Certain advocates of “constitutional reform” make use of two cornerstone arguments to support their position that a change in form of government will necessarily translate to an improved probability that the Philippines will prosper as a society over a given period: (a) a correlation between systems of government and evidence of prosperity in today’s nations, and (b) an “algorithm” for demonstrating how differences in systems of governance determine the quality of leaders elected into office.
The above approach taken by constitutional reform “advocates” to persuade their audience to embrace their hypothesis hinges on the flawed notion that changing the Philippines’ system of government from a presidential form of government to a parliamentary form will necessarily spell a future of prosperity for the nation.
The cornerstone of my counter-argument revolves around a simple problem statement (what I will refer to henceforth as the proposition being tested):
Statement A: Does a society’s system of governance strongly determine its ability to prosper?
In short, is..
SoG => P
(where: SoG = system-of-governance and P = prosperity)
… a valid argument?
The term prosper in the context of the above (and for the purpose of this article) I define as a society’s collective ability to tap natural capital, create and accumulate non-natural capital, and apply both to realise economic-added-value productivity gains to realise an improvement of its people’s standard of living.
My hypothesis is just as straightforward:
Statement B: System of governance is not a strong determinant of ability to prosper.
Before I go on to explore my hypothesis in greater detail, I shall first articulate a bit of what I think of the two persuasion approaches I cited above that serve as the cornerstones of these advocacies’ proposal to consider a change in the form of political governance over the Philippine state:
(1) Association does not imply a causal relationship
Asserting that the number of the top ten-odd most prosperous nations on the planet make use of the parliamentary system and the bottom ten-odd most impvoerished nations on the planet make use of a presidential system establishes a correlation but does not conclusively establish causality between a system of governance and an inclination to prosper.
(2) The algorithmic framework establishing the impact of a system of governance to the prospects for prosperity of a society proposed by advocates of a shift to the parliamentary system stops at the quality of leaders elected.
Some of the more developed literature on the proposal to change the Philippines’ system of government to a parliamentary one establishes a clear causal relationship between system of governance and quality of leadership.
To put this concept in its proper perspective, let us break up the problem statement, Statement A, into two of its relevant component parts:
Statement A(1): System of governance determines quality of elected leaders.
Statement A(2): Quality of elected leaders determines ability of a society to prosper.
SoG => QL and QL => P; therefore SoG => P.
(where QL = quality of elected leaders)
Let is suppose for argument’s sake that the first half of the proposition (Statement A(1)) being tested has been proven to be correct:
System of governance determines quality of elected leaders; or,
SoG => QL (proven to be valid!)
That then leaves the second half of the proposition being tested open for debate:
Quality of elected leaders determines ability of a society to prosper; or,
QL => P (not proven to be valid!)
That is where this “logical gap” is. A space that, in the venerable words of Captain Kirk, is the final frontier.
Indeed, my electioneering magnum opus Platform, plezâ„¢ is built around around a component structure consistent with Statement A and its components: (1) elect the right leader using world class thinking; and (2) hold said leader accountable using world class thinking. Perhaps, the nature of our system of governance is proven to be an enabler — or hindrance — to doing the earlier. But is it a factor in the latter?
In fact I had, a while back, already put a bit of rigour in fleshing out that last question in my FilipinoVoices.com article Who cares if Gloria is president after 2010?, thus:
* * *
Is there some kind of evidence or at least some kind of logical construct that convincingly describes some kind of causal relationship between (A) the character or even identity of the President of the Philippines and (B) the prospects of the Philippines achieving some semblance of sustainable prosperity?
Can we, infer from a value of A, what the probability distribution for a set of values of B might be?
For example, what many people claim to be a certainty can be expressed like this (using the conventions I loosely spelled out above):
IF A = GMA and Year > 2010,
THEN B = Disaster for the Philippines
My question is this: Is there an A=>B relationship?
* * *
Therefore the question in Statement A remains debatable and, hopefully, a convincing answer will emerge over a continued process of free enquiry.
Does a shift to a new system of governance necessarily imply a significant change in the probability that the Philippines will be a prosperous country, say, in ten years time?
Or for that matter in 50 years?
It’s another one of those things that make you go hmmmm…
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