The Real McCoy

If chimps on the lower end of the social scale collectively draw a line in the sand, threatening serious consequences if those at the upper end step over it, we have the beginnings of what in legal terms is called a ‘constitution’.” – Dr Frans De Waal, Primatologist

A not so long time ago, in a place not so far away, in Maharlika, a kingdom in the planet of the apes, a group of influential subjects rose against their ruler, the Alpha MacCoy. Their reason for doing so was simple: the Grand MacCoy did not rule his subjects impartially. He frequently granted favours to his closest kin and followers. He often inflicted serious bodily harm on those who would cross-wires with his camp.

After casting the corrupt MacCoy down from his throne and chasing him away from their territorial boundary, the wise old men of the coalition set about to write a set of rules to govern the tribe from then on. They decided to choose their leaders based on consensus rather than through physical intimidation and dominance.

To avoid the favouritism for which MacCoy was reviled, they decided not to allow their rulers to be succeeded by their descendants or close kin and to set limits on their terms of office to allow a rotation of leadership. The ‘tyranny of cousins’ was about to end. Unfortunately, to gain the support of the rest of the tribe which included remnants of MacCoy’s faction, they decided to leave it to an assembly of elders to be elected by them to decide how this rule would be enforced.

And so began the next chapter in the tribe’s evolution. Unfortunately, after a considerable amount of time, the elders who comprised their assembly chose not to enforce the rule against self-perpetuation in power through the election of kin. Having seen the way MacCoy succeeded in amassing great wealth and power, they through collusion now sought to perpetuate themselves in the assembly through legal succession.

As time went by, the citizens of the post-Maharlikan age started to notice that their assembly no longer resembled the kind of body that their founding elders had envisioned. It became clear that those on the upper scale showed no restraint in exercising their privileges. About seventy per cent of all seats in their assembly over a period of sittings were now controlled by these new elites.

The citizens began to petition their grand arbiter to step in and break up the new ruling ‘maccoys’.

Unfortunately, by this time, there were numerous voices in their community who wanted to preserve the system that they had. Given that now they had elected officials, they felt that their new leaders and their families should enjoy their just desserts. “These are the real maccoys,”they said, “people who have distinguished themselves through their honest work and abilities, not through gladiatorial combat with other alpha male-types and they have proven this by their electability, time and time again.”

“Not so,” said one wise old sage, who studied the pattern of elections and had shown that the longer an elder sat in their assembly, the greater the chances an heir would join that assembly. He had revealed through his oracles known as “instrument variables” that it was not due to good family traits or characteristics that the succession took place, but rather simply a case of power begetting power.

Another priestly shaman who had studied this problem too came up with a different parable. The election of these maccoys was not the problem. The real problem lay in the lack of rivalry from competing camps that led to callous leadership. There were certain areas in their kingdom where some maccoys had done well and promoted the welfare of their citizens. This came about because rival elders were present who would try to outdo them in this.

That may be so, and yet the result of the oracle kept ringing in the ears of some of the citizens. If power begets power then it means that the best person does not always get elected and that the original distribution of power affects subsequent generations in a self-perpetuating manner. Regardless of how the heirs discharged their functions, this fact undermined the legitimacy of their ascension into office.

It began to dawn on them that rather than distinguishing between good maccoys and bad maccoys, real from fake ones, that a real and serious debate was needed on whether to enact the original intent of their founding elders. Many, many moons had already passed, and yet their voice had not been heeded. It was time for them to re-examine, whether they had really chased Alpha Maccoy out of their kingdom, or whether in fact they had harboured him in their hearts.

Doy Santos aka The Cusp

Doy Santos is an international development consultant who shuttles between Australia and the Philippines. He maintains a blog called The Cusp: A discussion of new thinking, new schools of thought and fresh ideas on public policy ( and tweets as @thecusponline. He holds a Master in Development Economics from the University of the Philippines and an MS in Public Policy from Carnegie Mellon University.

  • UPnnGrd

    The solution (in my opinion) has been broached by Doy several moons ago — explosive wealth creation even if it is Wild Wild West.

    If more ChinoF’s, GabbyD’s and Pagunurans, more ChairWreckers and deQuiroses and Doronillas, more Tiglao’s and Randy David’s and Rina-Jimenez Davids, more Grace Padacas and Murads and Harvey Kehs, more cocoy’s and ManuBuens and Rico Punos, more MLQ3’s and Marites Vitugs and Sylvia Claudios get to be a-tenth-as-rich as Erap or Manny Villar, then the days are numbered when the Marcoses and Aquinos reign like anointed Gods-From-the-Heavens.

  • baycas

    Do a Feinstein?

    Political dynasties, families in which multiple members have held elected office, commonly feature in the U.S. Congress. I explored the electoral origins of this phenomenon and determined that members of political dynasties have a significant advantage over first-generation politicians in open-seat House elections. Using an original dataset containing candidate- and district-level covariates for all candidates in open-seat House contests between 1994 and 2006, I found that dynastic politicians enjoy “brand name advantages,” giving them a significant edge over comparable nondynastic opponents. In contrast, hypotheses concerning potential advantages stemming from past political experience and fundraising ability yield null results.


    The Dynasty Advantage: Family Ties in Congressional Elections

    Article first published online: 7 JAN 2011

    DOI: 10.3162/036298010793322366

    2010 Comparative Legislative Research Center at the University of Iowa
    Legislative Studies Quarterly
    Volume 35, Issue 4, pages 571–598, November 2010

  • The primary instrument of MacCoyism employed by the tribe was a commission whose appointed members approved the candidates allowed to run during elections. The candidates were easily sorted into Real MacCoys and Nuisances. And the tribal elders laughed and laughed.

  • GabbyD

    Parang malabo ang logic ng kuwento.

    “To avoid the favouritism for which MacCoy was reviled, they decided not to allow their rulers to be succeeded by their descendants or close kin and to set limits on their terms of office to allow a rotation of leadership.”

    “MacCoy did not rule his subjects impartially. He frequently granted favours to his closest kin and followers.”

    How can prohibiting successors by kin resolve the issue of favoritism? You will still favor whomever you might want to favor, if you were inclined to do that, right?

    I dont think this is the logic behind the pol dynasty issue; hence its quite confusing.

    • Where you say “resolve” the story says “avoid”. If you can grasp the difference between the two, then you might be able to get past your confusion.

      • GabbyD

        fine, how does it avoid favoritism? You will still favor whomever you might want to favor, if you were already inclined to do that, right?

        • You can avoid the manifestation of something in a particular instance without resolving it in its entirety. I didn’t say the aim was the latter, did I? You seem to imply that I did. The reason why this particular form of favouritism was tackled was because it was seen to perpetuate Maccoyism, a particular set of power relations. That’s why it was targeted by the elders at the start. Other forms of it would be tackled by the assembly.

          • manuelbuencamino

            CHAPTER II – Sa ikauunlad ng bayan, disiplina ang kailangan

            “Ah,” said the old fool who preferred gazing at the stars rather than looking at the mud on his feet,”dynasties bring back bad memories, they disturb your sleep so you want to do away with them once and for all.”

            “That’s right, old fool,” said the wise old scholar who spent his youth in a library looking for the one magic formula that will allow the world to sleep tight.

            “And you found the solution in a law that would disqualify bloodlines?” asked the old fool.

            “Isn’t it obvious that dynasties and hereditary succession go hand in hand?” replied the sage.

            “Yes, that’s one way of looking at it” said the old fool.”

            “Look I spent a lifetime analyzing the problem and the only solution is the one I put forth,” the wise old scholar replied indignantly.

            “Lend me an ear,” said the old fool. “You’ve already wasted a lifetime so a few minutes listening to me won’t make much difference.”

            “Okay, go ahead.”

            “You have a problem with wives and children succeeding incumbents, right?”

            “Yes. I told you that already.”

            “And your solution to that problem involves taking away the right to vote and be voted upon. And you justify it as being necessary for the greater good, right?”

            “Of course it’s for the greater good, now will you please hurry and finish up?”

            “What if I proposed a solution where that right will be protected at the same that it does away with the problem of succession by wives and children, would you be willing to consider that?”

            “Let’s hear it,” said the wise old scholar, laughing.

            “Okay, the solution is to legalize same sex marriage. No more wives so no more children so no more dynasties and yet the right to vote and to be voted upon will remain sacrosanct.”

            “You’re crazy, your solution will mean the end of the human race, the end of life on earth!”

            “Yes, but is life worth living if one cannot exercise one’s most basic rights as a human being?”

            For fourteen years we could not choose our leaders and representatives. We had no right and no power to do so. In 1986, we overthrew the tyrant and regained the right. Once again we could choose among those who chose to present themselves to lead and represent us. Or so we thought. Little did we know that wise men did not think we were smart or responsible enough to pick and choose. They decided to limit our right to vote and be voted upon. And they had studies to support their belief that people could not be trusted not to replace democracy and vote in an oligarchy or a plutocracy. And so fuck democracy. And they dusted off an old slogan they once hated but now adopted as their own, “Sa ikauunlad ng bayan, disiplina ang kailangan!”

          • UPnnGrd

            That’s a fool of an old fool who must have drunk too much lambanog or sold too many shoes. Legalilzing same-sex marriage does NOT mean the end of old-fashioned him-and-her marriages (nor the end of cousins and cousins marriages).

          • MB, you and I should write a book together one day, called “Tales from the crusty bookworm and the drunken fool”

          • manuelbuencamino


            We have two chapters already!

          • … and foreword to be written by Cocoy!

          • cocoy

            It would be an honor.

          • GabbyD can play the part of squire quoting profound truths whilst the two authors tilt their swaying swords at the nearest windmill.

          • GabbyD

            kaya nga, how does it avoid that particular set of power relations?

            i guess what u mean is that it prevents a politician from favoring relatives? ganun ba?

            but if you were INCLINED to favor relatives in the first place, how would your proposal AVOID/SOLVE/TACKLE it?