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Monthly Archives: September 2015

Restoration of the Kabul Golf Club (Afghanistan)

Restoration of the Kabul Golf Club to include Book Project
by Roger Bacon

Mohammad Afzel Abdul showing a passing Pershmerga fighter the proper grip on the golf club.

Local Golf Pro Mohammad Afzel Abdul showing a passing Pershmerga fighter the proper grip on the golf club.

[Editor’s note: Is it better to live in a nation dedicated to war and civil conflict, or is it better to live in a nation dedicated to growing strong communities?

Sport, whether it’s cricket, golf, football or any other sport, provides a bridge between different cultures and gives humanity common-cause.

One only needs to remember the heart-warming story of the Jamaican bobsleigh team of 1988 Olympics fame to see how sport can enthrall a nation — with millions of people from all over the world cheering for them — even their competitors cheered for them at one point.

It was a moment in time that displayed the best in humanity and inspired Jamaicans with self-confidence, and was the basis for the 1993 hit film, Cool Runnings.

We also note the excitement that the sport of cricket brings to countries, citizens, and world leaders, with Presidents and Prime Ministers from formerly warring nations sitting together at games cheering their respective teams on. Sometimes, billions of people are watching those matches, from almost every timezone in the world.

The same can be said for football (called soccer in North America) where practically every person on the planet knows the teams, Real Madrid, Manchester United and FC Barcelona.

Sport must play a central role in our continuously evolving civilization, and whether that sport is one of the Olympic sports, cricket, football or golf, or any other recognized professional or amateur game, sport unites nations and celebrates the friendly competition between teams and between nation-states. — John Brian Shannon, Editor]


Kabul Golf Club. Located in Qargha, near Kabul. Image courtesy of af [dot]worldmapz [dot] com

Located in Qargha, Afghanistan, a short drive from the Capital, the Kabul Golf Club has served the ex-patriot community in Kabul since its inception. Image courtesy of af.worldmapz.com

Roger Bacon, through his American consulting business HudsonPlatte has embarked on a crowdsourcing effort with Kickstarter.com to fund a book chronicling the history of the Kabul Golf Club from its founding in 1967 through the present day struggle in Afghanistan.

“It has opened and closed with the rhythms of history that have plagued Afghanistan. The communist regime; Soviet invasion and departure; the rise of the Taliban and its association with Al Qaeda; the fall of Kabul to the Northern Alliance and its American Allies and the subsequent international effort to defeat the Taliban and rebuild the country have all taken place on the doorstep of the Kabul Golf Club.”

“It is a symbol of peace and tranquility that perpetually faces existential challenges, and yet it survives. I have made two trips to Afghanistan and played the course many times. It is an amazing story, and one which I want to share with the world.” — Roger Bacon

The Kabul Golf Club has provided a regular game for golfers working in and around Kabul. Most players have had affiliations with Embassies, NGO’s, the press and international military contingents, supporting the course and community financially. Since re-opening in 2004, there have been regular large events, and a steady flow of players.

Kabul Golf Club, Afghanistan

‘Zabi The Caddie’ at Kabul Golf Club, Afghanistan.

Recently however, most of the course’s patrons have been forbidden travel outside of the city, citing security concerns. Once again, the Kabul Golf Club faces a threat to its very existence.

The non-fiction book will highlight the career of Mohammad Afzel Abdul. Abdul teaches golf and manages the scruffy course with sand greens. He began working at the nine-hole (now six-hole) course just prior to the 1979 Soviet invasion, and has survived more than 35 years of constant warfare. His brother Khan, who also worked at the course, was killed by the Taliban in 2012 for his association with foreigners.

The ambitious goals of the funding campaign reflect the complicated and dangerous task of returning to Afghanistan to finish research and writing.

The book will be a visual piece that includes local history and stories from players, most of whom have also participated in the war and subsequent reconstruction efforts. With funding, it is scheduled to be finished and printed in mid-2016.

This project is a critical component of the effort to keep the historic Kabul Golf Club from disappearing into the mist of Afghanistan’s sad history. The licensing, royalties and publicity generated from the book are intended to supplement income lost as a result of the deteriorating security situation.

We believe that peace will eventually come to this starkly beautiful country and its golf course in the shadow of the Hindu Kush. The Dari word on the club’s logo and flag means “peace.”

The Kickstarter Project runs through October 5, 2015, and offers various rewards for participation, all featuring the club’s US Trademark logo.

Please visit the web sites:
www.kabulgolfclub.org
www.kickstarter.com/projects/kabulgolfclub/the-kabul-golf-club

Roger Bacon has worked for more than 25 years in the golf business, specializing in corporate renewal and project management. Success in these areas has brought him the title of “fixer.” His work has taken him around the country and his sense of adventure has taken him around the world. He has spent time in two war zones on two continents. The project to restore the Kabul Golf Club to financial security has been self-funded, without assistance from and government or private agency. Eating, drinking, sleeping, working and playing golf as an unescorted guest in Qargha in 2010 and 2011, Roger was always safe, secure and surrounded by friends. Now it’s time to go back.

http://prefundia.com/projects/view/kabul-golf-club/6481/

Will the Economics Profession Wither or Flourish in the 21st Century?

by John Brian Shannon | September 10, 2015

I compare the entire economics profession (and each individual economist in it) to a star quarterback — like the great Joe Montana who is probably the best quarterback who ever lived, or who will ever live.

But what would the great Joe Montana have been *without a healthy dose of self-confidence* and who instead lived his life on-and-off the field in a world of self-imposed self-doubt about his overall importance to his team — in short, a world-class athlete with vastly superior skills who didn’t know, or didn’t believe, how capable and how important he was to his team, to his sport, and to the fans?

That is similar to how economists and the profession in its totality appear to me in the year 2015 — world-class, with vastly superior skills, who don’t know, or who don’t fully believe how capable and how important they are to our society, to our nation, and to our civilization.

Spelling it out for you! Economics must trump Politics. Image courtesy: The jesuitpost.org

Image courtesy: The jesuitpost.org

Where we are – and where we need to go

It is a profession that is better than it has ever been, certainly no cohort of economists have ever had the knowledge, sophisticated theory, and datasets of today’s economists, nor have such intractable problems ever required solving.

For example, the economic puzzles extant in ancient Rome or of the Victorian Era were Lilliputian by comparison.

Three problems confront the economics profession today

1. Unlike Joe Montana who received huge accolades for his massively successful plays on the field — economists sometimes prevent economic catastrophe but nobody notices and the world moves blithely on.

Economists prevent economic catastrophes and nobody notices. Need I say more? It’s a problem related to mindfulness, to the recognition of competence, and of reward.

It’s a problem intrinsic to human psychology that we reward some, but not others.

It might be more accurate to say that today’s economists ‘make plays’ that are of the utmost importance to ‘the team’ but are more analogous to the defensive linemen on a football team ‘who prevent the other team from scoring’.

Notice that for those players the cheering isn’t as loud?

It’s a problem in sports, and in economics too, and (unbelievably) many economists don’t give their own colleagues due respect.

It isn’t always about creating ‘touchdowns’ sometimes it’s about preventing ‘touchdowns’ by the other team — each is just as important as the other.

Psychology is a major factor in economics, in trade and in the markets, yet the application of human psychology in economic theory has been largely overlooked.

2. The profession lacks self-confidence. Imagine superstar pro athlete Joe Montana — but *without* confidence. (!)

Did Joe Montana, great as he is, ever seriously think that every time he threw the ball that it would result in a 50-yard touchdown?

No. Joe Montana showed up on gameday and played his best game. Because that’s what Joe Montana did.

But did the fact that he didn’t throw a 50-yard touchdown every single time he threw the ball, cause him to lose confidence? No.

If you’re playing *your best game* then you should have all the confidence in the world. But there’s no harm in trying to improve your game, over time, that’s a given. But to lose confidence every time you don’t score a touchdown? That should never enter the equation.

3. “Start with the end in mind.”

In order for economists to do their jobs properly, we need to have measurable goals and metrics to steer by.

Nobody enters a serious car or yacht race where there isn’t a definite start line and a definite finish line.

Economists are stuck in a race with no start line and no finish line. Why are we even racing?

We know who we’re racing, we know when we’re racing, but what goal are we trying to achieve? Would somebody tell me?

They can’t. There is no goal. Economics is a free-for-all-race against other economies with no end goal.

And yet, every economy (country) is in that race and each one started at a different position, are driving different kinds of vehicles, at different speeds, and taking different routes.

We need to stop that.

You can’t *win* a race when there’s no finish line (a goal) unless you kill all the other competitors. Then, you *win* by default. Not very sporting, old chap.

We tried that before. Mutually Assured Destruction (M.A.D.) — anyone remember that?

We arrived at M.A.D. in the 20th century because politics ruled the world and not always with good results. Thus far, the 21st century doesn’t look much better.

I could write a thesis on this — and volumes, or even tomes would still need to be written on the clear and verifiable path that took us from the (economic) competition between nation-states, to the (political) M.A.D. doctrine.

National Economic Goal-Setting

We need to start with the end in mind, a goal.

I posit that the finish line *the goal* (limited to the U.S.A. to keep this example simple) should be that every citizen should have a reasonable expectation to attain a net worth of 1 million dollars by age 25, near-perfect health with universal healthcare systems, and a tuition-free university education.

Further, regulators should require that a minimum of 25% of every American’s investment portfolio should be invested in U.S. corporations, or single entity businesses (artisans, for example) and another minimum 25% of their portfolio be invested in foreign companies that are located in countries that enjoy ‘Most Favored Nation’ trading status with the United States.

And finally, for the United States to always earn a Top 5 ranking in such indices as the UN Happiness Index and the Social Progress Imperative if we expect every citizen to fully buy-into our national success.

Economists could ‘work to’ and ‘measure against’ and ‘devise new theories’ in order to meet those goals

Who but America could attain such a goal?

Germany, Japan, The UK, France, Canada, Australia, a few more Western nations maybe — with America leading the way.

Beginning with the end result in mind would give the economics profession unprecedented focus and allow it to become all that it can and should be, instead of it continuing on without clear and measurable goals to steer by — and because of that it is a profession laden with self-doubt and presently living under the thumb of politicians.

A Tipping Point for Economics

The economics profession is nearing a tipping point in the early 21st century.

It will either rise to unprecedented greatness by asserting its independence from politics by setting its own goals with the ‘end-user’ of economics in mind (which are citizens, not corporations) thereby becoming super-efficient, super-effective, and consequently, economists would become more confident — or the profession will forever remain the scapegoat of politicians.

In the 20th century we faced Mutually Assured Destruction due to the competition between political models.

If economics remains subservient to politicians the 21st century will devolve to M.A.D. of a different kind, this time it will be the Mutually Assured Destruction of the global economy due to the competition between political models.

Because in a no-goal model, the only way to *win* is to eliminate competitors

Economics by its very definition is amenable to and works better with metrics, and an end goal. In politics, there is no end goal.

If we are to survive as a species, eventually, the importance we place on economics must supercede (Canadian spelling) that of the importance we place on politics, because, as I said before, in a no-goal race the only way to win is to kill all the other competitors. Then you *win* by default.

Which is what we’ve been doing in slow-motion since 1914 and one could argue, since the time of Cain and Abel.

Our species must evolve past the ‘law of the jungle’ model to a point where it isn’t all about the politics of ‘country A’ vs. ‘country B’ — but where it’s all about how well citizens score their nation on the UN Happiness Index and Social Progress Imperative index

Only when we devote our industrial, academic, and social effort towards the well-being of the ‘end-user’ (citizens) with verifiable end-user metrics, will we stop working at cross-purposes. Then watch our species succeed!

Related Article:

Can we solve global poverty via immigration?

by John Brian Shannon

It’s great to use a visual aid to help understand the scale of a problem, and this video informs us well about trying to solve global poverty via increased immigration!

Also, the information contained in this video is both informative and accurate which is why I urge you to watch all of it. You’ll see another video (below) that will add much context to the overall conversation.

The question never was… ‘Can we solve global poverty by accepting high numbers of immigrants?’

Nobody with any serious education on the subject thinks that we can solve global poverty via accepting large numbers of immigrants. It was never the question, and no political science scholars or economists think in those terms.

1. Poverty is the measure of annual income in the Developed World.

2.Immigration is the measure of the number of people you allow into a country.

See how different those two things are?

The question is… ‘How can we boost the incomes of the world’s poorest so that tens of millions have no need to move to the Developed World as economic immigrants or refugees?’

The difference between Migrant and Refugee

The difference between Migrant and Refugee

And that is what the UN has been working on for the past couple of decades, with some measurable indicators of success via the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (or, MDG’s)

“The Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s) are the world’s time-bound and quantified targets for addressing extreme poverty in its many dimensions-income poverty, hunger, disease, lack of adequate shelter, and exclusion-while promoting gender equality, education, and environmental sustainability.” — Read more about the UN Millennium Development Goals here

One important term to remember is Developed World — and the definition is, “countries where most people earn more than $10. per day.”

The other important term to remember is Developing World — and the definition is, “countries where most people earn less than $10. per day.”

Here is the state of the world in the year 2000

  • In the year 2000, there were 6 billion people on the Earth.
  • Out of that 6 billion, only 1 billion earned more than $10. per day.
  • Another 1 billion earned between $1. and $10. per day.
  • The remaining 4 billion existed on less than $1 dollar per day.

Switch to 2015…

  • In the year 2015, there are 7.2 billion people on the Earth.
  • Out of that 7.2 billion, 2 billion earned more than $10. per day.
  • Out of that 7.2 billion, another 3.2 billion earned between $2.50 and $10. per day.
  • The other 2 billion existed on less than $2.50 per day.

In 2015, remember that only 2 billion people live in the Developed World. The other 5.2 billion people live in the Developing World.

And each year, due to the massively good work of the United Nations and organizations like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, The Clinton Foundation, C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, The Kuwait Fund, The Nyota Fund, and many others — people in the Developing World are earning more money and have better education and healthcare.

At present rates of progress, by 2050 there should be nobody left in the ‘less than $10. per day’ category.

But ‘coasting on our to-date-accomplishments in this field’ is a plan that displays an astonishing Lack of Ambition because we could achieve those goals by merely ‘coasting’ on our 1980-2005 poverty eradication efforts!

So the fight is on — about what to do and how much to do. And if we don’t do enough, millions more will die horrible deaths by starvation, a lack of clean water, and a lack of proper sanitation — and the Developed World will face tens of millions of economic immigrants and refugees fleeing war-torn countries for many decades to come. It has the potential to become the ‘new normal’ if it isn’t handled properly on our watch.

The fight isn’t about whether accepting huge numbers of immigrants or refugees into Developed World will solve the problem of global poverty — the fight is about which plan will solve global poverty and raise every single person on the planet to a minimum $10. per day standard.

Here’s an excellent video with answers to many of the common misconceptions that the public and the media have about global poverty, global progress, and those tiny-by-comparison-numbers… the total number of immigrants and refugees accepted into each Developed World nation.

I’m positive that the following information will shock and inform you.

It nicely balances out the first video in this article that tends to get people riled up about immigration, particularly if they’re predisposed to dislike immigrants.

It’s a form of intellectual dishonesty to pretend that global poverty and the resultant refugee crisis can be solved via higher levels of immigration to the Developed World.

The solution, is to create working economies in the Developing World so that tens of millions of economic migrants, or refugees fleeing war-torn nations, have no need to flee to the Developed World in the first place.