A #YangGang Story: Billy & Gretchen Morgan

Billy and Gretchen Morgan

So I was scanning the Andrew Yang For President 2020 Basecamp FB group a couple of days ago, and saw this post by a #YangGang member of a #MyYangStory YouTube video by Billy Morgan, another Yang Gang member.
In the video, posted on August 26, 2019, Billy introduces us to his wife of 26 1/2 years, Gretchen, who is bedridden because of multiple sclerosis (MS). Billy explains that he is an Andrew Yang supporter because of what the Freedom Dividend of a 1,000 dollars, a Universal Basic Income, can do for their family: they won’t have to think so much of their bills while he takes care of his wife.

Billy and Gretchen Morgan’s #MyYangStory video

In the video, he addresses the Yang Gang folks on Twitter, so I looked him up on the social media platform, but sadly found out from his most recent posts that Gretchen had died. In a YouTube video dated November 16, a distraught and tired-looking Billy explained that Gretchen passed away peacefully in her sleep on November 4. However, because of all the expenses, they haven’t kept up with their rent payments and were in danger of being evicted. He sought help — although with hesitation because of their previous generosity — from the Yang Gang via the GoFundMe page for Gretchen.

Billy Morgan’s latest video where he tells us the passing away of his wife Gretchen.


Billy Morgan’s situation is typical of why a lot of people are fighting for Andrew Yang to be president. They see him as their final hope. Somehow, the system has failed them, or has not sufficiently addressed their needs. In the GoFundMe page for Gretchen,  it says that “Gretchen lost her disability due to an error on her paperwork,” and that it has left them “struggling ever since.” This is why the Freedom Dividend, Andrew Yang’s flagship policy, is important for a lot of Americans. Every individual or situation is unique, and the Freedom Dividend gives them the freedom and power to address their financial and other concerns. It is also a way around or a better alternative to the “errors” and failings of government bureaucracy.

In short, many in the Yang Gang are fighting not just for Andrew Yang, but for themselves and for the rest of the Americans. This election is the fight of /for their lives.


Billy is still seeking the help of Yang Gang, and doing everything he can for his family — aside from the concern about the rent, both of his daughters are pregnant, according to his latest video.


One of the reasons I’m writing this blog post because I’m assuming that there are still members of the Yang Gang (and even non-members) who haven’t heard of his story, and maybe would like to help. The power of our community is that aside from our sense of mission of bringing Andrew Yang to the White House, we are all guided by his campaign slogan, “Humanity First.” We are not just a movementwe are also a family, and we take care of one another. Thank you, in advance, Yang Gang!


If you enjoyed, learned something from, or were insipired by this article, kindly consider donating (if PayPal: paypal.me/filipinowriter), be one of my patrons at Patreon, or please contact me at filipinocreative@gmail.com — your way of providing me a basic income   — so that I may continue my advocacies and continue to research & write more such articles.

11 Reasons Why I Support Andrew Yang

If you are my friend or follower on social media, you may have noticed — and perhaps found it curious, if not weird, since I am a Filipino and not a U.S. citizen — that most of my posts are about the U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang. This post is where I explain why.

You may already know that I first became aware of Andrew Yang’s run for the presidency after watching historian Rutger Bregman’s talk on Universal Basic Income (UBI). It wasn’t long before YouTube’s (thanks YouTube!) algorithm recommended to me an interview of Andrew Yang. And that was the start of my journey into the Andrew Yang rabbit hole. (Once you fall through, it’s very hard to climb back up.)

Next stop in the adventures, as people in the comment section recommended, was Joe Rogan’s podcast. For members of the #YangGang — the collective monicker for Yang’s supporters, and the campaign’s de facto hashtagthe Rogan podcast with Andrew Yang is usually the point of no return. Yang’s strength is the long-form interview, and once you hear one, especially this now iconic conversation, you are hooked for life. It was the same for me, and members of the Yang Gang can relate to this.

When you wake up, you want to watch the latest video or news or interview of Andrew Yang. Before you go to bed, you need to have your fill of Yang content. You have this urge to tell friends and family about this guy who is “the opposite of Donald Trump, the Asian guy who likes MATH.” MATH connotes love for facts and evidence-based solutions. It’s also the acronym for Make America Think Harder, the answer and/or antidote to Trump’s MAGA or Make America Great Again.

But going back to the purpose of this article, here are the reasons why I, a non-U.S. citizen — and there are many of us from all continents — am #YangGang.

Andrew Yang on a recent cover of Newsweek.

1.

If Andrew Yang wins, it will mainstream Basic Income. Yang’s flagship policy is Universal Basic Income (UBI) which he has named the Freedom Dividend (because, according to him, it polls better with conservatives). Watching Rutger Bregman’s TED talk about Basic Income, and researching more about it, convinced me that Basic Income is a major solution to the problem of inequality and poverty, empowering & giving economic freedom to individuals and communities.

In Bregman’s book Utopia for Realists, he included a graph showing how inequality and social ills (and health) are interrelated. The greater your nation’s inequality, the more you are plagued by social problems. It doesn’t matter if you are a developed or developing country.

Here in the Philippines, where poverty rate is around 20%, it would be easier to advocate for an unconditional (emphasis on this word) Basic Income, if one of the leading economies in the world — the U.S. — adopts it. And even if your goals are not overly ambitious, e.g. providing regular incomes (which may be time-bound) to survivors of natural (typhoons and earthquakes) and man-made (extrajudicial killings related to the brutal War on Drugs & suppression of dissent) disasters, implementing and gathering resources for these unconditional cash transfer programs would be easier.

2.

Andrew Yang is an authentic human being who truly cares. Yang is a graduate of two Ivy League schools, a lawyer, and entrepreneur, and he could have gotten filthy rich (his net worth is estimated to be just around 1 million USD) but he chose to pursue the path of helping new graduates and would-be entrepreneurs via his non-profit Venture for America.

He saw the need to create more jobs throughout rest of America and he did something about it. And when he found out that the loss of jobs because of automation was faster than he and the rest of America could create employment, he decided to run for president when he saw the government would not do anything about it. He truly cares for his country and for his family. In this clip of his interview with the lawyer/political activist Lawrence Lessig, his voice breaks at the the end when explained why he was running.

Andrew Yang’s voice break when he explains why he is running for U.S. president.

And the greatest proof of his authenticity is when he interacts with his supporters. For example, Yang prevented this guy from getting hurt while the latter was taking a video with his smart phone.

In other words, Andrew Yang walks his talk. During his campaign, he has given 1,000 USD a month for 1 year to more than 10 recipients, just to show that the Freedom Dividend works, improving lives.

Andrew Yang talks to four new recipients of his 1,000 USD Freedom Dividend.

3.

Andrew Yang is extremely intelligent. He is well-read, and up to date about the newest evidence and data about the issues. He now has more than 160 policies (and growing) on his website Yang2020.com, ranging from big issues like Universal Basic Income, Healthcare/Medicare For All, Climate Change, Gun Safety, Harm Reduction and Decriminalization of drug use, to relatively smaller ones like paying student athletes, banning robo-calls, having a White House psychologist, etc. His intelligence also shines through in the way he has conducted this campaign, treating it like a start-up, and making it as organic as possible.

4.

Andrew Yang is an excellent communicator. He stays on message in his interviews and speeches. He has mastered the art of the call and response in his rallies which has solidified his bond with the #YangGang. He is so good with this strategy of repetition that one supporter has even memorized his stump speech.

5.

Andrew Yang is an optimist. One cannot fake one’s personality and character. And Andrew Yang’s positive energy oozes from his person and is infectious. Although he paints a dystopic future, he believes that we can do something about it with the right and creative solutions.

6.

Andrew Yang will be a great leader for the 4th Industrial Revolution. Automation will displace millions of jobs, and Universal Basic income will provide the floor from which the displaced, or what the economist and Basic Income advocate Guy Standing has called the precariat, can navigate and survive this next great disruption. Yang knows technology, and is the best-equipped candidate to provide the solutions.

7.

Andrew Yang unites. Andrew Yang has started a movement called the Yang Gang. And this movement is not just national, but international in composition. Domestically, it is highly diverse, made up of broad coalition of Democrats, Republicans, progressives, conservatives, independents, libertarians, disaffected Trump supporters, and very significantly, the politically disengaged. Internationally, you can find people in social media and the chat groups supporting him from the Americas, Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa, etc.

Moreover, this powerhouse support is technologically-savvy, spreading the #Yang2020 message on platforms like Twitter, Reddit, Instagram, Facebook, and Youtube. The latter streaming and video platform is the bailiwick of the Yang Gang, with supporters who have organically become major influencers in the Yang Universe: e.g. actor Paget Kagy, 18-year old, film major, Kai Watson, Mindful Skeptics’ Boyce Littlefield, and graph-loving Nerds for Yang Youtuber, Tom Leung. Twitter meanwhile is the second major stronghold of the Yang Gang, where Andrew Yang’s followers has recently reached the 1 million milestone, and growing fast as we speak.

Actor Paget Kagy in one of her video posts after the fourth Democratic debate.

8.

Andrew Yang is a loving family man who wants a better future for his children (one of whom is autistic) and the rest of the youth. His love for his family shines through during his speeches when he says he misses his wife and kids. In one instance, after a woman asking about gun safety told how one of her children accidentally shot the other, Yang couldn’t help but cry, remembering his two children. He has a beautiful, intelligent, and supportive wife, Evelyn, who has left her job to take care of their two children. This love and dedication to his family I think is so genuine and expansive, that his supporters cannot help but feel that they are part of Yang’s extended family. Thus, the aforementioned passionate support.

Andrew Yang’s wife Evelyn Yang introduced in one of the campaign’s first digital ads.

9.

Andrew Yang is cool and has a great sense of humor. He is literally cool — he is level-headed, and doesn’t get flustered in interviews and in debates, and sticks to the issue at hand. He skateboards, crowdsurfs, plays the piano, shoots hoops, has awesome dance moves, and was once a goth.

He is funny and has tons of fun. Even his fundraisings are fun. See him and his campaign manager Zach Graumann wear silly headwear during their Halloween fundraising. Because of this calm and positive disposition, he will be a president who can think and decide calmly when faced with momentous decisions and in times of crisis.

10.

All of these traits make Andrew Yang an excellent leader. A military veteran (and bioengineer), Russel Toll, gave an excellent impromptu speech during #Yangapalooza rally in Iowa, comparing him to the best leaders he has known in the military.

11.

For all these reasons, Andrew Yang inspires. Andrew Yang is a man with a vision, believes in that vision, and communicates that vision effectively. He has made not just millions of Americans believe in that vision, but the rest of world as well. The poor, the precariat, the workers, the middle class, the artists, the scientists, and the entrepreneurs, have seen that this man speaks the truth, and are now passing on that message with passion.

A supporter-created video of Andrew Yang’s vision for America.

Personally speaking, Andrew Yang has helped show me the way. For a while now, I have been financially challenged, and am at a crossroads on how to go on about living life, whether I should prioritize earning a living (freelance writing), or pursuing my art (creative writing), or helping others especially my countrymen/women living in poverty and suffering injustice. Basic Income has shown me that pursuing all these choices is possible — that is, if we all take care of each other via a regular stipend, living a life of purpose and meaning will not be a hard choice.

Andrew Yang has also shown me that anything is possible if everyone of us just starts to act. Yang saw the future, and he did not like it. No one was willing to confront the challenges in Washington D.C., so he did what all true leaders do: take it on himself. He has also proven to me that one person’s action can lead others to take action as well. The life counsel “Be the change that you want to see in the world.” has never been more true in Yang’s case. He is living proof that one’s generosity of spirit can make others be generous as well, in spirit and in kind. Andrew Yang’s example has empowered and enabled me to make up my mind: I will dedicate my time, however long it takes, to making Basic Income — in the U.S., my country the Philippines, and the rest of the world — a reality.


If you enjoyed, learned something from, or were insipired by this article, kindly consider donating (if PayPal: paypal.me/filipinowriter), be one of my patrons at Patreon, or please contact me at filipinocreative@gmail.com — your way of providing me a basic income   — so that I may continue my advocacies and continue to research & write more such articles.

Crowdfunding My Historical Mystery Novel Set in 1930s Manila

Dear friends, family, & fans of literature,

After a decade or so, I have decided to revive my creative writing project: a historical mystery novel set in Manila during the American Colonial Period, specifically during the 1930s or Comonwealth Era. It’s been a long dream of mine, and come to think of it, its genesis may be traced to more than two decades ago when I started reading & becoming interested in historical mysteries in the mid-90s, a couple of years after graduating from college in 1993 — I’ve been a mystery fan ever since I discovered the stories of Sherlock Holmes in my high school library.

The novel would be a perfect project to work on since it will be a point of convergence — invoking the Japanese spirit/concept of Ikigai — of some of my passions and interests: writing, mystery, history, heritage, and social issues. By writing a historical mystery novel, I hope to both entertain and educate, to help us learn more about our past in an interesting way so that we can understand ourselves better today, and perhaps aid us in our task of nation-building. (I have finished before a similar project: an unproduced historical screenplay about Aguinaldo & Bonifacio called “Ang Heneral at ang Supremo.”)

However, I cannot do this alone. Such a project would require investing a significant amount of time for research and the writing itself. I want to be focused in finishing the project while sustaining myself.

I have therefore decided to crowdfund the writing of this dream of mine. With your help, my goal is to come up with a finished book after one year. A 250-peso (5 US dollars) donation — but feel free to be generous! — from each of you will go a long way in sustaining me while I work on the project. I am aiming for 100 to 120 donors a month, or 1200-1440 donors in one year. In return for your help, I will reward you, in a year’s time, with an E-BOOK of my finished work.

The funds will go, specifically, to paying my monthly rent & other bills, expenses for research, and food for myself, and the five stray cats I have adopted: Cato, Robin, Marvel, Wolverine, & Storm. ☺ I also have to buy either a new or secondhand laptop since my decade-old computer notebook died on me more than a week ago. (Thankfully, the hard drive and data — photos & videos of advocacies and personal ones — were safe. I am seeking a second opinion from a reputable repair shop, but not really holding my breath. Right now, I’m writing this on my 2nd-gen iPhone).

That’s about it! If you want to come along with me on this exciting journey, you may send your donations via the following accounts or payment platforms. After sending the money, pls. write me an e-mail at filipinocreative@gmail.com with the subject: Historical Mystery, and include the following in the message:
-your name
-the amount you sent,
-a photo of the deposit slip (or transaction, if possible)
and
-your e-mail address, if you would like me to include you in a mailing list for regular updates.

Banco De Oro (Katipunan Branch-Regis Center, Loyola Heights, Quezon City)
Account number: 007640061501
Account name: Medardo M. Manrique Jr.

Landbank (University of the Philippines)
Account number: 3076015537
Account name: Medardo M. Manrique Jr.

G-Cash/Paymaya: 09215482622

Paypal: filipinowriter@gmail.com

Pls feel free to spread the word and share this blog post via e-mail, social media, and various messaging platforms, including SMS.

Thank you very much, in advance, for your generosity.

With Love, Light, & Gratitude,

Dino Manrique

 

The 5 Second Rule: How to Gain Courage & Confidence

I think the first time it really sank in was when the facilitator of our iDEFEND General Assembly approached me to ask if I would talk instead to the speaker later who at that point was answering her last set of questions, and I said, without hesitation, “No, I want everyone to hear this.” Three months ago, I most probably wouldn’t have done that. But that was before I came across Mel Robbins‘ book The 5 Second Rule: Transform your Life, Work, and Confidence with Everyday Courage (5SR).

How Does the 5 Second Rule Work?

So what is the 5SR? It is a personal growth tool to force yourself to stop worrying or being indecisive and to take action instead. How exactly does it work? All you have to do is say 5-4-3-2-1, and Go! Take action! 

In the first part of book, Mel Robbins tells us how she came upon the idea of the 5SR. It was a very difficult part of her life. She was drinking too much, had trouble at work, and was having problems with her marriage. In the mornings, when the alarm would ring — so she can begin her day, take care of breakfast, and the kids — she would repeatedly press the snooze button. She was caught in a vicious cycle of worrying and dread.

One night, in bed while watching TV, she saw a NASA rocket blast off after the usual countdown, and that’s when the idea struck her. She would countdown herself to take action. The following morning, when the alarm rang, she 5-4-3-2-1 herself to get up without pressing the snooze button. And the rest was history. It completely changed her life. In all aspects of her life, she chose to use the 5SR to stop drinking, fix her relationship with her husband, help her husband get out of his business debt, find her passion as a life coach and speaker, and help hundreds of thousands of people with their lives. And, recently, it helped mine.

It was as if there was a personality change. Now, not to toot my own horn (magbuhat ng sariling bangko), I already was comfortable talking to people, and found my role as a connector among individuals and organizations in my advocacies. I was already comfortable as well in my own skin. During meetings and forums, I would share my thoughts at opportune moments. However, during this particular general assembly, it was different. It was as if, I added another level to my powers — “lumevel-up,” in Filipino slang. I did not hesitate to share my thoughts, question assumptions, etc. Kung walanghiya ako noon, mas naging walanghiya pa ako ngayon. (If I was shameless then, I was even “more shameless” now).

So why does the 5SR work? According to Robbins, the 5SR is a metacognition tool — metacognition refers to the state of being aware of what’s happening to your mind or thought processes — to force yourself to access your prefrontal cortex where rational processes/thoughts and conscious decisions occur. Instead of thinking of excuses or being caught in a loop of worry, you are forced — by counting 5-4-3-2-1 to take action, GO! Our brain doesn’t want the unfamiliar — its primitive way of keeping us safe. However, our brain doesn’t know that we already live in a different context. The 5SR is our way of short-circuiting, as it were, that evolutionary impulse to survive.

Activation Energy

In the book, Robbins explains that activation energy — coined by the legendary psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, author of Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience — is the reason why making change is so hard, and that the 5SR starts the process of breaking down this obstacle. She says:

Activation Energy is that “initial huge push of energy that’s required to change, — whether it’s to get a stalled car to move forward or yourself out of a warm bed in the morning.

When you start to count 5 4 3 2 1, it is the beginning of a chain of reaction that not only awakens the prefrontal cortex, but also gets you ready to make that physical “initial huge push” that’s required to change.

Locus of control 

Robbins also alludes to the concept called Locus of Control in psychology put forth by Julian Rotter in 1954:

The more that you believe that you are in control of your life, your actions and your future, the happier and more successful you’ll be. A bias towards action which the 5SR develops is guaranteed to increase your feelings of control over your life.


The 5SR can help you improve and achieve your goals in all aspects of your life. Mel Robbins happened to mention the 5SR in passing — not even the subject of her talk — in her TED talk about careers, and suddenly, people were writing and messaging her, telling her how the 5SR changed their lives:

At 18:57, Mel Robbins mentions the 5 Second Rule in her TEDx Talk

Health

Physical Health

If you have been putting off exercising for some time now, just 5-4-3-2-1, put on your shoes, go to the gym or take that first step, and start brisk walking or start jogging. Just 5SR, and put one foot forward in front of the other!

Or if you are tempted to eat that large slice of cake, just 5-4-3-2-1, and grab that banana or apple instead.

Mental Health

You can use 5SR as well to stop worrying. And if you have anxiety attacks you can try 5SR to conquer it. All you have to do is reframe it. According to Robbins who suffer from the condition, when you have panic attacks, you experience the same physical or biological reactions — you heart beats faster, your palms and armpits get sweaty, etc. It’s the same feeling you get when you just had a near-accident, except that you didn’t have one. Robbins says that when she experiences this, she tells herself that she’s just getting excited. By doing so, her brain now has an explanation of what’s happening to the body, and the mind will begin to calm down.

Robbins says you can also use anchor thoughts to fight off worrying and anxiety. If you’re worrying about giving a speech, for example, just tell yourself the satisfaction the audience members will feel when you’ve shared your knowledge. Or when travelling, and you are worrying about getting into an accident, just start thinking of something positive that you will do once you reach your destination, such as enjoying your time with family or experiencing a new adventure.

Relationships

In relationships, say what you have to say to your family or your relatives. Tell them how much they mean to you. Or just be present when they need you. You may not be given the opportunity to do so again. Just 5SR, and say it or do it!

Career

You can use the 5SR to explore what you want to do with your life. Use your curiosity to start researching or Googling that hobby or skill you have wanted to try for a long time. Then 5-4-3-2-1 yourself to attend that seminar or workshop to explore that hobby.

This is what Ryder Carroll in his book The Bullet Journal Method means to honor your curiosity. You don’t have to go all out, leave your job, etc. You just have to make one small step at a time, dip your foot in the water, so to speak, and find out if something is meant for you.

Going back to my iDEFEND GA, it was not only me who noticed my more confident self. There was a female advocate (from the parish community who helps relatives of drug war/extrajudicial killings) who told me “Natutuwa ako sa iyo.” (“You amuse me.”) I asked why. She told me I was so hyper. I told her it must be the Zykast I was taking for my coughing (hyperactive airways condition). Her male companion joked that whatever it was, that I should continue taking it. I told them briefly about the 5 Second Rule. (Just to make sure, that it was indeed the 5SR, I Googled and it was not the Zykast. 🙂 )

Reporting at the iDEFEND GA. (Photo by Jenny Linares)

My iDEFEND colleagues also noticed my active participation during the discussion. I told them about the Bullet Journaling I was doing — which I shared in my first post — but not about the 5 Second Rule.  So I’m telling everybody now. (Speaking of journaling, just learned that Mel Robbins also designed a 5 Second Journal to help you become “the most productive, confident, and happiest you.”)

If you want a massive shift or change in your life, and if there’s only one book you would read this year (but better to read more!), you should buy the 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins. You won’t regret it. You will be inspired by: how an employee mustered the courage to talk to their CEO after being given another chance, and consequently the chance to move up the corporate ladder; how a teenager who unexpectedly passed away inspired others to seize the day and celebrate relationships; how a college student up and walked out of his law class, and enrolled as a Physical Education student in another university; and more stories of taking risks and overcoming self-doubt: people from all walks of life finally taking steps to achieve their dreams.

The 5SR is all about gaining, as Robbins says time and again, a bias towards action, it is about taking small steps — what Anne Lamott calls taking it Bird by Bird, in her eponymous book — to gain courage. Over time, these small moments will make you gain confidence, empower you, and will embolden you in other aspects of your life. So try the 5 Second Rule, if there’s something that you’ve been putting off for some time now that has the potential to change or improve your life, just 5-4-3-2-1 and Act! Would love to know how it goes.


If you have enjoyed, learned something from, or were insipired by this article, kindly consider donating (if PayPal: paypal.me/filipinowriter) or please contact me at filipinocreative@gmail.com — your way of providing me a basic income 🙂 — so that I may continue to research and write more such articles.

Basic Income: An Idea Whose Time Has Come

The Activist Historian: Rutger Bregman

It all started when I saw one night historian Rutger Bregman’s Ted talk called Poverty isn’t a lack of character; it’s a lack of cash. And boy, was I blown away. I thought that it was one of the best Ted talks I’ve ever seen. What Bregman was proposing, a Universal Basic Income or UBI was intriguing, and seemed to be backed up by evidence, and was notable for mentioning the Mincome Experiment in Dauphin, Canada in the 1970s.


I researched him some more, and learned that Bregman earned notoriety when he said in the Davos World Economic Forum that everyone should be talking about tax avoidance and the rich not giving their fair share. In his own words, “…taxes, taxes, taxes. All the rest is bullshit…

His unaired interview with Fox conservative political commentator Tucker Carlson also became viral when he agitated the host enough for the latter to swear at him. You can see the unaired interview in Bregman’s Facebook page.

I also found out that he had written a book called Utopia for Realists. I bought the book, and it was so riveting that I read it in less than two days. It was like reading an activist Malcolm Gladwell, replete with fascinating anecdotes and data/evidence-based stories. The book actually discussed three topics: Universal Basic Income, 15-Hour Workweek, and Open Borders (advocating for passport/visa-less employment in another country, as opposed to the prevailing practice now which started during World War I to keep spies out). In this interview with Trevor Noah, Bregman talks more about the 15-Hour workweek, aside from his book and Basic Income. He also mentions the bullshit jobs that millions of people find meaningless.



UBI in Utopia for Realists

In the book Utopia for Realists, I learned that UBI or a fixed income to be received monthly by everyone — without any conditions — to meet his basic needs (this 10-minute Youtube video by our dear friends from Kurzgezagt explains the concept well), was proposed in some form by Thomas More in his book Utopia, Thomas Paine, Martin Luther King, the conservative economist Milton Friedman, and was even almost passed by the U.S. Congress during the time of President Nixon, if not for the objection of the Democrats in the Senate who said that the amount was not enough.

The story about how Pres. Nixon was also persuaded to amend the bill because his adviser Martin Anderson showed him a six-page report about the Speenhamland system in England at the end of the 18th century and the start of 19th century. The report was based on sociologist Karl Polanyi‘s classic book The Great Transformation, in which Polanyi described the system as a failure. The report made Nixon amend the bill which eventually led to its demise. The twist was that, later on, historians found out that Polanyi had based his assessment on erroneous and falsified data. Such stories left you wondering about the roads not taken in the history of humanity.

MLK & Universal Basic Income | Guaranteed Income (5 Reasons)

Here are 5 reasons why Martin Luther King supported a universal basic income…Credit: Matt Orfalea

Posted by Sustainable Human on Monday, January 21, 2019


One important assertion by Bregman is how the poor make poor decisions because of the scarcity mentality. When one is pressed for time, money, etc., his or her ability to make wise decisions diminishes. For example, a study by behavioral scientist Eldar Shafir of sugarcane workers in India who harvested their crops only half of the year, showed that their IQ diminished by 14 points before harvest time.

On the other hand, when an individual is given a regular income so he can meet his basic needs, his overall well-being improves. The Mincome experiment of Dauphin, Canada from 1973-1977 proved this. But it wasn’t until 2009, when Dr. Evelyn Forget a professor at the University of Manitoba, finally found the 2,000 boxes of records of the experiment, that it was shown that it was a resounding success. As Bregman narrated in his Ted talk, the residents of Dauphin didn’t stop working except for the mothers who took care of family members, the number of children going to school increased, hospitalization decreased, and mental health improved. In other words, the basic income gave the recipients the freedom to choose, and what we learned is that people, even the poor, know what’s best for them. The Huffington Post wonderfully narrates the story of Dauphin, Canada in the article A Canadian City Once Eliminated Poverty And Nearly Everyone Forgot About It.

An excellent video explanation by Kurzgesagt about Universal Basic Income (UBI)

UBI Addresses Inequality

Bregman also showed two graphs. One graph showed per capita GDP in the x axis, and index of social problems in the y axis. In this graph, there was no correlation between how wealthy a country collectively is and the amount of social problems it has. But when the x axis was replaced with inequality or the difference in income between the rich and the poor, there was a straight line which clearly showed the link. You can see the graph in this article Population Health: Behavioral and Social Science Insights. In other words, if we help reduce inequality with UBI, the effort would be worth it, as we would be addressing not just poverty, but a host of other societal problems.

The Presidential Candidate: Andrew Yang & UBI

On YouTube, I was also surprised to learn that in the U.S., a Democrat named Andrew Yang is running for president, has UBI as his main platform. He has also written a book called The War on Normal People: The Truth About America’s Disappearing Jobs and Why Universal Basic Income Is Our Future. He is an entrepreneur and the founder of Venture for America, a New York City based non-profit whose mission is “to revitalize American cities and communities through entrepreneurship” by training recent graduates and young professionals to work for startups in emerging cities throughout the United States.

He says that his friends in Silicon Valley all say that in 10 years, a lot of jobs will be lost to Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) and automation. In particular, the jobs of truck drivers, people in retail, accountants, etc., will be endangered, and will cause social breakdown. He says that Universal Basic Income or what he calls the Freedom Dividend will provide a buffer to absorb the shock of job losses. The great thing is that his message is resonating even with Trump supporters and Republicans — just look at the comments section of his YouTube videos, and you will seldom see a negative comment. It seems that he is uniting the country with his message. It is, as he put it, not about moving Left or Right, but moving Forward.

This interview with The Atlantic will give you an excellent overview of presidential candidate Andrew Yang’s background and Universal Basic Income platform. This is also my first encounter with him, and the first video I saw of him.

In his own words, the Democrats have focused too much on other themes such as race and identity politics — nothing wrong with that according to him — but they have forgotten why a lot of people voted for Trump: job insecurity. Like many people, I believe Yang will be the next U.S. president, a man, again in his own words, who is the opposite of Trump: “an Asian who knows Math.” If you’re an American/U.S. Citizen or just someone curious about the details of his policies, Yang’s almost two-hour interview with Joe Rogan is must-watch/listen.

Andrew Yang explains to Joe Rogan how he will implement his Universal Basic Income policy once he becomes U.S. President

Just Do UBI!

I also came across a Basic Income documentary on Youtube called Free Money produced by the Dutch broadcasting company VPRO which featured, among others, Mein Grundeinkommen (My Basic Income) a crowdfunded basic income raffle started by startup entrepreneur/web developer Michael Bohmeyer who quit his job and opted to receive 1,000 euros monthly from his former company; the story of the economist Guy Standing‘s experiments in Basic Income in India and elsewhere, and the U.S. state of Alaska, which has solved the problem of poverty because of dividends from its oil earnings, called the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend. I urge you to watch the documentary from start to finish. It’s both fascinating and inspiring.

Fascinating stories of the leading advocates of Basic Income who did not wait for government, and went ahead with their UBI/BI experiments/initiatives.

The Economist & UBI: Guy Standing

And because of the docu, I learned, as I mentioned, about the work of Guy Standing. Please watch Standing’s TedXKlagenfurt video, and learn how their experiments in India has improved the lives of the poor, and emancipated them, especially the women. It is really must-watch.

Economist Guy Standing explains Universal Basic Income, how it should be a right that people should be given, and how their Randomized Control Trials (RCTs) / experiments have shown how Basic Income has improved the lives of people, and emancipated them.


I am now reading Guy Standing’s book, Basic Income: And How We Can Make It Happen. From the initial chapters, it seems that it is more comprehensive in its treatment of Universal Basic Income, including UBI’s long history, how to implement it, etc. For Guy Standing, UBI is a right because everyone must benefit from the commons.

UBI in the Philippines

Because of UBI, I started reviewing the TRAIN Law, how UBI can fit into our current tax schemes, and how we can modify our tax system to accommodate it, and found something appalling, or at the very least disturbing, from JC Punongbayan’s Rappler series of articles about the TRAIN Law. It seems that our lawmakers and our leaders knew that the Train Law would hit the very rich and the very poor. For the very poor or the 4Ps beneficiaries, around 4.1M Filipinos, they allocated an Unconditional Cash Transfer of 200 pesos per family per month on top of what they are already receiving, from the 4Ps without regard for how many children each family has. What can 200 pesos do in this time of high prices? But aside from that, as JC pointed out, the  disbursement might be delayed because of bureaucracy.

My point is imagine if we crafted our taxes with the UBI in mind — everyone wouldn’t be left behind. It would be fair to everyone, with each person — even children and dependents — benefiting from the earnings/production of the commons. For now, this is a simplistic summary of what can be done, but I think you are getting my drift of an alternative vision of the future.

Speaking of 4P’s or the Philippine government’s Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT), Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) which started during the Arroyo presidency, it does seem to help the poor according to World Bank, but wouldn’t it be better with UBI, when it’s unconditional? Perhaps we can raise the amount, or remove the conditionalities and the bureaucracy so that the poor will have the freedom to do what’s best for them? Some things to consider. Will also include this in my future research.

As I continued studying UBI, I became more and more convinced that this is one of the main programs that we’re looking for to address the inequality — 21.6% of our kababayans live below the poverty line, as of 2015 according to the World Bank — and thus, reduce the social ills in our country. UBI will reduce criminality, improve our general health, and improve our general well-being.

UBI is also an advocacy which will touch on other advocacies: labor issues; women’s emancipation — they wouldn’t be dependent on their husbands anymore, or they wouldn’t resort to prostitution; ecology/environment, e.g., tax those contributing to climate change, and distribute the revenues to the people; corruption — where are we losing money in our budget process, e.g. the pork barrel and sums? — if we can save the money from the corruption, then we can direct it to UBI.

It had me thinking also of the livelihood programs we put together for the poor. For example, uniform livelihood programs may not fit the skills of all of the recipients. I was reminded of the families of the extrajudicial killing (EJK) victims we are helping. Their financial needs were different. Some stopped their food delivery service. Others were more concerned with the schooling of their children. If we can just give them cash, then they themselves know what to do best with the money. In the near future, I’m thinking of implementing a basic income or at least an unconditional cash transfer for these psychologically and financially devastated families, and see if this is indeed a better way to help them. A footnote, by the way: livelihood and psycho-social support for the children are among the main needs of these families victimized by the government’s brutal war on drugs (in future posts, will also share my learnings about alternative and evidenced-based drug policies that really work).

Speaking of the drugs, I was reminded when reading about the capability of the poor to wisely decide for themselves when given the chance. In the book High Price by neuropharmacologist Dr. Carl Hart, harm reduction advocate, his experiments with drug dependence showed that given the choice between drugs and money, the person would always choose cash. This validates the findings cited in Bregman’s book that as a rule, people do not spend their money on alcohol and drugs. They spend it on their basic needs, and activities or things which will improve their well-being.

Going back to how artificial intelligence will cause unemployment, the book by Kaifu Lee, AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order which discusses job displacement in China and the U.S. among other things, said we must focus on jobs which will be valuable in the future, like caring jobs, caretaking, nursing, teaching, etc. For UBI advocates like Bregman, Yang, and Standing, we must start replacing indicators like GDP with measurements which measure our general well-being: health, happiness, etc., This is because activities like volunteering, taking care of the elderly and the children, which are extremely valuable to society, are things not measured by the GDP. For Bregman and Yang, GDP is an outdated measurement meant to address the challenges of The Great Depression. A measurement akin to the Happiness Index will be more appropriate,

UBI From My POV

Personally, I can relate to UBI. As an advocate, I have long seen myself with ambivalence. Am fulfilled and happy, but often find myself financially challenged. This has been a problem that me and my fellow Filipino Cultural Creative (FCC) friends have been grappling with. How can we continue our work which we know is of great value to society? I think a Universal Basic Income is an excellent solution. We can work continuously without worrying where our next rent (as I’m worrying now 🙂 ) or food allowance would come from.

A few days ago, our writers group Freelance Writers Guild of the Philippines (FWGP) co-organized with UNI Global Union ASIA & Pacific (UNI Apro) a forum re the opportunities and current challenges facing freelance writers right now. Aimee Morales, the main founder of FWGP, at one point said that it’s hard to organize writers because they are trying to address their basic needs. I said that it was a chicken and egg situation, but if indeed we had a UBI, then that part of the problem of organizing would be taken care of somehow.

UBI & Work

Indeed. in a UBI society, we need to re-think our concept of work. Bregman has touched on this with his chapter on the 15-Hour Workweek. He tells about John Maynard Keynes who in 1930, just at the doorstep of the Great Depression, delivered a brief lecture called “Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren,” which predicted a hundred years hence, in 2030, we are going to work less hours because of our collective wealth.

Still researching UBI, I came across an article titled Living in Switzerland ruined me for America and its lousy work culture by a US Citizen who lived in Switzerland, and you can see the difference between our way of living which we patterned after the U.S. In Switzerland — and in other European countries, for that matter — rest and vacation are valued so much that you can be flexible with your working hours and still get paid handsomely.

Thus, UBI will make us think of how to redesign our society. Our country today has been drawn to the ideology of authoritarianism and the mishmash appeal of populism. I think what Filipinos are looking for right now is a vision of the future which can inspire them, give them hope. Their pains and frustrations — see my thoughts on an FB post here –have attracted them to populism/authoritarianism/fascism. As expected, many are now disillusioned with Duterte, and the rest will get dismayed — they will find out that Duterte is nothing but the same old trapo, but in wolf’s clothing, and is all about greed in power, manipulating and gaslighting them with fake news, misogyny, and threats of violence.

But in order to bring back to our fold those who are still clinging to what is now an illiberal democracy, we must give them an alternative vision: a rights-based, participative (not just representative) society/system, a new way of working and of appreciating work; a society where the citizens value one another, know how to rest, and take a breath; a society which knows that in order to develop as a nation, we need a happy citizenry — less anxious, well-rested, compassionate, abundance-minded. And I think UBI is one of the major ways to get there.

UBI & The Dream of a Better Society

In the following days, I will post more about how we can achieve this society and implement UBI. Will do more reading and consult economists, etc. and will blog about it. I’m also thinking of starting a non-profit to advocate for UBI.

And it seems that I’m not the one only looking into Basic Income. In an event last week — a talk by Nathan Quimpo of the Rise and Decline of the Left in Southeast Asia — Sen. Risa Hontiveros, when I asked her if she has heard about UBI, said that the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) is about to study it.

Meanwhile, Dr. Rene E. Ofreneo Onforio, dean of the U.P. School of Labor and Industrial Relations’ (UP SOLAIR), where we held our FWGP forum, said that he’s aware of UBI and Guy Standing’s work, and Michelle Belino of UNI-Apro said that UBI is one of their advocacies, and their Singaporean colleague and Regional Secretary Christopher Ng regularly gives talks about it.

And just before I posted this, a fellow advocate shared with me this Manila Times article by Malou Tiquia explaing well UBI, and suggesting it is an alternative to the 4P’s.

I have also started evangelizing some of my fellow advocates, and some are inspired, or at the very least, see merit in the idea. Indeed, the Fourth Industrial Revolution is already upon us, where we will face a multitude of challenges, and UBI might well be one of the major solutions.

Make the Dream a Reality

The challenge, as articulated by Rutger Bregman, is how to bring this dream/vision into reality. He appeals for a strong will. In Utopia for Realists, he says “a worldview is not a Lego set where a block is added here, removed there. It’s a fortress that is defended tooth and nail, with all possible reinforcements, until the pressure becomes so overpowering that the walls cave in.”

He says that radical ideas start at the fringes, but become mainstream, not gradually, but in times of crisis. Moments of crisis for him, are instances of opportunities. He reminds us that the word “crisis” comes from the Greek word which means to “separate” or “sieve.” A crisis then “should be a moment of truth, the juncture at which a fundamental choice is made.” And the only way for us to make a wise choice is when we have long prepared for that crossroads.

Today, we are facing such a moment of truth. What’s happening to our country is a symptom of the systemic ills that we must overhaul. We should muster our collective will, and act deliberately and mindfully. UBI can serve as a catalyst. All we have to do now is educate ourselves, organize, and remain steadfast.


If you enjoyed, learned something from, or were insipired by this article, kindly consider donating (if PayPal: paypal.me/filipinowriter), be one of my patrons at Patreon, or please contact me at filipinocreative@gmail.com — your way of providing me a basic income   — so that I may continue my advocacies and continue to research & write more such articles.

The Magic of Bullet Journaling

How I Came Upon Bullet Journaling

I came across bullet journaling when I had just decided to focus again on writing. I have heard about it before (I think from author and entrepreneur Joanna Pen), and decided to to check out a couple of videos after YouTube recommended — around the first week of January — a video about it. The impression I got was that bullet journaling was a bit elaborate, and you needed artistic skills to do it. But when the second video mentioned the inventor of bullet journaling, Ryder Carroll, and I checked out his introduction to bullet journaling, that’s when I finally got it. Bullet journaling is actually minimalist, and is not really about the stickers or the washi tapes or the calligraphy, and the rest of the frills (it’s okay though if these things motivate you to bullet journal), but it is about organizing your thoughts in a mindful manner.

The more I watched Ryder’s videos including his TedX talk, the more I understood the system. I also bought the e-book version of his book The Bullet Journal Method (TBJM), and I swiftly read through the first chapters, and felt a surge of excitement, especially when he said that as you got deeper into the practice, you would see the interconnectedness of things. I have since finished reading the book, and learned a lot from the practice of bullet journaling, and its accompanying philosophy as laid out by Ryder.

So What is a Bullet Journal?

Ryder Carroll says, in his book, that bullet journaling is an analog way of organizing to “track the past, organize the present, and plan for the future.”

It is many things, including: decluttering the mind, cultivating your curiosity, and keeping you focused.

It declutters the mind by putting down your thoughts — we have as much as 500 thousand thoughts a day — on paper. As one thought crosses your mind like a task, or an event, or a note, you write it on your Daily Log putting a symbol or bullet before each entry — thus the term “bullet journal” — to indicate what kind of thought or note it is.

You can also add other symbols called signifiers to further describe what kind of a thought it is, You aim to be as concise as possible. Hopefully, the act of writing down improves your memory and forces you to prioritize and ask why you want to do something, and then decide whether it is something worth doing or just distracts you from your priority goals.

How Do You Bullet Journal?

Ryder Carroll’s book The Bullet Journal Method is an excellent guide on how to bullet journal since it is written from the man who invented bullet journaling himself. Carroll, who has Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), developed his system of organizing over time to address his disability. In his TedX Talk, he explained that ADD is not about not being able to focus, but about focusing on too many things. Bullet Journaling is a way of prioritizing your goals, and focusing on things that matter to you the most.

It is a process of unloading your mind of your thoughts, decluttering it so you may have more space and energy to devote your brain to other tasks.

You put whatever important thought or note in a Daily Log in a process called Rapid Logging. You use bullets to indicate whether these thoughts/ are tasks, events, or notes, whether they have been completed, scheduled on your calendar or migrated to another collecton (more on collections and migration later) or whether you have decided to cancel a task or an event because you decided that that particular item is a distraction.

You can also use signifiers to further describe or categorize these Daily Log items. There are signifiers to indicate if these items are important, has a fast-approaching deadline, are ideas, something to explore, or whether you love an item or are inspired by it.

You can see the bullets and signifiers — collectively called as Key — in Matthew Kent’s video (3:06) of his Bullet Journal Walkthrough:

Aside from a daily log, your Bullet Journal (BuJo for short) contains Collections. A Monthly Log (or Monthly Calendar) and A Future Log are examples of collections. A task or a goal which is composed of many tasks can be gathered in a single project. One project is an example of a collection. Other forms of collections could be Habit Trackers, Lists (e.g. reading list, movie list, etc), Progress Trackers, etc. Only your imagination or your objectives/goals limit the kind of collections you may include in your bullet journal pages. Some of your entries can be transferred to these collections in a process called migration, which you can do daily, weekly, or monthly.

Indexing

Speaking of pages, one of the brilliant ideas of bullet journaling, and a key feature, is the way you keep track of your collections. For easy access, you put page numbers in your BuJo pages, and then indicate the location of your Topics — that is, the titles of your collections — in your Index, which is actually your Table of Contents.

Flexibility

As you may have inferred by now, one strength of bullet journaling is it’s flexibility. The form and nature of your bullet journaling will depend on your needs and what works for you.

My Bullet Journaling So Far

I have been bullet journaling for more than a month now (I started January 9), and I can attest that it has made a huge impact in my life. Even after just a couple of days of bullet journaling, I already felt the difference. I was more calm, more focused (my BuJo’s word for the year is FOCUS), and more organized. Now, I rarely watch the news, limited my time on social media, especially Facebook, regularly meditate 10-minutes daily, and brisk walk daily. I have also clarified my goals and have read at least a book a week on writing and self-growth. I now watch more personal development and writing videos than sports videos on youtube, eat healthier, have started this blog, and have started outlining a novel. I have also started taking care of the plants, watering them daily, and the wilted ones have started to thrive again.

If you are experiencing some sort of life challenge, embarking on a new project, or want to reinvent yourself, I highly suggest you start bullet journaling, and/or buy Ryder Carroll’s book. Dotted notebooks are preferred, but any old-fashioned ruled notebook will do. You will discover that bullet journaling is not just about organizing, but is about a philosophy of life: it is about intentionality and mindfulness, it is also about minimalism (for me, at least), and about gratitude, and how to achieve happiness and fulfillment. It is about being able to review your life regularly, reminding you of the lessons, and what is important, and thus how to move forward. It is also about going offline and analog, to discover the power and magic of your handwriting and/or writing in cursive. It is about seeing the connections in your daily actions and interactions, thus enhancing your creativity. It’s like watering the plants in front of my house — concrete, specific, and the nurturing of a habit — so that the plant’s stem may rise up once more, straightening towards the sun, the leaves opening up again.


If you have enjoyed, learned something from, or were insipired by this article, kindly consider donating (if PayPal: paypal.me/filipinowriter) or please contact me at filipinocreative@gmail.com — your way of providing me a basic income 🙂 — so that I may continue to research and write more such articles.

Believe

Been in a bit of a financial pickle for the past month or so now, and every time it seemed things were getting more sour, reached out to the Universe via these wonderful creatures called human beings, and every time, I received a cosmic surprise, a heavenly gift, as it were. An unexpected gift there, a favor granted here. And generously. I’ve always been amazed by the power of connectION and connectING. Deep down, I’ve always recognized its value. Is it an evolutionary imperative — biological, or a mystic one — spiritual? I guess both, and more. To the Universe, I celebrate you. To the lovely connectEES, I embrace you all. The journey has just turned a corner, and I’m beginning to see the awe-inspiring colors. The challenges are far from overcome — they are just beginning to fall down the road — but the warmth of the wind’s whisper, “BELIEVE,” is just so reassuring, that there’s nothing left to be done, but BE. LIVE. <3

Originally posted on my Facebook account.

Seeds

sabrina ska sonaThis has been happening often lately — individuals getting the urge to help, to do something positive for society, usually asking “What can I do?” It’s the collective unconscious talking.

New movements/groups are sprouting, organic, and they are looking to converge. Across burgeoning communities like these, there’s this shared need to discover new ways of looking and of doing things, of coming up with creative and holistic/wholistic solutions, where the people and their needs are considered first, where man’s relationship with his environment is paramount. These nascent communities are offering seemingly different solutions, but in truth, their underlying paradigm is cooperation, culture, creativity, and action.

On the other hand, these groups are different, and the uniqueness of each group is their strength, for once they connect and unite, their unique viewpoints will give birth to new world views and courses of action. The sum will be greater than the parts…

We dream of meaningful and authentic change, and finally, we realize that we are wide awake, and the varied seeds of change have broken through, sustained and energized by novel and innovative ideas, inexorably seeking the light. Now all that needs to happen is for the branches and leaves to seek each other out…