Monday, September 12, 2011

Career Capital

One of the shortcomings of President Aquino's anti-corruption campaign is his administration's failure to recognize that corruption is not simply a function of a few good guys gone bad. It is more pervasive than that. Corruption is unlikely to be eliminated by loud pursuit of popular cases. When the entire nation believes that under-the-table payments represent a legitimate form of trade, waving Ms. or Mr. Arroyo's alleged misdeeds about will not do much to change things.

The Ombudsman can continue to pursue her thousands of cases slowly and with modest success, and the courts can continue to sit on a backlogged morass of 300,000 cases and fail to attach immediate punishment to misdeeds, and everything will stay the same.  Simply urging people not to cheat is likely to ring hollow in the ears of people who are paid a pittance and have no way to improve their stead.

Face it, the risks to a worker are so small that it is worth trading favors. It is worth supplementing a miserable government wage with P100 here and there. No one goes to jail. No one is fined. No one loses a job. P100 is a nice tip for a favor granted.

Well, not "no one", exactly. But most.

To end corruption the societal mechanisms that allow it to thrive need to be reconfigured. This is done by removing "favor" as a legitimate currency. It is also donebroadly by having normal people correct misdeeds, not the police or courts or Ombudsman.

The leadership minds in the legislature cannot seem to grasp the construct that the arena they play in, one of favors and appointments of friends, family and favorites to powerful jobs, is the bedrock of corruption. It sets the scene, a warped scene where honesty and what one can accomplish is less important than one's stock of favors granted and received. The clear delineation of right and wrong gets muddled up in the trade of favors.

I can imagine the blustering legislators, so many Chicken Littles running for cover, when confronted by the idea that they have to change in order to get their nation to change. It's just too much for them to grasp. "Others have to change; not me! I'll appoint my cousin to a good job if I want to."

The legislature could, for example, pass a law that bans hirings and promotions for any reason but capability and achievement. Call it an "Equal Employment Opportunity Act" perhaps.

What does that have to do with corruption, you ask?

Hiring for capability allows workers to set their sights on promotions and salary increases as a way to grow richer. It allows workers to build "career capital" with each promotion and each increase in responsibility.  It supplants quick and easy gain with the greater value of long term gain.  It allows workers to train up and to pursue larger responsibilities and new opportunities. It gives workers the right to dream, and to plan and work for a better life.

Give a worker an upward path based on opportunity and achievement and three things happen: (1) he works more productively, (2) his performance is evaluated by his boss, not the Ombudsman, and (3)he refuses bribes. The longer he works within the system, the greater is his "investment" and the less likely he is to trade his career away for a P100 "favor". It is this investment in the future that I refer to as "career capital". It is a form of wealth much more substantial than an under the table payment.

Indeed, President Aquino could mandate that his executive departments hire and promote only on the basis of capability today. Right now, with an executive order. Formal reviews. Career paths. Appointments from within. The corporate model. He needs no legislative authorization to do this. He just needs to set aside the culture of favors within which he has lived for so many years.

He should stop appointing his own friends and family to important positions and let competent people aspire to these positions based on what they have done on their own jobs. Staffers in the same departments should be promoted up if they have demonstrated their professionalism.

What is this peculiar blindness in the Philippines that prevents its leaders from seeing the underpinnings of corruption in the way that they, themselves, behave? That can't see the problem is an entire system that functions on favors, not a bunch of independent cases, not a bunch of individuals gone bad.

No, the entire system has gone bad.

The infrastructure that supports corruption needs to be done away with. The trade of favors needs to be replaced with a trade of honest and honorable values. Where "career capital" makes corruption unattractive.  Where opportunity for advancement is deemed more important than P100 under the table. Where bosses police ethical behavior rather than the Ombudsman. Where productivity is king and capability is God.


  1. Imelda once said to Benigno Aquino, Sr., popularly known as "Ninoy", but never "Ninoy" before him, always "Sir" and Mr. Aquino. (I just do not get it why oblivious, clueless Philippine Media publish their nickname in the papers when they cannot even call them by it) ...

    Imelda once said to Benigno before he flew back to his doom, "Ninoy, don't come back, there are PEOPLE WE CANNOT CONTROL".

    Those people the Marcoses cannot control were the loyalists. They want Benigno out of the picture so the Marcoses will be in power forever so are the loyalist.

    This happened after Cory, Ramos ... to this day, benign0-the-Turd. They have loyalists that will cover up for benign0-the-Turd for them to stay in power.

    Ampatuan was alleged to intimidate voters to vote for Gloria. Garci-of-COMELEC, did that, too, for Gloria. Gloria has to be the President else, Ampatuan and Garci will be gone, too. They have to support each other EVEN WITHOUT GLORIA'S TELLING THEM SO.

    This is very common sick culture of Filipinos. Loyalty for positions. Loyalty for posessions. Loyalty for power. Protect the King and Queen to protect their position&Power and wealth that goes with it.

  2. The "infrastructure to support corruption" are:
    1. Bayanihan Spirit. Filipinos are so proud of this spirit, it is in every Social Studies textbook in elementary and high-school. Bayanihan spirit is support structure of unrelated families within a community.
    2. Bayanihan Spirit is also Pakikisama. Pakikisama is getting along. This is between friends and can extend to unrelated families and communities. If everyone is corrupt I have to get along so I will not be branded as "others", "different" possibly a "rat"
    3. Strong Family ties that bind. This is the infrastructure of Cosa Nostra that FBI has had difficulty penetrating because of strong family ties. Filipinos have very strong family ties. They are not only marrying a person, they are marrying the family and the community.

    Pakikisama, Bayanihan spirit and family support each other. Looking for a job? Look for someone you know: a relative, a padrino, godfather, a friend.

    Promotion? the above + Inculcate friendships, too by bringing pansit, adobo and lechon.

    In trouble with the law? No problem, check the bloodlines in the police.

  3. Even as simple as Car Insurance, they go to their relatives and friends because in fender bender their relatives and friends in insurance business can fix the problem real easy. It works ! It worked on my mother's house when it got burned down. It worked when my mother's car got into an accident. It worked when my niece got a ticket. It worked when my brother was in jail for posession of controlled substances. IT WORKS ALL THE TIME.!

    Buy a car? Seek out friends and relatives for goot deals. Need to park your excess money? Seek out not investment advisors. SEEK OUT FRIENDS AND RELATIVES. Need an attorney, Vet it with friends and relatives.
    Friends and Relatives recommendations counts. It puts pressure if the recommended cannot deliver. It puts pressure to deliver.

    The promoted godson thru the intervention of relatives surely will cover up the shenanigans that made promotion happen. He/she will be forced to join the crime and corruption because of pressure.

    Has anyone wonder countries with strong family ties are likely corrupt and poor?

  4. "Hiring for capability allows workers to set their sights on promotions and salary increases as a way to grow richer"

    An adage that goes: 'It's whom you know, not what you know".

    I know a guy who currently works for the government. There's this law applicable to them that if he could not get himself promoted within a period of 10 years from the date of his latest promotion, he would be eligible for attrition. He's got all the usual qualifications (i.e., education, time and grade, experience) and more. After 11 years, the Bureau he works for promoted him just to the next higher rank, no questions asked. The poor guy was anything but thankful. A victim of internal politics, having been incapable of buying his promotions for himself, with no means of access to endorse himself to 'those people on top'.

    He eventually realized that why should he play fair when everyone doesn't? He eventually made a loan and literally bought his current position he enjoys now.

    And for that, I'd like to revise the initial saying i made, that: 'It's how much money you can spend and whom you know, NOT, i repeat, NOT what you know' that will guarantee your special and much-aspired dream of working for the government.

    And Mariano's comments say it all.

  5. So new laws are needed. Otherwise President Aquino is just blowing smoke and allowing the economy of favors to persist.

  6. They say in Saudi, crimes are kept ridiculously low. Quite understandable, for an amputated hand would be a life-long reminder to never repeat a crime again. My point: stricter penalties. in addition to what you said Joe, they should consider arming those legislation with some razor-sharp teeth.

  7. Joe, Philippines as plenty of esoteric and exotic laws that I didn't know even existed. Take for example Child Abuse. This law existed and long been dormant, thought to be dead, until Willie Revillame carted off viewership from the perennial oligarch owned ABS-CBN. Voila! Willie Revillame is charged with resurrected Child Abuse for "forcing"(?) the child would dance tearfully next Tuesday for families' meal today. And yet, the oblivious, coin-operated Philippine Media kept mum of state-sponsored child neglect.

    1DC, Yes, if Philippines will go the Saudi and Japanese way WHO WOULD Ampatuanize the hands and fingers? The Corrupt Filipinos?

    What the Filipnios needed first and foremost is outsource the government. Once off-shore government has formed a decent re-engineered culture that is the only time the Filiinos take over. Currently, the Filipinos has no business running a government. Americans must have been happy to rid themselves of Filipinos back in the '40s. Americans must have thanked Mt. Pinatubo for vacating Subic Bay and Clark Air Force Base.

    Marcos' Martial Law could have worked were it not for his sex-starved wife and corrupt Filipnios. If Lee Kuan Yew were to run Philippines he'd die of frustration. Lee would bring in his soldiers and bureaucrats and Ampatuanize Filipinos.

  8. Even with new laws, Filipinos will have difficulty understanding it.

    Lookit this Kapitan-sa-Barko of recently acquired Hamilton Class Philippine Flagship Gen Gregorio del Pilar, oh by the way, Gregorio del Pilar was the general and hero of Tirad Pass AGAINST THE AMERICANS !!!!

    As what I was saying the Kapitan-sa-Barko of Philippine Flagship Gregorio del Pilar gave all the details of the capability of the Flagship. How fast it can cruise and what the armaments are. He further said that it was stripped down by Americans of the latest gizmos and wiz-bang anti-aircraft missiles. NOW THAT IS NATIONAL SECURITY THAT SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN DIVULGED.

    Now China knows. And China must be laughing. And laughing hard. If that Kapitan-sa-Barko were in China, he'd be floating down the Yantze River headless with no balls.

    Gosh, the guy is a PMAyer! Graduate of the oldest Military Academy in ASIA ! And cannot even know National Security how much more LAWS !

  9. Not necessarily the chopping of limbs, Mariano. I'm talking about penalties and implementation. There are current laws that have outdated fines and penalties. Updating and revising should cater to the times. Implementation should likewise be purposive and unconditional.

  10. Mariano, on the Kapitan ng Barko: If the Filipinos were gifted with foresight and analysis, we won't be in this mess.

    Anyway, maybe he's mindf*cking(?) the Chinese. Malay mo.

  11. brianitus, Filipinos are not capable of mind-reading. They are just clueless and oblivious like the peryodistas. The clueless, oblivious Filipino peryodistas gives political do's and don'ts but cannot see the effect of politicians pagarparings their findings before irresponsible Philippine Media.

    In Joe's America, they do not make pagarparings to the public so as not to "jeopardize prosecution and investigation". In the Philippines, anything goes. It shows the endemic ignorance of the Filipnos in exchange for Philippine Media's readership and bottomline.


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