DICK BAYNTON: Hope Is Not A Strategy

Dick Baynton

Hope can be an uplifting word in almost any context; hope for recovery of a sick person, hope for rain during a drought and hope for a sunny day for the Church picnic. However, sometimes the word hope is promoted as a strategy; but hope is not strategic, it is a wish, a dream, an aspiration of a ‘hopeful’ outcome to a problem or challenge. The word hope is especially welcome among religious folks who ‘hope’ for salvation, forgiveness and redemption.

Recently a dear friend (WRK) and I exchanged some messages on the Internet that were concerned with the word HOPE. Hope is more than just a word as it means a lot to a lot of people. The most abused example that comes to mind is the use of ‘hope’ linked with ‘and change’ during the inauguration of Barack Obama on January 20th, 2009 and during the many months of campaigning prior to the change of leadership.

In some contexts hope gets very low credit such as a politician who ‘hopes’ to win the election or the gambler who ‘hopes’ to make a million bucks playing poker or blackjack. Perhaps the most dangerous use of the word hope is by the oblivious predecessors of government officials called politicians. Hope has no credence in the arena of promises, forecasts or results. It is only a political tool to win votes and allegiance to an idea, a theory or a future achievement of low probability such as ‘we hope to have a balanced budget.’ As once warned by Harry F. Banks, “The illusions of hope are apt to close one’s eyes to the painful truth.”

Let’s consider two venerable institutions: General Electric Corporation (conglomerate), incorporated in Schenectady, NY in 1892 and The United States of America. GE is a worldwide institution of 295,000 employees who created $122 Billion in revenue in 2016. In 2017, GE stock tanked 44.8% to a low of $16.36 on January 25th, 2018. Jeff Immelt who retired in 2017 led GE after the departure of Jack Welch who had built GE into a corporate colossus by 2000. Immelt made some bad decisions that affected profitability, shareholders, employees, banks and customers. The hopes of stockholders, employees and others have been dashed by the falling fortunes of this worldwide industrial behemoth. John Flannery was appointed to replace Immelt and hopes once again rise that the company will reclaim its stature as a world leading producer of high demand products and services.

The United States of America Was founded in 1776 with the publication of The Declaration of Independence and confirmed in 1787 with the creation of The Constitution. Our nation has grown from 13 states to 50 in 241 years and has become the world leader in production of goods and services and the most powerful defensive military machine in world history. Our hopes have been realized in many areas but we are also experiencing domestic and international turmoil and divisiveness.

Financially, we are among the world’s leading debtor nations and yet we are one of the world’s most prosperous nations measured by purchasing power parity (PPP). Like GE, we hired a new leader to realize the hopes and dreams of ‘draining the swamp’ but instead of strapping on the harness of leadership, negotiation and joint goals of achievement, a large segment of the population has chosen to exercise their ‘rights’ of ‘resistance.’

Resistance is lawful but overlooks the motive of growth, peace, prosperity and security for about 327 million citizens and embraces the convoluted motive of impeachment of the new leader. What are the odds or ‘probability’ of charting a course of national debt reduction that is now over $20 trillion? What is the probability of a set of healthcare laws that reduce costs and increases efficacy for most citizens?

Here is some arbitrary math about hope and probability: GE is 95% likely to rebound to thriving performance within five years. The probability of new healthcare laws in two years is about 90%. The probability of national debt reduction is about equal to sitting in a meadow with a stool and bucket awaiting a milk cow to back up to the bucket.

Positive anything is exponentially better than negative everything.

Dick Baynton

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