Bringing America back from the abyss ...
America isn't America anymore. In the past decade, we've lost too much of what defines America as America - and that isn't just bad for America - this crisis envelopes the entire world.
Lacking discipline, clarity, respect for reasoned discourse, fair dealing, intellectual honesty, able execution, and a passion for excellence - these all defined the American experience, the Yankee "can do" spark that electrified the world. It has all become a bunch of empty slogans, bankrupt by a pirate culture that claimed all of the above ... until it suited them to betray those aspects selectively. Paraphrasing Khrushchev, we have sold the rope to hang ourselves - made in China, on sale at WalMart, and soon to be discounted.
You'd think that anything this bad a threat to our world (let alone our nation!) we'd turn on in a moment and tear out its guts. Nope - sorry, we're only beginning to notice its existence, and have only been buying temporary relief for a few trillion dollars.
What's worse, the denial/delusion we've been in that got us into this position is quite alive, vibrant, and ready finish the job of our demise on a going forth basis. It's about as dire as it can get - can America even desire to wake up and claw its way back?. Read more.
It's hard to come back when your down. It's even harder when you've wrecked much of what you need to recover yourself, as we have carefully done. But what really wrecks recovery is being in denial that you even have to.
A good friend has pressed me to look at Matt Miller's The Tyranny of Dead Ideas: Letting Go of the Old Ways of Thinking to Unleash a New Prosperity. Miller sees us as caught in a web of self delusion - one that kills our ability to "power out" of the nosedive we are in, because it continually allow us to fool ourselves irrespective of the painful reality we are in.
But this is also going to be a continual fight to avoid even when we do decide en mass to respond and engage recovery, for to get the true innovation and true growth. Why? Because we'll simply delude ourselves that the old fake "innovation" we accepted to con with before is the new innovation, and we'll attempt to fake growth just as we did before. Trust me - we've been really good at deception.
We haven't come to look ourselves square in the mirror, straight in the eye and say what's bad, and commit ourselves to a different path. As long as you believe you are good, if bad things happen, they are someone else's fault. We can move that item off the balance sheet, we can sweep toxic finance under the rug, we can ignore the root causes to our failures because we can't own up to them.
If our ideas have failed, we don't reevaluate, we just cling to them even more. Addicts do kill themselves with this.
To test this, I spent some time in the heart of Silicon Valley attempting to push various kinds of innovations from different groups - some old "tried and true", some new and controversial, and some recent favorites disguised to seem original. The hands down most popular were the last category - are you surprised?
I can pull this off completely by knowing that capital calls are rare these days - most VC in the valley aren't investing (or surviving). Some are actually killing companies, reclaiming the cash as investor virtue to show limited partners that they can recover from a spate of bad investments, only ... to do it all over again the same?
Bottom line - American's aren't acting American. They need a twelve step process to get them back to being so. Then they have to talk the talk while walking the walk. When you hear anything as a next step, run the numbers, ask the questions, do acid test/burndown value, presume its wrong - until you see and prove it by parts that its something genuinely good. Then make it work. This is how Americans become American again.