Tuesday’s gone with the wind – a few wisps to consider

One of my favorite Lynyrd Skynrd’s songs is the ballad “Tuesday’s gone with the wind.” Using that as a theme for a potpourri of topics, let me toss of few of them into the breeze and see where they might blow.

– One of the more provocative movie lines was uttered by a very young Lauren Bacall to her future real husband Humphrey Bogart in “To have and have not.” She said “Steve, you know how to whistle don’t you? You just put your lips together and blow.”

– Chicago is known as the “Windy City,” but that is not due to the cold wind that blows in from Lake Michigan. It is due to blowhard politicians. Right now, we have the windiest of people in the White House. If I could say one thing to him that might have a chance of being heard, it would be “Mr. president, if you can’t add any value, please stop talking.”

– Speaking of wind, former Arizona Senator John Kyl was caught in a lie by a reporter. His response, “It is your fault for mistaking my words as the truth.” Again, that is yet another reason not to believe a word the president says.

– Peter, Paul and Mary do justice to Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the wind.” They sang it in on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial when Martin Luther King uttered his famous “I have a dream” speech. Dylan’s words echo with his important chorus as he searches for solutions to obvious pain and suffering. “The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind. The answer is blowin’ in the wind.”

– Speaking of that famous MLK speech. The marvelous gospel singer Mahalia Jackson is the reason he gave it that day. She had heard him give it before, but MLK had not planned to give that speech. Sensing early on that the words MLK began with were falling flat, she shouted from behind MLK to “tell them about the dream, Martin.” MLK then went off script to say his resounding words.

– Lincoln’s name speaks loudly these days for more than obvious reasons. The Emancipation Proclamation and constitutional amendment to free the slaves are well known. Yet, he is also remembered for putting enemies of his on his cabinet. Think about that. He wanted to keep them close, but he also wanted to hear from them on dissenting views. I think of that as we have a president who has filled and refilled his cabinet with people whose loyalty is more important than competency. To me, this is a key reason a group of Republicans who favor the defeat of Donald Trump have called themselves “The Lincoln Project.”

Invoking “Blowin’ in the wind” one more time. We have many challenges facing our country and planet. Yet, one of the answers is being advocated by The Lincoln Project. That answer blowin’ in the wind is the defeat of Donald Trump in November.

Retrenching into silos is the exact opposite of what is needed

With the advent of more terrorists’ activities around the globe and the significant refugee crisis, nationalistic and jingoistic behaviors have taken more solid footing. With the backlash in some European countries, the Brexit vote and the rise of Donald Trump as an unlikely candidate for US President, show that protectionism is selling these days as a concept. These folks want to build actual and proverbial walls, rather than bridges.

Yet, that is precisely the wrong behavior needed. These so-called leaders feel if we segregate and retrench into our own little worlds, this cocooning will make everything better. What these so-called leaders fail to tell you is the significant benefits with being aligned, working together and doing commerce with each other. Economic trade breaks down barriers, as countries do not want to upset the financing of their economy and will work past governing differences.

President Abraham Lincoln did not coin this phrase, but he capitalized on it – keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer.  Lincoln added several adversaries to his cabinet when elected. His view was if he could keep tabs on his opposition and argue with them, he could keep a lid on dissent at a time when dissent was in vogue. President Teddy Roosevelt was very open with reporters, in part because of his ego, but in large part to have the reporters be his eyes and ears. He would have them go speak with his department heads to learn what was going on.

Commerce breaks down barriers. Not only will we make more money by co-existing, we will be safer in turn. That is a concern of the Brexit vote, as the UK being a part of the EU makes the world safer and aids the economy of both entities. Like the UK, there is much to be gained in the US with the global economy, especially with companies who employ people here. Just here in Carolinas, there are multiple hundreds, if not thousands, of foreign companies who have US presences here, be it a North American headquarters or a major plant. BMW, Mitsubishi, Michelin, Doosan and Husqvarna come to mind.

We should not lose sight of breaking down barriers abroad. I have been a staunch supporter of doing trade with Cuba and Iran. The countries want to do business with us and we are well positioned to leverage that travel and trade. Just with Cuba and its 11 million people, it will be like adding a 51st state to our US economy. With Iran, of course, we need to keep our eyes open, but the median age of Iranis is age 35. We have a chance to create new economic paradigm with Iran which will live beyond the older regime. Plus, being closer to Iran will allow us to keep more tabs. This is the  best example of what Lincoln did.

The candidates who have touted building walls and retrenching are not being very open with the whole picture. They are using fear and an incomplete picture of reality. Companies have always chased cheap labor and as one CFO said in the book “The Rich and the Rest of Us,” if companies could get by with hiring no employees, they would. The greater threat is technology improvements as a new plant is not going to have 3,000 employees, it will have 300. On the flip side, Nissan in Tennessee and Mercedes in Alabama employ a great many American workers, which is not talked about enough as a benefit of globalization.

If we retrench, we will be reducing markets for goods and services. A venture capitalist once said what creates jobs is not owners, but customers. The fewer the customers, the fewer the jobs. But, with that said, there are elements of truth that workers need to ask more of the employers who have suppressed wages and let people go, to hire younger and cheaper workers. Companies are quick to hire cheaper, but need to be reminded that we employees are important and customers, as well.

I am reminded that two of the top three jobs creation Presidents had two things in common. Bill Clinton, the number one job creator at 22.8 million jobs, and Ronald Reagan, the number three job creator at 16.1 million, were both collaborators and advocated global trade, as reported in “The World is Curved” by David Smick, who was an economic advisor to both. Creating markets for trade and opening up our markets to others, in my view, is one of the best things a President can do.

Globalization is extremely important, but we need to manage it better. Throwing the baby out with the bathwater is something we must guard against. So-called leaders who are advocating this very thing need to be asked more questions. As they are not telling you the whole story.