lhowell

Posts Tagged ‘Obama’

Achieving Peace, Ending Hunger, Eliminate War

In Africa, mindset 3.0 on June 13, 2008 at 8:25 pm

How could we achieve piece in Iraq? Or end extreme hunger in African countries and here in the United States or eliminate war in Darfur? I was reminded of this during a phone call with my buddy Ralph. We both play golf together and enjoy each other’s company especially when he wins. I realized that if these global, geo-political problems are to be addressed there must be a truly common objective that both parties want badly.

Ralph could not make the early tee-time for this Saturday because something came up; however, he and I wanted desperately to play each other especially since he won last time and I was eager to redeem myself, especially since I give him 8 strokes. So, when he told me he could not make it, I adjusted the time to meet his schedule and realized that while it is the hottest time of day, we both compromised and the change was made. We were both ecstatic to know we would be having a rematch on tomorrow.

After the change was made, I said to Ralph, “why is it so hard to end the war in Iraq”. Of course, my buddy had a few choice words, but the real reason is that if we wanted to end the so-called war badly enough we could. This is the attitude and optimism Senator Obama brings and what people should focus on rather than recalcitrant thinking of staying the course. Just imagine if I said to Ralph: “I don’t want to play at 1:00, it’s too hot and I would prefer to keep our time at 10:00”. The whole dialogue would have been about ME, and it was about achieving an outcome that was beneficial to both and something we could feel good about, since I plan on beating him soundly tomorrow.

Would Senator McCain’s stance be any different in dealing with the Sunnis or Iran or North Korea? As basic as this might sound it is achievable if we open our minds to new thinking. Some might say this is naive, but when you really understand what are the motives and desires and you get the truth on the table we could achieve peace, end hunger and stop unnecessary violence.

Have a terrific weekend to my faithful readers!

Small is the New Big in Politics…

In economy, mindset 3.0, politicians on June 7, 2008 at 4:55 am

Clinton Donor Base Need Not Apply.

The country witnessed history Tuesday evening, with Senator Barack Obama winning the nomination to represent the Democrat’s in the fall.  It is obvious why this is such an historic moment.  But I want to take a short detour to highlight three articles written in the New York Times June 4, 2008 that are seemingly unrelated on the surface but how they support the small-donor approach of Obama to fundraising as opposed to the large donor route that Senator Clinton seems to favor.

The first article Start-Up Releases Smaller Version of Camcorder describes their new product called Mino that will sell for $179.  The Mino is a pocket size camcorder that is the first cousin of the Flip and Flip Ultra developed by Pure Digital.  I have the Ultra and use it all the time.   What is striking is the strategy behind the company’s products.  Small, simple to use with minimal features.  The result is an experience for a consumer that is easy to use, fun and the ability to share videos quickly across the Internet.

The second piece, G.M. Shifts Focus to Small Cars in Sign of Sport Utility Demise is about GM’s shuttering plants to shift to building smaller cars.  At first, my response was duh?  That’s a no-brainer with gas at $4 dollars a gallon.  Then I thought to myself, smaller cars, fuel-efficiency, less expensive.  GM’s CEO, Robert Waggoner “ said $4-a-gallon gas prices had forced a “structural shift” by American consumers away from large vehicles into more fuel-efficient cars”.  You think?

And finally, the article entitled, Clinton Donor Base Is Obama’s Next Prize describes how Obama may involve the big money fund-raising machine for which the Clinton campaign is famous.  Most notable for me is, if the existing base of donors gives an average of $200 the Obama campaign will have over $300 million dollars for the general election sans the Clinton donor base.  The small donors are the defacto reason why Senator Obama’s ascendency as the Presidential nominee is so extraordinary, and well, so special for all Americans.  While Clinton donors boast their deep, and well endowed wallets, it is virtually impossible to build the kind of support and “active donor base” established by the Obama campaign— 1.5 million strong and growing.  If these hard-working women and men, were supplemented with a bevy of 300-400 heavy hitters as the article suggests, this could well take an incorrigible turn against Obama’s bid for President in the fall.

See the theme here?  Small.  Yes, small is having a huge impact on how we live, drive, capture memories, listen to music, earn a living, and of course raise money in Presidential campaigns.  What’s important to keep in mind is how successful companies that keep it simple and small are thriving.  Apple’s iPod for example.  The Flip Ultra camcorder and of course we can’t’ forget the Toyota Prius and its legendary 40 plus MPGs of fuel economy compared to 13 MPGs for your average SUV.

So, the strategic question for Obama, and his campaign strategist David Axelrod is this: Should we continue the small donor strategy through the general election and forego the Hillary Clinton donor network?

If you believe in the success of Small, which sure seems to be working, not to mention GM’s shift in strategy to building smaller, more fuel efficient cars, then sticking with small just might be the way to go.  If you apply this thinking to the large donor approach, how much does it take to “feed” the large donors in terms of expectation?   It’s all about “their” collective egos and what “they” want?  As Eckhart Tolle writes in his book, A New Earth, “Recognize the ego for what it is: a collective dysfunction, the insanity of the human mind.”

What would they want in return to feed this massive collective ego?  By contrast, small donors simply want a government that works, and does what politicians say they will do.  Small donors have no need to feed their ego, they are more concerned with feeding their families.  This is the conundrum for the Obama campaign?  The leadership of Pure Digital adamantly stays away from “feature creep” to give consumers what they want—a camcorder that fits in their vest pocket and works with the push of one button.  Again, small is good!

So, here’s what we have: big SUVs, hefty $800 camcorders, and large donors with the ability to write six-figure checks.  All are hard to work with, require lots of resources, have high expectations and simply consume more energy and thought that could be used for more prudent pursuits.

Senator Obama has shown that if you have a good story to tell and you stick to your principles, people will vote for you.  I would be willing to bet that Republicans and the big money Clinton fund raising network prefer fuel-efficient, smaller cars, easy to use camcorders that don’t cost much and they would love to have the machine that is Obama’s small donor network all giving in unison on average $200 dollars a pop for the general election.  So, here’s the deal.  The Obama campaign generates $300 million dollars for this fall and Mr. Obama “lives” the message that Senator McCain continues to promote by doing away with special interest money.  Therefore, Small equals winning products to stimulate the economy built by U.S. companies.  And, just as important as this moment in history, small donor amounts equal big things for the American people in November.   Now, that is a fund raising strategy we can all believe in.

Poor People Have Poor Ways: Poverty Czar is NOT Answer

In Human Condition and Treatment, mindset 3.0, poverty, social networking, Uncategorized on April 4, 2008 at 8:12 pm

What is poverty? According to American Heritage Dictionary, it is “The state of being poor; lack of the means of providing material needs or comforts.” Senator Hilary Rodham Clinton spoke today about creating a cabinet level position in which the primary purpose would be to end poverty in the United States. Mrs. Clinton gave her support to an idea long advocated by the King family, a cabinet position that she said would be “solely and fully devoted to ending poverty as we know it, that will focus the attention of our nation on this issue and never let it go.”

I am not so sure that a cabinet level position would fundamentally change the condition of people who experience poverty and those that experience extreme poverty in this country. Let’s look at some facts and recent illustrations of what I refer to as “poor people having poor ways” which underscores the mindset and behavior of people who tend to experience poverty.

Currently roughly 12% of the U.S. population fall below the federal poverty threshold. There is however some controversy regarding the federal poverty line, arguing that it either understates or overstates the problem of poverty. According to the United Nations, which defines poverty among high-income OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development ) countries as those earning less than 50% of the median, 17% of Americans lived in poverty between 1999 and 2002, the second highest percentage of any high-income OECD country.

human_poverty.png
Human Poverty

Poverty is not just a financial state. Being poor affects life in many ways. The human poverty index uses indicators that capture non-financial elements of poverty, such as life expectancy, adult literacy, water quality, and children that are underweight. The 30 territories of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development use a different index which includes income and long-term unemployment; and not water quality or underweight children. This implies that the poor in richer territories are materially better off. This is clearly not the case. Otherwise, we would not need to create a cabinet post for a poverty czar.

Nearly half the African-Americans in a recent study of teenagers ages 14 to 19 were infected with at least one of the diseases monitored in the study — human papillomavirus (HPV), chlamydia, genital herpes and trichomoniasis, a common parasite. Further, the United States still has the highest rates of teen pregnancy, birth, and abortion in the fully industrialized world.

We could cite many more illustrations to be fair. But not until we change our mental models about how we view people, getting away from being judgmental, helping others without compensation and doing so unconditionally is the way out of poverty. What I am afraid of is that some national figure will get nominated who is well connected, Congress would deliberate and ultimately approve the nominee, then a bunch of high-priced consultants who know little about poverty will be hired and create a national report on poverty with recommendations. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

This issue has to be taken to the streets like presidential candidate Barack Obama has done. Use of social networking in a vigorous and relentless way. Providing tools like PCs (not old machines), for educational attainment, free high-speed Internet access, communicating with people via text messaging to remind of certain events and activities, creating “Meetups” weekly that engage, involve and excite people to change their mindset and their behaviors. Instead of going to the club, pool together talents of parents to conduct tutoring sessions. For example, if one parent is a math whiz, one is an english prodigy, and the like, have sessions in the home where it is safe and compelling to learn sans the television and side conversations. This the framework for the poverty czar to get things done because there are 196,000 search results for “poverty in america” so the work is already done. It is now time to execute much like what Obama has done to change the collective minds of people across America. It’s time for a different pace of action with fresh faces and relevant ideas and the willingness to change course.