Tag: history

Those Who Do Not Know History … Are Doomed To Revolution

A facet of world history that stood out to me as a high school student was the difference a robust middle class made in the stability of a country. Lots of destitute people (aka people who don’t have much to lose) and you have lots of civil unrest, lawlessness, and insurrection. Lots of middle class people (people who aren’t rich beyond all telling, but have enough that they want to protect ‘their’ stuff), both the upper and ruling classes retain their power and resources for decades if not centuries.

I thought of this whilst reading an article about rebranding “entitlements” as “insurance” — Medicaid as insurance in case you yourself become disabled in the future. Social Security against you yourself getting old someday.

But taxes for entitlements are social stability insurance. The entire point of redistributing income is to ensure a sufficient portion of the population is happy enough that they work to preserve existing social structures.

History of South East Asia

Alternative Fact: “I felt pretty strongly that they (China) had a tremendous power over North Korea. But it’s not what you would think.” (Donald Trump in the Wall Street Journal)

Real Fact: No, it is exactly what I thought. I had a dual major in University: history and theoretical physics. So, yeah, I may have more knowledge of South East Asian history than the average American. I’ve specifically studied the history of the region as it relates to the war in Vietnam. I don’t believe Korea had quite the animosity toward China that fomented over hundreds of years in Việt Nam — a country whose name means Southern Bách Việt (an area of Southern China) … but that’s not saying much. There’s economic dependency, but coupling economic dependency with pre-existing resentment is not a recipe for harmonious relations.

My concern is not that a firm grasp of international history is not the norm world-wide (that sucks too, but probably been the way of things since language was developed). My concern is not that Trump has changed is opinion as new facts come to light — shocked, but quite heartened that the man eventually figured out that China was propping up its currency for a couple of years now. What concerns me is that the leader of China has to convey this history lesson to the US President. Because the dude refuses to let anyone else clue him into reality. None of his campaign advisers (both the currency manipulation & they can sort North Korea claims were made prior to him becoming president), none of the guys from State, no military adviser (including those who report directly to Trump) could bring real facts into this administration. In *this* instance, the leader of another country managed to hold Trump’s attention long enough to convey his version of reality (dangerous since our president is now operating under a view that doesn’t skew our country’s way … do we support Chinese expansion into the South China Sea now? I’m sure the Chinese president has a decent rational for that move as well).

But what happens when a situation arrives where the other country’s highest ranking individuals are not on hand to brief the US president??

Learning From History

It is not yet hurricane season, but there are other sorts of natural disasters that aren’t so predictable. And there is not a director of FEMA. Some directors have a great deal of experience in disaster management, and some (GW’s guy who couldn’t manage to run the Arabian Horse Association) are sweet jobs given to friends or political supporters. After FEMA’s performance during Katrina, I expected the office to become the exclusive domain of people with disaster management experience. Folks from the Red Cross, or National Guards, or disaster response agencies from states prone to disasters. For some time, that expectation was realized.

Then came Trump. Like many facets of government where Republicans think government is just wasting money or causing problems … well, he hasn’t even managed to nominate a political hack to serve as the agency head. There’s no one. I have a lot of experience in M&A – any time your department doesn’t get a manager in the new org, update your resume. Your functionality is not going to be around much longer. Because, like we don’t actually ‘need’ the DOE (an agency that keeps track of nuclear materials and intercepts it on the black market) … evidently we don’t need FEMA??