“Old-Man River” Ventures Can Make America Again the World’s Biggest Trading Partner

by Bobby Reyes

Soldiers work multi-billion dollar mission | Photo by US Army via Flickr/Creative Commons 2.0

Part XXII of the “EDEN America” Series

The second series of articles in this column was about how then-President-elect Joe Biden could change American foreign policy. This columnist wrote an “unsolicited advice” of a “Biden Back-to-Basics Doctrine.” One of the suggested steps was to eliminate America’s “economic and military aid” (E&MA) and instead use the billions of taxpayers’ funds as investments in the socio-economic development of the country’s recipients. Like redoing the “Medical Center” project of the United States in the City of Manila, Philippines, built in the early 1900s. And building — on joint ventures — 49 similar medical centers in strategic places in the world. And with it, also creating healthcare infrastructures, including schools of nursing, medicine, and other related courses.

Then top it with a research-and-development (R&D) complex that will eventually manufacture affordable therapeutic drugs, herbal and natural medicine, and vaccines. Universal healthcare is now a human right. But the Third World cannot afford the latest drugs and medical care. And they cannot fight pandemics successfully if vaccination is done only in rich countries.

The series talked of an “Elementary, Mr. Watson” conceptual framework of approach if the United States were to maintain its status as the world’s number-one economy and become the top trading partner of many countries again. Because many foreign leaders simply steal a big bulk of the E&MA.

The classic example is a question by many people. How had American policy and decision makers allow then Filipino Dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos, his family, and in-laws to steal billions in his 20-year reign? And the Marcos cronies stole much more from the projects funded by the U.S. Export and Import Bank. Why? Because American leaders rationalized that “Marcos may be a son of a bi_ch but he is our SOB.” I mentioned this fact in my 1993 political novel, One Day in the Life of a Filipino SOB. It is noted that people have accused the Marcoses of being the world’s wealthiest family because American leaders tolerated their questionable practices at the expense of American taxpayers and the Filipino people. But then Mr. Marcos’ successors at the Office of the Philippine President allegedly but gladly stepped into their Marcoses’ shoes (pun intended). Then now, 35-years later (and counting), the carousel of corruption continues to spin in the country that they described as having been “molded” by American bureaucrats, teachers, missionaries, and military personnel, including Buffalo soldiers and militia volunteers from many states like Tennessee.

“It is noted that people have accused the Marcoses of being the world’s wealthiest family because American leaders tolerated their questionable practices at the expense of American taxpayers and the Filipino people.”

This journalist probably established a record in the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ACCP). It is because I represented three American moving and storage companies (one after another) in the ACCP: Dean Van Lines (in 1970), NorthAmerican Van Lines (1972), and the Kingpak Van Lines (1978). At the ACCP meetings, I told my peers that eventually, the U.S.A. would lose its position as the top trading partner of the Philippines. It was a pity since the Filipino homeland was an American colony from 1899 to 1946. American diplomats assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Manila heard my prediction, but their superiors in the District of Columbia probably did not bother to act on them.

It was the same message that I delivered to the Household Goods Forwarders Association leaders of the United States and became its highest-ranked Asian member of its Advisory Board in 1978-1979. But even if the movers’ association was in Washington, D.C., its top officials ignored my prophecies. As in my forecast, America would eventually run out of truck drivers and movers because young men (and women) like “easy jobs” that paid more by the looming computer companies, IT firms, and the coming social-media changes. And by other firms that do not require back-breaking labor. Ergo, America needs to bring in young overseas workers to be educated and trained in the United States.

In 2017, the major Philippine trading-partner countries for exports were (in this order) Japan, the United States, China, Hong Kong (part of China), South Korea, and the European Union. And for imports, they were China, Japan, Korea, the European Union, the United States, and Thailand.

But when it comes to the “export” of human resources, the U.S.A. is the top preferred destination of many foreign workers. Filipino medical workers in the United States number now have more than 600,000 Filipino nurses, 22,000 physicians, and hundreds of thousands more other medical professionals — from dentists to medical technicians, pharmacists, dietitians, licensed caregivers, and other professional workers needed by hospitals, hospices, clinics, and nursing homes. Almost all of the “imported” Filipino workers are now citizens of the United States. And model citizen-taxpayers in that respect.

Now “back to the future,” to use an oft-quoted movie expression. The future is now. The “Old-Man River” plans, programs, or “dreams” (to use the term used by my critics, nay detractors) — if translated into feasibility studies and business templates — can easily reclaim for the United States its role as the leading trading partner of many nations. It is easy to substantiate this claim. Why? Because many nationalities in lots of countries still prefer Americans to become their best and most significant trading partners, suppliers of competitive-priced technology, services, state-of-the-art equipment, and other needs of an emerging “Green World.” The United States of America remains the ideal place to work, advance the workers’ careers, and build their local equivalent of the “shining cities on the hills.”

“Imagine if they spent the trillions of dollars waging bloody wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other God-forsaken places in the Middle East, Africa, and the Third World just developing rivers and coastal bodies of water in the world? For sure, Planet Earth would be a lot better.”

Yes, “Green towns, cities and countries of the Future.” We can construct new settlements for the 22nd century to celebrate individual freedom, material prosperity, and American-like enterprise and entrepreneurship. It is a global clarion call for people to renew their optimism, believe in themselves and their goodness to fellow humans again.

Suppose voters — starting in the 33 states connected with the Mississippi River — can force their political leaders in the 2022 and 2024 elections to act and lead Public-Private Partnerships. In that case, the “Old-Man River” ideas, beginning with the TNsea.net concept, can become a reality in less than a decade or two. The process of introducing American-like enterprises and entrepreneurship in foreign partner countries (that have medium-to-big rivers) will be a lot better (and mutually beneficial) and cheaper than “gunboat diplomacy.”

Imagine if they spent the trillions of dollars waging bloody wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other God-forsaken places in the Middle East, Africa, and the Third World just developing rivers and coastal bodies of water in the world? For sure, Planet Earth would be a lot better. For it will take simply a will to do “sustainable investing” on the part of Americans to lead humanity again in fighting new world wars against pandemics, poverty, plastic-powered pollution, if not the pains and pangs of hopelessness.

1 comment

Roberto (Bobby) M. Reyes December 11, 2021 - 3:01 pm

My opinion is that — from the viewpoint of ill-gotten wealth — the Marcoses are the world’s richest family. It is certainly a badge of dishonor for all Filipinos.

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