Of course, the business of governance is far more important than a friendly poker game between friends. All the more reason why, when political leaders are making their assessments as to the national future, they should make sure they have a winning hand, prior to betting heavily. Every day, we’re reminded that the Asian powerhouse is moving ahead at a pace that’s unheard of in the West. It’s almost as though the clocks stopped in the West ten years ago, but Asia kept on advancing in every way.
In the days of yore, there were kings. Everybody could agree to hate the king because he was rich and well-fed, when most of his minions were not. Then, a more effective system was invented – democracy. Its originators had in mind a system whereby the populace could choose their leader from amongst themselves – thereby gaining a leader who understood them and represented them. In short order, those amongst the populace who wished to rule found a way to game the new system in a way that would allow them to, in effect, be kings, but to do so from behind the scenes, whilst retaining the illusion of democracy.
Throughout the world, the media televise weekly reports on the protests in Hong Kong. Developments have remained highly visible, courtesy of regular demonstrations that take place like clockwork, every weekend in the business district of the city. And these are not small demonstrations. A crowds of up to two million has gathered on at least one occasion.
Just prior to a war, the majority of people in the nations that are about to become involved tend to assume that another nation is threatening theirs, whist their own leaders are doing all they can to avoid conflict. This is almost never the case. The “etiquette” of starting wars is for leaders to claim to their people that the last thing they want is war, but the enemy is goading them into armed conflict and, at some point, retaliation becomes “unavoidable.”
A half-century ago, the US was the envy of the world – the Land of the Free, where virtually anyone could prosper, if he were willing to roll up his sleeves and work. America was made great through the immigration of those who wished to pursue the American dream of “work = personal success.” It’s important for us to remember that those who were less ambitious remained in their homelands and helped their countries stagnate, whilst their worker-bee counterparts colonised America for generations.
“Trump is doing the right thing. Without him, we have no protection against China. China doesn’t only wish to dominate Asia, but the world.” Here in Hanoi, so said my dinner companion - a major manufacturer and worldwide exporter of steel products. He, like so many other major Asian producers, sees an opportunity in international trade for all of Asia to capitalize on. In the Western world, the argument rages as to whether the US tariff war will benefit the US or not.
In 1759, Scotsman Adam Smith, who is widely regarded as the world’s first true economist, published his first great work, The Theory of Moral Sentiments. In it, he postulated that all social evolution can be attributed to “individual human action,” as opposed to “individual human design.” By this, he meant that whatever understanding worked well between any two people was likely to lead to progress. The reason for this was that such agreements would, of necessity, be based upon “trust and empathy.” He believed that, if mankind were left alone to sort out all commerce and other interaction on their own, using truth and empathy, they’d succeed at moving the society forward.
I’m often asked how I see the warning signs that allow me to gauge the timing of the coming economic crisis. Although careful research into an economy can result in a relatively accurate prognostication, the timing is always the most difficult aspect to pinpoint.
However, a good indicator is to track how others within the economy are surviving the situation. This tells us much more than their questionable claims that they’re doing just fine.
In any country, during prosperous times, the great majority of people go to work each day with the understanding that productivity results in an improved life. Even for those of humble means, the existence of prosperity around them is a daily assurance that, if you work hard and/or work smart, your life will steadily improve.
Recently, many political hopefuls on the Left in the US have “come out” as socialists. Some may have been socialists all along, whilst others may merely be hoping to cash in on the popularity of avowed socialist Bernie Sanders in 2016. Whatever the answer, those on the Right have gone into attack mode, fervently stating that, “The US will never be a socialist country!” This will unquestionably become the primary emotionally-based issue until the 2020 election.