Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Left and Right, but where is the Center?

S&D Group President Hannes Swoboda said:

"Monti as next Italian President could be a good choice. But let first Italians choose between right and left politics.”

My comment:

Left and right politics? Where are the centrist ones, in Europe in general?

Once upon a time I used to think/hope that ELDR/ALDE member parties were close to being centrist. An MEP candidate with The Liberals, an ELDR member new party in Greece, in 1999, I thought I had found the centrist home I had missed since the demise of the EDIK party after the 1977 elections (I was 15 then but my father was a voter of EDIK). I soon found out that although there were centrist people in the party, it was albeit more dominated mostly by libertarians including ones that argued that taxation was theft and admired Thatcher and Ronald Reagan!!! More recently, I have come to realise that the Liberal Democrats in the UK and even more so the Dutch VVD and the German FDP were not really centrist. Although especially in the UK's LibDems there is a definite centrist element that was in my opinion frustrated by the Tories-LibDems coalition.

It is convenient for political party game theory for voters to have to choose between left and right ideologies, agendas and policies. But it is the center that has the natural ability to address real people's needs and problems by choosing the right policies without left vs right dogmas and prejudices. It is no surprise that many voters auto-label themselves as centrist or middle of the road. If credible centrist parties existed, they would break those voters' "left vs right" dilemma.

So the issue remains: Who expresses the centrist POV at EU and at EU member states' level? Or the US.

PS. Of course there is a slight difference between middle of the road and centrism, but in practical terms it's kind of a detail.

Friday, December 21, 2012

2012 Review: US vs EU models (dreams vs quality of life)

Even in 2012, US and EU systemics point to:

US best to pursue your dreams, EU best for quality of life.

In 2012, quality of life in the EU27 took a further beating and the European Social Model (with its variations) is under threat, with the "excuse" of austerity. As I have pointed out before, various private sector interests are eyeing the "filet" and other parts of the EU27 health "market"/pie, encouraged, inter alia, by the block of the Obamacare public option in the US in the first 2 years of the Obama admin.

The US, in spite of the continuing bureaucratization of US life and economy (to some extent one could label it, Europization), by comparison to EUrope, the US continues to be a better place for one to pursue one's business, tech, entrepreneurial, artistic, sports, etc dreams, and succeed or fail (and wind up even homeless) when doing so (hence the relative absence of safety nets compared to EUrope).

In 2013?

2013: What the times call for is for governments to ...

Topic (summary):

What the times call for is for governments to get their act together and govern, via better planned and implemented policies.

Topic (introduction):

In countries such as the UK, one has seen a rise in voters and parties that are anti-Brussels and increasingly anti-Whitehall, in a way resembling the Tea Party ideology and dynamics. They challenge the role of the state as well as of governments.

How can this dynamic be addressed? In my opinion, what the times call for is for governments to get their act together and govern, via better planned and implemented policies. Policies that address the real issues faced by citizens in their daily lives, in policy/comprehensive ways not in theoretical or crisis management manner. There is an urgent need for better public policy rather than PR/image making by governments and political parties.

My reference sample is the EU27 (EU and national levels) and the US, two regions I monitor closely.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

From my personal diary; Thinking is hard work

Two people in real life today impressed by my argumentation skills. A result of many years of experience. thinking and practice online.

I always had a "talent' for argumentation. I won prizes in Impromptu Speaking in English as early as high school. I used my argumentation skills when discussing complex issues in policy committees at a European organisation in Brussels.

But I developed my ability to say/argument/syllogise on policy, business and many other issues, only in the last 10 years, after intensive daily monitoring of world developments, reading, watching films, hard systemic/analytical and creative thinking and practicing the ability to put those in action, to argument in a way that is both meaningful and "catchy", via years of training in online forums and in the last three years, on Twitter.

Now I have it down to a skill that I can deploy day in, day out, as a Twitter/blogpost follower and real life friend recently observed.

Is that a skill that is market needed?

Not sure. Not applying for politician jobs. Maybe it even gets in the way of me being appealing for a think tank/research and analysis job. Maybe.

Will get back to you on that one.

PS. What the friend noted the other day (recently) is that the point I make after all this hard work, are a) to a larhe extent "pre-produced"/"pre-thought" as in "pre-cooked" and b) that they are appealing or even funny/humorous but they contain much essence, Yeap, that is the "product" I work hard for years to develop!

Lobbying is so 20th century

The analysis of the effect of public policies on the strategy of companies is a key task of public/EU affairs and an often missed (undervalued) dimension of Corporate Strategy. There is a need for closer ties between public/corporate affairs and corporate strategy.

That is the key value of public/EU affairs imo, not "lobbying". And second is engagement in public opinion debate. Hence there must be much closer links of public/EU affairs with a) Corporate Strategy b) Communications (via old and new media).

Plus, EU Affairs is EU27 Affairs, not Brussels and Strasbourg Affairs.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

End of what?

Now I am puzzled! Which will come first? a) end of the world b) end of euro c) end of Monti's government?

Saturday, December 8, 2012

A serious fundamental flaw of the EU single market

Language inter alia prevents the EU27 from being a single market for advertising. And that is a serious fundamental flaw for a single market and an entity like an EU.

The key to the EU and its single market

The key to the EU single market and the EU in general is making SMEs and people feel at home in "it". Has not happened yet.

And I do not mean just trade of goods or freedom of capital movement.

The Euro was/is an element of a single market and a single "space", not a goal in itself or the tool for bankers and central bankers (and speculators) it became. After all is said and done German/BuBa and their European disciples' philosophy undermined the Euro via the inflation obsessed policy allowed and its impact on the Euro exchange rate and hence its trade balance with the rest of the world. The EU/Euroland is inter alia a victim of China exports more than the US and a more "fortress Europe" Eu or Euroland will not happen (for better or worse) because certain European interests will not allow it.

Competitiveness: In search of balance?

Everyone (almost) understands that a consistent deficit in trade undermines an economy and eventually a state.

Look at Greece.

But also look at the UK, France and the US, some of the world mature yet champions of trade deficits economies in the world. Can they consistently make up their trade deficits via borrowing no matter how attractive they try to be for foreign investors (look at eg the UK)?

But is exporting "beggar thy neighbour" after all? Are too export driven economies not that stable after all? Look at Germany and China for example.

It is about a dynamic balance after all?

Euro Fringe

Life in the Euro Fringe is not much less weird than life in the Fringe US TV series.


Along with the advantages and management/business/policy techniques of complex goods manufacturing ..

Is German Mittelstand under-studied by US, European and international business gurus?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Merkelian logics

Merkel's Euro policies qualify for a saying: It's all German to me (compare with the origin of the original saying).

In other words, "Europe" is not "speaking" German, as Volker Kauder of the CDU hoped/argued/boasted at a CDU conference one year ago.

Note: He meant German (CDU) policies not German per se.

Btw, Merkel today said that she does not rule out another CDU-SPD coalition after next year's elections. With FDP doing the way it is, of course not.

Scylla or Charybdis in modern economics

National oligarchs or international oligarchs and corporate and other bureaucrats? Scylla or Charybdis? Where/who is "Ulysses"?

Oligarchs or free grazers? I remember a Kevin Costner cowboy movie on this type of dilemma!

11 day (fin) virus

I feel selectively de-faulted tonite.

I hear it lasts 11 days.

No antibiotics needed, doc said.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Management and HRM: Chains, links and what's wrong with biz/work/econ systemics today!

Rough day at the dentist and then electric fuse blew when I returned to the flat where staying temp and not feeling at home in. What a day! But the building owners' rep energised her wits and local connections when I called her, so the fuse that was busted, the one at the basement, not the flat, was fixed very quickly!

She's a master of her work. Gotta love that!

Which brings me to the point of this post:

People who master the work they do in diverse and somewhat complete ways make life for all of us better! Kudos! She has been doing this work for years but I know many who do a job for many years yet still too "casually". They make our lives worse off, I propose.

People have to try to master the work they do out of respect for themselves, their job & the people involved. No room for zombies in management and workplaces today.

What I am saying is that no job is w/o value when the person who does it respects himself, the job, the clients and all ppl involved in general. No job!

And that is where work/econ systemics are failing today imho. The rating of jobs tends to devalue many and systems fail due to 5 cent screws or low pay and what is worse, low valued/rated jobs, economically and societally, ie jobs that thus attract people who, alas, do their job as if they are "zombies"! Or to put it differently, they are simply there (and just that). They are the real "bureaucrats" of not only the public but also the private sector? Their personal fault? Maybe to some extent, but also the management's, the "HR's", and systemic faults, I argue. And these are the ones where priority must be placed, to improve things!

So even jobs that are rated low are valuable if one realises that chain is a strong as its weakest link! 1 has to look at marginal benefit/cost. When one does that, one realises that no job is of low value to the "system" if the system is to work.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Decision making in 2012: Plan vs Strategy

Do not mistake boring and static thinking for good thinking. Or quips for wisdom.

In today's over-complicated systemics+dynamics one has to either beef up the analysis or give it up altogether.

Over-analysis is not a symptom of too much analysis but of faulty analysis, usually with faulty tools.

Plus if your analysis is often off, take another look at your information sources. Time to try new ones maybe?

Trial and error and celebrating failure are OK but not excuses for under-valuing analysis and strategy.

If you are not comfy with analysis, then go with gut feeling. But best of luck then. You are out there on your own, no support equipment!

Thinking is not boring, merely some people's way of thinking is.

So, John Lennon was right: Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.

But that is why strategy instead of mere planning or having plans or a plan is the key.

Because strategic thinking is not about a prediction and a plan based on it but based on many alternative scenarios.

Do not mistake over-thinking for too much thinking, it actually is faulty thinking that's the real problem.

In this complex and uncertain era, analysis and strategic thinking are after all is said and done also a matter of philosophy. 

So in this zany era, you can either throw strategy out of the window or do it properly.

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