• Steve Forbes, who praised Mr. Aquino to high heavens, is a policy crackpot


    In a meeting with President Aquino a few weeks back, US magazine publisher Steve Forbes, who ran twice to get the Republican Party’s presidential nomination and failed, said to our president: The US needs you. Meaning the US needs a leader in the mold and with the policy mind-set of President Aquino.

    That was a sincere statement from Forbes. He meant that in his view, the US needs a leader with the policies of Mr. Aquino. He found in Mr. Aquino a kindred spirit, whose core policies Forbes will fully embrace even for the US setting.

    What did Mr. Forbes find out about the Philippine economy under Mr. Aquino that he liked so much and gushed about? Easily, these:

    •Under Mr. Aquino, 60 percent of GDP went straight to Top 1 percent and Mr. Forbes likes nothing better than an economic system of upward redistribution.

    •Under Mr. Aquino, a balanced-budget is sacred and even the meager tokens to the vulnerable should not be sacrificed if those tokens would lead to a deviation from the balanced-budget orthodoxy. Remember the Magna Carta for the Poor, a token law which took Mr. Aquino ages to sign despite its small, cosmetic offerings to the poor? Mr. Forbes’ presidential quest was driven by hard-core conservative issues that included a balanced budget.

    •Sustained growth rates and credit upgrades, never mind if the two have not dented the massive poverty in the country.

    •Mr. Aquino’s fixation with free market policies and supply-side economics

    •The PPP infrastructure strategy, which rewards the big corporations more than anything else , and in which modernizing the country’s fraying infra is a subsidiary agenda.

    •Files upon files of photos that showed a smiling and energized Mr. Aquino with plutocrats and oligarchs. There was hardly a show of elation in his very rare encounters with ordinary Filipinos.

    There is something else from Forbes’s personal realm. Mr. Aquino has been the most prodigious creator of dollar billionaires, whose names and ranking among the global wealthy are yearly listed in Forbes magazine. Remember that Forbes has been the magazine of “lists.” Primarily, the “ list” of the world’s wealthiest people. Under Mr. Aquino, many Filipino dollar billionaires are now in the category of “those-who-can-buy-a-small country rich.”

    As Forbes met with President Aquino, he had this uppermost in mind. What is there not to like about this supply-side, all-business president who cares – exclusively – about the rich and the powerful just like myself and my ilk.

    Because most Filipinos have no idea of who Mr. Forbes is, and what made President Aquino spend precious presidential time with him, it is worth explaining who this man is, beyond the known fact that he publishes the “magazine of lists” with the lists mostly about the world richest and the most powerful.

    In the progressive circles in the US, Mr. Forces belonged to yesterday. He believes in supply-side, small government, balanced budgets, flat tax mostly to benefit the rich, never mind the Social Darwinism that would be the brutal results of these policies. Like Mr. Aquino and Mr. Roxas, their governing moment was during the days of heartless technocracy, when the Washington Consensus, now largely debunked, was the rage of leaders and governments.

    Economist Paul Krugman, now recognized as the most powerful voice in US liberal circles. has called the Republican Party leaders who still push for these debunked beliefs as “crazies and crackpots.” Mr. Forbes is still stuck in hard core economic orthodoxy despite the fast-changing tone of the global conversation on massive economic inequality that now plagues the globe and Pope Francis’s debunking of supply side and markets running amok.

    While inequality has been described as the “defining issue of our time,” Mr. Forbes and his ideological brethrens have been largely agnostic on inequality and poverty issues just like Mr. Aquino, whose claimed effort in fostering “inclusive growth “ is either Orwellian or phony.

    Like Mr. Aquino, Mr. Forbes is more concerned about generating and nurturing more dollar billionaires than lifting the lives of the vulnerable. The good news is there has been a dramatic shift in the global conversation about economic injustice and the consensus is to take bold political efforts to rein in the injustice. The sway of policy crackpots such as Mr. Forbes, fortunately, may soon be over.

    * * *

    A reaction to Wednesday’s column on the plunder charge filed against former Speaker Arnulfo Fuentebella and wife Evelyn by ZeroTolerance.Org., an anti-corruption watchdog. Here were the main points:

    • The charges are baseless.
    • ZeroTolerance.Org raised up old issues.
    • The NGO is not an impartial entity

    The good thing is the case is with the Ombudsman, the proper arbiter on whether a plunder case filed has merit or not.


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    1. Too right about Steve Forbes Mr. Ronquillo, most Americans even some Filams are dyed in wool Republicans who don’t believe in any form of egalitarianism. In the US of A it’s dog eat dog, no time for the poors of society, apparently the richest country on earth but just after sundown many homeless and hungry people sleeps on sidewalks.And everybody just wants to after themselves and get rich, and damn those who fails to do the same. The US govt is now the same, ignore all the words welcoming the poor and downtrodden on the statue of Liberty, nowadays it’s how much money one’s got to be welcomed. The likes of Steve Forbes are the leeches that gets fat on workers blood.

    2. I admire you Sir for your bold and fearless commentaries; very sharp analysis. I hope the readers see your point. We have to get rid of the likes of PNoy which translate to please don’t vote the LP. They are apathetic to the plight of the majority of Filipinos. Take for instance of the case of bullet planting that is now happening at NAIA. Iilan lang naman daw! Grabe, how uncaring this government it is!

    3. I have been telling everyone that my opinion against the “SHE” Tenant in Malacanang since the time he ran for President in 2010. Is that this person will not be a good President. He will bring disaster in the country, in terms of natural and man made. He has a brain of a moron and according to Sen. Serge Osmena he was an AWFUL President. MATIGAS AND ULO HE WILL NOT LISTEN TO REASON.
      NATURAL in 2011 powerful earthquake hit the visayas region, Negros Island Region, Bohol, and Cebu. Just recenty, TYPHOON YOLANDA hit visayas again this storm surge cause the death of thousands. In relation to his late mother CORY’ was also disaster President, the typhoon that struck ORMOC causing floods claim also thousands of victimsa and likewise powerful earthquake hit also Luzon, damaging buildings, parfticularly in Baguio. The most glaring of this the Pinatubo eruptions. NOW LETS GO TO THE COUNTRY’S ECONOMY, late PFM set up fundamental and RP is no. 2 or 3 behind Japan or SK but it was stalled by yellow army. Today, the former PGMA set up also the economic fundamentals and RP paid all dues and free us from the clutches of IMF. Now when the tenant in Malacanang he destroy everything, cancel projects left and right, local and foreign. This result for RPs RISE IN NUMBERS FOR HAVING MOST US$ billionaires in Forbes List. WHO ARE THEY? That is the legacy of the said tenant. ANG KAPAL NAMAN NG MUKHA SAAN KAYA NG HIRAM NA MUKHA > tHIS WAS QOUTED FROM ONE OF THE SPEECHES OF SAID PRESIDENT.

    4. Tama ka sir.Ni hindi mo man lang nakitang ngumiti ng totoo etong Pnoy na to pag mga mahihirap na ang kasama sa photo op. Para pang ngising ewan lang. Palibhasa hindi naman nakaranas kase ng kahirapan sa buhay to.

    5. Republicans are for the rich. That is why the Koch brothers support them with their billions so they can continue digging for oil ignoring global warming. They reduce the taxes for the rich an upped that for the poor, limiting funds for education and would like to abolish medicare. Exactly what Aquino wants. They are gay bashers, against birth control, against women’s rights, against immigration, they are only for money and power.

    6. Big mega companies, like those participating in PPPs, are not evil. To address any perceived inequity, they should open their shares to the public, which most of them already do. However, PPP projects should be spread out and not concentrated in Metro Manila, wherein 90% of such projects are located. With regards to the super-rich, we don’t need to worry. In a free-market system, nobody gets to be on top all of the time. After 3-4 generations, a super wealthy family always loses most of its wealth to other businesses! There’s no forever in business! Is that fair? Yes!

    7. Thanks Mr. Ronquillo for giving your piece, and for clearly coming out as an prigressive liberal. However, i would like to point out that you’re assuming that progressive economics is the right path,and that free market conservatism is wrong. You need to realize that all countries who have followed economic progressivism and its egalitarian ideals of equality for all through wealth redistribution have become countries wherein everyone is poor except the reigning elite, who oppress the people and withold freedoms such as freedom of speech and religion. Your criticisms of PNoy are mostly valid, of course. He grew up in a wealthy political family, and most of his life he spent in and around Metro Manila. This is evident in his Manila-centric policies, which have led to uneven growth. I must state however, that income inequality is a false issue, propagated by progressives to sow discord and bitterness. Wealth is actually linked to age, young people are often poorer than the rich. Is this unfair? No! People have the right to enjoy the fruits of their hard labor. What’s unfair are sweetheart deals to oligarchs and “pro-poor” policies which perpetuate the cycle of poverty, such as the CCT program