17jan29-Senators must go back to lawmaking

POSTSCRIPT / January 29, 2017 / Sunday
Senators must go back to lawmaking
By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

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WE ELECTED and are paying senators as lawmakers, not as policemen, prosecutors, judges, SOCO experts, TV talents or glorified dog-catchers.

Something is seriously wrong when a Korean businessman is kidnaped and killed — and senators, whose job is lawmaking, are the ones investigating the crime in the glare of TV cameras. Is that proper use of official time, public funds and political power?

We think senators should immediately turn over the Jee Ick-joo kidnap-murder case to the appropriate authorities and go back to their constitutionally assigned job of lawmaking. That should not be too hard for reasonable men and women to understand.

We raised these basic points Friday night on Twitter and were surprised at the rapid reactions of a number of Filipino taxpayers similarly troubled by this recurring role mix-up of lawmakers.

Tweeter judee aguilar ‏@orangedenims explained: “Because the justice department is clearly not doing its job, busy doing something else.” (True. Everybody seems to be always busy with “something else.” — fdp)

Other sample tweets: zenszeiwa ‏@zenszei: “No surprise. This. Is. The. Philippines.”

Teddy Locsin Jr. ‏@teddyboylocsin: “Nothing new, in FVR’s time, those everybodies were kidnapping and robbing banks, remember?”

Mark Cruz ‏@markcruze999: “They’re in EPAL mode. How do we turn it off?”

DiAkoTeacherLang ‏@DiNaProfMSSyj: “sayang daw media coverage”

‘Good fences make good neighbors’

THE RANT of US President Donald Trump about building a 3,200-kilometer wall on the United States-Mexico border and demanding that the latter pay for its estimated $30-billion cost sent us digging into our archives.

Three years ago, we said in our 02/27/2014 Postscript:

“Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,” muses American poet Robert Frost (1874–1963) in his metaphorical “Mending Wall,” noting how even nature wears down walls or people take away a stone or plank off a fence when they have to.

Frost says in free verse: “Before I built a wall I’d ask to know/ What I was walling in or walling out,/ And to whom I was like to give offense. /Something there is that doesn’t love a wall.”

But his imagined neighbor insists, from his side of the fence, on restoring the damaged wall between their properties, repeating a mid-17th Century adage “Good fences make good neighbors.”

One wishes it could be as simple as “mending wall” in the case, for instance, between the Philippines and China, its neighbor to the north.

China has served notice that the areas claimed by the Philippines in what the Chinese call the South China Sea are its sovereign territory and will do everything to keep and protect them.

It has drawn its own “nine-dash line” marine boundaries and warned all foreign ships and aircraft to notify it before venturing into that secured area, a provocative unilateral move.

As in a debate, a wall has 2 sides

HOW WILL Trump force Mexico to pay for a US-made wall? Mexico President Enrique Peña Nieto has said his country will not pay for it, and his countrymen not only rule out payment but criticize him for not standing up to the pressure.

The wall, any wall, will have two sides to it. But since building the border wall is a unilateral idea of Trump to block illegal migration and drug trafficking, should not its cost be borne solely by the US?

Peña Nieto refuses to pay, so Trump now talks of imposing 20-percent tariff on certain Mexican exports to the US and using the money for the wall. Still not discussed in depth are the effects of such an imposition on consumer prices and business viability.

The proposed tax, which is expected to be tacked on prices paid by American consumers, will go to the US treasury. In effect it will be American taxpayers – not Mexicans – actually paying for the US-made wall.

Trump, an astute businessman and deal-maker, will have to come up with something else to make Mexico pay for, or at least share, the cost of the wall. Making Mexico pay for it is like forcing a death convict to pay for the cost of his lethal injection.

The sometimes abrasive US President might want to look at the two sides of the wall, to try a little more diplomacy in dealing with perceived inferiors, especially neighbors and allies whose warm presence he cannot just erase from the map.

We hope that in time, both Trump and Peña Nieto will discover that, indeed, “good fences make for good neighbors.”

No such thing as a one-sided wall

WE DIGRESS a bit here, because somebody in Twitter said that a wall can have only one side, contrary to our contention.

If we push the argument, we will end up saying that in the real world, a wall and such solid objects have at least three, not just two, sides: length, width, and thickness.

But that will complicate the discussion. More so if we proceed to talk of a space-time continuum where the fourth element of time is added as another dimension based on the fact that events occur in time.

To cut short our argument, listen to my high school grandkid: Imagine a solid cube which has length, width and thickness. Gradually diminish its thickness till it becomes zero, at which point the SOLID disappears and is replaced by a two-dimensional PLANE. Now diminish the width of that plane till it becomes zero – and we have only a LINE whose only dimension is length. Finally, diminish the length of that line till it vanishes to zero. What do we have? Supposedly we are left with a POINT that has neither length, width nor thickness – in short, nothing.

We use this illustration to show that a wall, which is a solid object, has three dimensions, and that Trump’s wall has at least two sides – certainly not just one.

(First published in The Philippine STAR of January 29, 2017)

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