Friday, December 30, 2011

My prediction of the Republican nomination for 2012

 If the candidates were players in a game of RISK,  then it may go down like this. Bachman rolls a six and takes Iowa. She later takes Minnesota. Romney rolls a ten and takes New Hampshire. Gingerich rolls a ten, and takes South Carolina. Ron Paul rolls a four and drops out. Santorum rolls a six and takes Pennsylvania. In the end Michelle Bachman loses because she can not forge enough alliances, Ron Paul loses public support over his isolation policies; Romney is not likeable, Santorum extreme, Gingerich bombastic, only Huntsman remains as the last man standing. Perhaps the most moderate true conservative of the bunch. The similarities between this political season and global economic expansion are not perfect, but they are interesting. As a candidate attempts to isolate they are destined to fail. The most inclusive and expansive thinkers are the candidates that rise to the top. 

My previous post was about how the world economy is like a giant game of RISK. In the paragraph above I have applied this analogy to the 2012 presidential nomination process. Please read the post,

RISK, recovery, and the future of the nation state 

 Happy New Year!


Saturday, December 17, 2011

RISK, recovery, and the future of the nation state

Have you ever played the game of RISK? When I was a boy I used to sing the song, “R-I-S-K, easy to play”. Could the current economic debate in the US, and the worldwide recession be like playing the game of risk? The differences are important. In the classic RISK game you roll dice to win countries by crushing armies. In this current world recession the analogy works best in economic terms. When we roll box cars on the dice today we steam roll economies and crush their currencies instead of their military.

In this new game nation states are forced to merge their economies. This forced consolidation of economies is leading to a face off of key trading blocks. They way I see it; there are six players in the game today. This is also coincidentally the right number to finish the game of RISK. The players are Latin America; The US & Canada, Chindia, Political Islam, Eurasia, and Southeast Asia. Latin America rolls a twelve to start. Brazil reinvents its currency and lifts South America to emerge as a market player. The US rolls a three and loses some markets to China who buys their currency with the resulting unequal exchange rate. Chindia rolls a ten next and expands its markets into the US. Political Islam and Africa roll next and receive Arab spring, immigration, and population cards. These are three essential components to long term economic growth. Europe rolls snake eyes and Russia picks up some of her influence.  Southeast Asia rolls a three as austerity and isolation has not worked out.

In the next round Latin America rolls a six. Free trade with the US is sputtering due to suspicion and tariffs. The US rolls a six. This is pretty much a stalemate between China and the US-Canadian block. China however rolls a twelve to exploit Latin America, Africa and Political Islam. The Arabs begin to self determine governments and the resulting economic trade with neighboring countries increase economic stability. They pass on their turn to build their strength. Eurasia passes on their turn, and attempts to consolidate their currency. South East Asia and Japan roll a three and are collapsed by an economic and literal tidal wave.

In the next turn, Latin America rolls a ten and expands their influence. The Canadian-US block rolls next and attempts to invade China by exporting energy resources to them. They roll a seven and win a marginal edge in economic trading. China rolls a ten and slows it’s exploitation of Africa the middle east and Latin America. Political Islam rolls a twelve and Turkey squeezes Iraq from the left and Iran squeezes them from the left. Africa remains vulnerable to economic exploitation. In Africa there are rich raw materials and weak governments everywhere. Europe rolls a three as they decentralize their economy and release failing states in a period of economic austerity. South East Asia rolls last with a six as they reach out to other countries.

If the economic game of RISK works out like the political one, then perhaps we will all land on our feet. The answer to the global recession is to merge the trading blocks and make them bigger. It is feasible that these six economic trading blocks can be merged into three. Europe can merge with Russia, and Africa’s political Islam, The US with Latin America and India, the Chinese with South East Asia and Australia; The Japanese, The United Kingdom and Israel will decline unless they change isolation practices.

It’s all about expanding markets for efficiency. The greed of Wall Street bankers is based on the premise of finding the level water mark of capitalism. For this reason I disagreed with the Wall Street protesters in a former BLOG post. I agree with them that there are reasons to be upset about our lack of opportunities, and wealth. I disagree that it could have been prevented. Unfortunately the invisible hand of our capitalist economy now transcends far beyond our borders. We are interdependent, and the only solution to recover our wealth as a nation is to expand our economy. Closing off our borders only dooms us to the fate of the past experiences of Japan and The United Kingdom. Both of these nation states have had stagnant growth for the past ten years because of isolationism shrouded by austerity. The day of the nation state is coming to an end. The time of trading blocks among countries with vested interest has begun.

Who will win the game? I guess I have to make prediction since this is my BLOG post. The country who will win is the one who will make the best choices about rolling the dice in the most strategic and timely places. The argument is how to make this decision. It is my argument that the greed of market capitalism should steer the ship. When a government attempts to tinker with this then it can confuse the trading blocks and delay the consolidation of a world economy. A delay can never stop it. It is as inevitable as the success of the last 100 years of US prosperity. Keynesian tinkering can cause much more hardship than long term benefit. Short term marshmallow thinking should never replace the efficiency of an economy of scale where there is enough wealth for everyone.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Occupy Wall Street Protest or digging for apples?

The Occupy Wall Street protest selected the right issue, but chose the wrong culprit. The financial melt down which has shrunk our middle class is a real problem. However, they are protesting the wrong villain. The Wall Street bankers have not changed. They have just extended the reach of Adam Smith’s invisible hand into the wealth of a global economy. Perhaps, they should be lobbying to close the borders to make capitalism more manageable. Capitalist have not changed. The system has just grown to a new level of greed.

That is not something to protest about. The evil nature of man is taught in the bible as the doctrine of original sin. Another Adam fell to this temptation in the Garden of Eden, and ever since men have been grabbing for the biggest apple in the barrel. This motivation drives our capitalistic system. The system was built around a cast of characters that compete with one another in a high stakes game of poker. When bankers try to maximize profits they are just working within the system to do what they are suppose to do. The Occupy Wall Street crowd is yelling fowl because the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act of 1932 merged the banks with the investment brokers. This infusion of cash is real, but it is my opinion that the real cash did not come from domestic leveraging. Glass Steagell was removed because it had outlived its usefulness. The opportunities that deregulation opened made the global economy possible. The real cash and speculation was fueled by leveraging our domestic debt against the growth of the global economy. No one knew the limits so the bankers sold whatever they could in race to find the boundaries of the market.

If we were to change the system we would also need to change the very nature of man. So how do we stop history from repeating itself? It is in the interest of these bankers to protect the middle class. This allows for more transactions, more commissions, and more players in the game. Just as Glass Steagell once regulated banking after the stock market crash, we need regulations now to insure small and numerous transactions to protect our middle class without jeopardizing our credit markets. We do not need a new economic system. Our only hope for a new system would be an internal revolution of the heart. A new nature could allow for a more cooperative system. This is why my language of virtues BLOG culminates with the virtue of reverence in world history.

This cooperative system does not seem to work in other countries. I have traveled to China, Latin America, and Egypt. Capitalism seems to work best in governments where people participate in government. The Chinese economic revolution and Arab spring seems to validate this. These changes in the world economy are inevitable with the explosion of information available through social media. Very few countries can do what North Korea is currently doing in Libya. They are forbidding 200 citizens who were living there during Gadafi's Regime to return home. They are concerned about how information about the Arab spring will affect their people. The North Korean Government is very naïve, if they think they can hold this information back in this information age.

The world economy is here to stay because people desire the bigger apples at the bottom of the barrel. The desire to better ourselves is a pragmatic solution to a competitive, capitalistic economy. People become aware of other people’s conveniences and luxuries because of the information explosion available through cell phones. There is no way to stop this progress because the inherent benefits of technology are advantageous to the rich as well as the middle class. The wealthy need the middle class to use this technology to make even more money. When the middle class grows the rich make the maximum money. They are not what Joaquin Posada likes to call marshmallow eaters. This metaphor comes from the famous Standford research project where pre-schoolers were placed in a room by them selves and told not to eat a marshmallow. Adult marshmallow eaters will take a quick $5 profit instead of delaying gratification to make a $20 profit from their investment later. A short cut, quick buck, marshmallow minded strategy will not maximize profits. More profits can be generated by the wealthy selling their goods to an ever expanding affluent market than by squeezing every bit of money from the poor. It is important that government guards against short sighted capitalist by providing incentives or rules for them to sacrifice immediate gratification for larger profits over the long term.

My former boss, Bruce Josten at the US Chamber of Commerce used to tell me that most business owners desire a level playing field above anything else. What does a level playing field mean? A level playing field means that government manipulation of the capitalist system should have the same impact on all businesses. The good intentions of government many times can be confounded by layers of self serving bureaucracy, and blind spots of favoritism that corporate lawyers are trained to exploit. Perhaps this is where some of the fervor of the Occupy Wall Street crowd is deserved. These abuses are marginal compared to the growth of the global economy. Like Glass Steagel, blaming the financial crisis on corporate lawyers is not the root of the issue. The corporate lawyers are the wrong villain again. The real villain, human nature, can not be regulated or taxed. The real villain can only be changed by their own desires. A system of balanced competing parties can protect the middle class and an affluent economy here, and around the world. As long as those parties play by the rules.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

There's Something Happening Here!

This week Thomas Friedman wrote an editorial for the New York Times titled with this famous song by Buffalo Springfield. I could not stop myself from tuning my groove shark account to that famous song. Sadly, I am old enough to remember when it actually played on the radio. Paranoia strikes deep, my be a prophecy that is coming to age in the Wall Street protests, unemployment, default, and what Friedman calls "The Big Shift". Friedman is probably most famous for writing the book, "The World is Flat". This book along with the, you-tube video, "Did You Know" does a decent job of diagnosing the current world hysteria to the speed of change spurred by technology.

Those of you who have read my World History BLOG know that I do not agree that technology does that. Technology is the great equalizer. It can help us to accomplish things in a shorter time. It can stop a bully or increase our income. Over time all technology can do this. It is just in the short term that these types of change cause fear. Ron Paul may see this fear as liberty, but I understand why some people are slow to see the benefits when they are overwhelmed in the short term. Today I was changing the settings on the micro wave to heat my lunch. One of my colleagues was taken back when it looked like I was programming the microwave. This may seem trivial, but her reaction was not unusual. When I tried to explain what I was doing she was not interested in hearing me. She like many have found that the short cuts of technology may  save time in the short term, but in the long term many have found this to make more work for them. When people learn a time saver from technology they have a tendency to pack more into their time and can feel overwhelmed. Ignorance can be bliss or more importantly less work.

Last night I watched the #GOP #Econ debate. I liked the new format of a round table, and I enjoyed the commercials from the Peter G. Peterson Foundation. I agree with Michael Smerconish, that perhaps they were the real winners of the debate. For those of you that did not see the debate, the ads showed children complaining how the deficit was going to affect them. I am the grandfather of five grandchildren. I am increasing worried about how our spending will affect their lives. I write this BLOG because I find it therapeutic to write my catharsis as I stop and ask; "hey, what's that sound, everybody look what's going round."

Mitt Romney was the other winner of the debate last night. When he said that he was trying to preserve the middle class he won me over. With out a vibrant middle class no country will stay great for long. Although "Mother Jones News" blasted him for the comment because he defined the middle class as people who make $200,000 I do not feel the same way. The heart of his message is sound. We do not need to concentrate on a flat tax, or elimination of the fed. We need to concentrate on protecting and expanding the middle class. Any policy that will do this is good and, medicine for our paranoia that runs deep. My only regret is that Jon Huntsman did not say it. I am still undecided on who I will vote for. I am not opposed to re-electing our president if he will preserve our middle class.

The middle class needs to be the cash cow that pays for our national security, and all the government services that we hold dear. If we can create tools with technology that expand the middle class, then we can preserve this great standard of living and export an economic system to others peaked in freedom, by balancing liberty with equality.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The kind of president I want.

Five years ago I traced the history of virtue through the civilizations of the world. My World History Blog can be found here. It inspired me to write this poem. Each of these leadership characteristics can be traced back through world history. Perhaps if our Chief of state emulated these values we would have better government.

Give me a president that does not grab the head lines.
Give me a president that makes unpopular, but prudent decisions.
Give me a president that does not have charisma, but is tolerant.
Give me a president that values vigilance over action.
Give me a president that desires discipline and delays gratification.
Give me a president that is ingenious
Give me a president that has faith when everyone else is afraid.
Give me a president that has the courage to sacrifice his party’s selfishness for the good of all.
Give me a president that values beauty and humor.
Give me a president that loves honor, and craves honesty.
Give me a president that speaks truth, but does not betray.
Give me a president that values duty over pleasure
Give me a president that plans out of sight with a multitude of counselors.
Give me a president that remains teachable and cooperative.
Give me a president who correctly balances liberty and equality to protect our freedom.
Give me a president who is fair, pious, and follows the rules.
Give me a president who love community and is practical
Give me a president who minds his countries business and does not poke his nose into others.
Give me a president who has a hand of steel in a velvet glove.
Give me a president who is fearless and witty
Give me a president who values freedom
Give me a president who is wise and decisive.
Give me a president who is not afraid to pray for help.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Presidents Speech by ovations

President Obama's Speech was good. If it were reduced to one word, that word would be manufacturing. Manufacturing touches many needs in our country. It increases exports to South Korea, Panama and Columbia. It brings back manufacturing union jobs to the United States. I think that this strategy my have been his only option.

We have a crisis of education in our country because many workers can not perform complex tasks. If we had more workers who were dedicated to increasingly difficult tasks, then we would not have to appeal to manufacturing to bring us out of recession. I question whether we can turn back the clock, and compete in the global economy. A Latin American short term bump may be possible, but long lasting recovery will occur because of our work force embracing dynamic careers that are dependent on constant re-learning.

My favorite part of his speech was the shot that The President took at libertarians. I whole heartily agree with him on his Abraham Lincoln comments. Unfortunately, this position is not popular right now. Abraham Lincoln is the father of the modern Republican Party. The idea that we need to reach out and help those who are oppressed is something I agree with him on. Reaching out a hand to pull a fellow American up is not a slap at rugged individualism. It is part of the very fabric of our country.

Perhaps the best way to evaluate his speech is to consider the congressional ovations on his points. .

Here is my analysis.


New trade agreements in Panama, South Korea, Columbia
Made in America Bring back manufacturing
Manufacturing is coming back to the US
GI Bill
Time for us to meet our responsibilities
People do not have the luxury of waiting 14 months
Collective bargaining rights to compete in a global economy

Should have got more applause

Fix the outdated patent process
Review of all government regulations in light of the Common sense test
A shot at libertarians (rugged individualism) Abraham Lincoln

When analyzed in this way the president’s only choice was to push manufacturing to unite both parties, bring back employment, and deliver us out of recession. Still I think it is somewhat short sighted. We need better workers more than we need easier jobs for these workers to do.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Who are the un-sung heros of America?

I found out about this BLOG from Ezra Klein’s twitter post. I like the idea of giving credit to unsung heroes on The 4th of July. My hero is George Marshal. George was the Secretary of War during the Truman administration. He is most known for the Marshal Plan which rebuilt Europe after the Second World War, and earned him the Nobel Peace prize. George is from Pennsylvania like me. He never sought to be in the lime light, but was thrust into it because of his expertise in administration. He was Truman’s adviser on the some of the most important decisions of the twentieth century. The short list is the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the rebuilding of Europe after WWII which probably prevented WWIII, the Korean Conflict.

What I would like to highlight today is his humility. Marshal was offered the opportuni...ty to command the American forces in Europe, but he deferred to Eisenhower. The question that has not been asked enough is why? Could it be that Marshal felt that his influence would serve the president better by not being promoted? This type of thinking is foreign to our mindset. It is not foreign to people who have embraced and studied Christian teaching. I think Marshal and many who have gone before him were great Christians before they were great Americans. This little noticed deferral of prominence to advance our country’s goals is the kind of self sacrifice that is essentially Christian.

George Marshal passes the reverse Facebook test. Sometimes it is good idea to judge a person by the people who dislike them. Joe McCarthy and Chiang Kai-shek both disliked George. I dislike them so this would make me want to be his friend on face book.

Here is a “Who Am I?” BLOG Post about my favorite military hero on this 4th of July in 2011.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

We have met the enemy, and he is us.

The system is broken, but it can be repaired. I feel that the most important problem to fix is the tendency of all government toward bureaucracy. This is prevalent in both the Republican and Democratic parties. If the civil servants were required to limit the term of their function, then I believe it would slow the tendency toward the selfish and lazy interest of growing their program with the least amount of change. Eventually the people being served by the program have changed significantly, but the program has not kept up with that change. Like a cancer in government services the very need the program set out to accomplish is confounded by people for whom the program was created.

Civil servants used to be low wage employees with excellent benefit programs and outstanding job security. Civil servants are no longer low wage employees. They are high wage competent people capable of multi-tasking and differing job responsibilities.

Many corporations upset the apple cart from time to time to bring fresh ideas into the market place. Corporations are forced to do this because they must compete with smaller businesses who find blind spots to exploit in niches of profitability. This conflict keeps our corporations less bureaucratic, but they also struggle with this infection. This can happen when small business attempts are stifled by the government or monopolistic forces.

Perhaps there is another way to keep the spirit of innovation and change alive in our government institutions. I am currently an educator, and former employee of this organization. It has been my experience that real change occurs when there is a change in the system. A pendulum shift toward individual liberties away from equality will not accomplish this goal. Only when a Trojan horse of change can be placed into the status quo will the fires of innovation and ingenuity overtake the laziness of a system that refuses to change as the world changes around it. This is not a message that is easy to communicate to voters. I have hope that someone like Jon Huntsman will find a systemic application to build change into our government services delivery system, and more importantly find a way to communicate it.