Wednesday, May 23, 2012

China & America - It's Time for a New Partnership


How long does it take for a nation like the United States who is now 236 years old, to recognize the incredible history, knowledge, science, health and many other aspects of a culture like China who is now over 5,500 years old?

China not only is an ancient civilization but it has a mysterious, metaphysical and mystical legacy that captivates and becomes the source of fable, folklore and fantasy.

This ancient society has contributed much more than myth and legend, however, with health and wellness through Traditional Chinese Medicine, (TCM) being among the most significant.  The following description is from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health.

Dr. Shi-hua Wu & wife

"Traditional Chinese medicine, which encompasses many different practices, is rooted in the ancient philosophy of Taoism and dates back more than 5,000 years. Today, TCM is practiced side by side with Western medicine in many of China’s hospitals and clinics.

TCM is widely used in the United States. Although the exact number of people who use TCM in the United States is unknown, it was estimated in 1997 that some 10,000 practitioners served more than 1 million patients each year.

According to the 2007 National Health Interview Survey, which included questions on the use of various CAM therapies, an estimated 3.1 million U.S. adults had used acupuncture in the previous year.

In addition, according to this same survey, approximately 17 percent of adults use natural products, including herbs, making it the most commonly used therapy. In another survey, more than one-third of the patients at six large acupuncture clinics said they also received Chinese herbal treatments at the clinics.

Underlying the practice of TCM is a unique view of the world and the human body that is different from Western medicine concepts. This view is based on the ancient Chinese perception of humans as microcosms of the larger, surrounding universe—interconnected with nature and subject to its forces. The human body is regarded as an organic entity in which the various organs, tissues, and other parts have distinct functions but are all interdependent. In this view, health and disease relate to balance of the functions.

The theoretical framework of TCM has a number of key components:

Yin-yang theory—the concept of two opposing, yet complementary, forces that shape the world and all life—is central to TCM.

In the TCM view, a vital energy or life force called qiIn traditional Chinese medicine, the vital energy or life force proposed to regulate a person’s spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical health and to be influenced by the opposing forces of yin and yang. circulates in the body through a system of pathways called meridians. Health is an ongoing process of maintaining balance and harmony in the circulation of qi.

The TCM approach uses eight principles to analyze symptoms and categorize conditions: cold/heat, interior/exterior, excess/deficiency, and yin/yang (the chief principles). TCM also uses the theory of five elements—fire, earth, metal, water, and wood—to explain how the body works; these elements correspond to particular organs and tissues in the body.

These concepts are documented in the Huang Di Nei Jing (Inner Canon of the Yellow Emperor), the classic Chinese medicine text."

When it comes to America's view of China today it is largely a holdover of the Cold War view of the Soviet Union and Red China.  They were opponents, competitors, adversaries and anything else that might inspire fear.

We often forget that the Soviet Union, the first Communist nation, was in power for nearly 75 years while China has been Communist just 63 years.  China was our ally back in World War II as first Japan and then the Soviet Union overran China.

World War II left China with over 22 million military and civilian deaths , second in deaths only to the Soviets who suffered 45 million deaths.  This compares to the United States, active in both the Atlantic and Pacific campaigns, who suffered a total of 296,000 deaths, military and civilian.

China is no longer the suppressive state that once rigidly enforced birth control or suppressed human rights.  Just this week Chen Guangcheng, a Chinese dissident in the middle of an international crisis when he fled to the US Embassy in China, was released by the Chinese along with his family to move to the United States so he could attend New York University law school.

Not only is China the largest purchaser of US Treasury Bonds, but China is investing substantial funds in US businesses like this weeks $6 billion purchase of AMC Theaters.

This fall China will elect a new president and it is expected to be Xi Jinping, now vice president of China and the apparent successor to President Hu Jintao.

Mr. Xi is expected to formally take the reins of the world’s second-largest economy and fastest-modernizing military power late in 2012.

Recently Xi Jinping made a whirlwind tour of the US from Congress and the White House to Iowa cornfields and then to California and he gave hints of a new opportunity for Chinese American partnerships if we can just get past the misconceptions of the past.

His views of the West remain difficult to divine. He once told the American ambassador to China over dinner that he enjoyed Hollywood films about World War II because of the American sense of good and evil, according to diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks.

On a visit to Mexico in 2009, when he was defending China’s record in the global financial crisis before an audience of overseas Chinese, he suggested that he was impatient with foreigners wary of China’s new power in the world.

“Some foreigners with full bellies and nothing better to do engage in finger-pointing at us,” he said. “First, China does not export revolution; second, it does not export famine and poverty; and third, it does not mess around with you. So what else is there to say?”

Who is he?

Currently China's vice-president and vice chair of the Central Military Commission (which controls the army).  He is the s on of Xi Zhongxun, one of the Communist Party's founding fathers.  Xi joined the ruling party in 1974.  His wife, singer Peng Liyuan, describes him as frugal, hardworking and down-to-earth.

Most important, he will be the new leader of China and it is time we gave the Chinese what they have earned and deserve, a partnership agreement with the US.  Remember, China still maintains direct access to North Korea, Iran and Syria.

The construction activity in China dominates the world economic market and directly impacts on commodity prices, crude oil supplies, even wood for housing.

It is time we treat them as the second most powerful force on Earth.

Friday, May 18, 2012

America and the Russian Bear - Time for a change of direction?


Foreign policy is slow to change here in the US of A.  It seems as if once we decide who are the good guys and bad guys we never get around to seeing if they have changed or our relationship has changed over the years.

Take Russia for example.  Until the fall of the Tsar in 1917 Russia was an ally of the United States and in fact Russia was probably responsible for saving the USA during our own Civil War.

Since most history books seem to have ignored this crucial story perhaps a reminder is in order.  In 1862 when it appeared as if the Confederacy might win the war the British and French governments, both of whom were backing the Confederacy over the Union, moved their own troops into Canada and Mexico respectively and were prepared to attack Lincoln and the Union at the first opportunity.

With the Union Army nearly wiped out by Confederate commander Robert E. Lee  the most important battle of the Civil War was about to take place at Gettysburg.  Lincoln knew the outlook was bleak and that any intervention by British and French troops on behalf of the South would win the war.

Secretly, so secretly that his own personal secretaries and the Secretary of War Stanton did not know, Lincoln sent a courier to the Tsar with a private note from him asking for help. When the courier reached Russia and got to the Tsar he said he had a private letter from President Lincoln and before he said another word, before the letter was even opened, the Tsar said he had such a high regard for the new American President he would do whatever Lincoln asked.

What Lincoln asked was that Russian, the greatest enemy in the world of Great Britain and France, let the European powers know that any invasion by them of America would be considered an act of war against Russia as well.

Not only did the Tsar agree but he sent his fleet into New York and San Francisco harbors to help defend the North as he sent couriers to Britain and France to warn the kings an invasion of America would be considered an act of war against Russia as well.

After the fall of Russia to Communism in 1917 the Communist Manifesto to conquer the world kept the Soviet Union at arms length, only because Hitler and Nazi Germany posed a far greater threat.

For the period of World War II we were allies with the Soviet Union and in fact American arms and weapons sent to Russia helped keep Hitler from conquering the Soviets. However, as soon as the war ended we were bitter Cold War enemies and that lasted until about 1990 when the Communist control over the Soviet Union collapsed.

After that we tried to make the new Russia into an American reflection of Democracy and nearly destroyed the countries of the former Soviet Union.  It has taken over 20 years for Russia to recover and begin the long process toward limited democracy.

I believe it is time a new American foreign policy be adopted toward Russia and China that reflects the new world situation, alliances and common interests.  Yet we continue to treat both countries with Cold War suspicion and mistrust.

This story deals with Russian USA relations.  A follow up will outline a new USA China relationship.  Tantamount to both countries is the need for the USA to articulate a willingness on behalf of America to become a true partner and ally of Russia while recognizing that the Russian people and culture may never be able to adopt our brand of democracy, but at least they can move toward such a goal.

In Russia we have a nation over 2,500 years old with a rich culture and history thousands of years older than democracy or communism.  While Russia is one of the top ten nation's in the world in terms of economy, our minimum support for the Russian government has left friction between nations and unrest in the United Nations.

Russia and China are aligned with their old allies like North Korea, Iran and Syria, thus there is additional tension between the USA and them, especially when issues get to the United Nations Security Council.  Russia and China have consistently vetoed resolutions against the three countries mentioned.

With the recent election of Vladimir Putin to his third term as President of the Russian Federation there is a window of opportunity to move to improve relations with this ancient culture but it will take initiative on our part as much of the world has been confused by the strange foreign policy of America.

Though Russia has fallen from a Superpower to the 9th strongest economy on Earth there are still many assets like an abundance of natural resources, that are vital to Europe.  In addition any strategic defense treaties between the two would eliminate the need for many more treaties with other nations.

It is time we put behind suspicion and fear and stop treating Russia like a potential threat and move forward to improve relations across the spectrum with this sleeping giant which is a true indication of the Russian potential.

We should recognize Putin as the survivor he is from the Communist and KGB regimes and though we may not be enamored with his personal habits and bravado, he has now been elected president three times and served four more years as prime minister.  That is a powerful indication of support from the people of Russia.

Yes there is corruption in Russia just as there is corruption in America, in the halls of government in fact.

Yes there is voter fraud in elections just like we had in Florida during the 2000 election.

Russia may have corrupt businesses but look what our Wall Street has done to the world economy because of greed.

And of course the Russians and Chinese alike have developed powerful cyber hacking capabilities through the Internet but didn't our intelligence agencies hack them first?  Don't they have a right to defend their computers from being hacked by us?

There is too much good that can be accomplished by cooperation between the US and Russia in many fields from medicine to space (already we are dependant on them to get into space), from global environmental issues to nuclear proliferation.

I say roll the clock back to the time of Lincoln when Russia saved the United States and then work together to build a better world.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Echoes of the Past - the 2000 dot com bust


Reprint from March 2001


By Jim Putnam

The world of dot coms has seen a rather tumultuous start to the 21st millennium as the after market crashed, reality set in, and options morphed from retirement funds to wallpaper.  Most people believe it was a situation that was overdue.  There was little foundation to support the high flying stock values in the market place.  Seemingly overnight 60-70% of the value of many of these companies vanished.

What insidious dark forces were at work in the high flying tech sector to bring such chaos and devastation to the silver lining?  Well, where do I start?  Perhaps the most obvious can be found in the faces of the new tech Wizards.  Often what is not there is more telling than what is.  Their faces seemed too clean, too unblemished, and too confident.

They lacked the lines and scars of experience found etched in the faces of the Old World masters, meaning those people in business prior to 1999.  When the Wizards were still in diapers and cutting teeth, the old masters were setting in motion a sustained economic growth unparalleled in the history of the US, and the world.

Once e-mails became the staple of American leisure time, and the pc became the Source for all that is, then the Wizards declared the old economy to be a dinosaur and relegated the veterans of American capitalism to be ready for the museums.

That was how we ended the last millennium.  And now that we are halfway through the new year, we can already see the results of the wisdom of the Wizards of technology as stock prices collapse, options evaporate, losses continue to mount and the seemingly endless money pit goes dry.  Yes, the Internet has certainly speeded up everything, including failure.

Where did the e-commerce Wizards go wrong?  If blame is to be assigned at all, it should be assigned to those that bought the hyperbole in the first place.  For a short time all rules of economic logic and reason were suspended.  For a short time greed dominated the marketplace.

Look at what we forgot.  Revenues were no longer important.  Profitability vanished.  Multiples were no longer relevant.  Market caps were established by smoke and mirrors.  Executive experience was no longer considered necessary.  At times being young enough to have zits was an acceptable substitute for training.

So what if there was no market for the new product or service, the "Internet" would fix all that with its vast new market of consumers.  The principle of supply and demand gave way to the concept of creating demand regardless of need and supply.

The same with using traditional media and advertising.  The power of the Internet would fix that too.  Conventional broadcast and print media would soon be obsolete, and certainly weren't needed for the e-commerce high flyers.

As for competition, copycats flourished as the new economists determined that the Internet would create such a massive new consumer market that anything and everything could be sold.  Have faith in the digital revolution and trust the cyber gods.

In one form or another capitalism has existed in this country for about 500 years.  We fled unfair taxes, traded Manhattan for costume jewelry, and beat up the English over tax on tea, all before we even had a country.  Now our capitalist system has been a dominant world force for a couple of hundred years.  Yet in the course of 12-18 months the high-flying Wizards of the new economy were going to change all that and bury tradition in the ashes of the cyber firestorm.

By the 4th quarter of 1999 it seemed the cyber gurus might be right as greed and need sucked the masters of the old economy into the furious world of dot coms.  Suddenly the names attached to the IPOs read like a guest list to a presidential fundraiser or Board meeting of the Metropolitan Museum.  Familiar names.  The backbone of the American financial infrastructure.

Well folks, the fad flopped.  Along the way we discovered the Wizards really didn't know it all.  A lot of people got burned, and a lot of people got hurt.  Many compromised their values for the quick buck.  Those rushing to jump on the e-commerce bandwagon, despite the warnings and suspicions of the old economy warriors, found the wagon missing when they landed.

Less than a year after the spectacular ascent of the cyber gods, came the even more spectacular fall.  In the vernacular of the cyber psychics, the ascension never quite got off the ground.  It will take years for the impact to be realized.  Make no mistake, through it all the cyber revolution has forever changed the American and world landscape.  Even in many positive ways.

So in the spirit of David Letterman, perhaps we should establish the top ten misconceptions from the coming out party for the cyber revolution, sort of a new millennium report card.  Clearly these represent the views of the author and will be far from all-inclusive, but I would hope many contributions will be added by more informed readers.

Lesson #10:

            The rules of capitalism do not apply to the new economy of the cyber world.  Sorry folks, but capitalism is capitalism no matter what the industry or technology.  The same rules apply to capitalism that always applied to capitalism whether we are in the industrial age, the service age, or the cyber age.  A business still needs a product, revenue, customers and profits to succeed.

Lesson #9:

            In the cyber world experience is not necessary for success.  There is still a need for competent and experienced management.  Having Internet access to more choices and information and bigger markets does not automatically result in management knowledge and wisdom.  As always, experience is a process of learning, not declaring.

Lesson #8:

            Acceptance of new technology will happen overnight.  It took 70 years for radio to mature in America.  Fifty years for television to take hold.  Vinyl records were around for 75 years before compact discs really replaced them.  Even eight track recorders died a very slow death.  Phones became accepted in the last half-century.  Computers have been in development since the 1940's.  Cable TV has been in use since the 1950's.  And still not all homes in America have phones, personal computers or even cable television.

Lesson #7:

            Technology breakthroughs will benefit all related technologies.  So as long as the public buys a new technology, they will buy all new technology.  I don't think so.  The market explosion in video games and high tech gadgets was supposed to mean we are adapting to the cyber world.  Yet Sony sold 80 million Playstations (a high tech marvel at the time) but only 20% of the buyers had access to the Internet.

Lesson #6:

            The new economy would render traditional masters of the old economy obsolete.  This is a bold and arrogant perspective with no historical basis.  In our system of capitalism winners and losers are determined by sustained performance, adaptability, access to resources, and staying power.  Often times the traditional economic leaders let others make mistakes before embracing new concepts.  Just watch as retailing giants Wal-Mart, Target, or J.C. Pennys suddenly become the dominant forces in e-commerce.

Lesson #5:

            The millions and millions of new Internet users represent an entire new market for consumer goods and services.  This might sound logical but it is based on an unfounded assumption.  What in the world do we think these millions of new users have been doing before the Internet?  They still bought everything they needed from traditional sources.  The Internet does not represent a new market but an opportunity to shift the market share from traditional consumer sources to cyber sources.  To achieve that, the consumer must be given a reason to change buying habits.  Access to the Internet is not a reason, just an opportunity.

Lesson #4:

            The Internet will foster unlimited new opportunities in audio and video broadcasting including interactive communication.  Well guess what folks, who in the world will ever have time to surf 500 video channels, 10,000 audio broadcasts, not to mention the hundreds of interactive channels for every major retailer and cause in America?  Already the many but still limited choices on cable television have left the public in a quandary.  Interactive tests have failed miserably.  Over 5 million websites exist before the real broadcast benefits of the Internet have been felt.

Lesson #3:

            The Internet itself can provide all the advertising opportunities necessary for the new economy players.  With 80 million users in the US one would think this could be true.  But the truth of the matter is the Internet has resulted in market segmentation and fragmentation on a level never before seen or experienced.  What the technology of the Internet has done is give the consumer the chance to exit or ignore ads like never before.  Our click happy culture has discovered the ability to spend an average of a few seconds looking at a screen before zapping along.  So while we are bombarded by more cyber driven commercial messages than radio or television ever dared throw in our face, reach and frequency no longer have an impact.

Lesson #2:

            The Internet technology will render all current forms of communication technology obsolete.  This statement implies that the Internet, as well as existing communication technology, is good in the first place, which remains to be proven.  However, whether one surfs the web or works the remote, there is a furious competition for your attention.  Demographic analysis is more complex than ever.  The "knowns" of traditional media remain much clearer than the "unknowns" of the Internet.  Don't look for this to change any time soon.

Lesson #1:

            Thanks to the Internet, the world will never be the same.  Instant worldwide communications has indeed given us the opportunity to be better informed, better educated, and easier misled than at any other time in our history.  High technology has given us a new way to communicate.  But communications without morality and standards has created a whole new playing field for purveyors of fraud, deceit and corruption.

I count this as a misconception, but with positive leanings, for the power of information and education will, in time, result in a world with more truth.  In a Biblical sense, the Internet will finally bridge the horrible gaps in communication between people and races and maybe even religions.  Ever since we were cursed with multiple tongues as a lesson in ancient Babylon, we have been separated by language.  The cyber world is at least tearing down those barriers.

The Facebook IPO - A Billionaires Delight and Forbearer of the Next Internet Stock Collapse


The culmination of greed in America

Tomorrow the boys of Facebook become billionaires as they cash out just before millions of new stockholders are left holding another Internet stock that lost half it's value.

Make no mistake, the billions to be made over a 48 hour period will be the last profits from the Internet for years to come because there is no business model for pure and simple greed.  This IPO and every other Internet company surviving on revenue from Internet advertising will crash because the truth slipped out of the bag too early.

Yes, the speculators who control the IPO and have purchased all the offering before the public even had access to it, will simply let the value increase since the IPO was over subscribed and that means fewer shares are available for purchase.  In a day or two they will sell into the market, take their billions of cash and walk away.

GM created a huge potential problem for the IPO when it announced just a couple of days before the IPO release that it was stopping all Internet advertising on Facebook and everyone else because after spending billions of dollars on Internet ads over the past few years because the ads have no impact on consumers.

For years the Coltons Point Times has warned of the foundation of quicksand when it comes to valuing Internet stocks and advertising revenues.  In fact a year before the last bust in 2000 we published a column outlining why the market was about to collapse.

For those who don't remember, it has now been twelve years since the dot com bubble began to seriously deflate.  The financial climax had its high water mark on March 10, 2000 when the NASDAQ peaked at 5132.52.

The subsequent stock market crash caused the loss of $5 trillion in the market value of companies from March 2000 to October 2002, and those parts of the world which were the epicenters of the dot com boom, such as the San Francisco Bay Area, were plunged into a financial nuclear winter.

More than a decade later we still haven't learned.  Facebook is going public with over 97% of their revenue from Internet ads, ads General Motors, the largest car company in the world, says are worthless.  American's and foreigners driven by greed will purchase the stock, not from Facebook but from the financial institutions who already bought  stock before the people had a chance.

Now that's fair President Obama, our first president to embrace the Internet speculators as economic wonders not to mention huge financial contributors to the President's reelection campaign.  You don't suppose Obama has some of that Facebook stock do you?

There is no financial basis to say Facebook is bigger than Exxon, Proctor & Gamble or GM when the sole basis for revenue is advertising which recent polls indicate 83% of Facebook users never click on.  The other 17% say they occasionally click on one if it is of interest.

Don't be surprised if another five trillion dollars is lost and that most of it comes from Internet stocks, or should I say stockholders.  Of course the Internet executives will cash out starting tomorrow leaving you holding the bag.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Washington Post & NY Times Deify Obama, Trash Romney and Set Back Gay Rights by a Generation - What Next?


In one of the most bizarre moves by the lame street media ever undertaken those bastions of liberal socialism, the Washington Post and New York Times, in an apparent desperate effort to steer the election to Barack Obama, sank to the depths of yellow journalism and media distortion with front page stories that brought tears of joy from the gay community that will soon be replaced by tears of despair when they realize they were sold out.

This week began with Vice President Biden supporting gay marriages thus forcing a clearly theatrical performance by Obama worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize performance when he first got elected.

When Obama confessed to ABC that he has now evolved to accepting gay marriage the liberal media shouted with joy, the gay community over flowed with tears of gratitude and the gay community was hoodwinked into pumping $25 million into the Obama campaign.

But when the dust actually settles we find Obama has now adopted the very policy endorsed long ago by Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, even Sarah Palin and countless other opponents of gay rights.  What Obama did was toss the gay community under the bus in the most political expedient move yet by a very politically expedient president.

Did I mention in very small print the liberal media noted Obama now supports state's rights when it comes to deciding the gay marriage issue and so far 32 states have voted AGAINST gay marriage when given a choice.

The only thing historic about the position of the president is how the media distorted the impact by fooling the gay community, yes making total fools of the gay Obama lovers, into believing he stood by them.  Wake up people!  By hiding behind the Reagan - Bush - Republican principle of state's rights Obama has set back the gay rights movement by a generation if not more and insured no national gay rights to marriage will ever be implemented while he is president.

Of course the Washington Post was not content to deify Obama but had to further divert attention from the faltering Obama economic recovery program by a page one story on that most dastardly of all deeds, the pranks Romney played in secondary school some 50 years ago.

Three pages of the second most egotistical paper in the world were devoted to Romney's life in the 1960's and how some pranks might have gotten out of hand.  Three pages were used to imply that childhood pranks should be considered bullying 50 years after the fact.  The next day the second bastion of liberalism, the New York Times, also gave page one coverage to the story.

By the way, ABC fact checked and the family of the supposed victim in the Post and Times said the facts were distorted in the news stories, that there was no bullying.

My how the media has fallen off the cliff when it comes to journalistic standards.  It is one thing when the cable news distort information because that is what they do but the two most famous newspapers in America devoting major page one position and three whole pages to a 50 year old story on the Republican candidate from his secondary school experience back in the days of Elvis, Viet Nam, civil rights and presidential assassinations is almost criminal.

Does that mean the Post and Times, in the interest of fairness, will now do a story on the far more reckless and dangerous high school and youth activities of Obama when he smoked pot and used cocaine?  Fat chance.

By coupling the Obama evolution story with the Romney bullying story in an apparent effort to prove Romney not only opposes gay marriage but supposedly roughed up gays some 50 years ago was the perfect cover to the fact Obama's miraculous awakening actually brought the Chosen One into full agreement with none other than, oops, Mitt Romney.

Character assassination, even using innuendo like our former twin pillars of journalism, has proven the true colors of the Post and Times and they sure aren't soft pink like the papers would like you to think, they are blood red, the color of the victims of such mumbo jumbo.

With Obama now turning gay marriage over to the states where 64% have already rejected gay marriage is like holding a gala on the Titanic knowing the cause is now doomed.

Of course the Obama campaign is laughing all the way to the bank as they just raised about $25 million in blood money from the pro-gay Hollywood community as a result of the president's epiphany, charging the amazing price of $40,000 per person for dinner with the President.

According to charities the one night take from the Hollywood elite would have provided all the needs for a year, not just food or housing, for 85,000 children.  Hundreds of thousands of starving children could have been fed for a year from one night of Obama campaign fundraising.

When the truth be finally told the politicians will once again have conned the do gooders and the new standard for Obama's "transfer of wealth" policy will be from the pockets of Hollywood into the Obama campaign coffers.