Sunday, May 13, 2007

Skin in the Game (Redux)

Given no one got my point in skin in the game, i've re-written it. it was my fault really. it was crap. the original is still up and may be found here.
For the longest time, it was difficult wrestling with whether or not I will vote. Seeing firsthand how insiders play the game and knowing where that way leads is like building a house built on a stack of cards: eventually it will collapse on our collective behinds. I've shared my sentiment over and over again, most recently in The Leadership Agenda. It is my biggest reason for a firm belief in the theory that people are better off leveraging their own success through their own hard work, sheer audaciousness and determination and such belief has not wavered. The insider's way and people leveraging their own success, they're not enough.

It was why I was asking questions.

Our eye must be on what's next. We constantly focus on reaching where our neighbors are, matching their competitiveness. I submit to you: no way in hell we can catch up, not at the state we are in and I don't think we should. I submit to you as a nation the answer to becoming a successful country can be defined in two words. We must, to borrow Intel's slogan: Leap Ahead.

I hope our leaders and our people realize it.

When Jon Limjap of Ang Kape Ni LaTtEX fame asked:
"so tell me, will you be voting next week?"
My reply was:
"honestly? i am still hoping something--- news, an idea, anything really, between now and the day of the election to convince me to vote.

otherwise, it would be: s^2d^2 (translates to: same shit, different day)"
That said, this is the part where I show you my list (in no particular order), come election day:
1. Aquino, Noynoy
2. Cayetano, Allan Peter
3. Lacson, Panfilo
4. Escudero, Chiz,
5. Trillanes, Antonio
6. Arroyo, Joker
7. Zubiri, Juan Miguel
8. Pimentel, Koko
9. Villar, Manuel
10. Defensor, Michael
11. Angara, Edgardo
12. Honasan, Gregorio
Shocking really to a lot of people that i know. May be a few readers out there as well. I will cast my vote and allow me to explain this change of heart.

Truth be told, only six people really made it on my list, but I never really believed in a ballot that is half-empty. you've got to play the game wholeheartedly or not at all. I filled the empty seats because of one thing or another. Here are my reasons:
  • Aquino, Cayetano, Escudero are in because I want youth and brains to make a difference.
  • Lacson is a waste in the Senate, he should be in the executive branch, given he is a tank. With the current climate, he's in the list because not letting him play would be a waste of firepower, so to speak.
  • Trillanes is there because this guy needs to show us what he's made of, i don't care how many medals he's got. He's got ideas, which is good place to start. let's see him do some actual good and not create a ruckus. Let's see him make changes from the inside. (Ms. Monsod has a counter view regarding choices for the senate, especially for people who've done the sort of thing Trillanes has done.)
  • Zubiri and Defensor are there to give the opposing voice and Palace View of the World and these guys have brains and youth also on their side.
  • Angara, Arroyo, and Villar: they've been there and done that and though their alliances--- Angara and Villar are flaky and Joker, who I think needs to retire--- are all questionable because they are mavericks and may shift based on how the wind blows. then again, what the heck: they can be relied on for the most part, for sound judgments and that is in short supply these days.
  • Honasan, having him in the Senate where people can keep an eye on him is so much better than alienating the guy.
  • Pimentel--- it was a tough call between Pimentel and Roco for me, but I choose Pimentel. Yes his dad is there, which is really a big deal on the wrong side of the track, but this guy could be the diamond in the rough and so he's "what the heck, up in the air vote".
This is by no means telling you, these guys are the "more deserving ones" and should be voted into office. Contrary, I trust, you the reader, would have your own reasons and your own shopping list and are making your own choices.

Now on to the part where I explain this change of heart.

The more people I asked and the more I've read of other people's point of view why they're voting seem to culminate in two things. one, it is their right and by God, they will exercise it and second, they believe it would be a vote against an undeserving person, i.e. keeping the "bad guys" from gaining more power. they're all perfectly valid reasons and I respect their choice in the matter and we share the same spirit, but those are not the reasons why I decided to vote.

Memories of Water wrote Res Ipsa Loquitor and had this to say:
"Thus my vote for a representative is also a vote against the perpetuation of political dynasty, traditional politics, and just plain stupid and selfish politics. I could not even call our political situation as a strong republic; in fact, even the term republic is quite dubious as well. For the past years, no palpable revision of representation was felt in the country – only the continuous perpetuation of personal political interests and idiocy."
I'd like to believe in the same way. A lot of people are saying the same thing. When I look at my list and compare it to the surveys of probable winners, this come to mind: given the survey winners are poised to win, do these people really embody those values we speak of? Because the top 25 people are either veteran political operations or they and their family have been in the business of politics since this nation has been founded. My list is littered with people who are veteran operators and those in politics, why?

In Your Leader Is Like You, MLQ3 wrote this:
"The problem is, if rich and poor alike, we know what makes for good, or desirable leaders, rich or poor alike, we also tend to say our present crop of leaders, on the whole, are uninspiring.

But let me suggest something further to you. Just because a candidate doesn’t provide it, doesn’t mean the public hunger for good leadership isn’t there. It only proves that if the larger public has a sense of traditional, ethical values, our political class has no feeling for those values."
Interesting thought. I find it most troubling because when you think about it, we're hiring these people to serve us. They're going to be doing a job but their culture and ours are at cross purposes and it will only generate friction. On another hand, setting that aside: it couldn't be any different from hiring a lawyer or a doctor or some professional to do a job--- we only need to know that they can get the job done. Put that way, i can swallow that sentiment.

Given my list: I don't have to like them but I'm putting my trust in their capability to do a job.

When I looked at this list and compared them to survey results it reminded me of this TEDTalk by Malcolm Gladwell. The title of his presentation was, "What we can learn from spaghetti sauce".

Gladwell's talk was all about his hero who was hired by the food industry way back in the 70s and 80s to find the perfect cola. they made batches of cola ranging from 8% sweetness to 12% sweetness. they surveyed thousands of people, "which of these do you like". Being the scientist that he was, plotted it in a graph.

Did you know what they got?

The data was inconclusive. everyone had their own preferences.

A few years later, Gladwell's hero was approached by spaghetti sauce company. they needed a product to compete in the market place. Gladwell's hero hypothesized people don't want one kind of sauce, they wanted different kinds of sauce. So they did an experiment. made various variations in sauce and asked people to rank them according to their preferences. When the data came in, they grouped the information into clusters and they found out that one third of americans preferred Chunky Spaghetti sauce and you know what? No one had a product to meet the needs of this market segment and so the Spaghetti sauce company earned US$600M over 10 years when they launched a product to meet that demand. More importantly, people wanted variety.

Like the spaghetti sauce experiment, we take what is given. this election will tell us, what do people want and I hope our leaders heed that call.

As I've mentioned a lot of the people who answered my questions privately or through email and from what i've read of blogs had their reasons just like mlq3 when he concluded his "Your Leader is You": "if we do not vote, we are not people of government, but like those of the jungle."

I share in the spirit of which they make their choice but I have a different reason.

In his book, Who Says Elephants Can't Dance, Gerstner wrote that he put his own money into the sinking ship of IBM and tied his fortunes with its success or failure. His reasons for doing so was to tie his fortunes with IBM. I think, every citizen and every leader must do the same. Let me explain:

Without a doubt, Democracy--- life really, is a contact sport. You want to be part of the discourse, you want to contribute as a citizen, you not only have to obey the law, you have to be an active and constructive part of the discourse. You got to walk the talk.

We can not stop being participants in the game. We can not withdraw from the game and still expect to win.

When you do stop participating as a citizen, you don't get to complain. You can't go to the police and expect them to do their job. you can't complain that government hospitals suck or there is too much red tape at your local LTO. You don't get to be a part of it. You can't merely be a participant in a democracy as a critic, in fact i submit you can't be a critic--- if you haven't exercised your right to choose your leader. if such leader has failed after providing all the support you could muster, then so be it: we get to fire him or her and choose a new one the next time there is an election.

Democracy is all about participation and participation positively. we can not simply just write about it. In the same vein, we can not just simply walk the streets for someone's ouster, or for them to step down if you've never participated in democracy. if you did not vote, you don't get to do all those things and still call yourself a citizen. We can not simply be apathetic. We can not just walk the talk.

This isn't a sinking ship--- it isn't by far. So when the polls close and the counting begin, winners and losers alike must look towards the future: 2010. It is right around the corner and this mid-term election is just a brief stop over. So, if you've got that vision for what we need, it never is too early to start.

Every Filipino is a stakeholder in our future. We each have our roles to play in the ever continuing saga of our race, whether we be in a position of influence or as simple citizen. We can not hide nor shrink from being who we are.

Everyday people everywhere are leveraging their own success through their own hard work, sheer audaciousness and determination. Democracy is a contact sport. When you leverage your own success, you can not simply divorce it from Democracy or for that matter Citizenship. You've got to be part of the positive discourse and affirmative action for all Filipinos in every walk of life. Put it simply, by voting, you've got skin in the game.


Jon Limjap said...

Don't worry Cocoy, I get your drift. Too many people refuse to accept the fact that they are personally involved in the fate of the country. Not only thru the elections, but thru each and every action they do. From lining up to the MRT to waiting for public transport in the designated areas to pissing on a sidewalk wall. Yet for most Filipinos it's not their fault that the country is in tatters; it's always the fault of the government, and everybody else.

They're in this game, we're all in this game.

Cocoy said...

thanks jon!