There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures. William Shakespeare
"Rock this House" is a transitional song. It was performed by B.B. King, RIP and Elton John.
Wall Street, Main Street and Global Competitiveness
Economic growth is closely related to the global competitiveness of any nation.
The political and economic leadership of China, Japan, England, Germany, Norway, Peru, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Greece, Iran and the U.S., have learned or are in the process of learning that global competitiveness is achieved when money saved in sovereign wealth funds, by foundations, by investors, all seeking higher returns, is invested. These funds can be invested so as to monetize the pursuit of happiness by those on Main Street as well as those on Wall Street, High Street, etc. In a period of record low interest rates, ROI is a predominant concern.
Lee Kuan Yew was asked which nation will lead the world in the future, the U.S. or China. He responded that the U.S. would. China will give the U.S. a run for its money, he said. While China can draw on the talents of 1.75 billion people, the U.S. can draw on the talents of the remaining 7 billion people in the world. These combined talents will amount to something that no one can compete with.
Financial Service Disruption
Lee Kwan Yew's optimistic view of U.S. competitiveness reflects on economic and financial disruption which will materially change the way in which international trade and investments are conducted.
Disruption: "Rock this House"
Disruption is the most overused word in contemplating systems today. It is used in conjunction with the word transformative. In order to be disruptive and transformative, a system or process must be clearly understood. It requires Deming's "deep knowledge" to transform processes, to transform the world. In the case of the link between financial investment and economic transformation, deep knowledge is conspicuously absent. The "Masters of the Universe" are wearing the emperor's new clothes for all to see. The result is another massive delusion which rock; pardon the pun, the foundations of global financial services.
The link we have established is that of investment in the empowerment of the entrepreneur's ideas from origin to fruition. Fruition in the case of international trade consists of the successful sale of ideas, intellectual property as well as transformative goods to emerging markets and getting paid for them. Cash and getting paid are crass but they are fundamental to wealth and ROI.
The "flaw in our technological stars" is a Rock. It is an impediment in the web of the global interactions, entanglements which preclude the fruition of this process which is the pursuit of happiness.
Infrastructural Disruption and Translation
Remember the 7 elements of infrastructure? In a technologically advanced world, we have changed the 7th element from just capital goods to capital goods and ideas, intellectual property which either serve the good of humanity in its details or the evil of humanity in its extremities.
Goethe is misquoted just as the Declaration of Independence and the Declaration of Human Rights are poorly interpreted. They are all subject to a Tower of Babel in translation and interpretation. The correct quote from Goethe is "God is in the details, the devil in the extremities." Unless the details are clearly understood, unless the darkness of human ignorance is dissipated, a Rock stands firmly in the way of our addressing the details. Google translates by using an algorithm which considers historical data. Google has yet to be insightful and eloquent in translation.
When Pope Francis went on his latest trip to South America, he visited the extremities because this is where the battle for the human hearts and souls is being fought.
Like Kafka's cockroach, I was drafted into the Vietnam War. I vividly remember how the U.S. tried then to win the "hearts and minds" of the Vietnamese. We failed! We failed because humans are more than hearts and minds. They also have souls. They have culture, beliefs, mores and folkways. Peter Drucker said that culture eats strategy for breakfast. It is lunchtime! It is High Noon at the OK Corral" and we have brought a technological axe to the ideological gunfight.
In a supreme act of bureaucratic narcissism, we the U.S., prepared to fight an armored war against the Soviet Union, in Schleswig Holstein, on the plains of Northern Germany. I know this because I was among those who received "frost calls" at our corporate desks, in our three-piece suits on Thursday and reported to our drills centers, dressed and armed as warriors on Friday. We were ready, as Marines, ready, to deploy...to Schleswig Holstein, to fight the Soviet horde. We were the sacrificial Rock who would hold back the savage horde, the tide until the Army could arrive.
We were not culturally prepared to fight the asymmetrical threat of an enemy who used completely different tactics in the triple canopy jungles of Indochina. We dealt with the inconvenience of Vietnamese tactics and ecology with technology. We used every horrible and conceivable weapon from napalm to B-52s, short of nuclear weapons. We, the young, fair haired boys from a Christian nation, declared free-fire zones and killed everything in them; people, pigs, chickens, everything! We also used Agent Orange in many areas of Vietnam, killing its ecology and ourselves in the process.
My business partner, an eminent attorney, fought the Agent Orange case. In so doing he created data bases which identified that if a "recovering warrior" served in a certain area of Vietnam, he or she was affected by the human and ecological devastation of U.S. technology and deserved compensation. Everyone received compensation except the spooks. They didn't exist. They were in the extremities.
I served with the "recovering warriors" during the Vietnam War and for 9 years afterwards. I was not in "heavy combat." I was only embedded in the hearts, minds and souls of those who served, my brothers-in-arms (and sisters too). I heard their stories of battle, their "rumors of war."
We are all recovering warriors! But now we are engaged in a new battle. We are all trying to recover from the use of WMDs, Weapons of Mass Delusion. My objective is to disabuse those who think they understand why we lost the Vietnam War and why we are all, Americans, Europeans, Asians, Africans, etc., losing the current War for the hearts, minds and souls of humanity. Why do I do this? Because I firmly believe, bloodied but unbound, that in the pursuit of happiness, we can do well by doing good.
Technological Progress and Epiphany
Einstein said that "technological progress is like putting an axe in the hands of a pathological criminal. The victims in this case are not the Vietnamese, they are humanity, and they are We.
The war we are waging is based on 3 models of disruption by investment. Before we can win this war, we must understand the impediments to winning; we must first possess a deep knowledge of what it is. The models are:
1. The Chinese R4I Model of Resources for Infrastructural Investment
2. The Saudi Model of Profit Sharing Investment
3. The U.S. model of Shock and Awe Investment
I will address these models in the next segment; IX. "Waiting on the World to Change."