Greg Autry

Fighting for space, not over it.

We have the Right to Remain Offended: UC Irvine Students Banish American Flag

s-AMERICAN-FLAG-smallAcademic political correctness has completely jumped the shark. The Associated Students Legislative Council of my alma mater and former employer, the University of California, Irvine recently passed a piece of legislation prohibiting the display of the American flag in the ASUCI common area. Apparently they believe the Stars and Stripes are not “inclusive” enough for their rarified post-adolescent tastes. While the resolution passed by 6 to 4, council president Reza Zomorrodian bravely opposed this foolishness and the UCI Student Executive Council vetoed the measure tonight. However, the Legislative Council could still move to overturn that veto. Let us encourage them to drop the matter. There is so much wrong with this piece of student legislation drafted by Matthew Guevara that it is hard to know where to begin, but let me start with this twisted excerpt as an opener:

“Whereas a high-quality culturally inclusive spaces [sic] is essential in any society that embodies a dynamic and multifaceted culture.”

Firstly, the flag of the US cannot be “anti-inclusive” it is the embodiment of inclusiveness. It does not represent a traditional “nation” defined by race, religion, ethnicity or culture. It represents a bold experiment in personal liberty and equality. It represents the idea that a state can be founded on principles rather than tribal connections. It says, “God knows we are not perfect, but we aspire to perfection and we are united by that aspiration.” I’m sorry, but I’ve been around the world and I don’t believe there is any nation on Earth with a more “dynamic and multifaceted culture.” Not even close.

On the point of imperfection, the council’s resolution noted, “the American flag has been flown in instances of colonialism and imperialism.” Yep, we’ve done that bad thing and worse: land grabs from Mexico, flirtation with empire in the Philippines, genocide of Native Americans and the enslavement of African Americans. It’s a damn ugly record, but these entitled students want to expunge the symbol of the only system that is able to adapt and avoid repeating such errors.

The kids at UCI are intelligent and well educated (a state and federally subsidized education), but they lack the wisdom required to see the deeper lesson here. Voting for this imprudent rule misses the crucial point that we all know what America has done wrong because we have freedom of thought and speech. We acknowledge the sins of our past and unlike, say China or Iran, we don’t just rewrite history to hide our blemishes. We publicly debate, self-criticize, apologize and then move on, having learned in a way most other nations cannot.

Our forebears shed blood to expunge slavery and a later generation had to fight to make civil rights a real thing. They did these things under the very banner these students propose to dispose of. We are obviously still working on our problems in a very public way, but we constantly move forward. Every other tolerant and multicultural nation on Earth learned from America. Love it or hate it, the American flag represents a global ideal in a way that no other national symbol can. America is exceptional and I say it’s OK to say that, because we are free to speak.

A fundamental inability to understand free speech is captured by another tortured gem of political correctness from the resolution:

“Whereas freedom of speech, in a space that aims to be as inclusive as possible can be interpreted as hate speech.”

Huh? O.K., let me be totally clear: I hate people who want to limit free speech; yep I said “hate!” Thomas Jefferson who hated them as well as demonstrated by the words inscribed in his memorial: “I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.” It is time for liberals and conservatives alike to understand that the value we gain from our freedom of expression is far more important than the feelings of any hypersensitive individuals or group. No person or group may take our fundamental rights away from us.

Consequently, I would never suggest that the members of the UCI student council not be allowed to express their thoughts or pass stupid resolutions, no matter how badly they have offended me (I am very offended). I’m proud to live in a nation that lets even entitled little brats publicly express their ignorance, because that is their right in the United States of America. Even though I truly hate their actions, I will defend their right to offend me. Like our nation, I did some pretty dumb things when I was young as well.

Greg Autry completed his MBA in 2002 and his PhD in 2013 at UCI. He is an Assistant Clinical Professor with the Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies in the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California. You can find him on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/gregwautry

 

A Management Scholar Speaks on Freedom of Religion and China

In the video below, Clayton Christensen offers insight into why Communism must be totalitarian and why we must not abandon our own fundamental beliefs. Christensen is a top management scholar. His theory of disruptive innovation has defined modern business strategy and greatly influenced my own research and teaching. I always listen to him carefully.

Personally, I don’t believe that any specific belief system is required for order and a well grounded secular regard for civics based on natural law will also suffice; but good and evil do exist. There are actions that are simply not conducive to the continuation of life and civil society and acts that are helpful. Those rules have been developed over thousands of years and offered up by prophets, philosophers and sages of all stripes. The best of them result in a tolerant consideration of other best summed up in the “Golden Rule” we get from Christ, Buddha and others. While we may find it hard to take these bronze age stories literally, we know-it-all modernists dismiss the wisdom in their tales at great peril.

When children are raised in a purely subjective environment where all positions must be considered valid and given no education in good v. evil or right v. wrong, chaos will ensue and force must be substituted to maintain control. Christensen is right to warn us about this and observant to note that a totalitarian China empirically demonstrates this fact.

Mao’s war against all objective ethical standards (Buddhism,Confucianism, any intellectual philosophy and Christianity) during the Cultural Revolution corrupted the country for generations. The problem is still there. In China today, money is God and whatever you can get away without the authorities finding out about is OK. “All power flows from the barrel of a gun” as Mao like to say.

Western business leaders, politicians and academics have partied in this ethical vacuum, exploiting China’s labor and debasing its environment for profit with the blessing of China’s government. China’s dictators whore out their nation’s children and their most precious resources to these men for the money required to keep the Communist Party in power and the opportunity to extend their corruption abroad. This results in the astoundingly nasty things we see today from the total lack of respect for other’s Intellectual Property to dog leather factories to baby formula poisoned for profit.

This is why the things that scare the hell out of Xi Jinping and the of cadre of soulless criminals that run China today are intellectual honestyTibetan Buddhists, House Churches and the Falun Gong.

(I’d like to thank Kai Chen for point this video out to me.)

Greg Autry is a professor of entrepreneurship and economics. He serves as Senior Economist with the American Jobs Alliance and with the Coalition for a Prosperous America and is co-author (with Peter Navarro) of Death by China: Confronting the Dragon – a Global Call to Action. He blogs regularly at: http://www.gregautry.us/blog  and on the Huffington Post.

Cheap Oil

 

The continued stock market “panic” over cheap oil continues to perplex me. When oil crashed in the 90s we had a boom. The increase in supply from fracking and decrease in demand from the struggling Chinese economy that are driving prices down is a great boon for America. The factor inputs to our chemical, materials and agriculture sectors will all drop in costs as will heating, electricity and transportation. Consumer are getting more out of this than any tax handout stimulus package can do.

The US economy is actually moving forward and domestic manufacturing is strengthening. Too slowly, but still moving. Outside of Houston, the oil glut must be welcome.

There seems to be some concern that the Chinese economy will implode and that would somehow be a problem for America. The reality is that relative to GDP (and to imports) we make virtually nothing selling products to China. In any case, cheap oil is the best thing to prop them up (which is the only downside here, in my opinion).

Further, there is every likelihood the Saudis are on board with this because cheap oil will undermine the rogue oil business in Syria and Iraq that keeps ISIS going. I for one, hope gas hits 99 cents again! (and I drive an electric car).

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Another Air Travel Rant and My 9/11 Story

RED DART NCI’m on my way to the research triangle area of Raleigh-Durham to deliver a keynote address at the first annual RED DART Security Conference. This blog entry was written inflight from Orange County to Atlanta on September 11, 2014. RED DART is corporate education effort hosted by NCMS and a collection of counter-intelligence agencies: FBI, Naval Criminal Investigative Service, Defense Security Service, Us Air Force Office of Special Investigation, Us Army Military Intelligence Group, Homeland Security Investigations, and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service. It was packed full of impressive professionals and we there were some great speakers on cyber security and active shooters in addition to my overview of the China threat.

Crammed into one of those newer, 12.4cm (or whatever) deep aisle seats, I’ve managed to angle my body toward the aisle just enough to crack my laptop open a tad and wedge my fingers onto the keys. I can almost see the screen. Whenever I move my right arm down to use the track pad, my elbow jams the fellow in the middle seat who is pretty much perched on our shared armrest because the camouflage c

overed stomach of the big dude in the window position has occupied at least 32.68% of his seat – I’m convinced that Atlanta is the epicenter of national our obesity crisis. I’d feel really sorry for Mr. Middle Row if he weren’t chewing tobacco and spitting in a cup – seriously.

The row in front of me is occupied by a couple of adorable little girls whose family only on Red Bull and chocolate espresso beans. As they crawl back and forth over mom, the seatback and table tray jut toward me and then just as quickly pop up and away before slamming back down with a laptop-threatening crunch. Meanwhile, each pass of the drink trolley solidly whacks my left elbow and knee. Such are the indignities of modern air travel and I thereby absolve myself of any grammar or spelling errors in this post (working on excuses for the other ones).

9/11/2001

Anyway, unable to sleep or concentrate on anything new, it seemed like a good time to relate my “9/11 story.” Every American has one of these – most revolve around watching the tragedy unfold on the office computer, while talking with loved ones on the phone. I’ve never put my own, more unique, experience down in writing. It’s been more than a decade and I suspect the retelling of it may have altered my memory on a few minor points, but here is how I remember it:

On the evening of September 10, 2001 a small group of friends from my MBA program were gathered at Beijing’s Outback Cafe. We’d be on a study trip to Chinese University of Hong Kong and had arranged a quick tourist trip to the Chinese capital. Dinner chitchat settled on geopolitics and inevitably strayed into the policy quagmire that is the Middle East. This was sailing close to dangerous conversational waters in small group composed of a couple of Christians, a Jew, a Muslim and an uncommitted soul. The conversation was intense but intelligent and remained entirely polite.

My Muslim friend expressed his sympathy with the Chinese over their “century of humiliation” at the hands of aggressive European powers during the corrupt late Qing dynasty. For similar historical reasons, he was pining for restoration of the pan-Islamic empires of the Middle Ages, when Muslim science, medicine and literature were the intellectual bright spot of the world. I remember humorously asking, “Does that mean you guys want Spain back?” My inquiry received an awkwardly ambiguous reply and I was thinking, “Oh my.”

At the time I was incensed over the outrageous behavior of the Taliban in Afghanistan, which had been repressing women, closing secular schools and harboring terrorists. The demolition of ancient Buddhist monuments carved into the mountains of  the Hindu Kush was particularly appalling. I recall arguing that such wanton destruction and brutal intolerance had no place in the modern world and called for removal of these despots by Western force. I was not surprised that my Muslim friend strongly opposed intervention, but I was astonished to hear him argue that the global decline in religious adherence was more of a threat than reactionary fundamentalism. He sincerely felt that a return to faith would suppress the forces that drove global conflict. Not surprisingly, our little group failed to bring peace to the Middle East or remedy for Central Asia’s instability.

After the meal, I flew to Hong Kong and checked in to the lovely Hilton hotel inside that city’s amazing airport. It was a joy to escape the paranoid atmosphere and questionable accommodations of Beijing, where persons unknown had rummaged through my safe and papers – while disturbingly leaving cash and jewelry purchased for the Mrs. in Hong Kong untouched. (Interestingly, it was this needless violation of my privacy that set me on a quixotic life mission to help displace the Chinese Communist Party – you MSS guys sure know how to make friends!).

On the morning of September 11, I awoke refreshed and ready to get back to the states! I boarded a flight to Japan for my connection to Los Angeles on good ‘ol Northwest flight 002. Arriving at Narita, I found the air traffic controllers were concerned about bad weather coming in and there was a bit of a delay. I took advantage of the extra time to grab some Pokémon gear for my Pikachu loving five-year-old and thought I was lucky to get out despite the storm.

My usual M.O. on the trans-Pacific crossing is to take a couple of sleeping pills, throw on headphones, cover my eyes and try to sleep as long as humanly possible. When I groggily returned to the present, I had the sense that something was not right. I believe I’d been awoken by the plane making a course correction and when I looked at the in-flight display map we were clearly on a heading that was taking us much farther North than would be normal for LAX. In fact, it looked like we were headed to Alaska. This was disconcerting. I was still pretty bleary, nobody else in my row spoke English and I could not for the life of me find a stewardess.

In fact, the entire flight crew had disappeared to some secret hidey-hole where they were probably counting out the carving knives. The flight deck wasn’t telling passengers anything. Later, our plane very clearly altered course again, resuming a directly Westward journey. At first, I assumed that we were avoiding another Pacific hurricane or something, but the continued absence of inflight service went from an annoyance to a subject of serious concern. I had no clue what was going on in the world and the GPS flight map showed us headed toward the Northern California coast.

We didn’t know it at the time, but following the 9/11 attacks, all international air traffic into the U.S. had been diverted to other destinations and NWA 002 had been redirected to Vancouver. I later learned through a pilot friend that our crew had concluded they did not have sufficient fuel for Vancouver and turned back toward the U.S in violation of the FAA directive. Thankfully, we were unaware that President Bush had issued a shoot down order for uncooperative airliners and that the Navy had scrambled a couple of F-18s, which were sitting on our tail.

The pilot announced, with an uncomfortable stammer that we were making our final descent into Los Angeles, which was very weird. I was seated at port side window near the front entrance and had a great view. As we came in I recall seeing an aircraft carrier outside San Francisco Bay and getting a good view the Golden Gate Bridge. This wasn’t LA.

After the plane came to a stop at the terminal the jet-way came forward and I could see it was oddly packed with people, all of whom were dressed in black. By the time it docked, their body armor and rifles were clearly visible. The door quickly opened and a man stepped in and barked “Get off of this plane immediately!” Still having no idea what was going on, I was in no mood to argue, unbuckled and jogged passed the SWAT team without trying to figure out exactly what agency they were from and entered into an airport out a twilight zone episode.

The facility at SFO had already been evacuated and it was eerily empty. There was no opportunity to pick up checked luggage and no customs inspection of my carry-on. This provided an odd sense of relief because I was still concerned I might have exceeded the duty limit by spending just a little too much on that jewelry for the Mrs. A lone and somber immigration agent waited to stamp my passport. I’ve got a rare “9/11/2001” U.S. entry stamp as a sad memento of that odd journey on a terrible day.

I was happy to be back in America, but eager to know what the hell was going on. TV monitors in the empty airport showed smoke, debris, emergency vehicles and helicopters but I wasn’t really sure what was going down or where. A call to my wife, who had been anxiously awaiting any word of my whereabouts while trying to calm an elementary school full of panicked kids (she was a principal) resolved the general nature of the mayhem and encouraged me to get out of the airport as quickly as possible. I managed to hitch a ride from a departing airport maintenance worker and get to an offsite rental car agency. The 400-mile drive home was somber and endless.

Most people remember the 9/11 events from their TV experience; mine was radio. I didn’t see the iconic images and videos until I arrived home, late that night. My wife had seen more than enough and simply couldn’t bear to relive them. I sat down alone in front of the TV and cried in the dark.

No iWatch Is Required to Tell Time for Apple Corporate Biz

Apple (AAPL) recently reclaimed its highest-ever stock valuation at a post-split price of $100 and change. This price is mostly predicated on expectations of a big rollout of for the new iPhone 6 and the speculation around a wearable “iWatch” device for consumers. What is not discussed nearly as much are the firm’s growing opportunities in the corporate world.

Apple’s latest quarterly results confirmed something a lot of anecdotal observers have been thinking for a while: the Macintosh is quietly taking over the PC market. That conclusion is strikingly at odds with reports from the analysts at IDC and Gartner, who have been reporting declining Mac shipments, even in the most recent quarter when sluggish PC sales supposedly picked up. These firms reported year over year unit drops of 1.3% and 1.7% percent while Apple insists there was double-digit growth. Who’s right? Because Apple controls much more of their chain with retail and online sales Apple has much better sell through data than the analysts at Gartner. It also has much higher margins than its competitors. When in doubt believe your eyes.

“But wait!”, you say, “That’s a consumer story and you’re ignoring the vast corporate market where most PCs are sold.” If you’re over 70 you might add something like, “you can’t run a business on Apple equipment.” Guess what? The world’s most valuable company runs on Apple equipment. Doh!

Now, I’ll admit that if you wander the cubicles of corporate America you’ll find them dominated by Dells and HPs but you will also find a lot of fax machines and copy machines. Investors should be talking about future growth and the Macintoshes are well past the “sneaking in the backdoor” phase. Does anyone seriously believe that there has been a reduction in Macintosh penetration at the corporate level?

Further, does anyone love his or her Dell? I mean other than that ancient “Dude, your getting a Dell” dude. I can’t say I’ve ever heard anyone rave about the latest corporate black box and say, “I’m going to get me one of those virus infested puppies for home!” No, these folks are grumbling about the latest iteration of Windows  or even still bitching about Vista. With support for Windows XP dropped, are rushing to the Apple store. If you have any doubts about this, after your visit to your local Mall, take a gander the vast empty spaces in the Microsoft Store, if you can find one.

Class of Macs smLet’s take a moment to look to the future. Here is class of undergrad business students at a major university where I teach. Notice anything? Frankly, being “stuck” with a windows machine has become a stigma in college. I’ve observed the same story at the MBA level and even the executive MBA classes. These folks are the future and often-current managers of the global corporate world. They will soon be driving purchasing decisions from New York to Shanghai and they do not want to do windows.

While the consumer channel may be stuffed full of really cheap Androids tablets every fall, most of those grandma bought gizmos are going to rot under a pile of dirty clothes in a dorm somewhere. Lately it seems about half the small retailers I visit are using iPads are cash registers. Many chain restaurants are using them to seat clients, take orders and again as registers. Comparatively few are choosing less expensive Android tablets. Why is that?

Virus, hassle, option and thumb drive free, Apple’s locked down, high-margin tablets make a lot more sense for corporate and retail environments than their Windows or Android competitors. For one thing Android tablets come with all sorts of physical connectors and options to support peripheral devices and optimize user options. However, this plethora of possibilities, which look like a competitive advantage on paper, is actually a disaster for the distribution channel and constantly undermines the Android echo system. While all those options are awesome if you’re a uber-nerd who gets off on having that one-of-a-kind configuration, from a business standpoint, simple is secure and Apple wins hands down.

There are only two physical configurations of the iPad – full size and mini – and updates are methodically slow and iterative. This means makers of docking stations, card readers, cash draw adapters, podium stands etc. can provide solutions to a large number of potential clients with two versions as opposed to accommodating the dizzying array of hardware from a hundred different Android manufacturers. These hardware firms lack control over the real user experiences in the OS and therefore they must compete by lowering cost (and quality) and adding features and options. Consequently, they update their products so often that as soon as an accessory designer has stuffed the distribution chain with their latest wares they find that half the announced tablet models were either never really distributed or were quickly discontinued. The unlucky accessory manufacturer must take back that useless inventory and when they go bankrupt the distributor is stuck with the plastic waste. Apple rarely strikes out with a product. Even a “failure” by Apple standards, the iPhone 5C, is one of the best selling phones on the planet. Corporate IT and the resellers who support big retail don’t want to get stuck with junk.  It’s sooo much safer to just push their clients toward Apple. Once Apple solidifies its corporate foothold, the opportunities for backend products and services are enormous as well.

The bottom line is that the consumer market is filled with phones and tablets and that Apple’s high-end products already capture most of the profits there. Consumer growth is not what investors should be eying. Apple’s future is in the business world and no iWatch is required to tell what time it is.

Now, if we could just get more of this stuff made in the USA – and maybe California.

Note: I own Apple stock, develop corporate products for the IOS platform and also routinely criticize the firm for concentrating its production in China.

Sometimes Everything Actually Works Like it Should

iPhoneA couple of weeks ago, I was rushing through the TSA checkpoint at LAX to catch a United Flight to Honolulu. In the chaos of shoe removal, scanning, bin shoving that endows the modern air traveler with that special sense of savior faire I left my iPhone 5 somewhere.

Settling into a relatively new Boeing 747 I soon discovered I was missing 4 ounces of expensive silicon. Not wishing to alert my traveling companions to the situation – and thereby receive 4.5 hours of spousal lecture and general familial abuse – I kept quiet. After takeoff, I coyly pulled out my iPad and connected to the inflight WiFi Internet service; which, considering that it must be provided by a geo-sync satellite was remarkably responsive.

I was able to launch Apple’s “Find My Phone” from 35,000 feet over the Pacific and verify that my trusty, $600 communication device was still in the terminal. I was also able to cause it to shriek and to send an alert to the screen asking whomever might see it to email me about the status of my device. At that point I sat back for a long wait, fully expecting to get no response or perhaps a taunting email from some thief who had run off with my property.

But no! The Shift Supervisor at Terminal 7 took the time out of what must be another hectic day at TSA to send me this:

This is TSA we have your phone contact TSA lost and found at 310 -555 -XXXX Monday through Friday 8AM to 4:30PM. I recommend wait until Tuesday for your property to be picked up and taken to our Lost and found facility.

Wow! I was amazed. Hurray for hardworking government workers who care! Really.

Of course, I had business to do and Facebook updates to make so I couldn’t be without a phone. Landing in Honolulu, I put off visiting Mom for a bit and dashed to the local ATT store to get a new phone. No problem! And while I was there I renegotiated my rate plan and picked up a new iPad with cellular data while still lowering my payment. On to Mom and Facebook.

The only glitch came when I contacted TSA to get my phone back and they recommended me to the friendly owner of a local UPS store who was willing to pick lost things up and ship them. Regrettably, the fellow wanted me to email him all my credit card info. Understanding how terribly insecure email communications are (can you hear me now my buddies at the Chinese Ministry of State Security?) and how vulnerable his PC stuffed full of people’s unencrypted card numbers is, I refused. I called him and tried to give it to him over the phone. No luck. I lectured him on PCI compliance (the credit card industry standards for security which I’ve been working with recently on an app project). The very busy gentleman refused to get it. Oh well, he will have his “mini-Target” moment someday and be out of business.

I eventually arranged for a prepaid FedEx pickup with the very helpful gentleman at TSA lost and found and my son ended up with yet another hand-me-down phone upgrade. Everyone’s happy, mostly. Sometimes our modern world actually works exactly like it should!

Victory is Sweeter than Appeasement – Commies on the Run in San Leandro

I’m very pleased to announce that the courageous Mayor of San Leandro California, Stephen Cassidy, has suspended the raising of the Communist Chinese flag over the City Hall. According to an article in Daily Review Mayor said, “San Leandro does not fly the flags of other nations at our City Hall.”

Please take the time to write or call and thank him for Mayor Cassidy for his decency.

Address: 835 E 14th St, San Leandro, CA 94577
Phone:(510) 577-3355
And PLEASE DO GO TO SAN LEANDRO AND SPEND SOME MONEY. It’s a great town!
Next Up: Alemeda and Oakland California are apparently planning to repeat this mistake. So warm up your phones,  feet and keyboards. We will not stop until the appeasement of these totalitarian, militant, job stealing, organ harvesting criminals ends!
Greg Autry is a professor of entrepreneurship and economics. He serves as Senior Economist with the American Jobs Alliance and with the Coalition for a Prosperous America and is co-author (with Peter Navarro) of Death by China: Confronting the Dragon – a Global Call to Action. He blogs regularly at: http://www.gregautry.us/blog  and on the Huffington Post.

Five Stars Over California

CCP Flag1The  city council of San Leandro, corrupted by the lure of Chinese money (or should I say U.S. money being repatriated for influence), has decided to fly the flag of Communist China above its City Hall on Chinese “national day”, October 1.

This date celebrates the conquest of China by Mao’s brutal communist forces in 1949 and the establishment of a regime that has killed more people than any other on Earth. A regime that continues to this day to execute more of its own citizens than the entire globe combined. Many of them for religious and political dissent. Apparently “partnering” with these sort of criminals is what San Leandro wants to be known for.

A mocking of the American flag of equal sized starts, this flag symbolizes the inferior position of the Chinese people (small stars) in relation to the Party (BIG star) and the over all dominance of Communism (Red) in all aspects of society.

San Leandro offers this insult to many people including:

Korean Vets who watched their many Americans and allied soldiers go down in the face of China’s insane “human wave” attacks.

Tibetans who are watching their country be systematically dismantled and their people abused under Beijing’s colonial ambitions.

Vietnamese Americans who had their own country stolen from them by communist forces backed by China.

Falun Gong who have been persecuted, rounded up, forced to labor in prison camps and executed so their organs and bodies could be sold for profit to the West.

Christians who have had their bibles restricted, their churches demolished. This is a country where the Catholic Church is prevented from selecting its own Bishops by the Communist Party.

Millions of Unemployed Americans who have lost their job to China’s cyber espionage, currency manipulation, and trade abuses.

San Leandro has voted to spit on all of these people.

I strongly urge you to contact the leaders of San Leandro and let them know what you think. City Hall Phone: (510) 577-3357

If you can go there on October 1st and show your disgust for this gesture and demonstrate your support for America and our values that would be great.

Bring your own food and fill up your gas tank before you enter town.NEVER DO ANY BUSINESS IN OR WITH A SAN LEANDRO FIRM. Boycott China, Boycott San Leandro.

note:  Mayor Stephen Cassidy courageously opposed this action. You can thank him at: (510) 577-3355

Greg Autry is a professor of entrepreneurship and economics. He serves as Senior Economist with the American Jobs Alliance and with the Coalition for a Prosperous America and is co-author (with Peter Navarro) of Death by China: Confronting the Dragon – a Global Call to Action. He blogs regularly at: http://www.gregautry.us/blog  and on the Huffington Post.

Putin Exercises Our Right to Free Speech

Russian dictator, Vladimir Putin recently had the presumption to exercise his American right to free speech by publishing an Op-Ed in the New York Times. The irony of this aside, Putin has crafted a strong and well-worded case for caution in dealing with Syria. While we cannot ignore the human tragedy going on, we would be wise to carefully consider each of his points before acting, according to our own judgement, based on our own principles. However, that is not my point here.

Putin closed his piece with this carefully crafted paragraph, which has created some outrage in America:

My working and personal relationship with President Obama is marked by growing trust. I appreciate this. I carefully studied his address to the nation on Tuesday. And I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism, stating that the United States’ policy is “what makes America different. It’s what makes us exceptional.” It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.

Note that Putin has called upon the words of Thomas Jefferson to suggest that Americans are not exceptional. He’s right; Americans are not exceptional, as a race. We are, indeed, with the rest of humanity created equal. In fact, we are a joyous mix of immigrants and the ideal of racial exceptionalism that Putin implies we aspire to is actually an anathema to us.

What Mr. Putin has intentionally failed to comprehend is that it is the very nature of Jefferson’s words that make the ideal of America exceptional. When the American people live up to those ideals we are the exceptional nation. It is then that we are that Shining City of the Hill that Reagan promised the world. That is what inspired thousands of protestors in Tiananmen Square to gather around a Goddess of Democracy modeled after America’s Statue of Liberty, shortly before their own government began to slaughter them.

Further, “created equal”, in the context of the Declaration was not a judgement of the inherent abilities of individuals, it was an assertion that all men are equal in the eyes of God and the law. That is something Putin’s increasingly oligarchic and locked down Russia can no longer even aspire to. Russia is heading toward a model of nationalistic socialism ironically similar to the one that Putin noted America and Russia once worked together to defeat.

If we react to external threats by surrendering our moral responsibility to international organizations or running down to Wal-Mart and buying a load of Made-in-China hats and shirts emblazoned with the Stars and Stripes we are not demonstrating our exceptionalism and we prove Mr. Putin’s point. It is actually when we vehemently disagree in the press, argue around the family table and our complain about our Congress and our President locking horns over the important issues of the day, that we are exceptional. Keep that up America; earn your exceptionalism this day.

 

The Author at the Memorial to the Victims of Communism, Washington DC

The Author at the Memorial to the Victims of Communism, Washington DC

 

Greg Autry is a professor of entrepreneurship and economics. He serves as Senior Economist with the American Jobs Alliance and with the Coalition for a Prosperous America and is co-author (with Peter Navarro) of Death by China: Confronting the Dragon – a Global Call to Action. He blogs regularly at: http://www.gregautry.us/blog  and on the Huffington Post.

Repost: The Fallacy of ‘Idea-Land’

This is a repost from my post on American Thinker back in September, 2011. One of my favorite pieces. Unfortunately little has changed in two-years, thought the opening sentence is all the more true. I’d do think a lot more American’s have realized that when it comes to our “free trade” and  engagement policies that ” the emperor has no clothes.” They are waking up their friends from the soma clouded stupor, induced by our business schools and economists.


China Trade Policy and the The Fallacy of ‘Idea-Land’

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It is becoming painfully obvious that our China trade policy is deindustrializing America.  Even our latest “green technology” firms like Massachusetts’ Evergreen Solar have packed up their manufacturing bags and fled to Wuhan in search of huge subsidies, the freedom to pollute, and a union-free work force held down by jackbooted cops.  So how does a “free trade at any cost” pundit slap a happy face on the reality of 10% unemployment?

Well, many a cockeyed optimist has been quick to assert that America will triumph as the “land of ideas!”  In Idea-Land we will design and market fantastic products and not worry about what goes on in Chinese factories.  Fareed Zakaria, the patron saint of globalization, recently posted this on CNN’s GPS blog:

In America’s case, we have all the ingredients to succeed in the 21st Century. We have the most innovative companies in the world such as Facebook, Apple and Google.

He goes on to conclude that America’s problems are consequently the fault of our own dysfunctional domestic political system (no argument), not the fault of unfair Chinese competition.  Mr. Zakaria’s three exemplars of American innovation offer the perfect opportunity to analyze Idea-Land.

Facebook is a classic example of China’s non-tariff trade barriers at work.  The Social Network is illegal in China, and its website is blocked as part of China’s social repression system.  Yet, Beijing actively supports the growth of its Chinese competitor Renren, which just had a successful IPO on the NYSE.  While Facebook’s idea has no access to the Chinese market, American capital pours into a firm that stole it!

Apple Computer has become the poster child for China trade.  Research by Greg Linden, Kenneth Kraemer, and Jason Dedrick (from my own institution) suggests that the majority of profits from the iPod and other insanely great Apple stuff accrue in the U.S. because most of the value is generated by Apple’s innovation rather than in production.  While confirming that labor rates are not a big part of product cost — the work could be done by Americans with little impact on the retail price — it overlooks the effect of currency manipulation, massive subsidies (entire factories provided by the government for free), and the plethora of other Chinese trade cheats that make the both the production inputs and the final product cheaper.

Additionally, Steve Jobs is smarter than your average CEO; Apple was not forced into a minority partnership like most U.S. firms.  Companies like GM find their profits skimmed, their operational control restricted, and their technology forcibly transferred to a “partner” that often evolves into a brutal competitor.

By using Taiwan-based, mainland-savvy Foxconn group as a contract assembler, Apple keeps its profits and technology.  Tying their operating systems to their hardware avoids Microsoft’s fate in China — most Windows copies there are bootlegs.  Not that fake iPods, iPads, and even entire faux Apple stores can’t easily be found.

Finally, my experience with production engineering and a recent visit to Foxconn City — a complex with 350,000+ workers — convinces me that Foxconn makes a greater contribution to the design value than is visible from the data.  As a product moves from prototype to production, a lot of re-engineering takes place.  Done well, this results in a feedback process that yields manufacturing efficiency and product enhancements.  Worryingly, this process works best with the design team closer to the production environment.  As America’s manufacturing moves to China, much of our corporate R&D is following, and Chinese policy actively encourages that.  Let’s hope it we don’t find an Apple R&D center in Beijing next to GE’s new X-Ray division HQ.

Anyway, Foxconn isn’t going to be making cars, airplanes, or nuclear reactors anytime soon.  Apple is a rare exception, not the standard for analysis.  Joint partnership hell and rampant idea theft remain the norm for American firms behind the Great Wall.

Google tried to play China’s game but was burned.  Beijing directed it to censor offensive search results like “Chinese democracy.”  Though originally compliant, the California firm was continually disadvantaged by induced disruptions to its Chinese network, a blatant public preference for its Chinese competitor, and hassles over its internet “license.”  In order to avoid the trap Beijing laid for Yahoo — demanding dissidents’ emails and info — Google disabled services such as gmail.  Its YouTube service was completely blocked.  China eventually requested that Google also censor “objectionable” Chinese material from its U.S.-based site.  In 2009 Google discovered that Chinese agents had hacked their systems — along with more than 200 other U.S. firms — and swiped their cherished source code.  So much for the advantage of ideas.

Remember that these are the experiences of three of the smartest firms in America.  For almost every other company, from Hollywood movie studios and online video game developers to aircraft and auto manufacturing, it has been far worse.  It is simply impossible to base our nation’s future on ideas, when ideas are systematically repressed and methodically stolen by a powerful and immoral tyranny masquerading as our trading partner.

Finally, Idea-Land itself is a “bifurcation trap.”  Linden, Kraemer, and Dedrick state:

As long as the U.S. market remains dynamic, with innovative firms and risk-taking entrepreneurs, global innovation should continue to create value for American investors and well paid jobs for knowledge workers.

That’s great for the Stanford engineering grads designing the next iPhone and the Wharton MBAs who will market it.  However, the career for the rest of us — sub-120 IQ America — will be a pair of 30-hour-a-week (no benefits) retail jobs selling Chinese-made products to the new knowledge-worker nobility.

Americans need manufacturing because we have varying skillsets, and it offers the highest value-add career for people who are not product-innovators.  And it isn’t just assembly jobs; it’s the aforementioned production engineers, as well as the safety officers, HR staff, plant services, janitorial crew, and cafeteria cooks.  As we abandon manufacturing, we are being forced to embrace either a highly stratified social order or enact a massive and inefficient wealth redistribution scheme.  Both are already happening as the jobs that our stimulus “created” pay far less than the ones we packed off to China and we extend unemployment to those completely displaced.  In Idea-Land, America’s future looks a lot like Latin America’s past.

Greg Autry is a professor of entrepreneurship and economics. He serves as Senior Economist with the American Jobs Alliance and with the Coalition for a Prosperous America and is co-author (with Peter Navarro) of Death by China: Confronting the Dragon – a Global Call to Action. He blogs regularly at: http://www.gregautry.us/blog  and on the Huffington Post.