I was in Vietnam about this time last year. President Obama also happened to be in Hanoi at the same time, working to enhance America’s internationally presence and improve trade relations with twelve Pacific Rim partners. Vietnam and the other countries rejoiced at his arrival after a torturous past of wars and corruption that was crippling the economies of Southeast Asia and the Pacific. Obama helped broker the twelve-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Many trade experts saw TPP as the single most valuable tool America had for shaping the geo-economic future of the region our way and for pressuring China to open its markets.
TPP also included restrictions on foreign state-owned enterprises that dumped subsidized products into our markets, intellectual property protections for rising U.S. technologies – like free access for all cloud computing services. Like any trade deal, TPP would have challenged some U.S. workers but it would have created opportunities for many others, because big economies like Japan and Vietnam were opening their markets. For decades we had allowed Japan to stay way too closed because, because it was an ally in the Cold War, and Vietnam, because it was an enemy. Some 80 percent of the goods from our 11 TPP partners were coming into the U.S. duty free already, while our goods and services were still being hit with 18,000 tariffs in their countries – which TPP eliminated.
We could have even helped the economic reformers in China. They were hoping that the emergence of TPP “would force China to reform its trade practices more along American lines and to open its markets . . . We failed the reformers in China.”
P.S. Happy Fourth of July weekend. Enjoy. Back on Wednesday, July 5th.
Thank you, President Obama, for all that you have done for this country. Please keep helping us in ways that only you can do. You have clearly seen the power of technology as an added instructional tool for the twenty-first century, but you are definitely not obsessed with the instant self-gratification of social media/Twitter as a tool to attack political and personal enemies (real or imagined). Are you listening, Mr. Trump? It’s not all about the technology. Education is still the key as advocated by President Obama.
Maybe a little history lesson will help. When the United States moved from an agrarian economy to an industrialized economy, it rapidly expanded high school education: By 1951, the average American had 6.2 more years of education than someone born 75 years earlier. The extra education enabled people to do new kinds of jobs, and explains 14 percent of the annual increases in labor productivity during that period, economists say. Now the country faces a similar problem. Machines can do many low-skilled tasks, and American children, especially those from low-income and minority families, lag behind their peers in other countries educationally. President Obama named some policy ideas for dealing with the problem: stronger unions, an updated social safety net and a tax overhaul so that the people benefitting most from technology share some of their earnings.
The Trump administration probably won’t agree with many of these solutions. But the economic consequences of automation will be one of the biggest problems it faces. It won’t go away. It can’t be FIRED!
President Obama, in fact, will be leaving office with far more digital content to archive than any previous president. Not very surprising, you might say, considering the years of his presidency and the rise of social media during his term. He will have attracted 11.1 million Twitter followers, not to mention the numbers who follow him on Facebook and Instagram. Obama’s tweets will move over to a new handle, @POTUS44, maintained by the National Archives and Records Administration. Maybe the Archives and Records Administration could be a helpful agency to Hillary Clinton in maintaining a repository of all her digital communications (on both government and personal servers) during her term as Secretary of State. Or at least I think that is all that the FBI is really interested in?
Just archive them and then make them all available whenever she finishes any future government assignment she may have, like President of the United States? Okay, if she doesn’t win, I guess it’s all fair game, but how much time does Congress or any other “aggrieved party” want to spend on all this mess. Anthony Weiner’s sextexting emails included. Really? Unfortunately, we don’t have any Donald Trump sexual harassment activities on videotape, but we certainly have enough testimony from women who have been harassed by him. Let’s face it. If you have been a star on reality TV, you must be now qualified to be President.
Please! Let’s stop the madness before it is too late. Think about your own and your children’s future. Obama has brought us back from a financial disaster that he inherited in 2008. I think he truly made America a better country in more ways than economically. Don’t turn back the clock on this progress. It’s not really all about Twitter and social media, but Obama used it to unite us, not divide us.
Web users in the U.S. can now breathe a little easier because of a recent circuit court ruling which prohibits broadband companies from blocking or slowing the delivery of internet content to consumers. The key word in all of there deliberations and previous court rulings is the definition/declaration of internet broadband service as a “utility,” not a luxury for the American consumer. This should be good news for anyone who shops, or just looks online, for comparisons of quality and/or price across different retailers.
The challenge for retailers, of course, is to remain competitive in the online marketplace which is rapidly replacing the “bricks and mortar” stores and shopping malls. So the consumer remains “king” in shaping marketing strategies in the twenty-first century. And business must now use those strategies that will be most convenient for the consumer to access information about their products and prices in the easiest way.
With net neutrality, this information will now continue to reach the broadest possible audience in a very personalized way, much to the delight of Internet giants like Google and Netflix. In effect, the court now interprets the internet as an essential platform for consumers! For our youngest consumers, I’m sure they wonder how you could shop without it!
The 2016 Vietnam International Retail and Franchise Show opened earlier this week in Ho Chi Minh City (Obama missed this one). It is the eighth edition of this event which features 317 booths with all kinds of retail and training information. Yes, the latest technologies to meet the demands of the modern retail industry are included in the Show. Young entrepreneurs may find unexpected opportunities here that were nonexistent in Vietnam’s recent past.
I will be leaving here tomorrow, and am very grateful for having had the opportunity to visit here. Go East, young man may not be for everyone, but it is more than a geography lesson to travel here. Of course, there are still many challenges that at one time may have seen insurmountable, but it is a young country that is not living in the past. They are ready to grow, and raise their children in a more modern Asia, that hopefully will be more peaceful and prosperous than in the past. And I think they are more likely to see America as a partner in that journey.
It may have been a hard and tragic lesson for both sides to learn. Older Americans (like me) and Vietnamese may remember it all too well, but perhaps the new world of mutual economic benefit aided by smarter business technologies will save us all?
Vietnam (en route to U.S. the next few days, back to blogging next Wednesday)
Maybe if you are old enough to remember “The Ugly American” (novel and a movie with Marlon Brando, set somewhere in Southeast Asia) you will also recall that the “face” of America at that time was feared and met with disgust in that faraway corner of the world. Brando played the American ambassador who had little concern for strengthening diplomatic ties as much as protecting U.S. commercial and military interests there (my interpretation). Now, at least in Vietnam, there seems to be a new perception of mutual benefit in stronger bilateral ties. One American who has lived in Ho Chi Minh City for a few years, now says “You know, they still look at us here the way we want to be looks at. America equals opportunity, entrepreneurship and success. That’s not true in so many places anymore.”
As I mentioned in a post last week, about one-third of the Vietnamese are on Facebook. Arguably they are mostly the “younger” Vietnamese who are now able to connect with the rest of the world. Unfortunately, their peers in China can not, and although there is some connectivity in India, the Internet is not as easily accessible as in Vietnam. China and India are not signatories to President Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership. Facebook, of course, may not be the most educational or “broadening” experience for the rest of the world to learn more about America, but to the extent that younger Americans might see the “international” value, we should all be enriched. It may all be about “social networking” with peers at first, but at least the opportunity will be there for a larger world view.
And maybe the political systems we live under will be more open to contrasting governmental and economic differences. One size doesn’t really fit all.
So everybody knows that Obama was here last week, and it seems like the Cubans are now very interested in forging some deeper science-technology ties with their comrades here in Vietnam. Maybe technology can really help the world become smaller, reaching across oceans and continents that share some common economic goals. Obama actually helped us reconnect with Cuba, and now both these Communist countries see technology as a tool that will help them establish new commercial partnerships. Or as the Vietnamese Prime Minister said: “enhance comprehensive ties with the Caribbean country.” “Comprehensive” will do.
Similarly, the Cuban Minister of Science, Technology and Enviroment said “her visit aimed to consolidate the co-operation in science-technology and natural resources between the two countries.” I don’t think that Obama actually intended to bring these two countries closer economically as part of opening the diplomatic and commercial doors with the U.S., but it could have played a role? Call it an unintended consequence if you will, but increasing and consolidating trade cooperation can be a mutual benefit to all trading partners on a bi-lateral or multi-lateral basis.
It doesn’t always have to be about political ideology, but that could be a beginning to expand economies on a more global basis. And technology may be the unintended tool that creates such an environment.
Well the slogan comes from New Hamshire, U.S.A., but we could just as well be talking about Vietnam, and their pursuit of Internet connectivity that would exceed their Asian neighbors. Let’s just say they are trying to set the record straight after there were some “unkind” reports around Obama’s recent visit by several foreign news outlets that Vietnam “restricted” access to the widely-popular Facebook social network during the visit. To make matters worse, the Vietnam News reports that “Some reactionaries and dissidents . . . posted this ill-intentioned information on their personal blogs.” Not a good idea!
Now here is what the News reports: “Compared to 2000, the number of Internet users in Vietnam has soared 200-fold.” They now have 45.5 million Internet-users or 48 per cent of the population, ranking sixth in Asia, behind China (674 million), India (354 million), Japan (114.9 million), Indonesia (73 million) and the Philippines (47.1 million). They proudly add that they are “also among the top countries in terms of Facebook user growth, not to mention other information channels.” Furthermore, Vietnam’s growth in this area “prove the Vietnamese Party and State’s consistent viewpoint of ensuring press and Internet freedom.”
So there you have it. Vietnam is open for business and social networking on the Internet, and they’re proud of it. Just don’t believe all of those “unkind” reports by some foreign news outlets.
Somehow I never thought of Vietnam as embracing that old American entrepreneurial spirit, but I have been wrong before. President Obama says that it is now a happening place for venture capitalists. Now I really don’t know many of those people in the venture capital world, but I’ll take his word for it. I think what I like most about how he sees technology being a growth area is his conviction that people are still the most important part of this enterprise.
And there are a lot of people here that traditional approaches in education and training have failed. If they are lucky enough to connect with a start-up like Dreamplex in Ho Chi Minh City they might find newer opportunities of their own making, or in collaboration with others. Mr. Obama told young entrepreneurs at Dreamplex yesterday that next month he would welcome eight Vietnamese entrepreneurs to Silicon Valley so that they can learn from the best entrepreneurs and venture capitalists in the world.
So it’s a new kind of foreign aid, I guess you could call it. With the hope that these American-trained entrepreneurs will return home and work to expand opportunities for others in the place of their birth.
Not only is he the country’s first black president, but now he is the first digital one! Let’s just say he has created a digital presidential presence that wasn’t there before. Obviously he and his team at the White House realize the value of using social media to connect with the American public. Now there is an Office of Digital Strategy at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Roughly twenty aides spend their days managing his Twitter account and the White House Facebook page, Instagram account and YouTube channel.
So many ways to “reach out” to everyday Americans if you have all the necessary tech tools, and the time? Social media is becoming a very crowded place, and I am sure that Mr. Obama’s followers are voluminous. But can social media really be persuasive? My own view is that we use this media primarily for our own personal entertainment and edification, “following” only those messengers who reinforce our own personal, social, and political views. Most people will search out where they will find those media sources that express only those opinions that coincide with their own, and tune out the others.
How many Republican followers do you think President Obama really has? From what I have read, most disagreements with his social media postings have largely taken the form of personal attacks rather than substantive replies. Maybe we will all learn to become more civil in the political social media world, and learn more about what we really need to know, regardless of whom the messenger may be. Let’s hope so.