Did your formal education ever lead you into the dark realm of statistics? It is a horrid place to venture, full of monsters and T-tests, probabilities and snakes.
My undergrad statistics teacher was a skinny buck-toothed Japanese man who could barely speak English. He would write rapidly with his right hand whilst talking gibberish at the blackboard and using his left hand to erase what he had just written. My head was either swimming or sleeping. I eked out a "C" in that class, mediocre in American grading lexicon. I should have known at that point to switch my major from mathematics to business. Or ROTC . . .
My post-graduate statistics teacher was a handsome young married professor who was busy bonging coeds on the side. He was always happy and gave out good grades whether they were deserved or not.
One of the fundamental concepts in statistics is that of the bell curve, which describes a statistical mountain where the foothills on either side tend toward the extremes and the big hill in the middle holds something like 68% of the population. They are declared pretty much normal.
Now if you have witnessed the horrors of the debate about debt in the US, you recognize that the extremes have asserted themselves. The left and the right scream bloody murder about the issues, their views entrenched in concrete, totally disrespectful of any other view. The middle gets smaller. And compromise gets impossible. Intolerance rises.
The US bell curve has assumed the shape of a dumb bell.
Contributing to the polarization is the internet where every private citizen is a reporter, analyst and an activist under one hat, plastering 141 characters of personal perspective across the internet for lots of people to read. For sake of popularity and personal esteem, people have a tendency to either agree or disagree, black and white, the barrage of unbending opinion pushing people farther and farther apart. It is a grim political place, this USA. A place devoid of the kindness of diplomacy and pride in concession for the greater good.
|Dumb Bell Curve|
It would be appropriate to remove the Latin slogan "e pluribus unum" from US currency and replace it with "to each his own".
Now the Philippine bell curve is rather shaped like a pear, on its side. It is weighted to the end that has self-interest as its driving force. Not some nationalistic idea of republican (state's rights) or democratic (strong central government). Not a "left" or "right" distinction, big government versus small government. Philippine political animals are pretty much all the same. They are all rich and connected or in bed with the rich and connected. The poles of this abnormal curve are how much people work for self advantage, versus how much they work for others - - - for the community and the nation and the public good.
Under President Arroyo, the pear definitely got bigger at the big end.
President Aquino may actually be flattening the pear. His anti-corruption drive is producing offshoot values that bring public service back to the forefront of government jobs. He ripped one of his overseas ambassadors for not knowing how many Filipinos were in-country. He said:
“You will take the responsibility, you like the perks but when you have to be depended on, why is it like that? You don’t care,”
His appointments are appointed to do a job. They are not appointed as rewards for favors granted or received. I think people who thrive on the star power of bus massacres or fist-shaking at China miss the fundamental shift taking place in the values that anchor the nation.
Public service is back at the forefront.
The jobs are getting done. Fiscally upside down projects are being cancelled. Laws promoting social good are being passed. Anti-corruption cases are being pursued in every venue. Dialogue is taking place with other Asian countries. A line has been drawn in the sand on the Spratleys. Investors are piling money into the Philippines.
It's a new ball game.
And it is refreshing.