The view of an Asian-American on Governance: the patriotism paradox

Written by John Vincent Lapez Amador


What does it mean to love your country?


I come from the Philippines, a country that is full of people who claim to love their country. We were the first country in Asia to get rid of colonizers because of our “love for country”. But today, that same patriotism has now turned into a political tool by some governments and twisted by them to mean supporting the president or leader’s actions.


Similarly, we see this happening in the United States which is known for their sense of patriotism. That term “patriotism” has been co-opted by both sides, each arguing that they are the true patriots.


That brings me to the question, what does it mean to be patriotic? And more importantly, does it even matter?


What is Patriotism?

In the definition of the Cambridge dictionary, is “a person who loves the country and, if necessary, will fight for it”. Meanwhile, Merriam-Webster defines it as “love for or devotion to one’s country.” With these two definitions, patriotism boils down to loving your country. This I believe is where the main divide occurs in the battle for “true patriotism”.


Does loving your country mean supporting its current government, the government its people elected, or is it supposedly fighting for what a country was built on? Here is the hill that millions die on when it comes to debates.


The true answer is that patriotism should never be the defining issue when it comes to governance, or political loyalty. This is because, a country consists of mainly two parts, the living and growing part, and the country’s historical roots. One example can be the United States, wherein we have the part that is built on the Constitution and its amendments, and the other part its people who sometimes fight against the constitution itself whether coming from the left or the right side of the political spectrum.


This then brings up what I believe to be the paradox that occurs when arguing about patriotism. The constitution can be amended to fit the modern day, therefore is it patriotic to support the modern-day government that may be against some ideals of the constitution it was built on, if the constitution itself was built to be amended and changed as necessary?


Similarly, what does it mean to be a patriot from the left side of the spectrum if the government is leaning towards the right? Does not supporting your country, nor not supporting the constitution due to a desire to change your country mean you are unpatriotic? Are revolutionaries unpatriotic? Here we see the main problem that arguing about patriotism brings about. There is no side that will be, and always be “true patriots”.


Whichever side you fall into, as much as possible, try not to fall into the argument of “who is the bigger patriot”, or “which side loves their country more”, instead focus on the more tangible, that is what way of loving your country is the best for most, that people believe in and/or are willing to work on. We each must remember that a country is not just an idea, or defined by a constitution but very much also based on each and every person.


As we live in what seems to be an increasingly divided world, remember that the person you argue with on facebook, or on twitter, has the same goal as you, it is all about channeling that love we call patriotism, to something we can all work on.


Big powers are back : what about Europe?

The 2017 has more than ever exposed the return of the great powers in the international scenario. If with the end of the Cold War the “game among big powers” seemed destined to run out, today it has instead regained the center of the scene.

The ISPI 2018 Report asks about the risks of this change, wondering what place Europe can occupy in a “world of big powers”. Inspired by this report, ISPI and Bocconi University propose a debate on global scenarios and on the role of Italy in contemporary dynamics. NextPA, together with other student associations of the University, takes an active part in the promotion of this event, inviting members and the public to participate.
The event will be held on April 10th at 6.00 pm at the Bocconi University, with guests Professor Valentina Mele, Professors Paolo Magri and Carlo Altomonte and Amb. Armando Sanguini.

The debate, held in English, will be entitled Big powers are back: what about Europe?

profit prejudice art culture

Profit and prejudice: alliances between art and economy exist

by Marianna Fatti.

Why an alliance between Art and Economy can exist – yes, beyond profit.

Many people get disturbed when combining the world of Art and Culture with Business and Economics. It seems that either no relationship among the two variables exists, or that the two worlds are considered as antagonists. In reality, unexpected bonds exist between these apparently rival worlds. Indeed, they can help each other.

An undervalued resource 

How can Economy help Art? In particular, how can businesses help cultural heritage? Cultural heritage is a public good, and by definition, private companies are not interested in investing in them because there is no profit to get from them – at least directly. So beside souvenirs’ selling or correlated services, there is theoretically no reason why businesses should invest in cultural heritage, at least according to the neo-classical theory of maximization of profit.

Moreover, let us consider the Italian case. Despite the fact that there are 1.7 museums or similar items every 100 km2 (ISTAT, 2015), representing a fundamental “strategic resource”, the Report on Equal and Sustainable Welfare of ISTAT for the 2016 highlights that public institutions do not consider the patrimony as worthy of investment. The public expense in safeguard and promotion of cultural heritage in 2015 only counts for the 0.07% of the GDP, and from 2014 it has been reduced by 6.6%. So how can Italy’s enormous artistic patrimony survive, if also investments from the public institutions are decreasing?

Economy helping Art

Here businesses enter to the stage. Their contribution to the preservation of cultural heritage is increasing thanks to a series of measures, which the Government is developing in order to promote and simplify this type of investment.

The most advertised and direct instrument to incentive private investments is the so called Art Bonus ( all those subjects who make a donation to preserve and restore specific monuments and museums indicated by the Ministry , but also support foundations, theatres and similar institutions, will benefit of a tax credit of the 65% of the donation. Patrons can be individual citizens but also companies.

The students of the Master in Economics and Management of Art and Cultural Heritage of the 24 Ore Business School have recently presented the results of the first study on Art Bonus, and these are definitely positive. Donors by 22th December 2016 were 3,836, with a 21,5% increase from 30th September 2016, which was the reference day for the end of the study.  The total amount collected by 17th December was 133 mln euros (Pirelli, 2016), and the greatest portion of this amount comes from companies and bank foundations, namely the 80% – 97,6 mln euros.

True love

One could argue about the selflessness of the donations, considering the relevant tax credit. Nevertheless, fiscal benefits seem to represent just a trigger. ISTAT’s report shows that the indicator “Dissatisfaction for the condition of the landscape” is increasing, and according to a research of 2009 by Centro Studi Gianfranco Imperatori, only the 15% of donors claim that it donate only because of a tax credit (Bagli, 2014).

Art Bonus takes advantage of the strategic trend of Corporate Social Responsibility, which comes as a blessing on national and local cultural institutions, which have seen their budget so drastically cut during the recent years. The amount of credit for companies is claimed to be even insufficient, considering that it only amounts to the 0.5% of the annual income. Companies seem to donate mostly because of two main characteristic of the instrument: its transparency and the strong relation with the local environment and community.

Art supporting Economy

Here we come to the second perspective, Art – in fact, cultural heritage – helping Economy. Common  goods like this are non-rivalrous, that is consumption of an individual does not prevent another one from consuming it and, in many case, they are non-excludable, and this is evident with monuments (Benhamou, 2013).

Nonetheless in her book of 2013 The Economy of Culture Françoise Benhamou, highlights another important, peculiar aspect: the marginal utility of the “consumption of culture” actually increases with the consumption. Becker and Stiegler call these “addictive goods”.

Van der Borg and Russo even propose, in a study of 2009, a model of “Culture-oriented economic development”, based on the network of all those economic, non-economic and institutional actors that stem from a cultural attraction, like cultural heritage. This cluster represents not only a source of employment itself, but it shall also be able to generate “value relationships” among actors and attract the related so-called creative industries, generating synergies among different resources and thus boosting the overall economic system

The difference between a PC and a Michelangelo’s statue

So why does almost everyone perceives such a strong dichotomy – if not contrast – between Art and Economy? The president of Italian UNESCO Youth Committee once made this example. The difference between hitting with a hammer a PC and the statue Pietà by Michelangelo Buonarroti – it actually occurred in 1972, when Lazlo Toth damaged with a hammer the face of the Virgin Mary – is that in the latter case it would be practically impossible to quantify the damage.

Indeed, a realistic estimate of their value would be almost impossible, because – true – works of art are unique masterpieces. For this reason and for most of them are public, anyone should be able to enjoy this unique materialisation of human soul. Any attempt to calculate their value would implicitly transform art in a marketable product.

However, while there cannot be any objective quantification of the value of cultural heritage, the benefits it determines for the economic system can definitely be estimated, thus encouraging further public and private investments, feeding not only the cultural system, but the economic one as a whole living happily ever after.


Marianna Fatti, enrolled in the first year of the Master of Science in Government and International Organisations at Bocconi University, is a nextPA member since September, 2016.

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donald trump mexico Enrique Peña Nieto

How Trump presidency could affect Mexico

by Alejandro Lomelí Viramontes.

The world waited anxiously for the result of the United States 2016 presidential election. As Donald Trump’s probabilities of becoming the leader of the world’s most powerful nation grew, so did the astonishment and, in many cases, the worries among American citizens and people around the world. Whatever his actions and decisions may be, the consequences will be felt inside and outside the US, and there is a specific country in which they will be felt quite strongly: Mexico.

Along his campaign, Trump has tagged Mexico as a trade enemy, as a source of drugs and criminals, and as one of the main causes of the loss of American jobs. During the past months, he has pledged to build a wall along the border, make Mexico pay for it, cancel the North American Free Trade Agreement, prevent American companies from investing in Mexico, and deport millions of immigrants.

Trump’s promises dealing with reality

It’s true that Trump may face obstacles to implement everything he has said. As in any other democracy, the legislative and judicial powers, as well as civil society and corporations, can oppose his proposes policies. However, as ridiculous or impossible as they might sound, his electoral promises have now a real possibility of happening and cannot be taken lightly anymore. If he manages to apply them, they would represent a radical shift on the US-Mexico relations and, above all, would pose a direct threat to Mexican economic, political and social stability.

To begin with, Trump has pledged to build a wall and make Mexico pay for it. This was one of his central promises during his campaign, and was also one the most popular among his supporters. As everyone expected, the Mexican government assured that they would not give a single peso for its construction. Nonetheless, Trump has proposed other means to ensure its payment, all of which would have serious implications for the country.

One way, he warned, would be to cut the flow of remittances from the US to Mexico. More than 11 million Mexican immigrants live nowadays in the US, and Mexico’s economy heavily relies on the money they send back to the country. Remittances are one of Mexico’s main sources of foreign currency, currently represent about 2% of the country’s GDP, and constitute an important part of the income many families depend on. Blocking them would therefore cause financial instability, a significant shrinkage the overall economy, and the submersion of millions of families into deeper poverty.

Other proposed measures include increasing the price of visas for Mexican citizens, and even cancelling them. The Mexico-US border is the most transited in the world; millions of people, especially in border cities, cross every day from one country to the other to work, study, visit relatives, and for other activities. Any increment in fees or stricter requirements for an American visa or a border-crossing pass would have severe impacts on those people whose job, education, and even family life depend on their ability to move across the border.

A threat to the North American Free Trade Agreement

He has also promised to cancel North American Free Trade Agreement and repeatedly called it the worst trade deal ever made anywhere in the world. If he manages to do so, he would undermine the foundations of Mexico’s current economic system.

Since the entry into force of the agreement, trade between Mexico and US has grown exponentially. Today, more than 80% of Mexican exports go to the US, and the exporting sector amounts for more than one third of the country’s GDP. Also, in regards to foreign direct investment, NAFTA has boosted the setting-up of American companies in Mexico, which have become an important component of the country’s industrial production.

Cancelling the agreement would allow him to impose high tariffs on Mexican products entering the US, thus reducing exports, and American companies would have fewer incentives to invest in Mexico. In a country whose economic system is highly export-based and dependent on foreign investment, the consequences would be disastrous.

Also, without NAFTA not only would Mexican products be more expensive for American consumers, but also the other way around. And since American products constitute a significant part of Mexican private consumption, any tariff increase on US imports would lead to high levels of inflation.

And finally, the deportation of millions of illegal immigrants back to Mexico would further increase unemployment, with its respective implications.

To sum up, Mexico could fall into a deep economic and social crisis.

This is all, of course, assuming that Trump will actually implement his promises during the next four – or maybe even eight – years. But even if he doesn’t, his presidency will anyway be a period of big changes and uncertainty. As financial markets react shockingly and the Mexican peso suffers its steepest drop in two decades, Mexicans have started to prepare for what lies ahead. For many, this is also an opportunity to rethink Mexico’s long-lasting relation with the US, and to build a more diversified, internally developed, and independent economy.


Alejandro Lomelí Viramontes, associate member of nextPA from September 2016, is enrolled in the Bachelor in International Relations at the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education, Mexico and is now an Exchange Student at Bocconi University, Milan. 

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Construction costs of a third runway in Heathrow are allegedly set to £16,5bn.

Why Heathrow’s third runway is far beyond reality

by Matteo Negro.

St. Paul’s Cathedral spires high from the upper side of Thames, as if it was struggling for a deep breath away from the worldly problems of busy bankers in the City. A major threat is shading its dome, coming directly from Chris Grayling’s words, the UK’s transport minister. Theresa May’s government officially backs the construction of a third runway at Heathrow, further splitting the already upset public opinion after Brexit referendum.

Famously known as the busiest airport in UK and fifth in the world by passengers per year, Heathrow airport hosts approximately one sixth of all UK aircraft movements with an average of 1,293 flights daily. At a short distance from Dubai’s airport, the London hub has the second highest flights per runway ratio in 2015, justifying air controllers’ three years intensive training before actually managing traffic.

The first proposal for the construction of a third runway at Heathrow was dated 2003 and was signed Alistair Darling, the Labour transport secretary at that time. The comprehensive paper covered all aspects concerning air transportation in UK, including demand, limitations of growth and key issues in major airports. Since then, politicians exploited the third runway in almost every political debate over London’s strategy as a globalized city. Chris Grayling defined this as the “truly momentous” step that would “boost connections with the rest of the world”.

Politics aside, Heathrow’s expansion is far from becoming a reality soon. A host of financial, logistic, legal and planning barriers stand in the way.

Despite the fact that building a third runway is tremendously costly, approximately £16.5bn, it is still unclear who will pay for it. Construction costs are likely to be transferred to airliners, inevitably signing the raise on ticket fares for customers and furthermore reducing demand after Brexit. If put into practice, the construction of the third runway could increase the demand for other European hub-and-spoke airports focused on the same clientele, such as Paris-Charles De Gaulle, Frankfurt or Amsterdam Schipol (connecting local flights with long-haul flights). Precisely what May’s government is trying to avoid.

The rising European challenge to Heathrow - Financial Times courtesy

The rising European challenge to Heathrow – Financial Times courtesy

Real estate is another major concern for both British government and Heathrow airport management. In case of a final ‘go’, Harmondsworth village – including its mid 11th century St Mary’s Church – has to be bought and razed with a net loss for the airport of £250m, spokeswoman said. Furthermore, house prices in the surroundings are likely to decline, contributing to the general slowdown of London house prices from Brexit referendum.

Surrounding population is understandably protesting against the increase of noise deriving from a potential third runway. Government promptly stated out three solutions. First, incentives to airliners to use noise-reduction planes. Second, a six-and-a-half hours’ ban will be implemented on scheduled night flights. Last, a sum of £700m will be paid to householders for noise insulation.

Government is on a far trickier ground when it comes to environmental concerns. Government has been warned more than once from UK’s highest court to take immediate action to cut nitrogen dioxide emissions (NO2), and reassurances from airport management to increase number of electric cars within the airport aprons do not impress ‘no’ campaigners.

So far, hints suggest that May’s approval for the third runway is just a signal stating ‘UK is still open for business’, making a fuss for public opinion. It looks like St Paul Cathedral’s view of the sky is safe. At least for the next few years.


Matteo Negro, graduate in Business Administration and Management from Bocconi University, is now enrolled in the Master of Science in Management at Bocconi. His interests range from infrastructures, transport management and private-public partnerships.

Video courtesy, The Guardian. Graph courtesy, Financial Times.