January 11th, 2013
The investment community treats Barnes & Noble as a zombie company, ready to follow the death path of Borders. Founded in 1873 as printing business in Wheaton, Illinois, Barnes & Noble has dodged threats to its survival for a hundred and thirty nine years by keeping up with changing times by innovating.
Barnes & Noble opened its first book store in New York in 1917. Today its national chain of 723 bookstores, of which 639 are college bookstores, gives it a reach into the general population as well as the college population that Apple cannot quickly, easily or cheaply duplicated even given Apple’s wealth.
Now Barnes and Noble is prepared to morph into Apple’s worst nightmare.
In 2009, Barnes & Noble introduced the NOOK e-reader and quickly captured a substantial share of the market. Since then, innovated versions of the Nook offering color, readability in the dark and other features have repeatedly challenged Amazon’s Kindle reader.
In 2012, Barnes & Noble formed a partnership with Microsoft that will spin the Nook and its college businesses off into a subsidiary, announced partnerships with UK retailers, began selling the digital products overseas, and sold a five percent stake in the Nook subsidiary to Pearson, a publisher of text books.
Sale of five percent of the Nook to Pearson valued the Nook at 1.8 billion dollars, the same value placed on the Nook by Microsoft it purchased a stake in the Nook.
Microsoft, which owns a stake in Nokia, the Finnish producer of smart cell phones, has just begun to market an electronic tablet under the Surface brand name.
Barnes & Noble is now ready to transform itself into a direct competitor to the stores that Apple operate with stores that have a continuing, hard to duplicate competitive advantage. Barnes & Noble operates 723 stores, almost twice the 394 stores operated by Apple, which, in addition to offering a line of proprietary branded electronic products that parallel the electronic products offered in Apple stores, offer customers a dominant assortment of books, a café serving refreshments, and easy chairs where customers can lounge, read and talk. Apple will be challenged to overcome the inherent superiority of the Barnes & Noble store network.
Barnes & Noble will be challenged to overcome the strength of the Apple brand of electronic products with brands like the Nook, Nokia and Surface that are less well established than the Apple brand.
Barnes & Noble, as part of the Microsoft, Nokia and Pearson alliance, has access to the technological capabilities and capital needed to create innovated products that challenge Apple’s products.
Apple, of course, on its own has the technological capabilities and capital needed to continue to create innovative products to maintain its brand superiority. Overall, Apple has an edge, but not an insurmountable edge over Barnes & Noble in terms of brand superiority for electronic products.
On the other hand, Barnes & Noble has an edge over Apple in terms of the superiority of its consumer and college store networks, its access to text book titles and, its flexibility as a retailer, to stock any brand of personal electronic product that can compete with the Apple brand.
The development of Barnes & Noble as a purveyor of information has been a long time in coming and has a bright future.
For background, read the following posts on 8SAGES.COM:
Disclosure: Leo Shapiro, the publisher of 8SAGES.COM holds stock in Microsoft, Barnes & Noble, Nokia and Pearson and has held such stock for some time.
Copyright 2013 by Leo J. Shapiro. All rights reserved.
November 15th, 2012
Lightning Strike (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
by Leo J. Shapiro
As the clean-up of Hurricane Sandy’s destructive impact on the Eastern Seaboard proceeds, the debate shifts from whether human behavior is causing global warming to one about the nature of God.
Evangelical Christians argue that Sandy is a punishment inflicted by a vengeful God on Americans having sinned in permitting same-sex marriage and abortion. Einstein, and other scientists who worship a rational God that does not play dice with the universe but establishes rules that govern the outcome of events, would argue that Sandy is the consequence of Americans violating rules governing the outcome of behavior.
Our survey of 1,065 Arizona residents conducted in the ten days leading up to September 15, 2012 found that the essentially theological debate triggered by Sandy has turned political in the campaign.
Among Arizona residents who intended to vote for the Democratic candidate for President, Barack Obama, 58% said they were “extremely or “very concerned” about global warming which was triple the 19% of residents likely to vote for Mitt Romney the Republican candidate.
Mass media reports on the dynamics of the 2012 Presidential campaign show the Democrats supporting scientists’ view that human activity is releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere causing global warming and Republicans supporting the religious view that global warming is a punishment for sins committed by the American people.
An article published in the November 10, 2012 New York Times reports in an article headlined “Christian Right Failed to Sway Voters on Issues” states that
“Rev. Billy Graham dropped any pretense of nonpartisanship and all but endorsed Mitt Romney for President. Roman Catholic Bishops denounced President Obama’s policies as a threat to life, religious freedom and the nuclear family. Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition distributed more voter guides in churches and contacted more homes by mail and phone than ever before…comments on rape by the Senate candidates Todd Aiken in Missouri and Richard Murdock in Indiana were ridiculed nationwide and alienated women.”
The same issue of the New York Times includes an article titled “Report Outlines Climate Change Perils for U.S. Military” which states:
“Climate change is accelerating and will place unparalleled strains on American military and intelligence agencies in coming years by causing ever more disruptive events around the globe, the nation’s top scientific research group said in a report issued Friday….Hurricane Sandy provided a foretaste of what can be expected in the near future the report’s leading author, John D. Steinbruner, said in an interview.”
The debate between Democrats and Republicans will influence actions taken by the federal government.
Democrats argue that tax dollars should be spent to change human behavior and reduce the burning of fossil fuels. They cite scientists who report that burning fossil fuels increases the level of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that causes global warming.
Republicans argue that tax dollars should be spent as they have always been spent to repair storm damage and to build sea walls and levies to protect against further damage by violent storms. They cite scripture to support their view that violent weather, drought, extinction of species are God’s punishment for sin.
These debates will not be settled on the basis of facts. Obama and Romney voters do not live in separate worlds but each has fixed views on climate change reflecting their ideological convictions.
These ideological convictions relate to demographic characteristics indicating that they were formed as the person matured and are unlikely to be subject to change. The factors that are at the root of their convictions about climate change also influence their views about their own and the economy’s future.
Demographically, Romney voters are more likely than Obama voters to be older native born males. In sharp contrast Obama likely voters are more likely than Romney voters to be younger immigrant females.
Financially, likely Romney voters are more likely than likely Obama voters to have higher incomes and more savings invested in stocks and bonds. Also, they are more prone than Obama voters to be apprehensive about their personal financial future and the future of the country.
In sharp contrast, financially, Obama voters are more likely than Romney voters to have lower incomes, fewer assets invested in stocks and bonds and be debt burdened. Also, they are optimistic about their personal financial future and about the future of the country.
Given demographic and financial differences which are associated with their views on climate change, it is unlikely that differences in their views of climate change can resolved by civil discourse involving an exchange of facts.
However, in terms of anticipating the future, the divergent views of Obama and Romney voters will not make much difference in the career of climate change. Climate change is subject to forces that are beyond the control of the United States government acting alone and may be beyond the control of nations’ globally even if they act collectively.
Think of Cnut, the Great, King of Vikings and master of all he surveyed who stood on the seashore and made a valiant but futile effort to sweep back the tides of the rising sea.
Looking toward the near term but not immediate future, the odds are that the nation’s economy will boom in the 2020’s just as it boomed in the Roaring 1920’s and the Halcyon 1960’s. The conditions for such a boom are clearly in place.
War followed by recession increases the pace of technological innovation and increases the productivity of labor without reducing industry’s productive capacity. Domestic demand for goods, deferred by the Mideast Wars and protracted recession, is already beginning to soar as technologically advanced cars, electronics and other goods become available in quantity at low prices.
International consumer demand is also ready to soar given the rising incomes of developing nations and the growing awareness of their populations of the higher standard of living available in developed nations.
Less developed nations as well as the United States are accelerating the production of goods and services without restraint to support growing populations at higher and higher standards of living.
As production of goods accelerates, the rate at which materials found stable in nature are transformed in toxic substances increases and the global economy deteriorates.
In the coming decades, in response to consumer pressure to increase their standard of living, global resources will increasingly be used to ameliorate the effects of global warming rather than to slow or reverse climate change.
Not until America and the world are forced to face up to the facts about the increasing rate at which species are becoming extinct will humanity marshal its forces to halt or reverse climate change which promises to bring on the sixth major extinction event.
In each of the five prior major extinction events for which fossil records exist, almost all species became extinct. Only 20% of species for which there is a fossil record survive today. In each major extinction event, the dominant species, the species that sits on top of the food chain and eats other species but is not eaten becomes extinct.
In the prior or fifth major extinction event, dinosaurs that sat on the top of the food chain eating other species while they were not eaten became extinct. The extinction of dinosaurs opened a food niche that permitted a small, hairy nervous mammal to evolve into Homo sapiens and become dominant.
The facts about the divide between Obama and Romney voters that were presented are based on a survey of only 1,065 Arizona residents, interviewed on the eve of the 2012 Presidential election. These facts are congruent with findings of our survey national surveys as well as facts from independent, large scale (26,565 interview surveys) conducted by Edison Research ,a consortium of ABC News, The Associated Press, CBS News, CNN, Fox News, and NBC news with findings summarized in the November 11, edition of the New York Times.
Specifically, interview with 1,350 Americans sampled nationally on the eve of the prior 2008 Presidential Election found committed Democrats, those who deny any impulse to be independent, almost twice as likely, ratio of 98% to 55%, as committed Republicans to believe
Among Americans who initially say they are “independents” and then admit to leaning toward a political party those, who lean Democratic are sharply more likely than those who lean Republican, ratio of 90% to 60% to believe “the climate is changing and world temperatures are increasing worldwide.”
(For a description of the manner in which American divide into five distinct political parties rather than the traditionally accepted two Party system see “Arizona’s Five Political Parties” posted on 8SAGES.COM on October 13, 2012.)
Measurements of the demographics or 26,565 voters interviewed as they left 350 polling places plus 4,408 telephone interviews with early or absentee voters are congruent with measurements made in our Arizona and national surveys.
This massive study found Obama voters to be 2% Jewish and 25% Catholic with Romney voters 39% White Protestant plus 15% “other Protestants”. Among Romney voters 42% attended religious services at least once a week.
Romney voters had sharply higher incomes than Obama voters. However, as in the case of our surveys, more Romney voter reported their financial situation was worse (80%) than was the case among Obama voters (18%).
As for demographics the exit poll survey findings were congruent with our findings. Obama voters were more likely than Romney voters to be women; under thirty years of age; Black, Asian or Hispanic.
We found that the opposing views of committed Democrats and committed Republicans on the seriousness of global climate change were strongly associated with the demographics as well as the attitudinal differences between the two groups.
When the survey focused sharply on the months preceding the Presidential elections, we found that those who favored the Democratic candidates Kerry and McGovern resembled the view of Obama voters while the views of those who favored the Republicans candidates George W. Bush and McCain resembled the view of Romney.
While these facts about the period leading up to the 2012 Presidential election almost speak for themselves, statements about what is likely to happen in the decades following the 2012 Presidential elections are not based on facts. Statements about the future are based on an exercise in science fiction rather than on science.
Science fiction, under other names, is a highly disciplined technique used by scientists to formulate hypotheses that are subject to validation by empirical experiments. It is what Einstein called the “mind experiments” that lead to his formulation of the theory of relativity.
Chapter 7 of the book titled “Yesterday and Today Promises Bright Troubled Tomorrows” describes the exercise in science fiction that lead to the conclusions stated.
Because the author is human, Chapter 7 goes beyond the point where humanity recognizes that it must act in unison to stave of impending catastrophe and speculates on how that catastrophe is avoided.
Chapter 1 of the book has already been posted on 8SAGES.COM for review and critique by visitors to the site. Additional chapters will be posted at intervals of a week or two for review and critique.
Chapter 7 will be posted after the winner of the 2012 Presidential Election is inaugurated. It is intended to be a history of the future leading up to 2076 when the 300th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence will be celebrated.
After digesting and acting on visitor comments, suggestions and criticisms, the book will be published in conventional channels.
Copyright November 2012 by Leo J. Shapiro – All Rights Reserved
November 11th, 2012
Amazon is installing lockers in Staples stores where consumers can pick up the products they order from Amazon. Both Amazon and Staples achieve a benefit by giving customers more choices in how they order and receive the products they buy.
But the benefit that accrues to the two retailers is likely to be short term. Each is large enough and sophisticated enough to go it alone. Both are hungry.
The question about how to share the benefit of this innovation will be harder to answer than the question about what each needs to contribute to achieving this innovation.
For background, read the following posts on 8SAGES.COM:
Copyright November 2012 by Leo J. Shapiro – All Rights Reserved
November 7th, 2012
“Amazon’s long term survival is in jeopardy whether or not it succeeds in sending Barnes & Noble to join Borders in history,” according to the 8SAGES.COM article posted on June 21, 2012.
This post updates that article which went on to explain that “Amazon becomes increasingly inflexible and unable to adapt to change as it continues to commit capital to its humongous distribution centers serving vast trade areas while remaining dependent on third party companies like UPS and FEDEX for delivering purchases to customers.”
Since that article was posted, Walmart has moved to challenge Amazon’s logistic advantage by offering same day home delivery of orders placed online or having such orders set aside ready for customer pickup at the store. Bloomberg’s Market News has moved to delivering its publication to homes on Saturday using the newspaper delivery network.
Microsoft, by virtue of its investments in Windows 8, the Barnes & Noble’s Nook e-reader, Nokia’s smart phone and its own Surface tablet, can satisfy its crying need for a chain of retail stores that, like the Apple stores, can reach potential customers and demonstrate its products by utilizing excess space in Barnes & Noble stores. We refer these stores at Microsoft’s Touch Screen stores.
Pizza chains, florists and other retailers of perishables have developed the online and telephone capabilities for taking orders and the home delivery services that enable them to compete with Amazon. There is no reason why Microsoft’s Touch Screen stores cannot do the same.
The trend for retail stores becoming larger and larger and increasingly difficult to shop has reversed. The pace of Amazon’s competition stiffens as chains of small stores serving tiny trade areas expand. Such stores include: Aldi, Trader Joe’s, Save-a-Lot, Dollar General, Five Below, Quick and Easy.
Stores like Costco and Staples that retail products to consumers and wholesale products to nearby businesses have achieved efficiencies in marketing and logistics that enable them to survive and grow in direct competition with Amazon. As the title of this post notes: Amazon’s days of dominance are numbered.
Copyright November 2012 by Leo J. Shapiro – All Rights Reserved
November 5th, 2012
The following is the second chapter of the forthcoming book, “Yesterday and Today Promise Bright but Troubled Tomorrows” by Leo J. Shapiro. We invite you to use the comment box at the end of the post, or to share your feedback using the “Contact Us” page.
Groups Enhance the Survival Ability of Individuals
As this is written in 2012, the global economy is on the verge of booming. With economic activity accelerating, the damage human activity can do to the environment becomes increasingly apparent; violent storms, droughts, forest fires, and species extinctions become more frequent.
The ability of humans to act in groups which enhances their ability to adapt to changing environments and survive gives them the power to control their future and the future of the global environment.
The ability to act in groups is not unique to humans but is a product of evolution shared with many species. The evolutionary process is most easily described by presenting illustrative examples.
Slime mold, a single cell microorganism, illustrates how single cell microorganisms become able to act collectively. Honey bees or termites, baboons and humans illustrate how progressively more complex multi-cell organisms become able to act collectively.
Slime mold lives in stagnant ponds as a single-celled organism. When food is scarce, slime mold congregates and functions as a single body. When a single slim mold cell included in the body detects and moves toward a new food source, additional single cells follow the pioneering cell and form tentacles that reach the food.
When the survival of slime mold is threatened by the evaporation of the pond’s water, the single cells, acting reflexively, form a body that produces stalks that grow up above the surface of the water and release countless spores light enough to be carried in the wind to distant ponds where the slime mold can reestablish itself.
American society and government had their start when humans began a trek from Africa that brought them to every part of the globe. As hunters and gathers, humans responded to food scarcity in their home environment much as slime mold reacts.
When food was scarce hunting and gathering humans sent foraging parties to search for food. When a foraging party finds food, they bring others to the site, settle and multiply.
As humans acquired enhanced capabilities to sense and locate new food supplies, they began to migrate purposely to a destination that promised abundance.
Samuel Stouffer, who taught statistics at the University of Chicago, published a study demonstrating statistically that migration was governed more by the promised abundance of the destination than by the scarcity in the place of origin.
Herbert Blumer who taught social philosophy and social theory at the University of Chicago contended that knowledge obtained simply by heaping up statistics was fragile since such knowledge does not take account of the changing external circumstances.
During my years at the University of Chicago and in the years that followed my securing a doctorate in sociology and working as an advisor to managers of business, government and charitable enterprises both Stouffer and Blumer continued to be my mentors.
Stouffer and Blumer enjoyed debating the merits of making measurements to secure knowledge on which to base a theory as contrasted to making observations as a participant-observer and using logic to construct a theory.
Personally, as an advisor to managements, I used measurements as well as participant-observation techniques to secure facts on which to anticipate the likely outcomes of action. Despite their disparate views on the method for securing knowledge which they vehemently argued for as academicians, both my mentors used measurements and participant observation techniques in their private work.
To avoid being drawn into academic controversy, I looked to Voltaire, a consummate diplomat, for guidance. When asked to adjudicate a dispute between the King and a courtier, Voltaire responded that the truth does not lie between two extremes but somewhere outside them.
Had Stouffer used statistics gathered when food was not radically scarce in the place of origin and not radically abundant in the place of destination he would have reported that migration is governed by the difference between the abundance of food at the place where migration originates and the place where it ends.
Despite is potential short-comings, his study’s findings were useful in that they demonstrated that scarcity of food had to be extreme and a destination that promised food had to be visible for migration to occur. In effect, he demonstrated that the pursuit of promised pleasures to mitigate pain and achieve happiness is more motivating than the impulse to flee mindlessly from pain.
His study of migration had a strange afterlife during World War II. Agencies engaged in psychological warfare went to great lengths to preserve their secrets. The best way to keep a secret is to act as if there were no secret.
Employees, for instance, were told to avoid letting anyone, including their intimates, know that they were working on secret projects. Instead, when conversations turned to work, employees were to talk freely but, rather than describe the work in which they were currently engaged, describe research reported in obscure academic articles as “cover stories.” I was startled when a friend of mine reciting a version of Stouffer’s findings on migration a description of the work in which he was currently engaged.
Studies of the demography of daytime populations were done to plan bombing raids that would hit concentrations of enemy professionals engaged in wartime work. Such studies were commissioned as studies of retail shopping.
In any case, a study of slim mold migration clearly indicates that migration can begin as a random search for food instigated by scarcity with the destination determined by chance encounters with food. The assumption the author has made is that migration can begin as a random search for food or other needed resources without any fixed destination in mind and end when food or other resources are found by chance.
To move beyond single cell to multi-cell organisms, let us consider honey bees and termites that live group lives. They are differentiated at birth to perform specific roles as a worker, warrior, queen or male drone. When food or danger is sensed, collective action is taken as each bee or termite acts reflexively, performing their assigned role.
Baboons, an even more complex multi-cell organism, live in troops ruled by a leader who coerces the consent of the members of the troop by defeating all other members of the group in battle. Much of the benefit baboons derive from living in a troop accrues directly to the leader who has priority access to food and sex.
The troop benefits from the leader’s ability to protect the troop from predation. Given the leader’s priority access to females, genetic traits for strength and intelligence that enable the leader to impose his will on the troop are perpetuated.
Humans, like bees, can act collectively by training individual humans to perform assigned roles in bureaucratic fashion. The capacity of humans to act collectively by establishing bureaucracies became evident during World War II.
To kill from a distance, the United States created man-machines that functioned as long range bombers. Each bomber had a five person crew that included a pilot, navigator, engineer, rear tail gunner and a bombardier.
After the bombers were designed, but before any were produced, training of crews plus replacements to offset losses from causalities began on mock-ups of the bomber controls that served as flight simulators.
Members of the crew differed profoundly in terms of their required innate abilities, the amount of training time needed, and the percent of successful completions. As training proceeded, human engineering was used to improve the integration of man and machine. Where needed and when feasible, the interface between humans and controls was modified on the yet to be completed bombers.
The survival benefit that slime mold and bees and bureaucratically organized flight crews derive from acting collectively is limited because their actions are pre-determined and inflexible. While slime mold, bees, and bomber crews can sustain themselves in a stable environment, they are not able to adapt to a changed environment.
Baboons and humans are intelligent species that are better able than bees and slime mold to process information and therefore to adapt to a changing environment. The degree to which intelligent species can adapt to changes in their environment varies with their intelligence and the degree to which leaders of groups secure their power from the willing rather than the coerced consent of members of the group.
Primitive human nuclear families, much like troops of baboons tend to be patriarchal led by a senior autocratic male who coerces the consent of those who are governed. Unlike baboon troops, human families link to one another and form extended groups, such as tribes and nations.
These larger groups of primitive humans formed by nuclear families linked by marriage are, like their constituent families, led by monarchs, dictators and other authoritarians who secure the consent of those they govern through coercion. Such groups derive limited survival benefit from group living because the options considered when adapting to an environment are limited by the preconceptions of the leader.
Among highly socialized humans, leaders secure the consent of members of the group through the conduct of elections or other democratic negotiations rather than by pure despotism. Groups where the leader secures the willing rather than the forced consent of the members have a superior survival advantage in that they can consider a wider range of action options and recruit all members of the group to support action decisions.
Long after the trek from Africa populated the globe, migration began from England to the north eastern coast of America. The migrants established a Colonial Society which was subject to rule by the King of England who was seen as ruling by Divine Right.
The Colonial Society: 1607 to 1776
In 1607 Homo sapiens, having the intelligence to select destinations of promise but possessed of imperfect information migrated from England to North America and founded Jamestown, the precursor of the United States. The English had mistakenly chosen to migrate to North America in search of gold.
While unsuccessful in the search for gold they developed a profitable, labor intensive business growing and exporting tobacco. To meet their need for labor, settlers tried but could not enslave the Native Americans.
In 1619, ninety single English women were shipped to Jamestown, each to be sold for 150 pounds of tobacco paid to the shipping company for their passage. They were known as “tobacco brides” There were many such shipments made over the course of the years.
However, white women did not stand up under the burden of field labor. Their availability did not ease the problem of securing labor needed to grow tobacco. The settlers then made an initial purchase of African slaves from a passing Dutch ship or, to cite a different story, from two pirate ships.
African American women did stand up under the burden of field labor and had children who could be enslaved. When William Tucker, the first African American child was born, he was treated as a slave. Jamestown made it a matter of law that children born of slaves were slaves.
The number of slaves increased as the slave trade continued and as slaves had children. Slavery became the basis for agriculture in Virginia and the Southern Colonies.
In 1624, Jamestown sent its first shipment of 200,000 pounds of tobacco to England. Exports rose to 3,000,000 pounds of tobacco in 1638 and soared to 25,000,000 pounds a year in the 1680s.
The above description of the colonial society does not deal specifically with the northern colonies and their establishment as an escape from religious persecution. Their religious orientation planted roots influencing America’s historical evolution and the removal of barriers to equality.
Religious persecution is a factor that contributed to colonization of the country. The religious orientations of the North played a strong role in the removal of barriers to equality throughout the colonial period and in all that followed.
Trouble began when the King of England, regarding himself in absolute control of the Colonies by divine right, was denounced in the Declaration of Independence as a tyrant who:
“… having a history of repeated injury and usurpations, all having in the direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over the states.”
“In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms A prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
“… we therefore declare that these united colonies are and of right ought to be free … that they are absolved of all allegiance to the British Crown and that all political connections between them and the state of Great Britain is and ought to be totally dissolved …
Thomas Jefferson in writing the Declaration of Independence denied that the King of England ruled by Divine Right and asserted that “Governments … derive their power from the consent of the governed.”
The Colonial Society was established when their rag tag army of civilians defeated the professional army of England and achieved freedom for its free white male population.
In winning the American Revolution, the Colonists gained their freedom from English rule but no longer had a government. They needed to establish a government for their new nation to survive. That government would allocate national resources in a fashion that insured the nation’s survival and independence.
The nation’s founders were acutely aware of the necessity for achieving the willing consent of the nation’s citizens to the rule of their government in order to survive. Jefferson had witnessed how civilians willingly respond to the nation’s leaders’ decision to rebel by joining together in a rag-tag army to fight as an insurgency led by General Washington. That rag-tag army of willing civilians defeated the highly disciplined, bureaucratically organized English army and their Hessian mercenaries.
Direction for uniting the American people and achieving their willing consent to be governed by their newly formed government comes from Thomas Jefferson. As Garry Wills asserts in his book titled “Inventing America,” Jefferson wanted equal representation for “all of the hundreds” so long as he could maintain competition. But, Jefferson notes that in maintaining competition, norms of excellence and equality would be pitted against each other in a way to cause resentment and a sense of injury.
The Athenian Society 350 BC
The nation’s founders used the government of Ancient Athens as a model for creating the United States government. The Athenian government appealed as a model because it had no executive branch that might elevate itself and become a tyranny. Instead Athens was ruled as a direct democracy where each citizen voted directly on matters of state.
While the United States government’s structure has elements taken from the Athenian Society it differs from the government of Athens in a manner that is sensitive to differences in the size of their respective populations and territory.
The Athenian population of roundly 300,000 persons was small and territorially compact enough to permit its citizens to meet face to face and vote on matters of state. By contrast, the United State’s population of 3,929, 214 persons were dispersed over a territory so large that it took days to traverse.
While each Athenian citizen voted directly on matters of state, citizens of the United States, citizens elected representatives whom they empowered to vote on matters of state.
In Athens as in the United States, the power to make and to enforce law was divided between three branches of government: legislative, judicial and administrative.
In Athens, the “Assembly” functioned as a legislature. Its decisions on matters of law were made by the direct vote of a majority of a quorum of at least 6,000 citizens present at the assembly. Each citizen in attendance cast one vote.
When the number of citizens attending the Assembly fell short of a quorum, slaves went into the marketplace and forced citizens to attend. In the United States the government does not have the right to force citizens to vote.
Unlike the Athenian assembly, the United States legislature is bi-cameral, consisting of a Senate and House of Representatives. United States citizens, unlike Athenian citizens, do not vote on legislation. Instead citizens elect Senators and Representatives to vote for them.
In the Senate, each state in the United States, regardless of its population, is represented equally by two Senators. In the House of Representatives, each state is represented by a number of representatives that is proportioned to the population of the state.
The influence of the Athenian Democracy on the structure of the United States government is visible in the American House of Representatives.
In the first national election, each congressional district in the United States from which a Representative was elected had a population of 30,000 – a population equal to the estimated total number of Athenian citizens with the right to vote.
The judicial branch of the Athenian government called its “Court” functioned like a jury without a judge present. Decisions on disputed matters were made by a direct vote of a majority of present citizens providing that at least 200 were present. In the United States, judicial decisions are not made by a vote of the citizens but are made by judges elected to office as well as judges who are appointed to office.
Juries composed of citizens decide on the facts but, unlike the situation in ancient Athens, judges not citizens in the United States make judicial decisions. Courts in the United States have the power to force citizens to serve on a jury.
The Athenian “Council” served as an executive committee of the assembly preparing measures for deliberation by the assembly. It was responsible for the treasury and for performing administrative functions for the state. Council’s decisions were made by a majority vote providing there were at least 500 citizens present.
The Council had relatively little power to take initiatives. It was responsible for executing the wishes of the assembly not for making decisions on matters of state.
Many of the functions performed by the Athenian Council are performed by the Executive branch of the American government. The Executive branch of the American government, unlike the Athenian Council does have the power to take initiatives and its chief executive, the President, is in command of the military. In Athens, there was no executive and command of the military was in the hands of generals who were elected to office.
Not only was the Athenian government used as a model for the United States government, the United States also adopted the Athenian society’s hierarchical hereditary social structure.
Athens granted citizenship and the right to vote only to men born of Athenian citizens who completed their military service. The 30,000 Athenian citizens with the right to vote constituted only a tenth of the 300,000 population of Athens. The balance of the population included slaves, foreigners and women.
In the United States, only 1.3% of its “nominal” population of 3,929,214 voted in the 1790 Presidential election. This figure needs interpretation. The President was elected by the Electoral College not by the popular vote. Each state legislature had the power to select electors who would vote in the Electoral College. The process for selecting electors varied widely from state to state.
In five states, electors were chosen by the legislature rather than by popular vote. In two states, Pennsylvania and Maryland, electors were chosen by popular vote. The method for selecting electors varied in the remaining eight states in a process that involved taking some account of the popular vote and some account of the will of the legislatures.
Currently, a majority of Americans may prefer to have their president elected by popular vote rather than by a vote of Electors sent to the Electoral College by the individual states. However, none of the numerous constitutional amendments to abolish the Electoral College and have the President elected by popular vote or to change the manner in which Electors are chosen have passed.
The first Decennial Census held in the United States, was taken in 1790 to secure information needed to allocate the costs of war and determine each state’s quota for contributing manpower to the military. That Census’ count of 3,929,214 persons is deemed “nominal” because it reflected the Athenian view of whites as superior in value to slaves.
The Census counted each white as a full person, whether free or indentured as a servant. Each slave was counted as only three fifths of a person. Native Americans and foreigners were treated as non-persons and not included in the nominal population count.
In the United States as was the case in Athens, the law granted free white male citizens the right to utilize the goods and services produced by the coerced unpaid labor of women and slaves.
Aristotle justified the exploitation of women and slaves by asserting that slaves and women were sub-human. They did not rule themselves and, therefore, were manifestly unable to rule themselves. He argued that it was just that the men who ruled women and slaves be rewarded for their services to women and slaves by having access to the fruits of their labor. In this manner, men could have the leisure required to pursue knowledge and achieve personal happiness.
With freedom from England won, the Colonial Society was subsumed by the Revolutionary Society. Although no longer visible, the Colonial and Revolutionary Societies continued to influence the American Society.
Over time, the American society continued to develop like a set of Russian nesting dolls, a Matryoshka, with each doll representing a society that once prevailed nesting within the successor society and had a continue influence although invisible. The successive societies include:
- Colonial Society– 1607 to 1776;
- Revolutionary Society– 1776 to 1861;
- Industrial Society – 1861 to 1970
- Grazing Society - 1970 to 2012
The Revolutionary Society: 1776 to 1861
After freedom was won, the Colonial Society was subsumed by the Revolutionary Society but continued to function in peacetime as it had during the war, as a loose confederation of sovereign nations.
In 1787, eleven years after the Declaration was signed, the Colonies convened a convention that would be held in Philadelphia to address problems of governing the United States.
In June of 1778, the Second Continental Congress authorized the drafting of the Articles of Federation and Perpetual Union creating a federation empowered to make war, negotiate treaties and resolve issues regarding the Western territories. The Federation was weak in that it had no President, no executive agencies, no judiciary, and no tax base. It could not act except with the unanimous consent of all the Colonies.
Although the 1787 conference was called to revise the Articles of Federation, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and others went to the Convention with the intention of forming a new government by replacing the Articles of Federation, with a Constitution. George Washington was elected to preside over the Convention.
While united in their opposition to British rule, the Colonists had great difficulty in forming their own central government. Marked differences in the economic interests of colonies with large and those with small slave populations were difficult to resolve. Each Colony regarding itself as a sovereign nation, found it difficult to cede some of their sovereign powers to the federal government.
But, recognizing that they could “choose to be hanged separately for treason if they failed to hang together,” representatives of the Colonies committed themselves to reach compromises and did ratify the Constitution.
The Constitutional convention’s contentious and protracted proceedings that began in May 1787 continued for four months through the hot summer into September. During the proceedings, the meeting room’s windows were closed to keep the public from overhearing the discussions. Since no official minutes were kept, the history of the proceedings is murky.
From notes kept by James Madison and other delegates, it is known, that the Convention dealt with the issue of states’ rights versus the rights of the federal government, slavery, taxation, resolution of conflicts between the Colonies, and the problem of finding an alternative to requiring unanimous consent to change or amend the Articles.
The resulting Constitution is a tribute to the art of compromise. It allowed each of the thirteen former British colonies to retain their sovereign rights as States, except for those rights explicitly assigned to the federal government.
The federal government was given the authority and responsibility for protecting the nation from attack by foreign powers and domestic insurrections, for managing commerce between the states, and the right to impose taxes to pay the costs of the nation’s defense and costs of the federal government.
Importantly, and of lasting consequence, the individual State governments, not the federal government, were given the right to decide on voter eligibility. As a result of giving the states the right to decide voter eligibility, control of the Revolutionary Society was put into hands of the privileged elite comprised of white male landowners to whom the states granted the right to vote.
Athenian beliefs about the inferiority of women and slaves shaped the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States and the decisions on voting rights made by state governments.
When the Declaration of Independence was written, the word “men” in the phrase “all men are created equal” was not meant to include slaves or women. Similarly, the word “people” in the phrase “governments derive the power from the consent of the people” actually turned out to refer specifically to white male landowners and did not include slaves or women as people.
The United States Constitution ratified in 1789 made lawful the practice of slavery. Thomas Paine’s essay, African Slavery in America, published in 1775, a year before the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, marked the start of the Abolitionist movement.
The abolitionists did not quickly alter the still prevailing Aristotelian view that slaves were sub-human. In 1857, eighty one years after the Declaration was signed, Dred Scott, a slave who lived in free territory, sued for his freedom.
The Supreme Court in their 1857 decision denying his freedom writes African American people “are regarded as so far inferior that they have no rights which a white man was bound to respect.” The decision removed any ambiguity about the United States government’s disregard of the Declaration of Independence assertion that all men were born equal.
The general acceptance of women as property similarly persisted. During the Revolutionary War Abigail Adams wrote to her husband John Adams, who was one of the revisers and signers of the Declaration of Independence, stating:
“And by the way, in the new code of laws which I suppose will be necessary for you to make, I desire you would remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power in the hands of the husbands”
However, John Adams replied in April 1776:
“As to your extraordinary code of laws, I cannot but laugh. Depend on it, we know better than to repeal our masculine systems.”
Citizens with the right to vote had a vested interest in preserving their rights and privileges. These rights included the ownership of slaves, the treatment of women as property, and the right to deny foreigners and Native Americans the right to vote.
In 1777 women lost the right to vote in New York, in 1780 they lost the right to vote in Massachusetts and in 1784 women lost the right to vote in New Hampshire. In 1788 when the Constitution gave the states the right to establish voting qualifications, women then lost the right to vote in all states except New Jersey.
In New Jersey, until 1807, the state constitution permitted all persons worth over fifty pounds to vote. Free blacks and single women therefore had the right to vote but not married women because married women could not have independent claim to fifty pounds. Anything they owned belonged to their husbands.
Compromises made during the Convention to achieve agreement so the Constitution would be ratified did not fully satisfy the delegates but came close enough to satisfying competing interests to be accepted.
Benjamin Franklin in commenting on the virtue of the Constitution despite the weaknesses of the compromises that were made wrote:
“There are several parts of the Constitution which I do not at present approve, but I am not sure I will ever approve them…I doubt whether any other Convention we may obtain, may be able to make a better constitution…It therefore astonishes me, Sir, to find this system approaching so near perfection as it does, and I think it will astonish our enemies.”
The idea that all men are endowed by their creator with unalienable rights did appear in the Declaration as originally written. While the nation’s founders did recognize the Creator they did not mean to acknowledge the supremacy of organized religion. To the contrary: the founders feared that organized religion would tyrannize the nation.
Still fearful of the imposition of a tyranny, the delegates agreed that the Constitution would be amended immediately to give its people the right to insure that the federal government would derive its power from the consent of the governed.
The first ten Amendments adopted in 1791constituted a Bill of Rights. Its first amendment prohibited Congress from making any law respecting the establishment or practice of religion; abridging freedom of speech or the press or the right of the people to peaceably assemble and petition the government for a redress if injuries.
Large numbers of the Colonies’ population were migrants who had fled Europe to escape oppression by organized religions. Europeans continued to migrate to the United States into the 20th Century to escape the oppression of organized religion.
As late as 1910, my father-in-law emigrated from Sweden to the United States after the Lutheran minister forbade his father from holding dances in his barn. After a quarter of the total Swedish population left Sweden, the Swedish government pulled the teeth of the Lutheran Church’s political power but respectfully continues to maintain their unattended Lutheran churches.
Despite enforcement of the separation between church and state, religious leaders in the United States continue to press with some success for the right of their religious organizations, churches, to participate in the United States government.
With the ratification of the Constitution, General George Washington was elected President, served two four-year terms and retired to private life. He established a precedent that Presidents serve two four years terms. That precedent was honored until President Franklin Roosevelt ran for a fourth term in office. Congress then enacted a statute that established a two four-year term limit for the Presidency.
John Adams succeeded General George Washington as President and, although a civilian, became the Commander in Chief of the nation’s armed forces as did all subsequent presidents whether they were civilians or military men. Effectively, the armed forces were brought under the control of the President, an elected government official, rather than a General appointed by the armed forces.
Even though the Constitution failed to resolve a number of crucial issues, the union held together for seventy years until the Southern States seceded from the Union in 1861 precipitating a Civil War that lasted until 1865.
The Revolutionary Society was composed of patriarchal nuclear families that used women, slaves, indentured servants, children, the elderly, and the disabled as unpaid workers to produce much of the food, clothing and other daily necessities the society consumed.
Membership in a nuclear family was an economic necessity. Access to the products produced by the family was restricted to family members who participated in their production.
Prior to gaining independence, Britain had discouraged the Colonies from engaging in manufacturing. It treated the Colonies as a source of raw materials and as a market for England’s finished manufactured goods.
On gaining independence, the United States federal government cut off trade with Britain and developed its own manufacturing, beginning the transformation of the American economy from agrarian to industrial. The productivity of its labor grew.
The federal government assumed the debts of the states by issuing federal bonds to debtors creating the Bank of the United States to stabilize the financial system.
To support his program for centering power in the federal government, Alexander Hamilton formed the Federalist Party. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, favoring state and individual rights, formed the Republican Party.
Counting persons as being of equal value in assessing the wealth of a State was realistic when most everyone worked on farms. It was not realistic in a society that engaged in manufacturing where the value of a person varied with their skills, their access to production equipment and other resources that enhanced the productivity of their labor – that is, the productivity of their labor as measured by the value of goods produced per hour.
In 1820 Thomas Jefferson, recognizing that labor performed by people with a marketable skill was of more value to the nation than the unpaid labor performed to produce goods for personal consumption, recommended that the Census make a count of “gainful workers,” defined as persons who possessed an occupation or skill that enabled them to produce goods or service for sale.
Starting with the 1870 Census, separate counts of “gainful workers” were made following the recommendations made in 1820 by Thomas Jefferson.
As the economy developed, the United States expanded geographically. In 1803, the Louisiana Purchase from the French provided the United States with vast territories west of the Mississippi. In 1830, Congress passed the Indian Removal Act which authorized the president to negotiate treaties exchanging Native American tribal land east of the Mississippi for lands west of the Mississippi. In 1845, the Republic of Texas was annexed triggering a war with Mexico which the United States easily won.
After 1840, the abolitionist movement gained momentum. Abraham Lincoln, in an 1858 speech to Republican delegates who had just chosen him as their candidate for the U.S. Senate, warned that the persistence of slavery threatened the survival of the nation. In that speech, he stated that:
A house divided against itself cannot stand…this nation cannot endure permanently half slave and half free …I do not expect the Union to be dissolved – I do not expect the house to fall – but I do expect it to cease to be divided.
The Civil War began three years after Lincoln gave his speech. In 1861, slave-owning states announced they were seceding from the Union. The outbreak of the Civil War signaled the start of the final years of the Revolutionary Society.
During the Civil War it became expedient for the North to weaken the South by abolishing slavery and granting Black men the right to vote.
In 1863, Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing slaves in states that had seceded from the union and in states conquered by the Union.
The Emancipation Proclamation left slavery intact in four states that were slave states but had not seceded from the Union (Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, and Missouri ) as well as the Border areas that later became the states: West Virginia, Tennessee, Oklahoma and Kansas.
The Proclamation accepted former slaves into the Union’s army and navy. By the end of the war, 200,000 Black soldiers and sailors had fought for the Union and their own freedom. The 13th Amendment to the Constitution, prohibiting slavery, was proposed in 1865 and by 1870 was ratified by all but three states – Delaware, Kentucky and Mississippi. It was not until 1995 that the last state, Mississippi, formally ratified the amendment.
While it was deemed useful to grant freedom and the right to vote to Black men who could become warriors, it was not deemed useful to grant Black women the right to vote and then face the issue of granting White women the right to vote.
The 15th Constitutional amendment ensuring the right to vote of Black men (but not Black women) was proposed in 1869 and, by 1870 ratified by 33 of the 37 states – including Mississippi.
In the Southern States, the end of the Civil War did not expand African-Americans right to vote. As late as 1940, despite the ratification of the 15th Constitutional Amendment granting black men the right to vote, and the grant of the right to vote to women in 1920, only 3% of African-Americans eligible to vote in Southern States were registered to do so.
African-American inequality persisted in Southern States because the laws giving African-Americans the right to vote conflicted with the informal code of conduct governing the behavior of Americans.
Southern States disenfranchised African-Americans. They imposed poll taxes, required voters to pass literacy tests and enacted other restrictions on voting that disproportionately affected African-Americans. In addition, public hostility and the threat of violence kept African-Americans from voting.
Even after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed discrimination on the basis of race and gender, blacks and women did not achieve equality with white men in their access to privileges and wealth.
The decision to treat “gainful workers” as having higher value than those who were not “gainful workers” represented a step toward replacing the “caste” system that prevailed in the Revolutionary Society with a “class” system. It also represented a step toward giving women and blacks upward mobility as they gained a place in the work force and, therefore, a chance to achieve equality with white males.
Under the caste system, a person’s status in society was fixed for life by the accident of their birth. Born a slave meant remaining a slave, with virtually no chance for upward mobility. So long as slavery was protected by law, the caste system prevailed and the Declaration’s promise of equality in the pursuit of happiness could not be fulfilled.
By contrast, the class system functions, however imperfectly, as a meritocracy where upward mobility can be achieved, making possible progress toward fulfilling the Declaration’s promise of equality.
The changes made in the course of fighting the Civil War, including the abolition of slavery, shaped Americans’ view of their nation and human rights.
Revisions of the Pledge of Allegiance composed by Francis Bellamy and formally adopted by Congress in 1892 as an oath of loyalty to the flag and to the republic trace the changing view of the nation and human rights. Originally, the pledge states:
“I pledge allegiance to my flag and the republic for which it stands: one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all.”
The word “indivisible” asserts the United States is a nation not a federation of sovereign states. Unlike the words in the Declaration of Independence that assert “all men are created equal”, the words “liberty and justice for all” in the Pledge made it explicit that everyone, regardless of gender or race, had an equal right to liberty and justice, rather than only white men who own land.
After being revised several times, the word “under God” was inserted in the Pledge in 1954 so it read:
“I pledge allegiance to the flag and to the republic for which it stands: one nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.”
The Pledge, like the Declaration of Independence, sets a goal the nation commits itself to achieve rather than describes reality. The words “liberty and justice for all” were no more descriptive of the reality than the word in the Declaration asserting “all men are created equal.”
In 1954 when the revised Pledge was adopted, slaves were emancipated and women had the right to vote but the economic status of Blacks and women was sharply inferior to that of white men.
Among whites as well as among emancipated Blacks, the creation of a hierarchical class structure created barriers for the achievement of equality for children born to lower class parents.
Given their low income and lack of education, lower class parents did not provide their children, during the first three years of their lives, with nutrition needed to support the development of their brain or the intellectual stimulation required to develop the language and social skills that would make them ready for school.
The pace at which barriers to the pursuit of happiness were eliminated after the conclusion of the Civil War and during the reconstruction period did not keep pace with the changed expectations of the greater whole of society. This brought the Revolutionary Society to its end and the Industrial Society emerged.
The Industrial Society: 1863 to 1970
During the Civil War the production of military and consumer goods expanded greatly. After the War’s end, technology (e.g. railroads, production and distribution of electric power, telephones, and other inventions), industrialization, urbanization, and the productivity of labor surged, marking the start of the Industrial Society.
Equality for blacks increased with the passage of the federal Civil Rights Act in 1875. However, passage by the states of Jim Crow laws and Black Codes restricted the labor, migration, and civil rights of slaves and freed blacks.
In the late 1860’s the Ku Klux Klan emerged and opposed civil rights for blacks. Congress passed the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1870 to close the Klan. However, the Supreme Court nullified the Civil Rights Act of 1875 and ended federal efforts to stop private acts of violence designed to suppress civil rights. Tactics such as poll taxes were used by those in power to deny the now lawful rights of blacks.
While nuclear families continued to be the basic components of the Industrial Society, the manner in which families organized their work changed and the productivity of their family members’ labor increased.
Nuclear family members divided their work between male “breadwinners” and female “homemakers.” “Breadwinners” were men who worked for pay at enterprises located away from home, producing goods and services for sale rather than for their own consumption. Given access to mechanized and powered production equipment, their productivity was high.
“Homemakers” were women who worked without pay at home, to produce ready-to-eat food, ready-to-wear clothing, and other products and services that met the day-to-day needs of family members. Women working at home did not have access to production equipment or systems. Their labor productivity was relatively low.
Membership in a nuclear family remained an economic necessity for gaining access to the family’s goods and services. Children and the elderly had access to the products and services produced by their family by virtue of their blood or marriage connection, even though they might not contribute to family production.
By 1890, increases in labor productivity made the per capita industrial production and income in the United States exceed those of all other world nations. In addition, massive immigration from Europe provided the labor for American industry. From 1880 to 1914 more than 22 million people migrated to the United States. The United States emerged as a world economic and military power.
When World War I started in 1914, Woodrow Wilson declared United States neutrality. Continued submarine warfare by Germany to cut off shipments of supplies to Britain and continued lobbying by England brought the United States to declare War in April 1917.
The people of the United States are its military force. It was the people resident in the colonies that rose up and defeated Britain’s trained troops and mercenary’s in bloody battle. When the Southern States seceded from the Union, it was the people of the Northern and the Southern States, not armies of professional soldiers, who fought the bloody Civil War that made the United States indivisible.
With the declaration of World War I, the United States drafted and trained civilians to create a military force able to send American troops to fight in Europe at the rate of 10,000 a day. Germany, unable to replace its battle casualties, surrendered in 1918.
Prior to America’s declaration of war, federal spending grew three times faster than tax collections, sparking growth in economic activity even before the United States entered the war. With the United States entry into the war, the pace of economic activity accelerated.
Again, expansion of America’s productive capacity to meet wartime demands and the deferral of consumer spending during the war set the stage for a major expansion of the economy in the post war era ushering in the years known as the Roaring Twenties. Not only did the economy expand but the culture changed with the adoption of Prohibition and the speakeasy, short skirts, and bobbed hair.
In 1920, women were given the right to vote, freeing them to consent or refuse to consent to be governed. The bonds between the male and female heads of the nuclear family became more symbiotic rather than purely patriarchal, but the nuclear family continued.
Males continued as “breadwinners” expected to earn the money needed to buy products the family could not produce and women continued as “homemakers” expected to work without pay to clean, cook, clothe and care for the home, the man, the children, and other family members.
The nature of the nuclear family is characterized by an insight voiced during a 1943 conversation between demographers at the Census. In explaining what determined the amount of time elapsing between divorce and re-marriage, they concluded: women remarry when they run out of money, men remarry when they wear their last clean shirt.
Women’s need for membership in a nuclear family to secure access to a man’s income diminished at a gradual pace as employment at enterprises for women increased. Starting from a low base during the early days of the Industrial Society, the percent of women 16 years of age and older working for pay or profit or seeking such work increased from 18% in 1900, to 21% in 1920, and to 25% in 1940.
As women took employment for pay in enterprises, their productivity increased and the size of the work force expanded, contributing to an abundance of goods that reduced the need for the unpaid labor of women.
When the war ended, the economy converted from wartime to a civilian basis and boomed. Individual worker productivity grew 43% between 1919 and 1929. Between May 1928 and September 1929 the prices of the average stock listed on public exchanges increased by 40%.
The boom ended abruptly in August 1929. Wholesale prices declined 20%, and personal income fell 5%. Then, in October 1929, the stock market crash signaled the start of the Great Depression and the beginning of the end of the Industrial Society.
The word “Depression” fails to convey the degree to which the Industrial Society became dysfunctional. Banks and other businesses failed. In a period when hunger, even starvation, was prevalent, milk was spilled on the ground rather than brought to market because milk prices were so low. Fields of cotton were plowed under, and millions of piglets were slaughtered rather than raised to maturity given their low prices.
A quarter of the work force became unemployed. Soup kitchens opened to feed the hungry. In 1932, veterans of World War I marched on Washington asking for relief. They were driven out of the capital by armed forces under the command of Douglas MacArthur, assisted by Dwight Eisenhower.
Acting under orders, shots were fired and two veterans killed. Paradoxically, in the course of their careers, MacArthur did not advance to higher office, while Eisenhower became President and Commander-in-Chief.
That year, Herbert Hoover was voted out of office and Franklin Roosevelt elected as President in his place. Like Alexander the Great, who used Aristotle as an adviser, Roosevelt, seeking advice from the best minds, assembled experts mainly from Columbia University and Harvard Law Schools – creating a so-called “brain trust”– to advise him.
In 1932, on the advice of experts, Roosevelt’s administration took a number of actions to create jobs and to ease the pain inflicted by the Depression. These steps were funded essentially by redistributing wealth from the rich to the poor.
One example of the use of public funds to create jobs for the poor is the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) established in 1932 that employed a half million workers to build public structures and create trails and tourist facilities in national parks. A second example is the CWA (Civil Works Administration), which was intended to create jobs in construction that paid well.
Alarmed by Roosevelt’s plan to redistribute wealth, a number of millionaires led by the DuPont and Morgan families made an abortive effort to organize a military coup to drive Roosevelt from office and replace the American Democracy with a fascist government modeled after the one led by Mussolini.
The millionaires tried to recruit General Smedley Butler to lead the coup. He was promised an army of 500,000 as well as unlimited financial resources. Remington Arms, a subsidiary of DuPont, was to provide the insurgent army with arms.
When Butler reported the planned coup to Congress, the mass media, including the New York Times, first dismissed it as a “gigantic hoax.” However, two months after the Congressional Committee’s report on their investigation of the coup was released, the New York Times ran a follow-up story saying it was convinced that Butler’s story of a planned fascistic march on Washington was “alarmingly true.”
In 1934, Senator Nye convened Congressional hearings on profiteering during World War I. The hearings called J.P. Morgan Jr. and Pierre Du Pont as witnesses. The DuPont Company felt it and its Remington Arms division were tarred almost indelibly as a “Merchant of Death” in the course of those hearings.
As late as the mid-50s, when I gave a talk at Remington Arms and asked why “Better Things for Better Living through Chemistry” was the slogan of its parent company, Mr. DuPont, who was in the audience, answered, “Better than being called ‘a merchant of death,’ young man,” and then turned his hearing aid off.
Vigorous actions taken by the federal government to reduce unemployment during the Great Depression stalled as Congress debated the magnitude of the unemployment problem.
Government statistics on “gainful workers” did not measure unemployment. A person with a marketable skill was counted as a gainful worker whether or not he or she worked for pay or profit or looked for such work.
A joke circulated among demographers at the Census dealt with a mythical retired army Colonel who had thrown a party where guests had drank enough to be unruly. His wife complained to the Colonel that his friend Reggie had called her a whore. The colonel replied, “Understandable. I have been out of the army for years and they still call me Colonel.”
As far as the government knew, officially, the rate of unemployment was zero. Yet, it was obvious that large numbers of Americans were not working and could not find work.
In 1937, the federal government authorized a study to develop and test a method for measuring the nation’s civilian labor force in a manner that would yield estimates of the number of persons who were employed, as well as the number who were unemployed.
The findings of this study had immediate utility in informing the government about the magnitude of unemployment. Longer term, the method developed was used in the conduct of the 1940 Census and in subsequent government measurements of employment and unemployment.
(For review of the revision of the 1940 Census statistics on employment and unemployment see: CURRENT POPULATION REPORTS: Labor Force Bulletin Series p-50, No.2 Bureau of the Census. J.C. Capt, Director. Philip M. Hauser, Deputy Director. Prepared by Edwin D. Goldfield, Leo J. Shapiro and Rex Lohman)
In 1939, with the outbreak of World War II in Europe, the grip of the Depression began to ease as the United States increased its production of products by 50% between1939 and 1941 to supply Great Britain with war material and to strengthen its own armed forces in anticipation of war. The United States financed England’s purchases by the Lend-Lease program.
In 1941, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, the United States declared War on Germany, Japan and the other Axis nations. After Pearl Harbor the nation mobilized for War and expanded its civilian work force. To replace men drafted into the military it recruited women, the retired, the disabled and others to work for pay.
The nation came of age during World War II, much as the experience of fighting the Revolutionary War marked the birth of the United States.
The productivity of labor increased as enterprises utilized improved production systems and two technologies developed that enabled continuing improvement in labor productivity during and after the war:
Information technology sparked by advances in cryptography, made possible increases in labor productivity by creating responsive production equipment and systems able to sense, process and act on information.
Invention project management enabled development of products based on scientific discoveries. The Manhattan Project, for instance, met the wartime demand for a superior bomb by utilizing Einstein’s discovery of the relation between energy and mass.
A key barrier to the pursuit of happiness by women began to crumble during World War II as women took jobs for pay and were not treated as property confined to working as unpaid labor at home. They began to take ownership of themselves and their bodies.
Women, who had taken jobs during the War temporarily, stopped working for pay, married and produced the so-called “baby-boom” generation. Total fertility rates jumped from 2.5 children per female during the 1940 to 1944 war years to peak at 3.7 children per woman in 1955 to 1959. Fertility rates then dropped steadily, reaching 1.8 children per woman in 1975 to 1979.
Production of ready-to-eat food, clothing and other products that had been produced by the unpaid labor of nuclear family members shifted to enterprises. At enterprises, paid employees produce specialized lines of product for sale rather than for consumption by the employees who produced the products.
Given efficiencies of scale and access to advanced production systems and equipment, the productivity of women working for pay at enterprises was sharply higher than the productivity of unpaid women producing food, clothing and other necessities at home.
In the 1960’s, economic activity, as measured by Gross Domestic Product (GDP), began to accelerate after having remained essentially flat during the years when the nation converted from a war time to a civilian economy.
Passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964 and related legislation outlawed all forms of discrimination against blacks and women. It made illegal unequal application of voter registration and racial segregation in the schools and by facilities that served the general public.
In the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the ideal that “all men are created equal”, while not achieved was made enforceable as the law of the land, 188 years after the Declaration of Independence was ratified. It enabled the disadvantaged segments of society to use the lethal force of government to eliminate manmade barriers to employment, wealth, relationships that make for happiness.
Not until ratification of the 24th Constitutional Amendment in 1964 prohibiting any state from abridging or denying a citizen’s right to vote by virtue of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax could the power of the federal government be deployed to ensure the rights of all citizens to vote, to employment, and to access to public property.
The gradual lifting of barriers to employment faced by women, African Americans and person of foreign origin, by the aged, the disabled and by other disadvantaged segments of the population contributed to the expansion of the labor force and for increases in the productivity of labor setting the stage for an economic boom of unprecedented proportion.
Nevertheless, the Industrial Society became dysfunctional after the 41 year period beginning in 1929 with the Great Depression and ending in 1970 with the conclusion of World War II and the unprecedented economic post-war boom that followed making the United States not only the dominant military power but also the largest economy in the world.
With the population booming and economic activity accelerating, the damage human activity can do to the environment became apparent. The nation was originally puzzled about the origin of smog that developed in cities where auto traffic and industrial activity during hot days where a heat inversion stilled the winds. They are no longer puzzled.
In their effort to improve their life, humans can and do collateral damage to the environment and inadvertently threaten their survival.
Robinson Jeffers, in his poem titled “Passenger Pigeons” addresses the hubris of mankind by staging a conversation with Death. The conversation begins with a description of the extermination of passenger pigeons and bison after their population grew explosively.
Man says to Death:
“These explosions of life, they are your food. They make your feasts.
”But turn your great rolling eyes, those grossly craving black eyes. Away from humanity, it is true we increase”
“We have invented the jet plane and the death bomb and the Cross of Christ –”
“Oh he replies ‘surely you will live forever’ – grinning like a skull covering his mouth with his hand.”
‘What could exterminate you?’”
(Quoted from: The Beginning and the End, by Robinson Jeffers; available from Amazon)
The answer to Death’s question could be self-evident and trite. Humans will exterminate themselves unless they are mindful that their survival depends on the survival of other life on earth.
It could also be complex and realistic. In that humans have control over their future, they are responsible for their destiny.
© 2012 All rights reserved by Leo J. Shapiro
November 2nd, 2012
Barnes and Noble store (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
by Leo J. Shapiro
The first week in November 2012 is a busy time for Microsoft. It is introducing its Window 8 operating system, its Surface tablet and has equity interests in two companies each of which are introducing new products: Barnes & Noble introducing its Nook HD and Nokia which is about to introduce its Lumina smartphone.
It is a particularly happy time for Barnes & Noble. Microsoft’s purchase of a 17.6% interest in the Nook Division of Barnes & Noble’s is roughly double the company’s total market value. In effect, Barnes & Noble’s 691 brick and mortar book stores are counted as a liability rather than an asset.
As explained in the article posted on 8SAGES.COM on June 10, 2012, Barnes & Noble does not make enough profit on books, food, and accessories to pay the rent on its stores. To support its stores, Barnes & Noble needs to expand its product offerings.
Selling the Nook was a major step in the direction of expanding Barnes & Noble’s product and service offerings. Looking ahead, selling the Surface tablet and the Nokia phones would be another major step toward expanding Barnes & Noble’s product and services offerings as well as a major way for these new products to reach and demonstrate their value to prospective customers.
With such expanded offerings, Barnes & Noble becomes a head-on competitor of the Apple stores and a solid market platform for reaching and demonstrating the features and value of Microsoft’s Surface tablet and its other electronic products as well as Nokia’s Lumina smartphone. Marketing the Nook gave new life to Barnes & Noble’s stores. When the Nook was first introduced, the 691 Barnes & Noble stores gave it a solid market platform which enabled it to reach and demonstrate its features and value to prospective customers. It demonstrated its competitiveness by capturing a large share of the e-book traffic business.
Short term, selling electronic touch-screen products and content in Barnes & Noble stores could make the stores profitable. Longer term, in the coming year or two, all the products mentioned will become obsolescent. This is good news for the companies who anticipate the next iteration of these products and bad news for those who do not.
Longer term, the odds are against the survival of the Nook, the Kindle, the Surface tablet and other devices that transmit text. Control of the retail market for electronic readers will go to the company that controls an innovated “reading device” that is inherently superior in value to those that are currently available.
To anticipate its nature of the superior e-reader requires understanding first how and why the value of an e- reader is determined by the ability of the words it contains to trigger memories of experiences that provide the user with information defined as that which is unexpected. Second, how the value of an e-reader is diminished by the amount of work or effort that the user must make to decode the words to reconstruct the experience and secure information.
The monetary value of an e-reader is the difference between its ability to communicate information less the amount of work or effort required to decode those words that carry the information.
Given the value of easing the task of decoding words, it is likely that current e-readers and physical books will be made obsolete by innovated devices that transmit not only words but also simultaneously transmitting auditory, visual, tactile, olfactory and visceral sensations which will ease the task of decoding.
A more detailed discussion of why current e-readers and physical books are obsolescent is included in the article titled “Why Barnes & Noble is Dying While Giving Birth to the Nook” posted June 21st 2012 on 8SAGES.COM.
The future of e-readers is also discussed in “Face to Face Communication at a Distance” which is chapter 6 of the book titled “Yesterday and Today Bring Bright but Troubled Tomorrows” by Leo J. Shapiro.
The first chapter of Shapiro’s book is now posted on 8SAGES.COM. Additional chapters will be posted at the rate of about one chapter a week. The sixth chapter should be posted around the turn of the year.
The author requests that readers comment, criticize and make suggestions as they read each chapter which he will take into account before releasing the book for publication.
Copyright 2012. All rights reserved by Leo J. Shapiro.
October 30th, 2012
The following is the first chapter of the forthcoming book, “Yesterday and Today Promise Bright but Troubled Tomorrows” by Leo J. Shapiro. We invite you to use the comment box at the end of the post, or to share your feedback using the “Contact Us” page.
Humans Evolved in Control of Their Future
Homo sapiens evolved as a social, tool-creating, intelligent but severely disabled predator that is physically inferior to many of the species on which it preys and to many predators that prey on humans.
By virtue of their intelligence and tool creating capability, Homo sapiens is able to view itself as an object that it can shape and manipulate. In doing so, Homo sapiens became human by transforming itself into a hybrid, part Homo sapiens and part inert tool that is able to overcome specific disabilities by outfitting itself with tools that serve as prosthesis.
As a human, it can fly and see as well as an eagle, hear and detect odor as well as a dog, kill and butcher prey as well as a tiger and escape predators that would kill and eat it that are as large as, wolves, bears, lions or as miniscule as virus and microcellular disease causing bacteria and fungi.
Most important, as a human, it is in controls its own further evolution because it can overcome specific disabilities that interfere with its achieving it goals. The continuous struggle of humans to overcome their disabilities is at the root of technological progress,
Darwin observed that more individuals of a species are born than can possibly survive. In the consequent struggle for existence, any individual that varies in a manner profitable to itself will have a better chance of surviving and thus be naturally selected as a founder of a successor generation.
In this fashion, competition for resources between individuals of the same species then leads, by a process of natural selection, to the evolution of new varieties or new species resulting in the survival of the fittest.
Because humans are able to that vary themselves in a profitable manner they have had a better chance surviving and being naturally selected as the dominant species on earth.
In the beginning, Homo sapiens human hybrids by fabricated shoes and clothes as protective exoskeletons and trekked from their place of origin in Eden-like Africa to the ice bound North Pole. Nomadic: humans secured food by hunting and gathering using stone axes, spears, bows and arrows to kill from a distance, and containers to hold and cook their food. Then, as pastoral nomads, humans created machines for harvesting milk, blood and meat from their herds of cattle.
As nomads, humans changed the environment as they exploited it by destroying plant life, killing animals, cooking with fire, defecating, before moving on to a fresh, unspoiled environment. When humans adopted agricultural as a source of their food and could no longer be nomadic their population density increased as did their impact on the environment.
Darwin, in his letter to Joseph Dalton Hooker, describes the origin of life by stating that “all the conditions for the first production of a living being are now present, which could ever have been present. But if (and oh what a big if) we could conceive in some warm little pond with all sort of ammonia and phosphoric salts,—light, heat, electricity present, that a protein compound was chemically formed, ready to undergo still more complex. At the present such matter would be instantly devoured, or absorbed, which would not have been the case before living creatures were formed.”
Reading between the lines of this March 29 1863 letter from Darwin to Joseph Dalton Hooker, we infer that Darwin recognized that life, including human life was an invasive, corrosive process that converts materials that are stable in nature to unstable compounds that degrade. Over time, we have learned that as these unstable compounds degrade they release some substances that are toxic and some that alter the environment.
As a hybrid, part Homo sapiens and part machine, human ability to adapt to hostile environments expanded exponentially as they created increasing efficient tools as prostheses. The impact of humans on the environment increased as they became increasingly able to adapt to and exploit the environment.
Using space suits as an intelligent exoskeleton, humans became able to survive and function in the gravity less vacuum of space and polluted space. With scuba exoskeletons, humans survived and functioned in underwater and altered the ocean environment.
The development of information sciences and computers which enhance human ability to sense, process and act on information greatly enhanced human capabilities to fabricate tools that enable them to overcome humans natural disabilities.
Society values innovators and philanthropists encourage their development. The Peter Theil Fellowships of $100,000 over two years plus other assistance are awarded to people under twenty years of age are meant to encourage persons who are under twenty years of age to skip going to college and get to work by conducting scientific research, starting a social movement or making some other contribution to society.
In forgoing a formal college education, Theil Fellows follow the path blazed by Bill Allen and Steve Jobs who dropped out of college and later founded Microsoft and Apple companies.
Think of the twenty or thirty Theil Fellows who are selected each year as incipient protean Bionic sapiens whose intelligence surpasses that of Homo sapiens by an amount that makes a difference of kind rather than in degree.
Bionic sapiens are emerging as a new breed of humans distinguished by their superior intelligence. They live among and interbreed with Homo sapiens much as Homo sapiens lived among and interbred with the Neanderthal.
In that human ability to create and use tools as prostheses increases as intelligence increases, the inclusion of Bionic sapiens in the general population accelerates the rate of technological advances resulting in the creation of increasingly efficient machines.
The three point increase in IQ intelligence scores per decade of the general population (the so-called Flynn effect) has the effect of increasing the percent of humans born with high enough intelligence to evolve as Bionics sapiens.
A recent example of the growing power of intelligent machines to serve as prostheses that enhance human capability to manipulate the environment is Raytheon’s XOS2. The XOS2 is a robotic shell into which a human fits. It enhances the capabilities of the human to do heavy lifting and perform other challenging tasks.
XOS2, with a human inside, is an agile, powerful hybrid that can do two to three times as much heavy physical labor in an hour than a human. An advanced version of the XOS2 was being tested in 2010.
The Lokomat, like the XOS2 is a robotic exoskeleton which, when worn by a person with spinal cord injuries puts that person through the motions of walking, enabling them to learn to walk. To quote remarks from the website maintained by the Mount Sinai Hospital Joyce D. and Andrew Mandel Center of Multiple Sclerosis Care and Neuroscience Research:
“The Lokomat replicates a normal gait for patients with a walking disability. The patient’s legs are secured in special cuffs and guided along a treadmill outfitted with sensors that send visual feedback to screens for the patient and therapist. The very act of walking correctly changes the brain and helps recapture function that until recently might have been considered lost for good. This “retraining” can make dramatic and lasting improvements.”
Machines, when used as prostheses, have developed to make the connection between the human brain and the environment a two way street.
In its December 2011 edition, Scientific American reports that neuroscientists led by Andrew Schwartz at the University of Pittsburg, have been recruiting patients paralyzed by spinal cord injury into a trial that would allow them to feel the environment around them thru electrodes in the somatosensory cortex that receives information from a robot arm worn as a prosthetic.
In the same December 2011 edition, Scientific American also reports that scientists led by Miguel Nicolelis at Duke University Medical Center have announced the first-ever demonstration in which a primate brain not only moves a prosthesis, but also senses what the prosthesis encounters by receiving encoded electronic signals.
Nicolelis hopes to unveil the first “wearable robot” in 2014. It will be a full body exoskeleton-like prosthesis studded with sensors that relay tactile information about the outside world to the somaticsensory cortex. Controlled by neural transplants that capture signals from the motor cortex, it will move the legs, hands, fingers, everything else. (Source Scientific American December 2011)
As this was written in 2012, the scientific community announced advances in the ability to “grow” human organs like bladder or a thorax from stem cells to replace organs that failed. Techniques were also announced for the regeneration of failed muscles.
With advances in technology humans are coming closer and closer to completing their process of hybridization with machines. Google has taken up the challenge of creating early forms of machines that can eventually surpass Homo sapiens in their ability to survive in the hostile environment of automobile traffic.
Prius driverless autos can sense, store, process and act on information without a Homo sapiens component. The 2010 model of the Prius comes close to having the capabilities of a driverless car except it is unable to maneuver in traffic. Google is succeeding in evolving the Prius as a hybrid composed of a human and a car by adding artificial intelligence and enhanced sensing capability so the Prius and the driver collaborate in making decisions that a driver would otherwise make.
Proof of concept testing was just about complete in mid-2010. In testing the modified Prius cars, GPS systems set a destination and the route the modified Prius was to drive. During the test, two humans were on board, one to monitor traffic and take control in the event of danger, and the other to monitor and manage the control systems.
As of mid-October 2010, seven modified Prius cars had driven 1,000 miles without human intervention. A total of 140,000 miles had been driven with only occasional human intervention. In the absence of a brain of its own, the Prius functions as the exoskeleton of a human-computer hybrid driverless car.
Development of this innovated driverless Prius ties into the development of a new driving environment in which the gasoline tax is replaced with a fee related to the cost of using the roadway. The fee is set to take account of distance driven, the environmental impact of the car or truck that is driven, and the unused capacity of the road at the time of travel.
Early experience with such a fee system in Holland – implemented without driverless cars – found 70% of users changed their behavior as a result of per kilometer pricing by traveling in off-peak hours. The percent of low emission trucks jumped from less than 1% when per kilometer pricing began to more than 55% after the program’s inception.
Per kilometer fees set before the trip began to reduce the environmental impact of the driving and distributes the cost of maintaining roadways more equitably. Given the development and adoption of driverless cars and trucks, the system would reduce the labor cost of transporting materials by eliminating the cost of the driver and encouraging trips at the times when the roadway is underused, the times of day humans avoid driving.
While machines are improving exponentially in their ability to sense experience and manipulate the environment, they have not reached near the level of human intelligence.
Google’s driverless cars are robotic in nature and intended to function in traffic without a driver even though they do not have a fully developed mind of their own.
But, even before Bionic sapiens has displaced Homo sapiens as the dominant species of human, the breed exerts a decisive influence on the structure and nature of the Next Society that will subsume the Grazing Society.
The effort to create machines that enhance human abilities to adapt to the environment has its roots in the persistent, relentless human effort to achieve happiness. In a more than metaphorical sense, the United States was established as a democracy that would treat all Americans as created equal with unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
When Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence giving voice to the nation’s founders’ decision to provide for the survival of the United States of America by establishing it as a democracy, he did not stop in his writing to define the words “life” or “liberty” or “happiness.”
Life as well as liberty can vary in quality but both have core meanings that are widely known and may not need further definition but the word “happiness” is totally ambiguous.
Happiness is a word like pornography that describes something that is easily recognized but hard to define or explain and difficult to talk about in public.
A young eighth grade teacher trained to teach her class sex education had no trouble explaining the role of sex in human reproduction. She spoke glibly about the rather arcane process wherein the penis penetrates the vagina and delivers sperm which fertilizes the egg.
When asked for questions, the teacher was stumped by a girl who said she understood the process because she had already asked her mother where babies come from and heard about sex. But, what she could not understand is why anybody would engage in sex. The teacher stifled her impulse to say “Ask your father.” and declared recess.
Happiness is the word that Aristotle in about 350 B.C. and other philosophers in subsequent centuries have adopted to designate the highest good that all men seek. However, he did not define the “highest good” directly. Instead, by observing Athenian behavior, Aristotle inferred that happiness, the highest good, was whatever was achieved by acquiring wealth, luck, and relations with important others, particularly with members of the ruling elite.
Aristotle considered but decided not to include having ‘no fear of death’ as a source of happiness. He asserted that death involves a change in form not a substantial change. A rabbit, he said, eaten by a wolf becomes the flesh of the wolf; a change in form not a substantive change from being alive to being dead.
A thousand years later, in about 1,630 A.D., Blasé Pascal asserts that happiness motivates all behavior. He did not define happiness in a fashion that made it recognizable. Instead, Pascal posed what has become known as the Pascal wager to demonstrate that it is prudent to bet that God exists rather than bet that God does not exist.
If God exists, then failure to believe in God could invite punishment and pain diminishing happiness. If God does not exist, then little has been lost by believing in God.
In 1969, roughly three hundred years after Pascal did his work, Norman M. Bradburn published a book titled The Structure of Psychological Well Being that asserted that what people call happiness is a sense of psychological well being induced when pain encountered in life is mitigated by the pleasures enjoyed by satisfying desires.
Bradburn is a behavioral scientist, a discipline that draws on the techniques of logic and philosophy to develop hypotheses and on the techniques of hard science to challenge the validity of hypotheses based on logic through the conduct of critical experiments.
Having developed a fresh hypothesis about the nature of happiness, Bradburn challenged its validity. To determine whether people’s experiences with happiness conformed or failed to conform to experiences that would be expected on the basis of his hypothesis, he conducted population surveys.
With Bradburn’s permission, we used his survey questionnaire and scoring system to continue to explore the nature of happiness by: 1) surveying seventeen thousand Americans by telephone at the rate of 500 cases a month during the three years ending July 10, 2010; 2) conducting parallel surveys of 500 cases each in China’s metropolitan areas; 3) surveying residents in the trade area of a newly opened Chicago mortuary, 4) conducting statistical studies of the relation between personal happiness and beliefs in a higher power and in patriotic commitment to the United States and 5) conducting a 1,065 interview survey of Arizona residents to discover the origin of Obama and Romney’s campaign strategies used in the 2012 Presidential election.
These studies found that the meaning of happiness is universally familiar. Everyone we interviewed was able to give a meaningful “yes” or “no” answer if asked whether they are happy and, if so, whether they were very happy or just somewhat happy.
We also found Aristotle’s hypotheses about the sources of happiness based on observation of Athenians in about 350 B.C. were the sources of happiness for Americans and Chinese in 2007 to 2010 A.D.
Further, our survey findings supported rather than denied Bradburn’s hypothesis that happiness is a mood experienced when the pain of everyday living is mitigated by the pleasures that come from satisfying healthy desires.
We also found happiness to be a highly valued, easy to recognize mood by persons coming from cultures and speaking languages as diverse as 350 B.C. Greek, 17th century French, and 21st century English and Chinese.
Insofar as we can tell happiness has an almost universal meaning and value even though each person is unique and national cultures are subject to major differences.
Our reading of our survey research findings are compatible with but take step beyond definitions of happiness cited early as proposed by Aristotle, Pascal and Bradburn.
The burden of the author’s surveys find that happiness, when defined by what Aristotle calls the “highest good that all men seek” is a feeling of pride, an exalted sense of self-esteem that comes from learning or accomplishing something in the face of adversity and pain. In effect, a person who is happy is a person who is happy with their self.
While happiness is a universally recognized, valuable mood, it is a mood that is almost impossible to define or describe. Happiness is hard to define or describe because it is not experienced directly by the senses in a fashion that is simultaneously accessible to the senses of others so it can be shared with others.
Rather happiness is evoked by two radically different types of experiences, one hedonistic and the other altruistic. Each of the two experiences is sensed separately and differently.
Hedonistic happiness is evoked by satisfying the predatory nature of humans by securing pleasures that come from using wealth and power to secure access to and consuming material goods and enjoying relationships. Because wealth and power are finite resources, the pursuit of hedonistic pleasure triggers conflict and is divisive.
By contrast, the pursuit of altruistic happiness is an expression of the social nature of humans. It is evoked by the pleasure that comes from engaging in satisfying relationships with others. The pursuit of altruistic happiness unifies members of a group and facilitates their taking collective action to ward off threats.
Hedonistic and altruistic happiness are rarely experienced in isolation from each other. Rare humans, like Gandhi, forgo hedonistic pleasure and give themselves over to experiencing the ultimate altruistic pleasure that comes from martyrdom. Others, like Hitler, forgo altruistic pleasures that come from giving joy to others and give themselves over to experiencing the hedonistic pleasure that comes with world domination.
For most humans, happiness is achieved by simultaneously sensing a hedonistic and an altruistic happiness as two separate experiences that resonate and combine in the theatre of their mind to create something like a musical “harmonic” note that is sensed privately in a fashion that is not accessible to the senses of others.
In his book “Inventing America”, Garry Wills reports Thomas Jefferson recognized that it would be difficult to create unity of purpose among Americans because they resent the injuries they incur while competing fiercely with each other for wealth, power and other scarce resources.
According to Garry Wills, Jefferson believed it might be possible to unite the nation despite their resentment of injuries endured as they compete for wealth, power, and recognition if all Americans enjoyed equal rights to the pursuit of happiness.
Wills says that when Jefferson spoke of happiness he meant measureable happiness for the entire public. Taken literally, Jefferson meant progress toward achieving democracy could be determined by measuring and seeking to expand the prevalence of happiness as it is experienced in everyday life.
Bradburn’s hypothesis that happiness is more a flight from pain than a pursuit of pleasure for pleasure’s sake is in line with earlier thinking by Darwin and Hobbes.
To repeat, Darwin explained that the competition for scarce resources is an inevitable part of life. Species, Darwin observes, reproduce geometrically producing more individuals than can be supported by available resources. The competition for scarce resources, by a process of natural selection, reward some individuals with enhanced survival capabilities and damages others giving rise to the diversity of species. .
Herbert Spencer later suggested that the words “survival of the fittest” could be substituted for the words “natural selection” to describe the evolutionary process. Darwin agreed.
Both “survival of the fittest” and “natural selection” describe the deadly competition that prompted Thomas Hobbes to say that life is “nasty, brutal and short.” Happiness is achieved when pain, endemic in living a life that is nasty, brutal and short, is overcome by pleasures evoked by the satisfaction of healthy desire.
Jefferson did not make a distinction as we do here between altruistic and hedonistic happiness. The kind of happiness Jefferson had in mind when he asked that happiness be measured is happiness as it is experienced by people in their everyday life – a blend of hedonistic and altruistic happiness that produces a unique experience which is neither hedonistic or altruistic much as two musical notes resonates producing a harmonic note.
The Bradburn questionnaire provides for measuring happiness of the kind Jefferson had in mind; that is the kind of happiness experienced in everyday life. In everyday life that people privately concoct happiness for themselves by blending hedonistic and altruistic happiness.
The review of our telephone survey of seventeen thousand Americans over three years ending in July 2010 found an overwhelming proportion of the population saying they were happy: 88% in the months leading up to the recession and 79% during the recession.
This one measure supports the view that the nation has had some success in mitigating the hurt imposed on its people as they compete for wealth, power and prestige.
But, single statistics on the prevalence of happiness are like temperature readings that detect the presence or absence of a fever but do not provide actionable information on its cause or possible treatment.
Actionable information for achieving happiness for one’s self or for others comes from survey findings relating to the degree of happiness achieved and the forces that enhance and diminish happiness. However, while the survey methodology does permit making rough separate, quantitative measurements of hedonistic and altruistic happiness these separate measurements are not as precise as Jefferson might want.
Norman M. Bradburn questionnaire provides quantitative measurements of happiness by asking respondents whether they had, in recent weeks, experienced each of five specific painful experiences and each of five specific pleasurable experiences.
Answers given to the ten questions about pleasurable and painful experiences are used to compute a ten point happiness score for each respondent ranging from a low of minus 5 to a high of plus 5.
A score of minus five means the respondent is absolutely unhappy. They report having experienced only pain and no pleasure. A score of plus 5 means the respondent is absolutely happy in that they report having experienced only pleasurable experiences and no painful experiences.
There is close correspondence, on a respondent by respondent basis, between self-ratings of happiness and happiness scores. In the chart that follows, those who describe themselves as “Very Happy” have the highest happiness score (+2.93) and those who describe themselves as “Not Too Happy” have the lowest happiness score (- 0.15) during both the good times that preceded the recession and during the recession.
Between these extremes, happiness scores diminish roughly in step with declines in the degree to which people describe their happiness.
The close correspondence between self-rating and happiness scores supports Bradburn’s the premise that what is measured by the Bradburn questionnaire is “everyday happiness” of the sort that Jefferson talked about.
The data also support rather than deny the Bradburn hypothesis that happiness is a flight from pain rather than a pure effort to achieve pleasure. Failure to take account of the respondent reports of both painful and pleasurable experience would have diminished the close correspondence between self ratings and happiness scores.
A word of caution for those who might be tempted to seek pleasure actively to escape pain: The process by which pleasure mitigates pain is not triggered by an act of will but is an involuntary response to pain that is inhibited by grief. We did not develop a statistics relating to the grieving process but draw on the professional literature about the stages of grief that needs be experienced to accommodate to a devastating loss.
If the pain is severe and caused by a crippling illness or by the death of a loved one that triggers grief, the involuntary seeking for pleasure will be delayed until the period of grieving is past. Seeking pleasure while grieving triggers guilt.
Anecdotally, when I was leaving the hospital where I had sat with my mother as she died, my spirits were momentarily lifted by the sunny and soft spring day until I felt a sudden pang of guilt for feeling good with my mother dead.
At the age of seven years, my grandmother died and the family gathered and spent seven days “sitting shiva” grieving and mourning and praying. This is only the first of a number of rituals engaged in to ease the burden of grief for the passing of a loved one.
It is only after grief abates that the joy that comes from involuntarily experience pleasure brings happiness rather than guilt. Americans are able to control their happiness by seeking pleasure except when deeply engaged in working through grief.
Because Americans can generally control their happiness, it is no surprise that the survey finds that most Americans are about as happy in good times as they are during the recession. Specifically, three in four respondents (74.3%) were counted as happy pre-recession because they scored above zero and seven in ten (69.4%) were counted as happy during the recession, a decline of only 6.6 percentage points.
However, while most Americans are happy, the bulk of Americans (95%) are only marginally happy, scoring less than a plus 4. Pre-recession 53.7% had scores less than plus 4 and were only marginally happy. During the recession almost as many Americans (50.6%) were marginally happy with score under a plus 4.
Another, 12% of Americans pre-recession and 14.7% during the recession had happiness scores of zero meaning that they are neither happy nor unhappy. And still another 14% had happiness scores of less than zero and are not happy. The balance of Americans, 14% pre-recession and 14% during the recession were unhappy with minus scores of less than zero.
While most Americans say they are happy, the United States has a long way to go to achieve the high degree of happiness needed to mitigate the pain inflicted by conflict and encourage unity.
The proportion of Americans who have achieved the highest degree of happiness is miniscule. Only 6.2% of Americans pre-recession and 5.1% during the recession score a plus 5, the highest degree of happiness.
In line with the miniscule proportion of Americans who have achieved a really high degree of happiness, the nation is torn by dissension. Its Congress is dysfunctional, torn by ideological disputes and unable to make decisions. The nation itself is embarking on a presidential election that promises to be a no-holds-barred conflict.
*The questionnaire and methodology for the survey were devised by Norman M. Bradburn. We thank him for permission to use his work.
Information useful for planning action to enhance the intensity of personal happiness comes from answers respondents give to questions asked about whether they experienced each of the ten specific feelings of pain and pleasure that make for happiness.
“Being bored” is the most frequently reported painful feeling. It is reported by 44.4% of respondents pre-recession and 43.0% of respondents during the recession.
Boredom can be evoked by experiences as varied as isolation or terror. It is an indication that a person is unhappy with their self – unhappy with being the person they have become. It is an indication of low self-esteem.
The four remaining painful feelings reported by respondents also reflect discomfort with self. They include:
- Being so restless that you could not sit in a chair: 30.9% pre-recession and 24.9% during the recession;
- Depressed or very unhappy: 24.8% pre-recession and 22.6% during the recession;
- Very lonely or remote from other people: 20.7% pre-recession and 21.5 during recession;
- Upset because someone criticized you: 19.4% pre-recession and 16.0% during the recession.
In good times, pre-recession, the average respondent reports having experienced 1.4 painful feelings in recent weeks. Paradoxically, the number of painful feelings reported during the hard times of recession is slightly lower at 1.3 painful feelings than the 1.4 painful feelings reported during good times.
The frequency of both painful and pleasurable feeling diminishes during hard times because people protect their feelings by withdrawing from reality and numbing themselves to pain as well as to pleasure.
“Being pleased about accomplishing something” is the most frequently reported pleasurable feeling. It is reported by 84.3% of respondents pre-recession and 80.9% during recession. Being pleased about accomplishing something bolsters self-esteem – satisfaction with self worth.
The four other pleasurable feelings that are reported also reflect satisfaction with self. In descending order of frequency, they include:
- That things are going your way: 71.8% pre-recession and 63.7% during the recession;
- Proud because someone complimented you on something you had done: 65.6% pre-recession and 60.2% during the recession;
- Particularly excited or interested in something: 55.6% pre-recession and 52.1% during the recession;
- On top of the world: 36.6% pre-recession and 31.8% during the recession.
In good times, pre-recession, the average respondent reports having experienced 3.2 pleasurable feelings in recent weeks. During the hardships of recession, the number of pleasurable feelings reported by the average respondent drops from 3.2 to 2.9 pleasurable feelings or 0.3 feelings fewer that reported pre-recession.
…Lack of Feelings – Numbness
When Americans cannot mitigate their pain by evoking feelings of pleasure that come with the satisfaction of desire, they suppress all feelings, not only feelings of pain but also of pleasure.
During the recession the average American reported having a total of 4.3 painful and pleasurable feelings which is 0.2 fewer than the 4.5 painful plus pleasurable feelings they reported during pre-recession good times.
The slightly lower happiness self-rating for the average American during the recession than pre-recession reflects a slightly greater decrease in pleasurable feelings (a 0.2 decline) versus a 0.1 decline in painful feelings.
It is logical that fewer pleasurable feelings are experienced during the recession than during good times (2.9 in good times and 3.2 in recessions). However, it is not logical that the number of painful feelings experienced is also lower during recession’s hard times than in good times (1.3 in recession and 1.4 in good times).
The illogical finding that both feelings of pleasure and of pain are suppressed to break a bad mood is explained when respondents describe what they actually do to break a bad mood.
Some respondents talk about going for a walk or a drive, keeping busy with work – gardening, remodeling, and cooking, – buying something or shopping. Others explain they read, watch TV, listen to music, relax, sleep, eat, take drugs, meditate or pray. Each of these tactics has the effect of disconnecting Americans from their immediate environment.
SOURCE: Information about how respondents break a bad mood comes from 500 men and women sampled from the nation at large and interviewed by phone in September 2001. This was an exploratory survey in which respondents were asked “When you are feeling low or unhappy, what do you do to improve your mood.” Verbatim responses to this open question were coded and summarized statistically.
The United States is not unique in that its people’s happiness stems from personal satisfaction with self. That people’s happiness stems from satisfaction with self is also the finding of surveys we conducted in China in June 2008 when the Chinese economy was booming, and parallel surveys conducted in the United States when it was in deep recession.
The June 2008 surveys utilizing Bradburn’s questionnaire found recession-plagued Americans markedly happier than the Chinese who were experiencing an economic boom.
When asked to rate themselves on happiness, more Americans than Chinese described themselves as “very happy”: 27% of Americans which is a third more than the 18% of the Chinese who rated themselves as “very happy.”
The statistical analysis of happiness scores found the lower prevalence of happiness in China was associated with experiences in recent weeks that made them feel devalued. Specifically, over twice as many Chinese than Americans reported being “upset because someone criticized me” (40% Chinese and 17% Americans, a difference of 23 points).
Many fewer Chinese, 49%, than Americans, 63%, reported feeling “Proud because someone complimented me for something I have done”: a difference of 14 points.
The fact that the Chinese economy was booming while the American economy was in deep recession was reflected in the survey findings about how Chinese felt about their personal situation. More Chinese, 54%, than Americans, 34%, reported they had, in recent weeks, experienced a feeling of being “on the top of the world”: a difference of 20 points in favor of the Chinese.
The pleasure of feeling “on top of the world” experienced by the Chinese, is nullified by their diminished comfort and satisfaction with self. Being criticized, which was common during the Cultural Revolution and has persisted, diminishes feeling of self-worth. Good manners and politeness which acknowledge the importance of others by saying hello and good bye reinforces feelings of self-worth.
As stated and restated before, while happiness is easy to recognize and report on a self-rating basis, it is extremely difficult to define or describe. Pain and pleasure are not experienced directly but experienced separately and then blended by each person into a single, idiosyncratic feeling that does not readily lend itself to verbal communication.
The mood Americans and Chinese who were surveyed call happiness has the ambiguous, indescribable taste of drinks like Coke, Pepsi or a Starbuck’s Latte — sweet, delicious with enough bitterness not to be cloying and a hit of caffeine to light up the world.
John Lennon seeks to overcome the indescribability of happiness by resorting to metaphor in his song:
Happiness Is a Warm Gun – Bang Bang – Shoot Shoot – When I hold you in my arms – ooooh, oh yeah – and feel my finger on your trigger –ooooh, oh yeah – I know nobody can do me no harm -ooooh, oh yeah – happiness is a warm gun momma momma –bang bang – shoot shoot – Yes it is gun!”
By expressing himself in song rather than prose Lennon could convey the indescribable feeling he was experiencing. The brain reacts directly to rhyme and rhythm and melody and relives the original experience. Words, the manifest meaning of the words used in his lyrics, function like captions that interpret the melody.
Music, and to a certain extent poetry, have high value because they allow the brain to relive and enjoy the original experience freshly and repeatedly. Prose, by contrast, is an encoded instruction used by the brain to reconstruct a memory that is only a shadow of the original experience.
(Source: This is Your Brain on Music by Daniel J. Levitin a neuroscientist and musician who runs the Laboratory for Musical Perception, Cognition and Expertise at McGill University.
In summation, humans have become the dominant species by virtue of:
1) Their ability to innovate, to fashion tools as prosthesis that enable them to overcome disabilities and
2) Their constant pursuit of happiness which motivates them to innovate and work to mitigate pain by seeking pleasure.
October 29th, 2012
by Leo J. Shapiro
In the world where consumers live, national statistics show consumer optimism hitting a high, retail sales accelerating, residential housing market improving and consumer debt increasing which jibes with growing consumer confidence.
Documenting the trends shown by the cited statistics, the U.S Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) just announced that the nation’s total output of goods and services, its Gross Domestic Product (GDP), jumped from a growth rate of 1.3% in the second quarter rate to a growth 2% in the third quarter.
Contrary to these statistics, in the world where managers of large publicly traded business enterprises live, the New York Times headlines “Firms Don’t Share Consumer Optimism.”
The article reports company pessimism nationally reflects the shrinking export market for American goods as European economies sink into recession and fear that re-election of Obama will damage the domestic economy by increasing taxes and the national deficits.
Both the Republican and the Democratic parties seek to influence voters by sending messages and engineering the news reaching the public. For instance, in its October 27, 2012 edition, the New York Times carried a story headlined “Bosses Offering Timely Advice on How to Vote”.
The story reports that in letters to employees managers warn that if President Obama is re-elected, their company would be harmed, potentially jeopardizing jobs, because of the costs of over-regulation and possible tax increases.
The day earlier, the October 26 2012 edition of the New York Times reported that the odds of Romney winning the election soared to 49% on the Intrade betting site for a few minutes before quickly sinking back to where it had been in the low 40’s.
Justin Wolfers, described by the NYT as an expert on prediction markets, is quoted as suggesting that “someone or a few people inflated Romney’s numbers by offering a considerable premium over what shares were trading for…at an estimated cost of $1,250.”
The same NYT edition headlines “Michigan Vote a Test Case on Enshrining the Rights of Unions.” Unions play a major role in supporting the Democratic Parties effort to turnout the voted for Obama.
As this is written, a warm winter and threats of a monster storm in Northeast America increase fear of climate change and, simultaneously increase fear that an Obama administration will raise taxes and spend the money on programs to slow climate change without having secure knowledge of the effects of those programs or even certain knowledge that the climate is changing.
The divergent views of Obama and Romney likely voters will not make much difference in the future of the economy or the career of climate change. Both are subject to forces that are likely to be beyond the control of governments. Think of the Cnut the Great, King of Vikings, and his sense of futility when he tried to sweep back the tides of the rising seas.
To get a close up view of the dynamics of the situation we focused on Arizona which our data show has unobtrusively slipped from being a sure Republican win to being a swing state.
Interviews with 1,065 Arizona residents conducted in the ten days ending September 15 show Obama likely voters’ view of the way things are going for the nation and its economy is sharply more optimistic than the view taken by Romney supporters.
Specifically, 58% of Obama supporters versus only 5% of Romney supporters feel things are going better for the nation. As for the economy, 68% of Obama supporters versus only 17% of Romney supporters say things are going better for the economy.
As for their personal financial situation, likely Obama voters are sharply more upbeat that likely Romney voters. Specifically, 49% of Obama likely voters say the “feel better off today than four years ago” compared to only 12% of Romney voters.
Views on climate change of likely Obama and Romney voters are also sharply divergent. Specifically 58% of likely Obama likely voters compared to only 19% of Romney voters say they are “extremely or “very” concerned about climate change.
Likely Obama voters view their nation and its economy differently than Romney voters because each views the world from a different personal perspective.
Likely Romney voters are more likely than likely Obama voters to be: older, male, native-born, higher income Americans with investments in stocks and bonds, who are apprehensive about their personal financial future and the future of the country and believe Romney will protect their wealth from taxation and financial crisis by reducing the national debt, reducing expenditures for social services and achieving strong growth for the economy.
In sharp contrast likely Obama voters are more likely than Romney voters to be: younger, female, immigrant, lower income, debt-burdened persons with negligible savings who are optimistic about their personal financial future and the future of the country.
Given the extreme difference in their personal situations, it is clear that difference between the views of likely voters for Obama and Romney will not be resolved by an exchange of facts. The differences are ideologically rather than factually based. They will be resolved by engaging in no-holds-barred conflict involving attacks on the personalities of the candidates.
Obama seeks to portray Romney not as a competent business man but as a salesman who will say anything to close a sale. Romney seeks to portray Obama as a well-intentioned by incompetent leader as witnessed by the failure of his programs to end the recession and resolve conflict in the Mideast during the four years he has been in office.
The outcome of the 2012 Presidential Election will not change the course of events. Whether Obama or Romney wins, the nation will continue to edge to the right. In this election as in no other election before, people on the right have the legal power and the monetary power to promote their views forcibly. The nation will more quickly move to the right with Romney in office than if Obama is reelected.
Looking toward the near term but not immediate future the odds are that the nation’s economy will boom as it did in the Roaring 1920’s and the Halcyon 1960’s. The conditions for such a boom are clearly in place. War followed by recession increases the productivity of labor and reduces costs without reducing industry’s productive capacity.
Domestic consumer demand for goods, deferred by war and recession, is ready to soar as goods come available in quantity at low prices.
International consumer demand is also ready to soar given the rising incomes of developing nations and their growing awareness of their populations of the higher standard of living available in developed countries.
Less developed nations as well as the United States, are accelerating the production of goods and services without restraint to support growing populations at a higher and higher standard of living.
Made euphoric by a rapidly growing economy, financial institutions will again pump money into the economy, create a “ bubble” which will burst and bring on recession as was the case following the economic booms in the 1920’s and 1960’s.
As the global economy inflates, production of goods and services soars accelerating the rate at which materials found stable in nature are being transformed into substances that include some that are toxic increases. The global environment visibly deteriorates at an increasing rate.
In the long term future, by 2076 when most America celebrates the 300th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence and most of us are dead, the nation and the world will be forced to face up to facts about the increasing rate at which species are becoming extinct and abandon its ideological conflict to work together avoid the “sixth extinction”.
Humans had their chance to evolve and become dominant following the “fifth extinction” which wiped out the dinosaurs that sat on top of the food chain and ate other species but were not themselves eaten.
The fifth major extinction cleared the way for a small, nervous hairy mammal to evolve as Homo sapiens and sit on top of the food chain.
NOTE: Some material in this article is drawn from a soon to be published book by Leo J. Shapiro titled: “Yesterday and Today Promises Bright by Troubled Futures.” Excerpts of the book will be posted on 8Sages.com, inviting your comments and feedback. You can read and comment on Chapter 1, “Humans Evolved in Control of Their Future”, here.
The first two paragraphs of the seventh chapter of the book titled “Bright but Difficult Future Unfolds during Next Society” are posted below to communicate the purpose and theme of the book.
“The six prior chapters fall short of telling the full story of how humans overcame severe difficulties to become the dominant species on earth. This, the seventh and final chapter, brings the story of humans forward to 2076 when the nation will celebrate the 300th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration.
“At the time of this writing in 2012, the Grazing Society had entered its final days having failed to satisfy the needs of its members. Conflict between factions of voters defined by ideological and class divisions paralyzed the government, leaving the nation unable to stave off financial, social and environmental disaster.
TECHNICAL FOOTNOTE QUOTED FROM THE BOOK
Consumers’ ability to anticipate changes in GDP before such changes are announced officially by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) is documented by 8SAGES research.
The 8SAGES.COM announcement dated October 4th 2010 showed changes in Consumer Financial Balances (CBI) reported by consumers related closely to changes in Gross National Product (GDP).
The Consumer Balance Index (CBI) tracks consumer perception of the changes in their financial balance – assets and income versus debt and spending by using information from over 16,500 telephone interviews conducted during the first ten days of each month with 480 to 500 consumers sampled from the nation at large during the thirty three month period ending July 10, 2010
Changes in the Consumer Balance Index (CBI) successfully tracked the career of the economy during the recession and identified the end of the recession.
Marking the start of the recession, the graph that follows shows the CBI plunged from 95 in October 2007 to 87 in November 2007. The Bureau of Economic Analysis later announced that the recession began, officially, in December 2007.
The CBI recovered half of its October-to-November loss by February 2008 and then moved irregularly down to a low of 73 in October 2008, a mark reached again in September 2009.
From that September 2009 low of 73, the CBI moved irregularly higher to 87 in April 2010, matching for the first time since the start of the recession the highest level reached since that start.
On October 20, 2010, the Bureau of Economic Analysis announced that the recession officially came to an end in June 2010.
The CBI decline in the months immediately following April 2010 indicated the recovery is fragile, which is in line with announcements made by the federal government.
Click on above graph for larger view.
Copyright 2012 by Leo J. Shapiro — All Rights Reserved.
October 21st, 2012
ARIZONA RESIDENTS’ VOTING INTENTIONS: SEPTEMBER 2012
Unexpectedly, Arizona has become a “swing” state rather than a state sure to vote for Romney, according to findings from a survey of 1,065 Arizona residents interviewed during the ten-day period ending September 25, 2012.
Although the survey finds the race extremely close, Obama is more likely than Romney to win if turnout is high. The election outcome now depends on each candidate’s skill in creating and executing winning strategies.
Pulling back the curtain on campaign strategies, the Arizona survey finds, not surprisingly, that information obtained by candidates from their own research would lead them to focus first on the competence of the candidates and then on turnout.
Specifically, the Arizona survey finds that the 55% majority of Arizonans displeased with Obama’s performance as President are inclined to vote against him. And second, that Obama’s supporters are less inclined to turn out and vote than Romney supporters.
Without having access to the research that went into making decisions on the personality traits each candidate has decided to project, it is possible to infer their strategy for presenting themselves winningly to voters by looking at the clothes they wear, their hairstyles, and their manner of walking and gesturing.
Studies conducted to craft candidates’ public appearance tend to be intricate, quirky and hard to describe in a short article. To illustrate their nature, here is a description of research the author was commissioned to conduct by a candidate for Governor in an Eastern state, up for an election that would require him to capture votes from two large blocs in order to win: Jewish voters and Irish voters. The purpose of the research was to determine whether or not he should wear eyeglasses when he made public appearances.
The research began by taking one picture of the Candidate wearing glasses and another picture not wearing glasses. Interviews were then conducted with voters unlikely to have seen or heard of the Candidate to learn what they thought of him when they saw him wearing glasses as contrasted to not wearing glasses. Wearing glasses, the Candidate came off as intelligent but rather passive. Without glasses, the candidate was seen as active and energetic.
A second wave of research found that images of the Candidate wearing glasses appealed to the Jewish but not the Irish bloc. Without glasses the candidate appealed to the Irish but not to the Jewish bloc.
The decision made by the campaign manager was to have the Candidate carry glasses visibly but not wear them continuously. He won.
Obama and Romney – like all serious candidates for public office – follow a script, dress for their part, and put on a show that is more like a professional wrestling match than a street fight.
To select advertising media and stage public appearances to deliver their messages, both Obama and Romney use information from databases as well as from survey research.
Databases have been developed that include information about the behavior of millions and millions of Americans, pulled from multiple sources including credit card purchases, social media profiles, Google maps, television viewing, readership of newspapers and magazines, and utilization of various internet sites.
Databases have grown so complete and complex that the government is engaged in developing regulations to protect the privacy of Americans. The author does not have access to or knowledge about the way Obama and Romney are utilizing data basis to target desired audiences.
What the author can present is information from the Arizona survey. The survey yields detailed information about the behavior and voting intentions of residents.
For instance, the survey finds Obama supporters to be more likely than Romney supporters to be actively shopping to make a major purchase, including a new car (7% to 4%), used car (16% to 8%), house (6% to 2%), or personal computer (17% to 10%).
Given their interest in making such purchases, Obama supporters are more likely than Romney supporters to be drawn to an ad or publicity shot that features such products, as well as be influenced by promises of making such purchases easier and safer.
More Romney than Obama supporters report being married (61% to 47%). But more Obama than Romney supporters say that they are unmarried but living with a partner (10% to 6%). Overall, more Romney than Obama supporters are in a relationship (67% to 57%).
More Obama than Romney supporters say they have, in recent weeks, felt “very lonely or remote from other people” (31% to 23%) and “bored” (50% to 45%). On the other hand, more Obama than Romney supporters feel that “things are going my way” (61% to 48%). And, more Obama than Romney supporters feel they are better off today than they were four years ago (49% to 12%).
Obama supporters are more likely than Romney supporters to believe in luck 68% to 55% and to believe that they are luckier than the average person (34% to 23%).
More Romney than Obama supporters have savings or retirement funds invested in common stock or mutual funds (46% Romney and 35% Obama). Asked, “If the market went down 10%, which would be about 1200 points on the Dow, do you think you would invest more, take your money out or do nothing at all?” More Obama than Romney supporters would invest more rather than take money out. (Ratio of ”invest more” to “take money out” at 1.33 for Obama supporters is well over twice the ratio of 0.50 for Romney supporters).
Obama supporters’ view of the way things are going for the nation and its economy is sharply more optimistic than the view taken by Romney supporters. Specifically, 58% of Obama supporters versus only 5% of Romney supporters feel things are going better for the nation. As for the economy, 68% of Obama supporters versus only 17% of Romney supporters say things are going better for the economy.
One area where Romney supporters are more optimistic than Obama supporters refers to the ability of the President to solve the nation’s problems. To measure whether the choice of Presidents would make a difference, respondents were asked whether they agree or disagree with the statement, “No matter who is president, the major problems facing the nation will not be solved.”
More Romney than Obama supporters disagreed with the statement (64% to 47%), indicating that Romney supporters are more inclined than Obama supporters to feel that the election of Romney would make a positive difference in solving the nation’s problems.
Obama supporters are so much more optimistic about the nation and its economy than Romney supporters that you might think they live in different countries. They do not. But they see their nation and its economy differently because they view it from different perspectives.
Obama as well as Romney supporters’ perspectives are shaped by their personal situations. Obama supporters are more likely to be female than male (56% to 51%). The reverse is true for Romney supporters who are more likely to be male than female (49% male to 44% female).
Obama supporters are more highly concentrated in the 30-44 year age group than are Romney supporters (28% Obama to 20% Romney). The average age of Obama supporters at 47 years is somewhat lower than the average age of 50 for Romney supporters.
Romney supporters have higher household incomes than Obama supporters ($56K for Romney versus $51K for Obama). Obama supporters are more likely to have incomes under $15K a year (11%) than Romney supporters (7%).
More Obama than Romney supporters are immigrants (10% vs. 4%). Having lived in another country may explain their enthusiasm about the way things are going for this nation.
Obama supporters feel more secure financially than Romney supporters. The Index of Financial Security for Obama supporters at 80 is almost double the index of 48 for Romney supporters.
The Financial Security Index reflects a number of factors such as “expect income to stay the same or to increase more quickly than inflation” and “expect to be in a better financial situation next year”.
Romney supporters more than Obama supporters feel they are under financial pressure. The Financial Pressure Index for Romney supporters at 129 is appreciably higher than the 79 index for Obama supporters.
The Financial Pressure Index reflects a number of factors such as: “in worse financial situation now than a year ago,” “income decreased in past year” and “harder to get by now than a year ago”.
Campaign managers must make simple strategic decisions on messages and media based on data available to them and on intuition. Both candidates have highly savvy campaign managers. Each manager will persist in working until they devise a winning strategy.
For Romney, the winning strategy is likely to exploit the belief of his supporters that the President has the power to solve the nation’s problems and that he, not Obama, has the will, the skill and the real-world experience needed to solve the problems of unemployment and foreign affairs that Obama has not solved after four years in office.
For Obama, the winning strategy is likely to exploit the optimism of his core supporters about their own and the nation’s future. Obama’s supporters are numerous enough to give him the votes needed to win the election in Arizona if they turn out and vote. He needs to fight off Romney’s attack by denigrating Romney’s ability to solve the nation’s problems, by associating Romney with George W. Bush and the Republican controlled House of Representatives.
Obama needs to make Romney’s work history a negative rather than a positive by presenting Romney as a salesman who will say anything to close a deal.
Given the closeness of the race, nationally and in swing states, and the ability of each manager to create a winning strategy, the outcome of the election will not be decided by the strategy employed or by the qualifications of the candidates but by the effectiveness with which the strategies are executed.
In executing campaign strategies each candidate faces the difficult problem of making promises to one major segment of the population without alienating another major segment of the population.
Romney must promise elderly, male, native-born, higher income Americans with investments in stocks and bonds, who are apprehensive about their personal financial future and the future of the country, that he will protect their wealth from taxation and financial crisis by reducing the national debt, reducing expenditures for social services and achieving strong growth for the economy.
Simultaneously, Romney must address the concern of younger, female, immigrant, lower income Americans, who are optimistic about their future and resentful of those with wealth and high investment income, that the wealthy are the “job creators” and “business builders” that provide opportunity for every American to advance financially.
Obama must promise younger, female, immigrant, lower income, debt-burdened persons with negligible savings who are optimistic about their personal financial future and the future of the country that he will help them achieve their dream.
Simultaneously, Obama must address the concerns of elderly, native-born, male persons with higher income and greater financial assets, who are pessimistic about their own financial future and the future of the nation, and who are resentful of Americans who get financial support from the government. He must assure them that he will take care to keep their taxes affordable and that payment of their taxes is not only a patriotic service but a service that will help create jobs for young people, whose payment of taxes will support the pensions and medical care counted at retirement.
If the gap between the candidates widens there might be an “October Surprise,” a last-minute violent attack by one candidate on the other’s character, as there was in the 2004 race between John Kerry and George Bush. In that race the so-called “swift boat attack” that challenged Kerry’s war effort won the election for Bush.
Prior to the “swift boat attack,” our national survey in October showed Kerry a clear winner. The election results and our November survey showed Bush the winner. Our follow-up survey conducted in January to learn whether Kerry’s defense of his reputation was successful showed Kerry would have been the winner if the election were re-run in January. Kerry’s defense came too late.
Now, it is likely that both campaigns are developing strategies to handle an “October surprise.” However, the chance of such a thing happening remains small so long as the outcome of the race stays as close as it is.
Luck will also play a substantial role in determining the outcome of the election. A last-minute positive development in the economy or the international situation can help Obama. Conversely, bad news can help Romney.
The media recognize that the Presidential election rivals the Super Bowl and the Olympics in its ability to attract large audiences. It is a contest worth watching if you love your country and want to perform your civic duty by participating in shaping its outcome.
The Arizona Survey was paid for out of profits by SAGE: Survival and Growth Enterprises, LLC, an advisor to managers of business, government and charitable enterprises. No money for financing the survey came from outside sources.
The principle investigator for the survey and author of these reports is Dr. Leo J. Shapiro who is a “recovering” advisor to managers of political campaigns. He has not accepted assignments from candidates for public office for over thirty years.
Shapiro’s decision to stop serving campaign managers of candidates for public office was made when he found that a substantial proportion of candidates whom he had a hand in electing to public office failed to perform well while in office and in some instances ended up in jail.
While Shapiro no longer wants to feel responsible for the choices the public makes about the candidates that are elected to public office, he deeply admires and respects the men and women who decide to run for election in order to serve the public.
Campaigning for public office and serving the public while in office is a life-changing experience involving personal sacrifices with no assurance of reward.
The Arizona Survey is intended to provide the public and the candidates for office with insight as to the manner in which Americans make voting decisions.
Copyright 2012 by Leo J. Shapiro. All rights reserved.
October 15th, 2012
From: “Yesterday and Today Promises Troubled Bright Futures”
by Leo J. Shapiro
Thomas Jefferson gave voice to the intentions of the nation’s founders by writing the Declaration of Independence which denied that the King of England ruled by Divine Right.
Instead, it asserted that because all men are created equal the governments they institute to protect their unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness derive their power from the consent of the people.
The power of a government that derives its power from the willing consent of the governed was witnessed when a rag-tag army of willing civilians, fighting as an insurgency led by General Washington, won freedom for the United States.
The Thirteen British Colonies defeated the highly disciplined, bureaucratically organized English army and their Hessian mercenaries led by a King who, claiming to rule by Divine Right, coerced the consent of the governed.
Almost immediately after signing the Declaration of Independence, the nation’s founders ratified the Constitution of the United States that violated the ideals of the Declaration of Independence. It legitimized the practice of slavery, did not change the practice of treating women and their possessions as the property of their husbands and delegated the power to regulate voting to the individual states.
George Washington, the man who refused to become King of America, retired to become a gentleman farmer after warning his colleagues to avoid establishing political parties.
Ignoring George Washington’s parting advice, the nation’s founders established two political parties. One was dedicated to protecting the sovereign rights of the individual states. It survives today as the Republican Party. The other was dedicated to expand the power of the central government. It survives today as the Democratic Party.
Although locked in a bitter conflict for power, the two parties fought shoulder to shoulder to protect their control of the government from the people who were governed.
Effectively, the government established by the Constitution derived its power from the consent of white male landowners (due to state voter requirements) in direct contradiction to the assertion in the Declaration of Independence that “governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and most of the nation’s founders were intelligent, educated, land owning, well intentioned, honorable white men protective of their power and privileges and fallible.
Recognizing that their Constitution had failed to establish a government that derived its power from the consent of the people it governed, the nation’s founders “patched” the Constitution.
Alexis de Tocqueville, in commenting on the Federal Constitution, disagreed. He said he believed that the Puritans had established the principle of sovereignty of the people in the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut. The American Revolution then popularized this principle, followed by the Constitutional Convention of 1787, which developed institutions to manage popular will.
While Tocqueville speaks highly of the America’s Constitution, he believes that the mores, or “habits of mind” of the American people play a more prominent role in the protection of freedom. Among the mores he identifies are: township democracy, associations, self-interest rightly understood, tyranny of the majority, and materialism. (Taken from Wikipedia)
By contrast, the nation’s founders recognized the deficiencies of the Constitution and set about “patching” it. Their first “patch” was the addition of a Bill of Rights to the Constitution. It guaranteed the rights of free assembly and free speech and made legal the formation of voluntary associations that represented their members on petitioning governments to remedy injustice.
This was only the first of many efforts to “patch” the Constitution so the nation could realize the Declaration of Independence ideal of being a government that “derives its just powers from the consent of the governed.”
In the two hundred and thirty six years that passed since the Declaration of Independence was ratified, Americans have continued to patch their Constitution so that it outlawed discrimination on the basis of race or gender and extended the right to vote to all American citizens regardless of their race or gender.
Even with racial and gender discrimination outlawed and the right to vote made universal for all citizens regardless of race or gender, a major portion of the American public continues to feel they are ruled by a tyranny of the majority: ruled by a government to which they have not given their consent to be governed.
In 2012, as this is being written, the United States government is unable to act decisively to take advantage of opportunities and avoid apocalyptic dangers because minorities with different ideologies and economic interests refuse to consent to be governed by the elected government officials.
At this writing, Arizona residents feel that the government officials whom they elected to high government office fail to perform their duties. Believing the problem is created because candidates nominated for high government office in the separate Democratic and Republican primaries that are supported with state money are not competent.
A group of Arizona residents have organized an effort to enact an Open Primary Initiative to replace the separate Democratic and the Republican primaries. That Initiative will be on the November ballot.
One thousand and sixty five Arizona residents sampled from the state at large and interviewed during the ten days ending September 25, 2012 finds the Arizona Open Primary Initiative likely to pass by a margin of 14 points with a 45% majority of Arizona residents vote for the initiative, 31% of residents voting against its adoption and the balance not voting.
The vote for an Open Primary Initiative represents an effort made by Arizona residents to “patch” the Constitution so the nation can come closer to achieving the Declaration of Independence’s ideal of having their government derive its power from the consent of the governed.
Support for the Open Primary Initiative concentrates among those who are unsatisfied with the performance of government officials that have been elected to high office.
The 54% of Arizona residents who are not pleased with President Obama’s performance in office would vote to replace the separate Democratic and Republican primaries with an Open Primary by a 12 point margin with 45% voting for and 33% voting against the Open Primary.
Similarly, the 45% of Arizona residents who would vote against re-electing Governor Janet Brewer should she run for office would vote to replace the separate Democratic and Republican primaries with an Open Primary with a seven point margin with 46% voting for and 39% voting against the Open Primary.
Among those who would vote for the Open Primary Initiative, a 49% majority would vote against Governor Janet Brewer being re-elected compared to 40% who would vote for her being re-elected leaving 11% undecided.
The Open Primary Initiative by Arizona residents is another effort to “patch” the Constitution” by replacing separate Democratic and Republican primaries with an Open Primary where all candidates seeking nomination are listed on the same ballot.
On a more general basis, the survey finds support for the Open Primary is concentrated among Uncommitted voters, that is those who lean toward either the Republican or the Democratic parties but say “Yes” when asked if they are Independent voters. Such residents constitute 55% of all residents voting for the Open Primary Initiative but only 49 % of all Arizona residents.
Committed Independents, those who say “Yes” when ask if they are an Independent voter and deny leaning toward either the Democratic or the Republican parties constitute another 15% of all Arizona residents and represent 15% of those voting for the Open Primary Initiative.
Opposition to the Open Primary Initiative concentrates among Committed members of the Democratic and the Republican parties. Committed voters include those who say “No” when asked if they are independent and assert they are Democrats or Republicans. Such Committed voters constitute 46% of all who oppose the Open Primary Initiative but only 31% of all Arizona residents.
The Arizona Survey was paid for out of profits by Sage Survival and Growth Enterprises LLC, an advisor to managers of business, government and charitable enterprises No money for financing the survey came from outside sources.
The principle Investigator for the survey and author of these reports is Dr. Leo J. Shapiro who is a “recovering” advisor to managers of political campaigns. He has not accepted assignments from candidates for public office for over thirty years.
Shapiro’s decision to stop serving managers of campaigns of candidates for public office was made when he found that a substantial proportion of candidates whom he had a hand in electing to public office failed to perform well while in office and in some instances ended up in jail.
While Shapiro no longer wants to feel responsible for the choices the public makes about the candidates that are elected to public office, he deeply admires and respects the men and women who decide to run for office in order to serve the public.
Campaigning for public office and serving the public while in office is a life changing experience involving personal sacrifices with no assurance of reward.
The Arizona Survey is intended to provide the public and the candidates for public office with insight as to the manner in which Americans make voting decisions.
Copyright 2012 by Leo J. Shapiro. All rights reserved.