Global renewal is the underlying theme of The Phoenix Year. When we examine what is happening in the world, we see that it has many problems such as:
– The seeming inability of some governments to have the right vision;
– Some shortsighted corporate chieftains are more involved with maintaining their share prices rather than human capital;
– The threat of global climate change with a clear lack of support from some governments and businesses to act;
– The conflicts and the wars and how they impact society;
– The outbreak of deadly diseases such as SARS, MERS, and now Ebola, all in parts of the world with limited resources and ability to deal with these problems;
– The millions of displaced human beings without hope for a better future who find themselves in refugee camps from the Middle East to Asia to Africa – the international agencies that are trying to cope with but, unfortunately, are overburdened and underfunded.
You can understand why so many of these people just say – let me live day to day, moment to moment, in the present – for the future seems to hold no promise of renewal.
Economics is at the heart of the problems and also offers the only way forward to solutions. In the late 1990’s the idea that wars would become impossible for reasons that countries, even the most prosperous, could not go it alone. Globalization of commerce and the disappearance of “national champions” in the corporate world replaced by new, more “international” companies (in some instances) owing allegiance only to their shareholders, was to be the new glue for this “New Economic Order.” Political disputes would in the view of the optimists, take second place to business interests of these global giants. Perhaps, however, the most dangerous of the issues that leave government officials with sleepless nights comes from the inability of modern business to find jobs for as many people, especially the youth, who seek employment. Unemployment in rich and poor countries alike to these ‘new workers’ is high, in some cases reaching over 50%, leaving these young people to find alternate avenues of employment, in some cases turning to crime and in some isolated instances sometimes to terrorism. We have seen such examples in recent times with people turning to ISIS or Al Qaeda intent on changing the status quo. So, in many ways, the second decade of the 21st century is looking more like the third decade of the 19th century.
The Phoenix Year tries to make sense of this world. It starts from the premise that with so much wealth and power now concentrated in the hands of the top 1% of the world’s people, it assumes that they are the only ones who can stop the devolution into social revolutions. The first part of the Russian revolution was led by the newly emerged businessmen and the rising middle classes, but Bolsheviks stole the march and were far more ruthless. ISIS or Boka Haram are no less radical or ruthless. Von Kleise knows that only the private sector, the engines of capital and technology, can change the world, reverse the trends that seem intractable. Companies must be working for “the greater good” rather than their own selfish interests. He grimaces at the term “shareholders value” knowing that benefiting only a small handful of already wealthy men will never stop the social revolutions that will come. Russia is the prime example of what could happen if the radicals take control of governments through the ballot box or revolution. It didn’t turn out so well for the Russian upper class when the Bolsheviks took power and sent millions of those middle classes to their death or into abject poverty. So Von Kleise conceives a long-term plan to take control of the largest and most important companies from the men whose vision he feels is lacking. His motto is as follows:
– Only if companies cooperate seeing that their fortunes are tied to the strength of other companies and the economies in which they work;
– Only if companies pay adequate wages to their workers (even those at the lower levels) rather than maximizing the pay of their senior managements;
– Only if they value revenue growth over profits to ensure the full employment of all human capital;
– Only if they invest in new technologies rather than milk ‘old cash cows’; and
– Only if they have a vision that extends beyond the next report to Wall Street or quarterly accounting statement;
Can the malaise and the fear that grips the world today be transformed to optimism and hope that tomorrow will indeed be a better day than today?
You be the judge… The Phoenix Year is available for download Kindle, eBook and paperback edition.