I attended the RI 3830 District Assembly (DISTAS) 2010 last Saturday, May 8, 2010, held at the AIM Conference Center, Makati City. I arrived later as I woke up late because I was watching my daughter who has a fever the night before. When I woke up, her fever was gone but it was already 9 am!
After registration, the first speaker I caught was PDG Sonny Coloma and he was introducing the guest speaker that day, his fellow AIM Professor and head of the AIM Policy Center, Dr. Poch Macaranas, an economist. Although I have heard Dr. Macaranas spoke in the past, recently I haven’t heard much from him, so I was curious what he would say to the probably 300+ Rotarians from D3830 that day.
Judging from the first 3 minutes of his talk, I figured that it was the usual pessimistic viewpoint of the world and the country in general. Among Dr. Macaranas’ points that day that he wanted Rotarians to realize were the following:
1. The Philippines will slowly be overtaken economically by Vietnam and Cambodia.
2. The world is getting more interdependently chaotic, the level of globalization in all aspects of our lives is now high.
3. Climate change is here and the Philippines is among the most susceptible to its negative effects.
There were other points but I could not remember them now. Those 4 points are still fresh in my mind.
When it comes to private enterprises and voluntary civil society organizations like Rotary, I am generally more optimistic. When it comes to governments – local, national and multilateral/foreign aid – I am more pessimistic. The main reason is that private enterprises and civil society organizations like Rotary rest on voluntary exchange and support from their customers and supporters. There is always pressure to be results-oriented and be more accountable to their customers and supporters, otherwise said people will simply stop supporting them anytime, anywhere. In contrast, governments rest on mandatory and forcible exchange. Whether we like the plans and programs of the politicians and the various bureaucracies and agencies that implement them or not, we ordinary citizens are forced to support them with our tax money and compliance with their regulations.
So when Dr. Macaranas emphasized the growing chaos and instability (political, economic, social and cultural) around the world, I don’t agree with this view. To me, there is more chaos around the world as governments and multilaterals become bigger and enforce more mandatory social entitlements. While there is improvement in human conditions as private enterprises and civil society groups like Rotary go on with their lives.
Many may not also agree with me on this, but just look around if we’re indeed getting more miserable with the products and services by private enterprises and our civic organizations: cell phones, laptops, televisions, internet connection, cars, air travel, other transportation-telecommunications goods and services are becoming more affordable to more people, becoming more modern, and inter-connectivity among people across countries and continents are getting faster and quicker.
The opportunity to acquire and train on new skills are now higher, so long as an individual has some ambition and has patience for hard work.
And my favorite punching bag: climate alarmism. Climate change (global warming and global cooling) is natural, is cyclical and is continuous. It is never man-made and is never “unprecedented” in human history. Recent “wild weather” like typhoons “Ondoy” and “Pepeng” last September and October 2009, respectively, were not exactly “unprecedented”. More of this in my various papers and presentation materials, available at our website, www.minimalgovernment.net
Although I noticed that many Rotarians that day nodded their heads in agreement with Dr. Macaranas, I do not think that such generally pessimistic viewpoint of the world is a good way to start a training seminar for the key officers of the 80+ rotary clubs of the District in the coming Rotary year.
In the service-oriented movement of the Rotary International, rotarians around the world can somehow be considered among the “social warriors”. Juggling their time with work and business, family, other social and family network, and the high expectations of voluntary service to the less-fortunate members of society is not easy.
I believe, therefore, that Rotarians in an important training seminar deserve a message of more optimism and more encouragement. Again, mainly because many governments, from the Philippines to other countries, are the main source of pessimism and complaints of many people around the world.