April 1993 - Volume 12, Issue 4

Gridlock continues!

The Clinton Morass - Maybe Perot was correct! Experience gained in being Governor of Arkansas is not important for a future President.

When the Clinton administration began, several major mistakes were made including

And I could go on.

Today, we have a President in the White House who is unwilling to stake out a position and stand behind it if the polls go against him. It begins to look like Clinton is a follower and not a leader to the people as he is constantly changing his position on issues to reflect the latest poll or lobbyist position.

Leaders must lead ... they can't be led by polls!

Leaders must define their positions, set objectives clearly, inform their troops of the plan and require them to implement the plan. The Clinton administration for all its ideas and Rhodes scholars holding positions reflect the problems of most academics. They have not had to make a payroll or put into practice their theories and see them directly affect lives. They could be insulated in the Ivy Halls of learning to consider Utopia.

I've got a News Flash for the Clinton administration .... The world won't let you wait and life is not fair. In business, we just try to do the best we can with the resources available. Its about time the Clinton administration did the same. Time is running out!

Last week, I received as did many others a fax that said...

Impeach Clinton. Another President has lied to us!

The Real Strength of the United States

At the moment, the US is perceived as the last bastion of the free enterprise system by the rest of the world's capitalists. West European fortunes, Middle East investments, Hong Kong and Taiwanese industrialists have all moved large sums of money to the US in the past decade. They have invested in land, real estate, and equities.

A major reason has been to protect capital and in many cases, to have a legitimate reason to come to the US if a political upheaval occurs in their country.

Whether the US will remain a capitalistic society into the 21st century seems problematical to me with the huge federal and state debt, and the failure of the banking and savings and loan systems. But to foreigners, the US is still the best alternative for people with capital with Canada, Singapore, New Zealand and Australia a close second.

The Dollar dilemma

Thus, the dilemma .. Why is the dollar going down against other currencies if we have enjoyed the largest capital inflows from foreign sources during the past 40 years of any period in history? Is the decline real or artificial.? And when will the dollar strengthen?

During the past several months, I have discussed with manufacturer's their problems in exporting to Japan. In almost every case, their frustration was apparent and caused by the "artificial" restraints placed by the distribution and cultural attitudes of the Japanese system. If the US placed the same barriers on Japanese imports, i.e., trade licenses, quota's, inspections, the necessity to deal with a trading company, the costs of Japanese imported products would rise substantially.

American generosity has been used, and abused, by many countries who regard this part of our cultural makeup as a weakness to be exploited. However, self-preservation, be it individual or societal, is the strongest need. There are encouraging signs that the domestic political pendulum is swinging away from being all things to all people towards doing those that are absolutely necessary.

Can we afford the Clinton programs?

The mood of the country would seem to be that tax reduction, job and financial security, reduction of inflation, and a reduction in social welfare programs are important. The American populace is beginning to ask ... can we afford this?

In fact, there seems to be a rising tide of vocal opinion that wants no new taxes, increased spending cuts across the board.

NAFTA treaty in trouble!

During my years of travel abroad I saw changes in the mood of American business and the political climate. These changes have major implications for the future of trade between the countries involved. Not only will trade between Japan and the U.S. be impacted but the future of NAFTA could be seriously in jeopardy.

Over the years, the US has been the leading proponent of "free trade between nations." One result of this attitude has been to eliminate barriers and quota's unilaterally in the hopes of getting other nations to respond. In many cases, imports to the US increased while barriers to exports from the US remained. In some cases, the result was a decline or failure of the American manufacturing capability, i.e., shoes, apparel, TV's, and consumer electronics.

If we look at the products which account for the bulk of American exports over the past decade, the striking feature is that most occur in field where American business has a decided competitive edge, i.e., aircraft, high-technology weapons, agriculture, and chemical plants. In fields where we exported the machinery to build new plants overseas, it should come as no surprise to anyone that the older technology American factory with its higher direct labor costs can not compete effectively.

Of course, the soothsayers will point out that American productivity is the highest on record. But look more closely at the figures, and the accomplishment is achieved by reducing the high paying jobs and downsizing corporate staffs. The end result is the continued destruction of the once dominant American manufacturing complex.

Many years ago, I disagreed with some of my peers who thought that we could stay on top by moving to a service industry comment. My response was and is ... Whom are you going to serve? Americans are not generally bilingual, and my experience is that in foreign companies which manufacture wealth the employees in charge tend to be nationals of those foreign-owned companies.

But then - - 'Tis Only My Opinion!

Fred Richards
April 1993

This issue of 'Tis Only My Opinion was copyrighted by A. R. Associates in April 1993.

It is intended to provoke thinking, then dialogue among its readers. Quotation with attribution is encouraged.

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