Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Unnecessary Decline Of Civilization

Share this ARTICLE with your colleagues on LinkedIn .

Civilization is essentially a business arrangement of convenience entered into by all parties so that each may be better benefited by the expertise, the experience and the contributions (in terms of cooperative and collaborative efforts harmoniously in synergy). A civilization is also very much like a multi-cellular organism, where each cell (i.e., participant) must be reasonably independent and self-managing, but also cooperative in terms of society's "business plan."

If the plan is unclear, if the roles of the participants are uncertain, if there are no policies (i.e., laws and parameters of conduct), or if those policies are capriciously applied without regard to balance, fairness, justice and predictability, and if incentives are not offered for doing things of benefit for society as a whole, the body of civilization disintegrates, as does any overripe, under-managed 'business' that has forgotten or chooses to ignore the reasons for which it was formed.

Every Human Being is a participant in civilization in multiple aspects and capacities.

A bloated system which ignores the notion of contribution and meritocracy, and instead embraces plutocracy, privilege and waste, will lose the faith, initiative and cooperation of its stakeholders (the participants), its employees (the participants) and its clients (the participants).

As the focus of our participants moves away from such once-thought-noble objectives as teaching and helping others; innovating and creating "new" things; gaining and maintaining a reputation for trustworthiness; self-growth; supported entrepreneurship; free and open dialogue and exchanges of ideas; a true opportunity to serve, and direct political elections based upon individual merits of candidates (and not based upon the sizes of their budgets); a streamlined government which does not itself act as an ever-growing parasite subsisting off of the contributions of the participants (hosts) and offering less and less service in exchange for more and more intrusive control at a higher and higher 'commission rate,' extorted in the form of taxes and money creation...we become increasingly (and perhaps preemptively) selfish.

The situation is exacerbated by feeble leadership, increasing inefficiencies, diminished expectations and a lack of positive reinforcement for genuine achievement. When people work for the government but the government doesn't work for the people, when greed eclipses good, when all assessment becomes subjective, the stage is set for a social decline.

Our decline has already begun, and is accelerating worldwide. As a business in the macroscopic sense, civilization neither turns a profit nor justifies, by the decreasing benefits which it bestows upon its participants, its very existence.

As Futurists, we must anticipate a decline in civilization if the implicit trends referenced above are not reversed -- and momentum, combined with typical Human reactivism, are driving us to the brink of some form of neo-feudalism with large enterprises as the warlords who will command us under the guise of protection.

Be prepared. There will be mush more to discuss on the implications, timing, risk mitigation, and intelligent intervention in order to either exploit this coming era of entropy (a seemingly immoral choice), or to plan to surf the coming tsunami.

It is painful to think that this is a generalized trend...poorer service, increased institutionalized lawlessness, de-personalization, diminished expectations and standards, unproductive expenditure and profligate 'bonus entitlement', is, in a sense the triumph of Humankind's animal Nature over the spark of divinity which I believe resides in most if not all of us.

In subsequent posts, we talk about what we need to do as individuals, as families, and as businesses owners and managers.

Douglas E Castle [http://aboutDouglasCastle.blogspot.com]


Blogs And RSS Feeds
by Douglas E Castle

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Cash As A Commodity: MiniTrend

Share this ARTICLE with your colleagues on LinkedIn .

When banks hold onto cash and the amount of liquidity in the economy-at-large rapidly dries up, companies historically have responded reactively (impulsively) in the short run (starting six months after a media-magnified cash crunch and continuing into a period where indications in the economy point very strongly toward general inflation. Companies hoard troves of cash out of an amalgam of fear and greed -- fear that no further credit will be available to fuel expansion or to address unexpected needs, and greed -- where cash is scarce, and asset values (exclusive of exchange-traded securities) are declining either because of a shortage of viable buyers or customers, or because of anticipated worsening in the economy.

The rating of the United States as a sovereign credit may have been downgraded, and many are speaking about the decline of the value of the dollar vis-a-vis other currencies, but this is of little real consequence within the community of dollar holders with an eye for bargains and arbitrage. You need ready cash in order to be able to secure distress-sale bargains.

Viewing cash as a commodity, which so many fail to do, makes it increase in value when it is in shorter supply, and when it can be used to purchase even more than before in terms of larger-ticket income-producing assets, equipment, et cetera.

It might be well worth your while to have a look at an article just posted on The InfoSphere Business Alerts! Blog. The article can be accessed at http://infospherebusinessalerts.blogspot.com/2011/10/companies-hoarding-cash-no-self-banking.html.

The conventional wisdom would have us believe that corporations (as investing entities) would be fleeing dollars as a store of value, and running to invest in gold, or oil stocks, or FOREX. The fact of the matter is that Corporate America knows that large reserves of cash are wonderful to have in an economy where prices of many assets, supplies and resources are temporarily depressed. Expect corporations and large organizations, both US and international, to be piling up cash reserves until the prices of assets seem to have truly "bottomed out," or after the first few months (three to six months, generally speaking) of reports of rising general inflation.

Were I to hazard a guess, I believe that corporate self-banking, especially in US Dollars, will continue for at least another year to a year-and-a-half, and that reasonably-profitable small- to mid-sized companies are already starting to follow the example of the cash collectors...companies like Apple, for example.

Ironically, this self-banking in response to the contractionary credit environment is actually helping to support and bolster the value of the US Dollar. And that, friends, readers and colleagues, is not necessarily a bad thing.

Douglas E Castle [http://aboutDouglasCastle.blogspot.com]
InfoSphere Business Alerts And Intelligence [http://InfoSphereBusinessAlerts]

Blogs And RSS Feeds
by Douglas E Castle

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Deepening Divides: Megatrends To Watch - Part 2

Share this ARTICLE with your colleagues on LinkedIn .

In mid-September, Deepening Divides: Megatrends To Watch - Part 1 was published. The article, which can be found at http://theglobalfuturist.blogspot.com/2011/09/deepening-divides-megatrends-to-watch.html  addressed the nature of these social, economic, political, technological and other movements. They are not merely small waves, aberrations or market adjustments -- they are changes which take place over a rather long period of time, but which keep growing, unchecked, and ultimately lead to dramatic changes affecting all of Human civilization.

I referred to them categorically as Juggernauts. We tend to notice them, but since their effects don't seem imminent, or aren't sufficiently disturbing, we de-prioritize them -- we procrastinate until they are fully upon us. Then it becomes the traditional dance of pointing fingers, placing blame, and miserable crisis management.

The "deepening divides" are enabled, encouraged (I've personified them) and exacerbated because no one chooses to address them. When they become sufficiently intrusive, we tend to wonder, "When did this happen?" Like a tiny crack in the ice on a lake, they grow deeper and further, with unfathomably profound implications for the world and our species. I liken this to walking through the woods and hearing a slight buzzing; as I walk further, it becomes louder. Soon, I find myself stepping into a nest of bees, and I am fully ambushed by an unshakeable cloud of angry bees, stinging me until I fall over in anaphylactic shock, with my body swollen to the size of sea lion.

I brought myself right into the calamity by ignoring small but persistent signs... a gradual increase in the volume of buzzing. I was not vigilant and I failed to react quickly and pre-emptively. The greatest megatrends do not require the studies of a brilliant mind to recognize -- Futurists and journalists don't usually find them exciting or "sexy" enough to warrant serious coverage.

Some of the changes covered in the first Part of the Article are reviewed briefly below:

1) The United Nations will become increasingly irrelevant.
2) The average Human attention span will decrease very significantly.

3) Human immunological responses, resiliency and recovery abilities will wane, ushering in a decline in the general level of public health

4) Logistics, fulfillment and transport issues will become increasingly inefficient and technologically unsuitable, e.g., outmoded, to keep pace with the increasing demands for shipments of goods intranationally and worldwide.
5) An increasing percentage of the world's population will become poor.

To the above list, I would like to add the following to our Global Futurist vision. And bear in mind that any single one of these "sleeper changes" has the power, in and of itself to radically change the way each and every one of us lives:

6) Militaries, prisons, police agencies and other less media-covered and sensationalized functions of national governments will become privatized, and a handful of giant private contractors, without binding legal or ethical sovereign allegiance will essentially control the greatest concentration of each country's weaponry, as well as the power to terminate and incarcerate individuals almost at will. As Napoleon once said, "God is always on the side of the heaviest artillery." Individuals will essentially be controlled, if not enslaved by these huge monopolies;

7) The average age of individuals will increase, and the percentage of the population being considered as elderly (as of this moment, those individuals over 70 years of age) will increase. The quality of life for these people will decline, a greater number of them will be institutionalized, and many will be kept alive due to the continued profit motive driving healthcare providers to bilk third-party payers for all sorts of life-prolonging procedures, and for purposes of scientific experimentation. The elderly will be increasingly perceived by the young to middle-aged segments of the population as being a 'drain on the economic system'. This is a mindset that leads to frightening consequences if we permit our respective imaginations to wander down their darkest corridors.

8) There will be a dramatic increase in the direct private and dynastic ownership of companies and assets, and a flight from publicly-traded securities or paper debt and currencies. Volatility and growing distrust of the capital markets is beginning to lead the flow of wealth into direct participation in managed business. The Chinese are masterful at this. The Americans are not.

Investments will be increasingly assessed (i.e., valued) based upon their ability to generate recurring income for their owners, and less for the likelihood of a market killing. The gambling portion of the public will continue to play high stakes in the stock market, while the sobered and saddened one-time speculators will rebuild and store wealth in the form of direct ownership of income-producing assets. This could fuel a longer-term (more than eight years from now) rise in the value of multifamily dwellings, farmland, operating mines, smaller businesses involved in low-tech services and product manufacturing and distribution.

Imagine: "Hey, buddy! I've got a hot tip on a company that's going private."

9) Many of the "free to user" computer, internet, communications, publishing and social media services which have become dependent upon these free services will be shocked to find that the seemingly benign geek-born monopolists (Google, Twitter, Facebook, and others), are going to start billing consumers and businesses for services in the same way as any traditional utilities companies. This will force many entrepreneurs and start-ups into bankruptcy, and will cause their larger counterparts to increase prices significantly, as they simultaneously petition the various governments involved to intervene and regulate these rapacious business giants.

Be vigilant. Anticipate changes, Prepare plans and muster the will to put them into effect. These MegaTrends will not only be game-changing -- they will be revolutionary in every sense of that term.

Douglas E Castle [http://aboutDouglasCastle.blogspot.com]

Blogs And RSS Feeds
by Douglas E Castle

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Future: Site Construction Advisory!

Share this ARTICLE with your colleagues on LinkedIn .

Apologies, dear readers and respected colleagues! We are currently in the process of re-constructing our blog templates in order to improve your reading, learning and interactive experience at each site. We should be able to resume a normalized, more frequent posting schedule by Wednesday evening, 5th October.

Thank you in advance for reading me. And more than this, thank you for your encouragement, support, responsiveness, constructive feedback and loyalty.

Your patience is deeply appreciated.

Faithfully and with respect,
Douglas E Castle

p.s. If you would like something quite interesting to read in the meantime, I would be delighted if you would have a look at http://aboutdouglascastle.blogspot.com/2011/10/man-versus-machine.html, and let me know your thoughts.

I would also appreciate your feedback on my most recent post (today) on a blog which has been too-long neglected and is now being reconstructed and re-activated. Visit http://BloggingTipsTricksAndTools.blogspot.com. The blog title is quite misleading (and more than a bit ironic), as you'll notice.

- DC

Blog Archive

Bookmark and Share