The Power of One

June 21, 2024
Leyendecker Executive Search

Welcome to This Week’s Leyendecker View

Be less curious about people and more curious about ideas.
Marie Curie

THINKING OUT LOUD

The Power of One

A couple weeks ago, there was an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal that suggested Ford was kowtowing to the bureaucratic state that wants to eliminate carbon and the internal combustion engine.

Ford is supporting the EPA’s effort to reduce carbon emissions from internal combustion engines to the point that it would force automakers to make—and all of us to buy—electric vehicles. The WSJ Editorial Board spoke to how the bureaucratic state, with Ford’s support, intends to control our decision-making.

Why would Ford do this? Do they have an altruistic goal of saving the planet? Not likely. More likely is that Ford needs to defend and, eventually, recoup the billions of dollars it has already invested in EVs (that sell at a major loss). Should EVs not become the vehicle of “choice,” then Ford stands to lose a lot of money.

As a business owner, I am a natural libertarian. Most business owners are. We want the government out of our way. When the government gets in our way, we really feel it—in time-wasting red tape, the bottom line, or both.

We also want the government to be self-sufficient, just like we are forced to be. If we can’t make payroll or pay off our debts, then we are out of business and people are out of jobs. Ahhh, but that’s not how government thinks, or works. The government can always raise taxes and/or issue more debt, or create money from thin air.

I want the most efficient government, not an always-growing government. So when I saw this story of Ford acting as a cheerleader of government, it irritated me. I had to add my two cents in the op-ed’s comments section:

“Tell the Ford folks that after 3 F150s, 1 Mustang GT, 2 Explorers and 1 Escape, I will no longer be buying their products. I can’t buy from Government Motors either, so my money will now go to Japan.”

There it was, my rant, my frustration, my little opinion. Maybe some Ford consumer observer is responsible for reading comments to op-ed’s like this. Maybe they have an AI bot that reads and provides a general report on comments. (That certainly seems likely today.) Maybe another reader will read it and mention it to someone else.

No one in power, no billion-dollar company, cares about one little complainer, one little dissenter of a party line that represents their embedded self-interests. Right? Maybe in day’s past, but today is different. Today, thanks to the internet and social media, our one little thought can be read by hundreds, thousands, if not more. And in some cases, it can get amplified and garner real attention. Sometimes it can pressure companies or politicians to change course.

We live in a world where every single one of us has the power to express our opinion publicly. And if we think something is amiss at a company, in our city, in our state or in our federal government, we can make our perspectives heard.

Maybe you’re too shy to speak up. I understand. You don’t want to become the  target of an online mob or the cancellation cabal. You just want to lay low, live your life, stay above the online fray.

Many of us think the internet and social media are dominated by the intellectually inept, the narcissistic know it alls who think every thought that comes to mind is so brilliant it must be made known. Why would you waste your time or want to be affiliated with people screaming their every stupid thought online? 

Here’s why. The online conversation now has huge sway over the details of our daily lives. Again and again, we see corporations and governments kowtow to online mobs. And right now, the online conversation is dominated by people with the same handful of perspectives, all of which too often go unchallenged. What’s more, where will AI get its “truth”? From the internet.

That there is a silent majority is true. Before the internet, being silent bore little risk because there were so few channels through which to be heard, much less by large numbers of people. Speaking up and staying silent was more or less the same.

Today, from the computer in your pocket, you can join the ranks of those speaking up to counter the prevailing, unchallenged narratives that are having a disproportionate sway on policy and the culture. You can contribute to a greater diversity of perspectives that will feed AI’s large language models. You can let people know that not everyone thinks like them, that there are other opinions in the world. You can wield a little influence…perhaps even a big influence.

If you remain silent, that is your prerogative. But then perhaps you should not be despondent or complain if tyranny takes over our lives.

THE ECONOMIC VIEW

US budget deficit to approach $2T
Israel and Gaza aid push it up.

The state of the US consumer
McKinsey’s view.

Higher interest rates are good
Consumers earn money they can spend.

INFLATION, DEFLATION, OR BOTH?

Rent hikes on the horizon
This could complicate inflation outlook.

Inflation may be cooling.
But consumers are still unhappy
Pharmacy managers drive up drug costs

Lockheed’s F-35 jet costs balloon
Inflation here, inflation there.

THE LABOR VIEW

Managers are key to productivity.
But they may be burnt out

CEO pay is through the roof
But investors are voting in pay packages
Workers must not be investors.

The biggest AI job losers?
Finance workers, says Citibank

MEANWHILE IN EUROPE

The EU snubs Italy’s Meloni
What’s that saying about a woman scorned?
Austria also not happy with climate bill

Germany’s largest union wants more pay
Labor can’t keep up with inflation.

Europe must use more tariffs and subsidies
Says former Italian prime minister.

THE GLOBAL GAME

Birth rates in rich countries
Have hit a record low

Mexico’s outgoing president to fire judges
Are politicians smarter than judges?

India needs 100MM new homes
Go long on Indian construction supplies.

THE UKRAINE FIRE

Russian glide bombs
Are cheap, deadly and effective

Putin visits North Korea
He needs more munitions.
Kim to support Putin “unconditionally”
Russia seeks machine tools from China
Putin also courts Vietnam

Putin proposes his ceasefire terms
He’ll take some land now, some more later.

THE GAZA FIRE

Lebanon, the next frontline
The war with Iran is only starting.
“A war without limits,” says Hizbollah

Netanyahu dissolves war cabinet
And denounces military’s tactical pause

Gazans start to speak out against Hamas
Can the cult of terror be unwound?
Maybe Hamas can’t be destroyed

GEARING UP

Nuclear weapons programs grow
Time to bring back bomb drills?

We’re building the world’s best AI pilot
Suggests former Navy SEAL, now CEO.
Is the US Air Force irrelevant?

US gets ready for space war
How vulnerable are our satellites?

THE SLIPPERY SLOPE

Russia gaining global influence
Via their nuclear power capability

The US wants China to attack Taiwan
According to Xi.
Don’t you dare meet with the Dalai Lama

Russian fighter jet breaches Swedish airspace
Playing poker with the West.
Putin’s war machine built by our adversaries

FINANCE

A possible zombie apocalypse
Will it crush financial markets?

Younger people are better savers
Says Goldman Sachs.

Is PE set for consolidation?
Higher interest rates have changed the world.

US markets cruise through higher rates.
Three reasons why

REAL ESTATE

California has a middle-class problem.
They can’t afford to buy homes
Mortgage rates dip below 7%

The next crisis will be empty offices
Office buildings are losing value fast.

Only an extra $18K a year
Average costs of a home AFTER mortgage.

TECHNOLOGY

Japan’s TDK claims new solid state battery
A good start, but can it be scaled?

The technology backlash has begun.
More people embrace the physical world

Apple suspends work on VisionPro
VR is not gonna be mainstream.

THE CHAT ON AI

Nvidia is world’s most valuable company
AI, the newest bubble sector.

What is generative AI?
McKinsey lays it out.

AI is set to supercharge CRISPR
What new beings will we create?
Gene therapy fixes hearing
AI is so going to help health

OUR GOOD FRIEND, FAILURE

One company swaps DEI for MEI
Merit, excellence and intelligence.

California has lots of water.
But government won’t let farmers get it

Colorado cheered marijuana legalization.
Now people are buying less weed product

THE NEXT NORMAL

Watch out, NFF, NBA and MLB.
Cornhole is going pro

What do Gen Z and Millennials think?
Deloitte asked them.

The drone police are coming
Someone call Robocop.

THE WAR ON CARBON

The green road to tyranny
Are autocratic green demands our future?

Russia’s Gazprom tests hydraulic fracturing
China announces shale gas breakthrough
South Korea hunts for a new oil and gas basin
US shale production to grow for years

IES sees oil glut coming
How good is their math?

THE ENERGY TRANSITION

The world is getting uranium fever
Is a big nuclear energy build coming?

A US next-gen solar factory is coming
Plan is to complete it in two years.

Germany gets approval for gas-fired power
Back-up for the grid.
They’re falling far behind climate goals

THE EV DREAM—OR DELUSION

EV maker Fisker files for bankruptcy
The EV gold rush is over.

Toyota commits to smaller ICE engines
They’re not abandoning ICE for EVs.

Could sodium batteries replace lithium?
Be careful, lithium investors.

THE CHINA SYNDROME

Rich Chinese are leaving the country
Getting out while they can.

China home price slump accelerates
Factory output cools, retail spending firm

Europe puts big tariffs on China’s EVs.
China has a workaround plan
China preparing for trade war

THE WASHING-TONE

Trump and Hunter Biden should be pardoned
Says Clinton advisor, Lanny Davis.

Is our government American?
Or is it Soviet now?

Satisfaction with democracy keeps dropping
What’s our alternative?

THE ELECTION DISTRACTION

He’s an unhinged felon, says Biden
He’s an incompetent failure, says Trump

Biden to give illegals’ spouses protection
Every vote counts!

Why Republicans aren’t abandoning Trump
Democrats have politicized our justice system.

MAKING A BETTER YOU

The Good Life
Long-term study examines happiness.

A pessimistic view of the world
Can be the catalyst to a better tomorrow
And can even be authentically happy

The key to living longer and happier
Has little to do with your financial wealth.

HOW ABOUT A BREAK

Contemporary Art in Boston
Has added cliff diving

The sun is throwing a tantrum right now.
And doing so right on time

You now have a year to get in shape.
For next year’s cheese rolling competition

PLANNING VACATION?

5 good US urban beaches
If that’s your summer pleasure.

It’s summertime.
A good time to go skiing

Get yourself a hygge
Before the billionaires buy ‘em up.

MUSIC BOX

Ever been to the Seychelles?
Jamming with Inside Seychelles.

A great golden oldie…

Nat King Cole performs “Nature Boy”
Who wrote this song?
Some lyrics are pure poetry.

CASTING AROUND THE PODS

President Trump joins the All-In besties
All-In is the world’s 8th-largest podcast.

Fresh off two of the hosts’ San Francisco fundraiser
Is Silicon Valley shifting to the right?

VIDEOS OF THE WEEK

Jim Henson: Idea Man
Ron Howard shows us the magic man.

The new Twisters movie.
Oh boy, tornadoes and wind turbines!

The Beach Boys documentary
Summer was forever back then

FROM THE HEADHUNTER’S KITCHEN

The best mac & cheese
Is made with American cheese

How to make the ultimate baked potato
Fluffy potato, crispy skin, yum yum.

Lemon garlic linguine
Summertime yummy!

THE RANDOMS

A NYT article suggests that eating shrimp is bad for the environment. What exactly do humans do that is good for the environment?

Let’s not forget that interest rate cuts will come  because our economy is weakening.

When will Western governments’ climate change policies drive up energy costs so high that it causes economic decline? 

The IEA has predicted a staggering oil glut by 2030. Now, how many bureaucrats do we know who make accurate predictions?

Boys and girls, ladies and gentlemen, mothers and fathers, we are in a real war in the Middle East, with Iran’s proxies as the relentless offensive forces. The only real resolution to this conflict, which has been brewing for decades, is to cut the head off the snake. The longer it takes to do this, the more innocents will be killed. Iran needs to be told this can happen.

Companies and investors are hoping AI will significantly increase productivity of company operations, which means larger profits. Does this future speak to labor productivity or capital productivity?

Labor productivity generally increases wages, while capital productivity generally increases shareholder returns.

If AI allows companies to reduce their labor input relative to company output, then where are the wages going to come from that will increase company sales and profits?

What does it tell us if the only way our economy can maintain itself, much less grow, is if interest rates are cut? Or if our federal budget deficit has to keep rising?

The visible universe is about 94 billion light years in diameter. A light year equates to about 6 trillion miles. Don’t break your calculator on this math. But how fast is the universe expanding? It depends on your point of view.

This article suggests that women tend to be better physicians than men. Wait, wait, wait, wait, this is not a correct gender equality perspective, right?

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Garbage In, Garbage Out
June 14, 2024

The Innovation-War Cycle
June 7, 2024

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