Saturday, December 05, 2015

It's time to achieve peace at home and abroad, not more war

We should all take a deep breath and then take the mass shooting in California this week under calm consideration before deciding how we should respond individually and as a nation.
I for one do not wish to see us or our leaders overreact like we did after 9/11. Meaning, no unilateral invasions of foreign countries; no extraordinary rendition or torturing of suspects; no drone bombings of innocent civilians; no further erosion of our civil liberties; no calls for closing of places of worship; no persecution of peaceful, innocent people by mere association; no forgetting that the great majority of acts of violence of this sort up to now have been committed by people like you and me who have gone off the rails for hating one thing or another; and no denying that we do bear some responsibility for the way the world is today, including the creation of a gun culture that makes mass shootings like the one this week not only possible but probable.
Most importantly it is time for us think about how to achieve peace at home and abroad, not more war.
Of course we need to take steps to stop such future acts. I don't know how best to accomplish that, but I do know we must have a reasonable, inclusive, wide-ranging dialogue about it before we take any action. And in the meantime, we should carry on with the hard work of our democracy and free society, i.e. continue our lives in a way that will make people around the world respect us for showing thoughtfulness and restraint coupled with firm resolve to uphold and defend our way of life.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

I have no book.

I have many books, but I have no book. My education, my enlightenment is a lifetime work in progress. I have failed, but in pulling myself up from humiliation the strength for that comes from the realization that I am only the means through which every idea I entertain gains some expression. I cannot be offended, because there are no ideas that adhere to me. That is the root of my tranquility. Yet I strive to know the truth and through the light of knowledge promote justice and equality in the world. I have no god, but I have many inspirations here on earth. I believe that peace and brotherly love is the challenge to which our species must rise up. The alternative is the end of everything we have all worked for since the beginning of our time.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Just let me just be clear. Is there anybody else on the stage who is not a capitalist?

Anderson Cooper has apparently earned kudos as a good "debate moderator". N.b. we don't have debates in this country; we have Q&A followed by more Q&A. So, if anything Cooper would get credit for moderating Q&A, but I'd like to challenge that evaluation, as well as the concept that we have a fair and impartial media running our "debates". Here's the transcript.
Very early in the event, Cooper asked Sanders the question, which was more like a thesis in disguise: "A Gallup poll says half the country would not put a socialist in the White House. You call yourself a democratic socialist. How can any kind of socialist win a general election in the United States?" After Sanders legitimately points to countries like Denmark, Sweden, and Norway, where we can learn from what they have accomplished for their working people, Cooper rejects the argument out of hand, saying: "Denmark is a country that has a population -- Denmark is a country that has a population of 5.6 million people. The question is really about electability here, and that's what I'm trying to get at." But isn't the question of Sander's electability tied to an understanding of what he means by socialism or democratic socialism and how that works in the world today? And is it fair to reject Denmark as a model because of its lower population relative to the States?
My point here is that Cooper was being totally dismissive, rather than open-minded/neutral/impartial about Sander's position, i.e. a good moderator. In other words, it is to CNN and should be to the American people a foregone conclusion that Bernie's ideas are just radical and unfounded. He and CNN want to make this point loud and clear, so he presses on. "You -- the -- the Republican attack ad against you in a general election -- it writes itself. You supported the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. You honeymooned in the Soviet Union. And just this weekend, you said you're not a capitalist. Doesn't -- doesn't that ad write itself?" Sanders wisely dodges these highly charged landmines by focusing on his great grassroots popularity and the potential for large Democratic turnout in November 2016. Unsatisfied, Cooper, who clearly wants blood, escalates the attack: "You don't consider yourself a capitalist, though?" Bernie responds quite admirably to this: "Do I consider myself part of the casino capitalist process by which so few have so much and so many have so little by which Wall Street's greed and recklessness wrecked this economy? No, I don't. I believe in a society where all people do well. Not just a handful of billionaires."
Finally, here's the knife in the heart from Cooper: "Just let me just be clear. Is there anybody else on the stage who is not a capitalist?" This is the perfectly scripted segue for Mrs Clinton to answer from Disney World: "When I think about capitalism, I think about all the small businesses that were started because we have the opportunity and the freedom in our country for people to do that and to make a good living for themselves and their families." CNN has made a clear argument that America doesn't want Bernie Sanders for president, no matter what he has to say. Three cheers to capitalism and the American primary process!

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Tax the NRA

The National Rifle Association (NRA) was originally founded in 1871 with the primary intent of advancing rifle marksmanship. Now in 2015, some five million members strong, it is officially billed as a charitable, non-profit, tax-exempt organization that promotes gun safety. That means by law it must not generate a profit or be operated for the benefit of any private, individual interests. And, by virtue of being a non-profit organization, the scope of its political and legislative activities is explicitly restricted by the IRS. Yet, since the mid-1970s, the NRA has evolved into one of the top three most influential lobbying groups in Washington, directly swaying election results in favor of candidates that support unfettered gun rights and indirectly funnelling great profits to arms manufacturers.
Indeed the NRA has recently been accused of breaking federal election law by taking tens of millions of dollars in contributions made to its Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) and funneling them to another org, the NRA Political Victory Fund (PVF). In other words the NRA is leveraging its traditional non-profit status to illegally fund its more modern for-profit political function. If that is not troubling enough, since the Sandy Hook massacre in 2013, top NRA executives have shared millions of dollars in salary, bonuses, non-taxable benefits, deferred pay, and other compensation after generating a record billion dollars in revenue -- the result of fear mongering about imminent gun control legislation that has never materialized. In 2013, while the earth was still fresh above the coffins of twenty elementary school children, NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre happily collected over a million dollars in compensation.
What this all means is that we need to bring common sense and real, not token gun safety back to America. We citizens should start this movement by demanding that an organization which essentially profits from death must pay a fair share of what it earns to the government. If you are running a business for profit like the NRA, you should expect to pay taxes on what you earn. But that is not happening in the case of the NRA.
Please like this Facebook page if you agree that the NRA is NOT a charitable organization, but actually a PR profit center for gun advocates and the arms industry, and as such it should pay state and federal taxes like a standard business.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

The Gun Control That's Needed in America

"We've got to find a way to keep crazy people from getting guns, mentally unstable people," he told NBC News. "The people that do this are mentally unstable, and somehow they're able to get guns." See Father of Slain Reporter Alison Parker: Find Way to 'Keep Crazy People From Getting Guns'.
Sorry, I feel deeply for Alison Parker's father, but this is not possible, because there is no way to predict mental behavior over time. A perfectly sane person on Monday may turn into a raving lunatic on Tuesday. Thus the focus on mental health as a determinant for gun ownership is completely misguided. The only way to solve our gun problem is to make it illegal to possess one outside of a controlled environment, like a sports club. The government can buy back all the existing weapons and destroy them. Most people will comply. Those who don't will be brought to justice over time. The plan is not foolproof, but it is the only logical one that will address the crisis of gun proliferation. Goes against the grain and colossal inertia, but that's the price to pay and the work we need to do to make a better, safer world for our children.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Nationalism Main Force In Business

Nationalism Main Force In Business


FRANK WHITE—The forces of nationalism and internationalism will determine whether world trade and investment will expand or retract. They shape the future.

No one needs a crystal ball to see the two most urgent forces that are shaping the future of international business. They are nationalism and internationalism. Of course, there are other forces but these stem largely from various facets of nationalism and internationalism, and it is these facets that cause confusion.
To obtain a perspective from which to view these facets, recollect briefly what has transpired in international trade and investment since 1945. The end of the war found certain nations economically prostrate—notably, Western Europe, Russia and Japan. It left others strong in foreign exchange from war exports but internally still underdeveloped—Latin America and certain Far Eastern countries. Most importantly, the United States remained rich enough to help both victors and vanquished, which we did in a historical manner.
As a result of the Marshall Plan and other foreign aid programs, world production and world trade have risen to levels not dreamed of before World War II. There has been a great outpouring of foreign investment, especially from the United States, which aided economic recovery and expansion, in Europe, Canada, and to some extent in the underdeveloped countries.
American business found new export markets as a result of foreign aid, and now seeks to maintain these export markets at current high levels and to expand them. As a result of greater familiarity with world markets through war experience, foreign aid, and export operations, more and more United States firms have undertaken direct investment abroad in mines, factories, and offices. These investments are now returning home profits of real significance to our economy.
The central problem for the future is how to assure an ever increasing volume of world trade and investment, which goal, of course, has political and social, as well as economic or business importance. With world population growing at unprecedented rates—to the point of alarm to some—there is and will be no shortage of customers in world markets. The question is will there be effective demand, or, put more simply, will these customers have money in their pockets and their governments foreign exchange to translate demand into imports.
This question returns us to the forces of nationalism and internationalism since the direction these forces take in the future will largely determine whether world trade and investment expand or retract. Nationalism and internationalism can be either obstacles or aids to expansion.
Egypt, or the United Arab Republic, affords a classic example not only of the force of nationalism at work but also of how this force can and will in the future influence international business. The Egyptian revolution, although engineered by the Army, was theorising of a people against a corrupt monarchy, and also a national protest against foreign or imperialistic invasion, occupation, and exploitation which had extended over centuries. Regardless of how one views Nasser's politics, today the bulk of Egypt's thirty millions are united behind him and his program, which they believe will rapidly better their economic lot, and they do not intend to permit foreign interference with this program.
The nationalistic program of Nasser presents the businessman with both problems and opportunities. The state has nationalized the major industries and virtually all exports and imports. On the other hand, Nasser has encouraged his people to work hard to achieve progress, and the various Five Year Plans have thus far resulted in some improvement in education, food supply, and the standard of living generally.
Particularly important is the emphasis being placed on increased exports. Egypt is a poor country seeking to industrialize as a matter of national or nationalistic policy. Imports of machinery and materials can be paid for only by agricultural exports.

Nasser's Success

Nasser has had enough success with exports to cause foreign suppliers to watch Egypt carefully as a market. Also, he has succeeded in obtaining sizeable aid and loan funds in hard currencies which are being spent for major equipment, not consumer luxuries, except for the sums that inevitably leak through graft.
In addition to Nasser 's program for improving the economy of Egypt, there is also his Pan Arabism out of which the United Arab Republic, with Syria as a member, was born. The United Arab movement is beset with politics and its ultimate success seems at the moment a long way off. However, it is generally believed that the people of the Arab world favor and support unity, and that it will eventually come under Nasser or through some other means. This is an expression of nationalism on a larger scale than Egypt and has important implications for the business future.
Some of the Arab countries are even poorer than Egypt, but others are rich and potentially very oil rich. As pointed out in his books and speeches by the late Emile Bustani, perhaps the most successful Arab businessman, if the total resources of the Arab world were pooled and ably managed, a great new market would certainly develop rapidly. For a businessman, it is difficult not to hope that this will be the ultimate outcome. Today, the people are there but by and large they are without money to buy.
A pessimist would say that Egyptian and Arab nationalism in the long run represent a threat rather than an obstacle to international business. There has been a history of expropriation, but today Nasser runs the Suez Canal efficiently, is meeting his international obligations on time, and after eleven years of negotiation has signed a treaty with United States covering the issuance of investment guaranties to American firms investing in Egypt. I do not expect a rush of investment, but the treaty represents Egyptian realization of the importance of the proper care and feeding of foreign capital—albeit carefully regulated foreign capital.
A danger of excessive nationalism, especially when coupled with a dictatorship, is that energies are dissipated on internal politics, money wasted on maintaining large armed forces for internal security or against imagined external threats, and resources committed to prestige projects—such as steel mills and automobile factories—which are not sound business propositions and will not be for years to come.

Indian Nationalism

If space permitted, it would be interesting to explore the story of nationalism in post imperial India, and the question of whether the nationalistic approach of the Nehru government has contributed to or retarded economic development. Suffice it to say that while most foreign business firms are eager to trade with India, most are skeptical about the stability of the investment climate in the face of strong nationalistic thinking amongst the Indian intellectuals.
Sukarno's Indonesia is an example of extreme nationalism which has reduced a potentially rich country to economic stagnation. The future of India, Indonesia and, for that matter, all of Southeast Asia, as a market is likely to depend on the actions of the Red Chinese. Following the Chinese invasion of India, there was a real change for the better in Indian nationalism as the lesson of the need for international political, military and economic cooperation was driven home. If Chinese expansionist pressure continues and increases, Western business will be more and more welcome in Asia.

Communist Split

On the other hand, the recent split between the Russians and the Chinese and the current Russian rapprochement with the West might force the Chinese to cooperate with her Asian neighbors. If this should happen in the economic sphere, the results could be sweeping in scope. China is a natural market for Japan and India and vice versa. The whole pattern of economic activity could change in Asia. It is hard to say whether, under such conditions, the West would have a look in. We would either be shut out or, because of the rising living standards such Asian cooperation would bring about, we would find ourselves with tremendous new markets for the sophisticated items we can supply.
But it is in Latin America that nationalism will most concern us in the future. We find this force at work in various degrees and various ways in Cuba, the Caribbean generally, Mexico, Brazil and, in fact, throughout the whole area. The accompanying internal politics, largely of an appalling nature, have resulted in the dissipation since World War II of most of the foreign exchange of the sub-Continent without satisfactory improvement in overall economic conditions.
Prices obtained for Latin American exports have been declining and there is a tendency to believe that foreign aid programs represent the only hope for the future. However, population is increasing at such a rate that foreign aid cannot be the answer—there is not enough of it—so our analysis is that nationalism in Latin America must be channeled in different directions than the past if progress is to be made.
The best informed students of Latin American affairs and of the operations of the current aid program, the Alliance for Progress, usually come to conclusions which are unpopular in Latin America among the majority of those in power and which lead to nationalistic charges of interference in their sovereign affairs.
These conclusions are first that there must be more emphasis on increasing agricultural production, even at the expense of national industrialization. If Latin America could reduce her food import bill, which in view of natural resources is certainly possible, foreign exchange would be freed for other uses and new industries could be ultimately financed.
Another conclusion is that there must be more and efficient taxation to finance social progress, and tighter exchange controls to avoid the debilitating flight of local capital abroad and the demoralizing import of luxuries. Last, but not least, politicians must undertake and really support serious economic development programs and not spend their time in perpetuating themselves in power, or flirting with Communism in the hope of obtaining more aid from the United States.
Latin American nationalism is a good starting point for a look at the second major force which will shape international business in the future—internationalism. The United States in the Alliance for Progress has now encountered the dilemma of deciding whether to incur nationalistic wrath or tolerate the conditions just described which the Alliance was supposed to change. The answer to the dilemma hopefully lies in more international cooperation and in the establishment of additional international institutions through which the Alliance can be implemented without running head on into national opposition.
A start has been made with the Organization of American States, the Inter-American Bank, the U.N. Economic Commission for Latin America, and the Council created by the Charter of Punta del Este. At Punta del Este, there was an important new development in that the Latin American countries promised to cooperate with each other and not just with the United States. There has been little such cooperation in the past.
Economic cooperation and integration are of prime importance for Latin America and for international business. The difficulties are great and major sacrifices will be called for. But beginnings have been made in the form of the hoped for 'union of the Caribbean Islands, a Central American common market, and the Latin American Free Trade Area, or LAFTA, which includes Mexico, Brazil and Argentina. Exports and imports are beginning among these countries where they were practically unknown before and trade barriers are being removed.
If the countries concerned are willing to be less nationalistic, to give up some sovereignty in the economic sphere, if they will compete with each other in a common market, share inter-American institutions protecting the flow of capital and credit, then there will be hope for the future.
The United States must play its part. If the Latin American politicians of the future establish a reasonably attractive investment climate, the flow of American capital should resume from the point at which it virtually ceased after Cuba. This capital should be willing to compromise with nationalism and take in local partners, and it should be willing to play its part in the economic integration of the area.
The United States should also, together with Europe, examine carefully the establishment of international commodity agreements to solve the problem which plagues Latin America—low and fluctuating commodity export prices. Latin America has been a great export market for the United States and, if the area's foreign exchange earnings could be stabilized from year to year, it could be a greater market.

Internal Reforms

This, of course, assumes that out of internationalism in the sub-Continent will come internal reforms and social improvements which will stop the spread of Communism by creating millions of new consumers among people, who at present are merely the frustrated victims of what Adlai Stevenson called the "revolution of rising expectations."
Before leaving the underdeveloped nations, perhaps a word should be said about an assumption I have made, namely, that the growth of international trade helps the growth of the poorer countries. This is the classic economic view that international trade promotes the use of resources in the most advantageous locations, that widening of markets should lead to gains from specialization and that economies in the scale of production, and that the exchange of technical products and technical information stimulate desires and better techniques.
It has been argued that trade between developed and underdeveloped countries leads to the latter being worse off, and that foreign capital invested in underdeveloped countries has merely provided a cheap surplus of primary products for export, with industrial imports from the richer countries coming in at high prices.
Actually, the fact that international trade and investment have not led to as rapid development as the poorer countries would like is because the opportunities provided by the increase in trade and investment since World War II have not been properly exploited by the countries concerned. Nationalism, ignorance, restrictive practices, politics, weak governments and other factors I mentioned previously have caused this result, and I have suggested that international economic cooperation is the solution.
Japan has been a notoriously nationalistic nation. Today, apart from the policies advocated by extremists of the right and left, Japan is following the course of internationalism as witness her membership in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (O.E.C.D.), which is now the main instrument of the West for the promotion of international solutions to world economic problems, including those of the underdeveloped countries.
It is probable that Japan will continue her current policy of internationalism which serves her national self interest in the expansion of export Markets for Japanese goods, unless there should be a major change in the attitude of Red China leading to the development of regional cooperation in Asia, or unleSs the West makes the mistake under the economic pressure of deflation or recession of increasing tariffs or failing to remove still existing special restrictions on Japanese exports.

More Liberalization

Barring these two happenings, Japan should accede to current pressure from the IMF and go on to further liberalization for foreign yen and economic cooperation with the West in general. This will be a boon for international business because Japan represents a great market with heavy import requirements and many unexploited opportunities for profitable investment from abroad.
The Marshall Plan and the genius of Jean Monnet were the basis for the seemingly great triumph of internationalism over nationalism in postwar Europe. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development grew out of the Marshall Plan's OEEC, which also gave birth to the European Coal and Steel Community and furnished the precedent for the Common Market.
It has been United States policy to support the movement towards European unity, largely for political reasons, but also because it was believed, and properly so, that the Common Market would provide new and greater Opportunities for the international arm of American business.

Dollar Support

It is difficult to appreciate the far strides made since the war in international cooperation unless one compares the present situation with the sterile isolationism of the period between the wars. Perhaps the most outstanding example of such cooperation is the way in which the European central banks and the IMF have worked together to support the dollar during the current serious American balance of payments difficulties. Runs on the dollar have not been allowed and speculation in gold has been effectively stopped. Similar cooperation has been evident in the support of the pound sterling.
If world trade is to grow, it must be adequately financed. Demand for more goods exists on a huge scale, in many cases it is effective demand in terms of soft currencies, but is not supplied because of shortages of dollars and sterling, the two currencies which underlie most of the world's trade.
Much has been done by the O.E.C.D. and the IMF in recommending to individual countries programs to improve their balance of payments which are calculated in dollars or sterling. Not the least important of these recommendations is the study of international commodity agreements mentioned earlier.
The role of the IMF in this connection has greatly increased in recent years with an active policy of making balance of payments loans to smooth over the ups and downs in the foreign exchange position of individual countries, and consequently the ups and downs in international trade.
The success of the IMF has led to the question of whether it should, be transformed into a central bank for the West to increase its effectiveness. In a recent interview by the "London Economist," the new Chairman of the Fund, Pierre-Paul Schweitzer, stated that he did not at this time see the member countries being willing to surrender that much sovereignty.
Mr. Schweitzer went on to say that in the foreseeable future the IMF will keep to the idea of hard currency credits to overcome emergency or temporary international payments problems. It is, however, significant that he did not rule out entirely the idea of the eventual evolution of an international central bank charged with assuring international liquidity at high levels of world trade.
The central problem facing Europe today, and thus confronting the West, is that posed by French. Gaullist nationalism which threatens to at least slow down and perhaps destroy the long term trend towards international cooperation which began after World War II.
Someone once said that the study of Gaullist economics is not really the study of economics but the study of theology instead. Under those circumstances, peering into the future is difficult. About all one can say is that the prevailing view among European businessmen is that de Gaulle's actions, and particularly those since his January denunciation of Britain, represent only a temporary halt in a movement which has so much impetus and so much support that it cannot be destroyed.
Meanwhile, the United Kingdom is taking steps, based on the assumption of non-accession to the Treaty of Rome, to put her economic house in order. Those who know  the British well will not doubt that in the long term future they will succeed and continue to play their traditionally important role in international trade. They have realistically faced the fact that special relations with the Commonwealth can no longer be depended upon and that Australia, for example, is increasingly trading elsewhere. Instead, new life is being breathed into the "outer seven" or European Free Trade Area as an alternative regional grouping.
It will certainly have been noted that in this discussion of internationalism it has been assumed that the development of regional trading blocs or common markets represent no conflict with the basic proposition that it is international economic cooperation rather than economic nationalism which must provide the foundation for world trade and investment in the future.
This is, of course, true only if the regional associations continue to be members of truly international institutions such as the 0.E.C.D., the IMF and the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs (GATT), and not just members but cooperative members. To quote Mr. Schweitzer again, he has no fear of regional associations so long as the IMF remains a partner and is associated with them. This statement would presumably apply even to a Nasser inspired United Arab Republic, provided the Arab States were prepared to be responsible partners.

Regional Conflicts

The mention of GATT was deliberate because here is an area of potential conflict among regional associations to the detriment of international economic cooperation. In fact, even before the meeting of GATT next year in the so-called "Kennedy round," conflict has developed between the United States and the Common Market, with the preliminary argument centering to the amusement of the press around the high duty on chickens exported from the United States to Europe. The great chicken controversy is merely symptomatic of what could become a serious problem.
Tariffs, quotas and other forms of trade restrictions have long been a source of controversy. GATT was established to provide an international instrument for cooperative resolution of these controversies by a process of bargaining amongst countries.
The establishment of regional trading blocs, especially the European Common Market, has enormously complicated this bargaining process because the six now bargain with the United States and others as one unit rather than six individual countries, and the European Economic Commission, which administers. the Common Market, is developing a tariff policy of its own, the final nature of which is not yet known.

Forces at Work

Here again we see the forces of nationalism at work in conflict with the forces of internationalism. Each country and now the Common Market has internal political problems which dictate the protection of infant or inefficient industries.
The United States has been attempting to pursue an enlightened policy in this area beginning with the Trade Agreements Act of the New Deal era, and culminating in the trade agreements legislation of the Kennedy Administration last year. One familiar with developments in this country will realize that protectionist sentiment has decreased sharply in recent years, although it still exists in certain quarters.
Ironically, the new Europe of the Common Market, flexing its muscles and feeling its new born strength, has evidenced a sharp growth of protectionist sentiment, notably in France, Italy and to some extent Germany. Herein lies an area of potential conflict which could greatly influence the future of international business.
The constant reduction of tariffs and elimination of trade barriers are essential to the growth of world trade. Any developments in the opposite direction spell the beginning of trade wars and economic trouble which, in the past, has led to military action.
Our Government has been empowered by Congress to pursue the most liberal trade policy in our history. It remains to be seen whether this power will be used to establish sound foundations for increased international trade in the future. It also remains to be seen whether the Common Market and other regional associations will in the long run pursue an enlightened policy.
Without a disposition on all sides to liberalize trade, all other measures to effect international cooperation will fail. Hence, GATT is in a sense the most important international organization of them all, and in its future Geneva Conferences will probably come the decisive battle between economic nationalism and internationalism.
We are living in a period in which transportation and communication developments have brought the nations of the world much closer together. The exchange of technological information at an accelerated pace has made it possible for millions to enjoy undreamed of luxuries—a product of the rationalization and specialization which world trade represents.

World Corporations

Both American and other companies are thinking in terms of the world as their market with a world corporation as their form of organization working in cooperation with overseas subsidiaries and partners as one unit to service world markets. However, this imaginative thinking, planning and action on the part of business will be meaningless and fruitless in the future without politically inspired economic cooperation at the governmental level.
If the great steps which have been taken since 1945 to effect international cooperation can be consolidated, improved upon and extended, the future for world trade and investments is bright, at least for the nations of the West. This review was conceived before the recent promising events in Moscow. It staggers the imagination to dream of the task which would confront world business if some degree of effective disarmament could be achieved and if economic resources now employed for military purposes could be utilized to bring Eastern Europe up to the living standards of Western Europe and to deal with the problem of underdeveloped areas.
It has often been said that there are those who view with alarm a rapprochement between West and East for fear it would put in jeopardy living standards and privileged positions laboriously achieved after a disastrous war period. To believe that such individuals constitute a majority and that man does not want progress is cynicism. As the great Henry L. Stimson said in summing up his vast international experience : "The only deadly sin I know is cynicism." Progress in world trade depends on containing nationalism and strengthening international institutions and programs. Let us not be cynics.


* Author’s handwritten note: “Written in Cairo for summer session at Harvard Business School.”

The author is president of AMF International Co., subsidiary of American Machine & Foundry Company.

Reprinted from the October 14, 1963 issue of Export Trade, the national weekly for exporters and international business executives, published since 1919 and copyright by Thomas Ashwell & Company, Inc. 20 Vesey Street, New York 7, N.Y.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Pope's Parade

I understand how many people are excited about Pope Francis' visit and I applaud him for taking a progressive stand on some fundamental issues of our time, for instance poverty, the negatives of capitalism, the migration crisis, and climate change. These are not trivial positions, and I am grateful the world has a leader of his stature embracing these causes. But honestly I'm not giddy, and won't stand in line to see him, because I can't suspend my deep concerns over the social inertia he and Catholicism nevertheless still represents. Here are the facts: Pope Francis agrees that homosexuality is “intrinsically disordered” and he opposes gay marriage; he is opposed to abortion and has endorsed the church’s opposition to contraception; and he does not support the ordination of women as priests. Given these facts, I ask myself, why should I settle for a half-baked enlightened leader rather than an fully baked one? The Twenty-First Century calls for a global leader who is not wedded in good measure to a medieval social agenda; bring one of those on hand, and I'll be the first to queue up for the parade. Pope Francis on Abortion and Other Issues

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Emissary of American Business on the Go

Emissary of American Business on the Go
Executive works for profit -- and also for economic interdependence
As the political leaders prepared to talk about NATO, a new kind of global-minded businessman, to whom NATO and other alliances are a shield and a spur, was busy in Europe getting things done in a somewhat new American way. Frank X. White, 38-year-old vice president of American Machine and Foundry, is a whirlwind example of this businessman breed.
Before joining American Machine and Foundry, White worked for the Departments of the Army and Agriculture and the Economic Cooperation Administration at home and abroad. In three years he has risen to be head of the international operations of a company that does $13.5 million yearly business overseas, selling everything from tobacco machinery and skin diving gear to atomic reactors.
Hustling from Italy to Istanbul to London with his pretty wife, White confers with customers, government officials, and employees of his company. But he believes his job is more than a chance to turn a profit for his company. "I feel strongly," he says, “that international business can be and sometimes is a contributing factor to the preservation of world peace. If other countries have a big enough stake in the United States and vice versa, it will become very difficult to disrupt these relations."

BRIEFING HIMSELF on the train. White hones up on a company plant that he will visit in Bologna.
GREETED AT BOLOGNA. Whites (backs to camera) are met by plant manager and other executives.

IN ISTANBUL at Hilton Hotel, Whites (right) talk with Turkish banker and government official's wife.

IN ROME White sits next to Italy's Foreign Minister Pella (left) at a business meeting with Italians.
IN LONDON White talks with Mayor of Shoreditch, who wears full regalia at opening of new AMF plant.
TRAVEL WEARY WHITES arriving after midnight in Milan from Rome trudge into fog on the way from station to hotel across the street. Next day he conferred with businessmen on European Common Market.


BOWLING ALLEY in Munich is inspected by White (second from left) as part of survey to determine the feasibility of selling Europeans American-style automatic pinspotters that are made by his company.

When Frank White goes overseas for his company, as he has seven times in the past 18 months, he has almost no time for pleasure. He took his wife Louise on a recent eight-week tour of eight countries in the hope that they might see something of each other. But before the trip was over Louise was saying, “I see less of Frank on a trip like this than I do at home and that's not much." Almost as wearing for White as the trip was the need to keep shifting business gears, one time wondering if he could uncover a new market for a bowling alley device, the next discussing in physicist’s jargon a $700,000 atomic reactor his company had built.
AIRBORNE TOAST to wife is proposed by White en route from Athens to Istanbul on her birthday.
RESEARCH REACTOR at University of Munich is inspected by White (left) and atomic experts.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Globetrotter: a top executive's life on the road -- and some tips from his wife….

Pan Am's In-Flight Clipper Magazine, June-July 1969, pp. 22-25.

Globetrotter: a top executive's life on the road -- and some tips from his wife….

by Richard Lurie

"Travel when your children are young. I saw the world with Frank. Now when he comes back from that fantastic life abroad, I know where he's been and what he's been doing. And I can talk his language."

Louise White tells how to get along with a husband who is in and out of the United States so often he has a nodding acquaintance with more than one customs man at Kennedy International.
He is Frank X. (for Xavier) White, Jr., age 49, Harvard '41, and International Group Vice President for Joy Mfg., the world's leading mining machinery manufacturer. From his Manhattan office at 47th and Third he ramrods the firm's farthing international business. This includes setting sales and production policies for the manufacturing subs abroad and overseeing Joy's direct U.S. export sales to 100-plus countries.
Joy makes a raft of other products, such as construction machinery and ventilating equipment -- both natural spin-offs from mining machinery. In recent years the firm has spread its wings in an acquisition program and is now involved it the air/water pollution field and aerospace products.
Many an American manufacturer talks about foreign business, but it remains no more than a gleam in its sales vice president's eye. Not so Joy. Last year international business contributed 30 per cent to overall sales, which came close to the quarter billion dollar mark.

"Frank says I'm a big asset on a trip even though I have had to cut back to one or two short jaunts a year, as the children are older and need a firmer hand at the helm. He says I help to get business out of the office and into the home. And in my own quiet way, I can glean a fact or two which may help in his analysis of the local situation."

Although Louise now only takes two trips a year, Frank White has averaged five to ten yearly since the early fifties. He has patiently waited his turn at customs in every country except a few in Central Africa, Mainland China, and Afghanistan. He has bagged millions of miles in every conceivable type of aircraft; and with his customers sometimes far off the well-worn path of commercial airline schedules, he has rented so many helicopters he could almost get his chopper pilot's license.
Why does he travel so much? Certainly not to drum up individual sales or to enmesh himself in line decisions abroad. His New York headquarters group and overseas managers can take care of these matters.
But at a top international executive level, he believes heavy travel is a must. How else can he keep close tabs on the overseas environment that affects Joy's business? Mining is a "hot," sensitive issue in many a LDC (Less Developed Country) and, as such, it is heavily regulated with constantly changing rules. With mines as the number one Joy customer, "seeing for himself" gives him a sensitivity to overall marketing problems that can never be obtained from the written report -- often outdated by the time it crosses his desk in New York.
To Frank White, the jet is also little more than a communications medium -- a tool to make him a more effective manager. Therefore, his other reason for travel is simply for a better internal administration of a sophisticated, worldwide business. Key personnel can only be judged on-the-spot, he says. "Morale can't be put on paper, and often a report is written to suit the eye of the beholder."
"But more than that, the differences between languages and business cultures is so great, I would not dare rely on reports or even transatlantic phone calls as much as I would on a memo from East Orange or a call from Chicago."
To point up communications problems, he talks about Joy's regional headquarters in London for Europe and the Middle East. The Joy regional director is just as busy as Frank is. "Sure, I set broad policies, but the only way I can catch up with what he's doing or where he's going is to sit down and talk with him four or five times a year. This saves pages and pages of reports."

"Traveling with your husband is hard work. I should draw a salary, too. One seven week trip to the Far East, we had only one dinner alone."

The jet has helped stretch the global business day for the Home Office traveler. So Frank White can start off with a business lunch in London, jet to a Paris afternoon conference, and finally settle in at Dusseldorf's Breidenbacher Hof with still more business talk over dinner.
However, jet mobility has its disadvantages too, as the American traveling executive must learn to shift gears (business and/or cultural) more quickly than ever before. There are subtle differences to the way business is done in every country, Frank says, and he still sees the occasional American "who succeeds in crashing through local protocol, but whose business proposition inevitably ends up in a shambles."
Travel still stimulates. Frank is far from jaded, but now the degree of excitement depends on the business mission involved, such as delicate negotiations on a new acquisition. If he knows he will see something different, this in itself is an extra fillip to the trip. On his last U.K. visit Frank saw the Cornish Coast for the first time. "Shades of Pirates of Penzance; I really enjoyed it."

"The right business gift is not easy. When we don't know someone intimately, I find Steuben glass is particularly well received, or a well-done American art or photo/ history book."

After so many travel years, Frank has developed certain trip patterns. He now limits each journey to a three-week maximum. "After that, your top effectiveness goes. Decision-making gets tougher. I get homesick." On his first morning abroad, after his long night flight, his rule (when he can get away with it) before business visits begin, is a nap followed by a leisurely lunch.
At White's executive level, overseas travel means a double work dose. First there are local problems; then his office inevitably follows from the States. "I get cables and mail every day from Pittsburgh corporate headquarters or my New York office." His rule is to answer cables and phone calls the same day. As for letters, he roughs out replies and mails them back to Miss Barbara Mueller, his secretary for 14 years, "who knows almost as much about the business as I do."
One thing he regrets. In the fifties, business travel was more leisurely and he had the time to build personal relationships with hotel and restaurant staffs. The global business pace is faster now and the sheer volume of tourists have made this type of cultivation almost impossible. "Unless you plan your trip well in advance, you have to take what you can get. You can't pick and choose as you could ten years ago."

"We entertain foreign visitors about once a week. If we don't know them at all well, we would rather not spend a conversational evening. We try to pick a place and/or entertainer they have heard of. An ideal choice would be someone like Lena Horne at the Empire Room in the Waldorf. If we know them well we bring them home so we can talk about mutual things, such as families and friends."

When Frank White isn't traveling, he still has to keep up with Joy's overseas environment; so he has turned into an omnivorous reader. By the time the 8:15 lumbers into Grand Central from Scarsdale, he has already looked over the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Journal of Commerce and marked them for further clipping.
The Times gives him the basics in political and business news and he also takes a close look at the entertainment page to see if any new Broadway openings would appeal to a foreign visitor. He reads the Wall Street Journal to keep tabs on the U.S. economy, particularly those factors affecting export sales. U.S. merger news is also important to Joy internationally for many reasons. In some countries Joy acts as a sales agent for other corporations.
The Journal of Commerce gives him world project news. "We must know what's going on in the infrastructure world of Ex-Im, A.I.D., the World Bank, and IADE. We are particularly interested in what countries get which road and power projects."
Office reading is also necessary. Before he tackles the daily quota of at least a dozen overseas cables, he looks over American Metal Market and the airmail edition of the Financial Times of London, "particularly good on world mining news."
(When abroad, his secretary mails him daily clips of news items. This is an enormous timesaver, as he does not have to wade through a huge backlog of periodicals when he returns.)

"Travel with a hobby. I am involved with the Scarsdale Studio Workshop. Can I plug it? It's a fine non-profit art school. I love being taken through museum after museum. I often come back with ideas for a local exhibition."

A top business traveler must be on his toes abroad -- one reason why he reads everything he can on the American scene. "If you are trying to accomplish anything for your company, you must have facts and opinions at your finger tips." He has long ago stopped being amazed at the endless questions he gets on the American economy and politics, particularly from European businessmen.
A merchant banker in The City might want an opinion on whether the U..S Government will allow a particular merger. A Swiss real estate tycoon with large New York City holdings might ask about Lindsay's chances for re-election. And there are loads of questions on race problems, student revolts, and Vietnam.
When he isn't analyzing monthly financial statements from overseas subsidiaries or otherwise giving direction to Joy's international operations, you might find Frank at the Union League Club or restaurants like Voisin or the Baroque with important prospects from New York's international mining community.
It's probably no coincidence, but Joy's Manhattan office is within a six block radius of the headquarters of such international mining concerns as Cerro, Anaconda, American Metal Climax, Phelps Dodge, Kennecott and Newmout Mining. Also close by are U.S. offices of large foreign mining companies -- Gold Fields and Rio Tinto Zinc.

"When I'm abroad, the wives keep me busy from morning 'til dinner time. I enjoy this and try to reciprocate with the same kind of schedule when they are here. Even when you are tired no one tries to beg off, for that would not be playing the international business game."

U.S. international business has changed tremendously in the 16 years Frank White has been in the field. In the early fifties at many companies it was mostly an export operation and in a sellers' market at that. Today, international business has changed primarily to operations of overseas subsidiaries. (See The Multinationals in the April/May CLIPPER.) For example, Joy's exports last year represented about 10 per cent of total foreign business, while 15 years ago, the ratio was much heavier.
This trend towards multinational operations, he thinks, will mean fewer jobs for those looking for an international business career overseas." The trend is toward hiring nationals abroad. Joy has no Americans among its European employees -- ten sales offices and three plants." Even though there will be fewer line opportunities abroad, he feels there will be a big international future in Home Office or Regional Headquarters management and staff.
He feels the long-term future is bright -- and, reflecting on his business career: "I can't imagine working in a wholly domestic business. Where is the excitement -- the feeling that you are intimately involved with the world's problems. The international game is the world's most stimulating."