Sunday, October 28, 2012

Obama or Romney: No better than Hoover

For weeks I have been telling Jennifer, friends, family, work colleagues, whoever will listen that the winner of the 2012 Presidential Election will go down in history as the worst president since Herbert Hoover.

This has not overly troubled me. I will not vote for either Obama or Romney this time around. I am from a Red State. It will go for Romney in a big way so my little vote doesn't count in the grand scheme of a close election race.

In fact, the only way to make my vote truly count is to vote my conscience - which is more than a lot of people will do, voters trapped in the antiquated knee-jerk two-party system that has brought this country to the brink of economic ruin. My conscience tells me to vote libertarian. So, my vote will be for Gary Johnson. He at least understands that Romney is "without one molecule of brain." Kudos on that insight.

Don't blame me, etc. when it all turns to crap. Well, technically it is already crap so, don't blame me when it all turns crappier.

It does not make any significant difference whether dry, academic Barack Obama or plastic, disingenuous Mitt Romney wins the presidency for the next four years. They are both duds, as I have mentioned before.

We are reaching a point where the political habit of kicking the proverbial Can down the road to the next bunch of hapless two-party politicians is a less and less effective delaying action. The Can isn't moving very far when kicked anymore.

Let me run down a short list of forces beyond the federal government's power to control, regardless of who is in office.

There exists a 30-year decline in entrepreneurship. Obviously spanning the influence of both political parties. 
Median income in the US is the lowest it has been since 1995.   Median income for the average male worker has not risen since the 1970's.  Essentially, many of us are living off less than we were making almost 20 years ago.

Perhaps as an adaptation, the next generation of consumers is different from their parents and grandparents. They do not buy large ticket items. They rent and lease and outsource. This is not especially good news for the automotive, housing, or durable goods industries in the coming decades.

We are on the verge of a massive global food crisis in 2013. The cost of grain items is going to rise significantly due to the global drought. Last summer almost 80% of America's farmland was under severe drought conditions.

Are we prepared with strong institutions and great leaders of clear vision when all this shit starts to hit the fan? Uh, no. In fact, what we very clearly have is unprecedented gridlock and polarization in our politics. I do not see how this stiff, stale, and sloppy system can possibly adapt to the requirements of the world at large in crisis.

There's the fiscal cliff, which seems the easiest thing to solve at this point. 
Medicare and Social Security costs are the largest part of the spending. The aging voting population will not tolerate a reduction in their benefits. Yet, this is precisely what must be reduced in order to solve the debt crisis which, by itself, could alter western civilization in the next decade.

As if to underscore this historical perspective, CEOs of eighty major corporations have united their voices in a political message that says, tax us more in addition to cutting spending. This is, of course, the only possible way to solve this mess and it is precisely the only one our polarized two-party system cannot consider. Maybe now they have permission to thanks to these CEOs.

The economy is not going to grow fast. Traditional job creation forces are weak and there is nothing to replace them.12 million jobs promised by Romney are a pipe dream.The fundamental reason is crystal clear and remarkably simple.

All my life I have been trained and felt without hesitation that I should be as productive and as efficient at my job as possible. I manage my department that way because I manage myself that way. At any rate, this means that I can keep the total number of employees required to do the job assigned to me to a minimum.

Multiply this common sense efficiency thousands of times through an entire business culture of productivity and efficiency, in the language - place key performance indicators on a metric of relative value units versus revenue streams where diversity is maximized. In layman's terms, such conditions, over a period of many decades, eventually reduce all profit driven and bureaucratic need for human labor to a minimum.

Now this is no big deal when new markets requiring a surge of human labor are emerging. But when innovation itself becomes stagnant then fewer new markets emerge. Innovation can run scarce either through the weight of regulation, lack of profits, or there can simply be nothing innovative about the market forces in the Now.

At that point, productivity and efficiency outstrip the capacity for innovation. This is our current situation. Our "faltering innovation" is identified in an economic paper published in August by the National Bureau of Economic Research. Placed in large historical context, innovation may have never faced such a challenge in modern times.

The steam engine and the automobile and the telephone and the jet carrier and the building of a national suburbia and the personal computer and the portability of wireless communications leaves labor asking a singular question...

What comes next?

It is only a matter of time until the lack of need for human labor begins to strain the system supporting it. Nothing comes next without innovation.

Neither Obama nor Romney have anything to do with innovation. These are two of the most predictably formula-matic guys in the country, the heads of two vast opposing systems of unimaginative sameness. You can't legislate innovation. It does not fit the legislative agenda. You can perhaps give it thriving government conditions but that does not guarantee innovation will come. It cannot be manufactured it is spontaneous and free.

Innovation is a spirit of culture that transcends politics, yet it remains bound in its economic importance. The possibilities of 3D printing and human biotech are among a handful of forces that might become a thriving market and need more labor. The problem is we must transition from what are essentially construction and administrative labor skills to more sophisticated skills demanded by emerging markets. That seems to be what is happening with "millennials" now emerging as the strongest consumer spending market percentile.

So there's hope. Truly a faith that "progress" continues. The question is does labor itself continue or do more and more citizens fall behind the high-tech economy and whatever comes next?

Whatever the answer to that it is a far, far cry from the political discourse and rhetoric by democrats and republicans this presidential season. The fickleness of innovation, combined with all the other economic and environmental forces at work on the planet today dwarfs the entire presidential process.

In times of great crisis the person at hand meets the hour at hand and deals with it. But sometimes the hour meets us. It rises before us and it is not we who have met it. The hour clutches us and makes us dance to its tune. That is what is about to happen to such woeful duds as Romney and Obama.

It does not seem that QE3 in itself will save Obama. We have gotten two Dow Theory non-confirmations since my post regarding this
The non-confirmation of a Bull Signal is not a positive occurrence. As I mentioned before, we are currently in a Bearish Primary Trend in Dow Theory. The Bear favors Romney.

Can Obama's campaign get the urban vote out? Can Romney manage to counter with a strong showing throughout rural America? These questions will answer this close presidential race. In Ohio and Virginia, the whole course of the election is likely to be decided by whether turnout is better in the cities or in the country. Which party wins will eventually appear to be the loser and will carry the blame in 2013 and beyond when we know what comes next.

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