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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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.”

 

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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.

Speeches and speech writing

March 17th, 2016

 speechless

 

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“He who wants to persuade should put his trust not in the right argument, but in the right word.

The power of sound has always been greater than the power of sense.”

 

 

Joseph Conrad

 

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“Speech is power: speech is to persuade, to convert, to compel.”

 

 

Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

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Well.

 

With an election going on all you have to do is turn on the television or go to any news website and you will see someone giving a speech. Great oration is a skill … almost an art. Some people are naturals. More people are not.

 

But.

 

process presentationHaving given some presentations in my lifetime, as well as provided some training, let me share one of the biggest secrets to presenting … if you have a great speech it is easy to present it.

 

 

In business we spend so much time trying to train someone on ‘how to present comfortably’ and ‘tricks’ to connect with an audience that it masks what presenting & speeches have in common with social media – content is the key.

 

Give me the best speech in the world and the worst presenter can give it.

Conversely … even the best presenter will stumble over the worst speech.

 

I thought of this as I watched several presidential candidates give a post mortem speech after the Tuesday elections.

 

I watched Rubio <sadly, yet defiantly, dropping out of the race>, Kasich <touched by a win in his own state>, Clinton <stepping up to the bigger beast in the room – Trump> and … well … the beast himself.

 

I won’t go into specifics of the four speeches but let me say that Rubio & Clinton must have great speech writers. Poetry and prose mixed with aspirations & hope & pragmatic expectations.

 

By the way … that is incredibly tough to do in a speech.

Very very few people can write that stuff.

 

Kasich speeches are easy to write because he has some common themes that come from his core beliefs & values. But suffice it to say that all three of those speeches were about ‘we the people’, what ‘we’ can do together, the spirit at the core of a country, hope for something better … and a dose of caution to not be enticed by the easier road of frustration, fear & hate.

 

Oh.

 

And then there was Trump.

 

He has no speech writer. He is the speechwriter and you can tell.

 

There was no ‘we’ it was all ‘me.’

My poll numbers. My popularity. My smartness. My success. My creating voter turnout.dumb ass me

 

And the only “we” incorporated in were the stupid people who were losers or the enemy peering over the gates like China, Islam & Mexico <who he is gonna punch>.

 

It was all about his polls, his numbers, and him.

 

The contrast between speeches is stunning.

 

Everyone else talks about the people and attitude and spirit … he talks about how popular he is and … well … how stupid everyone is because we are losing too much.

 

The difference between the words, tone and attitude of the speeches was … well … truly stunning.

 

Anybody in business who writes presentations and gives speeches knows the Trump speech path is ultimately a dead end. People like to hear confidence & strong leadership but they want to feel participation and connection.

Solutions are always preferred to problems.

Implying people together is always preferred to tearing people apart.

 

Suffice it to say that without a grander purpose, something beyond an “outcome” objective <like a ‘win’> a speech only leads everyone down a dead end path.

 

A speech should attempt to find that sweet spot of prose, real facts, anecdote and the commitment to a greater purpose. People deserve to hear the good and it shouldn’t be overwhelmed by any bad.

do souls need to be hugh

Trump offers speeches carved on … well … tombstones and not hearts.

 

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“Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones.

 

A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.”

 

 

Shannon L. Alder

 

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I love words and I love hearing a great speaker give a great speech. While Trump may be one of the most comfortable people I have ever seen behind a podium and a microphone he also may be one of the worst speech writers I have ever heard.

Simplistically … he delivers bad words, bad thoughts & bad rhetoric … but he does it well.

 

I admit.

 

Give me the good, the hopeful, the commitment to a higher purpose any day of the week. And I honestly believe most people want to hear that.

Great speeches, given well, lift people up off of the easy angry, resentful, blame-paved path and let us fly when we don’t even realize we can fly.

 

Anyway.

 

I can write an okay speech <I have two posts coming up – one on writing a presentation and one on giving a presentation … as if there aren’t enough “how to” garbage already available online>.

But I am honest enough to know that even on my best day and in my best speech writing moment I may only get a glimpse of what a great speech writer can accomplish.

 

As I share that thought I remember a nice little scene from West Wing where Toby <the chief communications director> comments on Presidential State of the Union speeches and who can write them. He suggests there are maybe 6 or so in the country that can do so. I will not haggle over the number but suffice it to say he is correct … great speechwriters are few and far between.

This also means the everyday schmuck <think … “you & I”> writes a generally crappy speech <even though we all think it is great>.

 

I believe I am in the minority in this thinking.

I think many people <more than can actually do it> believe they write great speeches.

 

Maybe worse for the business world is that I think many businesses believe too many of their own people should, and can, write speeches.

 

Look.

 

As a word guy I want to teach & coach everyone to use words well & wisely.

But, in business, it is … well … business.

This is not a popular thought in the current business world view of collaboration & empowerment but I believe businesses should identify their great speechwriters and empower them to write the business speeches.

 

What this means is that some people end up delivering speeches written by other people.

This freaks a shitload of people out.

 

I actually believe they get freaked out for two main reasons:

 

<1> conceptually it fights the internal “I am best at delivering shit in my own words … words I would use”. The key here is ‘conceptually’. Good words are good words and good thoughts are good thoughts. The kind of words you would actually use shouldn’t change the meaning of a great speech or presentation. But we freak out nonetheless … even before we even see the speech

what want need give

<2> pragmatically most business presentations and speeches are written by crappy writers therefore I do end up freaked out just by looking at what I am being asked to speak. This is beyond the ‘corporate speak’ stench that emanates from every hallway in every business. That is just business crap. a great speech has order and ebbs & flows and seamlessly slides from point to point. Most businesses do not have a shitload of people who can do that.

 

 

In business … you almost cannot pay a great speechwriter or great presentation writer enough money. If you have one in your organization you should treat them like gold.

 

 

Anyway.

 

Within a great speech there is often a paragraph or a line that you know is great even as it slips across your lips:

 

 

  • Clinton’s line about Trump … “it doesn’t make him strong … it makes him wrong.”

 

  • Kasich’s indirect jab at Trump … “I will not take the low road to the highest office in the land.”

 

 

But the greatest of the great speeches cross over into some unseen universe of euphoria. As a listener you listen, hear … and may not remember specifics but you remember how it made you feel.

 

Nowhere has this been showcased better than on the old television show West Wing.

 

For example … after a pipe bomb explodes at a university killing 44 people, including three swimmers, the president gives a speech that includes the following:

 

 

“… More than any time in recent history, America’s destiny is not of our own choosing. We did not seek nor did we provoke an assault on our freedoms and our way of life. We did not expect nor did we invite a confrontation with evil. Yet the true measure of a people’s strength is how they rise to master that moment when it does arrive. Forty-four people were killed a couple of hours words big brevityago at Kennison State University; three swimmers from the men’s team were killed and two others are in critical condition; when after having heard the explosion from their practice facility they ran into the fire to help get people out … ran ‘into’ the fire. The streets of heaven are too crowded with angels tonight. They’re our students and our teachers and our parents and our friends. The streets of heaven are too crowded with angels, but every time we think we have measured our capacity to meet a challenge, we look up and we’re reminded that that capacity may well be limitless. This is a time for American heroes. We will do what is hard. We will achieve what is great. This is a time for American heroes and we reach for the stars. God bless their memory, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.”

 

 

Or.

 

 

The explanation that the director of communications gives when discussing free trade:

 

Toby Ziegler:

 

You want to know the benefits of free trade? Food is cheaper.

Food is cheaper! Clothes are cheaper. Steel is cheaper. Cars are cheaper. Phone service is cheaper. You feel me building a rhythm here? That’s because I’m a speech writer – I know how to make a point.

It lowers prices, it raises income. You see what I did with ‘lowers’ and ‘raises’ there?

It’s called the science of listener attention. We did repetition, we did floating opposites, and now you end with the one that’s not like the others. Ready? Free trade stops wars. Heh, and that’s it. Free trade stops wars! And we figure out a way to fix the rest.

 

 

Words really do matter and, possibly even more important, words delivered well really matter. The wrong words and speech can kill the best idea. Back in 2012 I wrote about elections and words used well and made this point.

Hugh something to believe in

 

Regardless.

 

Speeches are not like stories. Just as presentations are not really stories.

Speeches are all about using words well to lift people from one place to another.

 

Yes, lift.

 

Speeches are not meant to lower themselves into the ordinary uncomfortable truths of what we feel. Speeches are meant to recognize the uncomfortable truths and then lift us above it so we can see a horizon where things are better … the comfortable truth that what is will not always be and what will be is better for you, me & everyone – that no one gets left behind.

 

Bottom line.

 

A great speech lets us see what will be and not what is. Anyone who writes a speech … and gives a speech … would do well to remember the wise words of Hugh McLeod … “the market for something to believe in is infinite.”

All I know is what’s on the internet

March 17th, 2016

 stupidity handicap napoleon trump

 

 

Here is the quote of the day.

 

 

From aspiring president candidate Donald Trump:

 

 

 

“What do I know?” Trump replied. “All I know is what’s on the internet.”

 

 

trump generation of idiots

Well.

 

This actually explains a lot.

 

Credible sources track Trump comments/claims he makes running at about 75% false.

 

Now we know why. He clicks on Wikipedia or urban dictionary or instagram <scanning an image with some quote or factoid> and then tweets it out or parrots it in on-air interviews.

 

 

He has no credible sources … he just makes shit up or maybe even worse … he doesn’t truly think about what he believes.

 

 

I know many of my readers do not live in USA … but for those who do … please think about that before you vote.

 

 

Ok.

 

Now ponder this Trump wisdom.

 

 

 

“I’m speaking with myself, number one, because I have a very good brain and I’ve said a lot of things. My primary consultant is myself and I have – you know, I have a good instinct for this stuff.”

 

 

Well, Donald, that sounds quite reasonable. It’s not as if the world, let alone the Middle East, Ukraine, the South China Sea, is particularly complex or that there are nuanced delicate diplomatic situations or even that it is important to get it right.

 

I imagine just going on instinct makes sense. Or maybe go on the internet because there you will surely find all the answers you will need.

 

 

<note some heavy sarcasm there>

 

 

When I read what he said I thought of a Samuel Adams quote:

 

—-

 

“If ever time should come, when vain and aspiring men shall possess the highest seats in Government, our country will stand in need of its experienced patriots to prevent its ruin.”

 

===

 

Samuel Adams

 

——

 

 

With Trump we are facing a vain man, maybe the vainest of vain, and an ego amigoaspiring man – one who aspires with no rules, no boundaries, seemingly no moral imperative, or … well … any trivial nuisance that could get in the way of a win.

 

He appears, alarmingly so, to be free of any actual solutions.

 

He appears to be free, alarmingly so, of any real policy <beyond his ‘good instincts for this stuff.”

 

He appears to be free,  alarmingly so, to offer frighteningly hollow rhetoric.

 

He is the ruin … not of the country <we will still be standing despite him> … but he is the ruin of what makes the country great <which is not simply ‘winning’ as he suggests it is>.

 

 

In my little corner of the world I will do everything in my power to convince everyone of the sham Trump is and what he offers.

 

Why?

 

I will refer to Samuel Adams again <and let everyone who has not spoken out yet think about these words>:

 

 

“… the necessity of the times, more than ever, calls for our utmost circumspection, deliberation, fortitude, and perseverance. Let us remember that “if we suffer tamely a lawless attack upon our liberty, we encourage it, and involve others in our doom.” It is a very serious consideration, which should deeply impress our minds, that millions yet unborn may be the miserable sharers of the event.”

 

==

Samuel Adams in The Boston Gazette 14 October 1771

 

online megaphone listen speak

 

Speak out now.

 

For what we say, and do, today has an impact … an impact that millions yet unborn may be the miserable sharers of the event.

 

We seek to circumvent the miserableness for the millions yet unborn.

 

 

 

========

 

 

Toby Ziegler <West Wing>:

 

“We don’t know what the next president is going to face. If we choose someone with vision, someone with guts, someone with gravitas, who’s connected to other people’s lives and cares about making them better; if we choose someone to inspire us then we’ll be able to face what comes our way and achieve things we can’t imagine yet.”

 

———-

stamping out hunger … or incentive to work (and the middle class)

April 10th, 2014

 

 food stamps wtf

“When wealth is passed off as merit, bad luck is seen as bad character. This is how ideologues justify punishing the sick and the poor. But poverty is neither a crime nor a character flaw. Stigmatise those who let people die, not those who struggle to live.” —Sarah Kendzior

 

 

Ok.

 

When you begin discussing food stamps or unemployment benefits or even minimum wage it seems to me that you begin wandering into the poverty discussion.

And then it suddenly becomes this slightly odd, and slightly disturbing, discussion swinging back & forth between basic sustenance to survive versus the ability to prosper type stuff … as well as … incentive to work or ‘do better’ in life stuff.

 

I imagine the issue is that discussing food stamps and any unemployment budget cuts crosses both ideological and the practical.

As well as opinion versus practical.

 

Well.

 

I keep using practical because while we invest a lot of energy debating theory <desire to work versus ‘sucking the system dry’> … practically … what we are discussing is a proverbial doom loop.

 

I recently heard someone said something like: “… food stamps <and unemployment benefits> drains them of their will and their incentive to make the most of their lives if America didn’t make cuts to food stamps <or slow the support system in some way>.”

 

Wow.

The idea that actually having food could possibly drain the will of someone <in any way> is slightly absurd.

 

Well.

 

How about hunger motivating ambition?

That seems almost as absurd.

 

Look.

 

I would like to point out that something like 40% of households on food stamps have at least one person working.

 

I would also like to point out some basic truths about people.

 

courage doesnt always roarIn general … the majority want to work <or do something worthwhile in terms of productivity>. People like to ‘do.’

 

Now.

In general <if you do not agree with the first statement> I could suggest that America has a ‘shirking segment’ at both the top and bottom …. shirking work <yet … we seem to focus on the bottom>.

 

In general … an even larger majority are willing to do what it takes to not have to worry about how they can afford next week … let alone next day .

 

In general it is only a sliver of the population who takes advantage of the system <which implies they don’t want to really work>. It is foolish to believe one person <or a smaller minority> which may actually feel this way … or behave this way … defines the behavior of the entire group.

 

 

I admit I find it slightly shocking that this level of ignorance <or cynicism> is so common in America.

 

I would also like to point out that the highest food stamp amount a single person receives is something like $200 a month <you try living on that>.

 

Yeah.

 

Take a minute.

 

Divide 200 by 30. This is $6.66 a day.

 

Yet if I receive one more email touting that the poor were dining on prime filet steaks and lobster … or that all the unemployed were lazy unincentived-to-work couch potatoes … my head will explode.

 

Regardless.

 

I think I am surprised at how simplistically we address this issue <among others>.

 

We can take food stamps away … but in the end … someone has to pay for the food.

 

Me <being me> I will use children as an example.

 

According to census and government data from 2012, 22% of American children live in poverty and 16 million live in households that are food insecure food stamps food insecurewhich means one in five children do not have regular access to enough food.

 

In 2012, the No Kid Hungry Campaign surveyed more than 1000 K-8 public school teachers across the country with results that should give everyone pause.

 

–          Three out of five teachers reported regularly seeing children in their classrooms who come to school hungry because they are not getting enough to eat at home.

–          56% of teachers said that “a lot” or “most” of their students rely on school meals as their primary source of nutrition.

–          More than half of the teachers surveyed said they frequently purchase food out of their own money for hungry kids, spending on average $26 a month.

 

Around 30.6m lunches and 13.15 million breakfasts are served to kids on a daily basis.

 

Oh.

And think about this.

Although the meals are heavily subsidized, with some kids qualifying for free meals and a smaller proportion for reduced price meals <40cents for lunch and 30cents for breakfast>, parents are still struggling to pay and defaults are on the rise.

 

A February 2012 survey carried out by the School Nutrition Association (SNA) found that among their members 53% of school districts were experiencing an increase in unpaid meals.

 

According to Diane Pratt-Heavner, a spokesperson for the SNA “it seems to be a lot of the families that are hovering around the threshold of poverty <that is families not poor enough to qualify for free meals but still too poor to pay the reduced rate> are the ones who can’t pay.”

 

Suffice it to say that a food stamp program isn’t a crutch but rather plays an integral role in basic sustenance for a shitload of people.

 

But … you know what?

 

We have a bigger issue.

 

We have an attitude issue.

 

Now, don’t get me wrong, poverty is a real issue.

 

But the perception of poverty <to middle class> has become a reality in many people’s minds. This is an attitudinal issue. By the way … this is as ‘real’ to people as the actual thing <scary but true>.

 

So this perception, while only a perception, makes it a real issue.

 

Government figures show one in seven Americans is food insecure.

According to Gallup, in August, one in five said they have, at times during the last year, lacked money <i.e., did not have> to buy food that they or their families needed. I do not need a Gallup poll to know that an even larger percentage feel they lack the money <i.e., believed they did not have> to meet the needs of their family <that is the attitudinal part>

 

By the way … just to get some politics out of the way … both figures are roughly the same as when Obama was elected.

 

 

This is not an administrative issue but a cultural issue.

 

However you want to discuss the topic of cuts or benefits … the question is not whether the vulnerable will be hammered … but rather by how much.

 

And poverty reaches into the heads of everyone at all income levels as a perception issue.

 

Middle class people feel like they could become poverty stricken at any moment.

Therefore. They are feeling like they are getting hammered too.

 

<so how sympathetic can you actually be to someone else getting hammered if your own head is getting bashed in>

 

In the past five years or so the middle class and the poor people have been getting slammed.

 

Slammed in terms of having less.

Less , in the case of middle class, may not be actual poverty but it FEELS like poverty to them because it is ‘less than I had.’

 

Overall the problem is the gnawing away of average living standards and coping head thoughtsspecifically how the effects hammer you even moreso the lower your income.

 

So maybe while real poverty is important to discuss and think about … in order to get everyone aligned attitudinally we should be thinking about a poverty attitude at all income levels <albeit the highest income ‘less than’ is ludicrous to anyone in another income class>.

What we seem to be ignoring is that this group … a large group … has simply fallen into a coping strategy.

 

In fact … I could argue that all of America has simply fallen into a coping strategy.

 

And as noted in a variety of business opinion papers I have written … coping is stagnant seeking and not growth seeking.

 

To make my point that coping is not effective attitudinally.

 

–          in Michigan black male life expectancy is lower than male life expectancy in Uzbekistan;

–          in Detroit black infant mortality is on a par with Syria (before the war).

–          over a period of 18 years, America’s white working class – particularly women – have started dying younger.

 

 

I shared that to suggest there are tangible outcomes to simply coping and we need to address the coping strategy as the issue.

 

Is this about equality or inequality? Or even the ‘haves versus the have nots’?

 

Not really.

 

This is attitudinal.

Attitudinal with real world behavioral repercussions.

 

It makes it simpler to focus it on poverty … and that is okay … as long as we recognize that poverty is a combination of reality <people focused on surviving life> and perception <people worried about surviving lifestyle>.

 

I also imagine it all harkens back to President Lyndon Johnson in a way.

 

He used lots of great words to express some insightful thoughts on this issue.

 

In attempting to help people out of poverty, Johnson realized that he was making American society more egalitarian by lessening the gap between rich and poor, but he did not see the action he was taking as detrimental to the wealthy.

 

His thoughts on solving the poverty issue were not a zero sum game … in which one group’s gains promised another group’s losses.

 

“Our history has proved that each time we broaden the base of abundance we create new industry, higher production, increased earnings, and better income for all.” – L.  Johnson

 

We should all have this attitude.

 

But it is difficult to do so in the USA because we have a slightly warped view on poverty.

<and I do not share this to not suggest poverty is real … just that we have a skewed perspective in the USofA>.

 

Poverty for a United States household of 4 is defined as annual income of $23,492.coping want life back

This is $2,000 MORE THAN the median household income for a family of 4 in … well <insert a big ‘gulp’ sound here> … uhm … Great Britain.

 

 

It is  fact that the amount of true poverty in the US is considerably less than in the EU. US is a prosperous nation.

 

However … the definition of poverty in the USA is far more generous than in the EU and grows annually.

 

I imagine I am asking that we should not confuse the definition of poverty with its reality.

 

Timbro <a Swedish economics research institution> published “eu vs us” showing how the various EU countries would rank in terms of prosperity if they were US states.

Pretty nearly the entire EU would rank about 45th to beyond 51st in terms of prosperity.

UK would rank 48th <along with Arkansas and Mississippi> and 55% of the British would be defined as living in poverty.

 

The analysis includes measures of material prosperity for “Americans living in poverty” and for ALL Europeans.

By most measures the average poor American has a higher standard of living than the average non poor European.

 

The US poor are more likely to own their own homes, have more rooms and living space, have more property, are more likely to own 2 or more cars, have an attached garage and have more household appliances, TV’s, computers, cell phones, etc. than the average “non poor” European.

 

 

Now.

That doesn’t necessarily refer to ‘poverty’ but I am attempting to give some perspective on what ‘poor’ is in reality.

 

Look.

I don’t believe it is important that we argue whether we feel impoverished or not but instead we discuss increasing abundance for all.

 

 

Things like food stamps … fighting poverty … using LBJ words … come down to a moral basis:

 

    “Because it is right, because it is wise.”

 

To me, attitudinally, we need to create a mindset of an America ‘in which every citizen shares all the opportunities of his society.’

 

 

I use these words in comparison to ‘citizens simply coping.’

 

Now.

 

There is a term called ‘soulless wealth.’

 

‘Soulless wealth’ is abundant wealth that remains inaccessible to all but a relative few.

 

Soulless wealth typifies a society divided between haves and have-nots.

 

Well.

 

I would suggest that soulless wealth is not just a tangible economic concept but one that resides in the minds of people … at all class levels and income levels.

 

Whoa … how can that be?

 

–          Those at the lower incomes who use <or abuse> the system to attain whatever wealth level they achieve is soulless.

 

–          Those at the higher levels who abuse the system to create abundant wealth is soulless.

 

–          Those in the middle class who, out of fear of poverty, use the system by whatever means to avoid the fear is soulless.

 

Soulless wealth, the issue, is attitudinal. And attitudinal at all income levels.

 

I say that because we talk about welfare and food stamps and unemployment benefits as if they are dollars and cents like decisions … and as we say those things we are avoiding the overall attitude of America.

 

The few talking heads who blather away on TV have lost touch.

They use soaring words of hope … and bow their heads when speaking of the despair of poverty … and then move into working hard and earning … and … well … they have lost touch.

 

The truth?

 

People are simply coping.

 

And coping means that all this other talk is irrelevant.

 

 

Here is the real deal.

 

 

For all the talk about ‘getting a free pass in life’ through handouts … most people know that Life is hard.

 

And they are okay with that.

 

It reminds me of a great scene in West Wing:

I never imagined at $55,000 a year, I’d have trouble making ends meet. And my wife brings in another 25. My son’s in public school. It’s no good. I mean, there’s 37 kids in the class, uh, no art and music, no advanced placement classes. Other kids, their mother has to make them practice the piano. You can’t pull my son away from the piano. He needs teachers. I spend half the day thinking about what happens if I slip and fall down on my own front porch, you know? It should be hard. I like that it’s hard. Putting your daughter through college, that’s-that’s a man’s job. A man’s accomplishment. But it should be a little easier. Just a little easier. ‘Cause in that difference is… everything.

 

 

People are willing to work hard.

 

coping and hoping They just ask for two things:

 

–          I don’t want to cope … I want hope.

 

–          I am willing to work hard … but could you just make it a little easier.

 

 

Unfortunately … there are some dollars and cents attached to this.

 

People are willing to work hard if they think they are getting a fair deal in return.

People are willing to work hard if they get a little help now and then to give them a breather.

 

By the way.

 

This isn’t about ‘getting something for free’ … this is about fairness and being the best you can be.

 

Look.

 

Coping sucks.

Coping isn’t fair.

Coping isn’t being your best.

Coping doesn’t lead to greatness.

 

But we have a coping economy and population.

 

That’s the issue.

 

That’s why people are so angry about perceived handouts and the so called ‘welfare state’ and things like that.

 

We all need to remember … poverty is neither a crime nor a character flaw. We should be less angry … be interested in refinding our soul <as we continue to seek some wealth – which is a good thing by the way> … and our leaders need to figure out how to get people to stop coping and start thinking bigger.

 

Lastly.

Before you get angry <on this topic>.

 

I do not begrudge anyone who is feeling like they are coping … but it would be nice if most of us kept coping in perspective.  Using myself to begin the perspective … I discuss poverty … and I certainly understand financial stress … but I doubt I, and many others,  do not truly grasp poverty.

Why?

I have never been in a situation where I was afraid I would starve to death while I worked to death.

 

Just think about that before you get too angry.

our souls only now awakening …

October 16th, 2013

“Our souls, which are only now beginning to awaken after the long reign of materialism, harbor seeds of desperation, unbelief, regrets soul-knows-what-to-do-to-heallack of purpose. The whole nightmare of the materialistic attitude, which has turned the life of the universe into a purposeless game, is not yet over. And yet, a weak light glimmers, like a tiny point in an enormous circle of blackness ….” – Vassily Kandinsky in 1912

 

 

Oh my.

I loved this quote from the moment I first laid eyes on it.

To be fair … I am totally going to misuse this quote … which was written about art. But if you are like me and do not know shit about art then you will be able to come along for the ride as I use it ignorantly … but in the way it spoke to me way beyond art.

 

It spoke to me in a way that explained the sense of desperation I sometimes hear people speak of when speaking of today’s world.capitalism desperate

 

About how so many people think that being materialistic and greed is the prevalent sense of ‘being’ throughout society … and the world .. today.

 

Oddly <just my opinion>.

 

I don’t really believe people think that way. Or maybe better said is that they don’t want to think that way. I believe the majority of people simply act in a materialistic mode because they sense there is there no other path available … if they don’t the other guy will and … well … they will get left behind and not get their ‘fair share’ of whatever the prize appears to be.

Let’s call it materialism survival mode.

 

Therefore the desperation I am talking about is truly a derivative of knowing that there is actually something is better. That materialism is a path with no real destination … in other words … as soon as you have what you have you want more.

 

We want better <most of us> than this.

Better just doesn’t seem so attainable these days.

 

In addition.

In the sense of desperation … or how I just wrote “who will stop the madness?” <  http://brucemctague.com/madness-in-the-world-armageddon-and-a-dose-of-reality   > I admit that I don’t hear people using words like ‘weak light glimmering.’

 

They just see darkness … and … well … madness in the world,

 

Me?

I see it.

I see the weak light glimmering.

 

I see it in people themselves <in how I described where I believe the desperation evolves from>.

 

I see it in generations <as in ‘turnings’ described by Straus & Howe and cyclical attitudes and behaviors over generations … i.e., we have been here before attitudinally>.

 

I see it simply as the evolution of capitalism <which is the basic economic model for materialism … although we should all note that ‘materialism ‘ is a human attitude & behavior wrought from within and not from without>.

 

Anyway.

The capitalism evolution is neither good nor bad … simply the evolution … and what is occurring is the natural friction that occurs during evolution <please note … I do not see this as ‘revolution’>.

 

I could also note that there is natural friction that occurs in any change … just that when an entire economic model creates friction it has some larger repercussions.

 

thinking dialectic crisisSo.

I decided to share Hegel and Schumpeter thoughts because it can possibly explain why there is a sense of desperation … or maybe a sense of uneasiness and why it is natural to feel this way.

 

I say this drawing upon Hegelian philosophy <thesis- crisis – synthesis> and ultimately Schumpeter who drew the basis for his thinking off of Hegel.

According to Schumpeter there is a natural process of creative destruction  within capitalism based on the affect the “cultural contradictions of capitalism” have:

 

–          The Process of Creative Destruction.

 

I)  Capitalism cannot be stationary.

It revolutionizes the economic structure “from within”, destroying what went before through a process of competition that affects costs as much as quality. Creativity in consumer goods, methods of transport, of production, systems of organization, search for markets and technology. It is a process that undermines traditional supports existing at a given moment, weakening its own system. Moreover, capitalism devitalizes the idea of “property” <the existence of great and small shareholders>.

 

*** He is simply saying that capitalism inevitably empowers anyone anywhere to build something … and as that is built something has to be destroyed <or replaced> to accommodate it. Capitalism encourages individual thinking and ideation and business building. Interestingly … it is actually anti-establishment and anti-‘maintaining the norm.’ There is no normal in capitalism beyond its ongoing self destruction and reincarnation.

 

 

–          II)  Rationality

Capitalism encourages rationality in behaviour. Rationality involves, on the one hand, the “maximization” of particular interests of individuals and groups, the use of the instrumental means in a coherent form, and in the same way a series of readaptations empirically controlled by a procedure of flawed -testing. On the other hand, rationalization rushes into both private life and cultural forms. Consumption wins against accumulation, diminishing the desireability of incomes above a certain level. At the same time, however, when the breaks of certain values associated with ethical or religious tradition fail (the sophrosyne), irrational components of behaviour that are critical for capitalism emerge and cannot be refuted with rational arguments, especially when based on long term considerations.

 

 

capitalism cynicism*** Capitalism is a constant struggle between the rational <let’s say ‘profit & dollars & cents’ in this case> and the irrational <let’s call this the ‘feel good’ intangible in this case> within people. It is interesting to note he suggests that money is a means to an end. In other words … you could earn a dollar a year and save only a dollar a year and be okay with that if you could consume <buy, eat, live to what you desire> whatever you wanted and needed. Regardless.  This constant struggle occurs and when it is perceived to be out of balance there will be friction as compromise is debated <and neither side wants to let go of what they have or what they think – which are often inevitably linked>.

 

 

 

III)   The Obsolescence of the Entrepreneurial Function.

Increasing difficulties for the classical function of management. Increasing importance of specialized groups. The context, moreover, has been accustomed to change and each time a greater number of factors are calculable. The success of business ends up in removing the owners.

 

 

*** He is not suggesting that entrepreneurship or small business becomes obsolete in capitalism. What he is saying is that capitalism inherently makes good small businesses into big businesses and as that happens they lose the ‘entrepreneurial function.’ In other words …. Capitalism encourages small to become big and in doing so they destroy what made them successful in the first place <and inevitably they are ‘destructed’ either from within or from without – by small business that destroys them>.

 

 

 

–          IV) Protecting Strata.

In the modern era there was a symbiosis between the nobility and the productive sectors. The former occupied the State organization, guided political decisions and supplied officials for the army (the bourgeoisie was only sometimes in charge of local administration). It was a sector that survived the social and technical conditions that produced it. In conclusion: the bourgeoisie is politically defenseless without the protection of non-bourgeoisie sectors, but capitalism, however, encourages the breaking up of the precapitalist framework of society.

 

*** Capitalism is most effective with a strong middle class and not a massive gap between the haves and have nots. Effective capitalistic societies will strive to reset when the gap is to large and there will be inevitable conflict/friction when this occurs.

 

 

–          V)   Intellectuals.

Characterized as those who exercise the power of the spoken and written word, they are used to not having any direct responsibility in practical matters and thus, they lack a direct knowledge of experience. They encourage self-conceived attitudes as “critical”, more from a logic of opposition, we could say, than from a logic of government. There exists a parallel between education and the scale of moral values in the intellectual sectors and the administrative or bureaucratic sectors against the values and technical criteria of the economic system as it operates.

 

 

*** I find it interesting that while Schumpeter is NOT discussing governmental structures <democracy, republic, socialism, communism> he gets right to the core of the issue in that inevitably officials who make decisions for the everyday person are most often not the everyday person nor do they think like the everyday person. Therefore the economic system may be operating at odds to what they believe is the right thing to do.

 

 

There you go.

Schumpeter uses these five arguments to discuss the process of what he calls ‘the self-destruction of capitalism.’

 

Now.

Self-destruction is not suggesting capitalism destructs as in ‘ends’ … but rather  that in its ongoing self destruction <or crisis in Hegelian terms> it recreates itself <synthesis> into something new.why things keep happening indexed

 

Heck.

Now that I have written all this I can see why there is so much angst in the world today.

 

It doesn’t really matter whether it is a ‘natural conflict’ or not.

Conflict is conflict. It is friction.

And in this time and place it is friction upon friction.

 

Not only is the entire system being reshaped <as it is cracked and put back together again> but the generational attitude infrastructure is also in conflict.

What I mean by that is … the way people used to behave versus a desire to behave differently.

 

In the end.

 

Why are so many of us feeling uneasy … maybe even harboring some thread of desperation in what we see in the world today?

 

‘Our souls, which are only now beginning to awaken after the long reign of materialism, harbor seeds of desperation, unbelief, lack of light the way dont fight the darknesspurpose …’

 

Maybe our souls are simply awakening.

 

Gee.

 

Who wouldn’t see a glimmer of light thinking that way?

recurring issues

July 18th, 2013

“The current generation now sees everything clearly, it marvels at the errors, it laughs at the folly of its ancestors, not seeing that this chronicle is all overscored by divine fire, that every letter of it cries recurring issues nostalgiaout, that from everywhere the piercing finger is pointed at it, at this current generation; but the current generation laughs and presumptuously, proudly begins a series of new errors, at which their descendants will also laugh afterwards.” ― Nikolai Gogol, Dead Souls

 

“A base nation crucifies or poisons its wise men, and lets its fools rave and rot in its streets. A wise nation obeys the one, restrains the other, and cherishes all.”  – John Ruskin

 

Ok.

On occasion I like to remind everyone that we are not in unique times .. well … okay … not as unique as we like to make it out to be.

Remind everyone that the issues we face today … we have faced before.

And while we know that issues are recurring … they still naturally ebb and flow across generations so that as they arise … recurring from some inexperienced point in the past … they seem new to us now.

 

I could select gobs <that is more than a few but less than a gaggle> but let me highlight 3:

–          Government

–          Greed

–          Education

 

Issue 1: Government.

What about governments yesterday?

 

“I weep for the liberty of my country when I see at this early day of its successful experiment that corruption has been imputed to many members of the House of Representatives, and the rights of the people have been bartered for promises of office.” – Andrew Jackson

 

Ah. Today?

recurring problem govtWe experience the uncoordinated actions of a seemingly corrupted entity which we desire to be a well-oiled uncorrupted athlete.

Andrew Jackson in the early 1800’s weeps over the corruption of congress. Concerned by how holding the position in office often meant not holding the rights of the people first and foremost.

Well.

Government is always in a tricky position.

They are elected by the people to not always the people insure they get what they want … but rather get what they need. We elect, and select, leaders to make decisions with regard to the ‘best interest’ of us. And, yet, nowadays politicians seek to gain the elected position simply by promising to the people voting … what they want.

I could argue that our political system claims to be a democracy when in fact it is closer to what Schumpeter suggested was an Elite democracy <pessimists may call it a version of oligarchy> but I will not. We have a democracy … flawed … American … and ours.

We currently appear to have a congress where it appears that most of the elected representatives do not serve the best interest of the people but rather to themselves and their political directives <and support … which inevitably leads to some type of corruption>.

Oops.

This has happened before.

Regardless.

There is getting votes. And then there is getting respect. And respect always comes down to actions … the deeds of those who have been elected by the people.

Today, yesterday … tomorrow. Doesn’t matter.

Corruption will always tempt those who seek leadership positions.

Power will always tempt those who seek leadership positions.

Some will succumb to temptation.

Some will not.

 

Now.

There has been some relatively recent research done to show a trend in many of the largest First World democracies of the growing mistrust of the government <and PewResearch has ongoing surveys to support aspects of the trend>.

While in the 1950’s ¾ ‘s of American would say that they trust in their government to do the right things that number declined to just about 40% by 2004 (Wilson/DiIulio 2007) and interestingly <to make a point> it hovers around that number in 2013.

This research showed an ongoing belief of American citizens that the political system is unlikely to respond to their needs and beliefs. This is also sometimes referred to as political efficacy.

Political scientists measure this political efficacy where political efficacy consists of two parts:

–          internal efficacy – the belief that to be able to understand and take part in politics

–          external efficacy – the belief that the system will respond to the citizens

 

While most studies show now significant change in Internal efficacy in the United States, external efficacy has been steadily declining since the mid-1960’s (Wilson/Dilulio 2007).

 

All that said.

This is a recurring issue. Most likely no worse nor no better than it has been at certain points in the past. I say this just to suggest governmental Armageddon is not upon us. It may be frustrating. It may be aggravating. And it is certainly not good for the citizens who want shit to not only get done … but get done correctly. But it is an ongoing issue.

In the end governments will always be a recurring issue because … well … it is about a group of people <not some intangible concept called ‘government’>.

And while recurring … we <the people> can always do something to make it less worse if we elect to <pun intended>.

 

Next.

And separately.

Separately so as to insure I am not suggesting this next topic is associated with the politician thought I just shared … people and greed.

 

Issue 2: Greed.greedy selfish fools

I could have called this ‘the desire for “more.”

More money … or the accumulation of more … however you define wealth.

 

“It has always seemed strange to me… the things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling, are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest, are the traits of success. And while men admire the quality of the first they love the produce of the second.” – John Steinbeck

 

“A man is usually more careful of his money than he is of his principles.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson

Whew.

What an issue.

I will begin by saying … “quod satis est” <what is enough>.

 

Greed is more likely an ongoing societal distinction between indulgence versus overindulgence, indulging or decadence or “quod satis est” <what is enough> …  in the end … it doesn’t really matter because it is simply a discussion on what is pure decadence – or greed – and what do we actually deserve as people.

I imagine it is also a discussion on what Horace <who discussed ‘what is enough’> or what has also been suggested as ‘the hollowness of unparalleled prosperity where we need to recognize the unacceptable limits <on prosperity> and finding some sanity in enough.’

 

Schumpeter suggested <among some things I don’t agree with> that “moral poverty lurks within capitalism.”

I do like this thought.

It isn’t that capitalism IS moral poverty but that within capitalism LURKS the possibility of moral poverty.

 

What that suggests is that there is a constant battle between prosperity and morals.

 

And I agree with that suggestion.

 

I believe that is the battle we face day in and day out.

We face it today … we faced it yesterday … and we will face it <as a group of humans interacting> tomorrow.

So with that said … I state unequivocally that ‘greed’ does not rule <despite the fact I see a shitload of people suggesting that greed is leading to all the issues we face>.

Greed, among the few … a minority, will always be in constant battle with the majority who is constantly fighting against moral poverty.

That is life.

That is economy.

That is society.

That is our salvation as a society and groups of people interacting … this ongoing conflict.

recurring issues thinking-dialectic-crisisI read somewhere <I apologize to the original source> that this ongoing conflict can be captured in two key aspects:

 

–              1. Perversion of capitalism

Capitalism is a living breathing organism. One in which some microbes fight with corrupted intent to pervert the overall organism. The organism also has other microbes which are healthy and can sometimes even attack and destroy the other bad microbes. Corruption should not, probably cannot, kill capitalism. For capitalism itself can kill corruption.

This is kind of my poor medical organism version of Schumpeter’s thought on creative destruction.

 

–              2. Cynicism of external factors

Perversion of the system aside … if our perception is that the system is rigged by the few perverted … we become cynical. We lose optimism. We maybe even get angry at the perverts <sorry … couldn’t resist>.

I am certainly not suggesting the American ideals are not solid and intent unequivocally sound … or that all Americans are wasteful and perverted <morally> or that every shred of what made America great is gone. At its core America remains a place of possibility and hope. I say that despite the fact people have become quite cynical. Cynical not only about the system but also about their hopes on whether they can succeed and prosper within the system. This has become a deep and increasingly entrenched cynicism. At its worst this cynicism translates into an overall cynical with regard to what it is to be America <which includes, but is not solely, capitalism> and an American <interestingly … I actually could say this about many countries and their citizens as I scan the map today>.

 

This deep cynicism is important and relevant because it affects <either directly or indirectly> our day to day behavior coinciding with, or against, our virtues <moral compass … ethics>.

And that matters because non-virtuous behavior, or vice, leads to an overall ideology of “putting profits before people.”

This can be manifested in a variety of ways: by taking imprudent and excessive risks with other people’s money; by selling products and services that harm consumers, families, and society; and by engaging in outright fraud. Today, of course, we are suffering from all of the above.

Now.

We have experienced this before. There was certainly an overall decay of moral integrity that proceeded both the current recession as well as the Great Depression. Remember that the 1929 stock market crash and the ensuing Depression was precipitated by a decade called ‘the roaring ’20s’ … a prosperous decade marked by materialism and lack of moral discipline. It was certainly a period in business where leaders and organizations certainly ignored legal restraint and had little, or no, regard for accepted rules or standards.

What is currently glibly being called ‘greed’ is actually a combination of vice, virtue and materialism all in a battle against moral poverty. These are all recurring aspects and dynamics of civilization itself.

 

Regardless.

Without getting too theoretical on the dynamics of civilizations and culture … suffice it to say that today we are a society of indulgers and accumulators.

A significant population … while feeling stretched or challenged economically … is actually rich beyond belief in terms of what is available to all of us 24 hours a day.  We are seemingly continuously seduced by the urge to acquire … and acquire more … and indulge <when the opportunity arises>.

I don’t have anything against it. And I certainly understand the psychology of ‘once you have something not only do you not want to not have it anymore … but you want more’ <or the next step up>. You may stop and think a little about why it is we can’t stop wanting more or why there’s never enough stuff … but don’t invest the energy … it is simply part of human nature.

Money leads to lifestyle upgrades. But, once again, that is fraught with conflict. Psychologists call it ‘hedonistic adaptation.’

Once you achieve the income you desired … well … you go back to desiring more.

 

In the end on this topic.

I would suggest that the recurring issue is not really greed <albeit that is an easy target for us> but rather ‘hedonistic adaptation.’

Our natural adaptation to having more … is to wanting more <and invariably expecting that the ‘more’ we currently have is what we deserve>.

Hedonistic sounds horrible.

Good.

That makes it a recurring issue … some people … despite innate human behavior patterns … just don’t want to think and do horrible things. Therein lies the ongoing conflict.

 

Next.

Issue 3: education

Yes. Even education is a recurring issue.

 

Aristotle said … “the education of the citizens in the spirit of their constitution. Sadly, one which nowadays is generally neglected.”

 

I believe I could simply stop here by making the point that if Aristotle was bitching about education back in his day & age … this may be the ultimate recurring issue.

The proper education of our youth is a tangled discussion with multiple paths to the same good destination <what is best for our youth>.

Suffice it to say the discussion most often revolves around preparing someone for a profession <contributing economically rather than societally> versus preparing someone for Life & contributing to society not just economy <and the practical balance between the two>.

Skew it toward profession and we end up with technically qualified people less enlightened in social responsibility.

Skew it toward Life and we end up with socially enlightened people not qualified to actually do anything.

 

Education of the young is always about challenging and growing the mind so that they can be productive … in Life and within the economy. We want adults to be balanced so we need to educate kids from a balanced perspective.

 

Now. The web has changed some aspects of education from a balance standpoint.

While many people are pushing education toward a more pragmatic/practical direction <specifically preparing young for professional practical jobs> the web is actually challenging education to become more societally knowledgeable.

In the not too distant past world view of the majority in a community was measured in mere miles. Opinions and views were driven from a local if not regional purview.

Today? Opinions and views are measured from a global perspective. The kid down the street can know as much about what is happening across the ocean as they do in the street off the next road. This means local opinions & views are being challenged more and more <which creates some different issues for older generations but that is a different post>.

That said … the role of social consciousness, and capitalism <or the professional aspects> within an education system has been debated for centuries. Even good ole Al Einstein weighed in:

 

“Unlimited competition leads to a huge waste of labor, and to that crippling of the social consciousness of individuals. This crippling of individuals I consider the worst evil of capitalism. Our whole educational system suffers from this evil. An exaggerated competitive attitude is inculcated into the student, who is trained to worship acquisitive success as a preparation for his future career.” – Albert Einstein

 

Well. Capitalism shouldn’t cripple individuals. And it doesn’t. In and within itself it can be motivating and positive to the growth of individuals <and society> and it is part of our growing up education to understand this.

Balance is the key.

Education creates the foundation for good productive citizens. Citizens part of a whole. To be whole is to be part.

Education will always be a recurring issue because we will always debate balance <and people are involved>.

 

Whew.

So those are the big 3 recurring issues I see … or rather the three I decided to focus on out of the gobs I could have.

 

And we maybe should note that these issues are eternal.

Not because they are issues of systems and processes and programs <albeit we act like they are because they are tangible> they are issues of people and minds and thinking. Therefore they are recurring sources of conflict amongst people.

 

We may elect to focus on government.

Or on businesses.

Or on the education system.

 

Inevitably we are debating ideology.

And … well … the future.

And why is it all so important?

Heck. Mostly because we are talking about our kids and future generations. We may couch it all in “what I want” and “what is best for me” and “what is fair for me” but inevitably, deep down, we recognize that these discussions lead to outcomes that affect far beyond ourselves.

It affects <in a big picture way> the viability of our countries <regardless where you live> but more importantly it affects the little people <children>.recurring issues why because

 

In the end.

It was philosopher Leszek Kolakowski that said “civilizations cannot live in despair.”

Recurring issues rarely, if ever, become Armageddon issues because inevitably we people seek to find an optimistic interpretation in the despair itself.

Something good comes from the bad.

Learning from the failures of the system.

We seek to NOT live in despair.

 

No matter what country you are living in as you read this I would suggest that we seek a wise nation obeys the wise, restrains the fools, and cherishes all who make up the nation.

Enlightened Conflict