Last week the National Intelligence Council released its 2025 Global Trends report and naturally our Georgetown MSFS program was pretty interested in looking at it. The report considers what the major themes and trends will be of the next couple decades and assesses how they will affect different countries, power structures, and ideologies.
It must have sucked for the NIC because at first the report was issued at 33MB and didn’t seem to be uploaded correctly. It wasn’t until this weekend that the report was fixed and was only 8MB to download. Lost a lot of readership that way.
Some of the report’s assessments I didn’t exactly agree with. I felt that it sold international institutions short, saying countries and regions would seek pragmatic concerns — a return to a “mercantilist” and realist perspective — over recommitting to international institutions. At the very least I think it’s up in the air on that count; Obama’s presence alone (see his calm, thoughtful interview on 60 Minutes) might bring people back to the table, especially with Europe seeking to reassert itself in the midst of its own internal problems with population and economic stagnation and with filling a power vacuum from America’s absence the last 8 years.
Tonight I was watching 60 Minutes and they were running a story on Obama’s advisors and how they managed the campaign. Anita Dunn, the communications, research, and policy advisor, said of David Plouffe, the campaign manager: “David’s mantra was that we were gonna enlarge the playing field.”
This struck me. The idea was that the campaign was going to go everywhere it could in the United States to inspire a grassroots campaign of alienated voters who wanted someone to connect to. It would go to states no one thought Obama could win in, just because there was a substantial number of people not previously involved in elections. These people could be harnessed to campaign for Obama, become neighborhood captains, go door-to-door to get votes. Morever, Obama recognized that these people WANTED to do so, whereas Obama’s adversaries just thought they were all politically lazy. Obama was the example of a leader people wanted, and this brought out all these voters that the Clinton and McCain campaigns neglected. Obama’s advisors, in fact, mention how well Obama responded as a leader, through calmness and thoughtfulness and consistency of purpose, and how that made all aspects of the rest of his campaign easier.
Thankfully, the eight years of Bush rule are almost over. It has been a dark period for the American soul, spirit, and Dream. Here is a synopsis of the Bush presidency years as seen through my life, documented through my web site and blog.
In 2000, my mind certainly wasn’t thinking about international terrorism, financial crises, gas prices, or the like. According to my site’s news archives from 2000, when I was 22, the most important topics in my life at that point were Napster and the dotcom bubble. The bubble had not yet burst, although it started having some rough days. Oil was hovering around $25-40/barrel. I had just graduated from college and went to Italy with my dad, and France with my mom. The dollar was strong and the Euro would continue to get weaker until about 2002, facilitating American travel abroad. I would daytrade the market for another year and a half.
Michael Porter, the go-to-guy for studying firms’ competitiveness, wrote an article for Business Week about the need for a strategic economic policy in the US to maintain its competitiveness.
I’m not going to write too much on this but I thought for a few reasons that this article was important enough to blog about because:
1) I’m sick and tired of people who cling to the “free markets above all” argument. It’s simplistic, naive, and incomplete. Successful economies require rule of law, good government policy, and competitive markets. Take daytraders for example. I have a feeling most are older, fiercely Republican, and grew up in the days of Reagan when Reaganomics was backed up by Cold War victory, stock market rallies, and unprecedented American prosperity.