HEARD IT THROUGH THE GRIPE-VINE: OUR NEW ABNORMAL XXII

Philip Cu Unjieng2 copy 245x300 - A: The unreality-show star: A cautionary fairy tale
Philip Cu Unjieng

Once upon a time, in a kingdom across a vast, Pacific ocean, there was a ginger-haired, Senior Citizen, reality TV-show star who lorded it over his kingdom. For three years, his show was a certifiable MAGA-hit, and no matter what outrageous sentiments would spew from his mouth, what lies were foisted as truths, enough numbers of adoring fans and followers ensured that, along with the happy sponsors and ratings of his show, it was a certifiable hit series.

But one fateful year, a new unmovable force entered the global arena. Marked by its corona-like pearly glow, it enveloped the world and threw the ratings game into disarray. Even while the effects of this new force were lingering, the new ratings came out, and Mr. Reality TV star’s show was effectively cancelled. A spoiled, petulant product of show business, our star could not accept this decision, claiming that the ratings and scores were lying, that manifold conspiracies were afoot to keep him from his royally ordained destiny of Four More Years.

While we can concede that his first years were brimming with a confidence-boosting track record, with results that gave the network a healthy glow, the fact that the show had now reached its end of the road was an inescapable truth. No evidence of massive fraud, or massive cheating and lying, could be found.

Now, his true personality was all that was left to witness, no longer masked by blustery rhetoric or the economy’s performance. His intransigence, his stubborn refusal to accept Reality, was now bringing the whole network down. His true colors were there for all to see; how it was all really about “Me, Me, Me,” and MAGA was now more maggot – an obdurate larva we wanted to flick from the world stage.

But he was a “maggot” that still posed a lot of danger; as a good number of his 70 million “believers,” swayed by the calumny he was projecting, were ready to call his pronouncements the rust-Bible Belt truth. The Masked Avenger, who was given the thumbs up by 74 million to replace our star; was ironically, even more of a senior citizen (our star – 74 years old, the Avenger – 79 years old). Our star had ridiculed the Avenger’s face mask; and in true “reality-TV” fashion, he was now refusing to leave the set, digging in, and exhibiting an ornery dog’s penchant for marking his territory – milking every last episode.

Nothing less than pathetic, here was the epitome of the sore loser – ready to disrupt the game, sweep the chess pieces off the board, blame everyone but himself, and deny the scoreboard hanging from the ceiling. A sad state of affairs that hopefully, we see being resolved very soon – but don’t hold your breath waiting for a MAGA to be a magnanimous.

(At the time this was being written, there was no resolution yet in sight; and if it has come before this sees publication, I still stand on what I’m saying about how pathetic this turned out to be. Any similarity of the above, to persons living or dead, is purely intentional, and not a coincidence.)

B: On the mighty Yukon:

IMG 9165 300x291 - A: The unreality-show star: A cautionary fairy tale
A screenshot of the highly informative ‘2020 US Election and It’s Implications for US-China-Philippines Relations’ webinar; clockwise from Top Left, Dioceldo Sy, moderator Issa Litton, George Siy, my fellow Manila Bulletin columnist Anna Mae Lamentillo, and special guest of honor Yukon Huang.

Earlier in the week, a truly illuminating webinar was organized by Blackwater, ChinoyTV, GlobeMyBusiness, and the Manila Bulletin. Entitled “The 2020 US Elections and the Implications for US-China-Philippines Relations,” the panel discussion was headed by Washington DC-based Yukon Huang, senior member of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. A former World Bank director in China and in Russia; Huang has authored books on the Chinese economy, and his think pieces come out regularly in the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times. If you missed the livestream, head to the Manila Bulletin FB page to watch the recap.

Among my highlights, that everyone in the government and business community should be aware of, are the following “Yukon observations”:
– How he correlated Debt with Growth, that under certain circumstances, a nation’s debt can actually lead to growth – as growth almost always comes from disruption, and not from stability.
– If one appreciates the economic history of China, one will glean that its massive Infrastructure phase was achieved without much borrowing from global lending institutions and banks. They would build a particular road section, and then use toll collection as a means to recoup the investment, and now have the capital to build the next project.
– When the pandemic raged and the US bewailed their dependence on importing COVID-related equipment and consumables from China, the pronouncement to shift to manufacturing and America First was more rhetoric than actual fact. When growth occurs today in the USA, it comes from innovation, and not from manufacturing.
And look how resourceful China is. When trade and tariff issues became stumbling blocks to their exporting to the USA, they began investing in Mexico, where several companies there are now owned by the Chinese, and enjoy more liberal trade policies.
– One recurring issue will be the difficulty of the USA to see such nations as China as their equals. Historically, we saw this decades ago when Japan began to loom as an economic power, how the US moved to restrict this. In the case of China, they really couldn’t do anything about its continued dynamic growth, and the US policy-makers are swayed politically by the heightened negative perception of Americans towards China.
– This is a very opportune time for the Philippines; as if we play it right, we will be ‘courted’ by both China and the USA, and should dictate the terms. Vietnam is about to hit the ceiling in terms of production capacity, and so China will look elsewhere. The USA, under Biden, will resume more of a global role, and economic cooperation will be one of the cornerstones.

The livestream was hosted by Issa Litton, with Dioceldo Sy, George Siy, and Anna Mae Lamentillo as panelists; I can only hope that Yukon will one day give an actual talk here in the Philippines. We should all watch for that.

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