V. “I Am a Rock”

V. “I Am a Rock”

William Laraque

Managing Director at US-International Trade Services

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V. “I Am a Rock”

15.07.2015 01:00 am

Chains or Webs and the Nature of Markets

In II. “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore,” which is the only title so far in this series which is not a rock song, I proposed that the multi-disciplinary manner we look at the glass determines whether it is half full or half empty. The systems analysis or engineering way of looking at the glass suggests that its capacity may be twice what is required to fill it. I understand that everyone cannot be multi-disciplinary. Many women I know claim that men cannot multitask much less be multidisciplined.

In IV. “Rockin Down the Highway,” we examined the evolution of economies and cities and how the origin to market web of farmers, miners, fishermen and industrial workers becomes blocked or dis-intermediated by various factors.

A Rock is an island. Some islanders are “connected to the continent” and become transformative. Alexander Hamilton, originally from Nevis and Napoleon who hailed fromCorsica were not only transformative. They had the mental capacity of multi-tasking and of being multi-disciplined in a geometrically expanding fashion. A Rock is also a severe computer systems problem.

Property Rights

Now that we have discussed the nature of markets and whether the progression of goods from origin to destination is a linear or web process, we need to examine how the web of entanglements or interactions fails, how blockages disintermediate the participants from wealth and success in the pursuit of happiness.

Many of you will wonder why I have conflated religion, ethics, Pope Francis in this discussion on the process of pursuing happiness. The pursuit of happiness is a fundamental human right. This right is exhorted in the Declaration of Independence. This right is also expressed this Bastille Day in the “Declaration des Droits de l’Homme,” the basis for the United Nations Charter. Everybody discusses the separation of church and state. What cannot be argued is the phrase from the Declaration of Independence, “we are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights, among them the right to pursue happiness.


I am keenly aware of the Declaration for several reasons. My aunt Carmen, who died at 100 years old, became a U.S. citizen in her 90s and to commemorate the occasion, asked the presiding authority is she could recite both the Declaration of Independence and sing all verses of the Star Spangled Banner from her prodigious memory. At the celebration of her 100thbirthday, she recited from memory the long fable, ‘Les Animaux Malade de la Peste” from LaFontaine. Not only are most Americans not able to recite the iconic documents or sing the emblematic songs of our country from memory but American women in 13 Southern U.S. states, have a mortality which is significantly less than the average life expectancy of the average American. While these statistics may not be cause for concern for many of us, it certainly matters to those concerned. July 14th is also my mother’s birthday.

The Declaration of Independence is part of the spirit of democracy which in turn, is part of the evolution of the U.S. Constitution which addresses property rights. The Magna Carta established the property rights of oyster growers against boat owners on the Thames, 800 years ago. It also granted property rights to barons and clergy against those of King John. The king quickly annulled the agreement soon after affixing his seal thereupon. Property rights have always been contested and I am reminded of the quote from Stiglitz as we consider this.

The U.S. constitution is a work-in-progress as is U.S. democracy. Both the definition and actualization of rights have evolved as the property rights of women, blacks, the physically and mentally handicapped; LGBT persons have become part of the constitution.

The Rock  

The rock, the blockage in the intersections, in the entanglements of the elements of industrialization, re-industrialization and investment in economic and job growth is multi-disciplinary. It involves all of the elements in the origin-to-destination monetization process. It is in part, a systems analysis problem. The essential questions about systems in this regard are: Can it be eliminated? Can it be changed? Can it be simplified? Einstein said that any intelligent fool can make something more complex, more violent, but it takes a touch of genius and real courage to move in the opposite direction. Infrastructural, legal, ethical (corruption), political, educational, economic, technological, logistical, financial, ideological and philosophical issues impede the efficiency of the monetization process. I will henceforth concern myself with the financial and logistical issues in investment and in the delivery of capital and how these impede or empower progress, jobs and economic development.

FDR said that education is the first duty of the statesman. I am not a statesman but I have been fortunate enough to have had an extraordinary education and a career during which I was exposed to nearly every aspect of international trade.

Rocks can be carbuncles or diamonds. The more facets it has, the more brilliant the stone.

Please ask any questions and I welcome your comments.

In VI. “Bad to the Bone,” we will discuss the impact of corruption and bureaucracy on monetization in international trade.

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