What is Democracy?

In 1943 during WWII EB White was asked to explain What is Democracy? His answer frames and captures the essential answer nicely.

 "What is Democracy?

It is the line that forms on the right.

It is the don't in 'Don't Shove.'

It is the hole in the stuffed shirt through which the sawdust slowly trickles; it is the dent in the high hat.

Democracy is the recurrent suspicion that more than half the people are right more than half of the time.

It is the feeling of privacy in voting booths, the feeling of communion in libraries, the feeling of vitality everywhere.

Democracy is the score at the beginning of the ninth.

It is an idea which hasn't been disproved yet, a song the words of which have not gone bad.

It's the mustard on the hot dog and the cream in the coffee.

Democracy is a request from a War Board, in the middle of a morning in the middle of a war, wanting to know what democracy is."

Republicans have mastered the double-speak

Perceptions about Gov't Spending are different than Reality...

In this graph you can see the annualized growth of per capita federal spending by POTUS Adminsitration.

Republicans have mastered the double-speak ... and persuaded us that it is not their hand in the cookie jar.

Drive to fact, drive to root cause, assess, then act.

Industries Using Government to Undermine Innovation and New Competition

The pending Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) legislation provides the opportunity to clearly delineate old industry from new - established markets from emerging market forces.

Old Industry is seeking policy to protect their media distribution models. New industry is seeking the continued openness that is currently driving innovation, creating new markets, one could even argue, driving revolutions both figurative and literal. Below you can see who is driving the new regulation and see who is opposing it.

What is SOPA? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stop_Online_Piracy_Act The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), also known as H.R.3261, is a bill that was introduced in the United States House of Representatives on October 26, 2011, by Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX)

 http://maplight.org/content/72896 - data source

Industry Business Interest Contributions
    (Jan. 1, 2009 - Jun. 30, 2011)
     
Computers/Internet (Opposes) Computer software $273,744
  Online computer services $251,233
Total
  $524,977
     
TV/Movies/Music (Supports) Cable & satellite TV production & distribution $672,750
  Commercial TV & radio stations $265,050
  Entertainment Industry/Broadcast & Motion Pictures $320,800
  Motion Picture production & distribution $282,150
  Recorded Music & music production $317,446
  TV production & distribution $125,400
Total
  $1,983,596
     
Grand Total   $2,508,573

 

It's the new American way of doing business in the post-modern digital swish:

Write new rules and litigate.

As disruptive innovation in an industry emerges, old business, people who have profited from predictable market conditions over time, are tempted to pay lobbyists and buy legislators to create policy that undermines competition, ultimately protecting their markets and their revenue streams.

Alternatively, businesses have other strategic and tactical options when faced with innovation - competition via: price, value, R&D, partner, buy the competition etc. 

Do nothing and a business faces declining revenue and closing up shop (see: Polaroid, Blockbuster, Borders Books)

Enter disruption to the status quo >>>  Thesis challenged by an Antithesis that results in Synthesis.

Anachronistic crony capitalism is the act of buying government policy and policy makers to avoid competition, to externalize costs, and to make revenue streams as permanent as possible. Established companies need to become good at sustained investment and innovation learning how to strategically invest and drive a sustaining innovation path.

This is key. Your profits are not guaranteed into perpetuity. You cannot use government to enforce market conditions that guarantee your competitive edge.

I am a promoter of open source and open standards and peer review. Be that as it may, it is worth noting, that even Microsoft continuously includes strategic R&D investments in their business model in order to drive sustainable future revenue.

Corporations should not be allowed to buy policy, buy market conditions, write laws and effectively influence and deviate markets for their benefit.

Compete.  Damn it.

Son is home

... On leave, finally. No new tattoos to report.
His presence 'displaces a lot of water' in our family. While he's gone, we're not the same.

Spending Levers: Federal budget investments that will shorten the recession

The US labor market is still in terrible shape. Virtually every economic textbook affirms that increased Gov't spending in recession eases unemployment and shortens the duration of the downward cycle. Some want to debate this evidence - but the majority of pople who make this claim never cracked a book on economics (macro or micro) and are stuck debating ideological jingoism rather than facts.

Knowing that part of our strategy is the need to jump-start investments, where should spending be targeted? I submit that US Gov't policy should re-focus federal $$ on the economies of tomorrow > building that road to the 21st century: Research and Development, Science, Sustainable Environment and Development, Alternative Energies, Smart Grid, a double-down on Education, Technology, Transportation, and Infrastructure design that leads to the future.

There is a place for government seed $ and investment: see NASA and ARPANET for examples of trillion $ returns from million $ government investments.

While we struggle to frame the correct policy questions and strategies, India and China steam ahead executing investment strategies that forcefully position their economies for future hegemony.

Tick-Tock Peeps: This game is 3 dimensional, not a linear Sunday stroll where the Protestant work ethic 'better tomorrow' is guaranteed through belief and culture. The future is earned, prioritized, and funded.
Progress requires purpose.
Building a better America requires intention.
Results require discipline and vision...
and a commitment to something larger than the just the American individual.

I keep this reality in my field of vision: The American Individual alone can not compete with China. While individual innovation is a critical wild-card and one of the US's competitive advantages, it alone does not win the day. Laying line for telegraphs, transcontinental railways, the interstate highway system ... All kickstarted by federal investment.

Us vs Them Income Reality: The Experience of 99% of Americans

Economic graph #1 explains the expanding income gaps that the vast majority of Americans are experiencing. People know something is wrong, but are too busy working, to make ends meet, taking care of their families, saving for college, looking for work, trying to save their homes, and ...

... paying for rising medical costs. The middle aged middle class is responsible for raising the next generation of Americans, and increasingly becoming responsible for the care of the preceding generations. Graph #2 shows that rising health care costs remain the primary long-term budget challenge we face as a nation. People can make a case for debt, real-estate inventory glut, loss of manufacturing base, declining infrastructure, ineffective under investment in education - however, rising healthcare costs threaten to overtake the Federal Budget, placing increasing downward economic pressure on the middle-aged middle class.

In graph #1 we see the splintering and detachment of the high income class; the self-extrication of the top 1% from the common American Experience and National Identity. The expanding income gap suggests the development of a permanent two-class society. The process by which the top 1% have detached is through the buying and influence on elections and more important gov't policy. With the Federal Government firmly in the hands of the funders of vicious campaign fund-raising requirements, do not expect those that have purchased policy-makers to suddenly drive policy to solve national issues that do not involve their income class (re Graph #2). The hyper wealthy have purchased government legally - they will not only use it to enable the policies that support their objectives, they will also defend the power of government policy from those who would seek to use it to benefit the 99% of Americans represented by the US Republic.

In graph #3 - meet the 1%:

Costs of Bush and Obama Policies

Another compelling chart about policy changes that exploded the deficit. Bush tax cuts are at root.

It's based on data from the Congressional Budget Office and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Its significance is not partisan (who's "to blame" for the deficit) but intellectual. It demonstrates the utter incoherence of being very concerned about a structural federal deficit but ruling out of consideration the policy that was largest single contributor to that deficit, namely the Bush-era tax cuts.

source - http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2011/07/the-chart-that-should-acc...