[c. 4,000 words] [End]
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[Altho some things have changed since this speech was delivered, we leave the text as it was, as a record of the times and to show the genesis and justification for the ideas espoused. The worldview this speech presents is still very much our view today.]
The question before us this evening is "Should the Philippines join the United States?" My answer, of course, is yes. But since that's rather too short a speech, I'll elaborate.
I timed the first draft of this presentation at a normal rate of speech, and it ran half again as long as I'd intended. But since I couldn't find much that I really wanted to cut, I'm going to have to talk fast and ask you to listen fast.
It's pretty clear what the United States can do for the Philippines. The U.S. is a rich and powerful democracy with a rather good distribution of wealth and strict standards of honesty in government. The Philippines is a largely poor, hobbled democracy with a very unfair distribution of wealth, widespread corruption in government, and incipient Communist insurrection in the countryside. Accession to the Union would in short order end the corruption and oligarchy that have made the great majority of people in the Philippines poor, at the same time as massive private investment and government spending would lift the standard of living of everybody, rich and poor alike, at the same time as the military forces of the United States would completely exterminate Communist insurrection. What may not be so clear is that statehood for the Philippines would not be a one-sided matter, an act of charity by the U.S. So I'd like to talk about what the United States and the world more generally stand to gain from such a union.
Philippine nationalists often cite the words of Manuel Quezon, first President of the Commonwealth of the Philippines, to justify the continuation of Philippine independence. He said, "Better a government run like hell by Filipinos than like heaven by Americans." Quezon was talking about self-government as against colonialism, not independence as against federal union. He also said only a fool never changes his mind, and I'd like to think that if he were alive today to see what has become of his beloved people, if given the chance to lead the Philippines into statehood as distinct from neocolonialism, he would opt for statehood. Because federal union is not colonial subjection. In a federal union, each state runs itself, and the states together run the nation. So let's raise a new ideal: "A government run well by Filipinos in union with Americans."
In its 38 years of nationhood, the Philippines has sunk into trouble so deep that everyone concerned with the future of its people must think about fundamental change.
The Philippines is a large country by world standards. Its population puts it 17th among the world's 176 nations. A society that can provide for all its people would find 52 million people a source of strength and power. But when a society cannot provide for everyone, a large and growing population falls somewhere between a hardship and a disaster. [In 17 short years, the population of the Philippines has risen to 81 million. Needless to say, the natural resource base of the Philippines has in no way increased in that same time.]
The United States is a superpower with worldwide responsibilities that grow every year. Its population, though large [then] 231 million, fourth largest in the world is a very small part of the world's total population, and is growing more slowly than the world's. [Today's U.S. population is on the order of 285 million. Due to the breakup of the Soviet Union, the U.S. is now third most populous country on Earth, after only China and India. But the proportion of total world population the U.S. represents is smaller now than in 1984.] Neo-isolationists use the smallness of U.S. population as argument for a contracting role in world affairs for the United States. "We can't be the world's policeman" is the favorite cry of these people, the inference to be drawn being that the world doesn't need a policeman, since no one else has taken on that responsibility and there is no realistic prospect of an effective international police force. We know from experience in our own communities, however, that every human community needs police. The world is a human community; ergo, the world needs police. That means someone has to take on that responsibility, cooperatively with other nations if possible, alone if necessary. The bigger the cop, the less resistance he meets in breaking up fights and enforcing the law. It's not enough that he carry a gun, because he shouldn't have to use it. Ideally he shouldn't even have to use a nightstick. Rather his size alone should prove authority enough to calm things down.
It may be true that the United States is not big enough to police the world. It is assuredly true that the world needs police. So we must be bigger. We must have more people, more territory, more power, not just to protect ourselves but to do the job our Revolution set us out to do: to create justice where there is injustice, peace where there is war, health where there is sickness and prosperity where there poverty. We should take very seriously the words in our Pledge of Allegiance that dedicate us to "liberty and justice for all". Though that pledge refers to "all" within the context of "one Nation", the moral person must ask, "What makes people on one side of a national border different from people on the other side?" The answer comes back: Nothing. They're not different. So if we, people within the present United States, have "unalienable rights" to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness", other people too, outside the present United States, must have these same rights. If they cannot attain those rights by themselves, then we have an obligation to help.
The people of the Philippines need help today, and can give help in return. There are serious problems in the U.S. and the world we live in. Moral confusions abound. People have lost their bearings. They find themselves lacking purpose, with nothing to do. They've lost sight of all the work to be done in the world, and have taken to self-indulgent aimlessness, drugs, sex for the sake of sex, entertainment without end, all the while there exists all around us pain and suffering, needless death and war.
In the U.S., people's confidence in the worth of their own society is being destroyed by an endless barrage of negative "scholarship" which rewrites history to tell us what monsters we are and blows out of proportion every petty scandal, losing sight of the fact that almost all the world is a thousand times as corrupt as the United States. What is missing, in short, is purpose and perspective. The Philippines can help give us both.
For all its imperfections, the United States is a great success. People have relatively spacious housing, jobs to go to, schools to send their children to (free through high school), even college at reasonably low cost. Almost all roads, even in rural areas, are paved, and 99% of households and farmsteads have electricity. Almost everyone who wants them has indoor plumbing, a telephone, television, refrigeration, and hosts of creature comforts. Government is reasonably efficient and honest, and wholly subordinate to the people. The press is completely free perhaps too free. The military has never dared so much as to threaten a coup against the duly constituted civilian authorities, and there is no prospect of its ever trying such a thing. In fact, military men are generally forbidden even to issue statements about politics. The generals take orders from government; they do not give them.
When you look around the world, there are very few other countries about which all these things can be said. Unfortunately, the Philippines is one of the countries about which they cannot all be said. That can change.
We hold ourselves to high standards in the United States. Sometimes the standards seem ridiculously pure, as when a President is driven from office for a scandal so petty that practically no other country would do more than say "Shame on you, and don't do it again!" [This was a reference to Watergate, not former President Clinton's scandals.] But insistence on high standards of performance from, and honesty in government is one of the things that has made this country so successful.
Another is the fact that all parts of the United States know that the Constitution reigns everywhere, so that if they don't live up to their responsibilities on their own, the Federal Government can compel performance. That can mean anything from lawsuits by the Justice Department, to assignment of U.S. Marshals to enforce a Federal court order, to the dispatch of troops to integrate a school system or put down an insurrection. The Civil War established beyond doubt that the Federal Constitution is supreme throughout the United States and that no part of the U.S. can defy the Constitution or leave the Union, so we know from our past that our future is secure. The government will endure, the Nation will stay together, no insurrection will succeed, no dictator will achieve power. Every two years there will be a Congressional election. Every four years there will be a Presidential election. Like clockwork. We can project three hundred years into the future and tell you when the Presidential elections will be. No other society has that kind of stability, and it makes for considerable peace of mind.
Despite all this success, however, many people in the United States think of this as a troubled society hounded by failure. Every imperfection is blown up into a mortal sin and national disgrace. Every failure is viewed as permanent rather than temporary. And every individual or group that doesn't find perfect justice feels outrage. It's good to have high standards and to pursue perfection indeed, the phrase "more perfect" appears in the very first sentence of the Constitution but zeal and impatience must be tempered by realism. We're not perfect yet, it's true, but it's one thing to work to change the bad things and quite another to deny the good things. Perspective.
The problems of the Philippines are of an entirely different order than we are accustomed to in the United States. People are not merely poor, they are abysmally poor by our standards. What is more depressing is that Filipinos are not particularly poor by Asian standards. It's not enough for us to count our blessings, either in the Philippines or the U.S. Rather, we must work, with whoever can help, to end poverty wherever it may be found and provide the means for people to improve their own lives thru their own efforts because that's the only way they're going to feel they've earned a better life.
What the people of the Philippines need is jobs. There is more than enough work to be done; what's needed are the resources, both public and private, to fund the jobs to do that work. The United States has resources aplenty. Major corporations and banks have capital to invest, expertise and organizational ability to offer. Government has services to provide and a proven record of accomplishment. The mainland U.S. can absorb a substantial number of Filipinos into the work force as temporary relief of Philippine unemployment until corporations and government have been able to build up the economy of the Philippines enough that Filipinos eager to return home can find work there when they do.
As a low-wage area, the Philippines should be highly attractive to many types of labor-intensive businesses in the U.S., even after the imposition (probably in steps) of the U.S. minimum wage. As a marketing base anchored off the densely populated coasts of Asia, the Philippines offers a stepping-off point to a potentially huge market. Indeed, it was for this reason that the U.S. took interest in the Philippines in the first place and was willing to pay almost three times as much for the Philippines as for Alaska. When the China trade did not develop, however, interest waned, and the U.S. reverted to its traditional markets in other parts of the world. Today, U.S.-Asia trade is enormous, and growing. While the poverty of the region has been one bar to aggressive U.S. marketing, Philippine factories operating at substantially lower production costs and shipping to Asian neighbors at greatly lower transportation cost should be a very attractive prospect for U.S. business. What is not attractive to investment, however, is political uncertainty and insecurity of property.
The United States has become a prime destination of foreign investment in recent years, as much of the rest of the world has become unstable. Investors know their money is safe everywhere in the U.S. because no expropriation will occur, no revolutions will change the rules, no nationalistic resentments will destroy their investments because the U.S. is too big an economy to be bought up by foreigners. So one could reasonably expect Arab oil money and Latin American middle-class money and Swiss bank money looking for safe haven to flow into the Philippines once statehood occurs, more than just investment from the U.S. Even Filipinos who have invested elsewhere in recent years will be inclined to bring their money home to build up local economies rather than those of Houston or Beverly Hills.
More than just reorienting U.S. trade and investment, annexation of a Philippine state (or states, since the population of the Philippines is [much] more than twice that of California, our largest single state) would make a great psychological impact upon the United States, opening whole new worlds to voracious U.S. media, tourism, and residence.
The U.S. has a long history of isolationism. We had a physically large area to develop so for many decades our eyes were turned inward, our energies to building infrastructure across the North American continent railroads, highways, canals, bridges; housing, schools, and factories; oil and gas pipelines; electric and gas distribution systems, etc. Explorers were busy finding the source of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, the outlet of the Columbia, the geysers of Yellowstone and cliffs of the Grand Canyon. Artists found subjects in the dramatic lights and storms of the Hudson River Valley, the rock towers of Bryce Canyon, and the costumes and folkways of Amerindian tribes. Scientists had new plants and animals to categorize and domesticate; scholars, Indian languages to decipher and write down. Journalists had momentous events to record: the tragic drama of the Civil War; the building of the first transcontinental railroad; mutual atrocities in the Indian Wars. Now, however, the exploration, study of flora and fauna, and building of infrastructure are pretty much done, and the nation is sort of filling time, waiting for something else to do.
Seasoned travelers have been to most of the present U.S., Europe, and Caribbean. The media comprising thousands of newspapers, magazines, and radio and television stations that need to fill millions of columns and thousands of hours of air time have exhausted multitudinous themes and find themselves repeating the same old things over and over. A great and unhealthy boredom is coming over society. There are no new worlds to conquer within the U.S. any more, and the only really new world to explore, the cosmos, is too remote to interest most people. No one in this room will ever go to Mars, nor would most of us even want to. We can't comprehend, much less visit, a star a thousand times the size of the sun a million light years away. So what is there to do and where to go?
Well, there are new worlds to conquer, worlds of poverty and despair where entire families live in lengths of sewer pipe or hovels built from scrap lumber and corrugated roofing. Where people use rivers for bathing, washing clothes, drinking and elimination all within sight of one another. Where many, even most children die before their sixth birthday and the average life expectancy is less than 42 years. This is the so-called "Third World", a world exploited in the past by colonial powers but never lifted to Western standards. This is a world on the fringe of which the Philippines sits and to which the Philippines can be our introduction. Lessons we learn in helping Filipinos develop the Philippines, lessons about efficacy, motivation, and culture, can help us end the terrible suffering that passes for living in most of the Third World and thus most of the world. To date major U.S. media have been unwilling to show this world because it's too disturbing to see, for being totally beyond hope. But if we can cause real, visible change in the Third World, the media will eat it up, and our view of the world, and thus ourselves, will change.
A substantial portion of the U.S. population has shifted westward and southward in recent years, largely in flight from cold weather and the costs and hazards it brings, especially to older people. A shift in psychology follows this shift of population, as more and more people see the Pacific as "their" ocean and look across it to Asia. Europe is at their back, in their past; the Pacific basin and Asia are their future. A move to the year-round warmth and Asian exoticness of the Philippines would be most welcome to a lot of older people, who could live better on pensions or Social Security there than here. Retirees bring money into an area while making little demand on services and providing no competition whatsoever in the job market, so should be keenly sought by a Philippine state.
Military bases and government installations would also proliferate everything from Peace Corps training facilities to agricultural research stations to Agency for International Development regional offices would spring up, at once pouring money into the islands from outside and providing jobs for people at all levels, from janitors to research scientists. With a shift Asiaward in psychology, media would establish extensive facilities in the Philippines, from studios and satellite ground stations for broadcast media to regional offices for magazine and book publishers who need to be close to where their subjects are. Thus a simple change of status of the Philippines from one of 175 [now over 190] "foreign" countries to one of 51 states would make a dramatic change in the level of business, government, and media attention paid to the Philippines, and through the Philippines, to Asia as a whole. And Asia could use the attention.
I was born in the United States, to a family of lower-middle-class income but good prospects. We've done all right and live pretty comfortably. But I see film of kids with bloated bellies in the last stages of dying from starvation and I feel terror, not that it will happen to me but that it could have been me. That I was born in the United States was a fortuitous accident. It does not make me a better person than anybody else to have had the great good luck to be born here. We have all got to put ourselves in other people's places now and then to understand why things happen in politics as they do, and more basically, to understand what life is all about. I never forget how lucky I am, and never stop feeling terror for the kids with flies on their faces, living on the streets of Calcutta, canals of Bangkok, or barren wastes of the Sahel or Ogaden.
Last summer I went to Brazil on vacation and caught the barest glimpse of life in the Third World when our tour bus passed the favelas ramshackle slums of Rio. On the bus too was a Cuban expatriate now living in Miami. As we passed one favela and saw a kid in shorts, tee-shirt, and sneakers, I remarked to her, "How'd you like to have been born there?" She was as appalled as I. She wasn't born into a favela but into the Cuban middle class, and when things turned bad in Cuba, she was able to get out and travel the 110 miles between the Third and First Worlds. I wasn't born in either a favela or a Cuba, so have never had to leave my country to find work and hope. Millions of other people have had to leave their own country to make a life for themselves, however, and billions more haven't even that prospect but will live and die where they were born, their entire lives subject to forces beyond their control. They need help, but they're not going to get it as long as the political parties of rich countries stick to their "business-as-usual" attitude.
For millions of people in the Third World, it's already too late. They've died of starvation or diseases they were too weak from starvation to fight off. But for millions more, the future is still at hand. We can act in time, and must. We've got to think new thoughts and shake things up, change fundamental political arrangements and the perspectives they've engendered. A world of  nations all jealous of one another's prerogatives is a world incapable of dealing with the nightmare of the Third World. And unless that nightmare is ended, the levels of violence and danger for everyone rise precipitously year to year.
The world is too small and too troubled for good people to be divided unnecessarily. There's too much work to be done, too much strength to be found together to justify continued divisions between compatible peoples and economies.
I believe in the principles that prompted the American Revolution and were so eloquently enunciated at that time. I believe in equal rights to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" for everybody, no matter where they happen to have been born. I believe in "liberty and justice for all", meaning everyone, everywhere on earth, and I would like to help call forth the energies of the people of the United States to spread that Revolution everywhere it is needed. It's needed in the Philippines, and the Philippines can help it succeed elsewhere.
In this task there is no room for the racism that kept the U.S. from granting the Philippines statehood decades ago, no room for petty, negative nationalisms that obscure our common humanity. If we can't overcome nationalism, perhaps we can replace it with a larger nationalism, by creating a larger nation everyone can be prouder of than of its constituent parts. That's why I'm an Expansionist. And that's why I hope to help make the Philippines part of the United States.
Take a poll on whether the Philippines should join the Union, at the Philippines page of our allied site, United States International.
[Expansionist Party home page] ["Private Action for Philippine-U.S. Union"] [Filipino Reporter letter] [California Examiner letter]