Discussing Solutions for America with Thomas L. Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum"You're invited to a live, national teleforum to talk about real solutions for America's future."
I hung up after 40 minutes. There were no solutions. As is too often the case with much of what we are offered, the forum was descriptive and not prescriptive.
Thomas Friedman, writer for The Times, with his co-author gave a brief intro and took questions.
I don't ask questions. I've been watching the process for 50 years. The reason we can't solve our problems? The answers never change. The process never changes. The results are always the same: The Problems Aren't Solved.
I think about this every time I hear people on the news commenting on campaign chatter as if it were a serious discussion about issues. It never is.
Case in point.
After watching 40 years of Talk Show Television selling diet books, get rich quick books, and self-help books, we should be thin, rich, and happy. Instead we are fat, poor, and dysfunctional. If we used the empirical method of analysis, we would conclude they don't work.
Rather, we as a nation, seek data to support our opinions.
We are told, for example, that not every diet book is right for every person. Okay. Now, with a thousand diet books, these should be right for those people, those should be right for these people, and others should be right for other people. Okay? No. We are fat, poor, and dysfunctional. Diet books, get rich quick books, and self help books have failed to deliver on the promise. We still clutch retentively to the notion that they will help.
We talk about "That used to be us." We concoct a dreamy Beaver Cleaver ideal to sell a new idea that won't work. We disparage and discredit Beaver Cleaver, then invoke the success of America's Past.
It may be simplistic, but please bear with me. The Wright Brothers invented the airplane before the creation of the FAA. Thomas Edison invented the light bulb by candle light. The Robber Barons built Eastern Standard Oil, built the Transcontinental Railway, built the West Side Highway, back in the day when conditions were such that we would never tolerate them today.
In short, we fail to concede: "Everybody knows what everybody knows." The Quotations of Slim Fairview.
China, as referenced by The President who accurately pointed out that China built the world's largest supercomputer, high speed rail service, and a hydro-electric dam to power the engines of their economy is doing what we used to do. Why? Because they can. What can we do? If we watch the campaign, we see that we can point fingers at China and say, "Hey, no fair, cheatin'." [sic]
We cannot do that. Then we could. Today we cannot.
Today, we do things by committee. The great evil of modern business.
Here we go. We built the Hoover Dam. We created the TVA. We cannot do that today. We are not allowed to do that today. Do I have anything against polliwogs or purple toads? No. But they are where we want to be.
Don't believe me, eh? The Canadian Hydro-Electric Project when Mario Cuomo was Governor of New York. Clean Energy. Bullwinkle put the kibosh on that one. And so on.
In a time of crisis, people look to a leader, not a committee. Leaders lead. There is no, visioning process, shared vision, "no I in team", combating group-think, or consensus building. Consensus Building is group-think built by a committee.
A tax credit for businesses who hire people? [Create jobs.] On which planet?
When things go well, we have a home, a job, a car, we don't worry about economics. When things do not go well, we don't trust your politicians. What causes the disconnect? We don't understand economics. Not the highfalutin economics of college professors, or EuroCrats. The "explain it to me simple" economics I've been posting on my blog.
They are intelligent, educated, experienced. The conditions are getting worse! Why would Europeans trust their leaders if their leaders cannot do the job of solving problems?
Leaders? Look behind you. If people are following you, you are a leader. If they're not, you're not. That simple. People are not following the EuroCrats.
Yes, another infomercial.
Credentials. I covered that. If you show up with 5 economists who say do this, someone else will show up with 5 economists who say, do that. Another infomercial.
The books that are out there? They are self-congratulatory pats on the back and an insurance policy to protect business leaders in case of a reversal of fortune.
Read my stuff today, or hear it from experts in a month or two.
ps. Don't forget what I said about the tricked out laptop and the few dollars tucked into the envelope.