Friday, October 28, 2005

What happens when the technical terms are in Mandarin?

Qian Qichen, a Retired Chinese Communist Party Vice-premier and Principal architect of China’s foreign policy after the Tiananmen Square crackdown said,

The 21st Century is not the “American Century.” That does not mean that the United States does not want the dream. Rather it is incapable of realizing the goal.

Today's New York Times has an article headlined, China Luring Foreign Scholars to Make Its Universities Great.

Maybe in 20 years M.I.T. will be studying Qinghua's example," says Rao Zihe, director of the Institute of Biophysics at Qinghua University, an institution renowned for its sciences and regarded by many as China's finest university. "How long it will take to catch up can't be predicted, but in some respects we are already better than the Harvards today.

In only a generation, China has sharply increased the proportion of its college-age population in higher education, to roughly 20 percent now from 1.4 percent in 1978. In engineering alone, China is producing 442,000 new undergraduates a year, along with 48,000 graduates with masters' degrees and 8,000 Ph.D's.

It was noted on the Greenville Chamber's recent intercity visit to Austin, that one of the things that makes Austin so highly innovative and entrepreneurial is that because of several large, top-rate universities nearby, Austin benefits from a brain drain to Austin from other places resulting 55 percent of the population in Austin having a college degree. Because United States has many of the world's preeminent universities, for the better part of the last century the United States as a whole has benefited from a brain drain from the rest of the world to the United States.

Ten years ago, I had an investment in Specialty Electronics in Landrum, which had a plant in Singapore. I was meeting with the domestic Singapore plant manager, who was discussing working with a subcontractor in Taiwan. I asked what language someone from Singapore spoke when he went to Taiwan. "Oh," he said, "we speak English during the day because the technology vocabulary of information technology is English, and it is easier to do business in English than it is to translate technical terms into Mandarin. At night when we go drinking, we speak Mandarin."

That is the power of having the standards invented in the United States, even if the products are manufactured somewhere else. A large part of America's global competitiveness is based on the fact that technology is invented here and the leading research and ideas are in English.

Since 9/11, the brain drain to the United States has slowed considerably. Part of it is travel restrictions from 9/11, but an even greater part of it is the fact that the quality of the top universities in other parts of the world are increasing considerably and students no longer have to leave home to get a top flight education.

If we think it is scary that the Chinese work cheaper than we do, we ought to have nightmares about what happens when the technical terms are in Mandarin, and as a result the leading research and ideas are less accessible to Americans.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Wall Street Journal: Education End-Run

We have some incredibly talented teachers in our schools. Imagine how empowered our best educational entrepreneurs would be to meet the needs of students not well served by the status quo if every parent could do what is described in the editorial below. This is an incredibly simple idea that would dramatically improve the quality and reduce the cost of education if it were implemented everywhere. Unleasing the creative energy in our educators is essential in a world where we will no longer be able to depend on attracting the best and brightest from the rest of the world.

Education End-Run
Editorial in the Wall Street Journal
October 27, 2005; Page A20

There's no shortage of bills in Congress to provide school aid for victims of the Gulf Coast hurricanes. But by far the best proposal out there is the Family Education Reimbursement Act, if for no other reason than its express goal is to circumvent the bureaucracies that make it so difficult to speed federal relief to displaced students and the schools that take them in.

The measure was introduced last week by House Education Committee Chairman John Boehner of Ohio and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, both Republicans, and its implementation couldn't be simpler. To create an account, parents could register on the Web, through a toll-free number or by signing up in person at a school. The accounts would provide up to $6,700 for each child, which is the average expenditure in states that have been enrolling the bulk of Katrina's 372,000 displaced students.

Next, parents would provide the account number to the school enrolling their child, and the school would use that information to get reimbursed. That's it. No endless paperwork for the families. No lengthy reimbursement procedure for the schools. Instead of forcing a school that has graciously opened its doors to refugees to make an extra funding request to the district, which in turn must go to the state, which in turn must go to the feds, the legislation provides a user-friendly alternative.

All schools would be eligible -- public, private, parochial or charters. And the accounts would be portable. The money would follow the child in case a displaced family decides to move back home or relocate somewhere else. And in a welcome nod to fiscal conscientiousness that has been all too rare in Congress, at the end of the school year any unused funds would go back to the Treasury. The program would be administered by an agency -- preferably a private one -- that could be up and running in as little as a month's time.

The problem with competing measures -- such as the Senate bill cosponsored by Republican Mike Enzi of Wyoming and Democrat Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts -- is that they filter federal relief through the existing education bureaucracy. We can't explain Mr. Enzi's behavior, but Mr. Kennedy's is predictable. His special-interest constituency is this very bureaucracy, nurtured by the teachers unions.

Mr. Kennedy says his bill doesn't discriminate against private or religious institutions, and technically it doesn't. But there are so many restrictions on how the funds can be used that the bill would likely dissuade all but a few from taking part. That of course undermines the original goal of providing education assistance to all the families displaced by Katrina, no matter where their children attend school.

We suspect that the opposition coming from Mr. Kennedy, National Education Association President Reg Weaver and others can also be explained by their fear that these education accounts would be a big success. The last thing they want to see is proof that there's an alternative to the education status quo.

People do what is measured: Education - Innovation - Entrepreneurship

As we develop a more highly innovative and productive economy, we need a vision to increase educational attainment, innovation capacity and entrepreneurial activity; we need to build the capability to deliver on that vision; and then we need to measure progress in these areas.

Educated - Innovative - Entrepreneurial
- ought to become our mantra. It is concise, yet captures the fullness of what we need to do. Below is a straw man of what a scorecard built on these metrics might include.
  • Increase human capital through education.
  • Improvement in NAEP scores in fourth grade. (Note 1)
  • Improvement in NAEP scores in eight grade. (Note 1)
  • Percent of ninth graders graduating on-time.
  • Percent associate's degree or higher.
  • Percent bachelor's degree or higher.
  • Increase value added through innovation. (Note 2)
  • Capital investment.
  • R&D expenditures.
  • Number of patents.
  • Hi-tech's share of the local economy.
  • Increase wealth through entrepreneurship. (Note 2)
  • The number of new firm births per 1,000 population.
  • Growth in the number of new firm births.
  • The proportion of young firms that are growing.
  • The amount of venture capital investment.
These measures could be by county, or they could be rolled up by region or for the entire state. The measures of innovation capacity or entrepreneurial activity, and perhaps a modified measure of human capital, could be made for each cluster. The strategy of each cluster or political subdivision would be to increase their educational attainment, innovation capacity and entrepreneurial activity.

Note 1 -The SC Department of Education suggests that, "the National Assessment of Education Progress, also known as "The Nation's Report Card," is the nation's only ongoing survey of what students know and can do in core academic subjects. It also is the only assessment that allows states to compare their results with other states, or with results for the rest of the nation. "

Note 2 - With the exception of "Capital investment," these measures of innovation capacity and an entrepreneurial capacity are suggested by the SBA Office of Advocacy in their report, The Innovation-Entrepreneurship NEXUS: A National Assessment of Entrepreneurship and Regional Economic Growth and Development. Capital Investment is appropriate because industrial recruiting is a part of a comprehensive economic development strategy. Relationships with companies that have branch manufacturing locations in South Carolina should be leveraged to attract research and development facilities of those companies, like was achieved with the BMW IT Research Center at Clemson ICAR.

Feedback from a student on my book

Recently I met with a college student to provide information for a class project. His professor had assigned my book, Swamp Fox Insights, as a class reading. I told him what I asked in return for meeting with him was feedback on my book. I've gotten lots of nice compliments, but nothing has been as meaningful as this email from someone starting out.

* * *

Dear Mr. Warner,

I wanted to once again thank you for meeting with me a few weeks ago. I have now finished your book and have highlighted a few quotes that I feel were the most powerful. Each illustrated what I feel are important leadership qualities.

Swamp Fox Insights:

In reading Swamp Fox Insights the most powerful message I gained was leadership and the importance of a leader. Through out the book I wrote down some of the memorable quotes that illustrated the importance of a strong leader, and how they should approach leading a group. Each quote seemed to clearly paint a picture and eloquently illustrate an idea even though it was very simple.

“We consistently over estimate the amount of change in the next 2 years, and under estimate the amount of change in the next 10 years.” Bill Gates

I completely agree with Bill Gates on this one, and change has to happen over time, and the change that occurs today is the effect of years of effort over time. There might be observed change today, but I feel that this only happens because of hard work over the course of time.

With a goal in mind to change something for the future it is important to have a clear and attainable goal, and realize that things will take time, and they may take time to develop. In Bill Gate’s case he has certainly observed change in the operating systems that Microsoft has made, and none of them had big short term change, but rather gradual change that when linked together were very noticeable and apparent.

“Nothing meaningful happens until a leader envisions what can be ...”

Without a vision no goals will be set, and no future will be dreamed. Major change does not happen by chance, and a strong leader must envision a future and a direction.

“Perhaps nothing is more valuable in life than people who can be counted on to do what they say they will do.”

“Leaders cannot do it all and must delegate important tasks to subordinates.”

“Authority can be delegated, but responsibility cannot.”

The first quote is something I feel is extremely important. Throughout life and school I have always been someone who has been dependable and reliable, and I expect the same from people around me. The saying goes that if you want it done right you should do it yourself, but there are times when you can’t do everything and it is those instances when you need to rely on someone else who is dependable.

I have observed that the most effective leaders are those who are able to delegate authority and find people who can effectively execute those tasks. Leaders can only achieve so much by themselves, and they need to find high quality people to do important tasks.

And no matter how responsible the people are that are around you or how well they execute their responsibilities, I find that it is a leader who does have to be responsible for the outcomes and making sure they are done properly. When it is done well and properly they should get the credit, but if something goes wrong, it is a leader’s job to take responsibility.

All of these quotes describe how important a leader is in order to develop a High-Impact Company, and even though the model is describing how to develop a company, I have noticed how the qualities that we look for in a team for a company are the same qualities that I have looked to surround myself in school. Throughout school we have projects and presentations and tasks that have to be accomplished and in order to achieve the goals, a leader has to have a vision, a leader has to delegate and a leader has to take responsibility. As a leader I have dealt with these problems, and they are very similar to the problems that a leader of a company would also have to deal with. Within the various organizations I am involved with I have different roles. In some of my classes I am a subordinate who has to be highly dependable and I take on the tasks that are delegated from a group leader, while in my fraternity I am a leader who has to be responsible and one who develops a vision.

After reading Swamp Fox Insights I feel I have became more understanding of what I need to do as a leader, and as a subordinate of a leader. Also your book has made me more aware of my strengths and weaknesses as a leader, and it has clarified how I can work to be a better leader and follower.

Thank you very much for everything.

* * *

Man on man. This is why I wrote the book.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Notes from Austin: Keep Austin Weird

The Greater Greenville Chamber of Commerce took an intercommunity visit to Austin, TX on October 16, 17 and 18. These are notes from that trip.

The sound bite from the trip has to be, Keep Austin Weird.

As we were told the story, two local businesses, BookPeople and Waterloo Records, faced a Borders Books and Music being built across the street, which was fine except that the city was providing incentives to the developer. The owners of BookPeople and Waterloo did not appreciate paying Austin city taxes that then subsidized out of town competitors.

So they organized the Austin Independent Business Alliance and a campaign to Keep Austin Weird. Steve Bercu of BookPeople explained his view that the distinctiveness of a city comes from its local, independent businesses, so it is critical that a city foster the growth and development of local companies - or at least not subsidize the mega chains that are making America look homogenized.

Keep Austin Weird resonated with people in Austin and has come to mean preserving and celebrating Austin's distinctiveness far beyond just independent businesses. Austin is also the self-proclaimed "Live Music Capital of the World," and people there celebrate that they have 150 or so live music venues in town. Some of us old fogies decided to paint the town only to find out that much of the live music didn't begin until 11:00 pm. Oh to be twenty something again.

In all, Keep Austin Weird celebrates the diversity that makes Austin Austin - one of the most creative and entrepreneurial places in the world. I couldn't help but notice how the whole idea made several people from Greenville very uncomfortable. But we can't have it both ways. We can't become a highly innovative and entrepreneurial place, without promoting and celebrating the creative energy that comes from people with highly different backgrounds and perspectives.

And the really hard part for some of us is that a bunch of that creative energy is going to be really noisy at 2:00 am in the morning.

Notes from Austin: Why is Austin entrepreneurial?

The Greater Greenville Chamber of Commerce took an intercommunity visit to Austin, TX on October 16, 17 and 18. These are notes from that trip.

What makes Austin so entrepreneurial? That was the question I asked every chance I got to anyone who would listen.

Maybe the most honest answer we got was, "We don't have any idea," which gets to the heart of how difficult it is to understand a very complex cultural dynamic. Perhaps in some ways it might be hardest for people in Austin to see how different their culture really is. But we dug deeper.

The easy answer that we heard over and over again is that it comes from students. There are 50,000 students at the University of Texas, and tens of thousands more within a 100 miles. There is a brain drain from other places in Texas, and even around the world, to Austin, with 55 percent of the population having a college degree. The most well known example is the young Michael Dell dropping out of school at 19 to start Dell Computer. Several of the largest home grown companies in Austin were started by people 19 to 24 years old.

John Thornton of Austin Ventures pointed out that many of the best entrepreneurs spin out of large companies in the area. They have an idea about how to serve a niche of customers not well served by the status quo. They go to their boss with the idea and get the answer, "That's a great idea, but that is not the business we are in." Austin Ventures likes to talk with those managers.

John Sibley Butler, Director of the Institute of Creativity and Innovation, said that much of the entrepreneurial drive and energy comes from immigrants and other outsiders. He's written a book about it, Immigrant and Minority Entrepreneurship : The Continuous Rebirth of American Communities. His argument is that throughout America's history, the first generation are highly motivated merchants. The second generation are attorneys and accountants. The third generation are philanthropists. And the fourth generation are worthless.

I am struck that all these folks - students dropping out of school, managers leaving companies, and immigrants - are misfits. They don't fit into the power structures that exist in the community. They are driven to create something new where they can be in control. Many don't do what they do because they want to as much as because they have to.

They don't always maintain this entrepreneurial energy throughout their career. Very few companies have spun out of Dell Computer, because, the theory goes, Dell is a very internal looking company that likes to control everything in its sandbox. Other companies in Austin are much more collaborative with outside firms and spin out new companies, which may not be better for their shareholders, but it is clearly better for the community as a whole.

In Austin, the whole notion that most of the creative energy is driven by outsiders ties into the idea that Austin is Weird - a place where differences are celebrated. The notion challenges us to understand how outsiders are incorporated into our community back home.

Notes from Austin: A conversation with an outsider

The Greater Greenville Chamber of Commerce took an intercommunity visit to Austin, TX on October 16, 17 and 18. These are notes from that trip.

One the plane ride to Austin, I sat next to someone who had lived in Greenville only a year. She told me how difficult it had been for her to get plugged into the community. She had asked to volunteer on committees and seek other ways of being incorporated into the community but had found it very difficult to be included. Now, if this was the only time I had heard this about Greenville, it would have been easy to write it off as an isolated case. But I hear it frequently, in particular from African-Americans trying to become part of the leadership in the community.

The problem, though, is that leaders in Greenville don't perceive that it is a tight, closed system. We think of ourselves as enlightened and open to new ideas and people. So where does the disconnect come from, and why do newcomers have a much easier time integrating into Austin than they do into Greenville?

What Austin has, and what Greenville doesn't to a large extent, is a high level of churn driven by the high level of entrepreneurial activity and creative energy. It's not uncommon to find major companies and other organizations in Greenville where almost all of the senior leadership has been in place 20 or 30 years. They have deep relationships going back decades, and they have benefited together from the status quo. Like anyone would, they tend to rely on people they have known and trusted for a long time. They don't necessarily try to keep new people out (though I'm not so naive to believe this doesn't happen), it is just very difficult to break into the club unless you work at it for years.

In Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy, Joseph Schumpeter described the entrepreneurial dynamic.
The fundamental impulse that sets and keeps the capitalist engine in motion comes from the new consumers, new goods, the new methods of production or transportation, the new markets, the new forms of industrial organization … that incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one. This process of Creative Destruction is the essential fact about capitalism. It is what capitalism consists in and what every capitalist concern has got to live in.
Creative Destruction is an incredibly challenging notion to those in charge today. But it is the furnace of energy that creates wealth and keeps the community vibrant. Austin has it to a much greater degree than Greenville does.

I'm sure that Austin, like everywhere, has its citadels of power too. But Austin has a culture of people creating the new new thing, and this gives outsiders a chance to catch a new wave and become a player in the community.

If we want to ignite an entrepreneurial engine that drives the creation of enormous wealth in the community, then we have to address how outsiders - like students, managers spinning out of large companies, and immigrants - find opportunities to lead. The reception of outsiders and the creation of entrepreneurial wealth are integrally tied together.

Notes from Austin: What we're doing right

The Greater Greenville Chamber of Commerce took an intercommunity visit to Austin, TX on October 16, 17 and 18. These are notes from that trip.

There is a lot we can learn from Austin, TX, especially how they capture and capitalize on their creative, entrepreneurial energy. But one of the important things we left Austin with was the good feeling that we were doing a lot of things right.

Start with downtown Greenville. We heard a lot about the downtown scene in Austin - 75 restaurants and 150 live music venues. While our bus tour guide the first day kept calling them "joints" as we went by, quite frankly many of them were seedy dives. Austin, to a large extent is a big college town, and many of the restaurants and retail reflect that. Greenville, by contrast, has lots of restaurants too, but there is more variety and quality in our mix. While our music scene might not match up to Austin, Greenvillle has a strong and growing visual arts community. The visual impact of downtown Austin doesn't hold a candle to downtown Greenville. Austin flat has some of the ugliest buildings anywhere.

The danger in an upscale Greenville is that it doesn't appeal to young people. But just last week a new young professionals organization, PULSE, was launched and over 400 young people came. When I got back from Austin I mentioned to a younger colleague that we needed to organize transportation form Furman and Clemson to make sure students could get to downtown Greeenville, and he quickly informed me that I am out of touch and students have already found their way downtown. So improvements in downtown are, in fact, attracting young people from the area as much as they are attracting everyone else.

Over the past forty years, we have recruited international branch manufacturers to the area, and now have one of the highest levels of international investment per capita of anywhere in the country. The people running these facilities are among the best in the world at what they do, and are a source of world class talent in our community. Those that have creative ideas and want to spin out of their current company are an untapped source of entrepreneurial activity in Greenville.

We have started to leverage these international relationships to attract research and development to compliment the manufacturing we already have here and build our innovation capacity. I took a trip to Austin in 2001 with a small group to study their endowed chair program, and since then several important industry/univesity relationships have been formed around endowed chairs, including the Clemson International Center for Automotive Research and the SC Health Sciences Initiatives.

We've begun to form institutions of collaborations to plug people and organizations together. The Greenville Chamber has been reinvented around an innovation economy mission. InnoVenture is building momentum. The Innovision Technology Awards are hopping. New organizations, like PULSE and the Digital Alliance, continue to emerge.

Many people in Greenville are doing a lot of things right. Even the Greenville Council Council even voted recently to encourage strip malls to plant trees in their expansive asphalt parking lots. Imagine that. It is a very encouraging time to live, work, and play in Greenville.

I look forward to intercommunity visits in 10 or 20 years from others coming to Greenville to learn how we created one of the country's most innovative and entrepreneurial communities.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

SC Low in Overall Entrepreneurship in Hydrogen Strategy Study

Engenuity commissioned a comprehensive study of the potential of the hydrogen economy in South Carolina.

SC ranks well very among the 50 states in its level of discovery-stage projects.

Yet is lower-than-average in overall R&D.

And ranks low in overall entrepreneurship, which is where the wealth will be created.

SC Low on National Assessment of Entrepreneurship

A national assessment of entrepreneurship and regional economic growth and development ranks South Carolina cities low.

Greenville - 52

Spartanburg - 125

Columbia - 133

So why does SC create lots of new community banks?

Clearly South Carolina overall does not convert our innovation capacity into entrepreneurial activity at the rate of more innovative communities. But today in the mail, I received another prospectus for a community bank. This is the one area where there is lots of start-up activity in South Carolina. Why is that?

We do have a track record of having successful commercial banks. One of the most successful high-impact companies in the region is The South Financial Group, which since its founding in 1986 has grown to a market capitalization of $2 billion. More banking resources ($1.3 trillion) are headquartered in Charlotte than in all but one other U.S. city.

As a result, many successful community banks are started and grown here with regularity. Each time a community bank is grown and sold, investors receive liquidity, some of which they reinvest into the next generation of community banks. Community banks also provide a training ground for young managers, who become the leaders of the next generation of banks. There is a tremendous amount of knowledge in the community about how to successfully grow community banks, and therefore a large number of them are started.

It is this type of community knowledge and track record that needs to be developed in the region around emerging companies introducing exciting new innovations to the marketplace.

And do you think we create more entrepreneurial activity?

Last week the featured article on Swamp Fox was about starting a Collaborative Innovation Center to help accelerate the creation of high-impact companies.

There was great discussion around this idea?

But what do you think?

Do you like the idea of a Collaborative Innovation Center?

Do you have another idea?

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Book Signing - Open Book Columbia - October 11th

I am having a book signing for Swamp Fox Insights; Innovation and Entrepreneurship in a Time of Profound Change at the Happy Bookseller in Columbia on Tuesday, October 11, 2005 from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm.

Here's the details, and here's a map to the Happy Bookseller

Please tell your friends, and if you are in town come join us.

Thanks to everyone who dropped by the Open Book in Greenville last week. We had several wonderful conversations about the book and more.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Notes from Pawley's - "Those old people need us"

The third seminar of the Liberty Fellowship was the last week of September 2005 at Pawley's Island. Below are notes from the week.

We've spent three seminars studying how to achieve Aristotelian happiness. In the Ring of Gyges, a ring makes a just man invisible and anonymous. Wearing it,
no one ... would be so incorruptible that he would stay on the path of justice or bring himself to keep away from other people's property and not touch it, when he could with impunity take whatever he wanted from the market, go into houses and have sexual relations with anyone he wanted, kill anyone, free all those he wished from prison, and do the other things which would make him like a god among men.
Aristotle argues we are just only because our actions are visible to others and we are accountable to the community.

My grandfather Furman's parents died when he was young, and he was raised in poverty by an aunt. He was an alcoholic, and lived a fairly self-destructive life. In his 60s, through faith in God he got control over his demon and became sober.

"We love because he first loved us," the author of 1 John tells us. Paul is certain that,
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, and with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ.
Into his 70s, Furman drove for Meals on Wheels. He not only delivered meals, but he took time to visit with each person he brought a meal to. They were more hungry for his company at times than they were for the food.

I sometimes rode with him. One day he came to get me, and I told him I didn't want to go. He calmly, but sternly, told me that was OK, but that, "those old people need us" and he left.

Furman seared my soul with a hot brand. He had found peace that passes all understanding, and out of gratitude he brought a small token of the love and peace he knew to the old people. With that simple declarative statement he brought me along with him into a world of service to others.

Paul says now we see in a mirror dimly, but then we will see face to face. The old people saw a small reflection of the devine in a broken vessel of a man who delivered them a meal from time to time and stayed to visit for awhile. He gave them all he had to give out of gratitude for what he himself had received.

Furman wasn't just because other people were looking. Aristotle didn't get that.

Notes from Pawley's - "Dear, the azaleas are beautiful"

The third seminar of the Liberty Fellowship was the last week of September 2005 at Pawley's Island. Below are notes from the week.

A woman in the seminar who had been a senior executive in a major corporation related a wonderful story. In her mid 30s, she had recently been hired as the Vice President of Planning. A male board member in his 80s came up to her at a reception and asked what she did with the company. "I'm the Vice President of Planning," she told him. "Dear, the azaleas are beautiful," he replied.

He thought she said the Vice President of Planting. This should be a word of caution to guys about the biases women face too often in having the same credibility as men.

I enjoyed hearing the story, because the woman who related it clearly enjoyed telling it. At a time of too much bitterness and hostility, it's nice when people can laugh at themselves and their circumstances.

Then walking along the beach early the next morning, it dawned on me what a wonderful job that would be - the Vice President of Planting - the person that plants things that bloom and become beautiful.

Reflecting further, it dawned on me that Hayne Hipp created the Liberty Fellowship to make Vice Presidents of Planting out of the fellows - people inspired to serve their community through leadership that empowers others to bloom and accomplish great things.

The Vice President of Planting. I like that. It's something we should all aspire to be.

Notes from Pawley's - Robert E. Lee's globalization dilemma

The third seminar of the Liberty Fellowship was the last week of September 2005 at Pawley's Island. Below are notes from the week.

Early in the week, we had a discussion about globalization and the loyalty of organizations to governments. For example, KEMET, Milliken, Michelin and BMW operate in a global environment. What loyalty do they owe to the US, France, or Germany - or China for that matter?

Later in the week a seminar moderator from California, who has done an outstanding job, was presented a SC flag that had flown over the state house. A discussion of SC history led to a discussion of the War Between the States and the right of states to succeed from the union. Our friend was adamant that it was very clear before the war that states had no such right to secede under the US constitution.

But the great debate of the first half of the 1800s was precisely over the supremacy of the federal government versus the states. South Carolina's greatest statesman, John C. Calhoun (no not Strom, though Strom may have met Calhoun as a child), argued fiercely that states had the right to nullify laws of the United States with which states disagreed.

Perhaps the greatest specific example of how uncertain it was to whom loyalties were owed was the dilemma faced by Robert E. Lee. His grandfather was General "Light Horse" Harry Lee, hero of the American Revolution. Robert E. Lee attended the United States Military Academy and graduated second in his class having received no demerits, which has not been accomplished again. This was a man for whom duty to God and Country was supreme in his life.

Lee’s world was in rapid transition, and it was very unclear to whom loyalties were owed. Given the choice between being loyal to the State of Virginia or being loyal to the United States of America, Robert E. Lee chose Virginia.

The world has changed so fundamentally since then, that Lee's choice is one we can not conceive of making today. Lee’s decision seems quaint and anachronistic. Our knee jerk reaction today is that KEMET and Milliken are American companies, and though operating in a global economy, they owe their loyalty to the United States. In a few decades will that loyalty seem as quaint and anachronistic, and quite frankly as misplaced, as Lee’s loyalty to Virginia?

My view is as long as it is the US government protecting us from incoming missiles, even those that may have KEMET capacitors in the nose cone, it is clear where our loyalty must lie.

But then it was clear to Robert E. Lee too.