True Globalization Must Rest On Shared Values

By Paolo von Schirach –

WASHINGTON – The globalization we know has been driven primarily by the explosion of new cross border business opportunities created by truly disruptive technological innovation. Almost overnight, broadband internet (enabled by a robust global network of fiber optic cables) created a new, zero-cost modality to communicate and share enormous amount of data across the globe.

Moving goods became easy

When it came to transporting physical goods, the standardization of shipping technologies –same containers, same container ships, same container handling facilities used by all trading nations– accompanied by super efficient IT systems for managing and tracking millions of items in real time, made all this possible. Add to the mix huge infrastructure modernization (new rail freight lines, new highways, new airports, new ports) in major new industrial countries like China and we see the contours of the enabling environment for globalization.

Complex international supply chains that in most cases optimized results while reducing costs came to life. Combined with the outsourcing of labor intensive production from the US, Europe and Japan to low labor cost countries, they further contributed to the optimization of production, higher profits for many corporations, and lower prices for millions of Western consumers.

Not just about technology

We know all that. But here is the problem. Globalization should not be only about the successful adoption of new technologies that greatly facilitate cross border economic activities. Globalized business activities should take place within a global environment in which all the players sincerely adhere to the same rules, inspired by the same shared values.

And here is the problem. We do not have a robust rules based global environment in which norms are clearly and genuinely embraced by all participants, and serious penalties are imposed on rules-breakers by an impartial authority.

The World Trade Organization, WTO, may constitute an embryo of such an authority; but it is not the real thing. The WTO does not even come near to having anything close to the investigative and enforcement powers of a national government overseeing domestic commerce norms.

China not playing by the rules

There is no point here in repeating the long litany of complaints against Chinese behavior when it comes to international trade and investments. But it is worth noting that, for whatever reasons, the Western Nations that created the basic architecture of a rules based free trade system, while fully aware of Chinese non-compliance, for decades gave China a pass.

May be it was just wishful-thinking. However, for some reasons, after China entered the WTO, (December 11, 2001), most Western leaders concluded that China had turned a page. The leaders in Beijing were essentially done with the old command economy. They were eager to shed its legacy, while embracing Western style free trade, with all its rules. While China might take its time to fully become “one of us”, many observers had concluded that it was just a matter of time.

It did not happen

Well, now there is a growing consensus that that benign assessment had been not just premature, but flat wrong. Yes, there might have been a time, especially during the 1990s, in which genuine reformists within China had tried to articulate a new agenda aimed at turning the country into something close to a free market economy.

However, the elevation to supreme and now absolute power of President Xi Jingpin in 2012 finally convinced even the most optimistic analysts that this benign transformation within China, which would include its genuine acceptance of the Western rules based system it entered in 2001, is simply not going to happen. On the contrary, the signals from Beijing are that China has the ambition to create a new China-centric world order in which regional powers and others would follow a Chinese inspired and led international trade system. If we take these plans seriously, then we realize that the problem is not that China wants to be a stronger competitor within the existing system. China wants to create a new and improved system fashioned according to Chinese principles and “sell” it to the world as a better alternative to what the West created over time, after the end of WWII.

Be that as it may, and whatever your take on grandiose Chinese mega-projects like Belt and Road, it is clear that most of our benign assumptions regarding a Chinese progressive and indeed, inevitable, “conversion” to free market capitalism were out of place.

What’s next?

This being the case, what’s next? What should come next in the West is a genuine effort, hopefully led by an enlightened American Government, aimed at strengthening ties, at all levels, among all the capitalistic democracies, (The EU, Canada, Japan Australia, New Zealand and South Korea should be on top of this list), and other countries clearly willing to work within a rules based, free market international order.

This should not be about some kind of “Cold War 2.0” with China. But it should be about being inspired by the principle that, at least in general, it is better to do business with countries that share your values.

By refocusing its efforts, at the same time the West would send a powerful yet very simple message to China. The world operates according to principles of fairness, compliance, reciprocity and transparency. If China were genuinely willing to play by these rules, then they are welcome. There would be no issues. But the burden is on Beijing to show, through actual performance over time, its genuine commitment to the rules based system it seemed to have embraced about 20 years ago when it joined the WTO. Until then, the Western approach to trade and investments with China should be inspired by utmost caution and prudence. Assuming that “they are just like us” is a bad starting point. They are not like us.

Western principles

In the Western world the assumption used to be that more widespread prosperity is the outcome of innovation and increased levels of economic activity. In turn, innovation, enterprise and trade are made possible by the existence of political and economic freedoms protected and upheld by freely elected governments via the enforcement of sensible rules aimed at protecting the integrity, fairness and transparency of all economic activities.

I strongly believe that it is about time to forcefully reaffirm these principles, both domestically and in all matters related to international trade and investments. And there is no better way to do so than by establishing win-win international trade agreements with like minded partners, based on fairness, true reciprocity and therefore mutual advantages.

Do business with like minded people

A few years ago (beginning in 2013), there was a great deal of talk of a major US-European Union Free Trade Agreement, known as The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) that would greatly incentivize economic, trade and investment relations between the two sides of the Atlantic. Here is how the website of USTR (United States Trade Representative) described it:

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) is an ambitious, comprehensive, and high-standard trade and investment agreement being negotiated between the United States and the European Union (EU). T-TIP will help unlock opportunity for American families, workers, businesses, farmers and ranchers through increased access to European markets for Made-in-America goods and services. This will help to promote U.S. international competitiveness, jobs and growth.

The U.S. and EU economies are two of the most modern, most developed, and most committed to high standards of consumer protection in the world.  T-TIP aims to bolster that already strong relationship in a way that will help boost economic growth and add to the more than 13 million American and EU jobs already supported by transatlantic trade and investment. T-TIP will be a cutting edge agreement aimed at providing greater compatibility and transparency in trade and investment regulation, while maintaining high levels of health, safety, and environmental protection. T-TIP presents an extraordinary opportunity to strengthen the bond between vital strategic and economic partners. [Bold added]

As you can see, the US Government at the time believed that this agreement would be extremely beneficial for both the US and the European Union. It also affirmed that enhanced economic ties would “strengthen the bond between vital strategic and economic partners.” Negotiations began during the Obama administration, but then it all fizzled after the elections of 2016, because of President Trump’s lack of interest in any new international trade agreements.

It is still possible to negotiate free trade with Europe

Well, assuming a relatively quick end to the current coronavirus global emergency, and a new US administration sincerely interested in both affirming and strengthening a rules based global commerce regime, a good place to start would be an ambitious plan to harmonize the myriad of rules that create de facto impediments to the free flow of goods –and especially services– between the US and the EU. If you consider that the US and the EU together represent the majority of world trade, the impact of a truly liberalized regime for trade and investments between these two giants would be revolutionary, with significant, world wide benefits.

Show the vitality of the Western world and its values

Western Europe and the United States are the two historic pillars of Western Civilization. While some believe that the West is well on its way to inevitable decline, there is no law of physics that establishes this.

An invigorated transatlantic trade and investment regime would act as a powerful tonic. It would open up new opportunities in the US and in Europe. It would strengthen ties among like minded societies. It would spur new joint ventures and mutually advantageous cross pollinations, while opening new avenues for cooperation at multiple levels.

But, more than anything else, a successful agreement that creates real value for all the stakeholders would show that like minded governments, inspired by the same or at least very similar values, can and will cooperate for the benefit of their societies.

Given the enormous amount of technical issues involved, this goal of a Transatlantic Free Trade Area may be very difficult to reach. But it is doable. The benefits, on both sides of the Atlantic, will be immense. And this agreement would be a powerful example of values-driven globalization.

Paolo von Schirach is the Editor of the Schirach Report He is also the President of the Global Policy Institute, a Washington DC think tank, and Chair of Political Sciencand International Relations at Bay Atlantic University, also in Washington, DC.




In The Age Of The Internet Biased News Still Prevails

WASHINGTON – Here is one big paradox for you. When the internet proved to be a truly revolutionary innovation, everybody concluded that this technology is a game changer affecting the global communications sector in a fundamental way. More specifically, many argued that the ability to see and quickly report (thanks to the internet) on facts as they are, in real time, all over the world, in many cases at essentially zero cost, would make it a lot more difficult for the bad guys to lie about anything. 

Expose lies 

Indeed, if a government, a corporation, a political party, or an interest group would tell a lie, especially if it is a big lie, hundreds, may be thousands of fact checkers would spring into action. Thanks to the internet, in almost no time they would be able to provide a true account of what actually happened, and this would expose and shame the liars and manipulators who produced falsehood for their own benefit.

It did not turn out this way 

Well, this is what the hope and the prediction was. But it did not turn out this way. True enough, thanks to the ubiquitous internet, many new actors produce, post and send very valuable information that is now accessible from anywhere in the world.

But, contrary to early predictions, it is not true that serious research and scrupulous accounts prevail simply because the public seeks and prefers substance, quality and honesty.

Reinforcing prejudices

So, here is the paradox. There are plenty of good sources of information, mostly free, that are now easily accessible through the internet. But most people simply ignore them.

They go instead to the sources that reinforce their ideological prejudices. These sources are clearly biased. Some are just propaganda. But this concerns no one. If anything, bias is a plus, as long as it is the kind of bias I happen to like.

Ignore whatever contradicts my bias 

And so the internet, far from being the preferred instrument for delivering “The Truth”, is now the equivalent of a gigantic super market where people go to buy what they know they want, ignoring however all the other products on the shelves.

Here is the picture. Facts are almost irrelevant. What counts is the opinion that frames the facts in a way that reinforces what I already believe in. And I choose the interpretation of what is happening that suits my strongly built worldview. I easily dismiss any evidence that contradicts what I want to believe that actually happened, by claiming that it is not true. The other side made it up. And this proves how dishonest and evil they are.

My bias is the truth 

Think about it. In this age of instant access to all sorts of reporting about any development across the globe, there is no interest in any objective description of the facts. Facts mean whatever I want to believe they mean. And I shall listen only to the news broadcasts and commentary (the two are now generally mixed) that support my prejudices.

And I shall not even take into consideration that most likely my preferred interpretation is the result of distortions, lies, made-up figures and other manipulations. I want to listen to or watch my own truth.

Easy to double-check 

The internet was supposed to give anybody the opportunity to easily double-check. If I read or watch anything, it is easy enough to go to a different source and see or read what they say about the same topic. Is there a consensus? Or are they saying something else? Well, this checking is possible, simple, and in most cases cost-free. But it is not done. And this is because prejudice beats help via user-friendly technology any time.

Technology was supposed to help 

To put things in context, bias, prejudice, willful manipulation, and ideological blinders always existed. This is not new. Nobody can claim that the internet created them.

But the internet was supposed to enable truth-tellers to easily counter misinformation and manipulation, along with plain errors, by telling you what really happened. Well, they do. But their impact is modest, or non existent.

The information is there. The means to check and double-check are also there. But most people prefer not to use them.

In the end, for many a solid belief, grounded on prejudice, that provides reassurance is much better than any unsettling truth.

 




Media Hype About ISIL Not Helpful

WASHINGTON – The international media are not helping our understanding of the actual extent of the Islamic State threat. They are now serving the function of echo chamber, amplifying ISIL’s scary propaganda messages, (beheadings, a Jordanian pilot burnt alive), spread via the internet. And this is very unhelpful, as it contributes to create the rather silly notion of this unstoppable, mighty Army of truculent “True Believers” on the march to world conquest.

Intelligence failure

It is indeed sad that Western intelligence obviously under estimated ISIL and its potential, first in Syria and then in Iraq. This was a major blunder. But now Western media want to imply that barbarians who cut the throats of a few prisoners, and then expertly package the whole thing for internet distribution, almost by definition must be capable of “anything”.

Not the Wehrmacht

This is patently absurd. ISIL is fairly strong and resilient. Its military forces are indeed capable of holding on to large pieces of weak and divided countries, such as Syria and Iraq. They are now making inroads into Libya, taking advantage of the fact that this is yet another sorry-looking and essentially failed state. ISIL’s ability to exploit the opportunities created by weak countries torn by conflicts is indeed a problem.

But this is not the German Wehrmacht smashing Poland, and then turning West to defeat a large French army in a matter of weeks. This is not the Japanese Imperial Army conquering Manchuria.

A relatively small military force

The Islamic State has financial resources and manpower. We know that. But it does not have an invincible force at its command. Most estimates talk about 30,000 to 40,000 troops. Well, Turkey, a country that could become engaged in the fight because of its proximity to Syria, has an army with 700,000 soldiers, (active and reserve forces combined). The fact that ISIL, this most improbable creature, is still operational tells us a lot about Western and Arab timidity and indecisiveness. It is not a function of the Islamic State’s  inherent strength.

Yes, we could and should do a lot more to “degrade” and eventually “defeat” ISIL. Doing just a little bit here and there with a few bombing raids is harmful to our credibility.

Not an existential threat

Nevertheless, let’s keep things in perspective. ISIL is indeed fueled by a dangerous, toxic millenarian ideology. But it is not an irresistible military tsunami.

I would love to see more cohesion and more determination in Western military responses, whatever the best tools may be, so that this menace will end soon. But this is not an existential threat.

Stop rebroadcasting propaganda

World media should stop rebroadcasting ISIL propaganda videos whose objective is to scare the general public, while creating interest among would-be jihadists.

They should instead help the public gain a realistic perspective on a threat that is serious, but not as deadly as ISIL’s leaders would like us to believe.




The Arrival Of High Quality On-Line Education Spells The End Of Traditional Universities

WASHINGTON – Yes, it is official. Traditional universities are about to become extinct. This revolution in higher education is the recent cover story in The Economist: “Creative Destruction, Reinventing the University”, (June 28th – July 4th, 2014). And why are established universities about to disappear? Simply because they follow an obsolete (and super expensive) model that now can be successfully replaced by a new –equally effective but much cheaper– format delivered via the internet. 

Displaced by the internet

Indeed, just as old-fashioned media companies have been displaced by the internet, many, if not most, traditional universities in which professors teach a few students gathered in a classroom will be displaced by high quality education delivered to millions through the internet at a fraction of the cost.

Expensive and inefficient model

Here is the situation. A university education, still a coveted goal for millions who aspire to professional careers, has become fantastically expensive –especially in America, where most universities are private– and therefore accessible only to a relatively small minority. In countries where higher education is free, the tax payers bear its total cost.

But what if you could “attend” the very best lectures by watching them on your computer, this way receiving from top-notch professors the same high quality content that you would get by enrolling in the prestigious (and super expensive) university where they teach? Well, you would get the benefit of the same high quality instruction, minus the prohibitive tuition cost.

Best material made available via the internet 

Today, this is becoming possible. Yes, we can “bottle” and distribute via the internet the best lectures and related exercises that the best academics now deliver only to the negligible number of students who have the money to enroll in the prestigious universities where they teach.

This being the case, it is obvious that the days of the traditional campus, with all its added costs represented by administrators, financial aid people, athletics departments, cooks, janitors, security staff and landscaping crews, are numbered.

Quality control

Of course, much needs to be done to ensure quality and to ensure that those who enrolled on-line have actually fulfilled the course obligations and have indeed mastered the material provided via on-line courses. And, of course, in some fields, (engineering, medicine, biology, architecture), there will still be a need for a certain amount of “hands on”, practical training.

Still, even taking all this into account, we are now entering a new era –an era in which millions of people, regardless of country, will be able to access, at a fraction of the old-fashioned college tuition cost, excellent material delivered by first class professors.

Value of interaction

While one should not discount the value of the personal  interaction with academics and class mates that occurs within the traditional campus experience, this aspect of a college education can be reduced significantly. For instance, one could envisage a 4 year degree in which you do at least half (or more) of your work on-line, and the rest by attending a university. I assume that experience will dictate the most valuable and cost-effective models.

Affordable bridge to modernity

We may still be years away from the actual mainstreaming of this new way of delivering higher education. But it is coming. Sophisticated pilots are already available. And experimentation is underway all over, from Stanford to MIT.

Imagine the effect of this revolution. In developed countries students and their families will save tens of thousands of dollars. In developing countries that do not even have universities, on-line education will become a powerful bridge to a better future.

Indeed, this new higher education format will allow younger generations to lead these societies into modernity without having to bear the (mostly unaffordable) cost of a traditional, super expensive university education available now to few truly wealthy students who can afford the cost of moving to a developed country.




New York State Run Out Of Ideas, It Does Not Know How To Promote Itself

WASHINGTON – New York, once upon a time the symbol of American economic might and creativity, run out of ideas. Or at least this applies to the people in charge of promoting New York State as a place for doing business.

Tax holiday state

On TV business channels, (Bloomberg, CNBC), these days you are bound to watch an often repeated TV ad supposedly promoting New York State as a great place for corporations. And what is the pitch? A rather poor one.

You learn that New York State is open for business. If you have a good idea and want to develop it, you should go to New York State, because there you will get a nice tax holiday. Yes, if you bring your business to us  –New York promoters tell you– you’ll pay no taxes for 10 ten years, or something like that. Give or take a few embellishments, this is pretty much it: “No taxes or very low taxes for new businesses coming to New York State”. This is really dry, unimaginative and very poor.

New business seeks a vibrant environment

Of course taxes are a big deal. And any business person will listen when you promise an extended tax holiday. But while this is true, it also true that business people, especially young entrepreneurs in tech sectors, are drawn to dynamic, vibrant environments where there is plenty of talent, research facilities, a cultural life, state of the art telecommunications infrastructure, and world-class, competitive logistics.

None of this is mentioned in the TV ad promoting New York State. It is only about low taxes. Nothing about local talent, human capital, innovation, dynamism, discoveries, enterprise. Here is the legendary “Empire State” version 2014: a “tax holiday” spot. That’s it. Not such an interesting place, really.

The allure of Oklahoma

Compare this with TV ads promoting Oklahoma as a tourist destination. The State is described as a unique blend of old and new. Nature and enterprise. The American West. Culture and fine dining. And the greetings are delivered by an attractive Native American woman who says hello in her own native language.

Now, that’s interesting, alluring and  intriguing.




America Must Invest $ 2 Trillion Just To Maintain Existing Infrastructure – We Have Decrepit Roads And Bridges Because Of Decades Of Neglect

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By Paolo von Schirach

October 19, 2012

WASHINGTON – Historian Walter Russell Mead argues in a WSJ op-ed piece that in America we are anchored to yesterday’s thinking when it comes to investing in infrastructure. There is an old fashioned, unimaginative and therefore mistaken approach about doing more of the same, he writes.

Moving information, not goods

In the past we used to think in terms of more roads, bridges and rail systems. And now we want to build more highways and possibly high speed rail systems, even when the estimated costs do not justify them. This is a strategic error, he maintains, a huge misallocation of resources because the future is about moving information and data and not goods or people. Telecommuting will replace commuting and ever more sophisticated video-conferencing will replace business travel.

Only at the end of his essay Mead concedes that America may need to spend a little on maintaining our existing infrastructure: “Yes, our existing roads, bridges and highways should be maintained, and in some cases enhanced. Even so, more physical infrastructure isn’t our main need at this point“.

It sounds sensible. Yes, maintain what we have; but readjust national priorities so that we understand that moving data will be more important than moving goods or people.

$ 2 trillion just to fix the infrastructure we have

All good, except for one detail. Do you know what the estimated bill for maintaing our “existing infrastructure” is? Well, because of decades of under investment, the best estimates vary between $ 2.2 trillion and $ 2 trillion. (See a 2011 study produced by Urban Land Institute, and a report by the American Society of Civil Engineers, among others). Yes, that is 2 “trillion”, not billion. In a country with a total GDP of $ 16 trillion, $ 2 trillion just for fixing what we have, without adding anything new, is a staggering figure. This is more than half the amount of the entire annual federal budget, ($ 3.67 trillion projected for FY 2013).

More physical infrastructure may not be the wave of the future, but unless we focus on fixing the decrepit infrastructure we have, it is certain that America will be severely penalized by the global economy.

China thrives because of modern infrastructure

China thrives as a manufacturing hub because it has gigantic factories and cheap labor. But also because it has first class infrastructure that allows manufactures to have one of the best supply chains in the world. They can guarantee deliveries in record time. And this is because the Chinese made massive investments in the physical infrastructure a modern manufacturing economy needs in order to be competitive.

India did not invest in infrastructure. As a result, India’s manufactures are severely penalized by their inability to move parts and finished goods in a fast, cost effective and reliable way. Same story for Africa. You cannot have a modern economy without state of the art infrastructure.

America used to have great infrastructure. However, decades of neglect and chronic under investment created a problem now close to a crisis that hurts our entire economy.

We still need to move goods and people

It is all well and good to say that data may become more relevant than goods in the future. But millions will still drive to work, to grocery stores and department stores. Trains and trucks will deliver needed iron ore, cement, copper wire, grain, ice cream, video games and refrigerators. Even if we assume that all shopping will move entirely on line, Amazon and all the others will still rely on FedEx and UPS to deliver the goods people ordered on line. And these logistics companies cannot exist without modern airports and highways. And if you want to visit Los Angeles or your sister in Ohio, you have to get there somehow.

America needs state of the art physical infrastructure

Doing all these things we take for granted reliably and effectively is not a given. We do need state of the art, modern infrastructure. To achieve this rather modest goal, (at least by the standards of all advanced economies), as a Nation we must decide to pony up and start investing now the $ 2 trillion we need to spend just to keep what we have in working order. We are talking basics here. This spending has nothing to do with fancy high speed rail projects in California or elsewhere. Still, if we cannot even agree on doing the basics, we are well on our way to becoming a Third World country.




Too Much Hype For Facebook, A Company That Does Not Make Anything – America Used To Produce and Reward Real Innovators – Social Media Not As Valuable

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By Paolo von Schirach

May 17, 2012

WASHINGTON – I am quite uneasy with the hype surrounding the Facebook IPO. I thought I was in a minority of one when I saw an equally skeptical The Wall Street Journal op-ed piece by Rich Karlgaard, Forbes publisher. (The Future Is More Than Facebook, May 17, 2012). Well, at least some seasoned observers are also not so enthused.

Facebook is the story

Facebook is “the” story. And this is all what the business media have been talking about. Saturation coverage on Bloomberg TV and CNBC. It is assumed that the IPO will be a smashing success, bringing the company to a market capitalization of over $ 100 billion. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder and CEO will be worth $ 18 billion. This is truly astonishing for a company that does not make anything.

Well, not so, others would argue. “This is yet another American story of entrepreneurship appropriately rewarded”. Well, if money is the standard, that’s what it looks like. But I am still uneasy because Facebook is all about fluff. No doubt, given its exceptionally high number of users, Facebook is a great platform allowing people to socialize (I have an account). So, let’s stipulate that it is useful in creating valuable connections, and may be more. Still, Facebook is not a “product”. It does not help the economy. It does not increase productivity. Sure, you may argue that precisely because it is a neutral platform it will allow people to use it creatively and do great things through it. Who knows, may be so.

We used to reward those who made things

And yet there is a difference between this and what we used to call successful enterprise. America used to celebrate innovation that brings real economic value. As Karlgaard pointed out in his WSJ piece, Bill Gates was another young entrepreneur who became fabulously rich at an extremely early age. But he created the first mass produced operating system for personal computers. And Microsoft products have been and still are key components of the incredible IT revolution that has revolutionized most economic sectors and introduced unthinkable efficiencies worldwide. Now, this is “value”.

More recently, the more eccentric yet incredibly creative Steve Jobs revolutionized the phone and tablet experience with products that blend in all sorts of magic features. Some fluff there too, but also real value. Apple “makes things”.

Facebook is a social media platform. I do not know; but I can hardly believe that a vehicle for chatting and exchanging pictures is the best of the American innovation genius and this is why it will be so handsomely rewarded by investors who really want to have a piece of it.

the ongoing energy revolution does not get the same coverage

I can think of other industries we should be focusing on. As we speak, in the US we have a major hydrocarbon revolution. (I have written a lot about it). “Hydraulic fracturing” allows the exploitation of natural gas and oil trapped in rock formations. Thanks to “fracking” North Dakota with an oil output above 500,000 a day is now the second oil producer in America. And abundant natural gas, (a lot of it in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virgina and New York), is already driving down the cost of electricity, with economic benefits for tens of millions of consumers and key industries that are large users of electricity (steel), not to mention others (petro-chemicals and plastics) that use natural gas as feedstock.

And finally inexpensive natural gas will soon be used as transportation fuel, allowing America to save billions on imported oil. Now, this is big stuff. “Fracking” is a revolutionary technology that transformed the oil and gas industries. But, beyond the experts, few people know about any of this. It does not get major media coverage. Sure there is plenty of money in energy and some companies and investors are getting rich. But the hype is not with the energy that literally powers the nation. It is with Facebook, as if creating platforms for social interaction is really America’s future. Quite frankly, I hope we have more to offer.

Vertical farming

And others are offering. But nobody pays much attention. Think about those who are experimenting with vertical urban farming, a truly revolutionary way to grow food right in the middle of the cities where people live. This way we will spare the environment, minimize (precious) water consumption, while cutting down all the cost related to food production, storage, transporation and distribution. Now, this is a big deal, potentially a revolution. Ad yet, hardly a mention in the media. At best it is treated as a curiosity promoted by some eccentric people.

Too much value for a platform

Look, I do not want to diminish the importance of any innovation that may indeed enhance the quality of our lives by improving social interactions. Facebook has earned its rightful place in this sphere. Still, too much hype and too high a valuation for a company that does not make anything and does not have any content.