The classic American road trip is a great experience for a lot of good reasons. More than the core of great novels and movies, it’s usually a journey of inner discovering and bonding and so much else all at once. At the core, however, is one undeniable lesson – this is a truly vast and amazing nation.
The best measure of how stuck in a rut this nation have become is how much that obvious fact has been forgotten. I promise you that the United States is bigger than you or I can ever possibly imagine. But to listen to today’s media or politics of any kind you’d swear that this nation is weak, fragile, and small.
We need a road trip. Short of that, let’s take one in our minds.
A new year means a new start. Resolutions are made and we all hope to be better people. it’s also a time for predictions, which shrewd people can write in a way to not look bad in another 363 days. It’s not just about making them vague and easily attained, no – a good prediction can be an excuse for not being a better person.
That’s my way of saying that we can expect a lot of ugly in 2019, but we shouldn’t let that get us down. here’s what I see happening in the year ahead. Bookmark this and make fun of me if you want.
Good decision making comes from experience, and experience comes from bad decision making. This has been one Hell of a year, but what did we learn?
If you are shivering and exhausted after being blasted by a firehose of news and information, you are far from alone. That’s the nature of our world, and generally you have two choices: do your best to take it all in and make sense of it, or unplug and have a good life.
But like Buddha’s choice between hedonism and asceticism, either choice has to leave you wondering: isn’t there a third, middle way? And there is. It’s about planning and learning, about enjoying the here and now without a lot of noise but staying on top, perhaps even above, the world.
If we have learned one thing from this year I would hope that it is that a series of reactions is never a substitute for an actual strategy.
The layoff notices came right after Thanksgiving. GM, a symbol of American industry, was going to close four US plants and can over 14,000 workers. Despite the relatively low numbers of people involved, the symbolic value is tremendous. The company was once the symbol of American manufacturing might. Besides, after a bankruptcy and government bailout the company surely has had what it needs to bounce back, right?
Yet there is much more to the story than this. Automobile manufacturing is in a period of massive, completely disruptive change. GM has been in trouble for a very long time simply because it cannot possibly change, and there are reasons to believe that everything is only going to be worse.
Mary Barra, the CEO of GM, has been trying to explain the situation to members of Congress this week. It’s unlikely that she can, especially since the very fact that she is obliged to do so points to the real problem. The national industrial model is dead, and it is being replaced with a global market model. GM’s problem is that it simply has not adapted to this reality in any important way.
Imagine for a moment that you are a robot. You have a good, stable job in a factory – hell, you are a factory. You have three phase meals and everything seems good, but you are bored. The same task over and over is no fun.
So let’s assume you plot to take over the world. I know, this is a stereotype that is very unfair to robots, but if you are reading this they apparently aren’t doing much to stop the portrayal. How would you go about taking over the world? The first step has to be to make it more hospitable for robots, which is to say either get rid of the pesky humans or at least their stupid little things like love, kindness, and all that.
If you look around at the world we live in, robots couldn’t do a better job of taking over than humans are doing their bidding.
Mailbombs sent to former presidents and television networks. Stocks volatile and uncertain. New trade costs and restrictions announced weekly, if not daily. Chaos is reigning in the United States right now, upsetting anyone who stays connected and informed.
This is not what government should be encouraging. Stability and order are always the first job of government, and in fact what it exists for in the first place. That may sound like a very conservative interpretation, but for the vulnerable who need protection and help reliability is a matter of life and death.
The nearly permanent US trade deficit is getting a lot of attention. Surely, it’s a bad thing to send so much money outside the US when it could be providing jobs to American workers, yes? The problem largely goes without saying, and is never actually discussed.
But are trade deficits really that bad? As with most things in economics, the short answer is no but the long answer is yes. Let’s discuss.