Make America Again! The Documentary

Make America Again!

Langston Hughes

We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain—
All, all the stretch of these great green states—
And make America again!
“Let American Be American Again”
By Langston Hughes

 

And if you give yourself to the hungry And satisfy the desire of the afflicted, Then your light will rise in darkness And your gloom will become like midday.
~ Isaiah 58:10
Hope Community Services

HOPE Volunteer Coordinator Sue Gedney, New York State High Chess Champion Joshua Cola, 94 years old volunteer Iris Freed and Terrance Jackson. HOPE Community Services is the largest food pantry/soup kitchen in Westchester County. Photo: http://www.geneshaw.com/

Following in the footsteps of people such as Jack London, George Orwell, and Steve Jobs, Terrance Jackson spent over two years homeless in New Rochelle, NY and discovered the power of empathy to fuel innovation and creativity:

I believe that empathy – the imaginative act of stepping into another person’s shoes and viewing the world from their perspective – is a radical tool for social change and should be a guiding light for the art of living. Over the past decade, I have become convinced that it has the power not only to transform individual lives, but to help tackle some of the great problems of our age, from wealth inequality to violent conflicts and climate change.

It is important to understand what empathy is and is not. If you see a homeless person living under a bridge you may feel sorry for him and give him some money as you pass by. That is pity or sympathy, not empathy. If, on the other hand, you make an effort to look at the world through his eyes, to consider what life is really like for him, and perhaps have a conversation that transforms him from a faceless stranger into a unique individual, then you are empathising. ~ Roman Krznaric

Roman Krznaric - Empathy

RSA Animate – The Power of Outrospection – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BG46IwVfSu8

On his journey, Terrance learned it is important that we teach our children that we are all capable of doing work that matters and that our call is to step beyond our limits into an new understanding of what it means to be human.

Most of us believe that the best way to motivate ourselves and others is with external rewards like money—the carrot-and-stick approach. That’s a mistake, Daniel H. Pink says in, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, his provocative and persuasive new book. The secret to high performance and satisfaction—at work, at school, and at home—is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world.

[Y]ou [cannot] understand why someone [is] healthy [or wealthy] if all you [do is] think about their individual choices or actions in isolation. You [have] to look beyond the individual. You [have] to understand what culture they were a part of, and who their friends and families were, and what town… their family came from. You [have] to appreciate the idea that community — the values of the world we inhabit and the people we surround ourselves with — has a profound effect on who we are. ~ Malcolm Gladwell

When it comes to motivation, there’s a gap between what science knows and what business does. Our current business operating system–which is built around external, carrot-and-stick motivators–doesn’t work and often does harm. We need an upgrade. And the science shows the way. This new approach has three essential elements: 1. Autonomy – the desire to direct our own lives. 2. Mastery— the urge to get better and better at something that matters. 3. Purpose — the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves. ~ Daniel Pink

It is time to adopt new education and business paradigms that reflects the science.
Dan Pink - Purpose

RSA Animate – Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XAPnuFjJc

From a Forbes article by Steve Denning we learn that a magisterial study by Deloitte’s Center for the Edge shows the rates of return on assets and on invested capital for 20,000 US firms from 1965 to 2011. It shows that “managerialism” has been steadily failing for the last half century.

Economy-wide Return on Invested Capital
The graphic shows that something has gone so terribly wrong with the US private sector—the supposed engine of economic growth and the supposed creators of jobs. When the best firms have rates of return on assets or on invested capital of, on average, just over one percent, we have a management catastrophe on our hands. An ROA of just over one percent means that firms are dying faster and faster: the life expectancy of firms in the Fortune 500 is now less than fifteen years and declining rapidly.

Fifty years ago, big firms were in charge of the marketplace. Then globalization, the internet and finally social media changed everything. Customers have choices, reliable information and an ability to connect with each other. The result for hierarchical bureaucracies is devastating: game over. Now the power in the marketplace had shifted from seller to buyer. And in this new ecosystem, big lumbering hierarchical bureaucracies of the 20th Century just aren’t agile enough to compete.

As Robert J. Pera, Chairman and CEO of Ubiquiti Networks writes in his blog:

Traditional company business models aren’t built to empower customers and pass on value to them.  They are built to extract profitability from them.  And information asymmetry gives them the perfect cover.  But, with an increasingly connected world paving the way for more and more information transparency to the customer, all of this is about to change.   No longer are “Insiders” able to control the flow of information.  If a product is great, soon customers will tell other customers on the Web and rave reviews spread like wild fire.  Similarly, if a product is bad or customers realize they are being ripped-off, relationships will provide little recourse to contain that information from being widely disseminated.

Old Model vs. Future Model
The evidence is overwhelming on the need of empathy to drive innovation, yet as the documentary The Corporation argues, most corporations have the characteristics of a psychopath. And as Russell Mokhiber in an article in The Corporate Crime Reporter tells us:

Corporate crime inflicts far more damage on society than all street crime combined.

Whether in bodies or injuries or dollars lost, corporate crime and violence wins by a landslide.

“In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” ~ Matthew 7:12

The Bible has a great deal to say about empathy, and it may also contain other keys to innovation. As Seth Godin writes in The Icarus Deception:

Myths are about becoming more godlike and achieving our best. Propaganda, on the other hand, celebrates those in power and urges us to willing comply with their desires…. We’ve built a world where the only option is hubris, where the future belongs to anyone willing to act like the gods of our myths…. The Japanese call it kamiwaza.

David Tepper

David Tepper

The documentary will also explore such topics as the top hedge manager, David Tepper, earned $1,057,692 an HOUR in 2012 — that’s as much as the average American family makes in 21 years!

Over the last thirty years, the United States has been taken over by an amoral financial oligarchy, and the American dream of opportunity, education, and upward mobility is now largely confined to the top few percent of the population. ~ Predator Nation by Charles H. Ferguson

The economic disaster was driven, Ferguson writes, by a combination of “very low interest rates, pervasive dishonesty through the financial system, massive lending fraud, speculation, demand for high yield securities, and not insignificantly, a squeezed American consumer desperate to maintain living standards, and told by everyone – including George Bush and Alan Greenspan, the brokers and the banks, that home borrowing was the way to do it.”

Charles H. Ferguson won an Academy Award for his documentary Inside Job.

Productivity is one way to measure the wealth of any nation. The top line below shows, we’ve been producing more and more per hour since World War II. The lower line shows average weekly wages (after factoring out inflation) for non-supervisory workers (who comprise about 85 percent of the workforce).

Weekly Wages and Productivity Chart

From World War II to the mid-1970s, those two lines danced together. As productivity rose, so did the standard of living of working people. But something big happened in the mid-1970s — the government adopted a new economic philosophy based on deregulation and tax cuts.

The gap between those two lines represents an enormous amount of money — more than $3 trillion for 2012, for example. Where did it go? In the early 1970s, less than 9 percent of national income flowed to the top 1 percent. By 2007, it was nearly 24 percent.

The bankroll that stakes the high rollers like David Tepper comes from the productivity bonus that we are no longer earning.

Other themes of the documentary will include:

Jada Pinkett Smith

Is the way women are depicted in the media a major contributing factor to the digital divide for women?
https://startuptown.wordpress.com/2014/02/18/a-woman-should-have-complete-control-over-her-body/
Jada Pinkett Smith ~ http://dontsellbodies.org/

Lawrence Lessig

Shrinking your mobile phone bill https://startuptown.wordpress.com/2013/12/26/shrinking-mobile-phone-bill/
There is a corruption at the heart of American politics, caused by the dependence of Congressional candidates on funding from the tiniest percentage of citizens. ~ Lawrence Lessig: rootstrikers.org

Susan Crawford

WiFi to Close the Digital Divide https://startuptown.wordpress.com/2014/02/12/wifi-to-cross-the-digital-divide/
Instead, that is, of ensuring that America will lead the world in the information age—U.S. politicians have chosen to keep Comcast and its fellow giants happy.
Susan Crawford with Bill Moyers (BillMoyers.com)

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