On February 5th, my co-author, Dr. James Rodger is giving a talk to members of the Association for Enterprise Integration (AFEI) in Savannah, Georgia. He will report about his trip to a Sustainability Conference in Hiroshima last week at which he presented our paper on the subject.
The Association for Enterprise Integration is a segment of the National Defense Industry Association, organizations in which we have been active in past years. We wanted to tailor our treatment of the subject for information technologists and for defense industry contractors serving government customers.
The point of sharing this report is to encourage people in various disciplines to consider how they may apply their skill, knowledge, and experience to advancing a sustainable economy.
As a journalist, I often cover events at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), a conservative think tank as I did throughout Election Campaign 2012. I also covered the Republican debates with CNN credentials. Both Dr. Rodger and I are champions for free enterprise though have concerns about performance of our mixed capitalist economic model.
Therefore, we initiated an independent investigation about problems and opportunities to address economic inequality and the strains experienced by the shrinking Middle Class.
Because we have served government customers and have been active in NDIA and AFEI organizations, we are keenly aware of the relationship and contribution of government contractor enterprise with the national economy.
In our book, Smart Data, Enterprise Performance Optimization Strategy © 2010 Wiley Publishing, we used the new Obama administration to illustrate how to apply “smart data” thinking to improve government performance. In new thinking, we are expanding the application to the complete public and private enterprise partnership performing within the US Constitution and Democratic Republic context.
Size of Government
There is and has been much talk about the size of government. Conservatives pursue a smaller government, but what does that mean?
Ask General Dynamics, for instance, and the answer might be the devaluation of their IT business by $2 billion and massive workforce reduction. Ask Lockheed Martin and they will tell you that their size will shrink, though they will remain profitable.
The reduction of the Department of Defense budget will ultimately mean fewer troops.
While government gets smaller, all of the displaced workers go where? Unless the private sector is expanding, more people go into unemployment and underemployment.
With more people in the available workforce category (surplus), downward pressure is put on wages. As more people are “available” their skill sets may not match the addressable opportunities for employment. Therefore, there is a need for education and training and that costs money. Government may be looked upon to provide assistance along with other assistance need to keep people afloat until they can resume employment.
How should the size of government be determined? What is America’s capacity to govern expressed as an economic cost? What are our legacy obligations? What are our emerging obligations? What is our economic output, our productive capacity? How much of the nation’s capital generation should be committed to the government? How much should people rely upon government and for what things?
Applying the “Smart Data” approach, we began by identifying all of the things that we believe most Americans expect from government.
- Nation secured economically – 100%
- Nation has a sustainable economy – 100%
- Nation secured militarily – 100%
- Homeland secured from terrorists – 100%
- Employment opportunities for all who can work – 100%
- Upward mobility for all who are prepared commensurate with ability – 100%
- All persons provided minimal sustainment as a baseline to start – 100%
- Social security assured for all persons – 100%
- Clean air and water – 100%
- Best education in the world – #1
- Freest nation in the world – #1
- Lowest crime rate in the world – #1 in least crime per capita
Securing the nation economically is a prerequisite to everything else. If you don’t have a viable economy, you can’t pay bills and you cannot finance government.
The nation’s economy must be sustainable. Capitalism as we have known it is all about growing and producing profits forever based on addressing an increasing and ever expanding market and population.
The former senior economist for the World Bank offered this:
“I would accept the possibility of infinite growth in the economy on the day that one of my economist colleagues could demonstrate that Earth itself could grow at a commensurate rate.”
Herman Daly, former senior economist for the World Bank.
President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry are addressing the topic of climate change. Climate change is an indication that humans are interacting with their environment and are producing negative consequences expressed as a large carbon footprint. Environmentalists address the subject with such things as Gaia Theory.
We talk about that, but our position is that if you want people to engage in the conversation, you had better talk personal economics and that means sustainable economics.
Americans want 100% national security. National security is a consumer product. We gobble it up and take it for granted and maybe don’t know for certain what is, but it seems to work. Having the capacity to conduct two large-scale wars concurrently is one way to express it. However, that is hard to fathom. When the Defense Secretary says that he is concerned about wearing out the troops through too many field rotations and that he is concerned about the lack of resources to keep troops sufficiently trained, those are visible and understandable concerns.
Then again, how do Americans account for the return on foreign policy? With 43% of the defense budget driven by foreign policy, people would like to know more about what that means.
Homeland secured against terrorists is the endgame, but there are a lot of wickets in the game including immigration and border patrol and enforcement. There are negative economic consequences to bad performance that also affects economic security.
Employment opportunities for all who need to and want to work is a principal outcome from a sustainable economy. Today, the metrics are deficient. The economy as a mixed capitalist system is failing. Do we know why?
Too much left to chance
“The Bilderberg Group, Bilderberg conference, or Bilderberg Club is an annual invitation-only conference of approximately 120 to 140 guests from North America and Western Europe, most of whom are people of influence. About one-third are from government and politics, and two-thirds from finance, industry, labour, education and communications. Meetings are closed to the public.”
There is a notion, supported by some observable facts, that a small group of powerful individuals have influence over global finances. Either they read the economic tea leaves and make consensus decisions, or they actually exert a strategy that affects global well being, or exert the combination thereof.
They convened in Davos Switzerland January 25, 2013 according to a report in USA Today. (Meetings are less secretive than they once were.) We get our information from Davos veteran and former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.
Kissinger answered questions from Davos founder Klaus Schwab:
“On the Middle East: “For one thing, it (the Middle East) is a system in which many of the states were artificially created at the end of the first World War.”
On nuclear powers: “Pakistan has demonstrated enormous sophistication in developing nuclear weapons and could become a source of proliferation in the region.”
On Iran: “The Iranians need to understand that if they keep using the negotiations to gain time to complete a nuclear program the situation will become extremely dangerous. … The danger is that nuclear weapons become almost conventional.”
On U.S.-China relations: “They will interact with each other everywhere. … These countries will conduct an increasing rivalry.”
On the future of Europe: “One underlying problem is what sacrifices can be asked of populations. … The cohesion of Europe depends on the willingness to make sacrifices by those immediately concerned. … What needs to be resolved is the relationship between austerity and growth. … Whatever happens, the idea of European unity needs to be resolved. … Europe needs to be maintained as an ideal, even if the ideal solutions don’t exist.”
Poverty may be eliminated in developed nations like America, however, it will not be eliminated everywhere in the world because:
- Too many people live in locations that are unsustainable
- Too many people to relocate
- The planet has too few resources to support the current population that is expected to grow to 8 billion
- Conflict will emerge and terrorism will develop where the environment is stressed by too many people living where the ratio of people to resources cannot be mitigated.
- America’s pursuit of the optimal sustainment model
Without leadership and a concerted initiative, our government and leadership will push and shove the proverbial ball uphill.However, as the government addresses the necessary balance and tradeoffs between guns and butter, social needs and defense, economic engineering will become increasingly transparent and apparent.
Or, do leaders want private enterprise to expand while government-dependent enterprises contract?
- Progressive Utilization Theory
- Gaia Theory
- Dr. John Ikerd’s critique of capitalism
- Smart Data Enterprise Performance Optimization
- Optimized Sustainment Model
- Renewable energy strategy
Progressive Utilization Theory
This is a social theory and philosophy that places more emphasis on collective well being than individualism. For that reason, it rubs many Americans the wrong way. However, with such a skew of wealth, 90% of wealth concentrated into 1% of the population, progressives want a fairer balance. Arriving at that means making adjustments in the value system.
“PROUT is not concerned solely with property rights and economics. Rather, it encompasses the whole of individual and collective existence, not just for human beings but for all beings. Supporters of PROUT (proutists) claim that the theory overcomes the limitations of both capitalism and communism.”
We are saying, consider it; learn from it; and adjust.
Gaia theory provides a scientific context in which to consider all of the factors needed for sustainability on planet Earth.
“The Gaia Theory posits that the organic and inorganic components of Planet Earth have evolved together as a single living, self-regulating system. It suggests that this living system has automatically controlled global temperature, atmospheric content, ocean salinity, and other factors, that maintains its own habitability. In a phrase, “life maintains conditions suitable for its own survival.”
Dr. John Ikerd
Ikerd is scholar-farmer from Missouri who addresses the finite limits of capitalism and argues for a new model.
“Sustainability is a question rather than an answer,” as the late Robert Rodale was fond of saying. Sustainability is a direction rather than a destination, like a star that guides the ships at sea but remains forever beyond the horizon.
The”question of sustainability” can be asked of any ongoing activity or process. It can be asked of “conventional” agriculture and of any proposed “alternative” agriculture: Is it sustainable? Asking the question need not, and should not, presuppose the answer.
Smart Data, Enterprise Performance Optimization Strategy
With our book, George and Rodger try to equip people with the techniques and quantitative analysis necessary to engineer an optimal economy through public and private enterprise performance integration and optimization.
Renewable energy strategy
To break away from current economic limitations, America needs to pursue renewable energy on a path toward exclusivity, and independence from fossil fuels. That is the driver for a new economy and sustainability.