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Mike Holt is a Senior VP, Wealth Management Strategist with The MDE Group, an innovative Wealth Management Firm located in Morristown, NJ that manages over $1 billion for corporate executives and other high net worth individuals located across the US. Mike's diverse background includes auditing... More
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  • Finding the Energy to Put Us on a Safer Road to a Brighter Future 13 comments
    Apr 9, 2011 7:47 PM | about stocks: ARAFF, AVL, GWMGF, LYSCFIQ, NEMFF, REE, UURAF
    In my previous blogs, I have attempted to demonstrate how concentrations of power and/or excess reliance upon a single resource can create dangerous disequilibriums not only within the context of financial markets, but within economic, social and political contexts as well. I also pointed toward the danger of excess debt and reliance upon debt to achieve the appearance of near-term stability, when in fact this may simply create even larger, long-term disequilibriums, especially when debt levels grow faster than levels of economic growth. I stated that many developed countries are currently faced with the dual challenges of both excessive debt and slowing economic growth. Resolution of these challenges will likely require both a reduction in debt and a means of achieving economic growth. These objectives can conflict, so achieving both will not be easy.
    With respect to the latter, the way forward seems to require increased reliance upon economic growth in developing countries, many of which have more favorable demographics and less troublesome levels of debt. However, economic, political, and social structures in some of these countries differ from those in many of the developed countries, which can lead to difficult adjustments. The need for such adjustments is nothing new, and against a backdrop of true equilibrium, would probably be relatively easy to manage. However, against a backdrop of “stable disequilibrium,” and uncertainty whether economic growth could not only lead to further economic and financial market disequilibriums, but could also undermine those political and social objectives that serve as the very raison d’etre for many countries, the willingness to make such adjustments becomes a real challenge, to say the least.
    If we are to be successful in balancing these concerns and objectives from the broadest possible perspective, it will require constructive efforts, cooperation, and commitment from all of us. Somehow, the corruption, injustices, and even fear of the same that typically result from imbalanced concentrations of power and/or excess reliance upon a single resource will need to be minimized.
    The Importance of Technology as an Engine for Growth
    In my last two posts, I directed readers’ attention to the fact that China controls over 95% of the global production of rare earth elements, and also holds a dominant position in many of the downstream manufacturing operations further along the supply chain. I described the importance of these rare-earth based components to a great number of technological applications, and I briefly mentioned that technology is one of the most important drivers of economic growth. Recall, for example, the impact of the Industrial Revolution. The transfer of technology among countries is, therefore, vital to a more balanced level of global economic growth. But, for capitalist economies, respect for intellectual property rights ensuring that the creators of such technology will be rewarded for their efforts is equally vital. Violations of intellectual property rights and reliance upon monopolistic power to coerce transfers of such technology could lead, therefore, not to more balanced global economic growth, but to even more worrisome levels of concentrated power.
    Developing an understanding of, and respect for, intellectual property rights would likely be the most effective way of limiting the various means by which such rights are inappropriately accessed and transferred. In the absence of such respect, enforcing intellectual property rights should not be the responsibility of only those who own such rights. To avoid violating the principle of internal sovereignty, government officials and legal authorities within violating countries should understand the nature and significance of intellectual property rights and should take credible actions to ensure that they are properly protected. Such actions should include effective means of preventing attempts to improperly gain access to such rights, and directly penalizing those responsible for the improper transfer of such rights. However, it should also be recognized that those entrusted with the possession of such rights must also be held accountable if they don’t uphold their responsibility to protect those rights.
    We Still Have the Keys So Who is Willing to Drive?
    Having said this, the rest of us should not sit idly by waiting for “the powers that be” to settle such matters. There is also a role to be played by private sector businesses, investors, and consumers. Our role is especially important when a lack of capital investment in certain industries has allowed certain parties to acquire monopolistic powers over relatively low-cost, but critical materials that make it easier to coerce valuable technology from businesses that possess this technology but can’t apply it without access to the critical materials. Rather than advocating the pursuit of inferior, perhaps antiquated substitutes, I believe it is incumbent upon the private sector to allocate their capital and purchasing dollars in a manner that will restore healthy levels of competition and thus market equilibrium. In other words, in my last post, when I indicated that “It’s all about the people,” I was not referring only to the managers and directors of rare earth mining companies; I was also referring to me and you, in our roles as investors, consumers, and responsible members of society.
    Energy and Our National Security
    With this in mind, I am proud to say that I will join approximately 200 people this coming week in attending the TREM’11 (Technology and Rare Earth Metals For National Security and Clean Energy 2011) conference in Washington, D.C. The two-day conference to be held on March 22-23 is being sponsored by the IAGS TREM Center, a title which includes two acronyms, one for the Institute for Analysis of Global Security, and the other for the Technology and Rare Earth Metals Center.   The stated purpose for this conference is to help secure a reliable and diverse supply chain for rare earth metals and other materials that are critical to our nation’s energy needs and security. The sponsors of the conference hope to achieve this by allowing interested individuals to join executives from the minerals, defense, energy, finance, and automotive industries in interacting with key figures from the US Departments of Defense, Energy, Interior, Commerce and State in an effort to better understand the issues surrounding metals needed for energy and security, and to influence the policies that affect the way America produces, imports and uses technology metals.
    Recent developments regarding skyrocketing prices and restricted access to rare earth elements had already made the relevance of this conference clear to me. However, this year’s conference unfortunately has been made even more relevant by more recent developments including unrest in several countries in North Africa and the Middle East, followed by a devastating 9.0 earth quake and tsunami in Japan on March 11. As if the human suffering caused by these natural disasters was not enough, these tragic events were followed by a series of emergencies at a number of damaged nuclear energy plants. Now, on Sunday March 20, just two days before the conference, coalition forces are staging air strikes in Libya after Col. Gadhafi’s Saturday morning attack on civilians and rebel forces in Benghazi.
    Running on Empty
    It has been difficult to observe the pain and suffering brought about by these events, so first and foremost I would like to express my sympathy for all those caught up in these calamities   At the same time, I can’t help think about ways to prevent such occurrences in the future, and in doing so, what stands out is the role that energy needs have played in both instances. We seem to be perched between reliance on oil, and reliance on rare earth elements needed to deliver us from oil. Will the Middle East remain sufficiently stable long enough to enable us to reduce our dependency on oil to less dangerous levels? How severely will the nuclear accidents in Japan discourage efforts underway to launch new safer nuclear power plants using simpler, thorium-based nuclear energy technologies? I can only hope that these recent developments will serve to strengthen the resolve of this year’s TREM’11 participants to identify better, safer ways to satisfy the world’s energy needs.
    I will summarize the proceedings of this conference in my next post. In the meantime, I think it would be helpful to provide some background information regarding the views and objectives of certain representatives of the IAGS, and the IAGS TREM Center.
    Turning Oil into Salt
    I will start with Gal Luft, the Executive Director of the IAGS, and Anne Korin, the co-director of the IAGS. Together, Gal Luft and Anne Korin have also authored an important book titled, “Turning Oil into Salt.” The basic premise of the book is that the threat oil dependence presents to our national and economic security is not a function of the amount of oil we consume or import. It is a function of oil’s status as a strategic commodity. Oil’s strategic status, in turn, stems from its virtual monopoly over fuel for transportation. While there are many sources of energy available to us to satisfy our non-transportation needs, we are almost entirely dependent upon oil for our critical transportation needs. Through a combination of flex-fuel engines and electrification of vehicles to enable them to derive power from our nation’s already established electricity grid, the strategic commodity status of oil could be reduced to merely a commodity, such as salt. Years ago, salt was a strategic commodity because it had a virtual monopoly over food preservation.   But, with the advent of canning, electricity, and refrigeration, salt lost its strategic status – even though it is still in wide use today.
    What Else Do We Need In Order to Arrive at our Destination?
    Next, let me turn your attention to Yaron Vorona, who is the Executive Director of the TREM Center at the IAGS. Yaron also founded the International Lithium Alliance, a membership organization consisting of producers and users of lithium whose purpose is to provide global leadership on all major strategic issues affecting the lithium industry, particularly with respect to economics, the environment, and social sustainability.  Lithium ion batteries have important implications for the development of electrified automobiles. And, from the standpoint of national and energy security, lithium is an abundant resource that is available from numerous sources throughout the world, many located in countries such as Chile with which the United States maintains friendly relations.
    Estamos Bien en el Refugio los 33
    It is no doubt for this reason that Laurence Golborne Riveros, the Chilean Minister of Mining, has been invited as one of the keynote speakers for this year’s conference. You may recall the August 5, 2010 Copiapo mining accident in which thirty-three Chilean miners were trapped 2,300 feet underground for a record 69 days – less than six months after Chile suffered a magnitude 8.8 earthquake and tsunami. Laurence Golborne Riveros remained intimately involved in that rescue mission even after the thirty-third miner was raised to the surface on October 13, 2010 to be reunited with his family and loved ones. His dedicated, sensitive management of the rescue operation earned him great admiration by the miners and their families, and great respect among the people of Chile and freedom loving people around the world. At a time when the headlines are filled with reports of many government leaders in conflict with the people that they have a responsibility to govern, it will be an honor and a pleasure to attend his presentation at this year’s TREM’11 Conference. I hope to learn how applications for lithium, including batteries for automobiles, could lead to mutually beneficial trading relationships between Chile and the United States – and possibly even a better, safer world for all of us. 
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  • Mike Holt
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    Author’s reply » Seventeen days after the collapse of the San Jose mine near Copiapo in Northern Chile, a note attached to one of the drill bits probing for evidence that the miners were still alive was discovered. The note read, “Estamos Bien en el Refugio los 33” (“We are well in the shelter, the 33”). These words became the motto for the miners’ survival and for the rescue effort. Together with the courage and unity of “los 33,” they may also serve as inspiration to the rest of the world as we struggle with the difficult challenges that now lie before us.


    For example, after leaving the hospital, the second miner to be rescued, Mario Sepúlveda, said "All 33 trapped miners, practicing a one-man, one-vote democracy, worked together to maintain the mine, looked for escape routes, and kept up morale. We knew that if society broke down we would all be doomed."
    9 Apr 2011, 07:54 PM Reply Like
  • Mike Holt
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    Author’s reply » A 12/14/2010 New York Times article titled “To Conquer Wind Power, China Writes the Rules,” describes how Chinese companies acquire the latest Western technology by various means and then take advantage of government policies to become the world’s dominant, low-cost suppliers. Featured in this article was the Spanish wind turbine manufacturer, Gamesa.


    In order to comply with onerous local content requirements, Gamesa was required to purchase at least 70% of its components from local suppliers, many of whom were also trained by Gamesa. According to this article, “…these same suppliers undermine Gamesa by selling parts to its Chinese competitors – wind turbine makers that barely existed in 2005, when Gamesa controlled more than a third of the Chinese market. But, in the five years since, the upstarts have grabbed more than 85% of the wind turbine market, aided by low-interest loans and cheap land from the government, as well as preferential contracts from the state-owned power companies that are the main buyers of the equipment. Gamesa’s market share now is only 3%.”


    However, the article goes on to explain that “the country’s wind turbine market has grown so big, so fast, that Gamesa now sells more than twice as many turbines in China as it did when it was the market leader five years ago. So, as Gamesa executives see it, they made the right bet by coming to China. And they insist that they have no regrets about having trained more than 500 Chinese machinery companies as a cost of playing by Beijing’s rules – even if those rules have sometimes flouted international trade law.


    According to Gamesa’s chairman and chief executive officer, Jorge Calvet, “If we would not have done it, someone else would have done it.” He went on to say that Gamesa would have opened factories in China at some stage, regardless of the content policy. This view is reinforced by Ditlev Engel, the chief executive of Vestas, a Danish wind turbine manufacturer that competes with Gamesa. According to Mr. Engel, “We strongly believed that for us to be competitive in China, it was very important for us to develop an Asia supplier base.”


    Still, with their government-bestowed blessings, Chinese companies have flourished and now control almost half of the $45 billion global market for wind turbines. The biggest of those players are now taking aim at foreign markets, particularly the United States, where General Electric has long been the leader.”
    10 Apr 2011, 12:46 PM Reply Like
  • Mike Holt
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    Author’s reply » In his book, “The Betrayal of American Prosperity,” former US Trade Negotiator Clyde Prestowitz argues that Washington must give serious thought to measures that better align the interests of global corporations with those of the United States and its citizens. In his view, a good place to start is the corporate charter. He claims that few people realize that corporations are chartered by the state, not by shareholders. Included among the benefits that the state confers upon corporations is shareholders’ limited liability for losses. The former US Trade Negotiator indicates that the state extends this privilege because it believes the corporation will produce benefits for the society, which includes, but is not limited to, shareholders.


    So, he argues that since it is “a creature of the state,” a corporation can be required by the state to act in certain preferred ways or for the attainment of certain preferred objectives. In support of this view, Mr. Prestowitz points out that the value produced by a corporation is produced by a combination of resources. In addition to those of the shareholders, there are also the workers, suppliers, customers, public infrastructure and services, the legal system, and the society at large represented by the government. So why should the distribution of value favor only shareholders?


    In many ways, the multi-stakeholder model that he advocates resembles the state capitalist model being implemented to varying degrees in various foreign countries. It is therefore, difficult to understand why he would perceive a need to retaliate against unfair trade practices if they are the result of a business model that he supports. On the other hand, if such a model heavily stacks the cards in favor of our competitors, it is difficult to understand why we would not object to such a model, insisting instead that we continue to “play the game” according to rules of free trade – even though we alone may be following such rules, or perhaps even viewing international business competition as some sort of a game.


    Because the economic growth that we so desperately need in order for our economy to function as intended is now so reliant on emerging market countries who have learned to exploit rather than truly adopt the free market principles that qualify them to be our trading partners, resolving these inconsistencies has been made especially challenging. But, I think it would be absurd for us to turn our attention away from the valuable lessons that we should have learned through our own experimentation with the proper role of government in the market over the past 100 years. Yet, here we are today suddenly experimenting with ways in which the US government can mimic the policies and actions of the Chinese government by similarly usurping market forces through the exercise of greater control over corporations and markets.


    Would it not be wiser to focus on ways that the corporate veil may be pierced in order to hold management of these corporations responsible for actions they take that are detrimental to shareholders? Although corporate management and board members should generally be praised, not demonized, for their efforts and ability to productively lead corporations in a manner that is beneficial to stakeholders and society at large within the discipline imposed by market forces, too often their reputations are severly tainted by the actions of a few bad actors.


    When individuals working within public corporations use their positions to achieve personal gain at the expense of shareholders and the public, the response is often to fine the corporation (thus further penalizing the shareholders who were hurt by the inappropriate actions taken by certain bad actors within the company's management), or to further regulate the entire industry -- even if a patchwork of cumbersome regulations was already in place. Meanwhile, the bad actors responsible for these bad outcomes walk away with their ill-gotten loot.


    The ideological divide between proponents of free markets and proponents of heavy government regulation/intervention seems to contribute to this absurdly unjust outcome. What is needed is accountability, and accountability can be achieved in a number of ways other than increased government involvement and regulation. For example, market forces can impose discipline, as can a legal system that doles out justice in a more rational manner, possibly even reducing some of the myriad regulations already in place that ultimately become so cumbersome that they thwart the purposes that they were originally intended to serve.


    Are we better off by bailing out financial institutions, for example, thus imposing on society the costs imposed by the questionable actions on the part of those who personally benefitted very handsomely from those actions? Or would stakeholders and the public at large be better off if shareholders were more concerned about the questionable actions being taken by managers and directors in certain instances (market forces), and if those who took such actions were held more accountable, when appropriate (a more rational legal system)?


    It seems to me that the well-being of hard-working people who have achieved success through very legitimate, commendable means suffers the most as a result of our current policies, as does the competitiveness of US industry and the reputation of all those other corporate managers and directors whose only crime is to legitimately succeed no matter how hard that is becoming when the cards are increasingly stacked against them.


    Regardless of anyone's views regarding the proper role of government in the economy, we should not follow a path that penalizes success and rewards failure.
    10 Apr 2011, 01:52 PM Reply Like
  • Mike Holt
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    Author’s reply » Per the link below to an op-ed in the Financial Times this morning (written by Fred Smith, the CEO of FedEx), every American recession over the past 35 years has been preceded by – or occurred concurrently with – an oil-price spike.


    The issue of immediate concern is that 97% of the transportation fuel in the US is derived from oil, which is why oil price spikes have such a significant impact on our economy. Yet every time gasoline prices spike, the media is filled with discussions of alternative fuel sources and/or the need to drill for more oil; rarely if ever is there any discussion of electrification of the transportation sector. All those alternative energy sources will do nothing to reduce the impact of oil prices on our economy unless our transportation sector can utilize these alternative energy sources.


    Electrification of automobiles is a practical solution that is achievable in the near-term. For example, a Nissan Leaf runs entirely on electric power, as will the Tesla S, scheduled to roll-off assembly lines within a year. The Chevrolet Volt can run entirely on electric power derived from the grid for about 35 to 50 miles -- enough to cover the commute for most drivers -- after which an internal combusion engine can extend the driving range up to an additional 300 miles. The Fisker Karma, a beautiful luxury sedan with a price tag over twice that of the Chevy Volt, is similarly configured to provide an all electric range of about 50 miles with an internal combustion engine providing additional range beyond that, if necessary.


    These cars may not make sense for everyone, but at least now you have a choice: rather than complaining that we are still reliant on foreign oil 40 years later, and blaming the government or Detroit, you can now choose to finally do something that will put us on the right path. Those who can't afford higher gas prices may not be able to afford one of these new cars -- yet; those who can afford higher gas prices may not have as much of an incentive to adopt this new technology -- unless they understand the concept of "enlightened self-interest."


    Personally, I chose to buy a Volt. At times I suspect that I share the same feelings as the first few buyers of the newly invented telephone, believing that the technology will be revolutionary when it is adopted by more people but somewhat uncertain in the meantime. Fortunately, those thoughts quickly fade, because driving the Volt is such a pleasurable experience. I test drove the Volt because of the concerns expressed in Fred Smith's op-ed piece below; I bought the Volt because I absolutely love the car.


    10 May 2011, 02:45 PM Reply Like
  • Mike Holt
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    Author’s reply » This article by Marty Sosnoff, a highly esteemed investment manager and long-time Forbes magazine columnist provides some very interesting observations about the supply side of oil.




    It doesn't delve into the fact that these supplies are not distributed evenly throughout the world, or that the supplies are often found in potentially unstable regions of the world, sometimes even in or near countries openly hostile to the US. But, other than this "completely unforseeable, black swan like tail risk" it provides a pretty good perspective regarding the future supply of oil.
    13 Jan 2012, 10:34 AM Reply Like
  • Mike Holt
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    Author’s reply » It was announced today that the US Department of Justice has indicted five Chinese military officers for cybertheft.






    The case was developed over a period of six to eight months, and although it only scratches the surface, it could be an important inflection point if it truly marks the moment that the US finally takes action against China's blatant efforts to steal trade secrets and other intellectual property on a massive scale.


    Just as important is the response of the Chinese Foreign Relations Ministry, which demanded the charges to be dropped.




    While it is common for the CCP to override judiciary decisions in its own country, which is one of the main reasons why corruption in China is so rampant, it should be alarming to Americans that China would attempt to intervene in the US judiciary system given long-standing concerns that granting China membership in the WTO shortly after terrorist attacks against the US in 2001 would facilitate empowerment of the CCP which, in turn, could use this power to infringe on our legal system which serves as a foundation for the principles of liberty and justice that define what it means to be an American.


    It is also ironic that the CCP would claim that it does not intervene in the internal affairs of foreign countries, and yet has been shown to be intervening in the internal affairs of the US, and for illegal purposes at that. In fact, some consider China's campaign of cyber-theft and cyber- espionage to be a form of economic warfare that seeks to take advantage of asymmetrical weaknesses in America's defenses given that China still lacks the military power of the US despite its ramp-up in military spending and increasing acts of hostility toward its neighbors.


    Given that China's economy has become fragile after amassing huge amounts of debt to finance unnecessary Fixed Asset Investment spending on excess capacity and empty cities, and their current five year economic growth plan places heavy emphasis on access to technology, it would seem foolish for China to engage in further acts of economic or military warfare in an effort to retaliate against attempts to curtail its illegal activities. Nonetheless, investors should be wary if the CCP continues to belligerently reject the rule of law, thus increasing the risks of its near-term economic instability even further.
    20 May 2014, 12:45 PM Reply Like
  • Shaduc
    , contributor
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    "empty cities"


    Cn has had been building it and they will come. Furthermore, as cn has industry hubs all over the country that make the former Dell Factory scheme pale in comparison.


    Major nations are waiting for the other to be left standing, and I can assure you Mike, Cn will not be that nation.


    If I'm wrong, I'll treat you to a meal.


    20 May 2014, 12:53 PM Reply Like
  • Mike Holt
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    Author’s reply » Sam, just to be clear, are you saying that China will not be that last nation standing?
    20 May 2014, 01:28 PM Reply Like
  • Shaduc
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    I don't believe so.


    Primarily, of the entrepreneurial productivity of the Cn economy compared to the welfare stagnation in the USA.


    When I was taking a class from a world-reknown economist in Beijing, he illustrated a government far more vibrant than in the USA.


    I really appreciate your previously confirming the excess printing of RMB and what is done with them; while they are also creating more offshore exchanges for CNH.


    The USA congress just gripes about it, and tries to intimidate. That government seems to represent the populous that elected them.


    What are your views Mike?
    20 May 2014, 01:37 PM Reply Like
  • Mike Holt
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    Author’s reply » Sam, I'd prefer to see meritocracy prevail within a just society that fosters individual rights, rather than seeing power increasingly concentrated in the hands of any government or political party.


    Given the long track record of the CCP's corruption, violations of human rights, and emphasis on privileges for an elite ruling class, I'm obviously alarmed by the CCP's growing power and its implications for both investors' portfolios and their families.


    Where it gets confusing is that the growing power of the Chinese Communist Party facilitates the growth of big government elsewhere--an obvious negative--and yet, it takes fire to fight fire.


    The Chinese Communist Party, given its control over the Chinese government, military, economy, banking system, legal system, education system, and media is simply too large for private enterprise to take on alone, and the PBOC has also grown larger than the US Federal Reserve upon which the US now relies heavily given the largely dysfunctional state of the three official branches of US government.


    Let me also ask you a few questions:


    Is it true that well-connected Chinese citizens can obtain organ transplants after waiting periods of as little as two weeks vs. months or years elsewhere?


    And, will this remain true if the CCP succeeds in their mission to eradicate Falun Gong spiritual meditation practitioners whose only crime is to seek self-improvement by cultivating characteristics of Truthfulness, Benevolence, and Forbearance which the CCP worries could divert some of their focus away from total and complete allegiance to the CCP?


    I wonder how this is perceived by Chinese citizens concerned that they may need new organs someday because they must breath, eat, and drink toxic air, food, and water--or are they just "unable" to talk about this?


    Given that the CCP does not engage in any surveillance activities via the internet or through its ubiquitous yet anonymous "minders," how difficult would it be to find answers to questions such as this in China?
    20 May 2014, 02:33 PM Reply Like
  • Shaduc
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    Is it true that well-connected Chinese citizens can obtain organ transplants after waiting periods of as little as two weeks vs. months or years elsewhere?


    I'M SURE that is done, but I haven't heard of that and would not know how that is done, neither have my neighbours. I live in a working class part of Shanghai.


    And, will this remain true if the CCP succeeds in their mission to eradicate Fallen Gong spiritual meditation practitioners whose only crime is to seek self-improvement by cultivating characteristics of Truthfulness, Benevolence, and Forbearance which the CCP worries could divert some of their focus away from total and complete allegiance to the CCP?


    I HAVE NO idea, but about a decade ago, I read that the SF CNY festival committee would not let the Falun Gong participate as it deemed that a political group.


    I remember seeing the Falun Gong protesting "in the wall" of the PRC Vancouver consulate!


    They may have the right to protest/demonstrate but not in reducing a businesses ability to run (fortunately, I have a disdain for those Cn officials as they have not changed as much as the mainland Cn bureaucracy has).


    I wonder how this is perceived by Chinese citizens concerned that they may need new organs someday because they must breath, eat, and drink toxic air, food, and water--or are they just "unable" to talk about this?


    I HAVE TO be try careful what I eat and drink, my granduncle lived to 90, though admittedly his last-13 years were disabled in a hospital.


    I remember my 60+ year old smoker barber's facial skin looked young that of a late-40 year old American non-smoker, because of that rich veggie diet, his skin was not worn and wrinkled as a smoker in the USA typically has.


    The average PRC lifespan, I think, is longer or close to that of sn American.


    Just think 40 years ago that life span in Cn was under 50 years old. But for these stats ask Ben Gee he seems to be very well informed of these.


    Given that the CCP does not engage in any surveillance activities via the internet or through its ubiquitous yet anonymous "minders," how difficult would it be to find answers to questions such as this in China?


    LAST YEAR, I was very alarmed when I had to put my cell phone # to obtain a pin to access the internet.


    Nevertheless, whether with direct intervention or not, the CCP monitors your internet workings (even more intimately than Google, at the Shanghai Library my card was tied to my passport, and records were kept on who was using each terminal). In fact when pounding out, as you know, my short two-liners on SA, I would eventually be unable to do that.


    Whether that was the CCP, SA or an author, I am not sure-- but you see, my writing for the longer form has improved.


    Oh sorry, the original question, there is no discussion because natives just accept that as a condition of life, and for the 95%+ life has noticeably improved!


    Can the average majority in the USA say that, where the govt and legal and tax codes, and political process are corrupt, their lives have improved. The middle class has been squashed by the welfare-based economic privileges (Tony Pow is more eloquent on this), because the top 2% has always been there.


    When I went to a Learning Annex "Rich Man, Poor man conference" in the late-90's I was astonished but admitted what the author said was true-- that there were tax advantages being an entrepreneur/business owner and thinning of the USA consumer class, no wonder global Multinational (MNCs) rather do business in Cn than in the USA tax disadvantaged/ liability disadvantaged/ worker rights disadvantaged et al, while the Cn have lower operating costs and regulations to operation and a growing consumer class which now out numbers CANUSA's population is preferred by businesses of all sizes (think IBM, also think smart)!


    Also, what do you think of the increased Dept of Homeland Security joke measures at the airport in the USA or globally returning to the USA.


    Principally, I view that as W's method to reduce USA unemployment #s on the seemingly cheap (why would there need to be a redundant service).


    Hong Kong's airport security is especially good, because as it slips up, there is a direct reflection in GDP growth figures. And so therefore, the USA additional Security measure redundancy provides more workers employment abroad financed by the USA (cash outflow) govt.


    During the 2010 Shanghai Expo, when going to HK, I noticed additional security measures at the airport. That was done so transparently and efficiently, one could hardly care, because it took me less that 30 minutes from the airline check-in to get out of Customs security.


    That never occurs at SFO where security and airport lineup are still done in a folksy matter.


    Finally the MH370 fiasco is having a direct reduction in flights down to Sg. Do the USA airplane disasters and airport immigration fiasco's, less 9/11 WTC, have such a direct reduction in commerce?


    One thing rich about life is I don't have to be concerned about the govt's actions because largely one person can't do anything about it.


    People here primarily just focus on earning money and improving their lives. Look at San Francisco, there are Google bus protestors (over a decade ago then-Mayor Brown promised to address the lack of affordable housing); there are laws fining tourist buses from stopping in the Alamo Sq area; and crooked Lombard St. As well as violent crime and thievery has increased since the last 2 years, while Shanghai safety has improved noticeably over the past 6 years.


    There is no comparison to the tradeoffs of my life in the Bay Area and Cn, in fact I was arguing this point before church began last Sunday with an attractive Shanghainese female educated in and employed by Americans.


    I told her us Asian males are either invisible or hassled in the Bay Area ...
    20 May 2014, 07:17 PM Reply Like
  • Shaduc
    , contributor
    Comments (2987) | Send Message
    God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,


    The courage to change the things I can,


    And wisdom to know the difference.
    20 May 2014, 07:20 PM Reply Like
  • Mike Holt
    , contributor
    Comments (1863) | Send Message
    Author’s reply » http://bit.ly/TstN5P


    20 May 2014, 11:15 PM Reply Like
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