The Family Business

I’m one of those who believe that public office is a public trust. You don’t take it for your self. You take it because you sincerely honestly want to serve, and when you’re done, you walk away from it clean.

Philippine politics, however, is best described as a family business. Some may believe that their family has an obligation to lead their constituents but, honestly, I think that’s just an excuse to hold on to power. Apologies to my friends in politics.

How can I not be skeptical when families just try to get around term limits by making other family members fill a post in the interim while they cool their heels in another post until they can get back the post. Sometimes, one family gets into an agreement with another family and they just swap posts as term limits come and go. The most comedic episodes happen when the fillers refuse to vacate the post and a family feud or clash of clans ensues. If that doesn’t prove that Philippine politics is a family business, then nothing can ever make you see that.

It’s also easy to see why they would tenaciously hold on to power. There’s lots of money to be made, and even more benefits to enjoy not counting the “prestige” one gets from being honored as one of the pillars of the community. Don’t believe people when they say the Government does not have money. It’s there. It’s a question of where does it go and what are they using it for. Look at Congress. Lawmakers are elected to do one thing: make laws but they award themselves millions of pesos to be disposed of as they alone may decide. It may get audited but if they have full discretion in its disposition, then how could it ever be seen as unlawful?

If that isn’t bad enough, then it appears there’s a new twist to the family business: literally make the post a family business. Who best to exemplify this but president-elect Donald Trump. In his discussions with world leaders, he isn’t shy about bringing in his children to sit in. Mind. Blown. In a bad, very bad, way. This businessman turned president of the US is also father to his children running the family businesses. We are looking at a minefield of conflict of interest issues right there. And they sit with him while conferring with other world leaders? Incredible.

Before we all say, well, this is just Trump being unconventional and putting his personal stamp (or maybe the family seal) on the presidency, please stop and think what all this actually means not just for the family but what ramifications it has for everyone whether they be in business — think unfair advantage — or politics, which is absolutely worse because it involves not just commercial relations but policies and foreign governments if not countries. That’s Trump, Inc. for you.

I mean, the king of reality TV is about to make the weirdest reality show yet: Living in the White House with the Trumps. There goes the neighborhood, and in this case, that means the whole world. Oh. My. God…

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A Whole New World

The 10th of November, for me, has one significance: the day I joined my current employer. This year, it is even more significant because it marks my twentieth year with said employer. That’s quite a feat but certain events have overshadowed all that. We wake up on the 10th of November to a whole new world featuring the future President Trump. Interestingly enough, just like in the Philippines, the majority did not vote for Trump but the way the US elections are rigged (no pun intended), that did not matter. The delegates they got decided who actually won. What this means for the rest of the world, we can only guess.

Certainly, Trump can probably reach some understanding with Putin and diffuse what is shaping up to be a new Cold War but with his temperament, he is also quite capable of worsening the situation. We don’t even know what it will cost the US to fix it. Will he lift the sanctions imposed against Russia for its misadventures in the Ukraine? His economic plans have been questioned by numerous economists and business analysts. If his business background is anything to go by, then could bankruptcies be a common occurrence for the next four or eight years under his presidency? The climate change agreement is in jeopardy with China seething that the US just might walk away from the historic agreement after the former had joined the bandwagon to get it going. If early news items are to be believed, then he has supposedly appointed a climate change skeptic in charge. That can’t be good. Speaking of China, will the US risk a trade war to get things tilted in favor of the US? Will he build the wall along the Mexican border to be paid for by Mexico itself? Mexico says no. Can he get them to yes? How will his relationship with the Republicans who abandoned him when news of his sexist behavior spilled out play out? This will be interesting considering that the Republicans now have the majority in Congress. Can they get their act together and move their agenda forward? Of course, one even has to ask whose agenda will actually be carried forward? Hearing the post-victory speeches, it appears both camps are sounding conciliatory. What about the problems with Syria and Iraq or similar situations in the future? Will the US withdraw completely from such conflicts? What about the nuclear deal with Iran? Will the US turn in on itself and retreat from the rest of the world? How will he push things with the security council and the rest of the UN?

One thing is for sure, President Trump will shake up the US. Whether he will do so for better or worse is not known. I look at the Philippine experience and can only shudder. Perhaps this is what the US and the Philippines need now. Maybe the rest of the world will soon join this bandwagon with France looking to be the next in line. Farage’s UKIP failed but BREXIT could be an omen. A revolution of sorts moving across the world. What will the world look like in a year’s time I wonder? What will happen to these countries after the terms of these presidents are over? Do we all get a reboot after pressing this reset button or will there still be something to reboot?

But that’s still for tomorrow. Today, well. Today, I think I will think micro and just savor the day marking my twentieth year of service…

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