Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Let them be Billionaires

So I did some back-of-the-envelope calculations today. According to Forbes’ 37th Annual World’s Billionaires List for 2023, the world’s 2,640 billionaires are worth a total of $12.2 trillion (yes, with a T). Now it got me thinking: what if we could somehow redistribute all that wealth but—since we’re being nice and we assume all this wealth was somehow honestly and ethically earned through personal talent, grit, and kind luck—still allow each of the billionaires to keep $1 billion each?

Now, before you cry for all those 2,640 people whose wealth we’re redistributing, please remember that reducing their wealth to $1 billion each by no means makes them paupers: they literally remain billionaires. To put this in perspective, the net worth of the entire British royal family—that’s King Charles III and Queen Camilla down to those minor royals with funny hats—is about $500 million. Even after the wealth redistribution, each of our billionaires would still have double the net worth of the entire House of Windsor. So rather than making them paupers, our rather generous redistribution scheme leaves them with more than a kingly sum.

So, back to the envelope’s backside. If we do take that wealth and leave those 2,640 billionaires with $1 billion each, we will have $9.56 trillion for redistribution or redistributive social spending. So what can we do with this pot? Well, a lot:

·       Give about $1,200 to everyone currently alive on this planet
·       Provide $14,507 to each of the 659 million people living below the international poverty line of $2.15 per person per day
·       Fund the UNHCR ($9.1 billion in 2022) 100 times over and give refugees some proper living conditions
·       Feed the world’s 828 million people living in hunger
·       Close the estimated global healthcare financing gap of $176 billion per year for half a century
·       Build 82.4 million Singapore-style public housing flats, which is more than enough to house the more than 100 million estimated homeless people around the world
·       Eliminate the $1.75 trillion total accumulated student debt in the US as of 2023, and have enough left over for future generations of college students
·       Pay reparations for African American slavery ($4.7 trillion estimate) and Native American genocide ($3.4 billion settlement and counting) several times over
·       Match total charitable and philanthropic donations ($485 million in the US in 2022) many times over
·       Etc. What good for humanity can you do with $9,560,000,000,000?

Or the billionaires could turn them into gold coins, put them in a large vault, and swim in it just like Scrooge McDuck. That looked fun and not painful at all.

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Online Publications

As lead author or project manager

PSU flagship publications
APEC in Charts: since 2015

PSU reports and publications

As co-author or project team member

SME Internationalisation
Global Data Standards 2
Global Data Standards 1
Peer Review Papua New Guinea
Peer Review Viet Nam
Peer Review Indonesia
Peer Review Philippines
Value Chain Resilience
APEC Quality Growth Assessment 2015
APEC Connectivity Blueprint 2015-2025

Monday, December 7, 2020

Out-of-office reply, 11 Dec 2020-4 Jan 2021

Email is unread
An inbox is untended
Swept on holiday
“Out-of-the-office,” the automaton writes back.
No sooner than January 4th will I unpack.
Letters will be read, but when? Not known.
Emails replied to when opportunity is shown.
   And if something needs my urgent look,
   Very dire matters about something mistook,
Email won’t do. Try my phone. 

Thursday, November 19, 2020


I always thought that letse -- as in the "letse ka!" vulgarity we love to use in the Philippines -- is derived from Spanish. After all, letse... leche... 333 years of Spanish occupation... just made sense. But then I heard of the Bahasa Melayu word leceh which is used exactly the way we use letse, and it got me rethinking my hypothesis. I am now inclined to think we got it from our Malayo-Austronesian roots rather than Spanish. Let me explain. 

Leche as a cuss word, I understand, is practically unheard of in modern Spain or Latin America. It's milk, and you're more likely to hear it in the context of desserts rather than their digested byproduct. Closest uses of leche as an expression I could find are me cago en la leche and con mala leche, which are used more like exasperations or idiomatic expressions.

The Malay leceh, on the other hand, is an accusative or insult directed at a person or situation. Meaning troublesome or annoying, leceh requires an object and is used in almost the exact same context we use letse. 

This will need more research and confirmation, but I am now inclined to think that letse is a pre-Hispanic cuss word. It may be more related to leceh than leche. Amazing how inverting two letters can change the entire history of this cuss word. 

Friday, June 12, 2020

I'm calling it: 4 more years

It's going to be four more years. He has a solid 30-40% base that won't budge and would almost surely vote. The other side has a solid 30-40% too (including anti-status quo independents), but they're concentrated in cities and already-blue states so in Electoral College terms they're a minority. Base-versus-base will surely go his way. The wavering independents and moderate conservatives need to be converted and vote against their party, but I don't see that happening at all. So it's 4 more years.

Prove me wrong in November.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020


I've always disliked ABS-CBN. It's a power peddler, using its privileged position as a broadcaster to lobby for the business interests of its controlling family. It has launched the political careers of several politicians, some more qualified than others, and relished in its ability to do so. More ethical broadcasters would reel at the suggestion of directly involving themselves with the first three estates.

But we need to put all that aside for now. What we have here is a state bent on controlling the media, trying to ensure that only its crafted narrative is heard. This is an existential threat to our democracy. We cannot let this happen. Congress should get off its ass, stop using the pandemic as an excuse, and immediately renew the broadcasting franchise. And I can go back to dissing ABS-CBN again.

Monday, March 23, 2020

An Act

An Act
By V.C. Sotto III and P.S. Cayetano

Strangely empty streets.
From one empty shelf to another
in supermarkets.
Closed shops.
Factory closures.
Curfews being implemented.
Military and medical personnel are manning checkpoints.
Class suspensions.

People are staying at home.
People are working from home.
Socializing is restricted.
Uncertainty and fear among people