Tuesday, April 15, 2014

SUPPOSIN': A LOOK AT PROGRESS Part 2

Founder, Project C.U.R.E.
Author, The Happiest Man in the World: Life Lessons from a Cultural Economist


My international travels have included most of the oil cartel countries of the world. When I board an airplane to leave one of those countries, I never know whether to rejoice because of the positive results of the industrial revolution, or to feel sad because of what laborless luxuries have done to spoil the privileged of those countries. I am tempted to perceive that no great inventions, models of science, industries, economics, arts, literature, music, or civics seem to flow from those countries . . . just boatloads of oil. So, most often upon exiting, I simply find myself, , excitedly looking forward to a post-petroleum-based world economy and scratching my head wondering why we have remained so long in the pitiful position of oil dependency.

All the international political folks have been wringing their hands and whining that we are in such a precarious position of oil scarcity, yet all the while, the constant drumbeat of exponential information and technology has continued. In my opinion, it has never been an issue of global scarcity, but of global accessibility to resources.

Technology has had to keep on the stretch to try to stay up with the exponential growth of knowledge and information. On average, technologies are doubling in power every eighteen months, in an effort to stay up with the exponential supply of knowledge and information. The prices for those technologies are also being slashed in half every eighteen months. Affordability continues to drive the growth. Inventions based on today’s technologies are usually outdated by the time they get to the market. That’s a marvelous thing.

Gordon Moore’s famed tech trend of trying to cram more and more components onto integrated circuits has paid off handsomely. Circuits on a computer chip have exponentially doubled every year since 1958 and the invention of the integrated circuit.

Today, exciting things are happening in the areas of sand and silicon. IBM is developing new breakthrough approaches in chip technologies by integrating electrical and optical devices on the same silicon chip. Instead of the old electrical signals, the new chips communicate with signals of light. That eliminates the historical problems of generating heat that has always limited the speed and required vast amounts of energy for cooling. Using light eliminates both problems.

Conservative estimates figure that IBM’s new chip design could increase a supercomputer’s ability a thousand fold. It should take the present 2.6 petaflops to a full exaflop that would provide some quintillion operations per second. Simply speaking, that is one hundred times faster than the human brain functions . . . and we used to marvel that the old horse-and-buggy computers could actually beat the Russian chess champion on a regular basis.

Our locally grounded and linearly acclimated brains have a tough time comprehending what is really going on in the progress of our world. Incredible miracles are taking place every day and we hardly notice. Just what are the implications of three billion new individuals coming on line presently by computers and smart phones? Three billion individuals who can learn, dream, invent, and experiment. They are now allowed by technology to open the treasure chests of information, knowledge, and contacts. Ignorance and scarcity brings poverty; abundance and access to that abundance brings opportunity for freedom.

In January, 1994, I took Anna Marie with me to Nairobi, Kenya. It was her first trip to Africa. From Nairobi we traveled to the majestic Rift Valley, to Begonia Game Park, and on to Nakuru. The large district hospital was located in Nakuru. Project C.U.R.E. was involved in donating hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of greatly needed medical goods to the hospital.

We were invited to visit the Tendress Coffee Plantation outside Nakuru. Alfred, the plantation foreman, wanted to show us the plantation school, as well as their small clinic. As we drove into the schoolyard, we saw the pupils still out playing soccer or huddled together talking. The teachers were standing outside near the entrance to the school. Alfred was kind enough to introduce us to the headmaster and the teachers.

Since it was about midmorning, Anna Marie, who has her PhD in education and communication, asked the headmaster if all the pupils were out together for recess. He explained that the people had not yet come by to give the teachers the lessons they were to use to teach the kids that day, but that they should be along very soon.

Inside the classrooms there was one chalkboard on the front wall of each room, and crude writing desks and chairs enough to handle up to forty-five students per room. In talking to the teachers, we discovered that they had never had textbooks, curriculum, or reference books at the large school. The headmaster would receive everyday what the teachers would be teaching to the classes.

We asked some of the students if they were given homework assignments. They informed us that they were responsible for their own pen or pencil and their own paper for their assignments. When we asked where they went to get their supplies, they told us that, since they had no money for such things, they would walk along the fencerows on their way to and from school and collect the windblown paper scraps on which they would figure out their math assignments.

Anna Marie began working with the school, and upon the return to her school in Evergreen, Colorado, she organized students and parents and ended up sending thousands of pounds of encyclopedias, non-cultural library books, maps, and school supplies to the plantation school. We later found out that when the encyclopedias arrived, the teachers began taking them home and reading them completely by the light of their cooking fires at night.

Now, multiply that thirst for information and knowledge over the continent of Africa that is large enough to contain all of the United States, Europe, China, the sub-continent if India, and more. That was in 1994. Today, those students aren’t waiting for the headmaster to receive the teaching material every morning. This morning the teachers aren’t even waiting for some encyclopedias to arrive along with some medical goods from Evergreen, Colorado. They now have wireless access to information that was not even available to Harvard University or the president of the United States just a few years ago!

Three billion new individuals are coming on line via computers and smart phones, who have never had access to a world community of information, knowledge, and contacts. They are not only going to be recipients of the exponential intelligence, but also they will enter onto the freeway of communication, and be able for the very first time to contribute to the discussions, the discoveries, and inventions of the future. Now that’s progress!

Next Week: Supposin’: A Look at Progress, Part 3

(Research ideas from Dr. Jackson’s new writing project on Cultural Economics)

© Dr. James W. Jackson  
Permissions granted by Winston-Crown Publishing House


Dr. James W. Jackson often describes himself as "The Happiest Man in the World." A successful businessman, award-winning author and humanitarian, Jackson is also a renowned Cultural Economist and international consultant, helping organizations and governments to apply sound economic principals to the transformation of culture so that everyone is "better off."

As the founder of Project C.U.R.E., Dr. Jackson traveled to more than one hundred fifty countries assessing healthcare facilities, meeting with government leaders and "delivering health and hope" in the form of medical supplies and equipment to the world's most needy people. Literally thousands of people are alive today as a direct result of the tireless efforts of Project C.U.R.E.'s staff, volunteers and Dr. Jackson. 

To contact Dr. Jackson, or to book him for an interview or speaking engagement: press@winstoncrown.com

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

SUPPOSIN': A LOOK AT PROGRESS Part 1

Founder, Project C.U.R.E.
Author, The Happiest Man in the World: Life Lessons from a Cultural Economist


For a brief session, let’s mute the invasive and persuasive barrage of the press and turn up the volume on some positive notes of hope and progress. Here are some facts that will make you smile for a change. It is time we take notice of the technological and cultural advances that are taking place without our even noticing. Your amygdala may not ferret out these facts, but your heart should be greatly encouraged when you hear them.

We need to be reminded that our generation has more access today to services, goods, information, and modes of transportation, medicines, education, communication systems, human rights, and democratic experiments than any other generation in recorded history. Generally speaking, we are wealthier, healthier, and safer than any previous inhabitants on earth.

When I was eleven years old, Dwight D. Eisenhower ran against Adlai Stevenson for the presidency of the United States. I was pretty passionate about the General, and even wore an “I Like Ike” badge, wrote a poem, and also made a poster for the campaign. With World War II over, I recall how General Eisenhower tried to assure the American people that all the information and technology that had gone into developing the atom bomb could be turned into peaceful purposes.

He talked about using the nuclear power to turn the salt water of the seas and oceans into fresh water. We could irrigate the unused fertile land of the world with the water and transform it into a breadbasket for the millions of hungry people. He also explained how the harnessed power of the atom could one day be safely used so that there would never again be a shortage of electricity anywhere on the earth.

After his election in 1952, he spoke to the young United Nations organization in New York City and laid out the plan for his Atoms for Peace program: “To the making of these fateful decisions, the United States pledges before you–and therefore before the world–its determination to help solve the fearful atomic dilemma–to devote its entire heart and mind to find the way by which the miraculous inventiveness of man shall not be dedicated to his death, but consecrated to his life." (December 8, 1953)

Imposed fear and political manipulation pretty much sabotaged President Eisenhower’s dream. But in the ensuing years, the knowledge base regarding atomic and hydrogen power continued to grow exponentially every year. Exponentially means the doubling of a number from one period to the next, (example: 1 becomes 2, 2 becomes 4, 4 becomes 8, etc.). And now, for the first time, our knowledge base and technology is beginning to catch up with our dreams and ambitions. Let’s talk about the exponential growth of our knowledge base.

Google’s Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt claims that from the beginning of time until the year 2003, humankind created five exabytes of digital information (an Exabyte is one billion gigabytes . . . that’s a one (1) followed by eighteen zeros.) By the year 2010, the human race was generating five exabytes of information every few days. By the near future, the number is expected to be five exabytes produced every ten minutes. (1)

A major newspaper today will contain more information in one week’s worth of print than the average seventeenth century individual would have encountered in a lifetime. A culture can possess the possibility of storing, exchanging, and improving ideas based on specialization and innovation . . . building one idea or bit of information upon another.

When I first started traveling in Africa in the early 1980s, the only international electronic connections I had to countries like Zimbabwe was the old commercial Telex machines. Other than that it was air mail service that took about 10 days each way to communicate. It would take forever to communicate back and forth just to make travel arrangements, hotel reservations, confirm who would be at the airport to meet me, and any other inner-country arrangements.

I thought I had arrived in heaven when the fax machine was introduced, eventually followed by the marvelous computer email. Within just the time I have been traveling to Africa, the internet and wireless technologies have become within the grasp of nearly all Africans. They never had to go through the stage of stringing telephone lines that would have cost multiplied millions of dollars, because the technology was wireless.

Because of micro-lending and other available programs, 2% of the people had mobile phones by year 2000, 28% by 2009, and nearly 70% by 2013. Now, a common African businessman with a cell phone has better information and communication capabilities than the president of the U.S. did when I first started traveling in Africa. And if he has Google and a smart phone he has better information than the president did just fifteen years ago. Very soon the entire world’s populations will have the exponential technological advantage and experience that only the affluent experienced just a few years ago.

Three billion people who have never before had access to the internet or shared information will be coming on line via computers and smart phones. They are a brand new world market. Additionally, their contribution to the global intelligence will result in new ideas, inventions and discoveries, and products.

Next Week: Supposin’: A Look at Progress, Part 2
 
(Research ideas from Dr. Jackson’s new writing project on Cultural Economics)

© Dr. James W. Jackson  
Permissions granted by Winston-Crown Publishing House

Dr. James W. Jackson often describes himself as "The Happiest Man in the World." A successful businessman, award-winning author and humanitarian, Jackson is also a renowned Cultural Economist and international consultant, helping organizations and governments to apply sound economic principals to the transformation of culture so that everyone is "better off."

As the founder of Project C.U.R.E., Dr. Jackson traveled to more than one hundred fifty countries assessing healthcare facilities, meeting with government leaders and "delivering health and hope" in the form of medical supplies and equipment to the world's most needy people. Literally thousands of people are alive today as a direct result of the tireless efforts of Project C.U.R.E.'s staff, volunteers and Dr. Jackson. 

To contact Dr. Jackson, or to book him for an interview or speaking engagement: press@winstoncrown.com

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

SUPPOSIN': NAUGHTY DOGGIE

Founder, Project C.U.R.E.
Author, The Happiest Man in the World: Life Lessons from a Cultural Economist


We have just tagged the amygdala (a-mig’dala) as the Rottweiler of our brain. It was designed and employed as a guardian and helper. As a watchdog, it beautifully fulfills all expectations to seek out even the most obscure danger and warn us with a rousing raucous. Its duty is to point out problems and ignite our fear mechanism.

But, like every watchdog, it needs discipline and training. Left to its own nature, the watchdog that was engaged to patrol and protect our person and property can become a vicious and dangerous controller of the whole estate. Undisciplined, the watchdog has the potential of focusing all of its attention, and the attention of everyone in the household, on problems, problems, problems.

When that happens, the owner’s response is to give more attention and weight to the negative information and experiences rather than to any positive input. The atmosphere is more pessimistic than optimistic as the fear-driven assignment morphs into a full-time search for trouble. The naughty doggie has just taken over control of the whole estate, because he will find more trouble.

If some screwtape- type individual should want to negatively control the watchdog, and subsequently the whole estate, all that is required is to keep the watchdog’s attention fully focused on the distracting fears and threats. The watchdog will cause commotion enough to keep the whole household in a state of fear, and will paralyze the behavior of the owner so that he is prevented from accomplishing anything positive or productive. An even more subtle problem is that all the commotion and fear caused by the distractions will actually blind the owner from even seeing the present situation as it really is. He will develop a false perception of reality.

Does that sound even a little bit familiar as to what happens to us as we try to live out our individual lives? We become entangled in our fears about our shortages and perceived dangers. Our worries burn holes right through our inner eyes of hope, imagination, and achievement. We are left blinded to the good things that are happening today and the possibilities of future triumphs. Every time the watchdog barks, even if it is at his own shadow, we tend to become paralyzed by fear. It is time to stop the goofy game. It is time to say No, no, naughty doggie, I am the owner and this is my estate . . . No, no!

So, what are some of the things to which our inner eyes have been blinded from our incessant preoccupation with our fears of shortage, lack, and insufficiency? This is, of course, not a problem exclusively identified with Americans. It is universal. It was the problem and process of Eastern Europe. It was at the heart of the messes in Bosnia and Rwanda, as well as Vietnam, Serbia, Cambodia, and now again in the Ukraine. It is a prime example of cultural economics, because all transformational change takes place at the intersection of culture and economics.

Let me share some observations I have made as I have traveled and studied cultures in over 150 countries of the world. These are the subtle issues of which discontentments and even wars are made:
  • We lose proper perspective of the good things we already possess. We begin to hoard and become stingy toward others.
  • We abandon our attitude of gratitude and become acutely aware of what other people have in comparison to what we have.
  • We adopt the idea that we are entitled to more than what we have and fear that we might end up with even less.
  • We spend our time worrying about not having enough, even though we have never tried to figure out just how much is enough.
  • We are tempted to believe that the reason some others have more is because they somehow took our share away from us.
  • We begin to subconsciously think about ways to redistribute things that others have in order that those things can justifiably be ours.
  • We start becoming attracted to those we consider strong enough to take things away from those who have and distribute them to us.
  • The fear and preoccupation surrounding the perceived inequity of scarcity and shortage shuts down our creative processes of problem solving and drives us to a deeper dependency on government, insurgency groups, mafia, or another voice that will offer to do the worrying for us and ultimately take care of us.

Here’s the good news, however: the disposition of the naughty watchdog can be altered. It is possible that we can shed the old logic of the limited and embrace the ability of abundance. The old paradigm does not have to remain, it can be replaced. Our ability to hear the good news again can be restored.

A quick look again at history can validate the fact that things are not as bad as we have been made to believe. Real progress is being experienced right now where we live. It is fair to state that never in history has there been a time when living standards have improved so dramatically as in the past century. Who would have thought a hundred years ago that even the poorest folks in America would be enjoying such luxuries as indoor flushing toilets, personal cars, telephones, and multiple televisions? It is time we take a candid look at just how much available abundance our culture presently enjoys and how rapidly things are continuing to change for the better. 

 Next Week: A Look at Progress

          (Research ideas from Dr. Jackson's new writing project on Cultural Economics)

© Dr. James W. Jackson  
Permissions granted by Winston-Crown Publishing House


Dr. James W. Jackson often describes himself as "The Happiest Man in the World." A successful businessman, award-winning author and humanitarian, Jackson is also a renowned Cultural Economist and international consultant, helping organizations and governments to apply sound economic principals to the transformation of culture so that everyone is "better off."

As the founder of Project C.U.R.E., Dr. Jackson traveled to more than one hundred fifty countries assessing healthcare facilities, meeting with government leaders and "delivering health and hope" in the form of medical supplies and equipment to the world's most needy people. Literally thousands of people are alive today as a direct result of the tireless efforts of Project C.U.R.E.'s staff, volunteers and Dr. Jackson. 

To contact Dr. Jackson, or to book him for an interview or speaking engagement: press@winstoncrown.com

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

SUPPOSIN': A BIG CLUE TO OUR PROBLEM

Founder, Project C.U.R.E.
Author, The Happiest Man in the World: Life Lessons from a Cultural Economist


It seems to me, as a cultural economist, that there is ample evidence in ancient manuscripts, contemporary writings, and anecdotal traditions, to make a strong case for an economic model based on abundance, choice, and accomplishment, rather than scarcity, choice, and cost. If that is a possibility, then why is it that we have a natural propensity to base our daily decisions on a fear-based model of insufficiency, lack, and shortage? Let’s do some exploring.

When you were born, you came equipped with an amygdala (a-mig’ dala) as standard equipment. Aren’t you happy for that? In fact, you came equipped with two amygdalae and didn’t have to pay extra for either one. As an owner, that should really make you twice as happy . . . or maybe not.

The amygdala is an almond-shaped mass of gray matter in the front part of the temporal lobe of your cerebrum that is part of the limbic system and is involved in the processing and expression of emotions, especially anger and fear. It has a lot to do with the flight-or-fight response. It also plays a pivotal role in triggering a state of fear based on the formation and storage of memories associated with emotional events. Because of that, there may also be a link between the amygdala and patterns of extreme anxiety.

I like to think of the amygdala as the Rottweiler of your brain. It was born and bred to be the ultimate watchdog, assigned to your personal survival. As standard equipment in your brain, it is your first line of defense and a warning system that is expected to always be hyper-alert and seek out any and all danger. It never sleeps and never slumbers and its growl and bark sends instant messages to the heart, the lungs, the nerves, the skin, the eyes, the ears, the memory chips, and even prepares the muscles for instant action.

This Rottweiler of the brain is always looking for something to fear . . . and will always find something to bark about. The more barking, the more he is considered successful. He is always looking for something that is negative and is never patted on the head for discovering something positive. And, as you might expect, if the watchdog ever gets hold of something that has agitated him, it is possible that he will never let it go.

Now, with the Rottweiler in mind, let’s ask the questions again: Why is it that we have a natural propensity to base our daily decisions on a fear-based model of insufficiency, lack, and shortage? Why is it easier to believe something negative than something positive? In order to get higher listener and viewer ratings, wouldn’t the newspaper, television, and computer outlets cram the airwaves with negative stories as opposed to any positive stories? Why would we always have the feeling that we are under siege? Why is it so lucrative to sell pessimism and fear? Why don’t potential dangers ever go away?

The simple answer is, because we have allowed the watchdog to run amuck and have rewarded him for his incessant behavior. We have developed and encouraged a messed up watchdog that possesses an insatiable appetite for the negative, the fearful, and the insufficient.

So, what are some methods to modify the out of balance behavior, other than selling the Rottweiler, buying a Golden Retriever, and moving out of the dangerous neighborhood? Realistically, how do you ratchet down the fear and insecurity mindset in order to make room for the alternative of hope and confidence? Let’s brainstorm:
  • Limit the tsunami of negative media flow into your conscious and subconscious mind. Just say, “No thank you” to 90% of the news.
  • Try to remember that the fear of scarcity can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
  • Quit rewarding the watchdog when it barks at its own shadow.
  • Train your watchdog to perceive that the person approaching may not be an intruder, but may be your best friend.
  • Dare to investigate the idea of My God shall supply all your need . . . (Philippians 4:19).
  • Try to remember that the attitude of shortage is bondage. The attitude of abundance is freedom.
  • Begin to delete the information on the memory chips of your amygdala to replace it with new and positive information on sufficiency, abundance, and accomplishment.
    It is true that your personal model came equipped with a left and right amygdala. They were designed and installed as a benefit to you. But, you are the one in charge of your current model and have the responsibility of overseeing the use and discipline of the function of the amygdalae. Your new automobile also came from the factory equipped with two windshield wipers for your benefit, but you are in charge of turning them off and on at the appropriate times. If you find yourself with a complicated problem regarding your factory supplied equipment, it would be recommended that you contact the manufacturer of your model.

    It is our choice whether we allow the information we receive into our human beings to affect and influence us negatively or positively. That call is ours. It is not the set of circumstances in which we find ourselves, but how we respond to those circumstances that makes all the difference in the world.

    Next Week: Naughty Doggie

            (Research ideas from Dr. Jackson’s new writing project on Cultural Economics)

    © Dr. James W. Jackson  
    Permissions granted by Winston-Crown Publishing House

    Dr. James W. Jackson often describes himself as "The Happiest Man in the World." A successful businessman, award-winning author and humanitarian, Jackson is also a renowned Cultural Economist and international consultant, helping organizations and governments to apply sound economic principals to the transformation of culture so that everyone is "better off."

    As the founder of Project C.U.R.E., Dr. Jackson traveled to more than one hundred fifty countries assessing healthcare facilities, meeting with government leaders and "delivering health and hope" in the form of medical supplies and equipment to the world's most needy people. Literally thousands of people are alive today as a direct result of the tireless efforts of Project C.U.R.E.'s staff, volunteers and Dr. Jackson. 

    To contact Dr. Jackson, or to book him for an interview or speaking engagement: press@winstoncrown.com