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Quantitative restrictions on rice

Government and civil society share goals of food security, food
self-sufficiency, and increased farmers’ income. Yet, these goals are
not mutually reinforcing. There are times when one goal is achieved at another’s expense. For one, food security can take precedence over or conflict with the goal of increased farmers’ income. Who, then, is to be given priority, the consumer or the producer? Thus does one face the
dilemma of choosing policy instruments that best push a goal without
compromising another.

Living with the unthinkable

American coverage of the attack on Falluja is disgraceful. BBC at least had the decency to add a disclaimer at the end of each “on the scene” report saying they aren’t free to report everything they see. In Iraq, all accredited television news organizations have American minders.

The practice of providing minders for, what the emasculated press
calls, “embedded reporters” is not new; war coverage has always been censored. What is new is the willing cooperation of mainstream media. Connivance might be a better word.

Gender-aware policy analysis

A common reaction among economists when one mentions gender is, “Gender? Aren’t there more important things in this world?”

This reflects the common notion that gender equality is something one should be concerned with only after what are perceived to be “more fundamental” problems have been addressed. From this point of view, the more fundamental problems include eradicating poverty, narrowing income inequalities, protecting the environment and ending hunger, among others.

Who’s sorry?

Ever since the withdrawal of the Philippine contingent from Iraq, Mrs.
Arroyo’s calls to Bush have been unanswered and unreturned. However, last Wednesday he called Mrs. Arroyo and said, “Let us keep our friendship strong,” and everything was okay again.

The Palace spokesman lost no time proclaiming, “Our 100-year
relationship with the US is stronger than any temporary disagreements.” Hmm, like the withdrawal of Filipino troops from Iraq was a minor disagreement over the value a Filipino leader must place on the life of a Filipino against the value she must place on her commitment to a war criminal? By the way, when do we start counting the strong 100-year relationship – from the time America offered to help Emilio Aguinaldo return to the Philippines or after it double-crossed him?

Trade liberalization: what has it done for us?

In a June 2004 paper of World Bank’s David Dollar, entitled
“Globalization, Poverty, and Inequality since 1980,” a number of
assertions are made regarding the benefits that trade liberalization
has brought us. One of the first assertions is that the developing
world has become more and more integrated with the world economy, with 80% of the developing world’s export being manufactured exports. This has in turn resulted in an acceleration of developing countries’ growth rates. In fact, on average, the paper claims, the developing world has grown much faster than the developed world. Moreover, using the very frugal international poverty threshold of $1 day, the number of poor people in the world has declined by 375 million, the first such decline in history. China, India, Vietnam, and Uganda are cited as the best performers in the globalized developing world. These, along with a number of other propositions, give one the sense that globalization has been a boon for developing countries.

Downsizing government in times of fiscal stress

A few weeks ago, five gurus of past and present reorganization efforts appeared together at the UP to debate the merits of reorganization in a forum aptly, if wordily entitled, “Reinventing/Reengineering/Reorganizing the Bureaucracy: Why We Should be More Hopeful?” Coming at the heels of the Arroyo administration’s effort to reduce bureaucratic fat to plug the fiscal deficit and the expose on the huge salaries of GOCC executives, the forum drew a huge crowd who waited for good news from the speakers.

At the end of the four-hour forum, Armand Fabella (Marcos), Luis
Villafuerte (Aquino), Salvador Enriquez (Ramos), Emmy Boncodin and
Karina David (GMA) agreed that reorganization efforts in the country
were all well-meaning – but have failed to produce the intended
results. Enriquez drew the most applause when he said changing the
government, rather than reorganization, was the best option for the
country.