of nationalism.

Globalization, though it has worked well in many countries, has not really worked well in our case. How can it work for us when our national economy is still, and much worse now, controlled by resident aliens now legalized Filipino citizens for business conditions and who do not really empathize with the native Filipino; by TNCs and their few local partners. Economic globalization via WTO is great for the rich countries and their TNCs; not for small fry like us. Our 10 year involvement in it shows its dire results on our people and society: increasing and expanding impoverishment, deteriorated institutions, mass closures of factories and unemployment in agriculture and industry, etc. The mortgaging of our future generations.

We as a people are virtually ignorant of the influences and conditionalities that the IMF/WB/ADB etc have on our educational system, especially public (I have a posting on it: ).

We have closed our minds to other ideas, ideology, etc and what do we have to show to ourselves and our future generations, nothing but misery and emptiness, in body, mind and soul.


PS. His granson has a new book to be launched this month: ;


Anonymous said...

Hi! Bert

I've read Alejandro Lichauco's Nationalist Economics fifteen years ago. I've been impressed by its patriotic perspective but time hasn't proven it to be correct. It hasn't had sufficient recourse to systematic data analysis, especially, of other economies used for comparison. The conclusions have been based largely on incomplete observations.

By the way, we still have to experience real free trade in this country. The economy has always been regulated, unfortunately, to favor narrow interests. Even partial deregulation started during Cory Aquino's term has resulted to phenomenal growth rates. The momentum has been derailed by the series of coups that followed. Until now a number of major industries are still protected such as sugar, shipping, plastic resins, airline, cement and banking.

I've great respect for Renato Constantino. His son RC is a friend of mine. His The Untold History of the Filipino People has been a great eye opener for our generation who've earlier been fed with historical rubbish. Renato Constantino though is not an economist and is unfamiliar with the broad spectrum of the subject.

I prefer to base my conclusions on the work of economist Michael Porter. As I've mentioned in my earlier posting, he has conducted a systematic ten-year study of economies around the world. His Competitive Advantage of Nations is unquestionably more authoritative.

Michael Porter has observed that nations with liberal economies are more highly competitive than those with regulated economies. Internal competition has enabled local industries to acquire the competitive skills necessary for success in the global market. This learning experience is not available in nations with regulated economies.

Michael Porter has also observed that highly competitive nations have built their economies on their primary internal factor endowments from which most people also derived their livelihood. This has enabled a great majority of people to benefit from economic growth. It has also created a dynamic domestic market from which local industries could thrive and be competitive in the global market.

We need not look far to validate this study. The Philippines have abandoned agriculture, its primary internal factor endowment, tried to move ahead to industrialization with import substitution. In contrast, our close ASEAN neighbors Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam have chosen to patiently develop their primary internal factor endowments first before moving on to industrialization.

Singapore has relied on its strategic location and human capital to attract investors to locate their production plants in the country. Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam have invested on their rich agricultural resource benefiting a great majority of their people.

The results can speak for themselves. The Philippines, once the most developed country in Asia next to Japan, now lags behind its close ASEAN neighbors. All we can show for our import substitution strategy are inefficient industries that can't survive without state protection and an impoverished agriculture sector.

Protected industries are a burden to the economy. Take for instance the sugar industry. Ninety-nine percent of the processed food industry use sugar as a raw material. We in the processed food industry and the ordinary consumer as well are forced to buy local sugar at twice the world market price.

The outrageous price of local sugar keeps us from being competitive against foreign products and in the global market. Our industry has more added value and deeper economic multiplier effect than the sugar industry. We employ more people and ninety percent of our inputs are sourced locally. We have more added value and deeper economic multiplier effect than the circuit board assemblers in the export processing zones that are afforded with all sorts of incentives.

The error having been made, the Philippines must learn from experience and make the necessary adjustment. Agrarian reform must be pursued. Overhead capital investment must be re-channeled to agriculture where most people are employed. Inefficient industries must either sink or swim in a level playing field that rewards competence.

Adjustment must also take into account the social cost. There must be a reasonable phase-out period for protection and adequate safety nets for displaced workers. Capitalists need no assistance. They have sufficient resources to carry on.

The experience of Germany can serve as a rough model since our country is not as rich. Having been threatened by cheap Korean steel imports, the German steel industry has lobbied for state protection. Government has refused to accede to its demands and prepared for the inevitable. Workers displaced from the local steel industry have been provided with unemployment compensation, skills training for placement in thriving industries and relocation assistance.

Unable to compete with cheap Korean steel imports, the German steel industry has shifted to producing high quality steel that employed non-polluting technology. The result has been beneficial to all particularly to the German people. They can buy cheap imported Korean steel as well as high quality steel for their various needs. Their environment is cleaner. Workers have been provided with more opportunities for employment.

In view of Michael Porter's study, I agree that participating in a free but fair world trade regime is best for the country over time. Our economy must ultimately liberalize to bring out the best in us. The problem is that the WTO isn't fair. Wealthy nations impose unrealistic demands on poorer nations for quick adjustment while exempting themselves from the same. Together with other nations, we must fight every unfair imposition that comes our way.

Nations must be allowed to liberalize at their own phase. They must not be compelled to follow a rigid schedule. The varying capacities of nations for adjustment and for providing safety nets must be taken into account. Nations must also learn to realize and appreciate the benefit of free trade on their own instead be being forced into it. Economic development must serve people and not the other way around.

By the way, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam are adopting carefully managed economic liberalization. This is the way to go for the Philippines. No rushing pell mell into the fray as with WTO. The country must learn from every experience and fine tune its approaches. Social costs must be avoided at all times. Singapore, with competitive high technology industries and sufficient resources for social safety nets, has no more need for trade protection.

Protectionism has worked in Taiwan, South Korea and Japan. Their industries, earlier protected, has reinvested earnings in improving competitiveness and are now major players in regional and world trade in a free market regime. It hasn't served us well in the Philippines because of the greed and lack of patriotism of our economic elite. They've merely pocketed their earnings and allowed their industries to lag behind in competitiveness. The former PLDT under the Cojuangcos, shippinng, banking and sugar are notorious examples of this greed.

Don't you know that shipping rates from Mindanao to Metro Manila is twice more expensive than Thailand to Metro Manila which three times farther away? Among others, corn farmers in Mindanao who are among the poorest of the poor in this country are paying for this inefficiency. The local shipping oligopoly is a major impediment to the development of our archipelagic country which depends so much on shipping to move goods and services.

So let me pose this question to you. Which is more patriotic, continuing to protect inefficient industries that benefit only their owners but burden the Filipino people with expensive goods and services or developing competitive industries that benefit their owners with well deserved profits and the Filipino people with lower cost but better quality goods and services?



Bert M. Drona said...


Thanks again for your feedback.

I think we can safely suppose that anyone who has some business sense appreciate the fact that creativity grows with freedom (with responsibility where it applies).

Thus, whether in engineering design or ideas, an open discussion or free market of exchange will oftentimes provide the best choices for the supply/demand markets.

I do not differ with much of what you wrote; as one previous commentor Blur mentioned in an earlier posting, the problem or issue boils down to the implementation.

The economic ideas/theories may be great but it's on the implementation, or more precisely, it's on the kind of people who govern and have the power to implement such economic ideas into workably effective and efficient economic strategies, policies and programs.

So far, our homeland has not have any strong, unified direction in implementing such that would really, really help the majority of the citizenry.

As to whether a government should tinker with the market, in our case it still should. But again the imperative is to have qualified and honestly dedicated to the common good. We always have a weak government, filled with either incompetent and/or selfishly corrupt officials; and a great reason is the absence of nationalism.

Japan has been and is powerful because they are nationalistic if you come to think of it. They have a large but competent bureaucracy that survives well no matter how frequent the changes in its political leadership. It does not follow what we know as a completely western,i.e. American type of capitalism; it has its own version. See James Fallows in "Looking at the Sun."

Similarly, other Asian neighbors, though capitalistic, were and are not completely as the westernized model we learn and read about in our mostly Americanized education, methodologies, etc. As we all aprepreciate, there are many ways to skin a cat.

To repeat, we seem to agree that that with the available tools and options we have, it's our minds and hearts that need to be redirected, to look out for ourselves -not just as individuals but- as a nation, a community of people with so much in common and heritage, and therefore have to work towards the common good; with that goal, our plans, our decisions, our implementation will be directed well, regardless of economic theory or ideology.

How we can become a united people, a true nation, as most nations are including America (America claims internationalism but deep down its based on the strong, dominant, established American nationalism extending BEYOND its national borders), is a big question. We basically need a cultural revolution to instill unity, to educate for nationalism in our hearts and minds.

As to your last query, you can easily deduct from my responses and postings what my answer would be.