Capital, by David Heenan|
Mark Lamendola, author of over 5,000 articles.
Shortly before reviewing this book, I attended a
conference at which many of the attendees were executives. Conversation at
breaks and during the lunch kept turning to a single topic not even on the
conference agenda: "How hard it is to find people who can do the work."
Joe Salimando, an electrical industry analyst,
predicted a shortage of electricians and project managers--more than ten
years ago. That shortage has hit today, with a vengeance. The average
electrician is in his mid-40s, and the average senior project manager is
in his early 60s. The statistics are grim for other brainworkers--both in
skilled trades and in the professions. The average nurse is 53 years old,
for example. And try to hire a competent machinist--I dare you!
None of this should be surprising. In the 1970s,
schools began to abandon properly equipping children for the real world.
That is not to say that every graduate of the 1970s and later is inept.
But what has happened is the best and brightest have had to succeed
despite their "education," not because of it.
Another factor is 98% of American homes contain a
brainwashing machine (also called a "television"). These machines expose
their victims to a steady stream of anxiety-producing marketing messages,
regularly scheduled depressing news, and a litany of falsehoods and
propaganda. Which is why I haven't watched television since my early days
of graduate school (oh, so long ago--and I don't miss it).
Compounding the difficulties, American corporations
are run mostly by plundering executives and incestuous boards. The
corporate practice of squeezing non-executive employees to pay for the
lavish "compensation" of CEOs and key officers is still a problem, despite
some recent federal cases. For example, Disney reneged on the performance
bonuses they owed their Imagineers, but in the same year let Michael D.
Eisner "earn" $830 million. Until enough Americans boycott Disney and
demand a refund of that $830 million, we can't expect this kind of "Rob
the poor to give to the rich" chicanery to stop. Among the collateral
damage: Kids who grew up in the 1970s and 1980s to see their dedicated,
hard-working parents discarded like yesterday's trash while the executives
who ruined their lives were paid tens of millions of dollars. That's
hardly very motivating, and it certainly has not engendered employee
loyalty among those who are today's junior workers.
Another problem is the Internal Revenue "Service."
(Not taxes, per se--though in sum, taxes work out to 70% to 90% of income
and would be punitive even if cut in half. The federal government alone
uses five different taxation methods on individuals, including national
sales taxes and a flat tax.)
John Graver has interviewed wealthy expatriates and
found that every one of them
cited the IRS as the number one reason for leaving. Anyone who has
been caught up in the machinery of this criminal-infested agency
understands why. The GAO reports each year on IRS employee behavior that
normal people would be locked up for (such as stealing 4300 computers from
their own offices). Congress, however, pretends none of this is a problem.
Congress is concerned about political infighting, not about engaging in
productive use of their time. So, this problem isn't likely to go away any
time soon. We are stuck with an unfettered, arrogant federal agency that
is not only abetting individual criminal actions, but is also driving away
the wealthy--who take their job-producing capital with them.
So now the chicken has come home to roost and the
cost to America is staggering. The USA is losing its dominance in every
area in which it now leads the rest of the world. We have societal,
institutional, cultural, and other factors driving the knowledge workers
away. This, despite the fact that the real wealth today is created in the
knowledge economy. But the good news is we may be able to do
something to save ourselves and future generations. And therein lies the
real value of Heenan's book.
"Flight Capital" consists of ten chapters. The first
chapter explains the brain drain problem (quite well, I might add). Heenan
tells us why this is happening, what forces are accelerating it, and what
it is costing us.
Each of the next eight chapters examines a different
economic competitor to the USA and how each is attracting human
capital (as opposed to how the USA drives people away). A basic tenet in
business is "Know your competition." Heenan has analyzed the competition,
and provided minute detail on each of the eight selected competitors. He
even provides a "guided tour" in each of many cities to the various
restaurants, night clubs, and attractions. What I like about this aspect
isn't so much the interesting read it provides, but the evidence that
Heenan isn't some armchair analyst making generalizations. My confidence
in his information is high.
The final chapter provides a mix of common-sense and
insightful advice on how to get the USA back into the game. You might want
to ask, "Who is Heenan to have the magic answers to our problems?"
Actually, he doesn't claim that he personally has the answers. Remember,
eight out of the ten chapters in this book examine the competition.
Heenan developed his advice by looking at what works. This is much
better than any theory. The untested educational theories of the 1970s and
beyond are partly to blame for the brain gap problem we have right now.
Heenan has refused to take the reader down that road again--instead, he
focuses on facts and draws conclusions based on results. And aren't good
results what we're really after, anyhow?
I'm glad I read this book, simply because it is a
high-quality book. But what would really make me happy is if every leader
in America--in government, academia, and business--also read it. And took
it to heart. We, as a nation, must answer some tough questions in the very
near future. Fortunately, the answers we need are in this book. Thank you,
Mr. Heenan--you have rendered the nation a tremendous service.
A note on the writing: form is important, as it dictates readability.
Fortunately, this book scored very well on substance and on form.
This book actually uses Standard Written English (SWE). This was a
refreshing change from the Pidgin English that so many of today's authors
slop onto our reading palettes. The care taken in writing this book shows
that the author and publisher actually cared about the reader. That's a