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  • Archive for the 'America 3.0' Category

    History Friday: Joseph Conrad and the Impact of European Culture and Technology

    Posted by Lexington Green on 25th September 2015 (All posts by )

    young conrad

    I have in recent years been reading the work of Joseph Conrad. I spent many years believing the best writers in English were George Orwell, Evelyn Waugh, with Leo Tolstoy in translation as a titan and peer. Then all of a sudden, in the last five or years I discovered that Ernest Hemingway is a near peer, and that V.S. Naipaul is every bit the equal of these great ones. And through Naipaul, I met Conrad, who also merits admission to this august company.

    Naipaul and Conrad both have as a main theme the encounter, the clash, between European civilization and the peoples and ways of Asia and Africa. Conrad depicts the European imperial and commercial expansion near its peak, and while it is still confident and expanding. Naipaul depicts the world after the European domination has receded, like an outgoing tsunami, which has left a transformed landscape behind.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in America 3.0, Anglosphere, Arts & Letters, Book Notes, Civil Society, Culture, History, Human Behavior | 48 Comments »

    John Hornick on 3D Printing, and some related comments about America 3.0

    Posted by Lexington Green on 21st September 2015 (All posts by )


    [Note: I am not personally or professionally acquainted with Mr. Hornick. He is in no way associated with any opinions I may have, or proposals I have made. He is not affiliated in any way with the America 3.0 Institute.]

    We wrote America 3.0 in 2012, mostly, and it was published in 2013. In the book we present a picture of America in 2040. We predict the demise of the industrial-era political and economic order, which is visibly failing today, and the rise of a new set of institutional arrangements for the country. A big part of this change is the development of several important new technologies which will undermine the existing order, and democratize the economy in radical ways.

    We focused on 3D printing, driverless cars, cheap desalination and personalized health care and medication. We were not trying to write a comprehensive book about future technology. Rather, our goal was to indicate the scale of the changes in technology which were coming, and the disruptive impact they would have. If we were to write it now, we would have said more about robotics, drones, and blockchains, for example. Nonetheless, the general trend of things is as we predicted. And as we suspected, things are moving much faster, and the world will be even more different by 2040 than we rather conservatively predicted.

    I recently ran across some outstanding videos by John Hornick, an intellectual property attorney at the Finnegan firm in DC. His Twitter is here. Mr. Hornick is an expert on the law and the technology of 3D printing. I have spent a few hours immersed in his videos.

    Mr. Hornick has a video, entitled “3D Printing State of the Art: Industrial” from May of 2015 which gets into detail about the current state of the art in 3D printing. It is a good primer if you are interested in the field. His deep knowledge as well as his enthusiasm make for a compelling presentation of a highly technical subject.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in America 3.0, Tech | 33 Comments »

    Mike Lotus on Against the Current with Dan Proft

    Posted by Lexington Green on 14th September 2015 (All posts by )

    Proft III

    Dan Proft, shown above, Chicago’s best conservative talk radio host recently interviewed me for his video podcast series, Against the Current, which is part of a larger initiative called Upstream Ideas. I listened to Dan’s earlier conversations with Vicente Serrano, and John Kass, both of which were good.

    I enjoyed the conversation with Dan, which focused on the book I co-authored, America 3.0: Rebooting American Prosperity in the 21st Century—-Why America’s Greatest Days Are Yet to Come. We touched on the larger theme of Conservative pessimism, and the need to have a future vision to inspire us and to be working toward. We also teased out the fact that a better future is not in any way inevitable, but it is achievable only if the people who want it make it happen. Our Progressive fellow citizens never forget this. We shouldn’t either.

    Dan at one point jokingly said, I paraphrase: Can’t you just leave the Conservatives alone, and let them enjoy their hopelessness in peace?


    We will all have a lot we need to do in the years ahead. Great days for America are coming, whatever the intervening trials. So, be happy.

    It is always a pleasure to speak to Dan Proft, and I hope you will listen and find the conversation interesting as well.

    Posted in America 3.0, Book Notes, Video | 9 Comments »

    “The Courage of a Reformer”

    Posted by Lexington Green on 27th July 2015 (All posts by )

    I recently had a guest post entitled The Courage of a Reformer at the blog of the Illinois Opportunity Project. My post was in responses to an earlier post by Matt Besler of IOP about Illinois State Rep. Jeanne Ives.

    My post included this passage:

    the Goal

    This highlights an under-appreciated reality. You do not just need candidates with good values and good ideas. You do not just need candidates who can also win elections. You need these candidates to stay true to their commitments, which will impose a personal cost, once they are in office.

    In our book, America 3.0: Rebooting American Prosperity in the 21st Century–—Why America’’s Greatest Days Are Yet to Come, we discuss the decline and dissolution of the economic and political institutions of industrial-era America, which we call America 2.0. We describe a different and better America 3.0 which we expect and hope will replace it. But as we make clear, this process will not be pleasant. The transition from agricultural to industrial America was hard. The change to a world dominated by emerging technology, post-industrial, networked America 3.0, will be every bit as hard, and will happen much faster.

    Illinois is a specific case, and an especially difficult one, of the transition from America 2.0 to America 3.0. The Establishment here, consisting of politicians from both parties, is referred to without affection as The Combine. Despite the state’s many inherent strengths, The Combine has “governed” Illinois the verge of ruin. Illinois is the worst-run state in the nation.

    America 3.0 is a long book, and we could not put everything into it.

    One topic which we hope to write about more in the future is the steps that will have to be taken to make the transition. We got into some of this in the later chapters of the book, but there is a lot more that needs to researched and developed.

    One area which we barely touched on, but which is critically important, is the personal character which will be called for from a generation which will in effect be a new “founding generation.” The old order will have many defenders, many of them with good motivations, many with not-so-good motives. There will be unrelenting efforts to prop up the world everyone is used to, and to crush any person, group or business trying to make serious innovations and necessary reforms.

    As I said in my IOP post:

    To really matter, to really do something, to really change the direction of our state, means that there will be hardship, rejection, unpopularity, vilification, rejection of material benefits, making people mad by refusing to do what “everybody does,” attacks by the people who benefit from the status quo, not many pats on the back, and incomprehension even from good people.
    The committed reformer has to be willing to go up against all that.
    What is the reformer’s motivation, then?
    If it is not money, prestige, popularity, an easy life, what is it?
    Faith is part of it. Patriotism is part of it. Moral principles are part of it. A sense of duty is part of it. Gratitude for what we have been given is part of it. A commitment to a better future for ourselves, our families, and our children is part of it.
    A hopeful vision of how things could be, should be, must be, will be better if we change course in Illinois, that is also part of it.

    Substitute “America” for “Illinois” and it still works.

    This challenge is going to require a lot of effort, from a lot of people. We need to be realists about that. But we must not be cynical. With a hopeful and realistic picture of the future to inspire us, there will be enough people, enough talent, enough drive, enough fortitude, to build America 3.0.

    We plan to say much more about this.

    Stand by … .

    Posted in America 3.0, Book Notes, Illinois Politics | 3 Comments »

    Quote of the Day from Jeff Carter

    Posted by Lexington Green on 21st July 2015 (All posts by )

    Screen Shot 2015-07-19 at 9.42.17 AM

    Quote of the day, from Jeff Carter’s Points and Figures blog, a post entitled “Disrupting Government”:

    Tech initially toppled major corporations. Motorola and Kodak are shells of themselves. Now, technology has the opportunity to eliminate wide swaths of government and all the cronies, cartels, employees and economic imbalances that come with them. As a society, we shouldn’t fight that. We should embrace it. Automation of government will make things cheaper for taxpayers. Elimination of old fashioned out of step government will make things better for society.


    Jeff wrote very favorably about America 3.0.

    And the “Disrupting Government” post is a very “America 3.0” view of the future, which I heartily share and endorse.

    But that is not the only reason I like his stuff. Jeff is a former floor trader, angel investor involved in the start-up scene in Chicago, and all around astute, sensible and articulate observer of politics, business and the economy.

    A few other good recent posts from Jeff include:

    Dodd Frank; Total Fail,

    Hillary Skewers the Gig Economy,

    Greece and Traditional Hierarchy,

    The Third Wave, and

    History Doesn’t Repeat Itself, But Echoes, which said, among other insightful things, “I encourage you to read a book, America 3.0. It charts a realistic way forward given the kind of government we have, and the history our country has had.”

    Be sure to drop by Points and Figures frequently.

    And don’t just take it from me.

    Instapundit frequently links to Jeff’s blog, because it is just that good.

    Posted in America 3.0, Book Notes, Economics & Finance | 4 Comments »

    Big shout-out from Glenn Reynolds for America 3.0

    Posted by Lexington Green on 19th July 2015 (All posts by )

    Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 6.13.29 AM

    Huge thank you to Glenn Reynolds, a/k/a (of course) as Instapundit.

    Glenn had a short post up today that said:

    ARE YOU A CAMPAIGN POLICY ANALYST OR SPEECHWRITER? Then you need to read Jim Bennett & Michael Lotus’s America 3.0: Rebooting American Prosperity in the 21st Century: —Why America’’s Greatest Days Are Yet to Come.
    Trust me on this. You’ll be glad you did.

    And of course we heartily agree that all of the campaigns should heed our sage analysis, policy proposals, historical acumen, and hopeful vision of America’s future!

    There are times of big changes. It is time to think big The problems we face are big. And the opportunities coming our way for a better America are even bigger.

    Glenn wrote the introduction to America 3.0, and his own writing is highly congruent with ours.

    For example, we strongly commend Glenn’s new book The Education Apocalypse: How It Happened and How to Survive It. Note the — literally — apocalyptic title. Many people are drawn to the idea that the world is ending. But the title is a little out of sync with Glenn’s message, which not only talk about the problems of education, but some of the great opportunities for positive change which are within our grasp.

    We need more of that kind of thinking. The current politico-economic regime is indeed coming to an end. Hopefully that end will not be too apocalyptic. (As an aside, can there be degrees of … apocalypticness?) We need to be thinking about getting through the transition and laying the foundation for the better America to come.

    The next administration will be a critical one, with many hazards, and many important opportunities.

    And for those who have not yet read America 3.0, you may enjoy this podcast interview which serves as a good, short summary of the book.

    Posted in America 3.0, Book Notes | 1 Comment »

    Bennett, Hannan, Howard to Speak at Magna Carta Event, LA

    Posted by leifsmith on 13th June 2015 (All posts by )

    Looks like a good, and important, conference. Starts tomorrow.

    “Among the 15 speakers are included Hon. John Howard, AC former prime minister of Australia, Hon. Rodney Hide, former New Zealand Minister of Local Government, Associate Minister of Commerce and Minister of Regulatory Reform; Hon. Daniel Hannan, UK Member of the European Parliament, representing South East England for the Conservative Party and internationally renown author James C. Bennett, entrepreneur and author of The Anglosphere Challenge (2007) and America 3.0: Rebooting American Prosperity in the 21st Century (2013). “

    Posted in America 3.0, Anglosphere, Britain, Civil Society, Political Philosophy | 2 Comments »

    Pep Talk

    Posted by Lexington Green on 9th June 2015 (All posts by )

    US Flag

    One of my Conservative activist friends was getting depressed, so I rattled off the following. (I hope I am right.)


    Reagan used to tell jokes about how Communism didn’t work. Reagan understood that stupidity ultimately destroys itself. All the people around him assumed the evil would last forever. Hardcore Conservatives, like me, thought he was naive. Turns out we were naive. The modern welfare state really got started in the 1960s. It lasted about two generations and it is totally dysfunctional. The first Conservative movement gave us Reagan, who did some good but did not reverse the trends. The new reform movement has barely gotten started. But this movement looks to be broader and deeper than the first Conservative movement. The Tea Party started around the turn of the year 2008/09. That is 5.5 years. Major reform movements usually take a generation to start winning lots of elections. The GOP has just taken over more elected offices than any time since the 1920s, and the reformers are driving it, and the RINOs have to at least talk the talk or they can’t get elected. We are moving along very well. We are in the process of taking over the GOP, and in the process of taking over the government. I thought Obamacare would be embedded and unmovable by now, and it would take us decades to dismantle it. It may go much better and quicker than that. People on the Right have lots of competing ideas of what to do. The internal conflicts are a sign of vitality. The Democrats have NO IDEAS. Zero. All they do is attack and lie and say their opponents are racists. That’s it. That is all the cards they are holding. They nakedly abuse power to insulate themselves. They cannot tell the truth about who they are or what they want to do or they will lose. They are like the Soviet Communists under Brezhnev. Hillary even looks like an old, corrupt, smug Communist bloc apparatchik. Their day is over and they are clinging to power. The worst menace is crony capitalism, but even there people are increasingly aware of the problem and starting to push back.

    This is going to be a long struggle, and we will lose battles, and there will be betrayals, and people will get exhausted and give up.

    But the deep trends are in our favor.

    We are right, factually and morally.

    They are wrong, factually and morally.

    They will lose.

    We will win.

    Be happy.

    Posted in America 3.0, Deep Thoughts, History, Political Philosophy, Politics | 45 Comments »

    Mike Lotus Spoke to the University of Chicago Law School Federalist Society Student Chapter on February 3, 2015 About “America 3.0 and the Future of the Legal Profession”

    Posted by Lexington Green on 5th February 2015 (All posts by )

    UChicago law school

    Huge thanks to the University of Chicago Law School Federalist Society Student Chapter on Tuesday, who invited me to speak to their group on February 3, 2015. I previously spoke at the Booth School of Business, which was also a thrill. I am most grateful for the opportunity to speak at the University of Chicago, my undergraduate alma mater.

    The event was well-attended. I attribute this in part to the drawing power of the free buffet of Indian food, and not exclusively to the appeal of the speaker. The students were attentive and asked good questions. I understand that audio of the talk will be available at some point. I will post a link when it is available.

    My topic was “America 3.0 and the Future of the Legal Profession”.

    First I spoke about some of the themes from America 3.0: Rebooting American Prosperity in the 21st Century, Why America’s Greatest Days are Yet to Come, which I coauthored with James C. Bennett. I discussed the cultural foundations of American prosperity and freedom, the role of our legal profession in American history, in particular in adapting to technological changes, I then discussed some of the major technological changes which are now sweeping our nation and the world. I said that some of them will be general purpose technologies which will cause changes on the scale of the steam engine, railroads or computing itself.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Academia, America 3.0, Book Notes, Chicagoania, Economics & Finance, Education, Entrepreneurship, Law, Personal Narrative, Politics, Quotations, Society, Tech, USA | Comments Off on Mike Lotus Spoke to the University of Chicago Law School Federalist Society Student Chapter on February 3, 2015 About “America 3.0 and the Future of the Legal Profession”

    Quote of the Day from Veronique de Rugy

    Posted by Lexington Green on 29th January 2015 (All posts by )


    The battle of ideas is a long war. Where would education reform be if Milton Friedman hadn’t started fighting for school choice back in 1955, just because everyone thought he was nuts? Where would we be if Ronald Coase had given up on his idea to auction off radio spectrum, when he was asked in 1959 by the FCC commissioner if his proposal was a joke? Where would we be if Friedrich Hayek and a few other free-market advocates hadn’t met in Switzerland to launch the Mont Pelerin Society in 1947 in order to fight for freedom at a time when all seemed lost?
    The fight can only be won by engaging in the battle of ideas now. It cannot be won by those who compromise from the get-go just to stay in power.

    Invoking the spirits of Friedman, Coase and Hayek lifts the chin and stiffens the spine!

    What We’re Fighting For And Why, Veronique de Rugy.

    Ms. de Rugy’s piece is an extended riff on the lengthy, excellent article Building a Real Reform Mandate, by Michael A. Needham, which I have only skimmed, and am going to read with care.

    RTWT — both of them.

    To get to America 3.0 will require political will and persevering effort.

    Posted in America 3.0, Book Notes, Politics | 4 Comments »

    Liberty Rising — In Illinois

    Posted by Lexington Green on 28th January 2015 (All posts by )

    Matt Besler

    Great post entitled Liberty Rising by Matt Besler of the Illinois Opportunity Project.

    Matt is talking about the newly elected reform-minded Republicans in Springfield, Illinois.

    They are currently a minority within a minority. That is a start. It’s a beachhead.

    It took decades to wreck Illinois. It will take a long time to turn it around. There is no quick fix.

    There is a danger that people elected with great aspirations will get coopted, lose their way, forget what they wanted to do when they got involved in politics.

    So, to our political leaders: Ask yourself why you ran for office. Know your own values and principles. State them. Lead with them. Apply your principles at every decision point. Knowing exactly who you are and who you represent will allow you to lead with a clear vision and strong voice on any issue.


    As I recently said to my pal C. Steven Tucker (literally the world’s foremost expert on Obamacare and real health care reform), some politicians who are supposedly on our side are like the guy in the Matrix who ratted out the revolution because he wanted to eat the steak again.

    They can’t — we can’t — let that happen.

    To be elected as a reform politician at this critical time cannot be about a cozy job, or even an assuredly steady job.

    It is — it must be — about changing our state and our country for the better.

    It is about confronting serious opposition to make that happen. That opposition offers the allure of various “carrots”, and wields the threat of various “sticks”, to try to compel assent to the current, supposedly “normal” state of affairs. We need leaders who disdain the carrots, don’t flinch from the sticks, and who do not forget why they sought and won office.

    Our politicians need an internal compass, as Matt calls for here.

    And they need external accountability, as Matt also calls for in this article.

    Also, when they do the right thing, they need approbation and encouragement.

    We can all help, especially with the latter.

    This is a protracted struggle. Be prepared for the long slog.

    But the future for Illinois can be — will be — great.

    And the future for America will be very great indeed.

    Posted in America 3.0, Big Government, Conservatism, Elections, Illinois Politics, Politics | 1 Comment »

    Interview with Jeff Bezos — The Obstacles to Technological Breakthroughs (to America 3.0) are more Regulatory and Legal than Technological

    Posted by Lexington Green on 19th December 2014 (All posts by )

    Delivery Drone

    In a recent interview with Jeff Bezos, he notes that drone delivery will be more delayed by regulation than by technological capability.

    HB: Drones. You had this amazing “commercial” on “60 Minutes” last year, about this fantastic future when drones are going to fly out and bring me my package, and it’s going to be right there. Immediately, everybody in the country, and probably around the world, was saying, “Great — when?”
    JB: That’s a difficult question to answer. Technology is not going to be the long pole. The long pole is going to be regulatory. I just went and met with the primary team and saw the 10th- or 11th-generation drone flying around in the cage. It’s truly remarkable. It’s not just the physical airframe and electric motors and so on. The most interesting part of this is the autopilot and the guidance and control and the machine vision systems that make it all work. As for when, though, that is very difficult to predict. I’d bet you the ratio of lawyers to engineers on the primary team is probably the highest at Amazon.
    HB: Is this a situation where everyone else in the world except Americans is going to get drone deliveries?
    JB: I think it is sad but possible that the US could be late. It’s highly likely that other countries will do it first. I may be too skeptical. I hope I’m wrong.

    It is too bad that the USA is likely to be slow moving in making this — and many other types of new technology — available to the public.

    The same will certainly be true about driverless cars, or molecular medicine.

    We are going to need entrepreneur and activists and, yes, even lawyers, who are committed to making new technology available to the American people, with the inevitable disruption of existing relationships and expectations.

    Getting to a better America is possible, but nothing is inevitable.

    There will be many struggles along the way to America 3.0.

    Posted in America 3.0, Business, USA | 17 Comments »

    Daniel Hannan at the Acton Institute, October 9, 2014

    Posted by Lexington Green on 7th December 2014 (All posts by )

    This is an outstanding talk by Daniel Hannan to the Acton Institute on October 9, 2014.

    Hannan notes that conservatives almost want to believe that there is no hope in the future, that we have seen the best times and they are behind us. But he disagrees.

    But my friends we are at our most persuasive, and at our most electorally successful, when as Ronald Reagan did in this country, as Margaret Thatcher did in mine, when we imbue our message with a little breath of warmth, a little hint of optimism, a promise that the best lies ahead.
    Things do get better, provided that you have trade and exchange, and that you release the genius of a free people, things will get better at an accelerating rate

    We make a similar point in America 3.0, which has the subtitle, “Why America’s Greatest Days are Yet to Come.”

    They really are, if we make it happen.

    Posted in America 3.0, Anglosphere, Britain | 3 Comments »

    Sen. Mike Lee Channels America 3.0

    Posted by Lexington Green on 6th November 2014 (All posts by )

    Sen. Mike Lee

    Senator Mike Lee has the best article yet about what the new, GOP-majority congress ought to do. It is entitled “Five Steps To Restore Trust, Transparency, And Empowerment.” Please RTWT.

    Senator Lee makes several observations which are highly consistent with the picture Jim Bennett and I painted in America 3.0.

    America’s health care, energy, higher education, telecommunications, security, and criminal justice needs (to name just a few) appear to be in the midst of transitions, nearing tipping points that will help define our nation in decades to come.
    Most systems we use to provide government services were designed decades ago, before the tech and telecom revolutions that have changed the way Americans do almost everything else. In 20 years, will we need, say, a Government Printing Office or Internal Revenue Service in anything like their current forms? If disruptive innovations continue to personalize and localize the economy, will centralized, monolithic bureaucracies be the right instruments to regulate it? Or is government just as badly in need of some disruptive innovations that would enable market forces, public desires, and longstanding constitutional principles to once again show us the way and make our institutions more accountable?
    … we know that our society and our economy have rocketed out in front of our government, and that the bureaucracy in its current form is unlikely ever to catch up.
    Everything about American life today is becoming more decentralized, open-source, localized and personalized. Everything, that is, except government. An increasingly customizable economy and diverse social networks of mini-communities will not long tolerate the innate incompetence of clumsy, self-serving, Big Government.
    Let Congress operate less like a nineteenth-century industrial mill, and more like a twenty-first-century open-source network.
    In today’s world, individual and community empowerment are strengths for organizations who know how to use them.

    This is all good stuff.

    Yes, America is in the “midst of transitions”, and many sectors are indeed “nearing tipping points”.

    Yes, America’s governmental legacy systems were designed before the contemporary “tech and telecom revolutions” occurred and should be fundamentally re-thought.

    Yes, “disruptive innovations” will “continue to personalize and localize the economy” and this presents an opportunity to remake government in a more transparent and cost effective way.

    Yes, the “bureaucracy in its current form” is doomed to fall behind the revolutionary pace being set by the American people and the innovations they are creating, which is making “everything about American life … more decentralized, open-source, localized and personalized.”

    Yes, the old system has to be replaced, to become compatible with an “increasingly customizable economy and diverse social networks of mini-communities.” (That last phrase, a “diverse social networks of mini-communities” is particularly nice.)

    Yes, Congress itself has to change from an America 2.0 model, ” a nineteenth-century industrial mill”, and move into America 3.0 as “a twenty-first-century open-source network.” (That will be cool, actually. It can be done.)

    Senator Lee is being a visionary realist, the best kind.

    Let’s hope his approach will be adopted by the incoming GOP Congress.

    Remember: America’s greatest days are yet to come!

    Posted in America 3.0, Politics | 4 Comments »

    Mike Lotus Participates in Immigration Reform Panel & Discussion, John Marshall Law School Federalist Society, November 5, 2014

    Posted by Lexington Green on 3rd November 2014 (All posts by )

    Mike Lotus will participate in an Immigration Reform Panel & Discussion at John Marshall Law School Federalist Society, November 5, 2014, 5:00 p.m., State Street entrance.

    I am looking forward to the discussion.

    Note the critical language: Food will be served.

    Drink may be imbibed afterwards, as well.

    Posted in America 3.0, Chicagoania, Immigration, Law | 3 Comments »

    Thank you to the Chicago Young Republicans

    Posted by Lexington Green on 9th October 2014 (All posts by )

    MJL at CYR

    (That is me on the far right, where I belong!)

    My thanks to the Chicago Young Republicans, who invited me to speak to them last night at their monthly meeting. It was an enjoyable and educational event.

    I was on a panel with the very distinguished Dan Proft of, inter alia, 89 WLS and Jonathan Greenberg of the Illinois Policy Institute.

    The topic of discussion was the upcoming election. One theme was the concern that Bruce Rauner may end up losing to Pat Quinn, despite Quinn being an unmitigated disaster. Polls show Rauner slightly ahead, but the trends are bad. Rauner has not yet closed the deal with Illinois voters, who are upset and concerned about the direction the state is going, but who are not yet convinced that Rauner is the guy who can fix the problems. I hope Rauner manages to make that connection with voters before election day.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in America 3.0, Chicagoania, Illinois Politics, Politics | 9 Comments »

    Alibaba as a disintermediator, a step toward America 3.0?

    Posted by Lexington Green on 7th October 2014 (All posts by )


    It will be a long time until we have the truly decentralized, additive manufacturing (a/k/a 3D printing) we discuss in America 3.0.

    But in the meantime, Alibaba allows an extraordinary level of business to business contact, permitting smaller scale businesses to find suppliers.

    This is the kind of disintermediated, non-hierarchic, Web-enabled change that has long been predicted, finally coming true.

    This podcast is an interesting introduction to Alibaba.

    One friend said that Alibaba was going to allow Chinese manufacturers to somehow overrun the USA. But if you go on their site, you see that firms from anywhere in the world can become verified supplier members.

    More importantly, the rise of B2B direct contact on this scale is a genie that is now out of the bottle.

    Take a look at this recent post from Zero Hedge entitled “Could The Alibaba Model Undo The Wal-Mart Model?”

    How much would I pay to have the item I want delivered to me rather than have to drive miles to the Superstore? if I add up the maintenance costs, fuel and other expenses of operating my car, and the time wasted in traffic, standing in line, etc., how much cheaper is the Superstore price?
    How much would I pay to direct my money went to a local worker/shop owner I know and trust rather than to some supplier in a distant city?
    These are questions that arise as a consequence of the digitization of the global/local supply chain in the peer-to-peer model. Just as we have reached Peak Central Planning and Peak Central Banking, we may have reached Peak Centralization not just in government and finance but in the corporate-cartel model of “low quality at high margins.”

    The centralization represented by Walmart may be past its peak.

    Alibaba’s recent IPO, which was almost certainly over-hyped, should not distract us from the importance of the underlying model, or from speculating about what its long term impact may be.

    Posted in America 3.0 | 17 Comments »

    Regulatory capture is normal, and that’s the problem

    Posted by Lexington Green on 3rd October 2014 (All posts by )

    portraits of Julian Sanchez and Megan McArdle

    You must read this excellent piece by Megan McArdle, It’s Normal for Regulators to Get Captured. “regulatory capture is not some horrid aberration; it is closer to the natural state of a regulatory body.”

    This is true. That is why the entire modern administrative state has to be re-thought, re-configured and replaced. It does not work, it never worked, it cannot work.

    The regulatory state is the defining feature of the Industrial Era, America 2.0 state. It needs to be shut down, wrapped up and replaced.

    This does not mean return to the law of the jungle. It means making laws that actually align incentives with desired ends, as imperfect as that always is.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in America 3.0, Book Notes, Chicagoania, Economics & Finance, USA | 14 Comments »

    America 3.0 Course at U. Cal. Irvine — Additional Reading

    Posted by Lexington Green on 2nd October 2014 (All posts by )

    UCI Irvine

    As I noted in yesterday’s post, I team-taught a course on America 3.0 at U.Cal.Irvine last Spring. We considered asking the students to read some additional material beyond the sections of the book we assigned. However, we decided that the book was enough and we did not want to overload under-graduates. The following is the proposed additional material we considered assigning, with links.

    Week # 1. America 3.0: Introduction

    Week # 2. America 3.0: America in 2040
    IP in a World Without Scarcity by Mark A. Lemley.

The students should read Section I, part C — pages 10-24. This article covers three major sources of disruptive change: 3D Printing, Synthetic Biology and Bioprinting and Robotics. Of course, they may read the entire article if they wish. The question of the law and regulation of these new technologies is a huge area to be explored.

    Week # 3. America 3.0: The American Family

    Duranton, Family Types and the Persistence of Regional Disparities in Europe

    See, table page 2, map on page 8, regarding the Absolute Nuclear Family.

    The World Values Survey Cultural Map of the World.

    Why Americans are the WEIRDest People in the World.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in America 3.0, Book Notes | 2 Comments »

    Stalling Progress in Aviation — It’s Time for a Breakthrough

    Posted by Lexington Green on 30th September 2014 (All posts by )

    Six Hour Radius for Commercial Airliners, 1940-1990

    This diagram shows the stalling progress in the speed of air travel.

    The inner ring, the range of a DC-3 in 1940, was substantially improved upon by the Lockheed Constellation in 1950, and much more so with the Boeing 707 in 1960. That was twenty years. But from 1960 to 1990, only the small outer circle was gained. And in the quarter century since, it has not expanded at all.

    Technology has advanced in small things — small in size, not in importance — like electronics. But in big, macroscopic things, the world of “stuff”, it seems that there has been stasis for two generations. In a recent post, I linked to a video where Peter Thiel made this point. Theil may have overstated his case, but in the case of aviation he certainly appears to be correct. (Incidentally, my copy of Theil’s new book, Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future arrived yesterday.)

    One theory is that only defense-related spending is sufficiently large and removed from market considerations to lead to truly massive breakthroughs in technology. This view is espoused by Peter J. Hugill, in his book World Trade Since 1431: Geography, Technology, and Capitalism Paperback, a brilliant book which I heartily commend to you. However, I am not convinced that this is true in every case. In the case of aviation, the basic scientific insights exist, so government-financed development may not be necessary to reach the next breakthrough in aircraft performance.

    My coauthor Jim Bennett notes:

    We may soon see transsonic aircraft operating commercially. These will fly just above the speed of sound, where the sonic boom can be minimized by a number of design tricks. These could operate at airspeeds of around 700 knots, compared to the 500-550 at which most airliners are operated today. They could go faster but they are deliberately slowed down to reduce fuel consumption.

    According to Jim, true supersonic or hypersonic aircraft “will be limited to transoceanic routes by sonic boom restrictions, or depend on new approaches which have yet to be fully tested.”

    While a 20% increase in speed will be nice to have, I am eager to see these massive, disruptive changes in aviation speed — multiples of the present speed, not just incremental increases.

    In America 3.0 we predict a breakdown of the regulatory machinery that is stalling technological progress in many areas, including improved aircraft performance. We speculate about what much faster commercial air travel will allow in terms of, for example, locating retirement housing in Cuba and Mexico, with rapid access by air.

    Seniors are able to stay at home, both with mechanical assistance and with many people specializing in providing elder care, or move into modularized units easily attached to the their adult childrens’ homes. Retirement communities in Cuba, the Central Highlands of Mexico and the Mexican border zoner are becoming popular. Hypersonic air travel, until recently only used by the very wealthy or government officials, is slowly coming down in price, as aerospacelines compete for business, thus making visits back and forth to visit Grandma far easier.

    Just as driverless cars will make exurban development feasible, as we describe in America 3.0, routine, affordable supersonic air travel will make remote locations useable for business and housing that are not feasible now.

    A world that it is half or a third the size it is now, in terms of travel time, opens up opportunities that we cannot even conceive of now.

    (The map above is from Prime Movers of Globalization: The History and Impact of Diesel Engines and Gas Turbines by Vaclav Smil.)

    Posted in America 3.0, Aviation, Book Notes | 54 Comments »

    Milton Friedman: “Only a crisis — actual or perceived — produces real change.”

    Posted by Lexington Green on 29th September 2014 (All posts by )

    Milton Friedman

    There is enormous inertia—a tyranny of the status quo—in private and especially governmental arrangements. Only a crisis — actual or perceived — produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes politically inevitable.

    Milton Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom, Preface to the 1982 edition.

    This could easily have been the quote at the front of America 3.0.

    A crisis, or series of crises, are likely to be coming in the years ahead as the economy and government based on industrial era (America 2.0) models fails more and more completely and obviously. The inertia, the tyranny of the status quo, embedded in our existing institutions is going to resist meaningful reform. It will not be an inert resistance, either, it will be attacks on agents of change. To use Clausewitz’s phrase, the defense of the status quo will be “a shield of blows.” Some people will be hurt by the blows.

    But it won’t work. It cannot work.

    Our task in the book was and is precisely to offer alternatives to existing policies, and explain why our proposed alternatives suit America’s inherited underlying culture, and the technology which will shape our future. Many of the things we suggest in the book have been dismissed as “impossible” even by friendly critics. But as Milton Friedman correctly noted, the politically impossible can become the politically inevitable, if it is an idea whose time has come.

    Posted in America 3.0, Book Notes, Economics & Finance, Quotations | 10 Comments »

    Peter Thiel and George Gilder debate on “The Prospects for Technology and Economic Growth”

    Posted by Lexington Green on 26th September 2014 (All posts by )

    This is an excellent dialogue between George Gilder and Peter Thiel, from 2012, regarding two different versions of what the future will look like.

    It is a little over an hour, and I highly recommend you listen to it.

    Gilder is a thorough-going optimist. He sees a world where everything is good and getting better, and critiques of technological change are generally wrong-headed. That is a brutal over-simplification, of course. Gilder is a seasoned speaker, debater and writer. He makes a decent case, better than I am suggesting here.

    Theil makes a more subtle case. He says that technology, other than the technology has stalled for decades. He says that the fields of engineering that deal with “stuff” have been — and this is a strong word — “outlawed.” As a result, the only areas where technological change is happening are in finance and computing. Nuclear engineering, for example, would have been a suicidal career choice if you made it a generation ago.

    So, Theil is one hand a pessimist. He sees a decay in the rate of technological development, a decay in standards of living and real wages, a decline in optimism and expectations for a better future.

    However, he does not conclude, “so, we are doomed.”

    What he says instead is that we cannot pretend that technological progress grows on trees. He says that we need to address the obstacles to technological change which are thwarting the potential for a better future.

    All of that seems correct.

    The vision Jim Bennett and I depict in America 3.0 is one in which the excessive regulatory obstacles to technological progress, capital formation, and new business formation have been greatly reduced. Under that scenario, much of the halted progress in the world of “stuff” should resume. This is particularly the case because, as Gilder correctly notes, the extraordinary advances in computing power will enhance the potential of all of these areas. The potential for rapid development, leading to rapid economic growth and rising living standards, is within our reach. It is being held back by political and regulatory obstacles, not technical or scientific ones.

    That has to change. But, it might not. Nothing is inevitable.

    It is up to us to make it happen.

    I have not yet read Thiel’s new book Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future. It is en route from Amazon as I type this, however. Here is the web page for the book.

    Posted in America 3.0, Book Notes, Business, Tech | 8 Comments »

    Edward T. Hall on Bureaucracy: “no soul, no memory, and no conscience …”

    Posted by Lexington Green on 25th September 2014 (All posts by )

    A key factor in explaining the sad state of American education can be found in overbureaucratization, which is seen in the compulsion to consolidate our public schools into massive factories and to increase to mammoth size our universities even in underpopulated states. The problem with bureaucracies is that they have to work hard and long to keep from substituting self-serving survival and growth for their original primary objective. Few succeed. Bureaucracies have no soul, no memory, and no conscience. If there is a single stumbling block on the road to the future, it is the bureaucracy as we know it.
    Bureaucratic and institutional irrationality occur because, of all man’s institutions, bureaucracy in all cultures has a tremendous potential to be counterproductive. This drive toward inefficiency may be a direct consequence of blind adherence to procedure, but it also stems from bureaucratic needs for self-preservation and a vulnerability to pressure groups. The combination is unbeatable.
    By their very nature bureaucracies have no conscience, no memory and no mind. They are self-serving, amoral and live forever. What could be more irrational? Changing them is almost impossible, because they function according to their own rules and bow to no man, not even the President of the United States. Custom, human frailties, and the will to power keep our bureaucracies going. … Paradoxically, most bureaucracies are staffed largely with conscientious, committed people who are trying to do the right thing, but they are powerless (or feel powerless) to change things. None of which would be so serious if it weren’t that these are the very institutions on which we depend to solve all our major problems. Some answer must be found to bureaucracy. It is not social injustice capitalized upon by political leaders that causes revolutions. It is when bureaucracies become so top heavy and inefficient that they are incapable of serving the needs of the people, that governments fall.

    (Emphasis added.)

    Beyond Culture (1976), Edward T. Hall

    This article provides an overview of Hall’s thought.

    Edward T. Hall’s Beyond Culture was cited by Jonathan Fletcher in his excellent essay Culture-mapping: A framework for understanding international B2b decision-making, which I discussed in this post.

    Bureaucracy on the life-destroying scale described by Edward T. Hall is an industrial era phenomenon. Only a bureaucracy can turn ordinary, decent people into participants in gigantic atrocities that go on and on, and absolve the people who operate the government machine from personal responsibility for the consequences.

    In America 3.0 Jim Bennett and I refer to Industrial Era America as “America 2.0” — an era which is ending, and a new post-bureaucratic, post-industrial era, America 3.0, is struggling to born. Edward T. Hall helps us see that there is a lot about the old world that will not be missed.

    Posted in America 3.0, Book Notes, Quotations | 11 Comments »

    James C. Bennett, Coauthor of America 3.0, debates with György Schöpflin, hosted by the Danube Institute.

    Posted by Lexington Green on 24th September 2014 (All posts by )

    A few months ago Jim Bennett and I had an essay published in the Hungarian Review. The essay is titled America, England, Europe – Why do we Differ? In it we apply the same type of analysis we used in America 3.0. In the next issue, George Schöpflin responded to our essay. We in turn replied to his critiques, in A Rejoinder to George Schöpflin. I discussed this exchange in an earlier post.

    John O’Sullivan is the Director of the Danube Institute in Budapest. John arranged for a debate between Jim Bennett (on the left in the photo) and George Schöpflin (on the right), which took place on March 27, 2014. The Debate is entitled: Continuity as a Model for Central Europe?


    there is a significant difference between Western Europe and the rest of the world, for example the difference of endogenous and exogenous marriages, the latter produces outward looking societies. All of Western Europe shares this heritage, including Hungary. But there is a predictor in Europe: who was modernized in the 19th century and who in the 20th century. There is a further, significant separation between England, Eastern Scotland, and the continental areas. There is the question: how important is the family system, versus other important things like religion, culture, and language? My opinion is that the family system is as equally important as other factors. People typically analyse national differences, but the family system lines can be good predictors of different models of state buildings, too. Attempts to build states across the lines of different family systems might result in trouble areas within Europe.

    Video of the debate, with a partial transcript is here.

    It is also available on the America 3.0 YouTube page.

    Posted in America 3.0, Europe, History | 1 Comment »

    “Culture Mapping” Essay by Jonathan Fletcher Applies Emmanuel Todd’s Analysis, Reaches Conclusions Consistent with America 3.0

    Posted by Lexington Green on 22nd September 2014 (All posts by )

    Jonathan Fletcher

    I strongly recommend that you read the excellent essay Culture-mapping: A framework for understanding international B2b decision-making, by Jonathan Fletcher who is the Group Managing Director of Illuminas. Mr. Fletcher’s expertise lies in part in “analysing and interpreting market research data.”

    In his paper Mr. Fletcher presents “a framework for understanding decision-making in different business cultures that will enable B2b researchers confronted with a new market to ask the right questions quickly and not waste time and money looking in the wrong places for the wrong things.” Mr. Fletcher finds that culture is “the hidden dimension” which has a “significant influence on economic and industrial behaviour and performance, but a large part of culture is implicit, unconscious and hidden from direct view.”

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in America 3.0, Anglosphere, Arts & Letters, Book Notes, Business, History, Society, USA | 4 Comments »