Tuesday, July 22, 2014

SYSTEMS MATTER

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


While traveling and working in most of the countries of the world, I am continually amazed by the fact that most of the people living within those particular countries understand very little about how their political and economic systems work, or why they, the citizens, are expected to perform and behave in certain ways. They just do it!

In North Korea or Cuba, the people simply get up, put on a shirt, and climb into the back of a waiting truck and are hauled off to tend rice paddies or fields of pineapples. In Taiwan, it is necessary for the people to find their own way to work in order to sit all day long next to a conveyor belt and assemble very small parts for very big television sets. In America, a lot of people don’t even go to work at all. Why is that?

It all has to do with the economic and political systems that have been chosen and implemented in the different countries. As my graduate school major economics professor, Dr. Paul Ballantyne, used to insist, “It is abundantly clear that economic and political systems matter!”

National polls indicate that most American students neither understand how a market economy functions, nor grasp the most fundamental concepts underlying all economic systems(1) Perhaps the most influential economic work of the 18th century was a book entitled An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, a book written by the Scottish economist Adam Smith (1723-90), explaining the principles of capitalism and free enterprise. He believed that governments should not interfere with economic competition and free trade, which is necessary for strong economic growth.


One hundred years later, German philosopher Karl Marx (1818-83) wrote perhaps the most influential economic work of the 19th century, Das Kapital. He disagreed with Adam Smith and wrote his work to explain the principles of collective communism. He argued that the only solution to the class struggle between worker and employer was for the government to own everything and totally control distribution. Marx believed “the class struggle necessarily leads to the dictatorship of the proletariat.” He also declared that the redistribution must be determined by an elite few, called the politburo, and they would make their decisions based on the idea, “from each according to his abilities, and to each according to his needs.” Socialism automatically becomes a by-product of this system.

Without being too simplistic at this point, let it be stated that all economic/political experiments being carried out by nations today are divided at the point of

                                          Income Growth vs. Income Redistribution.

The tensions between those two camps of economic systems are the fundamental reasons for the political experiments of the past 200 years. Free enterprise economies as seen at work in the United States and Canada have been primarily concerned with economic growth and expansion with a heavy emphasis on the freedoms of the individual.

The early communists believed that poverty, income inequity, and interpersonal oppression came because of free enterprise economies. In an endeavor to save the world they outlawed all market forces. As a result, some notable consequences can still be sited in places like the old Soviet Union and North Korea: millions of people starved, valuable resources were wasted and the economies damaged, sectarian violence quelled by brute force, basic lifestyles reduced to meager existence. And when the voluntary incentive to participate in the grand social experiment begins to fade away, pogroms of punishment and genocide have been relied upon to continue the desired political or economic results.

It will be well worth our time to discover and review for our own knowledge and security some fundamentals of the idea of free enterprise, the elements of free enterprise, the effectiveness of free enterprise, and perhaps even look at some alternatives to free enterprise.

Next Week: Systems Matter Part 2

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

Permissions granted by Winston-Crown Publishing HOuse
www.jameswjackson.com


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, July 15, 2014

SCROOGE, JACOB MARLEY AND BUSINESS, Part II

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

(From Love & Common Sense, Short Stories from Around the World to Challenge Your Mind and Ignite Your Compassion, by Dr. James W. Jackson, p. 165).

I love the city of Rochester located where the Thames and Medway rivers meet and flow into the sea southwest of old London town. On the docks where Henry VIII once anchored his Royal Navy fleet, we operated the first of Project C.U.R.E.'s warehouses in England. Anna Marie and I spent a good amount of time in Rochester, the hometown of Charles Dickens. While in Rochester we fell in love again with the writings of the renowned cultural reformer. As we walked the quaint streets and ate in the local pubs we would imagine the different characters and the locations described in his novels. We even spent one Sunday in Charles Dickens' home on Gad Hill then visited areas he had described in the city of London.

When Dickens describes Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, I live and breathe the story. I think that early in my career in the investment business in Colorado I met "Ebenezer Scrooge" several different times. "Oh! But he was a tight-fisted at the grindstone. Scrooge! A squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret, and self contained, and solitary as an oyster."

"Nobody ever stopped him in the street to say, with gladsome looks, 'My dear Scrooge, how are you? When will you come to see me?'"

But Marley had come to give Ebenezer a second chance at life. "Bah! Humbug!"

Marley and the Spirits of Past, Present and Future literally scared the hell out of Ebenezer. Scrooge pleaded with the Ghost, "Answer me one question. Are these the shadows of the things that will be, or are they shadows of things that may be only? . . . "

"Spirit," he cried, tight clutching to its robe, "hear me! I am not the man I was. I will not be the man I must have been. . . . I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the past, present and the future. The Spirits of all three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach."

Ebenezer was awoke to the fact that he still had the precious gift of time in which he could make his amends. "I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a schoolboy. I am as giddy as a drunken man. A merry Christmas to everybody! A happy New Year to all the world! Hallo there! Whoop! Hallo!"

EBENEZER  
 
In the end, "Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more: and to Tiny Tim who did not die, he was a second father. He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh and little heeded them . . . His own heart laughed and that was quite enough for him." 

As I walked down the narrow streets of old Rochester, I joined Ebenezer in his unspeakable delight, that I, too, had been given an undeserved opportunity at a second chance. 


Let's spend a few more minutes learning from Ebenezer Scrooge and his decision to inject some good old fashioned virtue into the intersection of culture and economics. An investment from his personal market basket of virtues including charity, humility, and kindness, instead of the usual response of greed, wrath, and pride, in the end paid out remarkable dividends of goodness. That investment literally changed Scrooge's world as well as the world of Tiny Tim, Bob Cratchit, and hundreds of others.

Those who choose to invest virtue into the common affairs taking place at the intersections of life reap rich inner rewards by being able to personally see others gathered at the curbside becoming better off as a result.Suddenly, the words of wisdom spoken by Jacob Marley take on even deeper degrees of truth: "Business, mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business. CHARITY, MERCY, FORBEARANCE, and BENEVOLENCE were all my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business."

Next Week: Systems Matter

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

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

www.jameswjackson.com 

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, July 8, 2014

SCROOGE, JACOB MARLEY, AND BUSINESS

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

We have spent considerable time on the curbside of the intersection of culture and economics. The time of discovery and review is time extremely well spent because that intersection is where transformation on this old planet earth takes place. The strategic components that make it across that intersection determine recorded history.

We toyed with the idea that all individuals gathered at the intersection have carried with them their own personal market basket in which they have placed their most valuable and precious possessions. What the individuals take from their market baskets and inject into the historic action at the intersection will change the world. So, the question is proffered, "What'cha gonna do with what'cha got?" What is the most strategic and important component in your personal market basket that you could take out and inject into the traffic of the intersection of culture and economics?

After spending years observing and participating in cultures and civilizations around the world, this is my personal conclusion: The most powerful possession you could take from your personal market basket and inject into the traffic of the intersection is . . . Virtue.

I am going to insert here the retelling of one of the stories I included in my book, Love and Common Sense, (p. 163). It is a familiar story written by one of my favorite authors, Charles Dickens. It is a classic story about how Ebenezer Scrooge accepted a second chance in life to inject charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence into the mainstream traffic of his life and change his world by helping others around him become better off; 

Marley was dead as a doornail," starts out Charles Dickens in his Christmas masterpiece A Christmas Carol. "There is no doubt that Marley is dead. This must be distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can come of the story I am going to relate." Dickens intends to give Marley a position of authenticity and place him in a position where no one could argue with his established wisdom. He was already dead, but now he had access to knowledge as to where he was and why he was where he was. Somehow, Marley had bargained for the chance to revisit his old, selfish business partner, Scrooge, and give him one more thin chance to mend his greedy ways 


After Marley makes his scary entrance through Scrooge's double-locked doors, dragging his chains he had forged in life link by link, he gets down to giving Scrooge his other-worldly advice. 

"It is required of every man . . . that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellowmen, and travel far and wide; and if that spirit goes not forth in life it is condemned to do so after death. It is doomed to wander through the world - oh woe is me! - and witness what it cannot share, but might have shared on earth, and turned to happiness!"

Scrooge stabbed at a chance to turn down the heat of Marley's message, "Speak comfort to me, Jacob!" 


"I have none to give . . . . No space of regret can make amends for one life's opportunity misused! Yet such was I! Oh, such was I!"

Scrooge couldn't deflect the message, so he tries a little flattery, "but you were always a good man of business, Jacob."

"Business!" the ghost cried, wringing his hands. "Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were all my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!" Then Jacob Marley's ghost went on: "I am here tonight to warn you: that you have yet a chance and hope of escaping my fate." 


I have personally tried to discipline my behavior over the years to revisit the words and spirit of Charles Dickens Jacob Marley, not only at Christmastime, but throughout the year. His powerful advice, however correct or incorrect his theology, is as necessary as oxygen. Mankind truly is my business; that's the "why" behind the past twenty-five years of Project C.U.R.E.! "No space of regret can make amends for a lifetime of misused opportunity." The common welfare is my business. Charity, mercy, forbearance and benevolence must be the mainspring and clockwork of my life every day.

The message of Marley should remind us that the chains of life that we forge link by link, day by day, should not be chains that shackle us to the greedy accumulation of this world; rather, the crafted links should become chains that bind our hearts together with kindness, justice and righteousness on this earth.

Next Week: Scrooge, Jacob Marley, and Business, 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

www.jameswjackson.com

 
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, July 1, 2014

AT THE INTERSECTION: VICE vs.VIRTUE

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


All folks are gathered at the intersection of transformational change, and each person there possesses an amazing capacity for the phenomenon of evil as well as an astounding capacity for excellence of character and goodness. Early philosophers and prophets recognized these history-altering capacities, and wrote to enlighten the minds and give wisdom to their followers. The teachings and stories of Jesus, while he was on earth, are packed full of revelations regarding the battles of vice vs. virtue.

Plato, Aristotle, and later, the church leaders, like the monk Evagrius Ponticus, John Cassian, and even Pope Gregory, endeavored to formulate into lists examples of the deadliest of evil thoughts and sins. Tinkering with the list never stops, but the following list is a fine compilation of what has been considered over the centuries the most sinister and dangerous of vices . . .

                                             THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS

LUST
Carnal lechery or lust is a general term for an inordinate and intense desire to fulfill not only the need for things of a sexual nature, but also power, fame, money, or even food.
GLUTTONY
Taken from the Latin gluttire, depicting the gulping down or swallowing food excessively, but it also refers to gluttony, or Latin gula, as in the over-indulgence and over-consumption of anything to the point of waste.
GREED
Here is another attitudinal and behavioral sin of excess sometimes referred to as avarice or even covetousness. Usually greed is linked with the idea of a rapacious desire for material things in contrast to eternal values, and is connected to the violation of someone else’s value, rights, or dignity.
SLOTH
While sloth (Latin, acedia) has been explained differently over the years, it still basically refers to physical and spiritual laziness. When a person fails to develop spiritually, an attitude and behavior of rejection of God and grace takes place. Evil is said to exist where a person resists doing what should be done and when good men fail to act.
WRATH
Rage (Latin, ira) is considered to be uncontrolled hatred or anger and can demonstrate itself by violence and revenge that can even be passed on to future generations, or can manifest itself in self-destruction and suicide. The attitude and behavior of wrath rejects the provisions of God’s gifts.
ENVY
Envy is another sin of insatiable desire. It demands to be better and have more than others. The want is so strong that it will seek to deprive others of what they have, be it material things, abilities, status, recognition, or rewards.
PRIDE
One thing that most all lists agree upon is that the matter of pride is at the heart and center of all other deadly sins. It is at the root because it demands that it is first and best and all others and all else is secondary. In today’s vernacular the expression would be, “It’s all about me.” With unchecked pride there is no need to consider anyone else, not even God. Where pride is in control the entrenched narcissism shouts that “I am not just privileged and exceptional, but above all . . . entitled.”

                                             THE SEVEN CARDINAL VIRTUES

Throughout history, good men who have had concern for the betterment of their culture and a sincere desire to help other people be better off have endeavored to examine, and also teach, what they considered to be the fundamentals of goodness as a counter to the Seven Deadly Sins. It has been agreed upon by Christian thinkers, as well as many pagan philosophers, that virtue is the key building block of a successful life as well as a successful civilization. The behavioral consideration of vices vs. virtue is at the very heart of the study of cultural economics.

The phenomenon of moral and wholesome character has been promoted by Plato, Aristotle, and other great philosophers and church leaders. Their desire is to protect not only the people standing on the curbside of the intersection, but also to protect the outcome of the flow of the traffic through that intersection of culture and economics. What happens at the intersection of culture and economics influences and shapes civilizations.

It should be of little surprise, then, that over the centuries righteous thinkers have also constructed lists of virtuous attributes intended to answer the influence of the deadly sins:

CHASTITY
Abstaining from inordinate or improper sexual conduct according to one's state in life. Embracing purity of thought and behavior and achieving moral wholesomeness of character. Living a clean life of good health and hygiene promoted by cleanliness and restraint from indulgence of intoxicants, and avoiding temptation and corruption.
TEMPERANCE
Restraint and self-control. Prudence in regard to appropriate behavior, and proper moderation in the indulgence of natural appetites, passions, and especially in the use of drugs and alcohol.
CHARITY
Generosity and self sacrifice, benevolent attitudes and actions, especially toward those in need or in disfavor.
DILIGENCE
Steadfastness and persistence in accomplishing that which is undertaken; zealous and constant endurance in the effort to always guard against laziness of body, mind, and spirit, fulfilling the degree of care and concern required even when no one else is watching.
PATIENCE
Moderation through forbearance and perspective, a willingness to solve injustices and conflicts peacefully instead of choosing violence as an answer to conflict resolutions, the ability to bear delay, provocation, or misfortune without cluttering the situation with reactions of temper, irritation, or complaint.
KINDNESS
Thoughtful consideration, empathy, and accommodation displayed with a friendly demeanor and without prejudice, resentment, or ill will toward the recipient, a spirit of magnanimity combined with compassion and cheerfulness.
HUMILITY
Humility is everything that pride is not. It is a frank and modest estimate or opinion of one’s own importance, rank, or position, while invoking respect, honor, and value upon the position and person of another, it is the spirit of perceiving the correct value and relationship between you, God, and the world that God has created.

Origen, a second century teacher from Alexandria, insisted, “Genuine transformation of life comes from reading the ancient Scriptures, learning who the just men and women were and imitating them.”1 That would be his suggestion for the building of viable traditions that would eventually be nourished and supported by institutions.

Both Greek and Roman writers pushed the idea that the acquiring of virtue would be immensely aided by imitating the noble example of others. Seneca claimed, “Plato, Aristotle, and the whole throng of sages . . . derived more benefit from the character than from the words of Socrates. The way is long if one follows precepts, but short and accommodating if one imitates examples.”

In the third century, Augustine, then Bishop of Hippo, really cleared up the issue of invoking the practice of imitating in order to acquire traits of virtue: “Now we require many virtues and from these virtues we advance to virtue itself. What virtue, you inquire? I reply: Christ, the very virtue and wisdom of God. He gives diverse virtues here below, and he will also supply the one virtue, namely himself, for all of the other virtues which are useful and necessary in this vale of tears.”2

(Please allow me to end with this personal note: Regardless of the ancient writers, I find that I am not a very good imitator. But what became a great help to me regarding this battle between vice and virtue was my discovery of a possibility while reading the Scriptures. The Apostle Paul talked about “Christ in me . . . my only hope of glory.”(Col. 1:27) And then I read on and found that the Holy Spirit was eager to enter into me and begin living the life of Jesus Christ through me to the glory of God the Father. (Corinth. Galat. Ephe.) That made a whole lot of sense to me because it would be God’s virtue in me instead of me trying to trump up something of my own. It seems to have worked well, at least for this pilgrim who finds himself standing on the curbside of the intersection of culture and economics.)

Next Week: Scrooge, Jacob Marley and Business
 
(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