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Apr-18-2013 11:55printcomments

Two Cheers For Post-America... Obama: Redux et Reductio

The corporate media exists not to illuminate but to perpetuate the mirage. Coke or Pepsi. Take your pick. As if there is a difference. - Chris Hedges

President Barack Obama

(DAYTONA BEACH, FL) - Nothing has really changed in the State of The Union since, more than a year ago, President Barack Obama delivered his final first-term State of the Union address. It was a powerful presentation, pushing all the right buttons, pulling all the correct levers, convincing everybody – particularly the undecided center – that he was no namby-pamby, but perhaps an even greater military patriot than the most hawkish Republicans, a world-beater when it came to foreign relations, and an economic innovator who had diminished the gaggle of walk-on comedians threatening at that time to limit his reign to one term.

He brilliantly invoked the military metaphor to persuade us that all the nation needs to do is pull together on the home front and perform as our troops do in foreign fields and our future will be assured - as America, the permanent dominant (although compassionate) leader of the free world. Not too different from the Bush Doctrine that Sarah Palin stumbled over.

But there are two things that perhaps are more important than his rally-round-the-flag inspirational event.


First, instead of cattle-prodding this dead horse of America's world leadership, he could have recognized the reality of the Post-America world we have already entered: not a shameful decline nor a threat to prosperity, but rather an even greater challenge and opportunity, where we as an equal player among international peers will be greater, while at the same time being more honest than the world of Teddy Roosevelt, of Rockefeller and Carnegie. The world that many among us are trying to perpetuate and resuscitate.

The Post-America World (the term I believe was invented by Thomas Friedman, the brilliant New York Times Columnist) will be manifest in the Third Industrial Revolution, a new economic system where the internet universe is the paradigm and natural energy is the driver.

We can't , like Thomas Wolfe, go home again to the world of 1975, the world of Daddy Warbucks, the Monopoly Game board, the Second Industrial Revolution.

According to Jeremy Rifkin, the economist and energy visionary, in the 19th century, coal and steam power increased the speed, efficiency and availability of print material, creating a print literate workforce to organize the First Industrial Revolution. We morphed into the Second Industrial Revolution in the following millenium with instant communication and centralized electricity and the fossil fuel powered internal combustion engine as the energy source.


Energy and communication work together in the determination of each successive historical development we call industrial revolutions. The Third is no exception. We are in the early stages, says Rifkin, of a convergence of Internet communication technology with a new form of energy that is not limited to certain locations on the planet as hydrocarbons are, but is distributed globally (available everywhere in the world) and we’re making a rapid transition to those widely distributed renewable energy sources.

The old fossil energy sources are sunsetting as we enter the endgame of the Second Industrial Revolution. This massive conversion will generate millions of jobs and create new opportunities for thousands of small and medium-sized enterprises stretching over the next four decades.

Secondly, President Obama appeared to dwell upon the carved-in-stone loggerhead of congressional play-acting that has ground the work of government to a standstill. He convincingly but perhaps uselessly continues to perpetuate futile arguments that die in committee or in filibuster.

It might have been more statesmanlike had he mentioned the notion that as long as corporate lobbying runs Washington, and every Congressman and Senator is subject to corporate largesse and bought deals, there can be no government of the people, that national mantra over which pretense everyone continues to chant, hand-over-heart, in an endless series of standing ovations.

But he didn't. So Post-America will have to wait for more of the same, regardless of Coke or Pepsi, Tweedle-dum or Tweedle-dee, in Post-Obama America.

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Bill Annett grew up a writing brat; his father, Ross Annett, at a time when Scott Fitzgerald and P.G. Wodehouse were regular contributors, wrote the longest series of short stories in the Saturday Evening Post's history, with the sole exception of the unsinkable Tugboat Annie.

At 18, Bill's first short story was included in the anthology “Canadian Short Stories.” Alarmed, his father enrolled Bill in law school in Manitoba to ensure his going straight. For a time, it worked, although Bill did an arabesque into an English major, followed, logically, by corporation finance, investment banking and business administration at NYU and the Wharton School. He added G.I. education in the Army's CID at Fort Dix, New Jersey during the Korean altercation.

He also contributed to The American Banker and Venture in New York, INC. in Boston, the International Mining Journal in London, Hong Kong Business, Financial Times and Financial Post in Toronto.

Bill has written six books, including a page-turner on mutual funds, a send-up on the securities industry, three corporate histories and a novel, the latter no doubt inspired by his current occupation in Daytona Beach as a law-abiding beach comber.

You can write to Bill Annett at this address: bilko23@gmail.com

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