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  • 2014 Midwest Business & Markets Conference

    Posted by Zenpundit on March 9th, 2014 (All posts by )

    cross-posted to

    The Union League Club of Chicago Building

    Yesterday, I attended the 2014 Midwest Business & Markets Conference at the historic Union League Club of Chicago. While business conferences are far afield from my usual interests, the main draw for me was seeing Lexington Green speak about the book he co-authored with James C. Bennett, America 3.0


    Michael J. Lotus (“Lex”)                       His book

    Lex’s speech, which gave some highlights from the book and tried to explain why some of our economic doldrums are really birth pangs of a new world (while others are rentier gasps of the old) was excellent and well received, with a long Q& A session and folks in the audience buying copies of America 3.0.  This was far from the only intriguing talk. Carl Stumpf, speaking about “The Disruptive Cloud”  predicted virtually revolutionary changes in IT practices for society, business and government that will come from market forces driving adoption of cloud computing; venture capitalist and angel investor Jeff Carter outlined what Chicago needs to do to become a “self-sustaining ecosystem” of internet/tech business innovation; while Bethany McLean, Vanity Fair editor and author of The Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron and All the Devils Are Here, delivered a rapid-fire discussion of journalism, the financial collapse of 2008, Enron and other subjects that was most informative.

    The best speaker, in the oratorical sense, was former gubernatorial candidate for governor, social conservative and WLS Radio personality Dan Proft whose lecture was “Gloom and Hope for the Illinois Economy”. Witty and sarcastic, Proft ably skewered Illinois politicians and politics, was something of a jackass on the subject of public education, deftly handled critical questions, was extremely blunt about the political shortcomings of the Illinois GOP and in general gave a “fire in the belly” presentation for political change.

    Aside from the speakers, the Union League Club is a superb venue for conferences and meetings. The food was excellent and the meeting room comfortable with an attentive staff. I further enjoyed getting to meet and speak to the large representation of bloggers from Chicago Boyz including site admin Jonathan, Carl from Chicago, Lexington Green (already an amigo) and conference organizer Dan from Madison during lunch and the cocktail hour.

    I predict bigger and better for 2015!


    9 Responses to “2014 Midwest Business & Markets Conference”

    1. Jonathan Says:

      Thanks, Mark. A pleasure to meet you and a first-class event.

    2. Lexington Green Says:

      Mark, thanks for this post.

      It was indeed a great event.

      Thanks to Dan and John and also John Golterman for organizing the conference.

      Jeff Carter’s talk was fascinating. Check out his blog, Points & Figures.

      I must disagree with you about Proft’s assessment of public education. I don’t recall disagreeing with any of it. But we can hash that out in another venue at some point.

    3. Lexington Green Says:

      Here is Jeff Carter’s post about the event.

      Check out the slides, especially the first one.

    4. Lexington Green Says:

      Actually, look at Jeff’s second slide:

      The overlap between ideas that seem stupid and good ideas is where you find good VC Investments.

      Is that overlap where you find good policy proposals in times of rapid change?

      Are the proposals Bennett and I make in America 3.0 in that overlapping zone? I say: yeah, baby.

    5. MikeK Says:

      This Jeff Carter post fits pretty well with the Deep State.

    6. Says:

      Hi Lex

      I disagree with Proft’s implicit generalization that CPS = “public education” though perhaps that comes from being a Chicago radio figure. Its fine if people wish to believe that but it is as accurate as implying all public schools are IMSA or New Trier. They aren’t.

      I could have gotten into it with with Proft but David already had a substantial amount of time engaging him critically on another topic and it would have been a debating points scoring kind of exchange rather than a dialogue (whether that would have been entertaining or annoying to the audience I’m not certain).

    7. pointsnfigures Says:

      @Lexington, maybe that’s a good idea. Policy ideas that seem stupid intersecting with good ideas make good policy!!

      School vouchers for example.

    8. Lexington Green Says:

      Mark, I can see your point. Dan was focusing his fire on CPS, which richly deserves it. You cannot generalize from CPS to everything else, though I am not sure he was doing that. Yes, the picture is varied around the state and the country. Still, CPS is an atrocity and needs root and branch transformation. Reform is not a strong enough word. As to a money-follows-the-child approach, schools like New Trier would remain mostly unchanged, since parents already like it and want to keep their kids there. They are already competitive. Probably, they would have increased application and be able to be more selective. In Chicago, introducing market power to parents and students and making competition possible will lead to improvements over the existing “school to prison pipeline.”

    9. Lexington Green Says:

      Jeff, you seem to have discovered a principle of more general application!

      I think that slide applies most powerfully in times of rapid change, in technology or politics (which lags technology) — when doing the “sensible thing” based on prior experience is in fact the wrong thing because the value of prior experience as a predictor is withering away.