31 October 2020
Jobs and Stock Market Numbers During Carter, Reagan, Bush1, Clinton, Bush2, Obama and Trump Presidencies
Two sets of facts for our last 7 presidents. (It's worth remembering that the economy didn't do well enough during Carter or Bush1's first terms for them to win re-election.)
Men imagine getting away with everything he gets away with. Women imagine him as their child or mate and having to deal with the fallout of all that he gets away with.
Between 2000 and 2010, the US hugely benefitted from the innovation of immigrants.
But I've seen interviews of folks at Trump rallies. Those people seem very tech savvy. I'm sure that once these anti-immigrant nationalists are free from the pressures of free trade and can focus again on their technology inventions they will more than compensate for Trump's dramatic reduction in student visas and immigration rates.
29 October 2020
27 October 2020
14 Weeks of Holidays and Vacation - Plus the Most Civil Perk of All - How the Dutch Treat Their Workers
"Wow. Very cool." So I blocked out 8 weeks. Then I clarified, "So that includes both vacation time and holidays?"
"Oh no. We also get 6 weeks of holidays."
"Uh, no," he said in his delightfully lilting Dutch accent.
"No political push for that at all," I repeated.
"Well," he said, "we know that better things always cost more. The best is not cheap. And in all the studies of the happiest countries in the world, we come out in the top 5. So, we pay a little more and we get a little better. It's worth it to be happy."
A Fourth Generation Californian Rants About How The Senate is Designed to Give the Most Power to The States Least Able to Create Jobs and Grow Their Population
17 October 2020
In 1985, Rupert Murdoch bought Fox.
15 October 2020
Per the Economist, Donald's odds of winning the electoral college are 9%.
His odds of winning the most votes? 1%.
A system that increases your odds of winning by 9X is quite a system.
In the 1800s, throughout Europe, their parliamentary system was changed to adapt to the new industrial economy. We need to do the same to adapt to the realities of the new information economy.
Manchester, England led the world into the industrial economy and as a result its population grew rapidly. In 1700, Manchester had less than 10,000 people. By 1820 it had closer to 200,000.
But here’s the deal. Politics hadn’t kept up with economic and demographic realities. Manchester did not even elect its own two Members of Parliament (MPs) in the early 1800s. It was part of another district.
Meanwhile, in the “rotten boroughs,” a paltry few could elect their two MPs. How few? In one district, 7 voters got to elect 2 MPs. Another district had mostly fallen into the sea, leaving just 32 voters clinging to the land and getting to choose 2 MPs.
Throughout the 1800s, folks in the UK, France, Austria and Germany changed these sorts of odd disparities so that political power better aligned with demographic and economic realities. We could learn from their example.
Wyoming and Vermont have populations smaller than Washington DC; those two states get 4 senators and DC has none. 21 states with 36 million residents get 42 senators – close to half of the senate’s 100. California with its 40 million people gets 2 senators.
California has helped to pioneer the information and entrepreneurial economies and that has made it successful in industries like aerospace, communications, silicon, software, biotech, and the internet. Of the 100 most valuable companies in the world (as of 15 Oct 2020) California’s companies represent 25% of the global market cap and 33% of the US’ market cap. Because California has been so innovative and entrepreneurial, it has created more jobs than any other state in the union and now has the largest population. Like Manchester, England in the early 1800s, California’s population and economic importance is incredibly diluted through the country’s obsolete political system.
In 1790, when the US was founded, 90% of workers were in agriculture. Acreage was a pretty good proxy for representation then. Agriculture now employs fewer than 2% of American workers. Acreage is now a terrible approximation of how representation should be calculated.
As it now stands, politics in the US is going to be disproportionately defined by the least populous and least affluent areas of the country because of how the Senate is structured. This makes progress difficult. It’s like having the kids in the bottom half of the class write the textbooks.
Right now, we have division where there is – in terms of population and definitely economic weight – a clear majority. These less populous and economically developed regions are pushing to protect us from the global economy rather than better connect us to and prepare us for it. This simply frustrates progress and the electorate. It’s time to change.
12 October 2020
08 October 2020
07 October 2020
The Single Best Predictor of Management Failure: How Trump and Pence Model a Rude and Polite Version of Disinterest in Any Other Opinions
Even if I haven't been introduced to people, I can usually tell quite quickly who is in charge. I was just starting what turned out to be a multi-year engagement with a Fortune 50 company when I was in a conference room with about 12 people. Very quickly I realized that person A was in charge. Everyone deferred to him. He spoke at the greatest length and with the most authority. Then out of the blue, this other guy took over the conversation. I thought the first guy might be offended, but he was deferential to this new guy. I thought I might be witnessing a subtle takeover. And then - about fifteen minutes later - this happened again. There were at least three people who were clearly the leader in that room and I was baffled. It wasn't until this happened one more time that I realized what was going on. This company makes multi-billion dollar investments that are incredibly risky. They are the definition of cutting edge technology. And depending on the topic of the moment, the expert in the room literally shifted from one person to the next. Exploring a new material? Joe is our guy and he leads this discussion. Talking about factory construction? Suddenly it's Akbar. And so on. The topic was way too complex for any one person to dominate. It was also too important for any one person to politely defer.
They weren't necessarily gentle with each other. They had a value they called "constructive confrontation." The point was not to be polite. The point was to genuinely respect different perspectives and opinions and get to something like the truth before investing millions in a new product or billions in a new facility.
Why mention that tonight? Well, Trump and Pence have been accused of not listening to experts. I think that's wrong. My impression after watching them talk over moderators and their opponents is that they are not used to listening to anyone. They're not interested in understanding different perspectives. They are not interested in anything like the truth. They simply expect to be heard and to dominate the conversation. And of course Trump does it rudely and Pence does it politely but it is the same outcome: we're not here to debate, to exchange and defend ideas. We're just here to tell you.
And in my 25 years of working within a wide variety of companies, this disinterest in hearing anyone else or conflicting opinions is probably the best predictor of failure. Watching Trump and Pence's complete lack of interest in anything but being heard explained to me so clearly why their policies have been so disastrous.
Family Separation for the Children of Undocumented Workers - from illegal immigrants to tax cheaters
It seems that these folks outraged at tax cheaters have two choices once they see this. One is to simply say, "Yeah. That is spot on. Take their children." The other is to be outraged, shocked that this new government would systematically separate families as punishment for cheating on taxes. The relevant question at that point is whether undocumented (as in did not file any or any accurate tax records) workers deserve a punishment this harsh and whether they'll vote again for this administration now that they know how far they'll take things.
02 October 2020
01 October 2020
One of the most consistent term in any conspiracy theory is, "They." "They are making up these numbers .."
"They set this up so that .."
"They don't want you to know .."
One of the less obvious things that conspiracy theories do is make you helpless. Some mysterious group is up to no good. We don't even know who they are. We are up against a conspiracy and there is nothing we can do.
Do you know who your congressperson is? Someone who is like you but decided to run for office.
Do you know who runs that big company? Someone who is like you but started a company or focused on a career and moving up the corporate ladder.
Does luck play into this? Yep. Are some people born on third base and others born walking up to the plate with three strikes? Yes. Variation in starting positions and reasonable aspirations are huge but they're more often thought determinant than they actually are.
The Republican Party never gives its base a ban on abortion and always gives its elites tax cuts. Every time they get into power. Why do these elites (who are so successful at getting their tax cuts) so hate people like Bill Clinton and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez? The thought that the son of a widowed hairdresser or a former bartender could actually have power and change laws outrages the folks who prefer to think - and prefer that you think - that only the rich can change laws. The success of these upstarts might actually undermine your sense of resignation.
But of course it's a democracy. Even a failing businessman whose only success in life was to play a successful businessman on TV, or a politician from a state college who stutters can become president.
So if some of the wealthy hate politicians who might embolden common folks to run for office and push for policies that work for common folks, why do so many lesser mortals hate it when commoners take office? It's a reminder that any one of us can become one of "them," and it is harder to take the thought that you could have but did not then the thought that "they" are in control and there is nothing much you could have done about it anyway. The notion of a "they" lets you reject the notion that you might be responsible for finding or creating a way to make a difference. The sense of helplessness that comes from an embrace of "they" being in charge is quite liberating. Even when life sucks, there is nothing you can do about it., so, "Oh well."
There is no "they" in a democracy, only "us," different people who started with and seized different sets of opportunities and possibilities. The bad news is that this truth makes you responsible. Of course that's also the good news. If you're responsible, you can also change things. And that is something that "they" definitely don't want you to realize.