A word from the dismal science

I was reminded of it when I read Rina David’s column today.

The “calibrated preemptive response” policy is purportedly about putting an end to a season of protests by clamping down on them and ensuring they keep within legal bounds. But what the policy has instead accomplished is to ratchet up the scale and frequency of the protests. Initial public cynicism and indifference to the moves to oust the President are steadily being replaced with anger, alarm and a sense of solidarity with the protesters who have been beaten back, pummeled, arrested and now soaked.

"Ratchet" has a specific meaning for economists. Or rather, for economists, the word’s real meaning has not lost the following particular nuance: to ratchet is to move in increments, yes, but to move only in one direction.

David is writing of the protests, of course, but I would think the word applies even more directly to the administration’s hard-line response. The President and her closest advisers (I say this, although I have reason to believe it is really the President who is pushing the hard line) think their policy is "calibrated," but in reality it has had the effect of ratcheting up the administration’s level of intolerance. Now that even an eminently non-confrontational political player like Brother Mike Velarde has had harsh words to say about last Friday’s "wet" dispersal, surely an economist like Ms Arroyo can appreciate the nuance?

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1 Comment

Filed under Readings in Politics

One response to “A word from the dismal science

  1. John,

    I was going through the Yahoo search engine on “Reyes v. Bagatsing” and “B. P. blg. 880” and one particular item struck me. It had to do with the term “calibrated”. And it came from Marvic Leonen, UP Law Professor.

    It is found in http://www.bulatlat.net/news/5-14/5-14-permit.htm. But just to quote the pertinent portion:

    “Regarding rallies held without permit, Leonen said that police should not automatically use force to disperse ralliers. There should be negotiations first, he explained. But if all attempts at negotiation have failed and the situation turns violent, the police could use force to disperse the rally, but the force should be calibrated not excessive.”

    Apparently, some Malacanang lawyers may have been students of Marvic, was aware of his terminology and twisted it to suit their interpretation.

    But I doubt if Ermita knew about its history.
    Just guessing, though.

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