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2018 - Perhaps Older, Certainly Not More Mature, But Love What I Do

by John Jazwiec

I do have a day job. I am going to keep this post up at the top, as a transparent reference to my own aging ... since this blog started in 2010.

Here was a picture taken of me at our User Conference (UC) in April.

Dressed up in CEO costume ...

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In costume on stage, live ...

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First time in my life successfully escaping Epcot before it was sealed. The high sign was me - very, very maturely - saying goodbye to this imaginary reality, for no other reason than I can fathom other than I am a control freak.

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Making American Great Again?

by John Jazwiec

MAGA can't be about the US economy vs. the rest of the world AND GDP per Capita.

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Some perspective here. We tend to think too much about recessions and discount relatively uninspiring growth rates. But the US economy is so large, that low single digit annual economic growth adds up quicker than you think. US GDP in 2018 will be over $20 trillion. That's double what GDP was in 1994

But perhaps the more relevant measurement is GDP per Capita, which give us an idea of how productive an economy is. Some socialist/capitalist countries and finance-havens may be a little larger, but the US produces a lot of non-financial arbitrage activity per individual. Russia and China? $10,500 and $8,500 respectively. Less than 1/6 as productive as the US.

But discounting MAGA by macro-economics alone is a mistake.

MAGA IMO is being driven by one large factor, with more than one force driving it, and not-so-simple and not-so-populist political prescriptions.

The largest factor that is fueling MAGA and will continue to fuel MAGA is wealth inequality. Wealth equality began around 1980. The Reagan tax cuts are the simple blame. But that isn't where wealth inequality is coming from. And it's not going to be fixed by taxing the rich and giving it to the poor. No Colonel "Bernie" Sanders. He is as unrealistic and dangerous as the recent tax "breaks". Two dangerous poles.

Rather it has come and continues to come from technology replacing any job that can be computerized, unfettered global supply chains allowing the lowest cost component to be shipped JIT and the biggie: a lack of interest in too many families on education priority AND education reform.

Why is immigration and racism part of MAGA? Sorry, I don't buy into America regressing its long-arc of progressive history. What I do understand, is people and families, who feel economically and socially disenfranchised, looking for a reason why????

The not-so-simple and not-so-populist political prescriptions.

First, you can't stop technology. That's akin to JFK blaming one of America's greatest presidents - Dwight D Eisenhower - for the interstate highway system displacing the old US highway system leaving small towns into dustbowls. 

Second, and perhaps you can try to make some political points, but 99% of US businesses will continue to demand unfettered global supply chains allowing the lowest cost component to be shipped JIT. 

No, the only prescription for MAGA, is getting parents to first focus on education. Not just for their kids but by them doing double-duty going back to school to be retrained. The government - at least at this writing - is willing to loan the money. 

But the biggest problem with our education system - if you want to read more about it google "Serial Job Killer" - is that we are teaching kids in K12 and college - a 150 year-old industrial revolution inspired-and-required curriculum. Back then, towns begin to pay for schools, so that farm kids could work in factories with NO AUTOMATION.

Jeez, what would be emphasized? Math. You have to not only perform arithmetic in a NON AUTOMATED INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION FACTORY, but you need to understand some higher concepts like geometry. What would have been the least emphasized? English and creative arts. Read and write, sure. But being able to articulate large thoughts with condensed words that nonetheless convey important things? Malcontent. Being creative and thinking for yourself? Anarchy.

Today - and I know it goes against everything we hold on so dear to - we should start kids out with computers to understand what a number means. Make it fun. Show them four toys with the number 4 above it. Then let them enter large digits. By ten, they will get what numbers do. Them let them add/subtract/divide/multiply with a computer or calculator. It's not the rote learning I object to. Rather its the time and opportunity cost.

You give me a first grader, with a computerized primary number understanding and an automated way to manipulate the numbers, AND I can then start them out with a simple pixel on a computer. Each pixel can have a color and let say it has to have a limited number of states (lines or curve). If the first grader wants to draw a picture, they will soon be able to understand, how to do it with pixels. 

Then, as they master perfection, might as well introduce them to calculus.

All of this leads to a new education system that is applicable to the digital economy. Half computerized. But even more importantly, half creative problem solving, debate, speech, and even standup comedy.

Finally education reform must give the time for kids to play with each other - and yes this is controversial too - but be allowed to argue, fight and to make-up. 

We didn't have mass shootings when I was growing up. That's because the loner had to go out a play to get out of his mom's hair. That's because all of us learned conflict resolution. But my point isn't mass shootings. Playing, with little to no supervision, and learning how to not only engage in conflict resolution, but to sway others to your point of view, is so critical to the jobs all of us are hiring for. 

To conclude, MAGA's prescription inevitably must go through education reform. 21st century employers are looking for "unique value creators". It's hard, but we find them. Usually they are B students with street skills. The straight-A 36 ACT? They either get scooped up and spit out by Wall Street or they are of no use to us, because they only knew what the game was - and like that 19th century student - got through QC (quality control) as an end on to itself.

So this is a generational fix. Call it Project 2030 or something more catchy. The point is it is going to take time. It's going to mean fighting school unions (private schools don't count because they skew toward the enfranchised). Roll back the eliminations on deductions on state and local taxes to fund the schools. 

Take MAGA - with its divisive connotations - and turn it into an Apollo project. There is nothing divisive of MAGA being a single national goal. That's how to really make America Great Again. When the tide lifts all boats ... immigration and racism will return toward the unbending arc of progressive history this country has tried to perfect for 250 years!

The party and candidate that can link MAGA and Apollo - not over-embrace MAGA but not dismiss it and call it deplorable - will win.


July 8th 2018 Musings

by John Jazwiec

The hyperbolic anti-Trump fears are statistically over-blown and under-analyzed. The current meme is that Trump's 80% approval rating within the GOP means, he is either going to win two terms or delay the 2020 elections and become a dictator. Besides showing too little faith in the American system - one I whole-heartedly reject - the meme is statistically over-blown and under-analyzed. As we sit here in June of 2018, 42% of Americans who vote, are independent; while 29% are Democratic and 27% are Republican voters. Trump's 80% approval with Republicans, means 0.80 times 27% or 22% of voters are solidly Trump voters. He is -12% with independent voters, which means he only has 38% of the other 42% adding another 16%. Add the two numbers up and you get 38% Also, he has a gender problem with every class of female voters. How big? Minus 34%. Women outvote men in elections. Women outvote men especially in mid-term elections. King Trump? He first has to worry about the 2018 mid-term elections.

Speaking of statistics, Trump and the GOP are setting up another 1970's-like hyperinflation/high interest rate problem. The FED rarely has figured out how to softly land an economy with too high of inflation. But inflationary fiscal policy abounds. First, you have a massive tax cut, which besides driving up economic demand, adds a massive amount of new debt to the massive one we already have. Second, a protectionist tariff policy means, high prices on stuff to make stuff. Third, the change in the Iran deal, has led to higher pump prices. Finally, and there is more, just the threat of eliminating the individual mandate of ACA - while popular - would mean that hospital costs and health insurance premiums would have to go up. Health care cost, accounts for 1/5 of core inflation. Hospital costs had a 4% inflation rate pre-ACA. That fell to 2% post-ACA. But in the past six months — as Republicans attempted to roll back the ACA — hospital inflation has soared to an annual rate of 6 percent. If all of this reignites inflation, the FED has only one weapon to fight it. And that is to raise interest rates. 

Speaking of tariffs .... I was out talking to some of my clients around the country this week. Because they depend on access to cheaper steel and aluminum from Canada, their clients - the one's that build buildings - are hedging their bets. A tariff means the cost of these commodities either goes up, because of the tariff, or because the local producer charges the same. Combine that with interest rate uncertainty and there is concern amongst them.  

G7+1-->G7-->G6 +1  My god. 74 years almost to the date of the Normandy landings - where American boys fought, not for the conquest of land, but for the ideal of saving western democratic values - we have lost our moral authority. Trump calls Canada a security threat to validate his prized tariffs (somehow Trump voters see this as important as Mexican immigration - who's primary threat is they are leaving/not coming, at the risk of losing their children who are detained in cages - shouldn't that lack of humanity suffice?). When has Canada ever been a security threat to the US? They have and continue to shed blood in all American wars. EMBARRASSING. France's Macron: "Because these 6 countries represent values, they represent an economic market which has the weight of history behind it and which is now a true international force". EMBARRASSING. Angela Merkel Chancellor of Germany - now the West's value leader - has made clear her disquiet with Trump's policies, arguing that Germany may no longer be able to rely on its US ally. Trump's contribution to the Summit? He wants to bring back Russia. A Russia under US sanctions for the invasion of Crimean. A Russia under more US sanctions from meddling in the 2016 elections. A Russia who is backing up every alt-right party in Europe?

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This one picture captures the whole absurdity. Trump - who was late and is leaving early - is being confronted by Merkel and Macron, while Japan's Abe looks on in resignation. While Trump conserves his 71 year old "best shape ever" body by sitting in a chair or crown ... EMBARRASSING.

Speaking of tradition: Justify! Justify winning the Triple Crown, at the 150 year running of the Belmont Stakes - twice the amount of time since Normandy, was as exciting of an American sporting event as there is in the world of sports. Mike Smith - a Mexican-American born in New Mexico, openly displaying his Christianity and showing his advanced age - can make every American proud. No one watching the race was thinking about what separates us. Everyone was together today. And perhaps shed a bit of a tear, seeing history happening in realtime with ethnic and age diversity. Today was a true example of what MAKES AMERICA GREAT!


The Real "Presidential" Economic History From 1980 Until Now

by John Jazwiec

The Jimmy Carter "malaise" - double digit unemployment with high interest rates - was created by Richard Nixon's price/wage controls, his ending of the dollar being linked to gold and his undue influence on the Fed to create easy money. 

Carter, eventually actually addressed this problem by naming Paul Volcker Chairmen of The Federal Reserve System.

Here is where Ronald Reagan gets extraordinary credit. Volcker's methods of stabilizing unemployment and money supply were draconian, painful and necessary. He began to raise interest rates up to 20%. This lowered demand and resulted in even worse unemployment. For political reasons, Reagan could have fired Volcker. But he didn't. Volcker's Fed efforts eventually led to low interest rates and low unemployment.

Reagan - this part is lost on today's economic conservatives - drastically reduced marginal tax rates. Why was that important? 1. The top marginal tax rates were so high, there was no capital that could be accumulated. 2. By the time Reagan left office, the accumulation of capital funded the tech revolution, which led to the largest economic expansion in the history of the US.

Spin forward to the mythology of the great-Bill Clinton years. Clintons balanced budgets were the combined product of Bush 41's tax increase, GOP slashing of spending and the simple arithmetic, where wealth creation led to more tax revenue than tax expenditures. 

Then there was the Clinton's systemic destruction of Glass-Steagall, which allowed banks to loan, to invest, to advise and to trade for themselves. What led to the Great Depression, which was fixed in 1933 by Glass-Steagall, was put back in place.

By the time of Bush 43, marginal tax rates were low. Bush 43 reduced them further. That didn't lead to increased economic activity/investment. But two costly wars, Medicare expansion and the tax cuts exploded the deficit.

All the while ... the dismantling of Glass-Steagall ... forced these big banks to go trolling for dysfunctional ways to produce returns on capital, that were not part of the steady-state macro-economics of the country. The mythical great Fed Chairman - Alan Greenspan made all of this worse with anti-Volcker easy monetary policy.

The result was 2007 - 2008. 

The hero of handling this crisis - named by Bush 43 - was Ben Bernanke, Hank Paulson with Tim Geithner with Democratic support.

Obama 44 retained Bernanke and Tim Geithner. The solution wasn't a liberal solution. Rather the banks were injected with capital to maintain the world-wide flow of funds, they were allowed to retain their best talent with bonuses and 1/2 of Obama's stimulus was un-Democratic as well: tax cuts. 

Dodd-Frank and the Consumer Protection Agency were voted in by the 2009-2010 Democratic majority. They currently serve as the only bandage on the existing tear of Glass-Steagall. 

By leaving office, the Great Recession, was forgotten and the roles of all these important Americans.

Like Maslow's hierarchy of needs, I guess when everyone wasn't economically screwed, we moved up to "esteem" by 2016. Our polarization wasn't economic, it was who is a real American? The voters made that decision and you got Donald Trump.

God knows what is going to happen as a result of another deficit busting tax cut - which historically hasn't made sense since Reagan. God knows what is going to happen from made-up trade wars between allies - but historically that didn't end well in the 1920s. God knows what is going to happen when Glass-Steagall's bandage is ripped off - that didn't end well, as the reader can acknowledge.


Why Suburban Republicans Will Vote Democratic This Year

by John Jazwiec

No, it's not Trump. Most people go on with their lives and don't read the news.

No, it's not demographics. Suburban Republicans are largely skewed toward the median age.

It's rather about pocket book issues and school systems.

Take this RINO turned independent. I pay about $20,000 in state income taxes. I pay about $35,000 in real estate taxes on two homes. My SALT (state and local taxes) = $55,000.

While SALT isn't eliminated, it is capped at $10,000. The new standard deduction for married couples in $24,000. Meaning SALT has effectively been eliminated.

$55,000 - $24,000 = a loss of $31,000 in itemized deductions. Assume my marginal tax bracket - to keep the math simple is 33% - I lose 33% of the $31,000 or a $10,000 TAX INCREASE. 

Suburban voters like me - regardless of past party affiliation - are not going to cast GOP votes this fall. 

Then there are the consequences:

Property values will be reduced because one-factor in determining what to pay for a house, is SALT deductions that come back to the tax payer in cash. 

So states and local school boards are going to have to raise property tax rates to make up for the reduction in real estate values. 

That will just lead to an ever-ending cycle of people moving/renting to avoid this vicious circle. 

That will lower school funding and the children will suffer. 

But it's not like many people are going to be able to move/rent in the short-term.

So, in their anger against the GOP TAX HIKE, they will vote against suburban GOP candidates this fall. 

A simple, but a historically accurate mid-term poll action. Like when the Democrats passed tax hikes in 1993 and were killed in the 1994 mid-term elections.


Trump Edits Christian Beatitudes

by John Jazwiec

 

Blessed are the poor rich: for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven Trump.

Blessed are those who mourn don't care: for they will be comforted unburdened

Blessed are the meek mean: for they will inherit the earth make America great again.

Blessed are those who hunger eat McDonalds and thirst for righteousness Coke: for they will be are filled up.

Blessed are the merciful vengeful: for they will be shown mercy win bigly.

Blessed are the pure in heart liars: for they will see God votes.

Blessed are the peacemakers dividers: for they will be called children of God divide and conquer. 

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake being un-American: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven a deportation protected by a great border wall.

Merry Christmas.

DT


The Shaping Of A Pre-Vietnam Baby Boomer

by John Jazwiec

The Baby Boomer generation - 1946 to 1964 - against the backdrop of other generational stereotypes (like Gen X 1965 to 1975, Gen Y 1976 to 1995) - are, like all stereotypes, not absolutes and cover too many years.

I call my generation the Pre-Vietnam Baby Boomer generation. We watched television with our parents. We were not a part of any protest movement.  Hippies were a bad word in the house. Speaking of television, we hardly watched it. We played outside and became immersed in the 1970s black fashion period. The very first record I bought in 1975 was by Stevie Wonder. Speaking of 1975, the closest we came to Richard Nixon, was SNL.

SNL formed the basis of my views on culture and as it does to this very day. Parody and stand-up comedy was what I was interested in. So I tried it along with being an Italian restaurant waiter while working my way through five years of college. I wasn't a very good comic, but my job as a waiter was great training for the rest of my life.

Undergraduate and graduate studies turned to the serious business of economics. You couldn't have grown up in Chicago without being influenced by Reagan's supply-side economics taught by Milton Friedman at the University of Chicago.

This led to what was a political break within my family. My family was made up of the Chicago Democrat Machine. I in turn, became an Alex P Keaton Republican. The break was as sharp - using my Southern friends terminology - as switching from a Dodge to a Ford truck. "We didn't raise him that way".

I would be a solid Republican through Reagan and Bush 41. I hated Bill Clinton and supported 41 and Dole. I was genuinely apoplectic about the 2000 election. But by 2004, I was convinced that Bush 43 wasn't a true conservative. But it's not like I jumped on the John Kerry bandwagon. 

But while I would have voted for John McCain because he was my hero, I felt that the country was better of with what I saw as a smart, inspiring, centrist, pragmatic, charismatic young man who was the president of the Harvard Law Review. A constitutional professor. An outsider. 

I never changed my party's allegiance from 2008 to 2016. I was waiting for Jeb Bush. Trump was instead nominated with his anti-conservative messaging, generally destructive derogatory statements, ignorance and anti-morality - which combined with the GOP establishment mostly embracing him - turned me from a registered Republican to an Independent to a wait-and-see Democratic Obama-centrist. I am still waiting.

Whether it is Trump or guns for conflict resolution with anti-socialists, I can't forget what my Pre-Vietnam Baby Boomer childhood was like. When you played outside, there was no such thing as being anti-social. Your mom kicked you out of the house from dawn to dusk. All conflict resolution was settled right there and them. Everyday there was a fight about the most trivial things. You fought for five minutes, got it out of your system and went back to being friends.

I also can't forget that we embraced a multi-cultural world, not just because they were our friends, but in our attitudes that we were all Americans. So this older Baby Boomer attitude - of exclusion and race-biting - is foreign to me. 

That's not to say, that my Pre-Vietnam Baby Boomers ended up being homogeneous. Most of my friends never went to college. They never read books. They were not interested in anything that didn't have to do with themselves. They became socially and economically disenfranchised. So, they fit right in with the older Baby Boomers.

So, when you read this blog, I hope this helps in interpreting who is writing it. 


Driving Crazy

by John Jazwiec

21st Century School Crossing Guard

Yes, we had school crossing guards. They were us children. We wore orange belts. I don't know who was more in danger: the crossing guards or our classmates, from parents who didn't care and/or who already were drunk. Oh, the good old days. Now? Every street crossing is policed by an uber-empowered octogenarian with a face and body that looks like he was THE danger back in the day. Want a serious and focused encounter with a 7-Eleven or Kinkos clerk? Good luck. Perhaps today's school crossing guard should be solicited by retailers. Come within 100 feet of a 21st century child crossing a street without getting the stink eye and you risk feeling guilty all day. Shooting these same children? Well, I guess that's now okay. 

Driving In The Projects Or By Crackers

Recently, I was lost and I ended up with my gleaming Baby Boomer-privileged car in a one in-and-out access project that resembled Training Day. Suffice to say, I stood out like a sore thumb. I told myself, if I get killed, this shouldn't be a murder but a suicide. I didn't see any guns and I was fine. Then right after, I was cut off by a cracker in a pickup truck with a gun rack. That was 100% more scary. I am not scared of the Islamic State Of Syria And Iraq. But I am scared of the White Christian State Of Dodge RAM And Ford F-150.

The Mythical Best Expressway Lane

Perhaps, the most remarkably worst thing about living in Chicago, is our remarkably worst traffic. Besides the fact that our "expressways" don't have enough lanes, the lanes we do have are shut down for future repairs that are long on barricades, but bereft of actual construction workers. So everyone is constantly switching lanes like there is a mythical "best" one to be found. Which slows down the traffic even more. I don't know what is more irritating. Slowing down to let one of these drivers cut me off or nearly crashing into them when we are trying to do the same thing at the same time?


Stop Trying To Explain The Mystery Of Trump

by John Jazwiec
 
Why is Trump blowing up the international Iranian deal that 94% of US diplomatic experts agree with? Why did he open the Jerusalem embassy, that lead to more violence? Why the so-tough American 1920-like tariffs against "foreigners"?  Why pander to white nationalism? Why the emphasis on the NRA? Why the rallies, talking to "real Americans", while pursuing an economic policy that doesn't help them? Why will he not likely suffer any blowback from Mueller's investigation. Why are his fellow House Republican's still his sycophants?
 
I am tired of people trying to explain the "mystery of Trump". I think it is quite easy to see why Trump does what he does - 
 
Trump is an interesting mix of Obama-emotional rejection-ism with an all-consuming - mixed with a last-person-in-the-office (see Bolton) confirmation bias - focus on appealing to his base. A focused/strategy that is not as simple as checkers, but most definitely is not three-dimensional chess. His base is in lockstep with the fighting-slugger, who defies intellectualism and the nuances of internationalism, diplomacy and what-comes-next. That is the part Trump cast himself to play, knowing the audience who would watch and enjoy. DANGEROUS? Beyond. Hard to decipher? At least in my opinion, no.
 
As to his base: let's make some societal conclusions of the times we are living in. Christian evangelicals being a moral check of Trump-ism is laughable. Drive by their churches. They all have white crosses. The buildings are white. And they are more in love with their white cross, than that brown Jesus hippie guy saying the beatitudes. White nativism with its comical crutch for economic or social failure - that just because someone was born here, one or many generations after someone else did the hard work of immigration - is not receding. It preys on itself; especially in our new economy, where only the unique or the poor are in demand for labor. So the white nativists turn to their churches and/or their substance abuses. They don't read. They continue to give up. The only thing that keeps them sane, is to say they are an "American".
 
Trump-ism is simply a reflection of these and other 2018 societal bifurcated conditions, with people who have identified this growing demographic, pander to it, and line their own pockets. Trump is is the latest iteration of this phenomenon, that was started by Rush Limbaugh, and continued by Sean Hannity. The disenfranchised get their wounds/balmed nationally by singular, common-victim-narratives and they retain what is least-earned: they were borne out of the womb of their legally-status mother.
 
The real question is this: Will and how long will this tunicate suffice? More importantly, will a GOP or Democratic challenger offer a centrist-solution that can play in Trump House districts? If the choice is free government help vs.staying with a fighter, the Democrats lose. If the choice is an honest and new-21st century method, to create future higher-paying wages vs. the fighter, the Democrats win.
 
The rest of the news, is noise.

Messaging 101- DNC Party House Midterms

by John Jazwiec

Quit watching liberal TV news networks like MSNBC and CNN. Stop believing in the Robert Mueller liberal-fantasy show. Quit saying anything negative about Trump. It only backfires. When people said negative things about Obama, who they personally liked, it also backfired. Stop watching generic polls. They are only generic. This Democratic House landslide being predicted, may align with history, but it isn't in the bag. Oh, and get Bernie Sanders (crazy liberal), Elizabeth Warren (disliked by business) and Nancy Pelosi (disliked by RINOs) off the air. Feel free to disassociate the party from HRC. Finally, the House is gerrymandered. There are only a limited amount of districts a Democrat can win. 

Messaging. 1. Ask how many people have benefited from the tax cuts, besides big company stocks giving out cash dividends to prop up their own stock prices? Where is the rise in median wages? Where are jobs being created? RINO-centric collar county suburbs? After a sobering trip to their tax accountant - who has likely warned them to INCREASE their 2018 withholdings to reflect the new tax law and to make up for what they are already short, as of April 15th - will see that a $12 to $24 thousand standard deduction, is probably short of the state taxes, local taxes and mortgage interest deductions they lost. It's not like they can move tomorrow to another state, locality and a home that costs less. 2. Focus on the disorganization of the White House. No one, who MUST maintain a stable household, can disagree that the White House isn't stable. People have been unvetted, unqualified and fired almost daily. Positions aren't being filled - even with the current Congress. Can't it be argued that a new House majority will help to bring order to chaos? 3. Repeat one and two. Better yet repeat one. No one can remember more than one or two messaging points. One is the best. MESSAGE - 

Where did your money go, over the last two years, besides raising the national debt to unsustainable levels?


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From athletic scholar and satirist to computer programmer to CEO success, John Jazwiec brings a unique and often eccentric perspective to business and supply chain challenges. Exploring how they can be solved through the leadership and communication insights found in untraditional sources. This CEO blog demonstrates how business insights from books on history to the music of Linkin Park can help challenge and redefine “successful leadership.” Read Jazwiec’s Profile >>

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