Enlightened Conflict

How do you solve a problem when one half absolutely hates the other half?

February 10th, 2017

Polar Opposites conflict

 

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I want people to think about our politics here in America, because I’m telling you guys that I don’t know of a single nation in this history of the world that’s been able to solve its problems when half the people in the country absolutely hate the other half of the people in that country.

This is the most important country in the world, and people in this body cannot function if people are offending one another.

Marco Rubio

 

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Well.

 

Polarization can create some pretty foul conduct.

 

Polarization can bring out the worst in people.

 

Polarization can create stillness within turmoil when movement within teamwork is needed <and desired>.

And.

 

Polarization within leadership is a virus that infects everyone in the organization … not just in leadership.

marco rubio speech on respectful conflict

I was reminded of this as I watched a completely underreported and under the radar speech Marco Rubio gave on the senate floor after <I believe> Elizabeth Warren had been asked to stop speaking.

Warren gained all the headlines where Rubio actually had the words we should have all been listening to. It is maybe 8 minutes long and worth every second.

 

 

Please note that I believe this message is more important than just one directed toward the Senate … it is a message which all Americans should take note of.

We are fortunate to have the privilege of freedom of speech & thought and we should embrace that freedom as one to permit healthy discussion, debate and disagreements … all of which should enable healthy, positive decisions.

 

Freedom is a tricky thing. In the United States of America we have the unique opportunity to “criticize a president without retribution.” <as past President Obama said to a group of military people at MacDill Air Force base>.

 

But our freedoms are being challenge by Trump and his attitudes & behaviors in ways we haven’t really seen in a very very long time.

 

The Trump Affect ripples way beyond simple executive orders and specific friends unfluencers ripples2actions that will have an impact on the people of the country. The more dangerous ripple effect is one of attitudes & behaviors.

Within this dangerous Trump affect ripple,  the freedom to freely criticize is a little less secure … and the way we criticize, debate & discuss in the Trump era appears to be one of not listening, not respecting and not believing that there could possibly be a way to do something differently than the way “I believe.”

 

Trump and his merry little band of morally corrupt liars suggest that there is no middle ground for “ladies & gentlemen to disagree with ladies & gentlemen” <note: this is a rip off of the Ritz Carlton motto>.

 

The Trump Affect has trickled down into his direct organization … the congress.

 

And within that ripple Republicans either embrace the bully opportunity or simply privately watch in horror as leadership decorum and leadership example <which, by the way, IS important as impressionable children and adult seeking cues on how to be leaders watch closely>.

And within that ripple Democrats screech & gnash their teeth in impotent frustration over not only having no power to shift the tides of change but also because, in their heart of hearts, they know this is not the way business should be conducted.

 

Balance has disappeared.

compromise balancing actWhile people can bitch & moan that decorum, in the past, has only encouraged stagnancy & lack of action they should not confuse with what business is conducted and how business is conducted.

Just as I am more accepting of my high school football coach if we have a losing season but the players play with respect & dignity and go to class and show signs of growing up with a healthy personal responsibility … I am less accepting of the coach who permits poor behavior & lack of respectful competition even if they win more.

You can have all the good in this case. But balance has been lost.

 

In fact.

 

We should face the fact that balance deserted us the day Trump stepped onto his golden Trump Tower escalator last year to announce his candidacy.

 

And that is why Rubio’s speech is so important. Without actually saying it he suggests that we shouldn’t let Trump drag us down into some dysfunctional squabbling amorphous blob of indignant jerks.

 

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“Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do.

Both are nonsense.

You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.”

 

———-

Rick Warren

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I like conflict and I think conflict is healthy.

creative spark light bulb

It is a basic Life truth that conflict is the positive friction that often creates innovations and new thinking and new ideas.

But, as with most things in life, there are degrees of conflict.

 

The kind of conflict we need now, more than ever, is the productive type.

 

We need to better embrace the valuable contradictions in life.

Things like:

 

Smart and funny.

Silent but says a lot.

Liberal conservative.

Cynical optimist.

 

Oh.

 

And enlightened and conflict of course.

 

We need to better embrace the fact that contradictions are powerful.

They create a chemistry ending in positive friction <when done right> and the fire for innovative thinking and thoughts.

 

In general I believe contradiction not only make life & people interesting but they also forge the kind of decisions that become the iron construct for a solid culture, civilization and country.

 

We need to embrace that conflict is part of life and not treat it as only a negative thing.

 

void embrace the unknownHumans are neither passive nor stagnant. We move. We do. We think.

 

Combine that fact with individuals are unique <although they may group together> and inevitably there is some conflict. It can simply be healthy competition or it can be staggeringly evil intended activity <i.e. there will be conflict because your point of view and thoughts shouldn’t exist and I am going to extinguish them>.

 

We need to embrace the fact that conflict can be “managed”.

Maybe call it competitive camaraderie. I call it enlightened conflict. I believe if people know more about stuff <I don’t really believe it needs a technical term> then conflict will be conducted with knowledge.

 

I would suggest that ignorance, and being close minded, guides conflict toward evil interactions … while knowledge guides conflict to responsible interactions.

 

Lastly.

 

We need to embrace that enlightened conflict is really some version of pluralism.

A pluralism in that it encourages, and embraces, freedom to learn and freedom to think different thoughts.

 

In the end I imagine what I really care about are people’s actions. They can remain mute as far as I am concerned as long as their actions respect others opinions and others lives and meets global responsibilities.

 

Look.

 

enlightened conflict ideasIt is silly to think that conflict doesn’t exist as part of our natural behavior <I apologize to all the “why can’t we all get along” groups>.

 

It is silly to think that friction between beliefs and causes is not the spark for something better.

 

It is silly to think conflict and friction is not good.

Good conflict leads to positive friction and ideation and evolution of ideas.

 

But it needs to be conducted with respect. Respectful disagreements & debate lead to two things:

 

  • Positive friction.

 

  • Enlightened conflict.

 

 

The first is based on curiosity plus friction equals better ideas and thinking.

The second is lack of ignorance plus conflict equals respectful competition.

 

We here in the United States have an incredible privilege … a freedom to say what we want and disagree and criticize whomever we want. We shouldn’t abuse that privilege by not understanding that it creates good conflict which enlightened conflict thinkenables ‘gooder’ ideas.

 

Marco Rubio did something in his speech which I endorse wholeheartedly … he tried to make an impact on his own little corner of the world … encouraging positive friction for enlightened conflict.

 

 

Marco Rubio had a stellar enlightened conflict moment … and more people should see it and listen.

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“Enlighten the people, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day.”

Thomas Jefferson

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saying goodbye to project global generation

December 27th, 2016

gg thinker and girl

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“ I always thought the idea of education was to learn to think for yourself.”

 

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Dead Poets Society

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“Teach me how to gracefully let go of things not meant for me.”

 

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via lilac-veinss

 

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Well.

 

I am saying goodbye to my project global generation education idea.

 

Project Global Generation was my global gg access tech_growthtechnology based education idea.

 

It pains me to do so as I view what is happening with regard to education and technology.

But it has been 6 years since I built out the program and initiative and shared it online and it has gone nowhere.

 

I still believe it is a good idea. No. A great idea to enhance education at younger age levels globally.

 

More often than not when technology & education is discussed it refers to university level. I do not. And I have not. My initiative has always resided at the K through 12 level.

 

<although … awhile back one of the people in my LinkedIn network recently attended a conference on technology, start ups and education which discussed investment in K-12 innovation and VC’s: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/heres-what-we-told-world-leaders-edtech-betsy-elizabeth-corcoran >

 

 

Now.

 

Before anyone completely freaks out, while I do believe classrooms will need to change shape <almost everyone agrees the common set up is less than optimal>, I do believe there will be a human teacher for a long time yet and in my initiative idea I created a concept in which the best teachers could have student access globally … anywhere <implementation and costs  >

 

But.

Something needs to change <and charter schools and privatization are simply band aids on an old wound>.

 

Worldwide, 250 million children do not have even basic numeracy and literacy skills. In some rural parts of the world only one in five children aged 10 and 11, who should have spent five years in school, have achieved minimum learning standards.

My idea can help solve that.

 

In addition, one reason why so many children spend time in school without progressing is overly ambitious and inflexible curriculum. Education interventions aimed at basic literacy and numeracy skills for children who have fallen behind curricular expectations show that they can improve rapidly with the right support.

My idea can help solve that.

 

In many countries, the best teachers often cannot help the students who need them the most holding back children’s learning.

My idea can solve that.

 

In many cases learning is less than optimal because we do not provide learning resources to help children progress at an appropriate pace. Learning materials will only be effective if they are accessible to children, are pitched at the right level and in the right language, and teachers are trained to use them. A computer-based tool in India that tailored learning materials according to children’s current learning levels increased test scores in mathematics for the average child, to exceed 69% of children in the comparison group.

My idea can help solve that.gg thinking beyond-the-box

 

Lastly.

 

It is clear that education systems require urgent reform.

My idea can help do that.

 

Online education has made incredible strides.

And it certainly hasn’t reached a point where it can completely replace physical teaching. Human beings are able to pick up on a multitude of contextual clues from students to determine and respond to the emotional states. Technology can’t detect emotional states, let alone adapt its behavior to cater accordingly.

But we would be foolish to believe that ability is not beyond the scope of what technology will be capable of at some point.

 

Anyway.

I am certainly not the only one with this vision of a technology based education platform.

 

A guy, Steve Vosloo, significantly smarter than I and in the education business has written some fabulous pieces associated with the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) with regard to the future of technology based education:

 

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“UNESCO studies have shown that the use of a SMS phone can help them [children in developing countries] onto the first rung of Digital Literacy by learning to read and write their first words, and subsequently creating the desire to attend school.”

 

http://edutechdebate.org/2014-ict4edu-trends/6-emerging-trends-in-education-and-mobile-learning/

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All that said.

As I say goodbye to Project Global Generation I admitI have always wanted to leave a Legacy. One which may appear to be a pretty “big hairy audacious goal”.

 

Encouraging an optimistic global generation of children having a respect for the environment and others and, ultimately, are individually and globally responsible.

 

I want to develop a children’s education global initiative that can grow the roots for a positive responsible global generation. I want to attack ignorance as if it is the enemy.

And I built it.

 

Soup to nuts I built out the concept <I have the entire table of contents below>.

 

And, suffice it to say, I believe there is a confluence of factors that make this concept a possibility. It is an idea that’s time has come. Surely, the most critical factor to this concept is the evolution of internet usage and global access.

GG platform benefitsIn addition, I thought the idea would always contribute to my larger overarching objective of Enlightened Conflict.

 

Why did I believe Enlightened Conflict an important objective?

Let’s assume Conflict will always exist – between countries, religious beliefs, ideologies, the haves and the have nots, etc. We appear to have a unique opportunity to insure conflict can be managed to some extent. Enlightening a generation to the risks of conflict without respect <the reverse would be encouraging positive conflict or conflict with rules>.

 

If we don’t attempt to place the underpinnings on the foundation of the global generation, then we risk the global house falling when they reach an age where they can dictate the outcome of whatever conflicts across the globe may be happening at that time. No one can doubt that there will be crises and conflict this generation will deal with. And none of us can imagine what they will be. But we should bear a responsibility for preparing them. And an internet education platform offers an opportunity to create a global community thread that in the end could spare us from the direst outcomes from future conflict.

 

Am I seeking a global socialism or global “mind”? Absolutely not.

In fact I would encourage embracing local culture customs but within this infrastructure of common respect. I hesitate to use the word values because so often it has religious aspects. But if I could use it without the religious attachment it is very appropriate. I do not believe we will have a global religion but I do believe we can have global respect.

I call this objective “The Global Generation and Owning a Contradiction: Community Individualism” and it was at the core of the think biggerconcept.

 

I have always believed to make this idea be its most effective, the concept has to embrace the contradiction. Community, a pluralism type idea, and Individuality of choice, a strength in “one” to make a difference type idea. Therefore this concept needs to enhance the sense of global community and encourage local individual choice to encourage belief that a global community is actually made from the strength of individual choices <and the global community respects local choices as long as it stays within an overall respect for life & environment construct>.

 

I have always believed, all the other aspects created equal, the strength of this concept lies within the circular strength of the global/local relationship.

 

Regardless.

 

I have thought out tactics, implementation and strategy. And while this is an expansive concept I didn’t want this program and creating “global balanced respect” to be so pie in the sky and “high road” it was unrealistic. Yet I also don’t want it to be so watered down children won’t be able to see the high road if they are capable of taking it. What I mean by “high road” is while a child in Siberia or the Congo is focused on having food on the table, they truly have dreams of an education to be able to be one of those people they see on TV or hear on radio. It is difficult for a “have” to totally understand a “have not” unless you have been in their shoes.

 

I believe if we build a platform that shows kids the only difference between them is actually the having or not having, it helps a lot. And then if we seek to make education <or maybe cornerstone “conflict” knowledge points> attainable for all globally that helps everyone get off on the right foot, which is where I believe it all begins.

 

So what makes this so less pie in the sky is “creating a positive global imprint for environment and individual respect” is a fairly easy concept to grasp.

 

Ok.

 

Regardless of all the big conceptual ideas I glossed over <but do have detailed thought for> the tactic plan of action is attainable. If you would like to see click here: project global generation.

 

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“The empires of the future are the empires of the mind.”

 

Sir Winston Churchill

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I am interested in helping be a builder of this next empire. I would drop anything I was doing to do this. So contact me if you want to hire me to make this idea happen.

 

Bruce McTague

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Here is the table of contents for all the pieces I have written from the original concept idea to specific costs and implementation tactics:

 

education civilization

–          About Project Global Generation

The welcome to the site and why I created this idea/initiative.

 

–          Table of contents and summary

If you read only one thing this would be it.  Right here (this post is the contents/summary).  A cliff notes version of everything you can find on the site.

 

–          1. global generation: dawn of enlightened individuality (the global generation)

using a variety of sources I outline what I believe the generation after the Millennials, called The Global Generation, will look like attitudinally and how they ‘fit’ in the cycle of generations.

 

–          1a. The global generation student: about their abilities & attitude

using a Fischler study and the Singapore Ministry of Education I try and overcome some misperceptions about the abilities and attitudes of a younger generation of students

 

–          2. global generation: a look at millennials (and why they are not the global generation)

in this post I take a deeper dive into why I believe the Millennials will end up facilitating the Global Generation opportunity and not be the generation that will impact education & enlightened conflict directly. 

 

–          3. global generation: sociology & the internet platform

there are some inherent sociological benefits to a we based education initiative and in this post I outline them.

 

–          4. global generation: developing critical thinking skills

in this post I outline how the Global generation, facilitated by a web based program, will be the greatest critical thinking generation we have seen.

 

–          5. global generation: education messaging underpinnings

in this article I outline the specifics of what makes up the educational aspects (and what does not).

 

–          6. global generation: learning by lurking

in addition to the sociological benefits as outlined in GG 3 we have seen some possible improvements a web based model can offer to learning/education.

 

–          7. global generation: tactics & implementation

after outlining the thinking behind the initiative in this post I outline the specific tactics & costs.

 

–          8. global generation: the role of the web (versus existing education systems)

in this post I outline the benefits of using a web based model for education trying to explain why flipping the existing education model is better and more practical for the future generations 

 

–          global generation 9: measuring the initiative impact (attitudinally and global attendance)

now that I have outlined the thinking behind the program, the specific tactics & costs to implement I suggest measurement objectives and will also using the most recent UNESCO global education report I outline how the initiative will assist in reaching the UN Millennium goals.

 

–          10. global generation: more on impact – conflict & enlightenment

Using an article from The Economist I outline how the initiative impacts value systems

 

–          11. global generation: implementing a conflict prevention program

I compare the initiative against other existing global initiatives to outline how this initiative will be more effective than most other programs because it affects ongoing behavior as a ‘preventative’ initiative rather than a ‘intervention’ type program

 

–          12. global generation: not too close a link to human rights

I outline my thoughts that this initiative is an education program and not a Human rights program and part of its challenge is to not judge different cultural/governmental/religious systems but rather through education there is a high potential for a stronger tolerance of different views as the generation moves into adulthood.

 

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Well.goodbye hand

 

Today I write about Project Global Generation for the last time.

 

Sometimes you just have to let go of things … even if you think the ‘thing’ is worthwhile and worth fighting for.

 

If no one else sees the same value you do … well … as I have written a zillion times before … sometimes you just gotta let go and move on.

 

Project Global Generation is officially signing off. Farewell my friend.

 

wearable technology and everyday schmucks

October 28th, 2016

A19D55 COMPUTER CIRCUIT BOARD WITH BINARY CODE

 

 

“… technology companies want us to think that by engaging in self-monitoring and self-care practices using wearable wireless technologies we will be empowered to “take control” of our health.

“These apps and devices also sometimes ‘push’ or coerce us into using such technologies in the interests of other actors and agencies”, raising questions about their potential for “economic and social discrimination”.

 

—-

Deborah Lupton, a sociologist who has made a critical study of the digihealth market.

 

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Well.

 

strategy think anger angry business ideas filterI am not a sociologist and I am not a wearable technology expert.

 

And, yet, for some reason I find myself in another discussion where I have been asked about some futuristic type stuff including:

 

What do I think will be the future of healthcare?

 

What do I think about artificial intelligence and the workplace?

 

What do I think about tomorrow’s business organizational model?

 

What do I think about 3D printing and its effect on manufacturing?

 

What do I think about Wall Street and the overall financial industry

 

What do I think about globalization and its effect on individual country’s business ,and jobs>

 

What do I think about the young <in business, in education, in critical thinking>?

 

And.

 

Now … what do I think about wearable technology.

 

Let me be clear.

 

At best … I am 50% right on thinking thru innovations success <maybe the last I got right was the double edged razor>.

At best … I am 50% right on thinking thru the future of entire industries.

 

But … that doesn’t mean I do not have an opinion … and I do know some things about people’s behavior and what they like and dislike <from a usage standpoint> … so here goes on wearable technology.

 

I read somewhere that 2014 was greeted as ‘the Year of the Wearable.’

 

Well.

 

That’s a little over-the-top nuts to me.

 

As most over-the-top futuristic type things are … someone has decided to make some over-the-top claim about an innovation and the future of “the next hot thing” <which is most likely tepid at best>.

 

I think wearable technology is going to have some major complications as it tries to become integral into people’s lives.

 

Why?

 

Well.

 

As people try to cram more and more stuff into whatever they are already doing and what they want to do there will be two main decision criteria for anything trying to work its way in to someone’s routine:change-people-technology

 

  • Lubrication:

 

We all have gobs of things to do and a to-do list longer than time available. In most cases we are not seeking to add things but are more than happy to utilize techniques & tools which make what we have to do get done more efficiently.

That’s Life lubrication.

 

If someone or something can convince me that buying it & using it will lubricate everything I already have on my plate … well … they can have my money.

 

And if it actually DOES lubricate? Well. They will continue to not only get my money but I will use the product/service on an ongoing basis because it … well … has shown value.

 

Everyone should note that the link between purchase & proof of value is tenuous between innovations and people/users which is why many them look good in trial but die overtime.

 

I will admit … for the life of me I cannot figure out why futurists or the blowhards who espouse ‘year of anything’ with regard to an innovation ignore this.

 

<on a separate note: that’s why I believe smartphone telehealth is the next generation of general practitioner medicine … it lubricates Life on a valuable consumer need>

 

 

  • Enhancement:

 

Sticking with my to-do list or stuff I do daily <regularly> … if something can

improve, maybe make more effective, something I am already doing … it is an ‘enhancer.’ In most cases we are always looking to subtract something if we can add something better. Or even better … enhance something we are already doing that we like <better because that incorporates less change in our Life and it suggests what we are already doing was smart>.

That’s Life enhancement.

 

If someone or something can convince me that buying or using it will enhance my life, make it better or more enjoyable or ‘fuller’ on an ongoing basis … well … they can have my money.

 

And if it actually DOES enhance? Well. They will continue to not only get my money but I will use the product/service on an ongoing basis because it … well … has shown value.

 

All that is kind of basic but for some reason gets overlooked.

 

That said.

 

Wearables, for the most part, neither lubricates our life nor enhances it … they simply educate us on how effective, or ineffective, or how efficient, or inefficient, we are already managing our Life.

 

It simply adds shit to what we are already doing and … well … adds work.

 

It simply provides information.

 

Good information? Sure.

 

But all it will either do is piss me off or show me what else I need to be doing.

 

Look.

 

I have more than enough things, and access to a zillion things, which will tell me what I am doing wrong or what I could be doing better … and all for less than $300.

 

If wearable technology would actually change shit without me having to do shit <kind of like a morphine drip without the morphine> then maybe it would meet lubricate/enhance criteria.

 

At the moment all wearable technology does is highlight the eliteness of the super fit and the rest of us every day non super fit schmucks.

 

They are certainly cool … but in today’s world ‘cool’ doesn’t get you too far in the marketplace. It can gain you a business niche but if the cool doesn’t Life lubricate or Life enhance … it will gain nothing more than a niche.

 

By the way.

In the business world a niche model can be quite lucrative.

 

Anyway.

 

I hesitate to jump on board the ‘digital wearable technology revolution.”

At least from a mainstream consumer choice perspective.

 

Now.

 

Let’s take a minute on corporate wellness or health or maybe … the “digitally health and fitness continuumengaged patient.”

 

Let’s say wearers can earn discounts of as much as 15% on their health insurance premiums. Well. That sounds appealing … and not just to me … 70% of consumers surveyed by PwC said they would wear a device to reduce payments.

 

Let’s say that wearable applications become more practical as both hardware and software develop where the devices can measure temperature and blood chemistry which would permit doctors to monitor patients from afar. Well. That sounds appealing … and not just for me … doctors love the idea and for people with chronic illness it could be life-saving or at least life-changing.

 

Let’s say wearable devices, which could include a smartphone that can measure blood-oxygen and blood-glucose levels <key if you’re diabetic>. Well. That sounds appealing.

 

Let’s say that a wearable device can monitor your ECG linked to an app that can tell when you’re running low on heart medication and need to order up a repeat prescription. Well. That sounds appealing.

 

Some of these devices are already on the market or coming soon via private health providers. And some people envision a time not in the not-so-distant future when physical activity and vital sign data will be collected seamlessly from devices planted on or in our bodies without our having to do anything mobile-technology-phones-antennamuch at all. Well. That sounds REALLY appealing from a lubrication and enhancement viewpoint.

 

Fitbit, and other wearables, don’t really seem that viable to me, however, they do appear to be on the leading edge of what will be valuable to us.

 

 

 

I imagine that if you have some extra money to waste or you are one of the superfit obsessed with maximizing every little edge out of your body then a wearable is well worth pursuing.

 

But for us every day schmucks who are comfortable getting what little we can out of our bodies when we do choose to do some exercise or like to take it easy on Sundays in front of a TV watching other people exercise … well … my wearable is much more likely to be a ‘cold one’ in my hand then some $300 wearable on my wrist.

 

finding a better version of capitalism

May 28th, 2016

 capitalism conspiracy elite

 

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“The combination of technology and capitalism has given us a world that really feels out of control.”

 

Jonathon Franzen

 

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 “Communism forgets that life is individual. Capitalism forgets that life is social, and the Kingdom of Brotherhood is found neither in the thesis of Communism nor the antithesis of capitalism but in a higher synthesis.”

 

—–

Martin Luther King 1967

 

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Why am I writing my umpteenth article on capitalism?

 

capitalism kills loveI saw a number from some USA research the other day … something like 50% of people under the age of 30 do not believe in capitalism.

 

Ok.

 

Capitalism is good.

 

Capitalism is not bad.

 

Just wanted to get that out of the way.

 

But that does not mean there isn’t always a tension between good and bad in the soul of capitalism. It is an incredible wealth-creating & life bettering mechanism and, yet, left to its own devices can run off the tracks <morally and financially>.

 

Capitalism needs guard rails. Or some smart guy called it “embedded countervailing power.” It needs guard rails because humans will be humans.

 

When business is good, human beings become greedy.

When business is bad, human beings become fearful.

 

And I would like to remind everyone that culture is created by … uhm … human beings.

I say that not to be a smart ass but to suggest there is a real culture war in America, maybe the world, and it is occurring in the business world.

 

I purposefully use ‘culture’ because it has to do with some ethics or moral fortitude, some personal responsibility and some pragmatic hope for the future.

In fact … if we fix how capitalism works <systemic & infrastructure aspects> the net result is addressing income inequality, wage stagnation and overall economic prosperity as well as some individual “self-stuff” <kind of all the big societal issues we tend to discuss>.

 

Anyway.

 

A moment on the role of government.

trust the government society young

It is both a fallacy to believe Government is not the problem nor believe they are the solution.

We have a mixed economy < I stole that term from Foreign Policy magazine>.

 

Capitalism is not a governance system which is about maximizing corporate profit at the expense of the citizenry. Effective government curbs greed obejectives & regulates capitalism so that it does the good things it is supposed to do <innovate & bring prosperity to many> and it doesn’t do the bad things <be driven solely by greed>.

 

Let’s be clear.

 

America is not based on an unfettered capitalism nor has it ever been <nor was it ever meant to be by the founding fathers>.

 

It is a managed capitalism system <always has been … I say that to head off any of the ‘government is too involved’ today talking heads>.

 

Government attempts … sometimes better than other times … to put reins on humans within a capitalistic society.  Let’s say it’s something like giving enough range for wild horses to run free … but not to trample the gardens and lawns of the surrounding areas.

 

This ‘fettered’ managed capitalism idea is not perfect. It ebbs and flows and morphs into different shapes as time passes.

But it IS an effective economic and political system.

 

I would suggest that while polarizing … capitalism is balanced … when balanced.

But a better version of capitalism really is not dependent upon governance and laws <and putting banks out of business> but rather personal decisions, choices & responsibility.  Yes. I just suggested <again> that people, not the system, will define the better version of capitalism.

 

Adam Smith suggested the three pillars of a society are: prudence, looking after oneself as best as one is able; justice, keeping the law of the land; and reflection people imperefcetbeneficence, caring for others and society where there is need.

 

Clearly our main issue is not how to survive on true scarcity <that is not a perceived scarcity or a “less than” scarcity> but rather how to live well with plenty.

 

To date we have chased double digit growth and higher GDP all the while seeking higher material happiness <sometimes confused with higher standard of living>.

 

We have become societally insatiable.

 

In other words … we cannot have enough.

 

This funny Maslow chart reflects that as additional personal needs are fulfilled it induces new needs <which we, as humans, constantly improve ourselves in order to further attain these ‘self actualization’ activities>.  Think about this from a non-funny sustenance perspective in growing from poverty to non poverty <but the dimension perspective will always reside in the human mind>.

money puzzle-maslow

 

Yes. Capitalism has certainly vastly improved our lives and our means to live.

 

But it has also fed this insatiability.

 

Some guy named Sandel wrote in “what money can’t buy … the moral limits of markets:”

 

  • the more things money can buy the more the lack of it hurts.

 

  • buying and selling can change the way a good is perceived (he used “giving children money as incentive to read a book may make reading a chore rather than a simple pleasure”).

 

This all leads to an overall attitude that endless <and double digit> growth is essential to maintain and improve our quality of life. While I will not go into the detailed debate … that is simply not true <this is a standard efficiency versus effectiveness argument>.

 

Now. All that said.

 

The issue is really about the attitudes & attributes we are attaching to capitalism.

 

As I share some thoughts to try and address the young’s lack of belief in capitalism I will lead with two things:

 

  • Communism promises to make everyone equally rich and instead makes everyone equally poor.

 

  • Youth thinks it invents the world. Maturity respects the world it finds.

 

Suffice it to say that Capitalism is becoming some evil entity in the minds of many young people. In addition, aspects of other ideologies <communism being one> are being used relatively flippantly as ‘better than’ what is occurring within capitalism.

I actually believe it is a lack of understanding … but it is also quite possible there is a deeper lack of faith with capitalism.

 

If you step back you can see why the young <and the shallow thinkers> feel this way.

 

  • Real unemployment is nearly in double digits. Most Americans think the economy will recover next year, but only 2% think it will make a complete recovery.

 

  • On average, according to Gallup, Americans believe that 50 cents of every dollar the federal government spends is wasted. Democrats, who are supposed to believe in big government, guess that 41 cents of every federal dollar is wasted. Republicans think it is 54 cents, and independents put the number at 55 cents in the dollar.

 

  • A poll found that most Americans would rather their government did less. Some 57% said it was doing too many things that were better left to individuals and businesses. Only 38% thought it should do more.

 

And many people have genuine complaints. Many working-class men have lost their jobs. Those who are still employed have seen their wages stagnate. And overall they don’t trust government not to make it worse.

 

This is a sad state of affairs <for government who CAN make shit happen> because regulations can positively address stagnation & inequality without intervening in entrepreneurial decisions or in the price/profit mechanism.

 

The harsh black & white truth no one wants to say is that regulation is what makes free markets … well … free <free markets cannot sustain themselves>.

 

Anyway.

moral crossraodsI have been thinking about capitalism for a while nudging my mind toward discussing morals and character <society & culture>.

 

I found it interesting to think about Schumpeter when addressing the youth capitalism challenge.

 

  • what Joseph Schumpeter called ‘the cultural contradictions’ of Capitalism

 

One of the cultural contradictions <I believe he outlined 5> was … Rationality.

In that Capitalism encourages rationality in behavior. And that culture creates, and demands, a natural conflict by insisting on some ‘irrational’ behavior.

 

Rationality comes to life as the “maximization” of particular interests of individuals and groups.

This same rationalization then bleeds into both personal lives <family & home> and ultimately becomes embodied in some form or fashion into cultural forms.

 

Children become quasi economic assets <or their rearing incorporates rational ‘maximization’ theory embedded in capitalism>.

 

At its extreme … maximization bleeds into soulless wealth and extreme consumption thereby substituting saving and societal salvation.

 

Oddly, but fairly, he suggests consumption wins against accumulation. This leads to a certain diminishing of the desirability of incomes above a certain level.

 

At the same time, however, when the breaks of certain values associated with ethical or religious tradition fail <called the sophrosyne: Greek philosophical term meaning healthy-mindedness and from there self-control or moderation guided by knowledge and balance. Roman poet Juvenal later interpreted sophrosyne as “mens sana in corpore sano” – “a healthy mind in a healthy body”> individuals and groups come into natural conflict with capitalism. The basic human instinct is one of core values <in some degree within everyone> and therefore the natural contradiction forces some balance within capitalism.

 

This means that the irrational components of behavior are critical for capitalism to emerge and withstand rational arguments … especially when based on long term considerations.

 

But.

That said.

 

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“This is the genius and the Achilles’ heel of American culture. We … have a strong belief in self-determination and agency, even when our expectations fly in the face of reality,”

 

Katherine Newman, who studies social mobility

 

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Capitalism in America is not functioning efficiently for a variety of reasons … but that doesn’t make it bad.confuxed

 

The issue of Confused capitalism … or being confused by capitalism.

 

No matter how altruistic and non-materialistic you may be … the issue is simple … as we sit perched on a stool at the bar of society where we can scan the room and see the danger of those who have nothing or little … as well as those who have the most <and lots of most>.

 

If the majority of us begin to look like we are either nearing the dangerously ‘nothing people’ or, contrarily, appear to be too distant from those who ‘have the most’ <no matter what your exact status is> we get nervous … if not angry.

 

Materialism, culturally, is therefore naturally cyclical in that it will always seek to balance itself. For we always ‘want’ … but most of us want it to be within the realm of ‘hopeful that we can get more’ … without appearing too greedy. Hence that is fairness.

Give me a chance for something more than I have … and give me more and I won’t be too greedy.

 

While everyone can debate the role of money with regard to people’s happiness … it is true that economic health does make people happier <more secure, more comfortable, more sustenance>.

This actually means that free-market capitalism is not devoted to integrity and a reliance on trust but rather economic growth.

 

And this suggests the people need to be regulated.

 

Why do we balk at regulation?

 

The US has always been a wide-open, free-wheeling country, with a high tolerance for big winners and big losers as the price of equal opportunity in a dynamic society. If the US brand of capitalism has rougher edges than that of other democracies most people inherently believe it is worth the trade-off for growth and mobility.

Buut while we like the free wheeling we also recognize that we are going through some type of crisis. It just becomes a discussion on what type of crisis.

 

Some think it is a crisis of capitalism. <I don’t>

 

Others think the crisis is moral. <I do>

 

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“Advocates of capitalism are very apt to appeal to the sacred principles of liberty, which are embodied in one maxim: The fortunate must not be restrained in the exercise of tyranny over the unfortunate.”

 

 

Bertrand Russell

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First there is attitude. What is maybe a disregard for societal fairness versus what could be construed as individual ‘winning’ or ‘what I deserve.’

 

A lot has been written about the effects of globalization during the past generation. Much less has been said about the change in social norms that globalization enabled. Many people, particularly people in power positions, took the vast transformation of the economy as an excuse to rewrite the rules that used to govern their behavior.

 

I say that because while there will always be isolated small groups of lawbreakers in high places what truly destroys morale is a systemic corner-cutting, rule-bending, self interest behavior type of construct.

 

I have thought about how and why this happens.

 

It starts early.

As young children we start off with a healthy core of greatness, but before long it gets covered in layers of doubt, fear and guilt. Often this is caused by people we trust most like parents, teachers and managers who put us down in subtle and less subtle ways. It’s as though people were flicking bits of mud at us until our core of greatness is totally covered. Even worse, we flick mud at ourselves by accepting smaller versions of ourselves through negative self-talk and poor thinking; and we become a tiny fraction of the potential that once existed.

 

Once potential is curbed we seek to find success in other ways … sometimes circumventing “what is right” to make small excusable steps in our behavior to attain ‘small personal successes.”

 

repair faults consumerism

Second is our propensity to consume <and its self perpetuation>.

Our propensity to consume without thought for the planet, the poor or even the person next door is a sign that greed and fear are the motives of the moment.

 

Freedom certainly creates problems (inequalities most notably), but it also solves them.

But the central aspect of freedom advanced by these thinkers was the market, or what Adam Smith had described as the propensity to truck, barter and exchange. In this area, freedom allowed dispersed individuals—disposing of their own resources and choosing for themselves what they want to buy—to generate a level of prosperity that has had no precedent in human history. And the pricing system that emerges from the market—that is, from the push and pull of supply and demand—provides the indispensable knowledge needed to guide the economy.

 

So. All that said.

 

I would tell young people that Capitalism is not the issue.

It is the people within the system <and young people can fix that by entering the system>. The system can work just fine … it is simply being abused at the moment.

 

Capitalism needs to be managed to be more oriented to the long term and socially more responsible.

 

Interestingly … Richard Branson has formed an initiative to do just this … but I found it interesting that initially he sought to have a board of Business Elders … but  there were too few candidates from the business world of sufficiently unimpeachable character to staff it <insert ‘oh my’ here>.

 

Anyway <to conclude part 1>.

 

Since World War II in particular, America has been on a consumption surge/binge. While wages have certainly stagnated family disposable income has grown, life standards have improved, health has improved and overall quality of life has improved <and showed a continuous growth>. Unfortunately, at the same time, while families busily lived their lives they also had access to the finest inventory of toys capitalism could provide. Each generation was doing better than the one before, life was good and standard of living acquired a layer of ‘non essentials’ as part of how the people lived a successful & happy life.

At the same time.

Televisions starting bringing news, influential people talking and capitalism toys into the family living room. Television allowed busy families the opportunity to be exposed to complex issues through professionally crafted sound bites and talking points. People were now becoming more informed from a larger perspective, not just local perspective, and we ushered in the inevitable “keeping up with the Joneses” aspect.

What we face is the natural rising tide of ‘better than before’ facing the ebb and flow of time. The waters being drawn backwards is not appreciated by those standing in a spot washing their feet in the surf. Is it greed for most people? No. it is simply a desire for the status quo – “better is a right not a privilege.” Therein lies the social & cultural task at hand.

 

Anyway <to conclude part 2>.

 

Doing something.Accountability where you stand

 

Me?

 

I write and post on my blog. And speak about it wherever and whenever I can <especially to young people>.

 

It is easy to talk about it because it seems like if we take a moment and reflect on the problems in the world today we might easily come to the conclusion that it is mainly due to deterioration of our morality compass.

It seems like everywhere we see people filled with greed and intent on self-gratification.

It seems like people are always willing to compromise on values/morality to make personal gains.

 

If we start talking about values and create some sort of awakening in the minds of people.

 

Will everyone do it? of course not.

But someone has to go first.

 

Someone has to become the catalyst for change.

 

Why not the youth? We should encourage them to enter the system and build what they desire from the inside out rather than simply breaking the system as unfixable.

Enlightened Conflict