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Ed Morrison: Civility grows the economy

Read the whole article HERE. Here’s a snip:

“Incivility destroys a community’s capacity to generate wealth.

Here’s why.

In a networked, knowledge-driven economy, collaboration drives wealth creation. And collaboration can only thrive in a stable environment of trust. The corrosion of our civil society –– the alarming growth of incivility and pervasive lying –– undercuts our economy’s productivity and our capacity to innovate.

Incivility — fraudulent concealment (“hiding the ball”), lying, manipulation, and associated behaviors — can work well to redistribute wealth. We see almost endless examples from MF Global to the subprime mess. Yet, these behaviors do not generate wealth. Indeed, they erode capitalism’s capacity to generate wealth. That’s why corruption slows economic growth and why trust is associated with higher rates of economic growth.”

Thanks to Tony for the heads up on this great article.

Michael Lewis in Vanity Fair: California and Bust

If there is such a thing as Village Square required reading, this is it. It describes a reality coming to a city near you that we either grapple with now or we live its consequences later. I guess we pick. Please share this one on social media. Michael Lewis argues (convincingly) in November’s Vanity Fair that it is ultimately America’s hometowns and states who will bear the brunt of the Congressional failure to govern either by raising taxes or cutting spending or both. I hope I live in a city and state that gets this sooner rather than later. Read all »

The elephant in the room is self-interest

“I think we need political courage and will right now. We need big bold ideas. We’re not going to solve these problems incrementally by putting bandaids on things. If this was a business the business would be bankrupt… We need transformation and that transformation comes from leadership. We’re in a crisis, we need decisiveness… I don’t think this is that hard. What’s hard is when you get people in a room who have ideology and re-election and polling. The elephant in the room is not the problem, it’s self-interest.” –Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz on CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS on Sunday. (Photo credit: Cody Simms)

CEOs have had enough with partisan antics

First Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz asked other companies to boycott making political contributions until Washington begins to function. Now CEOs are meeting to discuss just how bad it is. Here are a couple more CEO quotes:

‘I’ve been in business for over thirty years. I’ve never seen a time when there’s been more zero sum game mentality in the United States among political parties. If you were a business person looking at this and you saw two people arguing like that, you would say “I don’t want to do business with any of those guys.” ‘ — Robert Johnson, BET founder, interview with CBS News

“When a country is in trouble, you can’t have a polarized political process.” — Muhtar Kent, CEO Coca-Cola (he said that it’s almost easier to do business in China)

Source: This Week with Christianne Amanpour

Just pitiful.

From today’s New York Times, this pretty much captures the why of our AAA credit rating downgrade: “Democrats and Republicans both claimed to find validation for their policies in the decision by the ratings agency…”

Of course they did. Has anyone on Capitol Hill shown any ability whatsoever to absorb information that didn’t emanate directly from their caucus? It’s like they’re all half-deaf. Read all »

No Labels’ David Walker on budget crisis

Good Village Square-ish discussion on economic policy and the Great Depression

Sadly, this is still relevant today. If you’re like me, the competing partisan versions of what caused (and what pulled us out of) the depression are mind boggling. Like everything else, it’s as if we’ve been living in entirely different versions of reality. Here Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter and Council of Foreign Relations’ Amity Shlaes have a real conversation. Shlaes was just on Glenn Beck Friday where they didn’t have a real conversation.

This is a particularly interesting video because it took place just before our current economic nosedive.

Bill Moyers: Advice for the tea party movement

Bill Moyers on yesterday’s Bill Moyers Journal offers up some advice (you can watch a video clip of the same content here):

With all due respect, we can only wish those tea party activists who gathered this week were not so single-minded about just who’s responsible for their troubles, real and imagined. They’re up in arms, so to speak, against big government, especially the Obama administration.

But if they thought this through, they’d be joining forces with other grassroots Americans who will soon be demonstrating in Washington and elsewhere against high finance, taking on Wall Street and the country’s biggest banks.

The original Tea Party, remember, wasn’t directed just against the British redcoats. Colonial patriots also took aim at the East India Company. That was the joint-stock enterprise originally chartered by the first Queen Elizabeth. Over the years, the government granted them special rights and privileges, which the owners turned into a monopoly over trade, including tea.

It may seem a stretch from tea to credit default swaps, but the principle is the same: when enormous private wealth goes unchecked, regular folks get hurt – badly. That’s what happened in 2008 when the monied interests led us up the garden path to the great collapse.

Suppose the Tea Party folk had dropped by those Senate hearings this week looking into the failure of Washington Mutual. That’s the bank that went belly up during the meltdown in September 2008. It was the largest such failure in American history.

(Photo credit.)

My Purple Post: A tale of two tea parties, the dangers of two Americas

tea party 4_15_2010Patriotic, salt-of-the-earth. Or misinformed and angry?

On tax day we took our politically diverse Teen Square meeting on a road trip – a few city blocks down the road anyway – to the Tallahassee tea party “We the People” event. We asked this group of every flavor of political orientation and demographic to take a Rorschach test of sorts: What did they see when they looked at the tea party and how might they have seen something different had they brought with them a different set of political opinions to see it through?

We looked for the wholesome family-oriented tea party. We looked for the kooky, angry tea party.

Of course, as you would with any large group of people, we found them both.

Pre-Village-Square, the chance that I would attend a tea party was near zero. I am offended by the characterizations of President Obama. While I relate to fiscal conservatism, I think too many tea partiers have long ago left planet earth in their assessment of our president’s bio and motivations.

But texture disappears in looking at anything from afar while it is immediately apparent when you take a closer look. Had I gone to the event to confirm my bias, it would have been a stretch. This tea party on this day seemed conscious of how they looked to the outside observer, the mood was more picnic than fury, the signs communicated a perspective far more than they offended and even the opinion was more diverse than you’d expect.

Agree or disagree with the politics of the tea party, you have to give it to them on at least one point: It’s hard to argue that we don’t have a national fiscal crisis.

I was approached with literature for a city commission candidate running against a friend of mine. He told me his candidate was giving the liars on the commission hell. I told him that he wasn’t correct that his candidate was running against someone I personally know is honest and honorable. The man sincerely apologized. I hope he at least considered our conversation as he approached the next group of voters. These are the conversations that never happen when we spin entirely in our own ideological circles.

I caught Fox News discussions touting new polling indicating that tea party supporters are, on the average wealthier and more well-educated than the average American.

Then I flipped the channel to MSNBC to hear Lawrence O’Donnell (Keith Olbermann’s stand-in) describe the very same poll:

“A remarkable poll gives us a solid picture of just who the tea party movement is. They are older, they are whiter than America. They earned more money and are better educated. That’s right, they’re the elite, well-off intellectuals of sorts who are out of step with the real America and they are very deeply confused.”

So the national food fight continues, the twisting and contorting of complexity to fit this or that predetermined black and white version of reality. I have a hard time envisioning how this will end in a way that doesn’t truly damage the country we all claim to love. If “We the People” continue to lap it up, maybe we deserve what we get.

As for me, I’m going to keep taking road trips.

We have met the enemy and guess who he is?

Fareed Zakaria on CNN’s GPS Sunday:(emphasis added)

“In 1979 Paul Volker was appointed Chairman of the Federal Reserve and he began to raise interest rates to crush inflation. It succeeded. And it had a follow-on affect around the world ushering in an era of low inflation, low interest rates and strong growth. What impresses me most about Volker was his willingness to do something that was deeply unpopular at the time in the short term for the long term good of the country. What he did then is now widely praised, but at the time he was burned in effigy as a job destroyer.

If you think about just about every problem we face in the United States, and in fact in Europe, Japan and every advanced industrial country, the solutions are readily identifiable. But they all involve trimming benefits, restricting credit, raising retirement age, trimming pensions and of course raising taxes. The effect of these reforms would be to place the country on much stronger economic foundation, but that benefit comes slowly over time while the costs are sharply felt now and by powerful special interests.

That’s why no one will propose any serious cuts in spending or any serious increases in taxation. Much easier to give everyone what they want and solve the problem by borrowing, borrowing, and more borrowing. So the core problem facing rich democracies these days is they can’t impose any short-term pain for long-term gain. And if we can’t find the the courage to do it, it is very difficult to be optimistic about the future for these countries, including the United States.

We have met the enemy, and it is us.

“If you look at what’s happened to great Republics in the past, they generally have not fallen because of external threats. They’ve fallen because of internal threats. Let’s look at Rome as an example, which is the longest standing Republic in the history of mankind. The Roman Republic fell for many reasons, but three seem to resonate today. Declining moral values and political civility at home, overconfident and overextended militarily around the world and fiscal irresponsibility by the central government. We need to wake up, recognize reality and that we have to start making tough choices sooner rather than later, so we can be the first Republic to stand the test of time.”

— Dave Walker, President and CEO, Peter G. Peterson Foundation

When America is in trouble, you invest in it

On the reopening of trading on Wall Street after 9/11:

“They lifted the New York Stock Exchange covered with ash-the monitors on the floor literally thick with ash, the trading floor badly damaged-and one week later, seven days, they were lined up ready to roar and ringing the bell. That day, for the first and only time in my life, I bought a stock-five thousand dollars worth, of J&J-and as I bought it on the Internet, I called my son over to watch me hit “Enter” so he would understand for the rest of his life that when America is in trouble you invest in it, you put what you’ve got right there.”

–Peggy Noonan in Patriotic Grace: What It Is and Why We Need It Now

Who’s the culprit in the financial meltdown?


“It’s like Murder on the Orient Express. At the end, every single person stuck a knife in the victim.”
Susie Welch, BusinessWeek

“There are 300 million villains here and they are the great American people who went on a shopping spree they couldn’t afford.”
— Conservative commentator George Will

From today’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos