“I have been under constant criticism for being too cautious in my reactions to events. This was deliberate. I have not jumped up and down on the Berlin Wall.”
— President George H. W. Bush
“He’s dumber than a rock… and lazy as hell.”
— President Trump’s Tweet on Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson
It was a much needed halftime break from the Circus when the Country took pause on Wednesday to honor and celebrate the remarkable life of the 41st President of the United States… George Herbert Walker Bush.
You couldn’t help but be a proud citizen of the United States of America, as leaders from around the World gathered and shared stories which highlighted the values, goodness, dignity and class of President Bush. We collectively put our chest out and held our chin up high because that’s what we believed being an American was… and he was OUR President.
One of the favorite things I read this week about President Bush was an article in the New York Times written by the comedian Dana Carvey where he wrote about the friendship he developed with President Bush following his loss to Bill Clinton in the 1992 election. Carvey did a hilarious but brutal imitation of President Bush throughout his Presidency, but President Bush called him up after he lost and asked him to perform at the White House to “cheer up the staff” (see the performance on YouTube here).
As bookends to a glorious middle of the week, on Tuesday our current President — the sell proclaimed “Tarriff Man” — had the CFO of Huawei arrested while he’s having dinner in Argentina with President Xi. And on Friday, 45 tweeted that our former Secretary of State is “dumb as a rock” and “lazy as hell”.
Given that investors hate uncertainty, it’s hardly shocking the Market dropped like a “rock” following a week of self inflicted wounds by the most powerful person in the World. Both NASDAQ and the S&P 500 were off approximately 4.5%, falling below their 200 day moving averages.
President Trump doesn’t have a monopoly on catalyzing chaos, as Theresa May in Great Britain has abundantly shown with Brexit follies. Ditto with President Emmanuel Macron in France and his execution of the “green tax” on gas.
What’s amazing is we are living in a time of abundance. As a society, we are healthier, wealthier and wiser but it’s not equal distributed. While more people than ever now have the opportunity for a comfortable life, today, half of the world still lives on less than $2.50 a day or less. Over 22,000 children die per day from starvation, 2,000 die daily from lack of access to clean water, and 1.6 billion people — a quarter of the World’s population — lacks access to electricity.
Last week, it was announced that 155,000 new jobs were created in the United States in November. The headline from the Wall Street Journal a few weeks back was “Job Openings Outnumbered Unemployed Americans” for the first time in modern history. But there is a mismatch between peoples skills and where jobs are available. And it’s only going to get worse with the impact of Artificial Intelligence. Yet, Artificial Intelligence is projected to add $15.7 trillion to the Global Economy by 2030.
Despite the incredible advancements in technology and unfathomable improvements through technology upgrades, people’s lives aren’t keeping pace and in fact, people’s happiness is falling.
A major cause of unhappiness and stress is from the anxiety tied to always being connected to our mobile device. Hyperconnectivity as a result of technology has been attributed to increased levels of anxiety, depression and stress. Time spent on mobile devices has gone from 20 minutes in 2008 to over three hours today. This is starting to have such a negative impact on society, that even kids are beginning to take notice. When a class of third graders from an elementary school in Boston was asked to design the perfect playground, their number one rule was “no cell phones”.
In the United States, suicide rates are up 30% over the past twenty years. Opioid deaths increased 45% to 75,000 casualties last year alone. That’s more than the number of people who died in traffic accidents. Add it up, and life expectancy for U.S. citizens actually fell last year.
As a direct reaction to this, the #1 class at both Harvard and Yale is on how to find happiness. It’s stunning that the best and brightest students are searching for more than how to become a “Captain of Industry” and actually want to find meaning to their lives.
As we head into this week, and soon a New Year, I think it would be healthy to stop and reflect on the Memorial Service last week in Washington D.C., and how we can all be “points of light” into a World that desperately needs it.