Tag Archives: America

To The Protectors

Volume 3, Issue 39

It is Veteran’s Day as I write this. On the way to the airport listening to the radio I heard the Mormon Tabernacle Choir doing a special show celebrating America and its war veterans.

Flashback to the 60s when certain protesters sometimes crossed the line to not only condemn the war but also the country itself with the moniker Amerika, sometimes substituting a swastika for the “k”. That saddened me.

We all make mistakes and sometimes they are big ones. This is true not only for individuals but also for groups of people like protesters, countries, corporations, even well-meaning nonprofits and religious institutions.

But the ideals of the Founding Fathers are unique among the articles of constitution for each of the 190+ nations on Earth. The U.S. Constitution is our Mission statement and our collective vision still. Protecting these ideals and this country that seeks to bring about a world based on these ideals is still a sacred trust.

Those who are warriors for any free nation, especially if they take that role voluntarily, are at least in part moved by a very high level of consciousness. The realization of something greater than oneself, and the urge to serve others. This can also be true of cops, firefighters, doctors, and many other vocations, even the oft-criticized paramilitary. Not every individual in these vocations is equally motivated by the idea of service and the will to protect, and that motivation can vary over time. But when one is in that headspace and heart space it is a form of the Flow state and attracts cosmic fire support — at least according to my Theory of the Conscious Universe, which is explored in my soon-to-be-published new book, You Are The Universe: Imagine That!

Most if not all of us would like to see an end to war, but this does not mean we should be unappreciative of the warriors. The prerequisites to ending war forever are not forever distant and unapproachable; in fact we are closer than ever to realizing these possibilities:

  1. Psychotechnology and education bring about better self-management and decision-making at an individual level everywhere, engendering sanity, clarity, perspective, menschness, and happiness.
  2. Science and technology release unlimited free energy by which there is plenty of whatever anyone might need or want, as in the “Culture” novels. With free energy we can afford to transport the Earth’s still abundant raw materials from where they are to where they are needed. Nicola Tesla was on the track of unlimited free energy a century ago and it is no further off than unlimited life extension. Perhaps another century will do the trick.
  3. Space travel provides enough room and raw materials to not have to fight over land.
  4. Medical science brings about the ultimate cures. Only a matter of time. Not soon enough to end the heartache in our lives but soon enough to remove great gobs of pain from the lives of our children’s children’s children.

It will all happen. If we don’t blow ourselves up or befoul the environment too much more between now and then.

In the meantime, here’s to the protectors. We still need them, and they deserve to be honored with our gratitude and deepest respect.

In that spirit, I’d like to share the lyrics to a song written by my friend Stan Satlin, who was inspired by Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass to write songs about the country he loves.

I Am an American

Chorus (repeats after each verse):

I am black and I am white, I'm yellow and brown
I am red white and blue, Yankee Doodle won't you come to town
I am the whole wide planet, rolled into one
I am a citizen of the world, I am an American

Verse 1:

I came from distant lands, to seek a better life
All I owned was on my back, by my side my wife
The work it wasn't easy, in the factory and the farm
But hope in me grew stronger, like the muscle in my arm               

Verse 2:

As I sailed across the ocean I was told of gold in the streets
When I arrived I soon found out not everything was sweet
I built the road and cities, from the east coast to the west
I've been tricked and cheated, but the land is still the best

Verse 3:

Some things are much better, some things still need change
I wish I could bring back some things, like buffalo on the range
I don't want to be a master or servant of any man
I just want to go on living my life, doing the best I can

And this, to honor the symbol that inspires our warriors, Old Ragged Flag, as told by Johnnie Cash: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vgpp0V7sDbE.

Best to all,


Follow my regular blog contribution at Jack Myers Media Network: In Terms of ROI. It is in the free section of the website at  Bill Harvey at MediaBizBloggers.com. 

Setting the Mood for Conflict Resolution

Volume 2, Issue 39

With Better Data and Analytics for World Class Solutions

Two posts ago for the first time in this blog’s history, I retracted an idea from the article within 24 hours of its posting. In a quick series of blunt emails a dear friend thoroughly convinced me that even raising the possibility of any form of debt cancellation is a terrible idea.

Why terrible? Because:

  1. Anything that could reduce even an iota of faith in the notion of the United States of America as the most stable country on Earth could panic people. This is not because people are rational, quite the opposite — it is because they are under the sway of Acceleritis, and are operating in mental shortcut Emergency Oversimplification Procedure (EOP).But a fact is a fact. Bad idea to bring up. Speak of debt conversion, debt service renegotiation, and especially get the top economists into a creative mood and talk about any other out-of-the- box ideas that they want. Just not the idea of debt cancellation.
  2. It plays right into the hands of the current severe polarization between those who hold it to be virtuous that the strong should always protect the weak (we call that the Left) and those who believe this but to a lesser degree, and are most focused on individual independence and freedom including the minimization of laws restricting individual decision making (we call that the Right). Nothing should be done to further exacerbate the hatred that has snuck up on us and suddenly become harsh and rigid on both sides. This is a far worse threat than the fiscal cliff, which is a temporary aberration and will be solved one way or the other so as to minimize suffering, although there will still be plenty of that. Legislators the world around will perform better in making the tough decisions ahead to put the economy of the world back on a firm sustainable footing, to the degree that they start in a creative mood and not in this mood of vendetta that appears to grip at least half of us, enough of us to bring everything to a grinding halt (aka gridlock).

On a world scale, if we cannot balance Severity (the Right) with Mercy (the Left) (these are called Geburah and Chesed in Kabbalah), in the very long run what are the possible scenarios? These two mammoth groups around the world could between them set off the first (and perhaps last) World Civil War. Not based on borders, the Blues everywhere would fight the Reds everywhere. Those in the middle would try to keep peace but that would just make it a three-way civil war once peacekeepers got killed en masse for the first time.

Hitler’s deranged mind wandered over these mental landscapes in somehow believing that killing off the Jews would make the planet work better. The hatred we hear and read today from both sides of the Left/Right debate conjures images of one side launching a war of extermination to wipe out those who think oppositely about the degree to which the strong should protect the weak.

On what basis is there a feeling that the strong should protect the weak? It comes from many sources: intuition, love, kindness, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, noblesse oblige, simpatico, pragmatism, my theory that we are all manifestations of the same single Being, all flavors of the same intuition or instinct for supporting others that we all naturally have except when a person is damaged emotionally during upbringing.

Conflict Resolution processes that worked in Northern Ireland could be imported into the US situation and mass media campaigns could be sponsored by top advertisers, with the Ad Council leading the way with a pro bono campaign.

Fact-based communications must be made to drive out the current meaningless level of babble that passes for debate. New parliamentary rules need to be instituted to eradicate time-wasting sneering language and j’accuse statements that do not move toward solutions with any creative new ideas in them. Every legislator should demand quantification on statements made. Here we are debating how to deal with $120 trillion in unpayable debt, and yet we cannot easily find even with the Internet, a coherent and definitive input-output table of the world economy from which an observer can run simulations, optimizations, do sensitivity testing, and otherwise move toward reducing the decisions that need to be made to mathematics, where optimization can prove exactly what has to be done in order to achieve whichever objective one sets.

For example, in my not-so-productive idea two weeks ago, I wasn’t talking about the US cancelling only its own debts and doing so unilaterally. I was talking about a UN-level group using factual data to brief each country’s negotiators to discuss and advance the common good.

For example, there are loops that could cancel out debt with no injury, such as where someone owes money to himself/herself. One of these loops is that 49% of the total US debt is owed to the Social Security Fund, Federal Reserve, or State and Local Governments. Not sure that these entities all consider themselves one US entity so perhaps these loops don’t change anything.

My point is that in marketing we have tons of data and in general are looking at it and can answer questions and make decisions with it. How could it be that in running the world we are under-using data? Yet it seems to be true. We have to fix this right away. We need to pool efforts to create an open architecture input-output economic model using agent-based modeling i.e. bottom-up not aggregate level. We need to be able to simulate, so there need to be transition probabilities from state to state for each agent, region, and country. All the historic data need to be poured into the model and harmonized. The optimizer must allow the setting of objectives in terms of the weight to give protecting the poor vs. protecting the strong, so that many optimizations with different settings can be run. Then the output actions determined by each optimization run can be fed into the simulator to see how the scenario plays out by time periods, whether an optimized scenario validates or not according to this gauge.

Who is going to do this?

Because the Human Effectiveness Institute’s Mission is to engender Observer and Flow states in as many people as possible everywhere as the most primal, direct and effective means to improve decisionmaking, we are going to continue to focus on this primary mission in this blog. Ideas about fixing the economy shall move out of this blog into the new sister site, The Democracy Channel, to launch here early in 2013. TDC will contain not just my ideas but the ideas of many people. The commentary will be edited to exclude negativity and partisanship as much as possible while letting through all verified factual content, new ideas, and solution suggestions, so that readers can also vote on other people’s solution ideas.

A friend of mine who passed along to me wisdom and moods he had acquired in India, pointed to the greedheads who were holding the world back. It was not consistent with his forgiving mood. He excluded the rich, including top politicians and largest corporations — some of you will recognize this as the 60s. Rachel Carson, Vance Packard, and others had shown some dark side and the present conspiracy theorist culture began to balloon outward into the hinterlands.

When I went into the advertising industry, my friend assumed I was going to try to cure the ills from the inside. That was part of it. The other part was that I was not looking for ills. So far, over the course of decades in the world of large corporations in 34 countries, including their C-level execs, I have yet to find any evidence of evil bad guys. As the sides have drawn apart, they have lost touch as people with one another, they avoid each other’s company, and so they are unable to feel the reassuring inner sensations of “this person is OK” one often gets after getting to know someone even a little. Everyone has reasons that have led them to their own personal convictions. Frontal confrontation with their convictions is obviously the least indicated communications strategy for conflict resolution. If you indulge in demonizing the other side, you are not only wasting time, you are chasing away the Flow state (Zone) which is not going to come over you while you are processing distracting negative emotions. You need to bootstrap yourself into the Observer state where you can edit out insulting catchphrases in discussing solutions with people from the other side of the aisle. Once operating consistently in the Observer state, in a conflict resolution mood of forgiveness, we can, together, bring us all back together again.

Best to all,

PS — "It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change. 

In the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed. "
— Charles Darwin*

* Thank you Philip Romero for the Charles Darwin quote.

A Fiscal Cliff Fable — Or Maybe a Solution?

Volume 2, Issue 37

They called him the SAP. The kid looked about 12 years old. He was Special Assistant to POTUS — the President of the United States. The President gave him the mission of cutting through the impasse and getting both parties to come up with a plan to get the USA off of the “Over-Leveraged Nation Goes Broke” scenario that most agree is inevitable in time given the present course.

The SAP set forth on his mission and held short meetings with practically every legislator in Washington. He invited a very small number of them to work with him on the solution. Virtually every invitee agreed. They all regretted it because the kid almost never slept.

In the first couple of days they went over the numbers and beat on them to make sure they were right. Some hoped this would reveal that everything was going to be OK. It did not turn out that way. Twenty years or so out, pick any model you want, the US could not keep up paying its obligations to Social Security, China, et al. Someone was going to have to take a haircut, maybe everybody on the planet.

And old habits that were hard to break were going to have to be broken. Wars were too expensive. We were going to have to learn to be better at preventing war and winding it down fast. Paramilitary budgets would probably go up. We would need to link up with all of the nations of the world — excepting the irresponsible ones — to share intelligence information on a scale unprecedented even by the world wars.*

Borrowing would be another bad habit to break, except when growth forecasts became stable again, enough to justify leveraging money cautiously and with set limits.

By Day 3 there was grudging agreement that people who had put money into Social Security had to at least get their money back out again, and if the numbers could be made to work, indexed for inflation and possible including a modest rate of return of say 2% (on the theory that 4% could be maintained going forward and half the gains would go to the government to pay for the administration of the program and as an additional revenue stream to ensure the country would never get into a fiscal corner again). That was the first decision that got locked into the model. Social Security would not be shut down but the government had to find better ways to grow the monies than it had in the past. This planted the seed for a subsequent idea a month later.

On Day 4 there was general agreement to actually invest more money in free retraining for people of working age (and any seniors who wanted it) to be able to support themselves. People capable of giving such trainings would be asked to tithe 10% of their time to conduct such training without compensation. The others looked on in amazement as the SAP dispatched a small army of staff to go work out the details of that program according to the principle the small group had agreed upon — with as much as possible of the retraining to be done by or in partnership with the private sector.

This idea triggered another one that day, to run a government-partnered-with-personnel-agencies master job and candidate database, into which all people out of work would be listed along with their talents and objectives, to be matched with the jobs available that employers would be sure to post on this master database system. The companies with great matching/search algorithms would be asked to donate their time to create together the best matching optimizer on the planet. The challenge itself would attract top technology talent even without money as a factor, the SAP’s team reasoned, pointing to the phenomenon of the quality of the best open-source software.

Late that same day, as energies were perhaps flagging,  the SAP came up with his own  idea of creating the opportunity for people too old or infirm to work outside the home to make money by honestly endorsing the brands they really do like, and giving their reasons. He made a call to a techie entrepreneur friend to get that plan underway as a venture company. Later in the day he laughed at himself for even having the idea. First take away their money, then their dignity, wow there’s a great solution. (Later the friend refused to give up on the idea, which became the next Google. But that’s getting ahead of the story.)

On Day 5 they ran the numbers and calculated how much more tax money would have to come from the ruling class. Half the room assumed a fighting stance. The SAP got up and acted out a role-playing game in which he pretended to have the power to negotiate with the ruling class directly over the conflict. “What do you want?” he asked the legislators of the Right. They didn’t know what to say. Finally one person said “Let our votes count double because we stepped in to save the country.” “After you got us into this mess,” said a legislator of the Left. The room devolved into temporary chaos at a high decibel level.

By Day 6 the horse-trading had reached close to the reality horizon. But it was really on Day 7 that the ideas began to sound practical. By day 30 the ideas were actually ingenious and showed what Americans are made of. The government would partner with the rich to co-invest in America and around the world in companies doing basic scientific research and/or innovating new technologies with great upside and not just economic. In addition to a tax shift to be fairer to everyone, resulting in additional support from the wealthy, this co-investment idea would turn out to yield profit shares to the government far exceeding tax revenues.

By Day 60 the deal was struck and by Day 120 it was written into Law. Other countries took the clues and adapted the ideas to their own cultures and situations.

A fable? Or what we must do, when we stop fooling around?

Happy New Era!


*I recommended this in a speech to the Commandant and Corps of Cadets at West Point in 1982, who invited me because they liked my book Mind Magic. The paper, which emphasized the need for “strategic micro-action”, is available on request. Strategic micro-action would have meant getting out of Afghanistan after Osama Bin Laden was eliminated, winding down troops strengths faster in both Iraq and Afghanistan after punitive demonstrations in both countries sapping the strengths of terrorist organizations, and after removal of Saddam Hussein, without sticking around to try to help with ethnic civil wars or police actions, however maintaining training forces and paramilitary. It would also have meant years of preparation in paramilitary coordination in every region with greater use of the media overtly or covertly (e.g. smuggled smartphones) to tell our side of the story and recruitment of more locals everywhere. Our story is the truth about freedom and democracy and so should find some adherents in even the most brainwashed countries. These are just a few of the implications of a shift in policy away from wars and to far greater use of strategic micro-action. Serious students of military history might want to look up the guerilla techniques George Washington learned from the Native Americans, and the effectiveness of the German maestro of strategic micro-action Otto Skorzeny during WWII.

PS — The first release of this post contained the idea of an optimized surgical multilateral global cancellation of some debt. My lifelong friend since I was 21 Norman Hecht, one of my favorite geniuses, convinced me that this idea is too risky and under-researched to broach it without a ton more research, and that paragraph has been stricken from the article above. Now my curiosity to investigate the option has increased and I will be studying the input-output tables that exist to understand the ripple effects of any such drastic measures before bringing up the subject again.

Now Is the Time to Heal the Rift in America through Creativity in Compromise

Volume 2, Issue 30

The election is over and Obama has a second term. Both parties’ base constituencies came out to vote, signifying high motivation that their side must win, which means a lot of people feel they have lost. Some of these people are not going to agree to bring the country back together, yet that is exactly what would be best for everyone as we move forward. It is all about how we handle the situation now.

Romney won among white males and in many States. Obama won the popular vote by about three million votes. In CNN exit polls more people want to repeal Obama’s healthcare program than to keep it, possibly largely based on hearsay, some of it purposeful disinformation. The consensus pattern suggests that Obama’s actions to date should not be predictive of what he aims to do from this point forward. His best move would be to acknowledge the arguments of the other side and seek new creative ways to postulate compromise concepts and action programs that can bring both sides together — enabling processes of refinement of initial concepts, where everyone gets to add creative elements to the final solutions so that everyone can feel parentage.

Romney’s speech in accepting defeat for his bid emphasized the right notions of how America can succeed, calling upon job creators to step forward and invest in growth. That would be the right guideline for the Republican Party in the next four years, and starting instantly, a quick winding down of negativity and a pulling together toward creativity and compromise.

Creativity is in fact the one thing that has still been missing. All we have heard are variations in ancient themes. No inspiring new ideas. Exactly the opposite of what is needed. Look at the world around us — it is full of amazing surprises in technology, lifestyles, new ideas in every field except politics. The American people want creativity in public policy too. Both sides need to retrain themselves to think, stripping back to start from fresh sheets of paper, reinventing themselves anew. Think the unthinkable. Pour out ideas without regard for taking credit, without attachment to seeming smarter than the other guy. We are one team, we have real challenges, and we must together devise the real new solutions that lie just beyond a fictitious barrier of our own making.

The real leaders on both sides are the ones that will propose new, positive and healing compromises in the days ahead.

The President hinted at the value of our dynamic differences in his victory speech, saying that people around the world are fighting and dying in order to gain the right to freely discourse their differences in self-governance. True. However, our political discourse has all too often fallen to name calling, and must be re-elevated to a Socratic dialectic that progresses to a commonly supported synthesis. Respect for those whose views differ from yours is the mother from which invention of new creative re-bonding ideas spring. Lack of such respect is infertile ground for creativity. Do not be put off by the extremists on the side you consider to be the other side, listen to the moderates on the perceived other side for inspiration of your own creative ideas that might succeed in bringing us together. Let the American people share in the creative process and bubble up grassroots ideas for leaders to build upon.

In this spirit of America, we will in the very near future add THE DEMOCRACY CHANNEL to this blog, as an adjacent page on which we seek your ideas for solutions to the challenges faced by the country and the world. We will reach out to academics, think tanks, students, writers, and the general population, and we’ll publish the ideas we feel are truly creative and can potentially heal the rifts we have formed out of our genuinely differing perspectives, ideas that can solve the challenges the human race has created for itself.

Please embrace healing in your own life so that it may radiate out — as from pebbles in a vast pond.

Best to all,


PS – Next week the Smart TV Summit is being held in San Francisco with over 150 major names registered so far. I’m speaking on a panel about the future of television and also presenting research relevant to the future. Hope some of you can make it, let’s have a drink too. Cheers, Bill