Monthly Archives: October 2011

America, the New World

The name America is widely believed to derive from Amerigo (Americus in Latin) Vespucci, a contemporary and eventual friend of Christopher Columbus who not only explored unknown regions of the “New World” but who also invented a system of computing exact longitude and arrived at a figure computing the earth’s equational circumference only fifty miles short of the correct measurement. Quite a feat in the early 16th century!

While no one knows for sure where it came from, the first documented use of the name America was in 1507, when Martin Waldseemüller produced a world map on which he named the new continent America after Vespucci’s first name, Amerigo. More on this fascinating story can be found here: http://www.uhmc.sunysb.edu/surgery/america.html.

Tracing the etymology of Americus, I found the Middle English “yreke”, where its context was something like “as if to rake up the dying embers and thereby release a flame.”

The USA spiritually reawakened the freedoms of belief, speech and assembly associated with higher philosophical/ethical aspirations, among other things. For when people get together and converse openly, wisdom evolves, self-awareness develops, and there is potentially more time spent in the states of Observer and Flow.

We raked up the dying embers of idealism and released the flame in American hearts. While we have no exclusive lock on that product category, America’s purpose was and is to be the house on the hill — the moral high ground. We are the heroes, the good guys in this movie.

Today, having overspent for decades, it is finally catching up with us. Remember all the good times we had? Weren’t they all great? Weren’t they all worth it?

What is “it”? Why, it’s the current comeuppance of suddenly discovering that credit card bills have been piling up in some mailbox we forget we had and now we owe 55 trillion dollars and the number is growing every second.

We are not looking very heroic right at the moment as we use TV and all other media to keep up on how our leaders are solving this crisis.

Most of our leaders and other officials we see head-shots of in the media seem to be yelling at each other and jockeying for position in such a blatant way as to intentionally send the signal to the people that they better get used to it. There is no accountability, it’s all too complex for us so if you were to revolt you would find yourselves back where you are now with nothing more than tragedy as your gain.

The candidates who seem to be different from that norm are the true heroes and many of us vote for such folks whenever we see them. We need to be more informed to vote better, studying more about the lesser players who need our votes too. This will do some good in the long term but will not help with the current economic crisis.

This is a world-wide interconnected economic crisis different from any before, although we like to classify it into the familiar pigeonhole of recessions and The Great Depression. In fairness there are similarities and there are differences.

The important difference this time is in the forecasting of the next 20 years.

Government forecasts have turned out to be too bullish all too often. Happens as frequently there as in business. People make assumptions about how hard they are going to work, how effective they are going to be, how well everyone else is going to help them, etc. After all, what is the alternative? If you put out a realistic (negative) forecast sometimes you lose the investors entirely, or get replaced by other people.

The realistic forecast going forward is that we are going to pull a rabbit out of a hat and get out of relative restriction on our capabilities including enjoyment (that is what economic cutback equates to) in less than 20 years. That is the challenge. That is the game.

If we are in Flow half the time the chances are we could do it in 5 years. Just a SWAG.*

We have to start considering entirely new ideas because we have made the dead horse floggingly unrecognizable on the stale ideas we constantly go try to resuscitate.

Totally new ideas.

If not now, when?

Minds must be opened. Zero-based thinking.**

Examples below are just to prime the pump. Maybe some of what follows could be refined into workability, but my point is to get everyone pitching in with new ideas to get out of the economic hammerlock in the shortest time and with least suffering.

Scenario A: Government creates an innovative plan and assembles the richest people in the USA. Presents its plan. How they benefit. How the people benefit. Reminding them of Thomas Jefferson’s belief in enlightened self-interest. Yes, the richest people bail out the USA. What they get out of it is more than just a fair return — the psychic diet from their citizenry brethren turns from nearly homicidal to respect and nearly awe — because they handle it with grace and turn back a percent of their gain, to the people. Possibly in the form of grants/investments on a Digitally efficient basis (i.e. Internet-based process like Facebook with spreadsheets) to vetted people below the poverty line who have entrepreneurial ventures in mind.

Scenario B: Government creates an innovative plan and assembles the leaders of all of the nations of the Western Hemisphere. Presents its plan. How they benefit. How the people benefit. The neighbor countries and the richest people in them bail out the USA. What they get out of it is more than a fair return — their countries get the highest technology not only today but forever, and their economies and quality of life are destined to shoot up. The individual robber barons do not lose their seat if they and their people can establish fond relations. In a few cases, Cuba for example, they might decide to go their own way and not be part of a new sovereign meta-nation called either THE UNITED STATES OF THE AMERICAS or THE UNITED NATIONS OF THE AMERICAS or simply AMERICA.

It might become known colloquially as The New World for a time in the press until the term is over-used.

The name America was after all, first applied to mean the entire landmass with surrounding archipelagos — which in this scenario becomes a single nation — and was on the first map to include the name America, actually specifically applied to what is now Brazil.

The Naming of America

From http://www.uhmc.sunysb.edu/surgery/america.html#vesp-map

Imagine the complementarity of all of the Western Hemisphere united. The economies of every nation in the world would benefit.

The leading question of the New Founding Fathers would be, “Now that we are back into manufacturing, how do we optimize this driver?” Roboticizing plants south of the previous border will be one obvious part of that future choice.

Good companies in other countries will be provided favorable terms to invest in new plants and offices in the new America.

There will be a billion citizens in the new nation.

What a market to sell to! The New China.

Pan-Western Hemisphere networks such as CNN will be the first beneficiary of The New National way of looking at media advertising. The beverage companies will probably be the first to make buys across the Americas with a single deal. Everyone else will follow. Other networks hasten to catch up.

What buying power in terms of taste for foreign goods, and what self-reliance on everything from oil to metals of all kinds. We will be winding down use of oil anyway, in a specifically staged wind-down with tax breaks given to whoever can help it along.

Of course the new meta-nation still has debt. Not just the USA, whose ratio of external debt to gross domestic product (GDP) is 99.9%. Canada’s is 71%, while Mexico’s is only 23% and Brazil’s is only 19%.

The US debt share to the average citizen in the US today is $47,559 and rising every minute. Diluted by far lower debts per citizen in the rest of the “New World”, the average US citizen share after the merger will be probably half or lower.

But those are abstract concepts anyway. What really counts is getting people back to work, and the excitement of new opportunities for business and trade suddenly abounding as there are fellow citizens you never had before who want stuff you have, and you want what they have, and the rest is details to be worked out.

When companies cannot grow by internal revenue growth and increased efficiency, they grow by merger and acquisition. Perhaps there is a lesson in that for nations too. Mergers where all parties are in favor of the merger — in sharp contrast to Imperialism.

These are but the first two crazy ideas. I have more crazy ideas as to how to bail out the US debt.

Scenario C: Individual productivity bails out the US debt. The US government goes on an efficiency tack in all departments and nooks and crannies. Instead of cutting jobs people are able to accomplish much more. New business management processes ensure this is not wheel spinning but instead benefits the people. The efficiency is so great and the desire to not let people go provides opportunities to move people out of cubicles into “the field” where they can become case workers to help other people hands-on — teaching them marketable skills such as computer capabilities even including software development. People go back to work and the jobs problem goes back into the yellow zone again.

Scenario D: Crime bails out the US debt. Just by decriminalizing opiates (a small fraction of the total market for criminal drugs, gambling and prostitution) $65 billion could be diverted out of the underground economy and this would choke off “The Taliban’s principal and most lucrative source of income in Afghanistan [is its control of the opium trade].” By decriminalizing all “victimless” crimes (drugs, gambling and prostitution) — we would exclude gambling involving animal violence or human violence (beyond pugilism and martial arts, etc.) — the total savings that would accrue for other uses in The New World could be significant.

This scenario could essentially bring our economies back to life much faster than in the current “wait it out” scenario, which is the path we are now walking until somebody has a better idea. It could be you: explore your mind and see what you find. Happy to publish your ideas here unless they are too crazy even by my standards, which would be going pretty far. All ideas contain some seeds of positive possibility, even the terrible ideas we have played with in history — we went there because we saw the germ of good in them but didn’t realize the downside fallouts. The same could apply — must apply to some degree — to all ideas including my scenarios above, which are intended as illustrations more than proposals. Illustrations of how we must take off the shackles and blinders and let ourselves envision many options that otherwise will never be considered.

Let’s step forth and be the ones who start the new positive constructive spirit with open minds and all-inclusive hearts.

Some might see it as a new spirit. Some might recognize it as the original American spirit. It might be the spirit that existed before time.

The spirit that steps out in the direction of the ideal with the intention and conviction of success.

That spirit is in all of us.

Let’s tap it.

Now would be a good time.

Best to all,

Bill

 

* SWAG = Scientific Wild Ass Guess

** Like zero-based media planning, meaning you ignore what you did last year.

Source: “Warlord, Inc. Extortion and Corruption Along the U.S. Supply Chain in Afghanistan,” Report of the Majority Staff, Rep. John F. Tierney, Chair, Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, U.S. House of Representatives (Washington, DC: June 2010), p. 39. [http://drugwarfacts.org/cms/?q=node/38]

Tom Paine, Viral Marketing Pioneer

Pamphlets from hand to hand were a mainspring of the American Revolution.

Who was Thomas Paine, the writer of Common Sense, a single pamphlet that changed the world, and The American Crisis, a series of pamphlets that widened his reach and influence still further?

He was also involved in the French Revolution. A serial revolutionary.

Using clear common language to reach the common man and woman. Using shortform media with pass-along capability. The act of passing was endorsement from a disinterested party: the most powerful form of advertising and/or propaganda and/or idea promulgation.

We consider our own media to be far ahead and yet no one has really used Digital to change the world for the better as profoundly as Tom Paine did, working with the other Founders. Perhaps there’s a clue.

Inspired by Paine, June 10, 1975 (back in the days when I was Wild Bill) found me in the back of a station wagon en route to Washington DC on a self-assigned mission to employ the Paine methodology within the highest ranks of our own government. In the car was a box of reports called “A Plan for America: Report to the President and Domestic Council”. The report’s author was listed as the Human Effectiveness Institute (then called something else).

No one had ever asked us to deliver such a report. (Hence, Wild Bill.)

Our plan was to pretend to be delivering a report that had to be distributed at the beginning of the meeting of the Domestic Council, which the news had reported would be convening that day in the White House to deep dive into domestic problems existing then (similar to the ones existing now) — budget problems, jobs, inflation.

In the back of the station wagon I sensed the spirit of Tom Paine. Guess he wanted us to know that he “got it”.

My friend RR was the sometimes-actor, sometimes-writer who would carry out the actual contacts with guards to get the report inside. His mood was cheerful and excited and he did not seem nervous at all. He was dressed as sort of a messenger except for his battle-scarred short leather jacket.

My colleague Ina was driving and was in similar high spirits. She made first contact at the gate of the White House, and was told that the meeting was going to take place at the Executive Office Building. She got directions and we headed to the new location.

At the Executive Office Building, RR had no trouble getting himself and the box inside and X-rayed. He was gone a long time while we waited in the car. It crossed my mind that perhaps they have arrested him and we’re next, though I did not mention this to Ina.

He came back in an obviously high mood and let us know, “I got into the room.” Turns out someone took the box from him once he was in the room with the President and other recognizable figures and ordered it distributed, whence it was slit open and a copy placed in front of each personage. Before he had to leave he saw that a couple of people had picked it up and flipped through it before the meeting started.

In the following weeks we received letters of thanks from President Ford, Mrs. Ford, Ted Kennedy, Walter Mondale, George Wallace, Carl Albert, Senator Charles Percy, Birch Bayh, Donald Rumsfeld and many others. That was better than getting arrested.

What was in “A Plan for America” that generated gratitude letters?

While covering many areas, its focus was on developing the people resource.

This is still our recommendation today.

Our 300,000,000 Americans, if properly led and organized, could be the most powerful team the world has ever seen.

It is in all of our interest to think this way and to get to that “team” state.

We are not talking about submerging individuality but rather the exact opposite: developing the individual’s talents and innate desires in order to deliver the highest value, the highest social good and the highest ROI. Adding to the net value of the Universe.

In 1975, the first page of “A Plan for America” said:

There will be many Future Plans to discuss. Each Future Plan will be based on a particular way of stating our national purpose.

This Future Plan states our national purpose as follows:

TO BRING OUT THE BEST IN OURSELVES.

This is the way to state our national purpose if the object is to inspire and unite the people behind a common goal they can see themselves participating in and enjoying.

This is the new promise we propose AMERICA make to each of her people:

I, AMERICA, WILL HELP YOU DISCOVER WHAT YOUR UNIQUE HIGHEST POSSIBILITIES ARE, AND I WILL HELP YOU ACHIEVE THEM.

This was the proposed platform for communicating the Plan to the people, and to other countries. It was also the driving and focusing idea for the specific mechanisms recommended later in the Plan. Developing people and plugging them in. A tweak on “pursuit of happiness”, a bit more methodologically specific.

Whereas “pursuit of happiness” as the summum bonum (highest Good) or ultimate goal describes a targeted end state, “developing people and plugging them in” describes a means to that end state.

Visions of what defines happiness are all over the lot — hedonistic, amorous, comfort-oriented, and especially security-oriented — and often after a moment’s reflection one realizes there is no meaning to life unless one is working at something one loves that is ultimately of some perceived value in the eyes of others. Our happiness depends on this as much as on the conditions listed above being met. Work, love and play must all be optimized, as echoed by the Qabala, Freud and Maslow among many others. Leave out the work and you will not be happy.

All of us can continue our life’s work until the very end. Here, I am using the word “work” interchangeably with “purpose” and “mission”. I’m not talking about the work you do for money but rather about the work you would be doing if you had your druthers. The system has not made it easy for most of us to get to our ideal work. This is the first thing to fix. Digital offers efficient means for massive movements to be set in motion in this regard. Governments have been slow on the uptake to use Digital for anything more than tax forms and getting elected. The whole bureaucracy could be shrunken and would perform better by leveraging Digital. At the same time, the people no longer needed for some government jobs need to be efficiently plugged in where they can do the most good for themselves and others. It is a people development and redistribution optimization equation.

Page 2 of “A Plan for America” described two scenarios side by side. In Scenario A, the June 10, 1975 meeting changes nothing — the Domestic Council is business as usual, unemployment and inflation worsen and drag on, other nations surpass us, we become insecure and thus even more concerned about security, and backbiting increases. In Scenario B, in the June 10 meeting the President and Domestic Council decide to announce a vision of the future based on the philosophy of the Founding Fathers (especially Jefferson), in which each American can see himself/herself playing a real part, beyond being a cog in the machine. The people become reinspired and they reunite behind the goal of developing themselves to their highest capacities. All of the specific issues are then approached and individually solved with knowledge of that overall goal in mind.

It appears that since 1975 we have been following Scenario A.

There is still plenty of time to shift to Scenario B.

Page 5 of the Plan looked like this: 

 A Plan for America U.S. budget

What we are saying is that government needs to efficiently come to an understanding of the highest performance that might come out of each individual on the huge American team. Without Digital the very thought would be laughable. With Digital it’s doable.

Then the education/training and in some cases resources the individual needs must somehow be delivered to him/her in a way that is economically sensible to everyone. This again is an equation.

The thing about taxes is that the current system is hugely labor intensive and invites cheating. Meanwhile far vaster pockets of wealth are sitting around nearly dormant, producing value only for the hoarder (earning interest) who clearly is the last person that needs it. Rich people have started coming to their senses and philanthropy has voluntarily increased. This is a trend that ought to continue. People with more money than they need should find sustainable ways to invest that money in people — starting with their fellow Americans. In the next few years I hope rich people come up with hundreds of ideas to invest in people in ways that make sound business sense. I would bet that every single one will involve Digital.

Just as a pebble in the pond, to get even better ideas started, here is one.

BEST PLANS

A Digital Destination in Virtual Reality

Scenario: a rich person or corporation or grant-giving organization — or a group of all these types — creates a new website similar to Worlds.com and Second Life — or in one of these virtual worlds. If you’ve been there you know: you choose an avatar to represent you, and then you go where you will, speak with whomever you like, and can buy and sell things using virtual money. (Neal Stephenson’s latest novel REAMDE is based on a cyberspace in which the virtual economies blend with the real economies of the world.)

Now picture (perhaps you have seen it) the TV series Shark Tank, in which investors decide whether or not to back entrepreneurs based on their business plans. Now translate that into virtual reality. What have we here? A way of test marketing business plans with virtual money.

The idea would be a process by which to organize and optimize — entertainingly! — the investing of billions of dollars into a new mutual fund called BEST PLANS. The fund invests across entrepreneurial opportunities that have scored high in virtual reality pretests — many people bought their product or service and stayed with it and the process was profitable in getting enough people to spend enough virtual money to pay the people doing the virtual jobs and still turn a tidy profit.

Just a for-example.

Again, readers of this blog are a hand-picked lot because of your minds. We have every confidence you can think of better ideas than this one to reoptimize the work we each do and the way we find our jobs and the ways of compensation so that the tweaked system is better than ever before. Why not let your daydreams drift in that direction and see what happens?

Thank you in advance for sharing your daydreams.

Best to all,

Bill

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