Noche Buena: “Ensaimada, Hot Chocolate, Christmas Ham” by World to Table via Creative Commons
Substantial segments of the economically-depressed Christian countries’ populations earn between the equivalent of an American greenback or two per day. On Christmas Eve, many have only morsels of food on the table. Even on ordinary days, I have witnessed poor Filipino families survive on one meal a day, and many eat only boiled rice with fish, or soy, sauce as the equivalent of the viand.
The United States sends both economic and military aid (E&MA) per year, mainly to developing countries. The Philippines, my homeland, receives close to $300 million every year. In countries ruled by despotic strongmen or women, a substantial portion of the E&MA lines the ruling party’s pockets and their supporters in the military.
How come even liberal members of the U.S. Congress policy and decision-makers continue to support the sending of billions of dollars of E&MA — as “EarMArked” (sic) in the annual federal budget? In my political novel, I quoted “One Day in the Life of a Filipino Sonovabitch” (1993, Asiangeles Publishing House) how then-U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield replied in the 1970s about this huge money being doled out yearly to then-Filipino Dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos. Mr. Mansfield allegedly said, “Marcos may be an SOB but he is our SOB.”
In case millennial readers do not know or have forgotten him, Michael Joseph Mansfield (1903-2001) was an American politician and diplomat. A member of the Democratic Party, he served as a U.S. Representative and a U.S. Senator from Montana. Mansfield was the longest-serving Senate Majority Leader and served from 1961 to 1977. During his tenure, he shepherded Great Society programs through the Senate.
“Our world needs to turn the “B2B” (Business-to-Business) slogan into a “Back-to-Basics” approach in solving peoples’ basic needs.”
Our world needs to turn the “B2B” (Business-to-Business) slogan into a “Back-to-Basics” approach in solving peoples’ basic needs. And what basic need is more important than food and water?
A Biden Doctrine may be able to initiate radical but politically-correct changes in the dispensing of American E&MA to all countries. How? Let me give you a concrete example of “reinventing” the E&MA.
I went back to my home province of Sorsogon to run for governor in the May 9, 2016, election. I campaigned principally on the local radio stations and posted my socioeconomic-and-governmental platforms on our website, www.mabuhayradio.com, and Facebook. One of my political advisers, a fishery expert, said that Sorsogon had more than 4,000 hectares (8,800 acres) of idle fishponds along Sorsogon Bay’s shores and the seven towns that face the Pacific Ocean. When I asked why these fishponds did not produce food, my agricultural adviser said the owners and operators were losing money because “armed bands” demanded shares in the harvest. Also, sometimes they lose half of the yields of fish or prawns or crabs. He said it was public knowledge that the so-called “armed bands” were composed of rebels or rogue-military units. With this information, I came up with a solution that I ventilated over the radio and online.
If elected the governor, I would move to organize four cooperatives (co-ops) consisting of residents — in partnership with the two “armed bands;” plus another co-op public school teachers and medical workers, and the fourth co-op for other government employees. As a joint venture, I would allot a thousand-hectares to each partner. Naturally, the rebels would have to cease their military campaign and work — on an amnesty — with the provincial government. If elected, I would ask Overseas-Filipino workers (OFWs), Overseas Filipinos, especially Filipino Americans, and multi-lateral organizations (and foundations) to invest in the co-ops. The co-ops can also support reforestation and even cultivate mangroves along Sorsogon Bay and the Pacific Ocean’s shores. Aside from the Return-on-Investment (ROI), the investors should be happy to know that their investments would protect the environment and generate more oxygen for a polluted world.
I also mentioned that Sorsogon Province, the Philippines, and the world need to turn the “B2B” (Business-to-Business) slogan into a “Back-to-Basics” approach in solving the peoples’ basic needs. And what basic need is more important than food and water?
“A President Biden can fight both poverty and global warming by converting the U.S. economic and military aid to overseas investments in food production and reforestation.
To start the project, I registered the domain name, www.sorsogonbay.com. But I lost and came out fifth out of eight candidates. (Since I only returned to my home province after a physical absence of more-than 27-years, the traditional politicians or “Trapos” laughed at my candidacy; and they all predicted that I would end up last in the crowded field of candidates.)
A President Biden can fight both poverty and global warming by converting the U.S. economic and military aid to overseas investments in food production and reforestation.
What if the suggested Biden Doctrine would adopt the idea that I floated in 2016? And convert the U.S. E&MA as investments by American co-ops in the fishing-and-reforestation or other food-manufacturing ventures such as the operation of modern fishing boats — by the local people, for the local people, and by the local people? The politicians and the vested interests may not object to the Biden Doctrine and its “reinvented” way of using the E&MA. One major deterrent is an announcement that the U.S. Embassy in Manila would not issue any visitors’ or business visas to the politicians and vested interests (or educational visas for their children) if they block the ventures. It will be an effective deterrent, as any nation’s elite and their children like to come to the U.S. to study, seek medical treatment, or take vacations.
This suggestion may also help solve the problem in the U.S. of overstaying aliens that have been duly-petitioned by their qualified relatives that are American citizens. It would persuade aliens with approved petitions to go back to their home countries, invest in the co-ops, and help manage them (see that it meets American-style accountability and transparency practice). Why would they agree to go back? Suppose the U.S. amend immigration laws to cut the waiting period by half. In that case, this means that recipients of a petition by a sibling (who is an American citizen) would have their wait of about 20 years, minimum, cut to a decade — before the visa becomes current.
And this immigration benefit would also apply — co-op ventures and social services — in the suggested Biden Doctrine for Mexico, Central-and-South America, and the Caribbean — as published and explained in the first eight segments of this column. After all, hunger and famine — as caused by social upheavals, natural disasters caused by Global Warming, and human-made tragedies — are also present in nearly 100 countries in the four corners of our planet.
This proposal will support the progressive and conservative wings of the U.S. Congress and the American policy and decision-makers. Just engaging in the fishing industry would generate multiplier economic benefits even in the United States, which imports almost 90% of the seafood cooked and eaten by American consumers.
“Yes, seed money to co-ops to provide food on the tables of poor people on Christmas Eve and all the days of the year. For hunger knows no boundary and affects all human beings — irrespective of their nationality, creed, skin color, sexual orientation, and whatnot.”
And this would remedy the problem of American firms that used to dominate the Philippine imports of food and other necessities. The U.S. was the number-one trading partner of the Philippines up to the late 1960s. As several members of the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ACCP) and I warned in the early 1970s, the U.S. was losing its ranking as the top economic partner of Filipino industrialists. Now the U.S. is only the seventh-biggest trading partner of the Philippines — after China, Japan, South Korea, India, Taiwan, and the ASEAN.
It will be heart-warming to the Biden family, and the generous Americans remember POTUS Biden in world history as the visionary leader who began reforms in foreign aid to impoverished countries by using them as investments. Yes, seed money to co-ops to provide food on the tables of poor people on Christmas Eve and all the days of the year. For hunger knows no boundary and affects all human beings — irrespective of their nationality, creed, skin color, sexual orientation, and whatnot.