Malthusian theory

IT’S PLEASING to learn that former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is back in harness, looking very hale and hearty.

Now congressman from Pampanga, GMA has announced she would file the proposed "Metro Manila Traffic Crisis Act of 2016", a bill seeking to grant newly installed President Rodrigo "Rody" Duterte emergency powers to address the economy-threatening conundrums in the streets of the metropolis.

GMA proposes a number of measures authorizing Duterte to enter into negotiated contracts for traffic and transportation projects without bidding, and to reorganize the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), among other prerogatives.

The emergency authority is designed to last only for two years, unless earlier recalled by Congress. Hmmm, we should wonder why Congress is being denied the leeway to extend the special authority beyond two years.


In any event, in one aspect of her conceivably wide-ranging bill, GMA stresses contractors would have to accelerate the implementation and completion of infrastructure projects in Metro Manila in order to decongest it.

At this point, I wish to inquire if there is in the bill a safeguard against the nefarious practice of greedy governors, mayors, legislators and other functionaries requiring contractors to set aside as much as 50% of construction costs to serve as kickbacks.

If there is none, do we have the crime-busting president's assurance that this vicious cycle of public works corruption will finally be crushed?

The smooth flow of traffic is always impeded --- and we all know this --- by repairs being done on the same roads at least twice a year.

However, a consensus among three contractors who acceded to separate interviews on condition of anonymity, shows that...hold your breath...a good asphalt road should be usable for at least 8 years, and a good cement road for at least 12 years. This anomaly has been going on since after the war when the GIs cemented Manila's España Street that lasted for over 25 years.


No less than members of the Makati Business Club (MBC), along with various stakeholders from the private sector, are upbeat on the grant of emergency powers to Rody, and expectedly they have offered GMA their hodgepodge of temporary reliefs; in a word, palliatives.

I don't mean to be unkind, but if the scourge of public works kickbacks is not proposed for eradication under the bill, what in tarnation do we get two years after the grant of emergency powers??? Answer: an excruciatingly dying process for our economy.

Fortunately, however, Pres. Rody has discerned the imperative of an effective birth control program, in effect: the need for amending or repealing the Reproductive and Health Law.

The proposition is elementary. Our worsening traffic mess is caused by the ever-bourgeoning number of vehicles resulting from a runaway population growth.

The enigma of population growth was first articulated by a British cleric, the Reverend Thomas Robert Malthus, who argued in his 1798 work "Principle of Population" that, "if left unchecked, a population 1) will outgrow its resources, leading to a host of problems and 2) will double itself every 25 years or will increase in a geometrical ratio".

Stop multiplying or perish!

The foregoing Malthusian argument, presented in an arguably simplistic manner, is what has come to be called the "Malthusian theory of population growth", espoused by not a few economists throughout the world. I happen to be among the theory's followers who believe that if Malthus were still around, his advice to us in relation to our traffic crisis and physical existence would be to stop multiplying or perish!

It's odd that most of us still fail to realize that the cited theory provides the fundamental solution, considering that, e.g., it is the one-child-per-family policy of China that has made her the stablest economy in the world today, not to mention those sturdy Scandinavian countries that also practice birth-control methods.

Resolute resistance

Resolute resistance to the application of the Malthusian remedy to the traffic crisis is expected to come from the Church --- and that would be ironic since Malthus was a Christian cleric.

Additionally, what is increasingly bothersome at this point is how our maverick president can push his agenda of aggressive changes without running afoul of the Law. Truly, resistance will mount!

For a more basic understanding of the subject population thesis, it is supposed that Malthus anchored his advocacy on the economic Law of Supply and Demand.

Simply put, demand (number of vehicles traveling on the road) must move on parallel lines with supply (width or space of the road) in order to prevent congestion.

Similarly, it bears noting that, e.g., demand for and supply of food must move on parallel lines in order to stabilize the price line, thereby preventing as many people as possible from going hungry.

Esoteric theory

It's understandable that the Malthus' legacy, being a mere theory, faces scornful opposition from the scientific and religious fields, the latter most especially, where serious questions are raised on matters relating to birth control methods that "tinker with life".

In this connection, I thank my good friends Oscar Orbos, Arturo de Leon, Triccie Cepeda Sison and others, whose well-meaning criticisms I took serious consideration of regarding the esoteric ideas of Rev. Thomas Robert Malthus.

By the way, no less than Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno has advised the Duterte administration to observe the Rule of Law in its search of ways of thawing the transport and traffic boiling point, while stressing a need to review some pesky TRO cases involving expropriation of private property for public use.

Let's all pray for Pres. Rodrigo Roa Duterte, who may well rise or fall on how faithfully he can satisfy the requirements of the Rule of Law. Hopefully, his antisocial nature will not get the better of the people's yearnings.

Joke only

Let me end this piece with what I think is a typical DU30 joke. "As for capital punishment, I adhere to the retributive Old Testament doctrine of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. Kapag nag-murder ka, ipapatay din kita. Pag nag-rape ka, ipa-rape din kita. Sige, subukan mo!"

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Monday, 16 December 2019
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