Monday, September 7, 2020

Finding a Path to Peace through Conflict Management-From Molotov Cocktails to Toasting Togetherness

Finding a path to peace requires us to keep our calm and use our conflict management skills. What I see in this video might be different than what other see. I see someone throwing a Molotov Cocktail and hitting other protesters. If that would have landed in the intended location that would have hurt a lot of officers. We have to start thinking about how we are going to use conflict management skills to open up the lines of communication and simmer angry sentiments. 

In the video we see the officer jump in to help the person put the fire out (appears that way to me). This is where training on how to protect people comes into play. Most officers have good intentions and a desire to help others. They are trained to help under stressful situations.

That doesn't mean we shouldn't start thinking about those reforms that appear to make the most sense and restores trust in the Justice System. 

People are going to talk and tell everyone their opinion. We can tell the genuineness  of that opinion based on whether it solves problems and draws people closer. Those who want to exploit this conflict will encourage people to engage in more radical behavior. That may be an unintended path to societal split if the right buttons are pushed at the wrong time by exploitative individuals.

We do need some type of policing in some manner so I'm not sure if we should be talking about banning police but maybe more akin to looking toward reform measures. That which pushes the justice department to go universal but at the same time further encourages police departments to be more effective. 

That won't happen unless we have dialogue. What should happen at this point is that we get people talking and reduce some end of the anger and hurt that comes from racial/religious inequality. We must have a path going forward and that can only come through finding commonalities. We need to talk to each other and listen.

We know we need police and we know we can reform aspects of the justice system that aren't as effective or transparent as it should be. I'm not sure what other options we have other than to work together and keep the focus on improvement and development. 

There are different types of models and theories as they relate to conflict management. You can learn a few about them from the Institute of Peace and Conflict. 

I would like to just discuss common sense. Most of the conflict has been over culture/image, resources, modes of thinking and potential fear of injury/loss. Thus, talking more about how police and protesters have similarities in helping and protecting people with inalienable human rights. Recognizing there have been mistakes and moving to correct areas where we can but being frank about things we cannot change (i.e. would make it difficult to protect the public). While most of the anger is directed at police there are four essential issues as I see them:

1. Lack of Accountability: Ensuring that there is some accountability with bad officers who need to be investigated and if necessary removed before they hurt people. Let's not allow the behavior of a few bad apples blemish the records of many. Build in more feedback loops, internal investigations, and connections to the communities. Promote officers with positive, pro social, and effective practices.

2. Systematic Racism: The justice system is made up of humans who unfortunately can be prone to bias and poor decision making that doesn't always reflect the highest standards of justice. Overstuffed courts that don't spend time looking at the facts. High power attorneys allow some to walk and sometimes and hit the poor harder. Small crimes from minorities (ethnic and religious) may be (one would have to look at the data)  may be treated than others. Research and open discussion can help here. 

3. Prison and Incarceration: We want to ensure that our prisons do not continue to be an expensive drain of national resources. We want people who are dangerous to go to prison and those who have done minor things to reform. Science is pushing our outer limits in space and our inner limits to how the brain works. Let us push the Justice system to accept science in reform and the ability to help people with mental health issues that can lead to a safer world without as many people going to incubative prison systems. 

3. Development of Full Capitalism: We have toward high participation within our economic system and government to create a full capitalistic system that is based on democratic principles. This means doing better to remove anything that limits a persons chances for individual and collective success based on merit alone. Other considerations outside of performance mean we are detracting from the ability of the system to grow and function fully. Psuedo-capitalism may be limiting our ability to overcome market challenges through innovative economic engagement base in biased practices. 

Thus, the fights between protesters and counter-protesters are a symptom of other essential issues that are being played out on the protest line. While many people from both sides understand some of the issues there are likely a lot of people that are going there to protest on partial knowledge and partial understanding. They are there for how they feel, their fears, what they value, and what they would like to see in their world. Taking a bigger picture and finding some safe place to discuss these issues for a stronger America is important in drawing them together.

I get it! I been on both sides of the isle. I understand the pain of the protesters and am upset when corruption and bias in policing damage people's lives and there is a lack of accountability. One the other side I know many of these officers are trying to do the right thing and feel that they are a target when this is what they have been trained for and taught how to do things. We must hold criminals accountable while pushing the system forward to its universal justice level. I fight for what I feel is right and I can say this is a tough one. We need a path forward!

A few ideas on how to reduce some of the conflict. 

1. Encourage our leaders to start talking about a path forward.

2. Don't sugar coat or bend around issues. Tackle them straight away.

3. Look for common ground and focus public discussion on that common ground. As we do this we may find our common ground growing.

4. Think about how to reform in a way that is cost effective, safe, and unbiased.

5. Don't de-legitimize...empower people to be better and solve problems

6. Build cognitive models on both sides by sharing information, knowledge, and perspectives that leads to understanding and mutual empathy. 

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Bi Partisanship Request to Congress for Fiscal State of Nation Resolution

Congressman Bergman from our Fist District participated in a letter addressed to Congress Speaker Pelosi and Leader McCarthy pushing for the Fiscal State of the Nation Resolution. First, "... the Fiscal State of the Nation resolution would increase the transparency of our fiscal situation by requiring GAO to present an annual report to Congress and the country detailing the fiscal health of the nation."(Peters, S. & Arrington, 2020). Creating new data metrics will ultimately impact change the way people think and thus opens a new pathway to disseminate knowledge.  

The letter outlines, "Second, we must create mechanisms to help Congress demonstrate greater accountability in navigating the decisions to restore our fiscal health and sustainability."(Peters, S. & Arrington, 2020). It goes on to elaborate, "Third, the federal debt is growing at an alarming pace". COVID is likely to make our fiscal situation worse unless economic activity speeds up enough over a the next 5 years to pay the "future hedging" bill due back. 

The letter is supporting something called the Fiscal State of the Nation Resolution in an effort to better gain control over our national debt.  They want to keep the budget and debt in the forefront of conversation as the pandemic recedes. The goal is to put mechanisms in place such as budget reporting and debt-to-GDP targets that may help curb future spending and guide budgeting decisions.

What is the Fiscal State of the Nation Resolution?

You can read more about the Fiscal State of the National Resolution on the government site (H. CON. RES. 68., 2019) Its mission states, "Providing for a joint hearing of the Committees on the Budget of the House of Representatives and the Senate to receive a presentation from the Comptroller General of the United States regarding the audited financial statement of the executive branch."

The type of information the report provides, and how it is interpreted, will be important consideration of what conclusions people draw from the audit. Too much information creates confusion while too little can mask serious problems. If the goal is to understand how money is being spent they should think about offering researcher opportunities to review areas of concerns and make recommendations on how to cost save and maintain/improve effectiveness. 

Looking at the branch level provides very detailed and expensive review that will cost money and labor power so we have to make sure the benefits are likely to produce benefits. I'm not an expert on government functioning but I suspect operational aspects are choices made at the departmental/local level. Executives and decision makers don't typically go down to detail unless they find there are spending concerns and adjustments that would lead to increased performance. Most of the time aggregate information is used and that leaves out micro changes that support macro performance.

The document also states that within 45 days of the submission of an audit they will also present findings such as,"... in the report accompanying such audited financial statement, an analysis of the financial position and condition of the Federal Government, including financial measures (such as the net operating cost, income, budget deficits, or budget surpluses) and sustainability measures (such as the long-term fiscal projection or social insurance projection) described in such report".

Any time someone looks to add more statistics and metrics we have to consider the benefits that the information provides for decision makers. Adding data complexity that leads to information overload is not a great idea unless that information is expected to create advantage. Yet, if the proposal has some benefit in changing the way we think and creating more transparency of national problems makes it then makes sense to incorporate new ways of looking at an old problem.  

Information spurs thinking among actively and engaged members of Congress and the academic community. New transparent reporting helps ensure money is being spent appropriately and in the best interest of tax payers. High vantage point numbers can also provide a better overview of what is happening on the debt/revenue front and places people can look for cost savings (You can assign dollar amounts/quantitative value to non-chargeable services). At the Congress level the discussions will focus on macro principles that will impact programs. 

Our debt problems won't just magically disappear unless we balance the budget and change how we view government. We often think of government as having unending strength and financial ability that can muscle through problems. Much of our market position and financial capital is because people trust the money and way in which business is conducted. Running a consistent debt means we are not efficient  and/or effective in our government functions and will ultimately lead to some consequence and market correction (slow or fast) in the future. 

We are fiscally responsible when we are able to do more with less which comes through renewed focus on how money is spent and its ultimate impact. Within our budgets we would be forced to think about the cost of inefficiency and the best uses of government money to help others. When I say that, I don't mean an excuse to cut necessary programs in a mad dash to cute, cut, cut! Instead, I would think more long-term about how big data can lead us to higher systems thinking that ends up in more accurate program evaluative measures.

There may also be times when the financial considerations are less important than the moral principle and money doesn't matter.  There will need to be a way to factor in our moral principles into our decision making matrix. I'm sure the economists have a term for moral principles that can be used in calculations. In this case, we prescribe a value based on factors such as cost, environmental impact, people helped, etc... One would have to design the measurement and people would have to agree with it (Good luck!).  The point is not where we choose to spend our money but what overriding policy/methodology are we going to maintain and whether or not we will work toward financial security (or alternative workable policy). 

I think in this case the new information makes sense and provides more benefits than detractors. If officials feel they have too much information they may need to either cut back on data in places where it isn't as important and/or no longer used and add new metrics for new national challenges. The new information adds to people starting to think about fiscal management and provide some meaning for decision making. With new metrics comes new ways of thinking that can lead solution finding. Its one of those issues we can't ignore forever with looming budget issues from COVID. 

H. CON. RES. 68 (September 26th, 2019).  H.Con.Res.68 — 116th Congress (2019-2020). Retrieved 

Peters, S. & Arrington, J. (June 1, 2020) Letter to Congress on Fiscal State of the Nation Resolution. Retrieved from...

Saturday, September 5, 2020

President Trump White House Press Release September 4th, 2020

The President discussed some of the achievements of his administration and some good news on the economy. We have been hit but with an improvement in the economic landscape we can help a lot of people improve their lives and strengthen their country through the sheer will of people who wanting to return back to work and engage in the economy. This is one of the reasons why I support economic development, especially locally based clusters, to help communities of different backgrounds to grow and develop.

The unemployment rate is improving and we restored about half of the jobs that were lost. Having broad based improvements often means it is hitting a wide group of people versus being focused in individual sectors or demographics. One way to look at this as well is to review increases in minority communities to see how the recovery is impact people of different backgrounds. We have entered the world of big data and how it can help us understand our environment. 

Economic development can bring improvement and strength organically through local strengths when we focus on SME development in areas where existing networks can be enhanced (clusters) to realign communities to the global market by finding their niche from the ground level from the entrepreneurs that need access to capital. 

Measuring Economic Uncertainty Using the News

 Its interesting that a big data study focuses on creating a better understanding of uncertainty by institution. When we look at different sources of data and then add up that data we can gain an idea of what things look like from a historical standpoint. That also leads to greater knowledge. Using the news to calculate index information is not a bad idea. Its not a new idea but it is certainly possible to see how new articles and language can tell us much about animal spirits and human investing behaviors. 

Friday, September 4, 2020

New Jobs-Improving Economy?

(Cox, 2020)
Good news for jobs as the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its September 4th 2020 Employment Situation Summary. According to the report, "August, the unemployment rate declined by 1.8 percentage points to 8.4 percent, and the number of unemployed persons fell by 2.8 million to 13.6 million." (BLS, 2020). This means we are moving in the right direction and hopeful the 3rd and 4th Q will bring us to par of previous economic levels and then see real growth next year as life continues. 

What Type of Jobs Are Growing?

"Notable job gains also occurred in retail trade, in professional and business services, in leisure and hospitality, and in education and health services." It would seem like people are starting to spend and enjoy life. I wonder if education and health services are filling a new demand. I guess you would have to look into each to determine how they define their categories. Retail trade means people are buying and it likely paired with some leisure activity as people feel they want to get back to being "normal" again. Professional and Business Services could also be positive if it means companies are adapting and investing in their internal infrastructure. 

What is the Demographic Breakdown?

"adult men (8.0 percent), adult women (8.4 percent), teenagers (16.1 percent), Whites (7.3 percent), Blacks (13.0 percent), and Hispanics (10.5 percent). The jobless rate for Asians (10.7 percent) changed little over the month." We can still see the disparities between Blacks and Whites. It would be nice if we someday move forward together and get everyone on the same level in a true Capitalistic fashion that earning is based on you and your abilities and not any false characteristic. How we do that in a way that most people can buy into is a whole different story. Personally, I would like to see us universalize our perceptions of each other so that these things are not so important influences in our lives. People are judged on their own merits.

BLS. (September 4, 2020) Employment Situation Summary. Retrieved September 4th, 2020 from

Cox, J. (September 4th, 2020). 'Payrolls increase by nearly 1.4 million as the unemployment rate tumbles'. CNBC. Retrieved September 4th, 2020

SME Look Toward Gamification-Its Potential Impact on Business Education

 Gamification is one way in which to train employees using an online environment. Traditional training can get a little boring and the use of games to help solidify concepts can be very helpful for people who need to find practical use for the information they have. It would be difficult to learn some of the concepts by games alone but games can be used at different points within the learning process to solidify knowledge into a practical solution. 

Let's say you have a group of employees and they are studying concepts but are having a difficult time understanding how to use those tools practically. Using games can help them see the application of certain ideas by forcing them to use it to move onto the next stage. It can be pretty difficult fake your way if you must display them in the game. 

According to a study of the managers from 58 SMEs the biggest motivators for the use of Game Based Learning (GBL) were teaching participative management and decision making (Sugahara, 2018). That makes sense since GBL seems to help people make decisions to pass different tests and levels. If they are designed well they may also be implicit type learning going on. 

Gamification is something I think will continue to be explored and will likely be of bigger interest in the future. One could use the classroom to teach the fundamentals and then the game to fuse them into a useful framework and apply them to a problem. These systems might work at the end of classes or modules. You can seem how this can move beyond training and into business schools. 

Sugahara, S. (2018). Motivation to Adopt Game-Based Learning (Gbl) for Employee Training and Development: A Case Study. Journal of Entrepreneurship Education21(4).

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Governor Whitmer Opens Gyms, Pools and Organized Sports

Gyms, Pools and organized sports can now reopen. That will likely make some people happy who feel they were missing out this year. I also know a lot of people that have been waiting to go back to the gym. So far I'm unaware if gyms have been a primary source of disease spreading. So with that being said, they are now able to open as long as they follow strict rules. 

The order says, "Gyms must require wearing of masks at all times, including times of exercise, configure workout stations or implement protocols to enable six feet of distance between individuals during exercise sessions, reduce class sizes to enable at least six feet of separation between individuals, provide equipment-cleaning products throughout the gym, and more (EO. 2020-176 , 2020).

Some of the language, as it relates to organized sports, provides for a "recommendation". That means they are not saying no but indicating it is not a preferred approach to have organized sports. There are also some limitations on how may people are to attend these sporting events (i.e. 2 per athlete). 

"The document recommends against contact sports at this time, defined to mean those sports involving more than occasional and fleeting contact, including football, basketball, and soccer."

This year will likely be more subdued in terms of sports, maybe not when Covid first hit, but not everything will be open as "normal".  I haven't been to the gym as much as I like because its spotty open doors during COVID. It opens and closes and when people are in a routine they keep on going every day. When the routine gets messed up you have to find other ways to deal with it. So I been working on home workouts. I understand the need for precaution.

Gov. Whitmer reopens Michigan gyms and pools, allows organized sports to resume. (Steptember 3rd, 2020). Click on Detroit. {You Tube}

Republicans Switch Candidate for Wayne State University Board Candidates-What do they do?

The Republican Party of Michigan removed one of its candidates to Wayne State University Board of Governors and sought to make a decision quickly on the next candidate. Diana Dunaskiss was disqualified because of an unpaid 1K campaign finance penalty in 2018 (Mauger, September 3rd, 2020). She will be replaced in an emergency meeting with Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land. 

I don't tell my students they can use Wikipedia at the graduate level but honestly....they have some good stuff on their site. I quickly looked around and this seemed to have a fairly comprehensive profile. You can learn more about her HERE

The current Wayne State Board you can find HERE. I guess these would be some of the most influential positions in higher education in the state. Likely, why there is so much interest by multiple candidates to get a spot here. 

There are 8 members of the board and they are elected from the members of the state. Their terms are 8 years without pay except expenses. Vacancies that occur over the 8 years have the empty slot filled by the Governor. Its an important position because the board selects the President of the University, controls finance, compensation, etc... They manage the high level policy setting for the university. 

Those aren't the only reasons why they are important. The decisions board members make are not in isolation and impact other policies within the state and within other universities. Thus, they are 

Mauger, C. (September 3rd, 2020). Michigan GOP nominee for Wayne State board disqualified over unpaid fee. The Detroit News. Retrieved September 3rd, 2020

Technology Stocks are Good? Tech Investments a Sign of Adaptation

 Tech stocks are considered a good investment right now. I have viewed these stocks more risky in the past. While the economy is functioning a little slower than in the past certain stocks are doing well. Lately I have been getting into the stock market for my research (How to attract investments to new clusters?" and for my personal reasons. I have this belief that  3Q and 4Q are going to be upward trajectory and that early next year we will have a slightly stronger economy than we have today as more companies adapt to higher knowledge based virtual work. Investments in technologies would to improve business functioning at an increased virtual labor market. That in turn would result in a bigger bump in the market 2-3 years from now (depending on development and adaptation time). That would mean there would be more money being invested into technologies now. This trend sort of fits that idea. I would like to see how long tech stocks attract market interests. If I had investment money I would think along the lines of investments in new technologies that impact entire organization functioning such as data storage, data protection, virtual platforms, etc...

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Governor Whitmer 09-03-20 COVID Update and Huntington Bank $5 Billion Minority Investment

Good new for Michigan small businesses as a Huntington Bank launches $5 billion in small business investments focused on female, veteran and minority owned businesses. You will want to read "Huntington Bank launches $5 billion lending initiative in Michigan" to gain more information on the details. Overall it seems like a pretty good philanthropic thing to do. Investments do lead to rejuvenated neighborhoods and increased profits by tapping people's natural desires to strive.

Who says money can't make a big difference? The desire to investor or not invest in neighborhoods and communities can make a big difference. I see a lot of communities that are ripe for investment but never put together the right strategy for connecting to broader markets. Offering community based lending is one way in which Huntington Bank can help a community. 

As a side note, I would personally like them to advocate a little for product creation that sells to the global market and enhances local manufacturing infrastructure. 

Financing small business through low interest loans focused on building clusters of small businesses that have the most chance to succeed can be an amazing boost for the state. Small business is what brings back our neighborhoods but also increases short and long term development of business within the state.

Small business often struggles with access to capital (i.e. loans) that can work with them and the nature of a new business start-up. That represents increased risk with possible higher rewards for investing in this sector. Making a commitment to developing small business means accepting increased risk for a social improvement program.

Money does make things happen and can be a useful tool for our communities. I would still like to see small business loans to improve Escanaba's small downtown district which has great potential for tourism and tourist related micro manufacturing. Matching that with a shipping/distribution center that services regional industries and you have enhanced an export oriented tourist cluster.

You will want to read their September 1st, 2020 Press Release of Huntington Announces $20 Billion "Community Plan to Help BoostEconomic Opportunity Throughout its Seven-state Footprint