Monday, May 25, 2009

PEACE TRADE Launched

1 comments
Until All Life is Valued

The supply chain of human consumption is polluted. From the dawn of industrial trade, oppression and degradation of all terrestrial life has characterized the extraction and exploitation of the earth, its people and its resources. Seeing land, air, and sea, and their respective bounty and inhabitants as utilities for asymmetric wealth control has led to thoughtless consumption and violent oppression.

In the face of this stain on humanity, courageous efforts have emerged to begin to address these concerns ranging from efforts to end slavery to the Fair Trade movement. These great campaigns and their energetic supporters have raised the level of awareness that passive participation in unjust and inhumane practices merely reinforces the tyranny of the incumbencies. And now, in the face of the global indictment of unchecked greed and consumption, humanity has an opportunity to turn over a new leaf. We are invited to manifest Peace Trade.

Essential to Peace Trade is a fundamental belief that an informed humanity, in the main, will choose wisely if given adequate visibility. In short, if one knows that slavery produced a cheaper product and fair wages were paid for a more expensive one, the value of human dignity will be accepted at greater cost. If one chooses between renewable, farmed timber versus clear-cut virgin forest, the choice will be for the renewable material. If the consumer electronics product contains metal extracted by despot warriors and its alternative comes from recycled metals, the recycled will prevail. And if water and air were contaminated in the preparation of one product and were respected in another, a premium would be acceptable. In short, the economics of expediency is supported on ignorance. A call center that degrades its workers versus one that provides meaningful life status improvement will be preferred by those seeking its service. Silver and gold would lose their luster if each coin was stained with the blood of those whose lives were lost in its minting.

The mechanics of Peace Trade involve the interaction between producer and consumer. To achieve “Pacific Certification”, the producer bears the responsibility to tell the story of the product or service purveyed. This can be achieved in a number of ways which have become infinitely accessible given the expansion of digital communication. However, in its final manifestation, the Peace Trade “Pacific Certified” designation is verified when the public can access knowledge about every step of the process required to produce the good or service consumed. While a series of community standards will emerge within the Peace Trade program, only a few are inextricable to participation:

I. Conflict Free – all materials must be sourced from places and people who willfully, and with consent, participate in the stewardship of their local resources.

II. Oppression Free – all extraction, processing and production must be conducted with the consent of persons who are free to choose their engagement and are not engaged under duress.

III. Ecological – all methods and utilities used in the extraction, processing, production, and logistics must evidence active steps to transition from polluting to clean methods and must show year-on-year evidence of such transition implementation. Further, the consumer must be affirmatively advised as to how to recycle every component of a Pacific Certified product.

IV. Reciprocal – all end products, processes and their use must be actively shared with all participants in the supply chain allowing those at the origination of resources to learn how to manufacture, distribute and sell the by-products of their labor thereby building knowledge capacity for subsequent endeavors.

One will note that the standards set forth above relate to human and environmental Vitality, Harmony, and Prosperity – the essential standards of the Peace Trade’s Pacific Certification.

In its inauguration, applicants for Peace Trade participation will be required to provide written and accompanying photographic documentation of the people engaged in every part of the production of the end product. This will include a photo essay of the sourcing of raw materials and the place from which they come; the refining and processing of such materials; the preparation and packaging of the materials; and the utilities involved in bringing the materials to market (including transportation, storage, and distribution). To achieve the designation of “Pacific Certification”, a representative from each part of the process will sign an affidavit of compliance and their signed affidavit will be made publicly available through the Peace Trade’s Pacific Certification Registry.

Peace Trade is meant to be self-sustaining and require no grant or donor support. As a result, a Peace Trade good or service will pay a licensing fee of 0.5% of the published retail price to use the Pacific Certification. These fees will be used to cover administration and audit costs and any excess will be invested in sourcing communities for the development of schools and community centers. It is envisioned that these schools and community centers will operate in partnership with the World Peace Festival’s Peace Cells initiative where education materials on the promotion of peace will be made accessible to communities around the world.

The inaugural corporation participating in pursuing the Peace Trade’s Pacific Certification is an organic farm in East New Britain, Papua New Guinea – Pacific Spices. In recognition of their courageous leadership and in light of the fact that Papua New Guinea has been the nexus of some of the most egregious violations of human and ecological dignity, the town of Rabaul, East New Britain, Papua New Guinea has been selected as the location for the Pacific Certification Registry. As the global headquarters for Peace Trade, it will commit to employing not less than 50% of its work force (at every level of administration) from the local community and shall serve as the location for the First Annual Meeting of Peace Trade participating companies.

Peace Trade has agreed to work in partnership with the World Peace Festival 2010 to assist in the process of certifying that every consumer product distributed at the Festival and event supplier achieves Pacific Certification on all products and services offered to the Festival. Fifty percent of the Pacific Certification license fee assessed to all vendors will be contributed to the World Peace Festival 2010 and will perpetuate past the Festival to support the Peace Cells initiative.

Peace Trade will operate with a board of twelve members elected from nominees submitted by participating member companies and organizations. Board members will serve for three year terms with one third replaced each year. Board members may serve up to two consecutive terms but shall be required at least one year furlough before being elected to a third term.

The management of Peace Trade shall include an Executive Director, Director of Accountability; and Controller. These positions will be appointed by the board and will serve at the pleasure of the board.

Inquiries regarding Peace Trade, Pacific Certification or any related matters may be directed to:
Dr. David E. Martin, Founder at dem@m-cam.com


___

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Launching the New Paradigm in Papua New Guinea

2 comments
Well, for a week or so, you won't see me comment about the U.S. economy and the fact that the Washington Post, just this morning, finally decided to run a front page story on pension illiquidity. Ironically, they were behind all the European media in getting that information out into the public.

No, today's a day to celebrate. Together with 4 brilliant interns, we're formally launching a program that puts the "Impact on Global Human Welfare" or IGHW - a performance reporting metric developed by M•CAM - at the core of a new value exchange system. In the province of East New Britain, Papua New Guinea, we will be activating the world's first Heritable Innovation Trust (http://www.m-cam.com/display_news?id=301). To follow this exciting and developing story, make sure you're tracking our activities at pngsummer.wordpress.com.

And, if something comes up while I'm in PNG or onward in Vietnam, you'll hear about it one way or another.

_

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Epitaph of Nationalization – Not It’s Inception

3 comments
Defenders of the free-market fa├žades which have permeated the economic zeitgeist of the past two decades lamented and lambasted the Obama Administration’s intrusion into the automotive heartland of America’s industrial ego. How could the government (please sneer here, a little gratuitous boo, hiss – thank you) dare usurp the likes of Chrysler and GM - these bastions of iconic industrial supremacy? Militant faux alarmists decried this latest intervention as “socialist” (you may wish to boo and hiss again here) and a threat to the very core of American enterprise.

However, watching this scene unfold from my euphemistic utopian armchair from which I philosophize, pontificate, prophesy and do other things which start with my alliterative “p”, I was struck with the irony that this act represents the end, not the beginning of nationalization. And, given the delightful complexity of economic implicit codependence, actually accelerates the transition that I’ve been discussing since 1997.

Indulge the following observations.

Nationalization of property. For the not-so-informed, a lien on something means that you don’t actually own something. In fact, the lien holder is the effective owner of whatever is financed. So when, in 1938, the Federal Government created Fannie Mae (as part of FDR’s New Deal) and Freddie Mac (1968), it established, under the public guise of home ownership, what amounted to the largest nationalization of residential property in US history. Ironically, many self-described conservative free market advocates actually saw this as liberation and failed to read the fine print in the lien provisions. The Bush Administration, in its post-9-11 rush to stimulate the economy further secured the effective lien-holder status of the federal government by liberalizing capacity for higher debt limits, lower loan to value ratios, and greater unsecured credit exposure.

Tax deferred investments. Fair and Balanced™ defenders of “Truth” and the “American Way” are delighted to know that the “free market” was made accessible to American investors through contrivances like the 1978 market ruse launching the 401(k) and other tax-deferred investment programs. Ironically, these programs actually served to support, through fee income, those who allegedly managed programs who, in good times or ill, collected fees while the American investor was precluded – at pain of accelerated taxation – from following his or her instinct to exit a market that was tanking. By nationalizing retirement savings (and through the current administration’s on-going unwillingness to declare a tax holiday to empower the American public) the government insured that all retirement monies would enjoy the management monopolies created by tax policy which benefited institutional cabals – not the public they were supposed to benefit. And I can’t resist the impulse to remind you that your pension is “guaranteed” by the illiquid PBGC!

Nationalization of small business and US employment. Since the 1942 establishment of the forerunner to the U.S. Small Business Administration (which few remember as the Small War Plants Corporation), the engine of jobs growth in America has been dominated by the Federal Government. Through preferential federal procurement (1953) to loan guarantees (1958) to the Reagan administration’s venture capital inducement in the form of the Limited Liability Corporation’s propagation together with considerable venture capital tax incentives, the government has been inextricably integral to the formation, preferential selection of winners and losers, and instigators of small business across the country.

Nationalization of education. Spend any time in institutions of higher learning and you’ll find that the business of education long ago became the business of the federal government. The “socialization” of research and development throughout this country enjoys a long, colorful history of linking academic research to federal funding in its most recent incarnation dating to the Stevenson-Wydler Technology Innovation Act of 1980. Make no mistake. If you want to succeed in the grant funding which leads to tenure in the research institutions of this country, you will pass through the federal government.

These are but a few of the ways in which the recent automotive (and not so forgotten nationalization of the banking and insurance sectors over the past 16 months) “takeover” by the government should not be seen as a novelty but rather as the concluding footnote to a history where the private sector has become intoxicated on entitlements which are so cunning that they are labeled by cacophonous economist and pundits as “free market”. It's not the "end of American enterprise", rather its the conclusion of a process which will add impetus for a new process to emerge.

President Obama has injected a much needed call to action into our economic haze by calling for a renewed productivity in America. If only he took the time to listen to the overlooked facts below, we’d be in a better position.

1. On green jobs – America made a hubris-filled mistake in the late 1970s and early 1980s. By liberalizing patent laws, the US Patent Office allowed thousands of patents on hydrogen vehicles, fuel cells, wind and water turbines, biomimetics, biochips, alternative fuels and all other “green” technologies. These illusory inventions were never put into commercial use and now the patents that would, in a traditional sense, support Obama’s green industry are expired and in the public domain. Major innovations in “green”, much to chagrin of this Administration and to the detriment of “green funds” are not the exclusive domain of the US. In fact, most of the cutting edge is off-shore. Readers should remember that the Chinese government’s mandatory technology transfer programs of the 1990s mean that many technologies alleged to be owned by US companies are already licensed to China. So, we not only have to invent the technology of the future but we also have to invent the corporate structure that uses the “open source” technology recycling paradigm that our past excesses now demand. Proprietary is out – Innovation Recycling is in.

2. On environmental infrastructure – No pension fund is fully insulated from the 20-30 year bonds which pay for our oil addiction, or massive power grid infrastructure (generation and distribution). Those who would advocate for the adoption of environmentally aligned power and utilities must first confront the reality that accelerating the obsolescence of bond financed utilities will also accelerate pension and entitlement illiquidity. Therefore, the challenge facing the “green” infrastructure community is to not only innovate solutions but innovate how to factor the innovation futures of said innovations to offset the bond defaults their adoption will trigger. And after we deal with the obsolescence in the short-term, we will need to innovate entirely new investment vehicles to pay for the more rapid cycling adoption of frequently improved green innovations.

3. It’s a interdependent world out there – I was struck by the fact that a significant volume of the wind turbines which spin their vast arms against the generous celestial gradients have, in their blades, balsa wood harvested from Papua New Guinea. Huge stands of these generous trees are lumbered and laminated to create the green generators. Isn’t it ironic that we’re killing trees to go green? Now I’m not suggesting that we cannot use natural resources but I am interested in calling for what I’ve referred to as “Peace Trade”. What Peace Trade (a concept that we developed to help promote conflict free component and raw materials for consumer products) does is put the human and environmental face (literally pictures of who and where all components came from) on end products so that the consumer sees the all-in cost of consumption. As we look to the industrial transformation of America, we should acknowledge our abuse of resources – promoted by John Maynard Keynes in The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money (1936) as being “basically free” – and realize that innovation in supply must be inextricably linked to innovation in industry.

We’re lucky. The end of one cycle is here. If we take the time to embrace the agnostic realities of the compromises we’ve directly and indirectly accepted and see that our way forward will involve centralized leadership – not from Washington D.C. but not at its exclusion either – we have a shot at some really cool futures. We can redefine what "Washington" means and what the "economy" means if we collectively engage in creative alternatives rather than lament our nostalgia over a past that really wasn't what we thought it was. So, let’s enjoy the sunset because a new day is just about to dawn.


__