Tuesday, December 18, 2012

What I Read Today - Tuesday December 18, 2012

From:  The Wall Street Journal  Tuesday December 18, 2012

HOW TO TREAT WORKPLACE STRESS

As the new year approaches – and with it the inevitable wave of self-improvement plans–we’ve identified 10 strategies for advancing your career in 2013. From recovering from an office blunder to learning why it doesn’t pay to be Mr. (or Ms.) Nice Guy, this ten-point plan will offer daily tips on what to do and how to do it.


Dr. David Posen, an author and general practitioner in Oakville, Ontario, started noticing a pattern almost 20 years ago: Patients were coming into his office with symptoms like high blood pressure, heart problems, panic attacks and depression. When he pressed for a sense of what was happening in their lives, the patients shared tales of burnout, overwork and abusive managers. These stories “made me want to call their employers and say, ‘Stop doing this! You’re killing your employees!’” he said.

Instead of calling all those bosses, Dr. Posen wrote the forthcoming book, “Is Work Killing You? A Doctor’s Prescription for Treating Workplace Stress.” In it, he offers suggestions for what workers, managers and companies can do to lower stress levels all around. He condensed some of his suggestions during a talk with At Work.

WSJ: What are the main causes of workplace stress?

Posen: The big three are volume, velocity and abuse. In terms of volume, people are working longer hours, which then affects their health, their sleep patterns, and their personal lives. By velocity, I mean the pace of the workplace has gotten faster because of technology, increased expectations, overlapping deadlines, unrealistic deadlines.

Abuse is bullying, harassment, and all the politics people play. It’s amazing how one abusive person can create stress for dozens of people. It’s become a bigger problem because people have less freedom to say ‘I don’t want this job’ and go somewhere else. So people aren’t quitting and they’re not even complaining because they don’t want to seem like troublemakers.

WSJ: What would you say to a mid-level corporate employee who’s suffering from stress-related illnesses?

Posen:Identify where the stress is coming from. Is it about deadlines? A difficult boss? The fact that you don’t have resources you need? A fear that you don’t have the skill set to do what you’re being asked to do? Zero in on what aspect of work is the problem and then deal with that. Take breaks – whether that means 5 or 10 minutes, lunch, a mental health day here and there, or going on vacation. In 2010, Americans left 424 million paid vacation days on the table.

WSJ: What are some simple ways people can reduce stress without making huge changes in their work situations?

Posen: I recommend people take regular time-outs, even just 15 minutes walking in the sunshine on your lunch break. Time-outs are built into sports, and they should be a part of a regular workday too. We all need opportunities to relax and catch our breath. Another pretty easy fix: drink less caffeine. Energy drinks, coffee – these stimulate a stress reaction and block the natural relaxants in the brain. I call coffee “stress in a cup.”

WSJ: Many people can’t afford to leave their jobs. What are their options?

Posen: Some of my patients go on disability, or they take a medical leave of absence. You do need a doctor’s diagnosis – diagnoses might list depression, burnout, hypertension – but when done properly, that shouldn’t be shared with the employer, only the insurance company. Depression is by far the most common stress-related diagnosis.

WSJ: Does one have to give up their professional ambition in order to restore a sense of well-being to their work lives?

Posen: For the vast majority of people, when you take better care of yourself, you function better and perform better. One of my mottos is, it’s better to work 40-50 productive hours a week than 50-60 semi-productive hours. After 60 hours, you’re getting diminishing returns for your efforts.

WSJ: If a manager had to come up with a New Year’s resolution around helping employees deal with stress, what should it be?

Posen: As a manager, you need to know who’s wilting under the pace or workload. Start talking to people and ask them simple questions like, ‘How are you managing here? Is it too much work? Is the pace too fast?’ Ask people what they need, what resources would be helpful. And be a good role model. If the manager is working long hours, people feel they have to work long hours. If the manager is sending emails on Sunday, they feel they have to respond on Sunday. Give people permission to slow down. When the boss says to someone at 4:30, ‘You look pretty fried. Why don’t you just knock off, go home early, and I’ll see you tomorrow?’ It’s like handing an employee the biggest gift.







Monday, December 17, 2012

What I Read Today - Monday December 17, 2012

From:  CNN webpage on Monday December 17, 2012

Note:  We visted Mystic CT (mentioned in this article) for a couple of days back in September.

CNN) -- George Hochsprung's world began to crumble Friday when one of the students at the Connecticut middle school where he works walked up to him.


Something was happening at the elementary school less than 10 miles away where Hochsprung's wife was principal, the student said, holding a computer. There were reports his wife had been killed.

Hochsprung rushed out of the building, one of dozens of family members of students and staff at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, desperately seeking information about their loved ones that day.

His wife, Dawn, was in a meeting that morning when a 20-year-old local man blasted his way into the elementary school armed with three guns. She stepped out of the meeting to find out what was going on and never returned.

She was among the 26 people shot and killed inside the school by the gunman, Adam Lanza, who then turned a weapon on himself. Twenty of the dead were children.

Vigil held for shooting victimsTeacher: Sandy Hook is a tight-knit groupSunday school teacher faces heartbreakThe lives cut short in school shootingAs people across the world struggle to comprehend Lanza's atrocious acts, George Hochsprung has been left with a future that no longer makes sense.

He is more than 20 years older than his wife, who was 47 when she died. He never imagined he would outlive her.

"Dawn and I built this beautiful house in the Adirondacks, our dream," he said in an interview Sunday night, sitting on a couch surrounded by his three daughters and one of his stepdaughters.

"It was going to be Dawn's house because I was going to die," he said, explaining that they had included extra rooms in the house, so that their children and grandchildren could come keep his wife company after he was gone.

"And now it's me," he said. "I don't think I can do that."

He is now leaning on the support of their children and 11 grandchildren, but even that seems incongruous to him.

"My job has always been to take care of other people," he said.

Slain principal remembered as energetic, positive, passionate

Fittingly for two people who had made their careers in education, the couple met at a school, Rogers Park Middle School in Danbury, Connecticut. It's the same school where he was working Friday.

He was a good deal older when they met, but she was his superior in the school hierarchy: She was an assistant principal, and he was a seventh-grade math teacher.

"I just fell in love with her," he said. But it took a little while for him to persuade her to marry him: "She turned me down five times."

Once he won her over, their wedding was influenced by their mutual love of sailing, taking place on a boat at sea near the Connecticut port of Mystic a decade ago.

They had both been married previously, and their union brought together three daughters on his side and two on hers.

One of her two daughters, Erica, described a devoted mother.

"Every practice, she was there," she said. "All of my sister's cheerleadering stuff, she was there. Every dance competition. She was doing homework on the bleachers, but she was there. And she was my rock."

Dawn Hochsprung's commitment to her family was closely matched by her dedication to her students, according to friends and family members.

"She was really nice and very fun, but she was also very much a tough lady in the right sort of sense," according to Tom Prunty, a friend, whose niece goes to Sandy Hook and was uninjured Friday. "She was the kind of person you'd want to be educating your kids. And the kids loved her."

Her decision to step out into danger when the shooting began has left her husband with some difficult emotions.

"Dawn put herself in jeopardy, and I have been angry about that," he said.

But that changed Sunday, he said, when he met two teachers who told him that his wife had instructed them to take shelter while she confronted Lanza.

"She could've avoided that," George Hochsprung said. "But she didn't; I knew she wouldn't. So, I'm not angry anymore."

His voice wavering, he continued: "I'm not angry. I'm just very sad."

Monday, November 19, 2012

What I Read Today - Monday November 19, 2012

From: The Baxter Bulletin - Sunday November 18, 2012

Nothing like a drive-in picture show


Written by From Baxter County Historical & Genealogical Society

Nov. 18 baxterbulletin.com

(This story is from Mary Ann Messick’s “Focus on History” and was edited by Martha White Lee.)

On their honeymoon in April 1950, Bob Brixey, a native Baxter Countian, brought his wife Doris to Baxter County. She fell in love with this area. Being raised in Oklahoma and Texas, she commented, “I had never seen clear water before. The rivers and creeks were so beautiful.”

They returned to Oklahoma City. While at a drive-in theater there, Doris remarked to Bob that she thought a drive-in would do well in a small town like Comanche, Texas, where her grandmother lived. “Or in Mountain Home, Arkansas,” Bob replied.

In 1951, the Brixeys purchased 10 acres on the outskirts of Gassville. They and their 14-month-old son moved into a small building on the property. Construction on the first and only drive-in theater in Baxter County began and became the Starlite Drive-In Theater.

Forty speakers were installed and ready by May 16, 1952, for the first showing, “Blue Grass of Kentucky.” They expected only a handful of cars would show up, yet every speaker was in use and several cars were without one. All 100 speakers were ready the next night and the same movie was shown to a sell-out crowd.

The admission charge was 41 cents for adults and 10 cents for children. Popcorn and drinks were 10 cents and hot dogs were 15 cents. On Tuesday night — buck night — an entire motor vehicle paid $1 to get in. One always knew when it was buck night. Before dark, flat-bed trucks came from the north loaded to the gills.

Though the drive-in was a mecca for teens, the average customers were young married couples with one or two children. It made the perfect place to relax. The children, dressed in their pajamas, watched the cartoons as they snacked on goodies from the snack bar, then fell asleep in the back seat. Mom and Dad had the opportunity to enjoy the movie and each other’s companionship.

Westerns were the favorites along with movies like “Lum and Abner,” “Ma and Pa Kettle” and anything starring Elvis. Soon, science fiction movies became frightening favorites. When “Bronco Billy” starring Clint Eastwood was showing, drivers wearing a cowboy hat got in free. The nights “Saturday Night Fever” with John Travolta was playing, the Brixeys and their employees dressed up like Travolta. The Jerry Hopper Band played before the movie “Honeysuckle Rose” and during intermission on the nights it showed.

“The Greatest Show on Earth” was the longest-running movie. It played for two weeks to sell-out crowds. The last movie shown was “Predator” starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Usually, top country music hits were played through the speakers until showtime. They came through sounding clear and pure.

Youngsters trying to sneak in created a small problem. Bob usually knew which cars to watch. When the driver parked, he wouldn’t get out because Bob would stand by the trunk. In a few minutes, Bob would knock on the trunk and say, “All clear.” The hider came out — to face him. Some tried to sneak in through the natural fence surrounding the drive-in. In the ’60s, a chain link fence was installed.

Customers didn’t always drive in to the Starlite. Some came by horseback and tied their steeds at the entrance. Over-the-road truck drivers parked along the highway and walked in.

The Brixeys loved their work. It showed in the ways they promoted the drive-in, which improved business and the customers’ pleasure.

The July 4th fireworks drew their biggest crowds. The fireworks consisted of a number of aerial and ground displays and ended with a giant red, white, and blue American flag.

At least a thousand, if not more, adults and children attended. Vehicles parked on the highway right-of-way for miles and in nearby pastures. Some didn’t have to attend — they had a lovely view of the aerial display from their homes.

The Starlite wasn’t always just a movie. During the summer, the Brixeys sponsored fiddlers’ contests on an outdoor stand in front of the concession stand. Well-known local artists such as Bobby Gene Carson (founder of The Monkey Run Boys), the late Marvin Stafford, and the late Billy Ray Lewis performed. There were sack races, chicken chases and, after Sputnik brought the space age into reality, flying saucer spins. Winners received a free pass to the Starlite.

A Kiddy Park with a small Ferris wheel, slides, swings and teeter totter were added. At one time, there was a baseball field alongside Highway 126 for use by area teams. Along came the Starlite Roller Rink, the only one for miles around.

The Brixeys, assisted by their two sons, celebrated the theater’s anniversary with cake and drinks for everybody. They advertised it by saying “It’s our birthday but it’s your party.”

In the late ’50s, they purchased a bus to haul customers to the movie and the roller rink. Eventually, more and more teenagers got their own wheels so the bus was no longer needed. They donated it to the Gassville Baptist Church.

From 1955-’60, the drive-in stayed open year round, then started opening in March and closed in November each year. In the ’80s, VCR became a household word and the “Twins,” — indoor theaters in Mountain Home — were in operation. Customers dwindled.

The last movie was shown on Aug. 30, 1987. Due to Bob’s ill health, it never reopened. He passed away March 12, 1989. Except for what the Brixey family wanted for keepsakes, the equipment and steel screen was auctioned off the same year. The building that housed the concession stand, indoor auditorium, the upstairs projection room and the living quarters upstairs was demolished.

For 26 years, the Starlite Drive-In Theater brightened up our night sky. Undoubtedly, those who went there frequently from 1952 to 1987 and former employees have fond memories of the drive-in. The Gassville Branch of First Security Bank, McDonalds and Genuine Care Pharmacy occupy the grounds today.

Photographs and information in this series was provided by the Baxter County Historical and Genealogical Society. If you have additional photos and information you would like to have properly preserved, please contact the BCHGS by phone at 425-2551, by email at bcarchives@centurytel.net, or by mail to Baxter County Historical & Genealogical Society, P.O. Box 2125, Mountain Home, AR 72654. Additional information may be found at www.baxtercountyhistory.org. A Look Back can be found on-line at www.baxterbulletin.com.

What I Read Today - Sunday November 18, 2012

From:  The Arkansas Democrat Gazette - Sunday November 18, 2012

Church people


By Tom Dillard

This article was published November 18, 2012 at 2:50 a.m.

LITTLE ROCK — The First Presbyterian Church of Dardanelle is celebrating the centennial of its church building today, which draws attention to the role played by these hardworking followers of John Calvin in the history of Arkansas. First Presbyterian of Dardanelle grew out of the church at Norristown on the north side of the Arkansas River in modern Russellville. When a new church building was needed after the turn of the 20th Century, women played a major role in funding the new church, and it was known within the denomination as “the church built by women.”

It is generally agreed that a Presbyterian preached the first Protestant sermon in Arkansas. There seems to be some debate as to just when and where that sermon was delivered—either at Arkansas Post in 1811 or Crystal Hill, near modern Maumelle, in 1812. If it were preached in 1812, then this year marks the bicentennial of Protestantism in Arkansas.

There is no debate about who the preacher was—Rev. John P. Carnahan from Kentucky’s Cumberland Presbytery. The Carnahan family arrived in Arkansas in 1811, settled briefly at Crystal Hill, and then moved to Cane Hill in modern Washington County.

While Carnahan was certainly a pioneer, the Rev. James Wilson Moore is regarded as the Father of Presbyterianism in Arkansas. Unlike Carnahan, who was what is today known as a Cumberland Presbyterian, Moore was affiliated with what would become known as the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. Arriving in the young village of Little Rock in January of 1828, Moore reported finding only three white and three enslaved professed Christians. A graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, Moore worked for 45 years as a missionary and minister in Arkansas. Among the churches he established was First Presbyterian of Little Rock. In 1840, Moore relocated his family about 30 miles east of Little Rock to an area he called “Ruralia,” where he established Sylvania Church in 1843. He also established an academy to educate young men.

Presbyterians of all stripes have always supported education. Indeed, in 1821 a Presbyterian named Cephas Washburn established a mission and school for Cherokee Indians living in the vicinity of modern Russellville.

The Presbyterians established their first college, Cane Hill College, in 1834 in the village by that name west of Fayetteville. This was while Arkansas was still a territory. Except for the Civil War, Cane Hill College remained open until 1891, serving as an important educational institution in a time when colleges were few in number. In 1875 it became the first four-year college in the state to admit women into its degree programs. The college relocated to Clarksville in 1891 and eventually became known as the University of the Ozarks.

Perhaps Presbyterians deserve the most recognition for providing educational opportunities for freed slaves following the Civil War. Except for the largest towns, most Arkansas communities did little to educate the freedmen. In the 1880s, the “northern” Presbyterian Church—the denomination split during the Civil War—began organizing academies for black children across the South. In Arkansas, the best-known Presbyterian black school was Cotton Plant Academy in Woodruff County, which was almost completely funded by the Presbyterian women of Illinois. By 1890, the school had 200 students, most being in the elementary grades, but some were working at the secondary level, and a few students boarded at the school. This was the only school in the area that offered high school classes for black students. The famed black pianist and composer Florence Price taught at the academy. It closed in 1950.

Another important Presbyterian school for black students was the Richard Allen Institute in Pine Bluff, established in 1886. Lasting until 1932 after the outbreak of the Great Depression, the institute educated many black citizens, including George E. Haynes, who went on to get a doctorate from Columbia University and become the first executive director of the National Urban League.

Presbyterians were also part of a national movement in the early 1900s to establish “mountain missions” in the isolated southern mountains where public schools usually did not go beyond the eighth grade. Two examples of these schools in Arkansas were the Kingskraft High School in Kingston in Madison County, and the Caddo Valley Academy at Norman in Montgomery County. These schools were especially important in educating girls.

As the Presbyterians of Dardanelle gather today to celebrate the centennial of their church structure, female members can take particular pride in the role played by women in funding the building. These dedicated Presbyterian women even hired themselves out as cotton pickers to raise money.

Tradition has it that many of the merchants in town closed shop in order to watch the women picking cotton. One woman wrote that the men “sat on the rail fence all day, eating at noon from paper bags.” The church was debt-free by the end of 1913.

—–––––

Tom Dillard is a historian and retired archivist living in Farmington, Ark. Email tomd@pgtc.com.

Editorial, Pages 84 on 11/18/2012

Print Headline: Church people

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

What I Read Today - Tuesday - October 30, 2012

From:  The New York Times October 29, 2012


The Upside of Opportunism

By DAVID BROOKS

Let’s try to imagine what the world would look like if President Obama is re-elected.

Washington over the next four years would probably look much as it has over the last two: Obama running the White House, Republicans controlling the House and Democrats managing the Senate. We’d have had a long slog of an election before a change-hungry electorate, and we’d end up with pretty much the same cast of characters as before.

Obama would probably try to enact the agenda he laid out most clearly in his recent interview with The Des Moines Register:

Obama said he would try to recreate the Obama-Boehner budget deal of two summers ago, with $2.50 of spending cuts for every $1 in tax increases. Then he’d try immigration reform. Then he’d cut corporate tax rates as part of corporate reform. Then he’d “weed out” unnecessary regulations. All the while, he would implement Obamacare and increase funds for infrastructure. This is a moderate and sensible agenda.

The first order of business would be the budget deal, averting the so-called fiscal cliff. Obama would first go to Republicans in the Senate and say, “Look, we’re stuck with each other. Let’s cut a deal for the sake of the country.” He would easily find 10 Republican senators willing to go along with a version of a Grand Bargain.

Then Obama would go to the House. He’d ask Eric Cantor, the majority leader, if there were votes for such a deal. The answer would probably be no. Republican House members still have more to fear from a primary challenge from the right than from a general election challenge from the left. Obama is tremendously unpopular in their districts. By running such a negative presidential campaign, Obama has won no mandate for a Grand Bargain. Obama himself is not going to suddenly turn into a master legislative craftsman on the order of Lyndon Johnson.

There’d probably be a barrage of recriminations from all sides. The left and right would be consumed with ire and accusations. Legislators would work out some set of fudges and gimmicks to kick the fiscal can down the road.

The ensuing bitterness would doom any hopes for bipartisan immigration reform. The rest of the Obama second term would be about reasonably small things: some new infrastructure programs; more math and science teachers; implementing Obamacare; mounting debt; a president increasingly turning to foreign affairs in search of legacy projects.

If you’re a liberal Democratic, this is an acceptable outcome. Your party spent 80 years building the current welfare state. This outcome extends it.

Now let’s try to imagine the world if Mitt Romney were to win. Republicans would begin with the premise that the status quo is unsustainable. The mounting debt is ruinous. The byzantine tax and regulatory regimes are stifling innovation and growth.

Republicans would like to take the reform agenda that Republican governors have pursued in places like Indiana and take it to the national level: structural entitlement reform; fundamental tax reform. These reforms wouldn’t make government unrecognizable (we’d probably end up spending 21 percent of G.D.P. in Washington instead of about 24 percent), but they do represent a substantial shift to the right.

At the same time, Romney would probably be faced with a Democratic Senate. He would also observe the core lesson of this campaign: conservatism loses; moderation wins. Romney’s prospects began to look decent only when he shifted to the center. A President Romney would look at the way Tea Party extremism had cost the G.O.P. Senate seats in Delaware and Nevada — and possibly Missouri and Indiana.

To get re-elected in a country with a rising minority population and a shrinking Republican coalition, Romney’s shape-shifting nature would induce him to govern as a center-right moderate. To get his tax and entitlement reforms through the Democratic Senate, Romney would have to make some serious concessions: increase taxes on the rich as part of an overall reform; abandon the most draconian spending cuts in Paul Ryan’s budget; reduce the size of his lavish tax-cut promises.

As President Romney made these concessions, conservatives would be in uproar. Talk-radio hosts would be the ones accusing him of Romneysia, forgetting all the promises he made in the primary season. There’d probably be a primary challenge from the right in 2016.

But Republicans in Congress would probably go along. They wouldn’t want to destroy a Republican president. Romney would champion enough conservative reforms to allow some Republicans to justify their votes.

The bottom line is this: If Obama wins, we’ll probably get small-bore stasis; if Romney wins, we’re more likely to get bipartisan reform. Romney is more of a flexible flip-flopper than Obama. He has more influence over the most intransigent element in the Washington equation House Republicans. He’s more likely to get big stuff done.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

What I Read Today - Wednesday October 24, 2012

From:  The New York Times - Tuesday October 23, 2012

Our Secret Sauce


By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN

It was striking how much Monday’s presidential debate on foreign policy came down to two subjects: America and the Middle East. The two actually provide some instructive contrasts, starting with one that I’ve noted since the onset of this campaign: the contrast between the high degree of American pluralism and trust that makes our country work, and the near total absence of it in the Middle East, the region most vexing us and most likely to blow up on the next president. Muslims are killing Muslims across the Middle East and Central Asia today: Sunnis versus Shiites, Pashtuns versus Pashtuns and Kurds versus Turks. Christians are not faring well there, either. The absence of pluralism and the prevalence of “rule or die” politics — either my sect or party is in power or I’m dead — is the dominant political trend in the Arab-Muslim region today. Nobody trusts anybody, but it is impossible to build a modern state or an innovation economy without trust. Meanwhile, here in America, we are debating whether to replace our first black president — whose middle name is Hussein and whose grandfather was a Muslim — with a Mormon! Who does that? Nobody else. That radical pluralism is the secret of our sauce, and blessedly so. America, take a bow.

But not for too long.

We have a very special country, but we have to take care of it, not kick it around like it’s a football. And we can’t do that if we’re imitating the Middle East’s rule-or-die politics: my party or scorched earth. Barack Obama has been far from a perfect president. At times, he has treated friends and opponents with arrogance or just a stubborn unwillingness to play the game of politics to co-opt those who needed to be co-opted (he should have embraced the Bowles-Simpson federal debt plan) to get legislation passed. No one would confuse Obama for Lyndon Johnson. But no one would confuse today’s Republican Party for the G.O.P. of the 1960s or 1970s, either.

It is impossible to look at the G.O.P.’s behavior in the last four years — from its unwillingness to consider Obama’s jobs bill, which was praised by independent economists, to the unwillingness of its presidential candidates to consider a $1 increase in taxes for $10 of spending cuts, to the time it spent on sheer lunacy such as questioning the president’s birth certificate — and not conclude that many in the party just wanted Obama to fail in the hope that they could pick up the pieces. Too many Republicans, particularly moderate business types, don’t want to admit how much their party has been led around of late, not by traditional conservatives, but by a radical Tea Party base that has driven decent, smart conservatives — like Bob Bennett of Utah, Bob Inglis of South Carolina, Richard Lugar of Indiana and Olympia Snowe of Maine — out of office.

What I’d say about Obama’s domestic and Middle East policies is that, given the messes and political constraints he inherited in both arenas, he did about as well as anyone could. He kept the homeland safe, prevented us from getting drawn into any sinkholes and killed bad guys. It is not the stuff of foreign policy legend, but it was not bad. I’d say the same at home. He stanched the bleeding in the economy and initiated some smart reforms in education, energy and health — the true effectiveness of which we will only know in the future. It was not exactly the New Deal, but considering the deep hole created by the years of George W. Bush, it also was not a New Depression. A quick turnaround in either arena was never possible.

But while that kind of politics got us through the last four years, it won’t get us through the next four. We cannot have another term of partisan gridlock. We are heading into a world where the breakdown of the European supranational state system, combined with the breakdown of the Arab nation state system, combined with climate change, combined with a much greater global interdependence, means that we will be more and more buffeted by problems that are too dangerous to ignore but too complicated and big to fix alone. And when a country finds itself in that kind of situation, there is one thing it absolutely must do, and that is build resiliency.

We need to weatherproof our house so we can control our destiny and play the vital stabilizing role the world needs us to play. And that leads to another difference between us and the Middle East. We don’t know how to fix their problems anymore. But we do know how to fix our problems. In the short run, we have to invest in infrastructure, education and research — the sources of our strength to stimulate growth — while simultaneously putting in place a credible long-term plan to cut spending and both raise and reform taxes as our economy improves.

Regardless of what they have on their Web sites, neither candidate has spoken honestly to voters in their speeches or commercials about what this will take. Hey, it’s election time. What else is new? Well, there is something new. Just doing as well as our domestic political constraints will allow will not cut it anymore — not given where the global economy, the Middle East and climate change are going. Just doing what the political traffic will bear will not lead us to resiliency. It will lead us to painful, destabilizing vulnerability.

We need a whole new traffic pattern. That will require a president who will dare to challenge the country to do big, hard things together, not just tack with the winds of public opinion, and it will require an electorate that is ready to value and demand such leadership.

Monday, October 22, 2012

What I Read Today - Monday October 22, 2012

Note from Steve - I thought this was a neat story and worthy of posting on this blog.

From:  The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - Sunday October 21, 2012
By Tom Dillard

LITTLE ROCK — I just finished reading a wonderful collection of World War II letters. These letters only incidentally report on the brave battle against Hitler’s brutal legions. Rather, they tell of the growing love a young Pope County draftee had for the girl he left behind. Published by the University of Arkansas Press, Dearest Letty contains scores of remarkable letters from Private (later Sergeant) Leland Duvall of rural Moreland in Pope County to Letty Jones, a resident of nearby Crow Mountain.


Millions of love letters must have been exchanged during the four long years of World War II, but I doubt that any were more interestingly written than the Duvall letters.

One would never expect a young man like Leland Duvall to write such literate letters. He grew up in a struggling farm family that did not have the means to send young Leland to school beyond the eighth grade. He scratched out a living as a farm laborer and periodically taught in the rural schools. He was working as a farmhand on the Texas plains when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. He returned home to await the draft.

Duvall and most of his childhood buddies were drafted in the spring of 1942, several of them being sent to Camp Cooke in California for initial training. While on the train headed to California, Duvall ran into Martin F. Drittler, a fellow from back home who was supposed to be engaged to Letty Jones—a young woman Duvall had admired from afar. He was pleased to learn that the engagement had ended, and he screwed up his courage and sent a postcard asking Letty if she would correspond with him. Delighted to receive a prompt letter in which Letty agreed to write—and she even included some light banter—Duvall penned an immediate reply in which he described the beauty of the California countryside in early summer.

Duvall’s closing paragraph hinted at the depth of his infatuation; and it also demonstrated his interesting, funny, and slightly manipulative writing style: “I am afraid if I let this run on you will become so bored and disgusted that you won’t write again. That would be one of the great tragedies of my young life. Youth is so emotionally unstable, you know, and things like that can undermine the morale of the Army.”

Within a few months, Duvall is signing his letters “Love, Leland.” His letters are laced with references to his reading at the military base. In one early letter he mentions reading T.S. Eliot “and some of the other Imagists and I am experimenting with impressions.” He asked Letty’s indulgence for his descriptive writing: “In the afternoon the sun comes through the fog and investigates the landscapes . . . Before sundown the fog thickens and the sun becomes a dim lamp set on the window ledge of the horizon.”

Duvall worked hard to write interesting letters, and each letter has a distinctively original introduction. “Hold your hat, folks,” Duvall wrote, “here we go again.” Mimicking a carnival barker, Duvall wrote: “Right this way, ladies and gentlemen, and see the greatest mystery man of all time. A dogface who finds time to write his girl every night. A man who combines the qualities of Romeo, Napoleon, Elmer and Joe.”

It is remarkable that Duvall could write weekly much less daily, but he usually managed to write at least a brief note to “Dearest Lenny.” He carried a bottle of Carter’s ink and a variety of pens and nibs, but he also hoarded pencils in case his ink bottle froze. And, as a member of the Fifth Armored Division, Duvall experienced plenty of cold as the unit pushed across France, Belgium, and Germany in the bitter winter of 1944-45.

Duvall’s unit worked as scouts, and they were sometimes behind German lines. Duvall usually only hinted at the danger he faced, and he made light of being hit by shrapnel on multiple occasions. A letter sent from Belgium tells of living in an abandoned farmhouse, though he did not mention being surrounded. “While we were lingering over our coffee and cigarettes, the Jerries opened up with their artillery. One shell landed on a side room . . . and blew the roof away. It knocked soot into all our coffee.”

Leland Duvall was mustered out of the Army in October of 1945, and he immediately boarded a train for Russellville. Awaiting him at the depot was Letty Jones. They kissed publicly, as Leland had earlier demanded. They were married two weeks later.

After a long and productive career in journalism, including many years as farm editor and editorial writer at the Arkansas Gazette, Duvall retired in 1990. The couple moved to a cottage on their beloved Crow Mountain in Pope County, where Leland died in 2006. Letty now lives in a Russellville retirement residence.

These letters, over 400 in number, barely escaped destruction when Letty sold the cottage. Fortunately, one of Letty’s new neighbors recognized their value, and ultimately, Ernie Dumas, a colleague of Duvall’s at the Gazette, edited the letters for publication. The letters have been donated to the UA Library in Fayetteville.

—–––––

Tom Dillard is a historian and retired archivist. Email him at tomd@pgtc.com.

Editorial, Pages 80 on 10/21/2012

Print Headline: A man of letters

What I Read Today - Monday October 22, 2012

From:  The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette  -  Sunday Octocber 21, 2012
By Paul Greenberg

LITTLE ROCK —

“A lot of people leave Arkansas and most of them come back sooner or later. They can’t quite achieve escape velocity.”—Charles Portis, Dog of the South

Those are the lucky ones, the Arkies/Arkansawyers who can’t ever make it out of this small, wonderfully interconnected planetary system called Arkansas. Or are drawn back into it by some inexorable force. Call it fate or failure or necessity or whatever you like if you’re one of those folks embarrassed by any mention of the will of God.

Sooner or later these blessed souls come home and settle in as one of the minor satellites making their appointed rounds, having discovered or rediscovered their natural habitat, aka destiny. As for those who never make it back, call them Arkansans, which always did have an imported, artificial, yankeefied sound to it. They may spend the rest of their lives bound in by shallows and miseries. Strangers in a strange land.

They must tell themselves they’re happy, or at least successful, or at the very least cosmopolitan. But what they’ve found is their own private, pointless Hell, the most hellish aspect of which is that the poor souls may not realize it. Or can’t afford to admit it. They think it’s New York, New York. The big apple. Or some mini, bite-sized version thereof. They’re supposed to have made it. Never mind the absence they may be vaguely aware of down deep.

Much like other vegetation, the transplanted may not thrive in other than native soil, which is why it is necessary, when inserting them into inhospitable climes, to leave their roots intact, sustained by at least some of the nutrients that made them what they are, or used to be.

No wonder the surest instinct of those cast into the Southern diaspora is to seek out other Southerners, just to hear a soft word, a familiar tone, or feel the unspoken comfort of home and old times there not forgotten. Their ears perk up at the sound of a Southern accent across a crowded room. They grow nostalgic, that is, homesick for the past. Sometimes in the worst ways. The South can assume freakish proportions in their telling. Especially in the worst of the breed, the professional Southerner. Pitiful. If I encounter one more mezzotint in a New York drawing room of Lee and Jackson drawing up the order of battle for Chancellorsville with a stick in the middle of a dirt road . . . . Some of these lost souls finally make it home, where even the damned are welcomed like the prodigals they are. As if they’d never left. Think of Willie Morris, whose memoir and comic masterpiece, North Toward Home, is unimaginable without his having had a home that he was destined to return to after all his wandering and realize, like Jacob, that this place was holy and he knew it not. Those who never leave may never come to that realization, or at least not declare it openly, fearing they’ll sound unsophisticated. Others make poetry of it, or at least country songs. Hey porter! Hey porter! Would you tell me the time? How much longer will it be till we cross that Mason Dixon Line? . . . Hey porter! Hey porter! Please open up the door. When they stop the train I’m gonna get off first ’Cause I can’t wait no more. Tell that engineer I said thanks a lot, and I didn’t mind the fare. I’m gonna set my feet on Southern soil and breathe that Southern air. Naturally enough Buddy Portis came home to Arkansas, not that he ever left it in disposition. He had the good sense to stay a kind of Southerner—the best, unpretentious, slightly detached kind, even if he was elsewhere physically. Like in the London bureau of the New York Herald-Tribune. Oh, the glory that was the New York Times, the grandeur that was the Herald-Trib, the writer’s paper! Gone, gone forever short of some messianic resurrection of the dead. Unfortunately, the merely decadent may not qualify for revival. They no longer have a soul to revive.

But the self-exiled may return at any time, and walk in as though they’d never left. (“Haven’t seen you around lately. You been sick?”) Then they’ll sit down to throw off a masterpiece or two, like True Grit. And lesser works—Norwood, Dog of the South—that still tower above anything on the meager market today. Portis keeps on being discovered, or rather being periodically re-discovered. That’s the way it is with old friends and good writers.

Now we have a collection of Portis’ miscellany preserved, dished up under the title Escape Velocity, and emphasizing what long has needed emphasizing—his journalism.

As expected, Buddy Portis didn’t show for the book launch at the Butler Center here in Little Rock the other night. He’s a writer, not a celebrity. His appearance at the party would have been superfluous, maybe even in the way. His books were there. And the writing’s the thing.

Just don’t let the self-absorbed introductions and marginalia in this miscellany spoil the taste of Buddy Portis’ own dry vintage. Much of the commentary surrounding it can be pretty awful, self-absorbed stuff. (“I had read True Grit sometime in my teens . . . . The earliest inclusion in my Portis file . . . . The article was a review of my book and it began. . . .”) Skip ’em all. They annoy. They bring to mind the big-name politician who comes to town to deliver the eulogy at the funeral of some local notable: “I remember the first time I met dear old Joe. It was early in my brilliant career, when I . . . .” Embarassing. Or would be if the politician were capable of being embarrassed. But being a politician, he isn’t.

The wise reader will go straight to the selections from Portis himself—astringent, bracing, simple, sounding like stray thoughts jotted down in a casual moment as only the artfully and arduously made can. The charm of Charles Portis’ prose isn’t easy to describe and the attempt is better not made. Just read even the shortest snippet and you’ll smile. It may even save you from the snare and delusion called escape velocity.

Paul Greenberg is editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. E-mail him at:

pgreenberg@arkansasonline.com

Perspective, Pages 77 on 10/21/2012

Print Headline: Escape Velocity

Friday, October 5, 2012

What I Read Today - Friday October 5, 2012

Excerpted from The Business Intelligence Brief (BIB) prepared by Armada Corporate Intelligence (Armada) for the Missouri Society of Certified Public Accountants - October 5, 2012 issue.

Note from Steve:   I did not watch the first presidential debate on tv a couple of nights ago.  All my facebook friends want to talk about is Rominey winning or Obama losing.   I have not heard anything about the content of what either canidate actually said.   Therefore I found this article about what they didn't say very interesting.

The Six Things the Candidates Didn’t Talk About


This was arguably the best opportunity the voter has had to consider the economic policies of the two candidates for President. Given that the remaining debates are supposed to deal with other issues this may be the last time they will go toe to toe on the economy in this campaign. Even if this was the seminal moment on the economy there was more than a little missing from the exchange. From an economist’s viewpoint there were at least six areas that should have been dealt with in some way. Perhaps there will be more attention paid in the next five weeks but I wouldn’t hold one’s breath.

At the top of the list was a direct discussion of the fiscal cliff. It may be a little unfair to list this issue as both men talked about some of the underlying issues that led to the existence of the issue in the first place. Granted the issue of the debt and deficit got some attention with both men giving the impression that solutions can be found with either simply raising taxes or cutting spending. What was missing was conversation about the elephant in the room. If there is no solution developed for the immediate problem the US economy slides into recession for at least the first two quarters of the year and perhaps far longer. It is understandable that they did not want to open that can of worms in this limited format but one fervently hopes that at some point the conversation gets serious. It is next to impossible that a serious attempt to address the deficit can be developed in the next three months so it would seem high time that somebody said so and indicated that a new deadline will have to be established. It might have also been a good time to assert that something like the Simpson-Bowles plan should be adopted.

The second major issue that managed to escape the attention of the debaters is the crisis that keeps building in Europe. It is not that the President has any direct influence over the Eurozone. It isn’t clear that anyone in Europe has any direct influence over this debacle. The point is that what happens in Europe is going to have a major impact on the US regardless of what the powers that be in the US come up with. Consider the impact on the dollar if the euro collapses utterly. The dollar would almost immediately gain in strength and that would complicate the US recovery in a myriad of ways. Europe is 25% of US exports and imports and trade without that partner will be cramped severely. One can tell that many of the states on the eastern seaboard are already feeling the lack of activity by looking at the data that has been coming from the manufacturing surveys from the Fed systems in New York, Philadelphia and Richmond. It would have been nice to mention that this matters to the future of the US economy.

The next omission is a little less justifiable. For four years there has been nearly constant attention focused on the impact of the housing crisis. It is arguable that the recession started with the collapse of housing and it is certain that the mortgage fiasco triggered the banking crisis, giving rise to all sorts of unpleasant developments ranging from the creation of TARP to catastrophic rates of foreclosure, the ruination of a segment of the mortgage banking community, the chaos of the mortgage backed security and the government takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. There has been some limited good news in the last few months as the price of homes have started to gain for the first time in years. That hardly means that the crisis is at an end and there is a great deal that has to be done to fix the system. There are still millions of people underwater on their loans, still too many foreclosures for the new home market to get a foothold and too many banks that are still sitting on toxic debt they can’t work their way out of. The fact is that a real
economic recovery is not sustainable as long as housing remains in a weakened and vulnerable state.

The fourth economic sector that seemed to be ignored was that of exports. In some respects the two almost regressed on this issue as it is always too much fun to try to out bash the other when it comes to China. This has certainly been the case in the campaign as both men accuse the other of being “soft” on China. Meanwhile the President blocks a Chinese company from developing wind farm in Oregon while at the same time bringing another complaint to the WTO on Chinese trade practices. The Romney campaign vows that it
will get tough and accuse China of being a currency manipulator. Much of this is pure campaign hokum. Obama has cut deals with China on trade and the US has cheerfully sold trillions of dollars of its debt to Chinese banks. Romney’s business interests have included China for years. It couldn’t realistically be any other way as China is the second largest economy in the world. The fact is that China is both rival and partner and requires a deft touch that neither man has demonstrated as yet. It is not clear how the two communicate that nuanced approach in a debate but the fact remains that the US economy needs exports to thrive and to have exports there have to be imports. Nations will not buy from those that don’t buy from them and the US has to evolve as a real global trade player one of these days. That means facing down the anti‐trade forces that exist in both parties.

Number five in the missing in action category is any real debate over what to do about inflation. This is not at all shocking given that even the Fed has been having trouble talking about the issue these days. There is nothing imminent just yet – core rates are still way below the Fed’s threshold. On the other hand it is pretty obvious that the consumer has been dealing with the issue off and on all year. The price of fuel has gyrated and has been a shock to the pocketbook at least four times this year. Now comes the threat of higher fuel
prices due to the drought. Add in the hikes in everything from education to health care and it is obvious that real inflation exists. More importantly even the inflation skeptics agree that the set‐up exists for a major inflation crisis in a year or two unless the Fed reacts swiftly and decisively when the time comes.

That leads to point six and it would have been pretty amazing if either man had taken the time to speculate on this. In 2014 there will be a new Fed chair as Ben Bernanke has made it clear that he wants to end his term in office and nobody is going to beg him to stay. Who is the next guy? More importantly what will the next guy represent? Would Obama select another inflation dove – someone like the Vice Chair, Janet Yellen? Would Romney pick a hawk, somebody who would start ratcheting up those rates? Maybe a Glen Hubbard or a Martin Feldstein. This will never come up in a debate but it would be nice to know the thinking of the two. 

The Business Intelligence Brief (BIB) is prepared by Armada Corporate Intelligence (Armada) exclusively for the membership of the Missouri Society of Certified Public Accountants (MSCPA). The MSCPA assumes no responsibility for the editorial content, and any such editorial content shall not be construed as an official position of MSCPA. Armada has taken all reasonable steps to verify the accuracy of the content of the information in the BIB, and therefore, Armada shall not be responsible for any errors or omissions. Armada is not responsible for any advertisement placed.

Armada Staff –Chris Kuehl, Keith Prather, Karen Sanchez P.O. Box 733 – Lawrence, Kansas 66044 – intel@strategic-briefs.com

To contact the Missouri Society of CPAs please call 1-800-264-7966 or visit www.mocpa.org.

What I Read Today - Friday October 5, 2012

Don’t Be Intimidated by a Reputation


By Harvey Mackay (from his blog)

Von Clausewitz, the great military strategist, observed that it is the mark of inadequate commanders to fail to seize the initiative because they overestimate the strength of their opponents. For years, General Motors and IBM dominated their industries despite critical deficiencies. The companies that should have been willing to fight them for market share really weren’t competitors, just symbionts, looking for unfilled market niches where they could pick up a few crumbs that fell off the master’s table.

When the competition finally came, it came from people across a cultural chasm so wide they didn’t understand what it was that made these giant companies so wonderful, or from shoestring operators who had nothing to lose by ignoring the popular mythology.

It took the Japanese to show us how vulnerable GM was—and Microsoft to shake the living daylights out of IBM. GM and IBM were redefined competition. We all are, and it doesn’t matter if you’re Microsoft or Dell, Toyota or Honda. We all live or die by the competitive sword. And we always will.

*Excerpted from “Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive”

Monday, October 1, 2012

What I Read Today - Monday October 1, 2012

From: Seth Godin's Blog

Seth's Blog: The easiest way to thrive as an outlier

The easiest way to thrive as an outlier


...is to avoid being one. At least among your most treasured peers.

Surround yourself with people in at least as much of a hurry, at least as inquisitive, at least as focused as you are. Surround yourself by people who encourage and experience productive failure, and who are driven to make a difference.

What's contagious: standards, ethics, culture, expectations and most of all, the bar for achievement.

The crowd has more influence on us than we have on the crowd. It's not an accident that breakthroughs in music, architecture, software, athletics, fashion and cuisine come in bunches, often geographic. If you need to move, move. At least change how and where you exchange your electrons and your ideas.

We all need leaders who challenge the tribe. We benefit even more when our leaders have peers who push them to be even better.

Friday, September 28, 2012

What I Read Today - Friday September 28, 2012

From: The New York Times - September 27, 2012

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/28/opinion/brooks-the-psych-approach.html?hp&_r=0

The Psych Approach


By DAVID BROOKS

In the 1990s, Vincent Felitti and Robert Anda conducted a study on adverse childhood experiences. They asked 17,000 mostly white, mostly upscale patients enrolled in a Kaiser H.M.O. to describe whether they had experienced any of 10 categories of childhood trauma. They asked them if they had been abused, if their parents had divorced, if family members had been incarcerated or declared mentally ill. Then they gave them what came to be known as ACE scores, depending on how many of the 10 experiences they had endured.

The link between childhood trauma and adult outcomes was striking. People with an ACE score of 4 were seven times more likely to be alcoholics as adults than people with an ACE score of 0. They were six times more likely to have had sex before age 15, twice as likely to be diagnosed with cancer, four times as likely to suffer emphysema. People with an ACE score above 6 were 30 times more likely to have attempted suicide.

Later research suggested that only 3 percent of students with an ACE score of 0 had learning or behavioral problems in school. Among students with an ACE score of 4 or higher, 51 percent had those problems.

In Paul Tough’s essential book, “How Children Succeed,” he describes what’s going on. Childhood stress can have long lasting neural effects, making it harder to exercise self-control, focus attention, delay gratification and do many of the other things that contribute to a happy life.

Tough interviewed a young lady named Monisha, who was pulled out of class by a social worker, taken to a strange foster home and forbidden from seeing her father for months. “I remember the first day like it was yesterday. Every detail. I still have dreams about it. I feel like I’m going to be damaged forever.”

Monisha’s anxiety sensors are still going full blast. “If a plane flies over me, I think they’re going to drop a bomb. I think about my dad dying,” she told Tough. “When I get scared, I start shaking. My heart starts beating. I start sweating. You know how people say ‘I was scared to death’? I get scared that that’s really going to happen to me one day.”

Tough’s book is part of what you might call the psychologizing of domestic policy. In the past several decades, policy makers have focused on the material and bureaucratic things that correlate to school failure, like poor neighborhoods, bad nutrition, schools that are too big or too small. But, more recently, attention has shifted to the psychological reactions that impede learning — the ones that flow from insecure relationships, constant movement and economic anxiety.

Attention has shifted toward the psychological for several reasons. First, it’s become increasingly clear that social and emotional deficits can trump material or even intellectual progress. Schools in the Knowledge Is Power Program, or KIPP, are among the best college prep academies for disadvantaged kids. But, in its first survey a few years ago, KIPP discovered that three-quarters of its graduates were not making it through college. It wasn’t the students with the lower high school grades that were dropping out most. It was the ones with the weakest resilience and social skills. It was the pessimists.

Second, over the past few years, an array of psychological researchers have taught us that motivation, self-control and resilience are together as important as raw I.Q. and are probably more malleable.

Finally, pop culture has been far out front of policy makers in showing how social dysfunction can ruin lives. You can turn on an episode of “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” about a train wreck working-class family. You can turn on “Alaska State Troopers” and see trailer parks filled with drugged-up basket cases. You can listen to rappers like Tyler, The Creator whose songs are angry howls from fatherless men.

Schools are now casting about, trying to find psychological programs that will help students work on resilience, equanimity and self-control. Some schools give two sets of grades — one for academic work and one for deportment.

And it’s not just schools that are veering deeper into the psychological realms. Health care systems are going the same way, tracing obesity and self-destructive habits back to social breakdown and stress.

When you look over the domestic policy landscape, you see all these different people in different policy silos with different budgets: in health care, education, crime, poverty, social mobility and labor force issues. But, in their disjointed ways, they are all dealing with the same problem — that across vast stretches of America, economic, social and family breakdowns are producing enormous amounts of stress and unregulated behavior, which dulls motivation, undermines self-control and distorts lives.

Maybe it’s time for people in all these different fields to get together in a room and make a concerted push against the psychological barriers to success.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

What I Read Today - Thursday September 27, 2012

From:  Seth Godin's Blog

Seth's Blog: Overstimulated

Time to pay attention to the Weber-Fechner Law.
(see http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weber-Fechner_law)


It's easier to tell the difference between two bags of flour that are three ounces apart in weight when one weighs a pound, than it is to tell the difference between two bags that are three ounces apart when one weighs twenty pounds.

It's easier to tell the difference between two flashlights that are 6 lumens apart when one is just 2 lumens bright than it is to tell them apart when one is 200 lumens.

The more stimulus you're getting (light, sound, pressure, delight, sadness) the less easily you can notice a small change. That seems obvious, but it's worth saying.

If you're entering a market filled with loudness, it's harder to be noticed, even if the incremental benefit you offer seems large to you. If you're trying to delight existing customers, the more delighted they already are, the more new delight you need to offer to turn heads.

One more reason to seek out those that are both interested and underserved.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

What I Read Today - Tuesday September 25, 2012

From: The New York Times - September 24, 2012

The Conservative Mind


By DAVID BROOKS

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/25/opinion/brooks-the-conservative-mind.html?smid=pl-share

When I joined the staff of National Review as a lowly associate in 1984, the magazine, and the conservative movement itself, was a fusion of two different mentalities.

On the one side, there were the economic conservatives. These were people that anybody following contemporary Republican politics would be familiar with. They spent a lot of time worrying about the way government intrudes upon economic liberty. They upheld freedom as their highest political value. They admired risk-takers. They worried that excessive government would create a sclerotic nation with a dependent populace.

But there was another sort of conservative, who would be less familiar now. This was the traditional conservative, intellectual heir to Edmund Burke, Russell Kirk, Clinton Rossiter and Catholic social teaching. This sort of conservative didn’t see society as a battleground between government and the private sector. Instead, the traditionalist wanted to preserve a society that functioned as a harmonious ecosystem, in which the different layers were nestled upon each other: individual, family, company, neighborhood, religion, city government and national government.

Because they were conservative, they tended to believe that power should be devolved down to the lower levels of this chain. They believed that people should lead disciplined, orderly lives, but doubted that individuals have the ability to do this alone, unaided by social custom and by God. So they were intensely interested in creating the sort of social, economic and political order that would encourage people to work hard, finish school and postpone childbearing until marriage.

Recently the blogger Rod Dreher linked to Kirk’s essay, “Ten Conservative Principles,” which gives the flavor of this brand of traditional conservatism. This kind of conservative cherishes custom, believing that the individual is foolish but the species is wise. It is usually best to be guided by precedent.

This conservative believes in prudence on the grounds that society is complicated and it’s generally best to reform it steadily but cautiously. Providence moves slowly but the devil hurries.

The two conservative tendencies lived in tension. But together they embodied a truth that was put into words by the child psychologist John Bowlby, that life is best organized as a series of daring ventures from a secure base.

The economic conservatives were in charge of the daring ventures that produced economic growth. The traditionalists were in charge of establishing the secure base — a society in which families are intact, self-discipline is the rule, children are secure and government provides a subtle hand.

Ronald Reagan embodied both sides of this fusion, and George W. Bush tried to recreate it with his compassionate conservatism. But that effort was doomed because in the ensuing years, conservatism changed.

In the polarized political conflict with liberalism, shrinking government has become the organizing conservative principle. Economic conservatives have the money and the institutions. They have taken control. Traditional conservatism has gone into eclipse. These days, speakers at Republican gatherings almost always use the language of market conservatism — getting government off our backs, enhancing economic freedom. Even Mitt Romney, who subscribes to a faith that knows a lot about social capital, relies exclusively on the language of market conservatism.

It’s not so much that today’s Republican politicians reject traditional, one-nation conservatism. They don’t even know it exists. There are few people on the conservative side who’d be willing to raise taxes on the affluent to fund mobility programs for the working class. There are very few willing to use government to actively intervene in chaotic neighborhoods, even when 40 percent of American kids are born out of wedlock. There are very few Republicans who protest against a House Republican budget proposal that cuts domestic discretionary spending to absurdly low levels.

The results have been unfortunate. Since they no longer speak in the language of social order, Republicans have very little to offer the less educated half of this country. Republicans have very little to say to Hispanic voters, who often come from cultures that place high value on communal solidarity.

Republicans repeat formulas — government support equals dependency — that make sense according to free-market ideology, but oversimplify the real world. Republicans like Romney often rely on an economic language that seems corporate and alien to people who do not define themselves in economic terms. No wonder Romney has trouble relating.

Some people blame bad campaign managers for Romney’s underperforming campaign, but the problem is deeper. Conservatism has lost the balance between economic and traditional conservatism. The Republican Party has abandoned half of its intellectual ammunition. It appeals to people as potential business owners, but not as parents, neighbors and citizens.

Monday, September 24, 2012

What I Read Today - Monday - September 24, 2012

From: National Journal - September 24, 2012

Bipartisan Group of Senators Sound the Sequester Alarm

By Elahe Izadi

Lawmakers may have left town, but some are already readying the groundwork for lame duck sequester negotiations.


A bipartisan group of six senators sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, saying that a sequestration alternative has to be decided upon before January, and calling for any bipartisan proposals to be scored by the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation by November.

The letter, addressed Sept. 21, was signed by Sens. Carl Levin, D-Mich., John McCain, R-Ariz., Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., and Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H. They stress the need to pass a bipartisan, long-term deficit reduction plan to avoid the sequestration and "provide as much certainty as possible for businesses and consumers."

The letter highlights looming cuts such as those to the Department of Defense, National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and to federal education funding.

See the full letter after the jump.

Dear Majority Leader Reid and Republican Leader McConnell:

We face a critical challenge in the next few months: balancing the need to reduce the deficit with the need to safeguard important priorities, particularly protecting our national security, vital domestic programs, and our economic recovery. We believe it is imperative to enact a bipartisan deficit reduction package to avoid the severe economic damage that would result from the implementation of sequestration. Any deficit reduction package should be long term and should provide as much certainty as possible for businesses and consumers.

The Congressional Budget Office has already warned sequestration in combination with the expiration of current tax policy could send our fragile economy back into a recession and raise unemployment above 9 percent, and the administration agrees that sequestration "would be deeply destructive to national security, domestic investments, and core government functions." Failure to act to address the debt would result in sequestration taking effect in January 2013 with significant detrimental impact on our fragile economic recovery. According to a report done for the Aerospace Industries Association, if sequestration is allowed to occur in January, the nation will lose approximately 1 million jobs because of defense budget cuts and 1 million jobs because of domestic cuts in 2013.

Make no mistake about the devastating impact of sequestration. According to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, sequestration would leave our nation with its smallest ground force since 1940, smallest number of ships since 1915, and smallest Air Force in its history, and "would inflict severe damage to our national defense for generations." The indiscriminate across-the-board defense cuts scheduled to start this January would result in a 9.4 percent reduction to defense discretionary funding and a 10 percent reduction to defense mandatory spending programs. The administration reports that "sequestration would result in a reduction in readiness of many non-deployed units, delays in investments in new equipment and facilities, cutbacks in equipment repairs, declines in military research and development efforts, and reductions in base services for military families." Specifically, the Army would see a $7 billion reduction in operations and maintenance (O&M) funding, and the Navy and Air Force would lose another $4.3 billion each in their O&M accounts.

In addition, sequestration's impact will be felt beyond the Department of Defense. On the non-defense spending side, the administration reports that sequestration would "undermine investments vital to economic growth, threaten the safety and security of the American people, and cause severe harm to programs that benefit the middle-class, seniors and children." The National Institutes of Health would face a $2.5 billion cut and "would have to halt or curtail scientific research, including needed research into cancer and childhood diseases." The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would see a $464 million cut, and states and local communities would lose billions in federal education funding for Title I, special education State grants, and other programs.

Based on this, we are committed to working together to help forge a balanced bipartisan deficit reduction package to avoid damage to our national security, important domestic priorities, and our economy.

Sequestration will endanger the lives of America's service members, threaten our national security, and impact vital domestic programs and services. Meeting this challenge will require real compromise, and we do not believe that Congress and the president can afford to wait until January to begin to develop a short term or long term sequestration alternative. All ideas should be put on the table and considered. Accordingly, we urge you to press between now and November the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation to score any bipartisan proposals forwarded to them so that Congress may evaluate these plans.

We believe it is important to send a strong signal of our bipartisan determination to avoid or delay sequestration and the resulting major damage to our national security, vital domestic priorities, and our economy.

Carl Levin
John McCain
Jeanne Shaheen
Lindsey Graham
Sheldon Whitehouse
Kelly Ayotte

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

What I Read Today - Wednesday September 5, 2012

This is from a daily eNewsletter I receive from the Missouri Society of CPAS.  It is prepared by a company by the name of armada-intel.

What Happened to Respect?

We could go on at length about the lack of respect that we give one another but the point of this diatribe is the respect that we once gave to our political leaders. I have to confess that I have been often very critical of the leaders in Congress and in the White House. It is, after all, our inalienable right to critique those we vote for and I do not for a moment suggest that we should curb our desire to critique and argue over policy. That is what a democracy is. The part that concerns and infuriates me is the utter contempt expressed by too many these days. It is one thing for an ill-educated clod to spew venom about the personal lives of the President and the other leaders. These are people who ought to be eternally grateful that they live in a nation that protects their right to be ignorant and opinionated. The comments that bother me are the ones that come from those who should know better. The issues facing the country are immense and complex and there has rarely been an election where the voter has been offered such diametrically opposed solutions. There is plenty to argue about. This makes the banal personal attacks all the more galling. I am truly tired of those that seek to attack the President’s legitimacy as a citizen or who assert that he practices a religion other than the Christian faith he has been part of his whole life. I tire of the attacks on Mitt Romney that are based on his supposed lack of personality. Joe Biden is crucified for every episode of verbal overenthusiasm and Paul Ryan is left explaining that he ran a race slower than he recalled. Have we
never had an ill-timed slip of the tongue? Have we never managed to make that routine catch in high school the one that won the game? I respect the men and women who do their best to lead 330 million of us. They are not perfect and I disagree with them on many occasions and on many issues. They are still the people we elected to be our Senators and Representatives and our President. I applaud the fact the Barack Obama and Mitt Romney want this job at all. The bottom line is that we can “respectfully disagree” and it would be better for the nation as a whole if we all adopted more of that attitude.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

What I Read Today - Tuesday September 4, 2012


Actually, Tax Cuts Don't Spur Economic Growth

http://www.businessinsider.com/actually-tax-cuts-dont-spur-economic-growth-2012-9

Steven Strauss, Harvard University
Sep. 2, 2012, 4:02 PM

Steven Strauss is an Advanced Leadership Fellow at Harvard University. Follow him on Twitter @steven_strauss.


It has been something of an article of faith among conservatives that the solution to America's problems is in smaller government and lower tax rates.

The argument on taxes goes something like: 'We need to unleash the wealth creators, who stimulated by the prospect of more income (due to lower tax rates), will create wealth for all of us.' And, that any tax increase -- for even the wealthiest taxpayers -- would have catastrophic consequences.

Actually the post World War II American economy provides a nice empirical test of this hypothesis -- the maximum marginal income tax rate gradually declined from about 90% to about 35%. Shouldn't this decline have lead to an explosion of economic growth as our wealth creators were unleashed? Sorry, Sarah Palin... it didn't.

During the ultra high tax 1950s (top marginal income tax rate of 90%), the United States had some of its best real economic growth (over 4%/year). And, for the decade where we had our lowest marginal income tax rates -- we had our worst real economic growth (about 1.5%/year). (See Table 1 below.)

So what happened? Well, first of all (Spoiler Alert! The following will upset ideologues!), the real world is complicated. Taxes are one part of the American economy, but by no means the only driver of our decision making process. People are motivated by lots of things -- not just money. In all the recent discussions about Steve Jobs, I can't recall a single quote, anecdote or story that suggested income tax rates had any influence on Steve Jobs' behavior. Does anyone really believe that if US income tax rates had been slightly higher Bill Gates would have founded Microsoft in Singapore (or some other low tax center)? As another example -- Warren Buffet, who has been an active investor from the 1950s to today, certainly could have moved offshore when tax rates were higher. He didn't.

Also, keep in mind that economic growth is not driven just by entrepreneurs and their hard work (okay, I've now simultaneously infuriated both the left and the right). In the 1950s, the global economy was emerging from World War II and the United States was the only industrial economy relatively unscathed. With better policies (arguably, the then current 90% tax rate was too high), we might have had even higher economic growth rates in the 1950s. But, our strong economic growth throughout the 1950s was helped by a strong tail wind (from outside the US).

In the early 21st century, we suffered relatively anemic economic growth (despite much lower tax rates), but we also faced a far more competitive world and a disastrous real estate bubble. It is not clear that lower income tax rates would have had much impact. But higher income tax rates and other policy adjustments might have avoided the real estate bubble from which we are now recovering.

Finally and most importantly, it is not just how the money is raised, but how it is spent. Tax revenues that improve infrastructure, and pay for basic research and education are investments in our future, and will foster economic growth. Tax cuts that primarily favor high end consumers might stimulate the purchase of luxury goods (McMansion anyone?), but may not contribute much to overall economic growth.

My point, and I do have one -- is that ideology is a poor substitute for pragmatic approaches to complicated problems. In fact the evidence that tax rates influence economic growth in any way is equivocal at best. A myriad of other factors are involved. Simply reducing tax rates, and primarily for the wealthy, may hinder -- rather than enhance our economic recovery.

Steven Strauss was the founding Managing Director of the Center for Economic Transformation at the New York City Economic Development Corporation. He will be an Advanced Leadership Fellow at Harvard University for 2011-2012. He has also worked as a management consultant for McKinsey and has a Ph.D. in Management from Yale University. You can follow him on Twitter @steven_strauss.

Friday, August 31, 2012

What I Read Today - Friday August 31, 2012

From: The New York Times
August 30, 2012

Party of Strivers


By DAVID BROOKS

America was built by materialistic and sometimes superficial strivers. It was built by pioneers who voluntarily subjected themselves to stone-age conditions on the frontier fired by dreams of riches. It was built by immigrants who crammed themselves into hellish tenements because they thought it would lead, for their children, to big houses, big cars and big lives.

America has always been defined by this ferocious commercial energy, this zealotry for self-transformation, which leads its citizens to vacation less, work longer, consume more and invent more.

Many Americans, and many foreign observers, are ambivalent about or offended by this driving material ambition. Read “The Great Gatsby.” Read D.H. Lawrence on Benjamin Franklin.

But today’s Republican Party unabashedly celebrates this ambition and definition of success. Speaker after speaker at the convention in Tampa, Fla., celebrated the striver, who started small, struggled hard, looked within and became wealthy. Speaker after speaker argued that this ideal of success is under assault by Democrats who look down on strivers, who undermine self-reliance with government dependency, who smother ambition under regulations.

Republicans promised to get government out of the way. Reduce the burden of debt. Offer Americans an open field and a fair chance to let their ambition run.

If you believe, as I do, that American institutions are hitting a creaky middle age, then you have a lot of time for this argument. If you believe that there has been a hardening of the national arteries caused by a labyrinthine tax code, an unsustainable Medicare program and a suicidal addiction to deficits, then you appreciate this streamlining agenda, even if you don’t buy into the whole Ayn Rand-influenced gospel of wealth.

On the one hand, you see the Republicans taking the initiative, offering rejuvenating reform. On the other hand, you see an exhausted Democratic Party, which says: We don’t have an agenda, but we really don’t like theirs. Given these options, the choice is pretty clear.

But there is a flaw in the vision the Republicans offered in Tampa. It is contained in its rampant hyperindividualism. Speaker after speaker celebrated the solitary and heroic individual. There was almost no talk of community and compassionate conservatism. There was certainly no conservatism as Edmund Burke understood it, in which individuals are embedded in webs of customs, traditions, habits and governing institutions.

Today’s Republicans strongly believe that individuals determine their own fates. In a Pew Research Center poll, for example, 57 percent of Republicans believe people are poor because they don’t work hard. Only 28 percent believe people are poor because of circumstances beyond their control. These Republicans believe that if only government gets out of the way, then people’s innate qualities will enable them to flourish.

But there’s a problem. I see what the G.O.P. is offering the engineering major from Purdue or the business major from Arizona State. The party is offering skilled people the freedom to run their race. I don’t see what the party is offering the waitress with two kids, or the warehouse worker whose wages have stagnated for a decade, or the factory worker whose skills are now obsolete.

The fact is our destinies are shaped by social forces much more than the current G.O.P. is willing to admit. The skills that enable people to flourish are not innate but constructed by circumstances.

Government does not always undermine initiative. Some government programs, like the G.I. Bill, inflame ambition. Others depress it. What matters is not whether a program is public or private but its effect on character. Today’s Republicans, who see every government program as a step on the road to serfdom, are often blind to that. They celebrate the race to success but don’t know how to give everyone access to that race.

The wisest speech departed from the prevailing story line. It was delivered by Condoleezza Rice. It echoed an older, less libertarian conservatism, which harkens back to Washington, Tocqueville and Lincoln. The powerful words in her speech were not “I” and “me” — the heroic individual. They were “we” and “us” — citizens who emerge out of and exist as participants in a great national project.

Rice celebrated material striving but also larger national goals — the long national struggle to extend benefits and mobilize all human potential. She subtly emphasized how our individual destinies are dependent upon the social fabric and upon public institutions like schools, just laws and our mission in the world. She put less emphasis on commerce and more on citizenship.

Today’s Republican Party may be able to perform useful tasks with its current hyperindividualistic mentality. But its commercial soul is too narrow. It won’t be a worthy governing party until it treads the course Lincoln trod: starting with individual ambition but ascending to a larger vision and creating a national environment that arouses ambition and nurtures success.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

What I Read Today - Thursday August 16, 2012

From: Forbes Magazine

Some Presidential Words On Federal Income Taxes


Peter J Reilly

Contributor

Julian Block is back, this time with a collection of thoughts by Presidents and Presidential candidates on taxation.

Some Presidential Words On Federal Income Taxes

Income taxes are such a pervasive and everyday part of our financial lives—and such a central issue in presidential campaigns — that they seem to have been around forever. They have not. Their debut is relatively recent.

Abraham Lincoln created the Bureau of Internal Revenue, the predecessor of today’s Internal Revenue Service, and introduced the first U.S. income taxes in 1862 to pay for the North’s Civil War expenses. The Confederacy also imposed income taxes. After all, military wars, especially big ones, have to be paid for; at least, that used to be a fact of life.

Mr. Lincoln’s levies fell mainly on the well-to-do. There was an exemption from taxes for the first $600 of income. Once beyond that amount, the maximum rate topped off at five percent. The taxes were temporary, not becoming permanent until the ratification in 1913 of the Sixteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

In an 1864 address to the 164th Ohio Regiment, Mr. Lincoln said “I apologize for the inequities in the practical applications of the tax, but if we should wait before collecting a tax to adjust the taxes upon each man in exact proportion with every other, we shall never collect any tax at all.”

Another Republican understandably went out of his way not to poke fun at the tax collectors. Richard Milhous Nixon, caught up in the struggle to avoid impeachment and stay in office, informed the nation that “The President, when the IRS is concerned, I assure you, is just another citizen and even more so.” Time magazine waited until the issue that coincided with the tax filing deadline of April 15, 1974, to note Mr. Nixon “offered that wry observation exactly one month ago, when advance warnings had been posted that he might owe half a million dollars in back taxes.” He resigned on August 9.

Ronald Wilson Reagan stood out for his ability to make complicated subjects understandable. Mr. Reagan particularly liked to poke fun at the shortcomings of our modern tax system. For instance, he alerted future taxpayers to what awaited them in a talk to students at Northside High School in Atlanta, Georgia, on June 6, 1985: “If our current tax structure were a TV show, it would either be `Foul-ups, Bleeps and Blunders,’ or `Gimme a Break.’ If it were a record album, it would be `Gimme Shelter.’ If it were a movie, it would be `Revenge of the Nerds’ or maybe `Take the Money and Run.’ And if the IRS ever wants a theme song, maybe they’ll get Sting to do `Every breath you take, every move you make, I’ll be watching you.’ ”

Mr. Reagan stayed on message at a joint session of the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa on March 11, 1981: “The American taxing structure, the purpose of which was to serve the people, began instead to serve the insatiable appetite of government. If you will forgive me, you know someone has once likened government to a baby. It is an alimentary canal with an appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other.”

Mr. Reagan’s vice president, George Herbert Walker Bush, had sewn up the nomination for president when delegates at the Republican convention in 1988 cheered his famous pledge of “Read my lips—no new taxes!” However, as president, the elder George Bush had to deal with a Democratic Congress and to be more conciliatory, unlike his son. So despite his vow and because he knew it was helpful for the economy, President Bush crafted a deal with Congressional Democrats to raise new taxes in 1990, a decision that contributed to his re-election defeat in 1992 by William Jefferson Clinton.

President Clinton easily won again in 1996, notwithstanding tax increases in 1993, becoming the first Democrat to be re-elected since Franklin Delano Roosevelt. As Mr. Clinton recalled, “There’s a lot of evidence you can sell people on tax increases if they think it’s an investment.” Of course, tremendous growth in the 1990’s also made it easier to sell increases.

Mr. Clinton’s other 1992 opponent was H. Ross Perot, a super-wealthy, third-party candidate making his first run for the office. Like Time magazine with its Nixon revelation, Mr. Perot waited until the filing deadline to reveal that “I’m delighted to pay big taxes. Big taxes mean big income.”

During Mr. Clinton’s first term, a key element of his legislative efforts was to attack the welfare system and promise to end welfare as we know it. In 1996, Republican candidate and Senate Majority Leader Robert Dole of Kansas invoked the same oratorical flourish when he declared that “I will eliminate the IRS as we know it.” Mr. Dole attempted to tap into anti-IRS sentiment abroad in the land. Among other things, he promised a simpler system “that will allow Americans to file their tax returns without the help of a lawyer or accountant, or both,” yet another of the countless proposals for simplification that never get anywhere.

Mr. Clinton was the first Democrat in the White House since James Earl Carter, a president who characterized “the federal tax system” as “a disgrace to the human race,” an assessment decidedly less upbeat than those of other Democratic chief executives.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy, in an address to Congress on April 20, 1961, declared that “One of the major characteristics of our tax system, and one in which we can take a great deal of pride, is that it operates primarily through individual self-assessment. The integrity of such a system depends upon the continued willingness of the people honestly and accurately to discharge this annual price of citizenship. To the extent that some people are dishonest or careless in their dealings with the government, the majority is forced to carry a heavier tax burden.”

While President Roosevelt was campaigning for a second term, he told a gathering in Worcester, Massachusetts, on October 31, 1936, that “One sure way to determine the social conscience of a Government is to examine the way taxes are collected and how they are spent. And one sure way to determine the social conscience of an individual is to get his tax-reaction. Taxes, after all, are the dues that we pay for the privileges of membership in an organized society.”

William Jennings Bryan campaigned unsuccessfully three times as the Democratic presidential candidate. During his famous acceptance speech at the party’s National Convention in Chicago, on July 8, 1896, he declared that “The income tax is just. It simply intends to put the burdens of government justly upon the backs of the people. I am in favor of an income tax. When I find a man who is not willing to bear his share of the burdens of the government which protects him, I find a man who is unworthy to enjoy the blessings of a government like ours.”

Long before the introduction of income taxes, Andrew Jackson took a resigned view of all taxes. “The wisdom of man never yet contrived a system of taxation that operates with perfect equality.”

—————————————————————————————————————————-



Julian Block is an attorney and author based in Larchmont, N.Y. He has been cited as: “a leading tax professional” (New York Times); ”an accomplished writer on taxes” (Wall Street Journal); and “an authority on tax planning” (Financial Planning Magazine). Information about his books is at julianblocktaxexpert.com.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------



This article is available online at:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/peterjreilly/2012/08/15/some-presidential-words-on-federal-income-taxes/





Wednesday, August 15, 2012

What I Read Today - Wednesday August 15, 2012

From:  Success Magazine

Modern Marketing: Why go 2x when you can go 10x?


The advantages of "10x thinking"

Dan Sullivan April 10, 2012

If you could grow something that’s important to you by 10 times and end up with a simpler, easier-to-manage, more enjoyable business than you have now, would you do it?

It could be something obvious, like taking profits or sales tenfold, or perhaps something more creative, such as doubling your results with one-fifth the clientele or having 10 times more time off. What it looks like is totally up to you, as long as it amounts to a 10x greater result in some area of your entrepreneurial life.

Now what if I were to tell you that your chosen 10x goal was not an end unto itself? Rather it would just be the means by which you could develop and hone a new set of capabilities to enable you to go 10x in any area you choose in the future. Sound appealing?

This is essentially the challenge I’ve been offering to my most advanced clients—all highly successful, growth-focused entrepreneurs—over the past year and a half, and not surprisingly, almost all of them have taken me up on it.

Nonetheless, some entrepreneurs still think that 10x is too daunting or overwhelming to think about, and I understand how that might be the case, especially for those struggling with the complexity of the day-to-day in a tough economy. For those people, even growth by 2x may seem like a stretch.

My commitment to 10x thinking comes from my conviction that 10x is the only guaranteed way that entrepreneurs can ensure their continued freedom and success in a world where change happens at an exponential rate, led by technology. Incremental growth simply isn’t enough to stay ahead of the curve anymore. You and your team have to be able to think in terms of 10x improvements, 10x growth and 10x innovation in order to continually thrive. The future belongs to 10x companies. The good news is that growing one is probably much easier and more enjoyable than you think.

One reason is that 10x thinking immediately takes you out of the box of your current limitations and obstacles. The rewards of 10x thinking and 10x learning, driven by 10x goals, are immense and often surprising. Here are some of our observations so far from going through the process, as 150-plus top entrepreneurs from more than 50 industries have done.


1. As soon as you start thinking 10x, everything automatically speeds up.

Thinking 10x has a wonderful way of creating clarity that allows you to make greater progress more quickly. This happens because a 10x goal is a powerful filter for decision-making and action.

It immediately sorts out what parts of your business are or aren’t in alignment, and makes it clearer and easier to make decisions about what belongs in the future versus the past. You begin to ask yourself, “Does this relationship, this project, this activity have 10x potential?” or, “Is this process going to take us 10x?” or even, “Is this how I want to be spending my time to go 10x?”

Think for a moment: What would you have to stop doing to go 10x? There’s a 25 to 50 percent productivity increase just from stopping certain things that aren’t supporting your future growth. As you start to filter your activities, decisions and relationships through 10x, you can quickly begin to transform everything in your life that doesn’t support exponential growth, and create and attract everything that does.


2. Thinking 10x moves you into purely entrepreneurial decision-making, creativity, risk-taking and teamwork.

Bureaucracy is like kryptonite to entrepreneurs. Because there’s nothing bureaucratic about 10x thinking, it becomes a kind of protective shield: Any bureaucratic thinking, structures or processes that may have crept into your business can’t survive for long when you’re committed to 10x.

The reason for this is that 10x requires innovation, risk-taking and a level of entrepreneurial teamwork. Everyone on your team has to be creative on the spot and has to innovate and make continual improvements. This is the essence of what entrepreneurs do. A 10x company makes the ability to grow 10x part of its DNA. Its approach is always 10x, its systems and structures are built to create and support 10x growth, and its team members share its leaders’ 10x thinking. In such a company, if a new opportunity doesn’t have 10x potential, it’s likely to get rejected as a game not worth winning.


3. With 10x progress in mind, you start seeing an increasing number of 10x factors that can contribute to that progress.

Have you ever noticed that the eyes only see and the ears only hear what the mind is looking for? It’s just like when you buy a car, and at first you think you’re the only one with that model of car, and then you start noticing it everywhere. There are all kinds of 10x opportunities within and surrounding your business, but you have to look for them to see them, and then, all of a sudden, they’re obvious.

Great people with incredibly useful capabilities, strategic relationships, unique technologies and innovative shortcuts surround you. They’re what you need to go 10x, and your mind should see the project clearly to find them and put them to use.


4. As your team gets involved in 10x progress, leadership emerges, relationships strengthen and creativity increases.

Many entrepreneurs don’t love being in charge of developing, training, managing and motivating their teams. But when you focus your team on a 10x goal, all of these things become much easier. In fact, you may see much of it happening without any extra effort on your part.

Growth-oriented people, the ones you want on your team, are energized by big goals, and 10x gives them a big project on which they can work together. On the other hand, anyone who’s just there to collect a paycheck is likely to opt out. In a 10x company, every team member is always looking for things they can do 10x faster, easier, cheaper or bigger in their own areas of responsibility and knowledge. Adding up these small and perhaps big 10x improvements, the whole company eventually goes 10x. Think of it like a pot of water heating up on a stove. Each 10x innovation represents one of the small bubbles that eventually combine with others to bring the whole thing to a rolling boil.


5. Striving for 10x progress is faster, easier and cheaper—and is far more enjoyable and satisfying—than striving for 2x progress.

The statement above may seem counterintuitive, but going 2x is something that can happen without actually changing much of what you’re already doing. When we think about doubling our progress, we often just try to leverage our current capabilities, whereas going 10x engages a different level of creativity, energy and excitement.

Going 10x requires real change—leaps in value creation, in efficiency, in resourcefulness and in productivity. It can also put you at the forefront of change, driving it rather than struggling to keep up with constant, unpleasant surprises. Evolving technology is going to change you anyway, so why not say, “I’m going to adopt a level of thinking right up front that makes it a profitable, enjoyable trip.”