Tuesday, June 14, 2011

China: The Economy and a Word Beginning with the Letter P

How will China do in the coming years?  Fine.  How do I know?  It is all about three little words. They are not “I love you”. 

They are words that begin the letter P.

Plan.  Process.  Project.

Years back two things happened to me that crystallised my perceptions.

The First:

While working on an Economic Development Committee, I observed that the committee was obsessed with the process.  Whom should we contact, include, discuss this with?  Should we write a letter?  Should we take a survey?  Should we include this in the newsletter?  Whom do we invite to the meeting to discuss this, that, or something else?

As the months passed, we eventually had a plan.  We also had a stroke of good luck. A big, important Government Official, who worked for an agency whose raison d’etre was to give money away, was coming to meet with us.

We made every effort to impress.  We arranged a tour, a presentation, a luncheon.  We even had a helicopter tour of the area.

Long story—very short.  We were told, “We give money away for projects, not plans.”  [We were shot down!]

After the rebuff, we licked our wounds.  We agreed with the one who said, “We got all wrapped up in the big P.” 

Well, no we didn’t.  The big P was project.  We were all wrapped up in the little p.  Plan.

This acceptance of responsibility is actually an abrogation of culpability.  That is correct.  Not to tell tales out of school, but it was similar to what my wife said to me in a discussion about a topic I long forgot.  However, I did not forget her assessment.

“You’re blaming me.”

“I’m not blaming you.  I’m blaming myself.”

“No you’re not.  You’re blaming me.  You’re just taking the responsibility.”
My wife spoke the truth.  That is how I know that our illustrious group member was washing his hands.

We had a plan.  However, that is not the worst of it.  The worst of it was the process.  Another word beginning with the letter P.

The Second:

The County Executive had a project.  Infrastructure.  His administration tried to float a bond issue—very low nine figures:  like $100,000,000.  That is low nine figures.

This was not for warm and fuzzy, touchy-feely programmes.  This was, as stated, for infrastructure.  The purpose?  Make the county attractive to business.

I was asked by an elected official to speak to the council.  Not as a chamber member, but as a citizen.  I spoke for 22 minutes on The Multiplier Effect.  I know this because I received an e-mail from an opposition activist who informed me that no one addressed the council for longer than 5 minutes in over two years.

Nonetheless, my contribution notwithstanding, the bond issue passed.  We had infrastructure.  This helped to blunt the effect of the first recession during the Bush administration, but not the second.  Still, we are better off than we would have been without the bond issue.

This man may or may not have had a plan.  What he did have, though, was a project.  A Project.  As in PMP®   Project Management Professional.  Not, process management profession.  Not planning management professional.  Not, “Strategic Planning.”  Only Project!

Now, what does this have to do with China?

China has a project.  China, in fact, has several projects:  A Dam—hydroelectric power; Housing (Bubbles notwithstanding.); Currency—making the Yuan a global currency.  China is working on projects.  Elsewhere, countries are trying to come up with plans.  Elsewhere, countries are obsessed with “The Process”.

Two articles that will not please the chattering classes.  (Once a phrase having to do with the friends of Truman Capote.)  The Chattering Classes.  Those with credentials.  Okay, so maybe credentials are important.  Still, today, everyone has credentials.  Today, everyone disagrees.  A topic covered in my monograph: on experts.  http://slimviews.blogspot.com/2010/11/experts.html  

Today, China is in the news again.  This time, unrest.  The sad thing is, experts are looking to this unrest as a source of validation for their considered opinions.  They are, after all, in a fencing match with other experts.  Therefore, I offer up two more monographs on the topic of China.

Will the Facebook Revolution Spread to China?  Probably not.

Will the Facebook Revolution Spread to China?  Part 2. Credentialism

The way the world is moving, and I have said this before, we cannot afford to approach global matters as a zero sum game.

To underscore what I’ve just said, I will cite two experts.  (Je vous en prie, remission.)

General George Washington.  A General

Dr. Albert Einstein.  A Physicist.

George Washington, a General Washington said, to paraphrase “If you want peace, prepare for war.”

Dr. Einstein said, “You cannot simultaneously prepare for peace and war.”

In a paraphrase, Washington the General admonishes that to secure the peace we must be prepared for war.

Einstein, the Physicist admonishes, we must fight for peace.

Well, in plain English, we are all quite prepared for war.  Now that we are quite prepared for war, we should be prepared to fight for peace.  This will come when we abolish the zero-sum game mentality of international balance of trade, currency rates, and military one-upmanship.

China has a project.  Other nations have a plan.  Let’s not end up like a chamber of commerce economic development committee and find ourselves shot down.



Copyright © 2011 Slim Fairview