The lie that prevents us from finding a permanent solution to our economic malaise. The same myth prevents us from delivering a shining implementation of an economic framework the world can aspire to.
From the time I was a little boy, I rebelled against authority. It was not because it was the comfortable life to live, nor because authority in-and-of-itself was terrible, but because of much authority – I realized – was undeserved and without merit. Under the watchful auspices of creepy socialism, that same authority tags those who challenge it as renegades and their message as a disturbance of the peace. And yet, peace and prosperity are not the outcomes of unquestionable authority. Spiraling mediocrity is. And economic, financial, and behavioral bubbles are.
For some 40 years, I have battled against misplaced authority, and as an entrepreneur and CEO, have developed some efficient ways to combat the resistance against mine. My favorite tools are reason and patience.
Tools of change
Reason is a powerful weapon as it communicates the most important ingredients needed to induce change: insight, foresight, intellect, passion, and authenticity. Patience is a skill, I must admit, took me some time to develop.
Rest assured, I still often reject patience as the poisonous pacifier to innovation, frequently used to smother outliers in a soup of conventional wisdom, and responsible for an agonizing slow-down in the progress of evolution.
Over the years, I have not earned more respect for but learned to deal with people with different capacities, compositions, and appetites for change. And sometimes, only the pain and discomfort they discover or rocks their well-manicured social walled-gardens, can become the welcome wind in the sails of change that speeds the decision-making process.
Change, or die hard trying
The reason for that gloating introduction is only to explain to you that I fully expect. I am duly equipped to cope with the flood of resistance by nay-sayers, who, after years (and lifetimes) of submission to undeserved authority, would otherwise have to admit their life and the authority they imprinted on their children has been nothing but a lie.
I cannot live without telling you my discovery (and its resolve in my upcoming book), for I believe that coming clean on that lie will induce the change needed for the United States to clean house and once again regain the authentic trust and respect of the world. I wholeheartedly believe in Thomas Paine’s credo for our country:
We have it in our power to begin the world over again.Thomas Paine
3 Step recovery plan
While our economic problems on the surface may seem insurmountable and daunting in complexity, only the supposed experts could begin to understand; upstream economic innovation can erase that complexity and speed up our recovery in an easy to comprehend 3-step recovery program.
- Step one on the road to recovery and to begin the world over again is a long overdue admittance of guilt. Not the guilt that stifles our resolve, but blames that describes the many red flags and the enormous opportunity costs incurred from the lies that led us to ignore reality comfortably. It is time for us to admit to the guilt of our self-imposed economic foolishness. The kind of sin that builds strength and ends recurrence.
- Step two is to develop a new economic framework under which recovery can occur, keeping in mind that such a structure incorporates the dimensions more substantial than our country alone. Still, a growing connected world aspires to (with each state governing its own pace) a new global meritocracy.
- Step three is to implement that framework to each domain – subject to the new rules of engagement – to promote renewable socioeconomic value each country aspires to, with the pragmatic specificity and flexibility needed to drive maximum self-governance and independence.
I will describe those steps in full detail and much more clarity in my upcoming book, but for now, let’s lift the veil off of stage one, the biggest lie.
So, dear President, step one of the economy’s recovery is the admittance of the lies we tell ourselves. Here is our greatest and most bashful one:
We who live in free market societies…Ronald Reagan
It is not hard to find similar expressions of this blatant lie from our most popular economic geniuses. Alan Greenspan, Ben Bernanke, Timothy Geithner, and many before them have uttered similar lies, duly reverberated in public speeches by all the Presidents that employed them. Their lies are likely nothing more than white lies, as I believe they are inherently good people doing their best.
But their best is not good enough.
Because economists, by trade steeped in the wisdom of regurgitated hindsight, are not entrepreneurs, don’t know better, and thus have a hard time coming up with the foresight needed to reinvent our macroeconomics, upstream fundamentally. Not in the least aggravated by the massive political cloud and equity attached to the current way of downstream thinking, applied to actions that may at best dampen uncomfortable economic aberrations, but do not and will not affect the more dangerous downwards trajectory of the economic curve.
We have a problem with freedom in this country. Not that we lack any aspiration to it, but we apply Neanderthal economic constructs to freedom. With his wisdom to embellish on free-markets, even Milton Friedman failed to identify the logical rules for a marketplace to operate freely.
None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.Goethe
We are hopelessly enslaved by an unequal distribution of freedom that systematically diminishes the authentic merit of socioeconomic value and production over the frills of its financial arbitrage. And capitalism without merit is a bold lie.
Even after Martin Luther King left us some crucial lessons behind, we have learned surprisingly little about freedom.
Is freedom the inability to speak up to your boss for fear of losing the health insurance you and your family depend on? Is freedom the inability of an immigrant worker on an H1B visa to disagree with their boss for fear of being sent back to their country of origin? Is freedom defined by the compliance of wearing a shirt and tie to be taken seriously?
Is freedom the majority of little boys’ inability to decline their mass male mutilation (circumcision) within hours of birth? Is freedom the burning desire for segregation (i.e., Black Entertainment Television) to compensate for the racial inequality still so prevalent? Is freedom the need for kids to learn about and emphasize their skin color in school and not to consider it moot?
Is freedom the expectation to work from 9 to 5 in a box (cubicle) with limited exposure to sunlight and less than half the regular bedroom size? Is freedom the need for two spouses to work to support a decent education for their children? Is freedom the dependency of public schools to raise money from parents to stay afloat?
Our implementation of freedom should make us think twice about suggesting other countries to follow suit. But a similarly stark list of contentions to freedom can be made to measure other countries’ levels of freedom (I should know).
The grand prize of freedom is not won by the country that produces the shortest list of contentions, but by the country whose freedoms support the socioeconomic values it holds in high regard.
The need for freedom
The word freedom ignites the same Pavlovian effect as the word sunshine. No one will argue the need for either. Both freedom and sunshine need to be applied correctly to become effective and promote health. Too much sunlight is damaging, as is unbridled freedom.
Freedom can also be outright dangerous, as in a young child licking his birthday cake in front of all his guests, who are supposed to enjoy the same cake later (yes, it happened). Or as in financial systems in violation of free-market principles artificially regulating the merit of production (yes, it happens all the time).
Freedom cannot be left to its own devices. And a certain amount of regulation is needed to correct those who abuse freedom to the detriment of others since abusers will attempt to disrupt any economic system’s authenticity.
But freedom is an economic imperative for a single overriding reason. The reason countries like China will have a tough road ahead in forging economics that can encircle the world. For only (the proper deployment of) freedom can shake off the detriment of socialism and consistently produce the outliers needed to make our world a better place.
The relativity of freedom
The beauty and the curse of freedom are that everyone has their definition.
The freedom for the public to bear arms is not a freedom every country endorses, and neither is the freedom for women to bathe topless in public. Some countries support the separation of church and state, and many do not. Some countries acknowledge patents, and some do not.
Hence, there is no single definition of freedom, nationally or globally, and thus our economic model should not be constrained by the assumption of just one. And indeed, not one that is static and resents the impending change all nations will go through at their own pace in search of economic betterment.
In an increasingly global economy, the need for an economic framework that embodies everyone’s dynamic interpretation of freedom and merit is more important than ever. Especially because down the road, the evolution of freedom will not be defined by countries but by the merit of its interconnected people.
The road to freedom
The road to freedom is littered with misplaced assumptions that we have already arrived.
We should not leave it to traditional economists’ “best practices” to design an economic recovery that has no precedent. Not just because their hindsight is a terrible prognosticator to foresight, but because those economists believe we have already arrived.
Never before have we or the world faced such severe economic consequences, and we should not try to patch that up with more downstream optimizations from those at the “Schools of Economic Science” who are taught and inclined to keep perpetuating the improper macroeconomic constructs and complexity.
Regenerative economic recovery can start when we acknowledge that we are on a never-ending journey of freedom. And that even though our implementation of freedom may have brought us the most riches, it is far from what earns us the prize of beauty or respect as “the leader of the free world.”
The future of the United States depends on our ability to reinvent ourselves (upstream). The question is not if we can reinvent ourselves, but when. And for me, the time to deploy authentic economic freedom could not come soon enough, and the reason I have even greater gifts forthcoming.