ep. 04 - Herb Meyer: Former Reagan Administration Intelligence Official
FMR. REAGAN ADMINISTRATION INTELLIGENCE OFFICIAL, FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT OF STORM KING PRESS
Herb Meyer served in the Ronald Reagan's Administration as Special Assistant to the Director of Central Intelligence and Vice Chairman of the CIA's National Intelligence Council. In these positions, he managed production of the US National Intelligence Estimates and other top-secret projections for the President and his national security advisers. He is widely credited with being the first senior US Government official to forecast the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War -- a forecast for which he later was awarded the US National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal, which is the Intelligence Community's highest honor.
ep. 04 - Herb Meyer: Former Reagan Administration Intelligence Official
Gail Davis: Herb Meyer served during the Reagan administration as special assistant to the Director of Central Intelligence and vice-chairman of the CIA's National Intelligence Council. In these positions, he managed production of the US National Intelligence estimates and other top secret projections for the president and his National Security advisors. Herb is widely credited with being the first senior US government official to forecast the collapse of the Soviet Union. A forecast for which he later was awarded the US National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal which is the intelligence community's highest honor. These days Herb is a popular speaker on the lecture circuit.
He delivers an overview of global trends and developments entitled "What in the World is Going On: A Global Intelligence Briefing to Corporations, Business Associations, Student Organizations and Public Affairs Groups Throughout the World." Welcome, Herb.
Kyle Davis: Hey, Herb.
Herb Meyer: Hi. Thanks for having me.
Kyle Davis: It's great to have you here with us. I think what will be a great segue for us to start just based off of your background and the conversation that we had the other day. You really did help me set this up. This is true. You were the first official that predicted the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Soviet Union. What are you seeing today? What is kind of happening now with everything that's going on in the world not just Russia, but ... We can start there, but everything else that we're seeing in the world today.
Herb Meyer: Well, you've asked precisely the right question. When we look at the world, we see the world through a kind of intellectual prism. One of those triangular bars of glass that focuses and refracts light. For decades, the prism through which we saw the world was the Cold War, that titanic struggle between the Free World and the Soviet Union. Well, Cold War ended in 1991 and we didn't have a way to look at the world anymore. The prism went away. If you remember your great president from Houston, George H.W. Bush, talked about the New World Order, but he couldn't explain what that was. Not his fault. Just he had an intuitive sense that something new was starting to take shape. Well, it has. Now there's a new prism through which to see the world.
If I had to find one word to describe that new prism, that word would be modernity. The world is becoming modern. That's what's happening out there. May I take a moment and explain what this means?
Kyle Davis: Yes, please.
Gail Davis: Please.
Kyle Davis: By all means.
Herb Meyer: Okay. The best way to understand modernity is to go back a few centuries before the world was modern. Life span was very short. Mid-40s in most places. Most people were half starved most of the time. People were illiterate, uneducated. Women weren't allowed to be educated. Travel was rare. Most people spent their entire lives within 20 miles of where they've been born. You have no say in how you were governed. You're a peasant, you're a servant. You just did what you were told. Nothing changed. Tomorrow was the same as yesterday. The modern world is completely different. Life span's nearly 80. In our country and other countries in the modern world, there's no starvation. Do you realize what an astonishing human achievement that is? We've defeated starvation in the modern world.
It is so astonishing that today we're told by our government the biggest health problem faced by poor people in the United States today is obesity. It's an incredible achievement. It's actually happened. People are literate. They're educated. Women are educated. They own businesses. They run for political office. We travel all the time. We have a huge say in how we're governed and nothing stays the same. That's innovation. Well, the point is this, power transitioned to modernity. It wasn't smooth and seamless. It took centuries. The 18th and 19th centuries were violent. In 1861, the United States broke apart into a Civil War over slavery. Before that were ended, we killed more than 700,000 of each other and the president was assassinated. That's worst than anything that's happened in Iraq and it happened here. It happened to us. We got through it.
20th century was worst. World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, fascism, communism. Look what it took to get us here. Today when you look at all the violence and turmoil in the Mid East, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Syria, all the rest, what we're actually looking at is the entire Islamic world beginning to make the journey we began more than 400 years ago. What we keep saying to these people is, "Can't you guys do this by next Thursday?" Well, no. Look how long it took us. One of the features of modernity is that good news isn't news. Airplane lands on time isn't a Fox News alert, is it? Well, there are a lot of good things happening. Three years ago, the presidential elections in Afghanistan were astonishing. They had more than 20 candidates for president. More than the Republican Party had in 2016. They had two rounds of voting.
Just before the third and final round with the two candidates left, it was very intense. The two candidates met privately and walked about to the television cameras announced they had agreed to govern together. One as president of Afghanistan, the other as chief executive of Afghanistan, like a prime minister. Well, they're the government. 2016 both these officials came to the United States to Washington explicitly to thank the American people for all the sacrifices we've made for their country. Neither that election nor that trip was in the news. Egypt, el-Sisi the president, went to the most important mosque in Cairo. They were about 250 in arms there and he stuck it to them. He said, "You guys failed us. You never taught us how to reconcile our faith with modernity." Wow. That speech is echoing across the Mid East. It never got picked up in the United States.
He went to the church and met with Christians. By the way, a few weeks ago, a couple months ago, on Egyptian television, they ran a four part dramatic series. You know their Masterpiece Theater?
Kyle Davis: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Herb Meyer: It was about a Jewish middle class family in Cairo in the years after World War II. Probably was the biggest hit in the history of Egyptian television. Well, good for them. In Jordan, the king's a modern man. Abdullah, the helicopter pilot?
Kyle Davis: Yeah. I know. He's awesome.
Herb Meyer: He's trying to turn Jordan into the Silicon Valley of the Mid East. He's got IBM, Intel, Apple setting up research facilities there. He's attracting Jordanians here in the West to raise venture capital and come back and start businesses. No countries gotten further than Morocco to improve the rights of women. Just last week, the King of Bahrain attended a Hanukah service for the Jewish families in Bahrain. By the way about four years ago, he named an Ambassador to the United States, first woman ambassador appointed in the Arab world and by the way, he was Jewish. There are a lot of good things happening that never get picked up. What we're really seeing is a billion and a half people, the entire Islamic world in effect beginning to write the code for version 2.0, beginning to figure out how to reconcile the principles of their faith with modernity the way Judaism or Christianity began to do it centuries ago.
Now again, we've got the terrorism and all that and that's serious issue obviously. In a way, it's the last gasp against modernity. They can slow it down. They can kill a lot of people. They can't stop it. This is an extraordinary moment in world history and there's another feature of modernity that also never makes the news. As the world becomes modern, the world is becoming rich fast. Look at the numbers. By 1980 or 1990, about 2 billion human beings have emerged from poverty. Since then another half billion have emerged from poverty. A lot of them are in China and India. In the last six years or so, 20 million Brazilians emerged from poverty. Did you know that today on the continent of Africa, the number of people with disposable income is over 300 million? It's now bigger than the US population. When you put all the numbers together, what's happening is this.
Every year between 50 million and 100 million human beings are now emerging from poverty. What it means is this, if this trend continues, it's actually accelerating, if it simply continues at the current rate, it means that within the lifetimes of most of the people listening to this podcast, certainly within the lifetimes of today's college students, the world will cross a line that's never been crossed before and most people never even imagined could be crossed. For the first time in history, the overwhelming majority of human beings will not be poor. Isn't that stunning? No one ever talks about it.
Kyle Davis: It's absolutely crazy. I remember there's a great episode of The West Wing and the only reason why I mention it is because it's talking about how to deliver AIDS medicine in Africa. Basically it just came from the fact that to take an AIDS medicine regimen, you had to take it at certain times like every 12 hours or so. I think that episode probably came online who knows, probably around 1999 or whatever. What's so interesting is that since then, the continent of Africa has totally skipped banking as banking being a brick and mortar location. They've skipped it over just for a straight mobile banking. Africa, just to use Africa as an example, has more people doing mobile banking per capita than any other place in the world. It's simply just because their jumped into modernity said, "We don't have lay landlines.
We don't have to have a brick and mortar location. Instead I have my Nokia, still my old school text messaging system, and I can do my banking that way." I think you're right. I think you're onto something about people jumping into modernity and the new wealth. It's really helping to bring a lot of people into modernity.
Herb Meyer: Well, here's what it means, Kyle. Seven of the world's 10 fastest growing economies are in sub-Saharan Africa. These are black countries headed by black elected officials. Not all men. They're putting in place economic and financial policies the Tea Party couldn't get through Congress. The result are levels of economic growth we'd never seen before, but here's the sum total. It means the biggest under reported news story in the world today is the emergence and exponential growth of a global middle class. This is what no one talks about.
Kyle Davis: I think you said it right when you said that good news, plane lands on time, will not make the breaking news in CNN or Fox News or any other media outlet. It just reminds me that saying that I share a lot which is "you can do a million things right, but you did the one thing wrong and that's kind of what you're known for." Whether it be terrorism or poverty or anything else and it just seems that the focus keeps going into the negative and we don't seem to have that optimistic view of the world that I personally hold even though I may present myself more as a pessimist. It's definitely someone who has not just the understanding, but the experience and the intelligence. You had the CIA compiling reports for you saying, "You know ..." Your outlook is one of optimism. I think that's refreshing.
Herb Meyer: Well, thank you, but you have to go where the facts take you. What it means is this, if we're seeing the emergence of a global middle class, it means the total customer base for every product and service our companies provide, is now growing at a rate of 50 to 100 million new customers every year. That's the best news you're ever going to hear in business.
Gail Davis: What is the solution for getting the good news out there or a more balanced approach from the media? Do you have ideas or recommendations on ...
Herb Meyer: The media isn't going to do it very well and there's a political reason for that. The reason the world is emerging from poverty and creating a global middle class is because around the world more and more countries are putting in place the free market mechanisms that make this possible. Lower regulation, lower taxes, democracy, all these kinds of things and that's what the media doesn't like to report. It actually suggests that people who have a more conservative outlook, conservative with a small C, happen to be right. They won't tell you that. The result is you get a distorted picture of the world. Let me give one other set of statistics that when I talk to audiences always stops things cold. It's the improvement in global health. From 1990 to 2013, has been a 47% drop in the number of deaths related to malaria.
Millions of people a year mostly children. 38% drop in AIDS related deaths. 33% drop in tuberculosis related deaths. From 1990 to 2013, the number of people who die each year from diarrhea related illnesses, again it's mostly children, has dropped from over 5 million to about 760,000. What that means is this, on an average day today, right now, around the world, 17,000 children will not die who would have died on an average day in 1990. Isn't that stunning?
Gail Davis: It's stunning.
Herb Meyer: No one is told about this. The emergence of a global middle class is good just as human beings. It's good economically because it creates a gigantic customer base. It's also good politically because people like us don't want to go to war with people like us. We send nasty emails. There's such a thing as human nature. When people become middle class, they get busy with their jobs, with their kids, making plans for the weekend, going to sporting events, concerts. Most people would rather shop than fight. You're heading into a world that will be dominated by a global middle class. That's a much better world and it's a real shame that nobody ever talks about it.
Kyle Davis: We talked about this the other day, but statistically speaking, I mean there is no better time to be alive throughout human history. I mean your life expectancy is going to be way longer than it was that of 100 years ago or 300 years ago. Your access to wealth regardless of what you want to call wealth is much greater wherever you live in the world. Is there still severe and extreme poverty all throughout the world? Sure, there is. From a statistical standpoint, there is no better time to be alive. 10 years from now if this trend follows and it will, is going to be better. It just kind of reminds me to talk about terrorism if we want to go to that just for a moment. One of the quotes that one of my professors said when I was in college was "a dog is most dangerous when it's tired, it's hungry and it's backed into a corner."
That comment that he made was just in reference to not just Islamic terrorists, Islamic radicalism or whatever you want to call it, but it's more of the fear of change. A lot of these groups regardless of their ideology, they're resistant to change. They're resistant to what is happening around them and then that's when they begin to lash out. They see the demise of the way that they're thinking and the way that they're living because things around them are changing. I'm wondering if you could speak onto that as well.
Herb Meyer: Well, that's accurate. When you look at the Islamic world, there's one particular change that lies at the core of all the trouble. It's the role of women. When they accept women as people rather than as property, everything changes. If you've ever been to the Mid East, you've seen this on television, bunch of Arab gentlemen sitting at a café smoking cigarettes, drinking these tiny cups of sweet coffee that they drink. Look, they didn't drive up in BMW's, in Lexus'. Their houses aren't as nice as yours or mine, but when they go home, no one talks back to them. No one. My wife and daughter talk back to me. What we're saying to these guys is, "Come on into the modern world. You get a job. You get a car. Your wife gets a washer and a dryer. Your daughter will go to college." They're just looking right back and saying, "Oh, my wife has ..."
What do you call this thing? A charge card. I turn to my 14 year old daughter. I say, "Where do you think you're going dressed like that?" She won't even take headphones off to talk to me. Don't tell me to live like that. That's not how my father lived. By the way, there is a point in there, okay? For a percentage of men, the leap from the 7th century to the 21st century is too big. They can't do it. Along comes Al Qaeda. Along comes ISIS. They say, "Don't fall for all that modern stuff. You have your respect. No one talks back to you. Don't let them take that from you. By the way, we'll give you a bomb and a gun." I could find 100 guys like that in Houston or Dallas or Chicago or San Francisco who would go for that. That's what we're up against. That's very dangerous. How are we going to minimize it?
When that guy goes home from the café, his wife says, "Our daughter wants to go to college. You just need to sign this application," and he signs it, we win. One reason I'm so optimistic is this is the 21st century. Your average 15 year old in [inaudible 00:19:49] they have a Facebook account. They've logged on. They know what music is popular. They know what songs people are listening to, what young people are wearing, clothes they've got. All that kind of stuff. They just want to log on and be part of it and they're on our side. The modern world is very attractive for all its faults. The average housewife in the Islamic world wants a washer and a dryer. She wants her kids to get an education. She wants to be able to go out to a restaurant a couple of times a month.
It's the modern world. Once you recognize that most people are on our side, you can see how we can win this thing.
Kyle Davis: I can say as somebody who's .. I'm 28 years old so I'm younger than both my mom and you, but not too comparably young.
Gail Davis: A little bit.
Kyle Davis: A little bit. I have a friend of mine who lives in Kabul, Afghanistan. I have another friend of mine who just recently moved back to Egypt. For me, for my perspective as a young adult seeing ... They're both women. They're connected. They're in tuned. They know what's happening around the world. My friend in Afghanistan is just ... She knows American media news before it happen ... I don't know how she keeps up, but she's keeping up and it's in Kabul, Afghanistan, a place that scares many people. Yet, she has all of the modern conveniences that a lot of people don't realize that they have in some places like Afghanistan. I find that at the very least very inspiring.
Herb Meyer: Well, it's true. One thing during the Reagan years ... Let's look back into history a little bit. What president Reagan understood is that the Russian people were on our side. We had a problem with their government, but not with them. Once you understand that, then you say, "Well, how do we separate the two? In fact, how do you drive a wedge between them?" If we could recognize this that the world is becoming modern, modernity's a good thing. You're going to find the overwhelming majority of humanity is on our side. Then you can say, "Well, how do we keep the world going down this track?" You've got an enormous problem with terrorism, but then you can see how to manage that problem, how to get it under control.
Gail Davis: Well, speaking of Russia, what's your take on Vladimir Putin? What's your take on the hankering with the election results and sanctions and everything else?
Herb Meyer: Here we go again. Look, Vladimir Putin is not a high school bully. He's a murdering puck. Okay? It's not the same thing. He's a disruptor. He's a destabilizer. Men like that don't stop until you stop them. He's probably the single greatest threat to global stability right now. By the way, I wrote an article about how to get Putin out of the Kremlin. It was published in Russian and the Russian underground. It's circulating all through Russia right now. Don't sit too close to me in a restaurant.
Kyle Davis: Drink their tea or coffee.
Herb Meyer: Yeah. Stay out of the blast rays. No, but seriously, he is a very serious threat to global stability. It's a real shame that this has happened, but it has and our next president will have to deal with that.
Kyle Davis: It's kind of like that old adage, "Everything old is new again." What he's doing with like their intelligence services, with the GREU and the FSB, essentially making up the KGB again and just ... He's turning it back into what it was which he's comfortable with.
Herb Meyer: It's like old times. I've been there.
Kyle Davis: Nothing's really changed.
Herb Meyer: Listen, listen, we ended the Cold War peacefully. It's an extraordinary achievement. We can get pass this too.
Gail Davis: That's good. I love the optimism that keeps coming through.
Kyle Davis: I think ultimately too he's just one guy. What's interesting at least my optimistic look on it is something's going to break with him. Right now he has a lot of internal problems. He's reaching out externally, but once his external solution, whatever it maybe, whether it's Syria or pushing into Ukraine or whatever, once the people start to realize that, "Hey, this isn't really helping us, the Russian people," I don't think it's going to end out very well for him. Again it's just one person.
Herb Meyer: Yeah, but that's a very intelligent point you've just made which no one in Washington seems to have grasped. The Soviet Union was a system. You had the Pollock Era. You had state control all through the country. Layer upon layer upon layer of bureaucracy. Vladimir Putin is a one man band. He's more like an old style Latin American dictator. Get him out of there. There's no replacement. The next guy won't be fighting a new [inaudible 00:25:01]
Kyle Davis: No.
Herb Meyer: It's what we can do to hold Russia together. The answer is it's a lot easier to deal with him than it was with the Soviet Union if we just get down to it and do it. Now again all we can hope is that our new president will turn his attention to it.
Kyle Davis: Let's hope for that.
Gail Davis: Herb, earlier you were talking about this global middle class. I know that one of your presentations is global intelligence for CEOs. I'm curious what opportunities this emergence of the global middle class is going to create for American businesses?
Herb Meyer: In the broadest sense, our total customer base is growing at a rate of 50 to 100 million new customers every year. Probably the biggest industry of the 21st century will be energy. There is no way to bring 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 billion people out of poverty without extracting more fuel from the earth. People are going to live decently. They got to light up those houses and apartments. Heat them. Cool them. They're going to have appliances. Factories are being built all over the world to provide products for our global middle class. Factories use power. That means trucks on the road. People commuting back and forth everyday. Energy prices have been down, but they're starting to inch back up. There's no way you can get from here to there without energy being the dominant industry of the 21st century. The second dominant industry is food, particularly protein.
In just the last eight years, meat production in China ... Meat consumption in China more than doubled. A lot of cows and pigs. Third industry is infrastructure. Power stations. Water treatment plants. Roads. Houses. Whole new cities. Shopping centers. Office complexes. Malls. Hospitals. Schools. Parking garages. Just drive around for an hour. Everything you see is what it means to be middle class. By the way, young brands which all those Kentucky Fried Chicken and Pizza Huts, ones of the busiest franchises in the world are now in Africa. Isn't that stunning?
Kyle Davis: That's crazy.
Herb Meyer: As being emerge from poverty, they buy healthcare. They buy education. Because we're human beings, they buy entertainment. The growth industries of the 21st century are energy, food, infrastructure, healthcare, education and entertainment. By the way, there's one other fact that no one ever mentions.
Gail Davis: What's that?
Herb Meyer: The United States holds the world's leadership in all six industries that will dominate the 21st century. Isn't that stunning? You would think some politicians somewhere would notice? Every leadership in energy, food, infrastructure, healthcare, education, entertainment, and nobody ever mentions this. You ask why am I an optimistic? You kidding? How could you not be an optimistic?
Kyle Davis: Well, it helps when you hold the keys to the kingdom, no?
Herb Meyer: You would think so.
Kyle Davis: Maybe we should just realize it more.
Herb Meyer: By the way, again you keep making important points, Kyle. Yeah, you have to be aware of it. Understand leadership that tells you everything is going down the drain. We may not make it through next week. When the world's becoming modern, emerging from poverty creating a global middle class and our country controls all six industries that will dominate this century, how could you not be an optimistic?
Kyle Davis: Like I said, I couldn't agree with you more on being optimistic going forward especially like when you start to see ... I just remembered when I lived in New York, New York is just this ... Is the melting pot of the melting pot that is America. Everybody from everywhere comes there. I remember one of my door guys in the building that I lived in. He was a doctor from ... I'm forgetting what country in Africa, but he couldn't practice healthcare here so he had to become a doctor. Everybody's still coming here. They still see this country as the shining light on the hill and like everybody needs to come here. I think for me still hearing those stories and coming in contact with those people regardless of where they're from is very inspiring and provides me a lot of optimism and hope.
Gail Davis: Let's pick it up there and talk a little bit about immigration. That was obviously a very polarizing topic during the election. What are your thoughts on immigration, Herb?
Kyle Davis: Probably not just US immigration, but also just general trends because I know Europe's having some immigration issues as well.
Herb Meyer: Look, it's a serious issue. We all like the idea of immigrants. That's how most of us got here in the first place for crying out loud. Immigration's a good thing. There is a serious issue if as part of immigration you bring people into the country who want to destroy you. We have a very serious problem. We've got to figure out how to fix this. Part of the problem we face is this and again it's something people don't like to talk about. In our part of the world, the United States, Japan, Western Europe, you know the most advanced part of the world, birth rates are now plunging. The world's populations are now dropping without immigration. To sustain a population, to keep it at the current level, the birth rate in a country has to be 2.1, 2.1 births per women just to replace the mother and father and then .1 some children don't live, don't grow up and have their own children.
2.1's the key number. Today in Western Europe the birth rate is 1.5. 30% below replacement. That means in the next 30 years, the number of Europeans alive will drop by 70 to 80 million. That's the worst drop in recorded history. That's why Europe has dropped its borders to bring in more than a million young people from the Mid East. You can't run a country without young people. Walk down the street. You see young guys driving trucks, doing construction work, doing all kinds of things. If you won't produce them yourself, you're going to bring them in. In Japan, the birth rate's 1.3. They won't bring in immigrants, so they're shutting down the country. In Japan, they've already closed 2,000 schools K through 12. They close schools at a rate of 400 school closings every year. By 2020, one out of every five Japanese citizens will be over the age of 70.
By the way, my most interesting fact I've ever come across is this, Unicharm, which is the largest manufacturer of diapers in Japan, for the first time ever they are now selling more adult diapers than baby diapers. Yeah. That means Japan's third largest economy in the world's committing suicide. Here in the United States, our birth rate is below the replacement level. Instead of being at 2.1 which would sustain the population, it's 1.9 and dropping a little bit. The answer is you've got to bring in immigrants. There's no other way to survive. Unless you want to just shut it down which is like Japan is doing. We have a serious problem because some of the immigrants we bring in are very dangerous. That's the dilemma. That's what we have to wrestle with. In that sense, president-elect Trump is absolutely right about that, but on the other hand, you can't shut down the borders because you can't sustain the country.
That's the dilemma. It's a very practical ... It's an intelligence related query. We've got to deal with it.
Kyle Davis: Well, I'll make two comments on that. I know that in Western Europe especially in a country like Denmark, I think Denmark actually has like a PSA commercials running that's talking about do the patriotic thing, make babies. Do it for grandma. I personally think it's rather funny. With that, since you have the background of working in government especially with the CIA and other intelligence gathering agencies, I'm just wondering if you could just briefly touch on what does that process look like when someone's trying to come into the US? Not just getting cleared by state or anything else, but what does that process and if you have any suggestions with regards to vetting and everything else.
Herb Meyer: Well, when they do it correctly and there are a lot of people in our government who work very, very hard to do this right, it can take up to two years to be cleared to come into this country as an immigrant from the Mid East. The numbers are now so large that it's overwhelming the system and that's where the whole thing falls apart. When you look at our southern border, we get people walking across it everyday. The answer is this, if it's gotten completely out of control, that's the glitch. It's a highly technical thing of how you fix it. One thing is this, why do people want to leave their country in the first place? Because things are miserable there and they're better here. If things were better in their countries, they probably wouldn't leave, would they?
Kyle Davis: Yeah.
Herb Meyer: If you go back to what president George W. Bush talked about which is creating modern countries around the world and everyone made fun of him, he was exactly right. If you can make things better there, first, they don't want to come here. Second, they become our customers. Modern world is very much in our interest. The answer is I'm more of a nation builder than I think our incoming president's going to be. When I look at a country emerging from poverty, all I see is, "Gee, they're customers for my books." That's great.
Kyle Davis: I think to your point and maybe we're talking about the same thing, but I believe there was a presidential debate between Reagan and George Bush Sr I want to say, I don't know, from awhile ago, and they were talking about immigration. I remember it made the rounds after Trump announces presidential candidacy. It was basically talking a very different way of bringing people up and it's a positive thing that they want to come here because that means we're doing something right, but we should go and help them ... I'm paraphrasing and maybe I'm even getting it wrong, but we should go and help those countries where people are coming from to see if we can get them to not stay per say, but to make things better there and make it so that they don't have to come here. They don't have to.
Herb Meyer: It's more stable and it's better economically for all of us. By the way on my desk while I'm talking to you, I have a chunk of the Berlin Wall. When I talk to students, I wish I did more of it, but when I talk to students, I try and bring this with me. Pass it around. The kids can touch the Berlin Wall. I point out to them that if everyone who got over the Berlin Wall, every single one went from the East to the West, there's no example of any idiot who jumped over the wall into East Berlin. Does that tell us something? When's the last time an American baseball player hijacked a plane and flew to Havana? I mean it doesn't happen, does it?
Kyle Davis: No.
Gail Davis: No.
Herb Meyer: Well, it's obviously better on our side. If we could help make it better on their side, you wouldn't have an immigration problem.
Kyle Davis: That's the rub.
Herb Meyer: Part of the conversation nobody ever deals with. They can't say, "I don't like all these immigrants, but I don't want to help make the rest of the world modern," because that's the solution to it and nobody ever wants to talk about that.
Kyle Davis: There's always a second part.
Herb Meyer: The second half of the sentence. Yeah.
Kyle Davis: Yeah, there's always a second part. One of the things that we've been doing the last couple of days is asking people since we're ... In case anybody's wondering, we're recording this on December 30th of 2016. We're coming to the end of the year and the beginning of a new year. I'm just kind of wondering what your thoughts are especially with your background, what has this last year been for you for what you've seen and then what does 2017 look like? I know that my mom had a question in there which I think is also relevant. You can add to that.
Gail Davis: Yeah. I was just curious if you had any thoughts on what Obama's legacy will be?
Herb Meyer: I think his legacy will become smaller and smaller and smaller as the decades go by. I think he will go down in history as a rather muddled president who just didn't get it. He had no idea that he was dealing with the world becoming modern. He wanted to make government bigger when the rest of the world wants to make government smaller. I think he will not go down as one of our great presidents. We'll see. You never know. One thing you learn about history is you never know who the next great president's going to be. Nobody thought Harry Truman would be a great president. A lot of people thought Ronald Reagan was an amiable idiot. They're two of the best presidents we ever had. If anyone tells you what president Trump is going to do and what kind of president he's going to be, the honest answer is we don't know.
Gail Davis: We don't know.
Herb Meyer: Wait and see.
Kyle Davis: What do you see as ... Not the Obama legacy since that answers that, but what do you see ... I guess what was 2016 and what are your short-term predictions for 2017 and onward?
Herb Meyer: The honest answer is that I don't know the answer to your question. We've never had a president-elect like Donald Trump. Anyone who tells you they know what he's going to do, no, they don't. If they get it right, it isn't a brilliant prediction. It's a lucky guess. One, we have to wait and see. Generally, if you stand back from it, it's where we started. The world will continue to become modern. He can affect the rate at which it becomes modern, but modernity will continue. You can't stop that. That means a world continuing to emerge from poverty, a global middle class that continues to grow with a growing customer base for all of our products and services and no matter what he does in the next four or eight years, the United States will continue to dominate the industries that will dominate the 21st century.
I think four or eight years from now, we'll actually be further down the road. The only question is where will be the bumps be in the road and how far down will we get and that's what we don't know.
Kyle Davis: I think that's a fair thing. I'm just reminding myself of gosh, what was the read? I think it's Clash of Civilizations that came out in 93 talking about how Japan was supposed to take over and be the global dominating economic force and everything else. Even what you just said, it hasn't really turned out that way.
Herb Meyer: I can remember. Yeah, you remember this. In the late 70s, early 80s, I don't think a month went by without a conference in some swishy hotel in San Francisco or London on how Japan was going to take over the world. Well, then now it's staring to place down basically. Now everyone talks about China taking over the world. Same thing. They're a big country, big military, but once again the demographics are pulling them under fast. I think we have this conversation in 10, 15, 30 years from now still going to find the United States leading the world and everyone talking about United States leadership at the end. The conversation never changes.
Kyle Davis: I love that.
Herb Meyer: Let me tell you something, on the day the Cold War ended and we won, most people were talking about how the Soviet Union was going to win the Cold War. They just don't get it.
Gail Davis: Well, since you bring a message of optimism, what is the thought you want to leave everyone with as we wrap this up?
Herb Meyer: It's easy to be a pessimist. Obviously things go wrong, terrorist attacks, the Ebola virus, the Zika virus. Also pessimism has now become fashionable among our intellectuals. They're always trying to come up with new problems. On the day our scientists announced a cure for cancer, it's going to be a talking hit on television explaining to us why although this seems to be a good thing, really not. We're going to live longer. It's going to bankrupt social security. Give me a break. Don't let the pessimists get you down. When you look at the good things happening not just the bad things happening, it's a different world. When you're flying a jumbo jet and it's turbulent out there, bad weather patterns, storms, other airplanes flying around, the pilot looks down at the radar screen and the radar shows him what's invisible, what's further out ahead.
Well, if just for a moment I was your radar screen, yes, we're going through a period of turbulence and it's very distressing, but out ahead of us is a world becoming modern, dominated by a global middle class and that's a better and peaceful world than we've ever known. My recommendation is don't let the pessimists get you down. There's never been a more interesting, a more optimistic or even a more exciting time to be alive, to be in business and frankly to be in the United States.
Gail Davis: Well, with that I say happy new year.
Kyle Davis: Happy new year.
Gail Davis: That's awesome.
Herb Meyer: Absolutely.
Kyle Davis: Okay. To wrap this up, if you want to read the transcripts or read any blog posts associated with this particular podcast, please visit GDAPodcast.com. If you're interested in bringing Herb for any of your speaking engagements or events, you can visit GDASpeakers.com or call 214-420-1999. Hey, thanks very much.