October 29, 2008

Brains to the left as we seek economic salvation

Posted in Irish Economy · 74 comments ·
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What makes a good leader in a crisis? In difficult times, what are the personal and intellectual characteristics that elevate the mere mortal to the position of a giant? When facing disaster, what is it in human nature that inflates some people and gives them the ability to take the right decisions when everyone else is losing the head?

Now, more than any time in the last generation, it is important to understand these deep personal traits. We — not just in Ireland, but worldwide — are now depending on a small number of individuals. Some have yet to emerge, others are in situ. This global crisis will make and ruin reputations. Why did Roosevelt, a popular but not particularly impressive man before he took office, see things clearly? Why did Churchill, again someone whose reputation was verging on the dangerously maverick, become the rock of stability that Britain needed in the War? Why did De Valera emerge preeminent here from a galaxy of revolutionary stars?

At a more commercial level here in Ireland, why did every bank chief executive get the market so badly wrong? And why did the Central Bank and the Regulator, as well as consecutive Ministers of Finance, preside over this financial madness — a mania which has brought us to the brink?

If asked now, whether it was reckless to keep lending to every person, no matter how risky, who knocked on your door, the bankers would all admit it and confess. If challenged by shareholders as to why they took monumental bets on Irish property and financed the wager in the wholesale money markets rather than from deposits, they’d all now say that that strategy was delinquent. But they did it and make no mistake, a major reason for this was personal enrichment. Now, before we become overly judgmental, let’s point out that getting rich is not a crime.

However, when you are in a position of leadership, personal enrichment cannot be the main driving force. There must be other qualities. A recent newsletter by the investment guru Jeremy Grantham focused on the issue of personal traits and leadership in trying to explain how we reached this crisis point. For anyone trying to understand it, Grantham is one of the most talented money managers in the financial world. He has an ability to gain altitude when others are middling around in the dirt. For those interested see www.gmo.com.

As always, Grantham sees the world differently and this month he is speculating on whether the character traits of our corporate leaders might have something to do with their inability to predict the future and see around quarters. The other night, with that in mind, I spoke to a number of Ireland’s financial and corporate titans at the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year awards. It struck me that the next generation of Irish leaders — both political and economic — might possess a very different suite of brain processes than the ones who got us into this mess. To use that very American term, Ireland’s next leaders might be “hardwired” differently.

While American terms might be a bit simplistic, their influence should not be underestimated because in the past 10 years, the penetration of American corporate thinking and fashions into Irish boardrooms has been almost complete. As we watch the last week of the run-up to the US election and we examine the type of individuals who might escort Ireland out of this mess, the “hardwiring” issue is a fascinating one.

In 1981, the neurobiologist Robert Sperry won the Nobel Prize for his discovery that we have two brains — a right side and a left side — that see and experience the world in very different ways. He also concluded that our world favours people whose left side of their brain dominates.

According to Sperry: “The main theme to emerge… is that there appear to be two modes of thinking, verbal and nonverbal, represented rather separately in left and right hemispheres respectively and that our education system, as well as science in general, tends to neglect the nonverbal form of intellect. What it comes down to is that modern society discriminates against the right hemisphere”.

So our leaders are most likely to be those whose left side of the brain dominates. These traits are decisiveness, hard work, focus, persuasiveness, analytical skills and political skills.

The great American chief executive is picked from people with these types of traits, as are Irish chief executives. These are the characteristics of people who business schools churn out every year and these are the personalities who do well. But they are not the type of people who think laterally.

nor are they patient, as patience — that most wonderful of virtues — has no place for left-brain-thinking people. These alpha chief executives are doers who are not paid to put their feet up and think about the world. They are there to solve problems and move on. For them, leadership and success is all about seizing opportunities and acting decisively. It is hardly surprising that none of them saw this crisis coming, because their brains do not work that way.

The type of people in the financial markets who saw the crisis unfolding were those for whom patience is a strong component of their personality. In many cases, their career doesn’t depend on making cash today, but is more concerned about avoiding mistakes by being too reckless. These right-brained people are typically more intuitive, and likely to contemplate historical events when it comes to analysis. As Grantham notes, they are more interested in outlier events and are curious about the whole picture, not just the individual jigsaw pieces. In many ways, they get there, but arrive slowly and circuitously to their conclusion.

However, even though the right-brained people were more likely to have foreseen the crash, it doesn’t follow that the right-brained people are the best ones to get us out of this mess. We still (and possibly urgently) need the lefties with their focus, decisiveness and linear minds, who when given the task will execute. Maybe we just need the more ponderous righties to advise them.

How might this be relevant in Ireland as we face a political and economic crisis? Obviously, in terms of the urgent restructuring of our banking system, the Minister for Finance might do well to stack the new bank boards with right-sided leaders who have perspective, while keeping some of the Alpha-male lefties to execute orders. Likewise, in terms of running this country, he needs the doers as well as the thinkers.

One thing is certain: the people who will lead Ireland out of this catastrophe are not the same people who got us into it. The sooner this is realised the better.


  1. roc

    You’ll find a lot of these kind of people living on the streets or similarly dispossessed by society. There is no room for these kind of people in society today and there hasn’t been for a long time. The present forms of school, college, work, and society in general will knock it out of you.

    For a long time now, society (specifically, our economic system) has rewarded the industrious, resolute, proud, covetous, prompt, methodical, sensible, unimaginative, insensitive, and ignorant.

    You get dumped on for being idle, reckless, humble, thoughtful, imaginative, sensitive, well-informed, improvident, impulsive, merciful, just, godly…

    • Ste

      Roc, while your comment might be a bit tongue-in-check it has to be said that these types of people generally do quite well for themselves. The reason why they’re not in the boardrooms and in political circles is because they don’t want to be. Who would want to be! These types of people are innovative and work for themselves on things they are interested in. They are the round pegs in a square system.

  2. Marcus

    David, to paraphrase your statement , left handed people are Superior and if they were in charge none of this mess would have happened in the first place. I couldn’t agree with you more.

  3. b

    I think that maybe you confused pig headed arrogance with brains. Left/right is an old way of looking at it. The brain is more complex and less understood than pretty much anything else in the universe. Saying that people are one kind over another is a result of intelligence and independence of thought being beaten out of you through schooling not as an innate trait.

    We need constructivly lazy people to get us out of this. Industrious and earnest people got us into the mess by championing and fighting the wrong battles. Even if you win the battle its not worth a lot if its the wrong battle. Lazy people solve problems because they don’t want to waste energy.

    Left/Right brainedness is like horoscopes. General traits that can be used to explain anything away.

    I agree with roc above and I would count myself in the dumped on category but I have one trait that has done me good stead and that is the ability to stand my ground and fight.

  4. Hired hands during a boom go with the flow and both claim credit for the business cycle and are given it by the media and other groupies.

    The memory of the current crisis and the externalities – the expectations of the market, reaction of regulators will shape how CEOs work over the next decade – whether they are left or right brained.

    The late UK fund manager Tony Dye was fired just a week before the Nasdaq peaked at 5010 in March 2000, because he was bearish on tech stocks and refused to include them in portfolios. Warren Buffett had a similar view but he was effectively his own boss.

    Hired hands will continue to move up the ladder by going with the flow and in big multinationals, one huge factor will continue to hold sway – just hope early in the career period if you get on well with your manager that he or she climbs that pyramid fast as you’re unlikely to be forgotten.

    Few current senior managers have never taken what they viewed as big risks.

    They rode the boom and were brought down to earth when it ended.

    But they are still in the money. Merrill Lynch’s Stan O’Neal got a $161m thank-you.

    The top Irish bankers will also never be stuck for money. I guess it would be a bit upsetting to be attacked like Lehman Brothers’ Dick Fuld in a gym by an angry shareholder!

    Entrepreneurs will continue to succeed and fail and the public will only eventually hear of the successful ones.

    What is the formula for leadership, if there is one?

    Life experience can be a big factor.

    Franklin Roosevelt was from a very privileged background but it is credible that having contracted polio, it gave him an appreciation of the position of the underdog in society.

    Sometimes, it takes a crisis for a leadership quality to be recognised.

    Michael Bloomberg is for example both a very successful entrepreneur and a politician but the billionaire is happy to work in an open-plan office.

  5. Malcolm McClure

    David said “our leaders are most likely to be those whose left side of the brain dominates. These traits are decisiveness, hard work, focus, persuasiveness, analytical skills and political skills.”
    To reach the very top of a multi-national corporation one needs to have made use of all these skills, perhaps with the exception of decisiveness. in high-level meetings it is much safer to allow decisions be reached by consensus, or by a subordinate who can be fired if it becomes viewed as mistaken policy. Close to the top hard work is greatly subordinate to political skills, intelligence, contacts and judicious brown-nosing.

    • This is just an opinion but from my experience the most likely to be promoted to a high level in an organisation are those that are probably competent but whose general ability on the job is eclipsed by the political nous to understand what each of their bosses wants to hear. It’s not just sucking up, it’s an intuitive skill and can be useful in negotiations. However, as their bosses perhaps got to the same position through the same process it tends to be bad for innovative thinking, corporate honesty and integrity.

      A business culture founded on telling bosses what they want to hear is a severe impediment to understanding when a wrong turn has been taken and correcting course. Rather than saying it’s a right/left brain issue it might be better to consider how we can encourage our more outspoken and less politic workers to take on management positions or at least effectively advise their more “conservative” peers. They need to be rewarded to do so. Coarse grained promotions to the title of “manager” or equivalent assume that one size fits all. Part of this is understanding that vision and people skills more often than not don’t reside in the same person but that both are important. The politicians seem like a safe pair of hands to the bosses they pander to while visionaries can seem unstable and risky.

      The culture of wall street and those of David’s BRM are remarkably similar in some respects. A brazen confidence within a self-supporting group that reject offbeat thinkers and celebrate macho decisiveness. They were never likely to admit they were wrong or back down until it was too late.

  6. FT columnist John Kay, who also doubles as a business school prof. writes today: “By describing Napoleon’s Russian campaign through the eyes of individual participants, Tolstoy rejected the notion of history as the lives of great men. Of the battle of Borodino, he wrote: “It was not Napoleon who directed the course of the battle, for none of his orders was carried out and during the battle he did not know what was going on.”"

    Kay writes: “John Sculley was chief executive of Apple from 1983 to 1993. He gave an extended account of his experiences to Fortune magazine, which posed the question: “Sculley – chump or champ?” Mr Sculley’s tenure included a period of great success – Apple’s graphical user interface brought the present computer within the capabilities of everyone; and a period of serious failure – Microsoft achieved almost complete dominance of the industry. How could one man have been both so right and so wrong?

    The analysis overlooked the obvious answer – that neither Apple’s success nor its failure had much to do with Mr Sculley, an able corporate bureaucrat who rode the roller-coaster of high technology. Our desire to see history through the lives of great men blinds us to the real complexity of politics, business and finance, and leads us to find intentionality and design where there are only chance and improvisation. The philosopher, Alasdair MacIntyre, put it acerbically: “When imputed organisational skill and power are deployed and the desired effect follows, all that we have witnessed is the same kind of sequence as that to be observed when a clergyman is fortunate enough to pray for rain just before the unpredicted end of a drought!” He also said: “One key reason why the presidents of large corporations do not, as some radical critics believe, control the US is that they do not even succeed controlling their own corporations.” That was the experience of Chuck Prince, former Citigroup chief, and Stan O’Neal, former head of Merrill Lynch.”

  7. RingoStar

    I think that the banks directors should most certainly be sacked because they have falsely proped up the property market to such an extent that they can’t afford for prices to drop too much even though they should drop a hell of a lot. If prices drop negitave equity will increase and so will defaults and so banks will suffer. Even now Permenat TSB have a product called “HELPING HAND!” which basicaly alllows young naive 1st time buyers to borrow based on their salary and their parents salary with the family home as a guarentte!!!!!!! That is so wrong for so many reasons.

    If the industral average wage is 37,000 then the average household can afford a mortgage of around 185,000. That would not buy a house in an of the major urban areas of Ireland. Prices must drop, banks must stop falsely proping up the market and young people should be able to buy a place to live at a reasonable price

    • roc

      Historically, it has been 3.5 times. And that should buy you an average family house. Or, 130K. And even at that price, if properly and efficiently utilising latest building methods and technologies, and clamping down on this stupid, parasitic speculation on land, there is a decent profit to be splashed around.

      • RingoStar

        Completely agree ROC it’s the price of land and the obscene profit levels demanded by greedy speculators that is the problem. Our population density is one of the lowest in Western Europe yet land prices are still outrages and house prices even more so. To burden young 1st time buyers with the level of debt of recent times is criminal. In 2006 I was offered a 100% 40 year mortgage by TSB which was 6.8 times my annual salary. Of course they wanted my mother to sign a guarantee which would have put her house on the line.

        Thankfully I refused this insanely risky deal but because other young people have been lured in with deals like this I am priced out. It really is not fair. Simply put the risks taken by banks have stopped prudent sensible people from getting a house at a reasonable price and have filled the pockets of property developers. It makes me sick

    • Shannoner Scalder

      Ringo Star – A very good point on Ave Ind wage vs “fair value” house prices

      I work in the UK now, and my understanding here is that “fair value” houses (3 Bed Semi-D) prices long term trend is 3.6 times average wages (of nationwide average wage), and 4.2 times (of London average wage) in the London area. Do note that, according to Alex Slamond in his recent SNP address, that the average Paddy is 40% more prosperous than the Brit.

      Thus, in Ireland outside of Dublin, the long term trend in house prices should be Eur 37k X 3.6 + 40% = Eur 186k. I agree with DMcW comments of overshoot in good times but undershoot in bad times.

      Though these “rules of thumb” are based on “averages”, they at least give some guidance of what to base your targets & assessments on when it comes to assessing house prices. Much better than the lad in the pub/local estate agent bullsh*t…etc.

      What we’ll all find out in this looming recession that such basic principles of investment & working people trying to buy their own home are valid in the long term, as opposed to the pyrimid scheme of property we all have experienced in at home in the last 10 years.

  8. Paul

    I think it was on here that someone coined a new phrase for this Island “eat-your-own-land”. I think we will continue to do this, because the big time Charlie and cute hoore are still held in high esteem in Ireland. They will continue to get that pat on the back for being able to make money at the expense of someone else, rather than by providing a useful service to the community, or the economy, this is how we have been brought up, along with our drinking culture, it is nothing to be proud of.

  9. Ed

    The government, judging by last night’s prime time, are bereft of any lateral thinking – they’re intent on digging deeper into the same old property hole. Edward de Bono was the pioneer of lateral thinking and a hero of mine, but his latest solution for the property market’s woes is a bit peculiar – is self-interest clouding his judgement?

    http://www.edwdebono.com/

  10. Seán Weafer

    Fundamentally, the change here is one where we have reached what I term a r’evolutionary age – evolving people and organisations through the power of relating. An age when things have shifted from a pure competition and dominance structure to one more suited to collaboration, connection and co-creation. The survivalist and dominance mode of the ‘lefties’ is being replaced by a more synergistic (and right-brained) view of the world. No one person is going to pull us out – its down to the combined efforts of the many.

    In corporate terms this mess was created by ‘managers’ – automated ‘functionaries’ who told people to tick the boxed that they themselves were told to tell others to tick. Thinking and vision were not encouraged. They never were in the old world. This is the time for the re-birth of leaders – people who can lead through serving and inspiring the people around them and who ‘sell the message of change’ and get people to buy-into that change. The new ‘game-changers’.

    Arguably the whole concept of the ‘leader’ may also be redundant as people start to look less for a single person but rather people who provide information, connect people and encourage collaboration (check the influence that key individual bloggers have today in informing people’s thinking). R’evolutionary days indeed.

  11. Seán Weafer> This is the time for the re-birth of leaders – people who can lead through serving and inspiring the people around them and who ’sell the message of change’ and get people to buy-into that change. The new ‘game-changers’.

    Seán this is like a promo for the aspiration industry or a rebranding of some fad like reengineering!

    Outside of specialist areas such as R&D, the old hierarchical model will continue to dominate and managers will continue to be the usual mix of brilliant, inspiring, moronic, examples of the Peter Principle, bigots and so on.

    >R’evolutionary days indeed

    More a return to fundamentals.

    • Seán Weafer

      Cheers Michael but that may have been the case in the past – factors such as information access, pace of change, mobility, personal digital networks and ‘social communities’ have changed the landscape of how people perceive their work – command and control just won’t cut it with those capable of thinking for themselves – usually the one’s with the ideas to make the change.

  12. Michael

    “Tough times never last, tough people do” – Dr. Robert Schuller

    In the context of the times we face, I think that the above quote is very appropriate. David, I agree that those who got us into the mess are not the ones to get us out of it. Those that got us to where we are now are those that succumbed to the temptation of short-term gain. What we need now is true leadership that enables us to take-on the tough times head-on so that in the future we can once again enjoy prosperity (hopefully in a much more mature fashion than we did during the Celtic Tiger era).

    Cheers,

    Michael

  13. Furrylugs

    I’d say Sean Fitzpatrick roared like a speared bull when he read that article this morning. Good man DMcW for voicing what the whole country is saying.

    The very thrust of the article puts you firmly in the Political arena henceforth. Senator or independent European?

    You must follow that article with an open letter to the Government from all like minded economic commentators. But only the ones that riled Bertie and proved conventional thinking wrong.

    The senior citizens, teachers, farmers and all the other pressure groups will never gel totally. Not to the point of a general strike and even if they did prove the point, even more reputational damage would be accrued.

    Solidarity among the economic doves and an exposure of the hawks ineptitude would bring about more pragmatic planned change, though painful.

    But at least a correct step forward as opposed to the wanderings of Lear in the heath.

  14. b

    Brains are to be checked at the door is the way things work. Ireland is behind the curve on innovation but ahead of the curve on groupthink and social exclustion. Have a good idea in an Irish business and you are shown the door or are demoted.

    1/10

  15. Furrylugs

    BTW David, are you alluding to the use of Praxeology as a new control mechanism?

  16. Deco

    Interesting article. It goes straight to the point of intellectual development, problem solving and our current debacle as a society. It also goes above all the squabling going on at present, with the various vested interests all wrestling in an attempt to control government policy. State policy since Reynolds stepped down as Taoiseach in 1996, has become increasingly incoherent and messy. We need a straight talking, no-nonsense type leader to make necessary decisions with respect to the public sector problem in Ireland. We need a McSharry to do it, and a Dukes figure to support him until the job is done.

    Our Government front bench, and much of the political establishment is incapable of seeing things clearly. The one politician who could see things clearly in the Dail was Jerry Cowley the TD from Mayo. For example his account of how Condeleeza Rice had her own fitness regime and program was incisive. He followed with a direct reference to the Minister for Health – “and tell me now Minister, do you not think in consideration of the good example you could set the young people of Ireland, that you might follow Condi’s ideas”. The Minister refutted his allegation. The media reported that Cowley was abusive and disrespectful to the Minister. The Minister continued as before. And Ireland continued as before. After all our advertising sponsors (Guinness etc) do not want to lose business.

    Our media is committed to ensure that there are no clear thinkers in there. Those in control of Irish society will make sure that there are no clear thinkers influencing government policy. Like in America, the vested interests have got a big say in the mainstream intellectual debate in the society.

    • Colin

      But Jerry Cowley is a moron for supporting those 5 nutjobs protesting about Shell in Rossport.

      The pipeline is 100% safe.

      I reckon those 5 nutcases were just looking for some “shut up money” from Shell, and Shell did well not to pay them because the oil/gas doesn’t belong to the 5 nutcases.

  17. Deco

    RingoStar Roc – the price of building land in Ireland is determined by a bunch of players with oligolopistic intentions. Same applies in the motor industry. In the legal profession. In the medical profession. In the media. In banking. And then we have the public sector. The developers are doing the same thing as all the other sectors of the economy. It has gone completely out of hand. And nobody will do anything about it. Where is the Competition Authority ? We have a consumer agency that has the ex-Taoiseach’s ex-girlfriend on it. Nepotism is the glue that keeps it all together. The entire system functions as one pervasive “Economic Rent Infrastructure”. And it is also the source of much of the evil and contempt in Irish society. And comtempt is the source of social strata consciousness, and substance addiction.

    In Ireland we have wholescale market rigging. It is the source of our problems going forward. We simply cannot continue to function as either a society or an economy if this is not reformed. I do not regard giving more power to the state as reform. Because the same people infleunce everything, only via different methods.

    The solution as I see it, is to implement full blown Austrian Economics on the private sector. It would bring down costs, bring up standards, and invigourate the society. The public sector needs deflation applied to it’s budget, and considerable restructuring to remove duplication,and improve accountability. If there was more accountability in the public sector, then the public consumers of it would be able to apply pressure to make it efficient. We need to run our public sector like they do in Singapore.

    • Colin

      To quote Eoghan Harris, “There is employment apartheid in Ireland”. You have one group (private sector) who work as if their job is on the line, and a second group (public sector) who have got nothing to do all day and all day to do it.

      You have do do something criminal to get fired as a public sector employee.

  18. MK

    David:

    I hope the article is just a little bit of fun, as your left vs. right brain traits are over-simplistic. In fact having read several books on the subject (and being a fully paid up left hander bore), the left/right brain debate is a dangerous one to embark on glibly. The real crux of brilliance or holistic enlightenment that you allude to, in the main, would appear to be gifted to those whose left and right brains exhibit abnormally high interactivity. So it’s not whether you’re left or Right brained that counts but the ability of the brain to operate using both sides in parallel that creates Genius. OK but here’s the crunch. Left handed people (11%) of the population are much more likely to exhibit this trait. No space here to explain why. But it is a very small group of left-handers (right brainers), that fall into this category, making up .5% of the population. Confused? You will be.

    Here’s the good stuff though. When left-handers (right brainers) truly exhibit super inter-connectivity between the two hemispheres something spectacular happens..you increase the chances of creating a Da Vinci, Michael Angelo, Bach, Mozart or Bill Gates for that matter. Yes even a Churchill or a Gandhi .

    Both US presidential candidates, Obama and McCain are lefties/right-brainers for example. So which of them displays the lack of political chops depicted in your article David? Reagan, Bush Snr and Clinton are/were all lefties (right Brainers). Are you beginning to see a pattern? Did Napoleon or Julius Caesar appear unambitious?

    It is also well documented that an abnormally high percentage of Entrepreneurial & Maverick types are lefties/ right brainers, So this does not sit comfortably with your theory. The greatest right brainer of our generation is probably the uber ambitious and hyper competitive Bill Gates, a Harvard drop-out and a serial Leftie (right brainer)… god this is confusing. Despite your comment ot the contrary, a high proportion of CEOs are left handed/right brainers but wait for it (they are usually the priginal company founders). The bolted on Harvard CEO types fit the model you describe and are a left brain animal. Normally hedge fund types.

    Then there’s the genre defining musical Leftie mavericks such as Bowie,Dylan,Cobain, Hendrix, Macca, Simon, Costello, Rotten, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Porter, eminen, Albarn, Byrne, Sting, Stipe, Plant …it goes on.

    As much as I hate to Admit it even Bertie is a left-hander and I’ve got a funny feeling Cowen is too !! So where the feck does that leave us?

    I take your point that Lefties/Right brainers reach conclusions by a process of holistic osmosis and non-verbal inputs, but the idea that they don’t follow through with decisive action and hard work is a fallacy ….see above.

    • It’s also amazing how many of these super maverick types display the traits normally associated with asbergers and other high functioning autistic syndromes. Anti-social behavior, rudeness, talking in monologues, intense stubbornness. I’d go further and suggest that many of the greats have been lefty-obsessives who would find it difficult because of an innate strangeness to be appointed by a VC or hedge fund as a CEO. Bill Gates is a prime example. Does he strike you as the McKinsey type? Yet he has proved to be the most successful enterpreneur of the last century, whose personal fortune would have comfortably surpassed the 100 Bn mark had he not vested billions into his charitable trust.

    • roc

      God. What have you been reading, MK? Sounds to me like that awful ubiquitous US pap psychology. Imagine comparing Mozart and Bach with Bill Gates… Or, Churchill with Gandhi?

      The fact that they all write with their left hand is the sort of trivial coincidence that techie-materialist culture loves.

      I put it to you that what is far more important is how the ‘heart drives the head’. Also, the role of nurture. Sure, I am sure these things cause a reaction on a material basis, perhaps with how brain-neurons connect up. And probably many other processes we have no idea of.

      But, on this question, there is no need to get all techie and “scientific” and US style – “we can explain it all on a materialist basis, bosco”… I think any human being regardless of his education (in fact the less the better – less prejudice), can judge a man in terms of his heart, and his spirit, and the capacity of his intellect to remain true to the quality of those things in him.

      So let’s not split hairs about how we allude to the thing we’re talking about here… David is keeping it very simple and understandable as usual. Everybody can understand and relate to what he means… I myself have a prejudice towards talking about ‘a good heart’… but at least I am keeping it simple… You yourself MK are trying to obfuscate the issue. Essentially you’re saying that this is not a simple issue, and if people have not read the theories that you have, then they are not capable of making an informed view on the quality of person we are talking about.

      I think you’re wrong. And also I think those books you are talking about are hardly worth the paper they are written on.

  19. What are ye on about today David? Seriously!!

  20. Ire_in_Exile

    Nice post from @MK in response to another novel DMcW article.

    Indeed may I further confirm that the left and right brain qualities reflect the opposite in political poles- where left brain is traditionally conservative and right brain more liberal and free thinking.
    (Though these political distinctions have been watered down in recent years, as seen in the virtually indistinguishable parties of new labour and the conservatives in the UK)
    However, any good society..or the society that people should really aspire too, should be about attaining a good balance of both.

    We have had a balance of these politically for some time but it has been the worst of each side!
    There is a current Western world shambles occurring as we have been led by a division of the two.
    Business has become ruthless, predatory and unscrupulous, while the globalised media and pop world create a smokescreen of personal freedom and liberalism. (Enough liberalism to immunise you to what the business side is doing while they deprive you of your loot.)
    So we haven’t effectively had a cohesive society in decades, the left and right (and right and left brains) have been working separately, away from each other and in isolation, and often complete ignorance as to the others existence!
    …and the current maelstrom is a result of this.

    Only when a positive balance of both sides are employed will there ever be a genuine productive and stable economy and society.

    I agree though very much with the principle that Left brain is now more urgently required for Irelands current situation- not least in so far as the Irish are already integral and world renowned R brainers!!

    Seeing things from another side…a curious side in Northern Europe, in which dull people seem to have nothing to add or offer but the whole thing seems to come together to work effectively, I do wonder if the Irish would not really benefit in general by more ruthless left braining as a nation..although this certainly would be far less “Craic” !
    I should know- I am in Sweden right now!

  21. Furrylugs

    All this “Brain” assessment presumes that the present leadership of the country are in possession of same.
    I’ve seen learned response indicators but little evidence of independent cranial activity.

    I think David called the lot of them thick, not to put too fine a point on it.

  22. Garry

    I think the ye are focusing on the wrong problem…

    Yes, we need all hands on deck.
    Yes, different people see things in different ways and can provide insights.
    Above and beyond that, I think its fair to say most people are smart enough and want to contribute but disengage when they see they are being used or fed bullshit by those in charge… Just witness the change in tone in comments here from positive/volunteering to downright negative in response to the governments guarantee as it became clear what was happening…

    I think the problem is how do we as a nation organize so instead of sectional interests fighting to be the “last to starve” during this recession, everyone can contribute to its resolution.

    In the software industry “open source” approaches have had some success in getting disparate teams to create software which rivals and often exceeds traditional alternatives. Of course, no system is perfect or will be a miracle cure for the problems we face. But I think some of the principles could be applied here…. the most important ones being openness/access to the real data, freedom for people to suggest, recognition of contributions, meritocracy, but there is governance.

    Currently, policy is formed in meetings between unelected and unaccountable groups via so called national partnership. Regulators and depts are completely unaccountable for their decisions. The whole ethos of government is closed shop, secrecy, coverup The net result is the industry of spin,/PR/advertising which produces nothing but an income for insiders to feed bullshit to the masses on the outside. And of course the opportunity for those insiders to profit by advance knowledge.
    99% of stuff in govt is routine and should be publicly available….Open it all up, let the light in and let people see real facts, figures etc… e.g. what % of expenditure of a deptartment or agencys budget goes on salary, subcontracting etc…. Create a way for people to query & contribute, its surprising what could be accomplished.

    Sure there’ll be a lot of noise but the more eyes that look at something, the better chance there is of getting the correct solution, and the less chance of cozy back room deals (or even the accusations of same)
    Would we have a tribunal if all the planning stuff was publicly available for example?

  23. MK

    Shane:

    You are absolutely right; everything from Epilepsy to Schizophrenia is closely related Left handedness/Right brain behavior. In fact I cheated a little in my post as I could have mentioned Jack the Ripper and a whole host of other unsavory lefties, but it would have slightly deflated my argument ;-) ..what it proves though is that Lefties are different, be they genius or infamous. To complicate things further, there are different degrees of Left-handedness, Do you use your left ear on your mobile, kick with your left foot etc etc. At this point I agree with Ruari above, as in what the hell are we all talking about here…and why? To be fair, boiling it right down David is simply suggesting that society (Irish or otherwise) needs to recognize, respect and celebrate this “different” and highly valuable intellect that captures, creative, imaginative, holistically informed and non-verbal historical and visual modeling (i.e. right brain activity) .. I totally agree. My point is simple…how do we recognize these sage like gurus who walk amongst us? Well, all I’m saying is that it’s highly likely that they’ll be left handed into the bargain. Righties don’t like this theory at all as they rule the playground, but the forensic evidence bears this out. God the nuns have got a lot to answer for in converting a Citog nation to righties :-) …..

  24. Furrylugs

    Heres more of it.

    http://www.irishexaminer.com/irishexaminer/pages/story.aspx-qqqg=business-qqqm=business-qqqa=business-qqqid=76049-qqqx=1.asp

    So it looks like the field was valued at 2bn in 2001, Shell paid 7bn for it in 2002. Add the 3bn development cost to bring the Shell exposure to 10bn. Valued today at 9bn.

    Now either this is;
    (a) complete propaganda
    (b) Shell Corp are fools
    (c) I can’t add

  25. Deco

    Furrylugs – I have a conspiracy theory on this. And it comes from people who live in the area, who circulated theories as to what is really going on. Shell are not telling us the truth. This is the essential point that the protestors in Bellanaboy are telling us. There is far more oil/gas in there than they are admitting. But they don’t want to be forced to admit it until Irish sovereignty in energy matters is superceded to Brussels. In a few years time the politically correct classes will have changed their attitude to corporate oil, and will have tamed down a bit. And the profits at that stage will be better. Well you can believe that if you like. It all sounds a bit extreme. We shall see how it all plays out. I reckon that the real rogue in all of this was Ray Burke. If Shell were clean and ethical, Rambo would corrupt them !!
    I am sceptical of Shell – their track record in transparency is not great !! Maybe they can explain all of this !!

    And even though West Dublin and most Midland towns are seriously unmanned in the Gardai department, we can be rest assurred that hairy pensioner protesters on the site of a wet windy of mountain road in North Mayo will be outnumbered three to one by gardai. As one of the penionsers put it on the news last year – “these are not our cops, these are Shell’s cops”. Profit before people, you might say.

    • Their figures will have suggested that the value of the gas will substantially increase over time. They have massive amounts of cash so oil companies can afford to speculate on oil and gas fields as a matter of course. The field is ideally placed with its major customer within close range and little difficulty in getting them signed up as consumers at an attractive price. Even at a steep 7Bn it was relatively low risk. over a 15 year life. I suspect you and others are correct about the size of the field however. It may be much bigger than estimated.but i’m not sure that conclusion can be reached based on the purchase price alone.

  26. Furrylugs

    No conspiracy at all Deco. It’s all happening on the ground but the thing was pretty vocal and local until the Shinners started bussing in hard cases from Belfast.

    A PR shambles from Shell fuelled by the belief that Certain Co Meath based ministers would control the yokels.
    Lots of mis- and dis- information from both parties. It’s a mini civil war up there with family against family.

    Another example of the D4 arrogance deployed outside the Pale.

  27. Philip

    Folks, might I suggest reading a book on EgoNomics. Says it all really – http://www.egonomicslive.com/ has some bumph on it.

    To often I feel, many of those who make decisions are never around to feel the consequences of their actions – merely the warm glow of someone else’s hard work. If I were to compare this with the work of a structural engineer – you have an individual who designs a solution that when built will remain standing for the duration of their career. Such guys are left/ right or whatever brained….but if they are still in business, they are cautious and courageous. It takes a fair degree of neck to build a structure that stands 100s of metres tall supporting 1000s of tonnes of material and sways in the wind and is still safe. The comparison with business and government should actually be no different. Feeling honest accountability for the people you employ, the business you transact and the contracts you have signed is key to leadership and ultimately success.

    The last 20 years has been awash with a poor articulation of day to day realities driven by the gloss and distraction of multimedia driven pooh. There are no truths nor genuine good old fashioned lies. It’s just bullshit – which for me is just the destruction of information to confuse people – a mind f*&k if you will. In times of apparent comfort, people only care for the next sweetie, showman etc. The truth of their expanding girth together with the destruction of their relations with their community and environment is an unwanted intrusion.

    I am very optimistic about what is happening. The discomfort is causing people to look past the bullshit. The smell of the plastic of their many distractions and the clutter of one to many flat screen TVs is starting to look silly. Frugality and quality will become the order of the day – as it will be in leadership. The FF showband and its vacuous capability to drive real growth has now been revealed.

    Just been reading Brendan Keenan’s column on the real doo doo in the Public Services finances. Rickety services demanding more money than ever before – I figure a few hard nosed managers in there with power of hire and fire (starting with what must be really useless top and senior management people would sort that mess out and save billions in 2-3 years with a major service improvment. The public are now supportive. All it needs is someone to pull the political trigger. Dream on?? I choose to hope and remain optimistic here as well.

  28. Furrylugs

    Well summed up Phillip.
    I’d say we need a change of Government first. That will probably be precipitated by the Greens pulling out, a vote of no-confidence by Fine Gael, a mini-budget in Spring and a general election in May.
    FF have no stomach for the fight. They’ve had it easy for too long.

    A fresh (centre brained) government capable of multiple thought strands as opposed to singular profit taking.

    I’m optomistic too. This won’t be pleasant but we should, if the nation proves itself mature enough, be able to weed out or hobble these people who are effectively economic traitors.

    Then we could have some real Tribunals and retribution.

    If we don’t leave these opportunists in fear of the consequences, they’ll come again. We need rid of the Charlies, Berties and their fellow travellers. We need respected business people and evidence of concience in our politicians.

  29. Furrylugs

    PS.
    I’m surprised this blog hasn’t been shut down.

  30. John H

    If they did we would be in the streets protesting

  31. Liam

    David, an interesting article as always, and also for the comments above.

    This left-brain, right brain stuff is interesting but I wonder. I have to say I know nothing much about the field of neurobiology, but my understanding is that the brain is not entirely plastic once developed. In fact there are reasonably frequent cases of people with significant brain injuries who’s brain activity has moved from a damaged region to an undamaged one, and of course there is the well known case of London cabbies abnormal brains due to their acquisition of ‘the knowledge’. There is even some evidence to suggest that the brain is capable of producing stem cells and regenerating tissues. You might also be interested in Simon Baron-Cohens work on autism, particularly his work on the underrepresentation of women in politics and business.

    Anyway, I digress. Your point seems to be about brains from a growth point of view but but what about developmental factors? Ask anybody who has studied entrepreneurship and they will tell you that innovators and entrepreneurs are not born, they are made. Ireland is still cripped by a national inferiority complex, a hang-over from British rule, that made us envious of American lifestyles and the Banks were happy to take advantage of this. The same inferiority complex causes successive policy-makers to forget to nuture and encourage indigenous talent and entrepreneurship and instead rely on corporate America to give us an income, (and arguably some of the most anti-innovation corporates at that: the second truth here is that most innovation these days comes not from large corporate R+D labs but from SME’s, and the patent landscape backs this up). Since FDI became the fashion of the day, Irish HEIs have effectively become the employment agencies of Intel, Dell, HP and Microsoft. Worse still, despite years of opportunity, irish universities are for the most part second rate compared to their global peers. Witness also the irish political class represented by people in power now who have never had a serious crisis to deal with in their political careers, nor the breadth of experience to have some idea of what to do with this one, and the come off, rightly, looking like a bunch of clowns.

    So for sure you need really smart people, maybe even left-brainers, who knows… but you need a total change of attitude toward provide opportunities through encouraging entrepreneurship at all stages of education (but in particular in universities) and through tax breaks for start-ups and investment in R+D, and get out of peoples heads this crazy and totally unsustainable idea that encouraging US corporates to set up factories in Ireland is the way forward. (I even saw an article in the IT the other say saying that Obama would be bad for Ireland as he would give tax breaks to US companies creating American jobs. This kind of thinking has to be once and for all recognised as abnormal)

    To paraphrase some guy (can’t remember his name) I saw speak a couple of years back (innovate06 i think), if Bill Gates had been born in Ireland, Microsoft would have been the largest software company in Dunlavin. I think that about sums it up.

    Cheers, -L

  32. b

    Oh, By the way DeValera was an immigrant. And I wouldn’t dare accuse him of anything bar hiding when the shooting was going on and trying to turn this place into an ultra conservative Fascist hell hole.

  33. Interesting. I’m pretty strong on the left side, but also heavy in the intuition and patience camp too (INTJ). Like anything a good balance is needed. BTW, do none of these muppets believe in scenario planning? Save running around like a headless chicken.

  34. Deco

    Liam, if Bill Gates was Irish – he would have got up and left. Imagine him going to his local bank looking for a loan. The response would be ‘Listen – I know you are into software, but really that is just a nice hobby – maybe you could go and get a state job – and then we will give you a 100% home mortgage. We really think you should get on the property ladder before it is too late. We think you are a bit on the risky side”…..

    Furrylugs – you are correct about a certain minister, with a Mr.Bean like tendency to make the straightforward into a complex puzzle !!!! Everything he touches turns to disaster. 100% in agreement concerning the need for the current FF front bench to be put before the electorate. We need a whipe out like happened under FG and Noonan, and Labour under Quinn. Fresh new thinking. Also I think Alan Dukes and Ray McSharry should convene a meeting to lay out the seriousness of the situation to all the current politicians in the Kildare Street circus !!

  35. Anto Climax

    Philip – I am going to find EgoNomics and read it. I guess it is something similar to the BBC documentary “The Century of Self – an exploration of manufactured consent of the masses”. You can all see that documentary on u-tube. It is essential viewing for anybody who wants to be free and truly happy, in the modern world. It is a four part series. Have a look and pass to allthat you know….
    The Century of self Part 1 of 4. When you reach episode 4, you will never listen to a television again….

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=8953172273825999151

    • Tim

      Anto climax, this is nothing new: anyone who studied Freud in college knows about this.

      But then, most free market capitalists don’t agree with educating the masses because it allows them to question the status quo and their leaders.

      Hence, education is the leanest running machine there is in the west; and just look at the education cuts in the budget.

      Learning about the freudian roots of PR is not very high onthe list of priorities of the “business-speakers” who blame public services for everything.

  36. MK

    Hi David,

    Leadership and how and who gets to positions of power is an interesting topic. Its a big topic too but suffice to say for now that the current method in place is seriously flawed. I’ll get back to it later. (one could write a book on it).

    > let’s point out that getting rich is not a crime.

    Well, perhaps getting excesively rich SHOULD be a crime, or at least made illegal or not possible. Tax the uber-wealthy, let them go elsewhere. Is inequality a value in society that we should promote? Probably not. Lets put it to a vote!

    MK

    ps: just to let other responders know I havent had the time to read them yet, will do so later in the week post Halloween.

  37. Shannoner Scalder

    Its seems Brian Cowen is of the right-side brain persuasion.

    “http://www.rte.ie/news/2008/1030/economy.html
    Taoiseach Brian Cowen has said we are battling the most severe global economic and financial conditions for 100 years and that Government cutbacks cannot be avoided.”

    ROI is not even 100 years old yet, and certainly FF is not either.

    …..perhaps there’s hope yet ?? At least he may be thinking outside of the box, or then again its probably just another feck-up!

    • b

      The country is called Ireland not Republic of Ireland or ROI or Southern Ireland.

      In the same way that we say France and not Republic of France or Philippines not Republic of the Philippines or Spain and not the Kingdom of Spain.

      Fianna Failure should be well used to severe economic and financial conditions after bringing on its own self made and looney recession from the end of World War to to the late 1990s. We should be well used to Fianna Fail driving us into economic misery. Ask your long departed family in New York, Sydney, Toronto and London how bad it was here and why they had to leave.

  38. Ire_in_Exile

    @shannon scalder to @ringostar far above…

    Insurers are the only people who know the real value of property.
    But it should be obvious to all that a house is only ever worth what it takes to rebuild it again if it burns to the ground..plus some variable bonus percentages on top
    It is how I escaped the Irish property boom and bust. I looked keenly for property in Dublin but what was presented to me simply was not worth the value placed on it…,
    The actual bricks and mortar cost was being obscured.
    No popular opinion or media blurb could convince me otherwise…so I refused, and spent 2003 to 2006 being laughed at as a chump and indeed I felt the guilty painful pangs of having lost out on a possible easy fortune…but Today I inhale the air deeply in huge relief.

    • Shannoner Scalder

      Ire_in_exile

      Insurers are not the only the only people who know the price of property.

      Karl Marx & F Engels, and subsequent others, truley define the “price of property” as economic rent of the land on which its built….potential to generate income on that piece of land…etc

      Insurance companies risk-assess what it would take to build that same property on the land that which it was on. This appraoch is a contributer to a property price, but from a construction vewpoint. Insurance valuators are not economic forecasters for that region within which the property is located, and thus its ability to be an investment/purchase opportunity for a local-seeking homeowner employed locally..etc. Crucially, the value of the land on which the property is built is not of their main concern.

      I follow Karl Marx here. Land is the fundamental commodity in this regard, which has been totally manipulated in our recent Irish “Boom”. Insurance company assessment is just a negotiation with some local builders looking for work.

      Its Land prices that rise and fall, the bricks & mortart on top are just a direct function of what deal you can make with a builder & rent you can extract from that holding.

      As has been since said, Karl Marx predicted everything right about Capatilism and everything wrong about Communism. Well worth a read I’d say.

    • Furrylugs

      Hail fellow , well met, Ire.
      Me too and now they all want my opinion.

  39. Anto Climax

    Have a look at this folks.

    The two Brians must be shaking in their boots. The revolution has started on the internet..

    http://www.thepropertypin.com/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=14827

    People are challenging the legality of the governments attempt to create a price floor in the residential property market.

  40. Furrylugs

    FF are replacing the Angelus with a new prayer…….allegedly

    Wherefore rejoice? What conquest brings the Unbelievers home?
    What tributaries follow the Blueshirts home,
    To grace in captive bonds their chariot-wheels?
    You blocks, you stones, you worse than senseless things!
    O you hard hearts, you cruel men of the Pale,
    Knew you not Dev? Many a time and oft
    Have you climb’d up to walls and battlements,
    To towers and windows, yea, to chimney-tops,
    Your infants in your arms, and there have sat
    The livelong day, with patient expectation,
    To see great Bertie pass the street of O’Connell:
    And when you saw his chariot but appear,
    Have you not made an universal shout,
    That Liffey trembled underneath her banks,
    To hear the replication of your sounds
    Made in her blue beach shores?
    And do you now put on your best attire?
    And do you now cull out a holiday?
    And do you now strew flowers in his way
    That comes in triumph over the Tigers blood? Be gone!
    Run to your houses, fall upon your knees,
    Pray to the gods to intermit the plague
    That needs must light on this ingratitude.

  41. jose antonio

    Dunno about left brain or right brain, but the IDA are running a series on the CNBC business channel called “The Irish Mind”.

    You can read the transcripts and watch the series on line here:
    http://www.theirishmind.com/

    Apparently we are social, creative, anti establishment etc etc the usual stuff .. you could put guess most of it yourself.

    Anyway, the series is well worth looking it. For the purpose of attracting so called 4th level investing, I think its well done.

    (and before you cynical bunch start, I have no connection to the IDA)

  42. ”…………….. let’s point out that getting rich is not a crime.”
    Embezzle comes in all shapes and shades of grey (area)
    So in that sense getting rich at the misfortune/expense of others is a definite crime in my book, and in other books too I’ve no doubt.
    Direct lending to people knowing or neglecting to find out that they really can’t pay it back (in a lifetime never mind the fact: they haven’t got a good or permanent job) and selling can’t be separated in a business like the property market, it’s all too closely linked to not know what is going on. The dogs in the street would tell you the cost of house purchasing over the last 10/20 years was absolutely crazy (but sure everybody doing it, why not me)
    The penetration of American corporate like – style in general – has been complet over the years, and it begs the question how on earth did it develop so far. If you look at America (which I have constantly) the whole of you would have to be a fool not to ask yourself: ”would I really want to live in such an un(social) caring society like that. When you’re up your up, but boy when you’re down (and you can come down very quick to cardboard city) you’re really down.
    The American financial way of life seems to me to have been extremely juvenile: you live forever because tomorrow never comes; until it’s here and you wonder how the …k?
    Left side up side down side no matter what side one has to realize market capitalism as we know it does not can not go on indefinitely, world development has to come to a stop physically/biologically, and to think it does is madness.

    The great new thinker will have to obviously devise a way to redistribute the worlds wealth because there’s not enough to go around, and if you don’t share it you’ll continually have wars to take it from you/us
    …. To be con.
    Dinner’s on the table…. any aples or nuts cigs or butts?

  43. Ire_in_Exile

    100% Correct @Paddy.
    The influence of Hollywood in the 1940s and 50s, when America led the world specifically in just about everything but all things were marked “quality”- simply has not peeled away from our brains.
    We continue to see America as a great shining light that reflects benevolently on the dark and dusty old oppressor of Europe.
    It’s been the great dream and great escape for so long that we just can’t seem to grasp that it simply ain’t like that no more- and hasn’t been effectively since around the time John Wayne died (which is symbolic in itself!)
    It is a dreadful place to live Today. false, trite, ignorant, cheap, greedy, vulgar, dangerous, divided and well low on any scale of ideals or values…and indeed it is now incriminating it’s very own legacy badly by plundering around the world and bringing anything but freedom and democracy- which are now almost contemptible phrases in the face of events.

    Now we have a financial disaster brought on there by ruthless greed and single interest pursuits, and the world is shocked by the depth and level of deceit and corruption from the elite class.
    It is a terrible place and nobody should look there any more for inspiration on anything except as to what to avoid…
    It is the U.S. of Aaagh get me out of here.

    The Duke would be spinning in his grave.

  44. Thank you Ire in exile. I read you comment quickly and (noticed at the end you gave me a 100% correct) thought: “I wish I had written those words for in truth they are 100% spot on.”
    Living here in Finland I am amazed by the Finns adoration of America including their raciest traits which is a topic for another day. They are like the Swedes who they secretly hate (like all foreigners) making a gradual witch to the right, but it is in favor of the American business model.
    What is wrong wirh people, do they not se it or is it just really pure greed: I want to be rich screw everybody else? Anyway Cheers. I am rambling and I should have been ready to go out for a Halloween dinner. OK I’m off . Cheers all have a good weekend.

  45. Malcolm McClure

    Trick or Taoiseach? Brian Cowen said we are battling the most severe global economic and financial conditions for 100 years and that Government cutbacks cannot be avoided, so the business sector, trade unions and the social partners need to stand up now and tell people what the situation is.
    Oh Really? I suppose there are a few culchees in Ballyboneen for whom the pinean hasn’t actually dropped yet. But it doesn’t need all the big guns in the country to tell us all that we’re doomed. Just an apologetic TV fireside chat by Cowen himself.
    Don’t wait up for it.

  46. Anto Climax

    jose antonio – I had a quick scan at the web site ‘the Irish Mind’ You are right is a promotion. It is definitely not accurate. I mean where are all the corrupt elements, the substance abuse, the depression, the mind destruction, the contempt, etc….

    The problem is that we have an awful lot of people in this country who beleive in this sort of nonsense. Apart from anything else our contemporary proto Consumerist-Anglo-American culture seems to be obliterating any remaining genius in this society.

  47. Philip

    Whether we like it or not, America has led the world in a lot of things and it seems in financial cockups as well. I think it a bit churlish to write them off or discount them out of hand. There is a lot wrong there. But a lot works well there too.

    That said, I do feel they have lost the lead in too many things over the years. They are positive to a fault in the sense that they deny all existance of wrong doing. They have become the masters of euphemism and bull and it’s caught up on them.

    The issue at hand is actually very simple. Honesty. It sets the baseline and the foundation for developments to come. That’s the problem in the US, Ireland you name it. Left and Right brainedness or whatever is just more bull. It’s like saying red or fair headed. It is just a trait. A good team of people who are honest and are true to themselves are self ordering without rancour. If there are enough honest people around, the bull is seen and people do the right thing…no laws, no brokers, no PR merchants etc. The fact is that Irish people have been very dishonest to themselves and others and it’s been found out. Simple as that.

    • ire_in_Exile

      Someone once said to me that the extraordinary thing about the USA was that no matter what crazy or bizarre idea you had, or weird thing you were into, you could always find at least one other person who was into the same thing!

      It is difficult always to draw a conclusion on America- it contains the very best the world has to offer- and the very worst. But the balance is now well askew- there are fine things there still, but the negative sides far outweigh the positives- and other countries should no longer accept it blindly as they have been doing, as a guiding light- it is not. far from it.
      We should start examining ourselves and our own merits and leave the phony US TV media culture out of the equation.

      For the rest of your comment, I agree completely. Honesty and integrity should be valued as the highest merits in life in all quarters. It should not be a bonus, it should be demanded as a basic first principle, when that is achieved things will improve all around- but only then.
      There is sadly little sign of this.

  48. I keep hearing “Honesty” is the best policy.
    Honesty: the quality of being truthful and trustworthy.
    Truthful and trustworthy to who the Third Reicht? You can’t be faithful to an ideal which is only a conception and not an absolute perfection.
    Truthful and trustworthy just don’t cut it.
    Responsibility and caring is what cuts it. Being responsible not just for the field you’re in but in a broad communal sense, a global sense.
    People have to stop thinking they’re part of some God given right to be better off because ……. ……… ? ……. they’re smarter; their father was an important man, whatever. It’s no body’s given right in the world to eat while other in the world starve. God damn wake up! How on earth can you entertain a country (a fourth of its population) with fifty million deprived of proper health care, and that will be the next massive crisis in America: the collapse of the health care system.
    Give yourselves a good shake and believe me it’s not where you/we want to be ever, it’s bad enough.
    You know by now or at least you should: poverty is not the fault of the people themselves.
    Think for …k sake.

  49. OK a sixth there abouts.

  50. Malcolm McClure

    America has had three good presidents in my time, Kennedy, Regan and Clinton; the rest were out of their depth. The country is completely unable to cope with catastrophes like the Kennedy and ML King assassinations, 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina. Their politicians rush about in every direction and the whole country goes to pot.
    Now they are in a financial hole and ‘Good ole boy’ Texan Republicans, already resigned to an Obama presidency, sneer at him as the ‘Janitor President’, well suited by his background to clear up the mess.
    What they are really worried about in this election is if the Republicans were to lose as many as 9 senators, leaving them only 40. Under the curious rules of the US Senate, 41 Senators (out of 100) can block any given legislation. A lot of liberal legislation was passed in the House of Representatives this last session, only to have it blocked in the Senate. Under Obama there would be a real mandate for fundamental change if the Democrats can return 60 senators.

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