May 29 2011

Gaus’ Declining Anxiety Wave Points to the 2015 Economic Boom

1960s-style economic booms appear to be the triggers of great explorations from Lewis and Clark to Apollo, as well as the largest macro-engineering projects from the Suez Canal to Apollo.

That’s the extraordinary lesson of the last 200+ years.

However, Helmut Gaus asks if our prosperity is fundamentally more a matter of human psychology than just economics?

Gaus, a professor of political science at the University of Ghent in Belgium, has spent decades documenting an “Anxiety Wave,” which is the inverse of the better known long economic wave. According to Gaus (Why Yesterday Tells of Tomorrow, 2003)

If we scan two centuries of European history … a certain number of cultural-historical and mental changes show the same cyclic course as Kondratiev’s (economic) long wave. Not all of them can be as easily followed back to fluctuations in the market … On the face of it, these currents indicate an increase and decrease in the level of anxiety in society, with peaks and low points that correspond with the peaks and lows of Kondratiev’s long wave.

If Gaus is correct, the Maslow Window expected near 2015 (plus all those of the last 200+ years) is caused directly by the mass psychology of an “ascending phase” of the long economic wave.

In a descending long wave, in a period of increasing uncertainty and existential anxiety, the keynote of the state of mind of a whole population is different from that in an ascending phase of the same long wave, in which self-assurance and self-confidence and all other states of mind that are typical of this begin to get the upper hand.

Gaus bases his Anxiety Wave on “the best documented mass phenomenon that appears to be the subtlest indicator of the collective unconscious in our Western world”: women’s fashion. For example, Gaus has identified a yellow/orange fashion metric that’s apparently indicative of a positive mind set, as indicated in Figure 2. Notice that the index ascends during the 1960s Apollo Maslow Window until about 1968, when it begins a steep descent until the mid-1970s. Its decline continues more gently into the 1990s.

Fig. 2. According to Gaus, from 1956 to 2000 the bright color scheme (of yellow/orange) in women’s fashions indicates a “happiness wave” consistent with long waves in the economy

If it is real, we’d expect that Gaus’ fashion-based Anxiety Wave — the inverse of the “happiness wave” shown above in Fig. 2 — would correlate well with unemployment; and it does, see Fig. 3. Notice how anxiety and unemployment decline during the 1960s Maslow Window until about 1968, and then begin a steady rise until the mid-1980s.

Fig. 3. Unemployment in Germany from 1956 to 2000 correlates well with Gaus’ fashion-based Anxiety Wave.

Although the number of marriages (in the Netherlands) is inversely correlated with the Anxiety Wave, the mean age of the mother at the birth of her first child (in Germany) from 1956 to 2000 is directly correlated. As anxiety drops during the 1960s Maslow Window so does the mean age until about 1970 when both reverse and begin an upward trend.

Fig. 4. The mean age of a mother at the birth of her first child (in Germany) declined until 1968 and increased thereafter.

Even astrology correlates with Gaus’ Anxiety Wave. The end of the 1960s Maslow Window near 1968 triggers a steep increase in the number of books on astrology in German and British libraries, which levels off in the mid-1980s.

Fig. 5. Apparently astrology comforted an increasing number of people (in Germany and the UK) after the 1960s Maslow Window ended near 1968.

Because human anxiety is very difficult to measure, especially on a mass basis, Gaus’ data does not prove that an Anxiety Wave exists or that it drives the long economic wave (e.g. Kondratiev Wave). However, it does provide intriguing evidence of rhythmic, twice-per-century fluctuations of significant non-economic parameters in society, that correlates well with long-term economic trends.

Dimitri Maex at suggests that in addition to fashion, search engines might work too…

The idea that fluctuations in the economy are caused by the collective levels of anxiety is interesting but hard to prove. Data on the mental state of society is scarce, which is why Gaus used data on fashion as a proxy. There is however a relatively new data source that holds exteremely rich informatoion on what’s on people’s minds – it’s the data held by search engines. Knowing what people search on and how that changes over time could potentially lead to a barometer of society’s mental state.

Gaus boldly ends his book with 20 future behavioral trends, including the major economic boom of 2015 that is expected to trigger the next 1960s-style Maslow Window and the new international Space Age.

If the rhythm of rising and falling of the long wave in the coming decades is the same as in the past two centuries, we can expect the bottom of the anxiety curve, and thus the peak of the economic boom, around 2015 – 2020…

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May 04 2011

Kanal Istanbul — A View To an Ebullient, Apollo-style Age?

During his ongoing re-election campaign, the prime minister of Turkey is selling a big idea. According to Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Wall Street Journal, M. Champion, 4/28/11),

We are today starting to work on one of the biggest projects of the century, which leaves behind the Panama, the Suez and—in Greece—the Corinth canals.

Do ebullient visions of Kanal Istanbul signal the approach of a 1960s-style golden age?

Given that the Suez Canal was the “technological jewel” of the 19th century, and Panama was the greatest macroengineering project of the last 200 years (until Apollo), Mr. Erdogan is using the language of ebullience.

Here at, ebullience is a technical term that indicates a very positive, somewhat irrational emotional state characterized by unusual confidence in the future.

In the 1960s Apollo program and Peace Corps of John F. Kennedy it was the ebullient feeling that we could do almost anything; … and about 200 years ago it began auspiciously with Jefferson, Napoleon, and Lewis & Clark.

Mr. Erdogan envisions Kanal Istanbul as reducing shipping traffic and increasing safety and quality of life in the Bosphorus area by creating a channel from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean; indeed, between 1982 and 2003 the Bosphorus experienced more than 600 shipping accidents.

But environmental rationales aside, the project’s main appeal is apparent in the prime minister’s ebullient rhetoric.

We said Turkey deserves to enter 2023 with such a major, crazy and wonderful project, and we took the step for this.

This timeframe suggests Kanal Istanbul would occur near the projected culmination of the 2015 Maslow Window.

History shows that truly ebullient projects — characteristic of the approach to (or early in) Maslow Windows — are usually fuzzy about costs, and Kanal Istanbul is no exception. For example, Mr. Erodgan didn’t address the issue partly because the exact path of the ~50 km-long canal is not decided.

However, William Marcuson, of the American Society of Civil Engineers, estimates a big canal rate of $ 1 B per kilometer, which puts Kanal Istanbul in the $ 50 B range, or about 1/3 of the 1960s Apollo Moon program.

Apollo-level costs convince critics that the canal will never be built. For example, Amada Paul (Today’s Zaman, 5/3/11) suggests that,

This project is probably little more than a three-minute wonder with Erdoğan announcing it without putting any meat on the bones … Once the elections are over it will likely fade away.

The real question is whether Kanal Istanbul will be more like the Grand Korean Waterway or the Panama Canal Expansion Project? In the former case, Lee Myung-bak’s ebullient vision has encountered opposition from the public. But in Panama in 2006, 72% of voters ebulliently approved the $ 5.25 B project — a tab close to the original cost of the Canal!

The Bottom Line
Given Turkey’s ascending geopolitical trajectory (e.g., George Friedman, The Next Decade, 2011) toward regional primacy, it’s probable that Kanal Istanbul will materialize sometime during the 2015 Maslow Window. In any case, the fact that the Kanal is being seriously advocated today is interpreted as more empirical evidence of our approach to another transformative 1960s-style golden age.

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Apr 02 2010

Near-Term Wars Threaten the New Space Age

Recently the Wall Street Journal (3/31/10) expressed concern about the “fading hope” of sanctions on Iran,

We are left with a stark alternative: Either Iran gets a nuclear weapon and we manage the risk, or someone acts to eliminate the threat,

according to Ms. Danielle Pletka, VP for foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute.

And earlier this week Ronan Bergman, senior military and intelligence for an Israeli daily (Yedioth Ahronoth) and author of The Secret War With Iran (2008), pointed out that the three most likely scenarios for starting the next Middle East war “all involve Iran” (WSJ, 3/29/10). Despite the fact that a preemptive airstrike by Israel on Iranian nuclear installations is “somewhat less likely” now, due to Israel’s evolving perception of sanctions on Iran.

These issues need to considered in the context of the current “major flap in U.S.-Israel relations.” According to a recent interview in with Ehud Yaari, who is Lafer International Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Middle East Commentator for Channel 2 news in Israel, and the the co-author (with the late Ze’ev Schiff) of Israel’s Lebanon War and Intifada: The Palestinian Uprising — Israel’s Third Front,, regarding the Israeli prime minister’s recent visit to the U.S.,

The general sense in Israel right now is that the prime minister was sorely humiliated by President Obama. There is quite a degree of amazement the way he was treated. I think it’s fair to say that neither the prime minister nor his defense minister, Ehud Barak, were aware of the kind of reception that they were greeted with at the White House.

Because of its importance to world energy supplies and the global economy, a Middle East war in the next few years would significantly reduce global security, as well as possibily threaten the new international space age expected to begin by 2015.

This is a different military threat than the one I focused on in July, 2008:

In addition to the expansive joy of Great Explorations from Lewis & Clark to Apollo, and stunning Macro-Engineering Projects (MEPs) like the Panama Canal, the last 200 years also teach us one sobering fact: Each Maslow Window is also associated with a tragic, major war (e.g. W. W. I).

And sadly, the 2020s are unlikely to be an exception.

Instead of the major wars (e.g., WW I) that occur near the end (or after) a typical Maslow Window, the near-term conflicts referred to here are a feature of early Maslow Window times or the years just before them; e.g., from 2010 to 2016.

And all Maslow Windows are aflicted by them.

Neither the early/pre-Maslow Window conflicts (that threaten Maslow Windows) nor the late-Window major wars (that terminate Maslow Windows) over the last 200 years, can be scientifically predicted with much reliability. But they are historically associated with long wave trends, including the upswing toward the major economic boom that triggers the widespread affluence-induced ebullience of Maslow Windows, as well as the long wave’s decline after the boom has peaked and an economic downturn is looming.

The early/pre-Maslow Window conflicts and the long economic waves they are associated with over the last 200+ years may be thought of in the context of a complex adaptive system model where self organized criticality produces typical events — e.g., early/pre-Maslow Window conflicts, financial panics, great recessions — just prior to the major economic boom of the Maslow Window itself. Niall Ferguson has described a similar model for the onset of World War I and other major geopolitcal events of the last 200 years.

In any case, the patterns associated with early/pre-Maslow Window years are clear. For example:

The Lewis & Clark/Jefferson Maslow Window:
If Napolean hadn’t been distracted from his interest in a North American empire by the need to fund his European war machine, Jefferson might not have gotten such a good price for the Lousiana Purchase, which led to the opening up of the American Northwest during the first Great Exploration of the last 200 years. (See: 10 Lessons Lewis & Clark Teach Us About the Human Future in Space)

The Dr. Livingstone/Suez/Polk Maslow Window:
One long wave later, the Mexican War played a major role in the early mid-19th century Maslow Window due to the ebullient, expansionist belief by the U.S. population in Manifest Destiny. (See: How the West Was Won — The Expansionist Effects of Ebullience)

The Peary/Panama/Roosevelt Maslow Window:
Just prior to perhaps the most ebullient decade in U.S. history, the Spanish-American War (1898) taught the future president and “Rough Rider” Theodore Roosevelt the potential strategic value of a Panama Canal — the greatest MEP of the last 200 years until Apollo. TR waited in Cuba for a key U.S. battleship from the Pacific which finally arrived, after a long trip around the southern tip of South America, 2 months after the war began. (See: 10 Lessons the Panama Canal Teaches Us About the Human Future in Space)

The 1960s Apollo/JFK Maslow Window:
One long wave later, early in the most recent Maslow Window, Cuba again eerily rose to center stage as the world came very close to World War III during the Cuban Missile Crisis (1962); this Crisis intensified the competition and global symbolism of the U.S.-Soviet race to the Moon, eventually won by the U.S. in 1969. (See: The New Cuban Space Center and Vladimir Bonaparte)

That’s the Bad News, and early/pre- Maslow Window international tensions — characteristic, as we’ve seen, of the last 200+ years — appear to be building again now in the Middle East as well as potentially elsewhere. (See, for example, Krepinevich (2009), 7 Deadly Scenarios: A Military Futurist Explores War in the 21st Century.)

But the Good News is that — although each early/pre-Maslow Window conflict was a time of war and/or even potentially global doom (i.e., the Cuban Missile Crisis) — over the last 200 years, all have amazingly accelerated the world toward the stunning Great Explorations and Macro-Engineering Projects of each ebullient Maslow Window, and have served as global quantum leaps as they transformed the world.

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Mar 23 2010

“The Greatest International Space Project of All Time”

The European Space Agency’s online newsletter today notes that:

The International Space Station has won two prizes as the greatest international space project of all time. Aviation Week’s Laureate Award and the Collier Trophy are two of the most prestigious awards in the aerospace realm.

It’s simply the greatest of all time.

On 17 March, Aviation Week magazine announced the winners of the 53rd Annual Laureate Awards, which recognise the extraordinary achievements of individuals and teams in aerospace, aviation and defence.

Aviation Week has honoured the International Space Station (ISS) programme managers: Pierre Jean, Canadian Space Agency; Bernardo Patti, ESA; Yoshiyuki Hasegawa, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency; Alexey Krasnov, Roscosmos; and Michael Suffredini, NASA.

The award is for “completing the project in 2009 with the addition of the last major modules (European-built Node-3 and Cupola) and the expansion of the crew to six. The ISS is arguably the signature engineering achievement of the last 60 years.

The last 60 years encompass the Apollo Moon program. If we limit it to international space projects I would agree, but if it refers to all space projects I’d still hold out for the Saturn V infrastructure, that delivered astronauts to the Moon in 1969, as the greatest. But forgive my quibbling: ISS is an extraordinary engineering achievement and points the way toward the unprecedented global space spectaculars expected during the 2015 Maslow Window.

The ISS has been also recognised by the National Aeronautic Association with the Robert J. Collier Trophy “for the design, development, and assembly of the world’s largest spacecraft, an orbiting laboratory that promises new discoveries for mankind and sets new standards for international cooperation in space.

By working together, partner agencies demonstrated that the station is as much an achievement in foreign relations as it is in aerospace engineering.

ISS’ importance as an engineering “miracle” is only equaled as a symbol of unparalleled international cooperation in space. It heralds a stunningly expansive and prosperous human future that could feature coordinated, global, human settlement of the solar system. (See: “A United, Global Effort for Long-Term Human Space Exploration?” — Why Not?)

Despite our justified superlatives about ISS’ extraordinary past and shining future, one question still lingers: Why has ISS — “the greatest international space project of all time” — not caught on with the American public … like Apollo did?

There has been no Apollo-style “Camelot” excitement associated with it. And history buffs know there has been no “Panama fever” as there was for the Canal, no “pole mania” like that for the intrepid discoverers of the north and south poles, nor anything like the mid-19th century “Manifest Destiny” feeling for the U.S.. (In fact, the U.S. House of Representatives came within one vote of canceling Space Station Freedom in 1993.)

So why no widespread American excitement for a program that truly deserves it?

This question involves an intriguing case study in the history of major technology projects and geopolitics. But in brief, ISS — plus two other spectacular MEPs, the Panama Canal and Apollo — illuminate the power of the long economic wave to enable — or to inhibit — great explorations and macro-engineering projects over the last 200 years.

Why did the Great Leaders de Lesseps and Reagan Both Fail?
By the time he began plans for the Panama Canal, Ferdinand de Lesseps’ credentials as a great leader were already secure. He had created the “technological jewel” of the 19th century: The Suez Canal. He brought the same extraordinary ability to obtain and marshal resources, focus technology on an engineering challenge, and provide inspirational MEP leadership with him to Panama. It should have worked. But it didn’t. (See: 10 Lessons the Panama Canal Teaches Us About the Human Future in Space.)

Likewise, President Ronald Reagan had it all. One of the most charismatic leaders in U.S. history, in 1984 he recognized a manned Earth orbit space station as “the next logical step” into space, and his judgment continues to be validated by the success of its descendant: the International Space Station. But not even Reagan could make Space Station Freedom materialize within a decade of his proposal. And surprisingly there is no mention of it in his official presidential library in Simi Valley, CA. Why didn’t it work for the president credited with winning the Cold War and who, while in Berlin in 1987, successfully issued the challenge, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” (See: The Shocking Truth About the Father of the Space Station.)

Why did the Great Leaders Theodore Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy Both Succeed?
In 1907, perhaps the most ebullient president in U.S. history — Theodore Roosevelt — decided that construction of the Panama Canal was essential for the U.S. to become a true global power. It was completed in 1914. (In the same period TR also supported Adm. Peary’s discovery of the north pole, and became the first and only president ever to personally support both his era’s Great Exploration and its primary Macro-Engineering Project; by JFK’s time Apollo had, for the first time, unified the Great Exploration and MEP into one superproject: the Apollo program.)

Likewise, in 1962 President John F. Kennedy publicly announced that …

We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win …

And only 7 years later Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed at Tranquility Base.

What Was the Difference Between Success and Failure?
Given the famous leaders involved, it is unlikely that inadequate leadership or determination led to failure. In reality, neither de Lesseps nor Reagan actually failed; I have suggested previously that they were just somewhat ahead of their time. They initiated major plans and activities for MEPs during a downward portion of the long wave — a counter-ebullient time historically known to be antithetical to spectacular macro-projects. (See: The Economics of Ebullience Points to a Sparkling New Global Space Age)

The initial Panama Canal phase was run by de Lesseps and began (in 1881) 22 years before the opening of the Peary/Panama Maslow Window in 1903, and only 4 years before the LW trough in 1885. Likewise, the initial ISS Phase was proposed by President Reagan in 1984, 31 years before the 2015 Maslow Window and a full 13 years before the LW trough in 1997.

Based on long wave considerations, it’s hard to say which project should have suffered most — de Lesseps’ Canal from the Victorian Long Depression or Reagan’s Station from economic weakness indicated by the Crash of 1987 — but both projects should have been DOA. And they were.

On the other hand, JFK’s Apollo program began during the greatest economic boom in history (up to that time) and TR’s Panama Canal likewise benefited from the stratospheric economic rebound from the Panic of 1893 and the 1890s great recession (a situation with parallels to today). Both projects were sensational successes, and due to perfect long wave timing and great leadership, they should have been.

However, the ISS recent phase began under President Bill Clinton (in 1993) 22 years before the 2015 Maslow Window and 4 years before the long wave trough — the identical long wave circumstances of de Lesseps’ initial Canal project; the one that failed!

With identical long wave circumstances, why did de Lesseps’ Canal project fail and the Clinton/Bush II Station succeed?

Globalization? The broad, robust international cooperation flavor of ISS is consistent with the post-WW II, and especially post-Cold War, trends toward increased globalization in technology and science. The space station has picked up momentum ever since it became international …

In short, ISS is both an extraordinary engineering and foreign policy accomplishment that is historically comparable to both the Saturn V and the Panama Canal.

And yet despite its success, ISS is anomalous because it hasn’t yet generated “Panama Fever” or Apollo-style ebullience! ISS has apparently been able to temporarily survive low public ebullience, by surfing on the accelerating wave of “globalization.”

As we approach the 2015 Maslow Window, it’s very likely that American and global public appreciation and excitement about ISS will greatly increase.

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Jan 03 2010

How the West Was Won — The Expansionist Effects of Ebullience

I had a very Merry Christmas season this year — specifically,  about 500 powerful pages by Robert Merry.   His new book is  A Country of Vast Designs: James K. Polk, The Mexican War and the Conquest of the American Continent (2009). 

Many agree it’s enthralling.  The New York Times (Sean Wilentz, 11/22/09) calls it “one of the most astute and informative historical accounts yet written about national politics, and especially Waahington politics, during the decisive 1840s.”  The Wall Street Journal (Aram Bakshian, Jr; 11/6/09) says it’s an “authoritative biography …(that) provides a compelling, perceptive portrait of one of the oddest men (James Polk) ever to occupy the White House…”

Against all odds, this smaller-than-life man achieved the impossible and ebulliently changed the world in only 4 short years; President James K. Polk in 1845. 


In his unlikely, self-imposed one-term presidency, Polk accomplished the nearly impossible — he “engineered the triumph of Manifest Destiny” (NY Times) — including the annexation of Texas (1845), and the acquisition of the Oregon Territory (1846) and essentially the rest of the U.S. West including California, Nevada, Utah, and Arizona — all by 1848.

This is an extraordinary story that occurred in ebullient times that we call a “Maslow Window”  — see  “Buzz Aldrin — A Man For All Maslow Windows!” —  less than half a century after Lewis and Clark  explored the Louisiana Purchase to the Pacific, and still a few decades before the U.S. became the leading economic power on Earth.  Probably for this reason, neither the Great Exploration of this Window — see 10 Lessons Dr. Livingstone (“…I presume?”) Teaches Us About the Human Future in Space —  nor the primary Macro-Engineering Project (MEP)  — the Suez Canal —  were closely related to the U.S.  (although Stanley was dispatched by a New York newspaper to find Livingstone in Africa). 

However, the affluence-induced ebullience  — see The Economics of Ebullience Points to a Sparkling New Global Space Age—  that triggered these epochal events abroad was also strongly present in the U.S. as evidenced in Merry’s book.  Here are a few examples:

1. New Technology Was “Exploding” in America.

According to Ralph Waldo Emerson in 1844, “American is the country of the Future.  It is a country of beginnings, of projects, of vast designs and expectations.”  

Merry explains that a key reason the “impulse of exuberant expansionism” continued to surge was because,  “Just as America was encompassing ever greater distances, technology —  steam power and Morse’s telegraph — was obliterating the sluggishness of distance.”

2. The Financial Panic of 1837 and Great Recession Recovered by 1843 to a most “Prosperous State of Affairs.”

The financial Panic of 1837 was a major contraction where 40% of the U.S. banks failed and unemployment was at record highs; the resulting Great Recession lasted 6 years until 1843.  According to Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman writing in 1960, the Panic of 1837 “is the only depression on record comparable in severity and scope to the Great Depression of the 1930s.”

Merry notes that,

Within nine weeks of Van Buren’s innauguration, economic collapse swept the country. It began when New York banks suspended specie payments, causing widespread alarm and setting in motion a deflationary period as credit dried up … The Panic of 1837 ushered in “a cycle of recession, recovery, and depression” that would dominate American politics for the next seven years … Van Buren lost much of his popularity … Polk remained a stalwart floor leader for Van Buren’s agenda, but the tide had turned against his party.

Polk left the House and won the Tennessee governorship in 1839, but lost it in 1841 and 1843. “At forty-seven, he knew he looked washed up…”  But due to his pro-Texas annexation position which mirrored the expansionist electorate, Polk, against all odds, became the Democratic candidate for president and was elected in 1844.

As Polk assumed the presidency in 1845, the dynamic duo of prosperity and ebullience was everywhere.  According to Merry,

The national economy had been expanding at an average annual rate of 3.9%.  Not even the Panic of 1837, for all its destructive force, could forestall for long this creation of wealth.  And throughout the land could be seen a confidence that fueled national success. “We are now reaching the very height, perhaps, to which we can expect to ascend,” declared the Democratic Wilmington Gazette of Delaware.

Despite the Panic of 1837 and its Great Recession, the mid-19th Century Dr. Livingstone/Suez Maslow Window (roughly 1847 to 1860) opened on time and featured Africa’s most famous explorer (Dr. Livingstone), the “technological jewel” of the 19th Century (the Suez Canal), as well as impressive secondary MEPs (including the Great Eastern ship).   In addition to the stunning culmination of American Manifest Destiny in 1848,  this Maslow Window’s ebullience is also  exemplified by the famous Gold Rush of the American West (1848 – 1855).

Over the last 200 years, financial panics and great recessions have usually preceded Maslow Windows; see “Economic Crisis Supports Maslow Window Forecasts.”  Two 19th Century panics (1837 and 1893) , were both about one decade prior to their Maslow Windows;  none in 1949 (during the post W.W. II boom) one decade before the Apollo Maslow Window;  and one in 2008 (7 years before our expected 2015 Maslow Window). The New York Times (11/30/08) also describes a “deep recession” that appearently occurred somewhat after 1776, about 10+  years before the Lewis & Clark Maslow Window.

In fact, during the last 200+ years, no financial panic/great recession pair has ever delayed or diminished, in any observable way, any Great Explorations or MEPs associated with a Maslow Window. And there’s every reason to expect this 200+ year pattern will continue.

3.  The Controversial Mexican War Played a Major Role in U.S. Expansion.

Wars that occur early in the Maslow Windows of the last 200 years are complex, destructive events  — far beyond the scope of our discussion here — but according to historical accounts, usually play an important role in the ensuing events of the Maslow Windows.  It appears that ebullience — also known as “animal spirits” and “irrational exuberance” in an economic context; see “Are Great Explorations Driven by Keynesian “Animal Spirits” on Steroids?” — played a central role.

A few of the interesting parallels are sketched here:

Despite the (then) unresolved issues of slavery and the legality of the war, the Mexican War was vigorously and successfully executed by Polk with the support of the American people. Their ebullient expansionist belief in Manifest Destiny transformed the world.  According to Merry, the U.S. was “a vibrant, expanding, exuberant experiment in democracy whose burgeoning population thrilled to the notion that it was engaging in something big and historically momentous.”  This is the language of societal ebullience.

One Maslow Window earlier, the Napoleonic Wars in Europe played a major role enabling the Lewis and Clark expedition and in launching U.S. westward expansion.  Napoleon’s need to fund his war machine encouraged the sale of Louisiana to Jefferson;  see “10 Lessons Lewis & Clark Teach Us About the Human Future in Space.”

Likewise, the Spanish-American War of 1898 — as the Great 1890s Recession was ending and as the ebullient Peary/Panama Maslow Window began — played an intriguing role in Maslow Window events.  “Remember the Maine, to hell with Spain!”, an Alamo-like cry in response to the deaths of 266 US sailors while anchored in Havana Harbor, helped ignite the Spanish-American War.  To replace the Maine, another battleship (USS Oregon) stationed on the Pacific coast rushed 14,700 miles around South America to Cuba — while Teddy Roosevelt, leader of the famous “Rough Riders,” vectored toward Cuban battle himself.  Since the Oregon arrived at Cuba two months after war began, it didn’t require much abstract thinking for TR to recognize the Panama Canal’s potential strategic advantages;   see “10 Lessons the Panama Canal Teaches Us About the Human Future in Space.”

Early in the 1960s Apollo Maslow Window, Cuba again was the focus of an even bigger crisis for America and President John F. Kennedy: the Cuban Missile Crisis.  Because of Soviet emplacement of offensive nuclear missiles in Cuba the world came closer to a major nuclear exchange than ever before or since.  Although this crisis did not ignite the Space Age — the surprise 1957 launch of Sputnik did that — it intensified the Moon race and showed that the global stakes were high; see “The New Cuban Space Center and Vladimir Bonaparte.”

The “early Maslow Window wars” are continuing into the present — Iraq, Afghanistan, the War on Terror — as we recover from our Panic of 2008/Great Recession combination (analogous to the Panic of 1893/Great 1890s Recession and Panic of 1837/Great Recession), and as we ebulliently head toward the much anticipated, spectacular 2015 Maslow Window.  

4. Manifest Destiny Was Fueled by an “Exuberance of Spirit” Across the U.S.

There are many visionary quotes in Merry’s book that clearly indicate the extraordinary level of ebullience permeating mid-1840s America, but one of the most striking is from an obscure Democratic congressman from Ohio (then a western state) named John D. Cummins, who referred to the disputed Oregon Territory as nothing less than,

“the master key of the commerce of the universe.”  Get that territory into U.S. jurisdiction, he argued, and soon it would fill up with “an industrious, thriving, American population” and “flourishing towns and embryo cities” facing west upon the Pacific within four thousand miles of vast Asian markets.  Now contemplate, he added, ribbons of railroad track across America, connecting New York, Boston, and Philadelphia to those burgeoning West Coast cities and ports that would spring up once Oregon was in American hands. 

Cumins continued, think about how the “inevitable external laws of trade” would render American the necessary passageway for “the whole eastern commerce of Europe.” … “The commerce of the world would thus be revolutionized.”

Cummins bold vision was easily dismissed as hopelessly fanciful in a world utterly dominated by Great Britain. And yet it crystallized a fundamental element of the era’s politics — the widely shared conviction that America was a nation of destiny, that one day it would supplant Britain as the world’s dominant power, that Oregon represented merely an interim step toward realization of that vision.

Merry’s bottom line regarding Polk and American ebullience of the 1840s  is simple but powerful:

his legacy comes down to … the map outline of the continental United States, which is very close to what Polk bequeathed to his nation … To look at that map, and to take in the western and southwestern expanse included in it, is to see the magnitude of Polk’s presidential accomplishments … It didn’t come easily or cheaply …It unleashed civic forces that hadn’t been foreseen and couldn’t be controlled … But in the end he succeeded and fulfilled the vision and dream of his constituency.  In a democratic system that is the ultimate measure of political success.

The expansionist effects of ebullience apparently drove not only the Manifest Destiny of 1840s America, but also Jefferson’s seminal Lewis and Clark expedition, and the early 20th century’s international races to the north and south poles as well as the greatest MEP of the last 200 years (until Apollo): the Panama Canal.  In the 1960s the expansionist effects of ebullience finally drove us offworld to the Moon. 

As we approach another ebullient golden age of prosperity, exploration, and technology — the 2015 Maslow Window — it’s very likely the impossible will be accomplished again and the world will be changed.

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Sep 24 2009

How President Obama is Creating the New Space Age

Fear not. The Augustine Commission and Congress notwithstanding, President Obama is setting the stage for the next Space Age. And below I examine 2 specific, well-constrained scenarios, and their dynamics, showing how this is likely to occur.

Norman Augustine, former Lockheed Martin CEO, states we need $ 3 billion more per year to have a viable Moon program. Click augustine.jpg.

It is true that chair Norman Augustine — who’s becoming known as “the 3 billion dollar man” — insists, “The current program that’s being pursued is not executable,” because a return to the Moon requires $ 3 B more annually. It’s also true that in response to an Arizona Congressman (who’s married to an astronaut) who accused Augustine of presenting “a set of alternatives that look almost like cartoons,” Augustine retorted, “I respect your feelings, but I must question your facts.”

But this is all just the usual short-term political stuff.

In reality — as the last 200+ years have shown — extraordinary pulses of activity in exploration and engineering are enabled by reliable, long-term business cycles. And all indicators suggest we’re sneaking up on the edge of another Golden Age of Prosperity, Exploration, and Technology(GAPET).

Typically, during the twice-per-century upswings of the long economic wave and within a decade after a major financial panic (such as the Panic of 2008) and its major recession, we emerge into an ebullient, transformative decade known as a Maslow Window. Perhaps the most ebullient one followed the Panic of 1893 and was led by Theodore Roosevelt: the Peary/Panama Maslow Window from 1903 to 1913. But before that the mid-19th century Dr. Livingstone/Suez Maslow Window produced the “technological jewel of the 19th century,” the Suez Canal, and the famous Lewis and Clark Maslow Window opened the Great Northwest to the world in 1805.

Our most recent Maslow Window — the stunning 1960s Apollo Moon decade — was unique in the last 200+ years in that it wasn’t immediately preceded by a financial panic or great recession. But the approaching Maslow Window, expected to open near 2015, resumed the much more “normal” sequence of the last 200+ years when the Panic of 2008 heralded its impending arrival.

So one key lesson of the last 200 years is: The Panic of 2008 supports our expectation that the next Maslow Window — the next Golden Age of Prosperity, Exploration, and Technology — will open near 2015.

And President Obama is playing a key role in triggering GAPET, although there is understandably a lot of confusion about that, especially among those unaware of the long-term forces that govern the ebullient, large-scale human affairs of Maslow Windows.

For example, shortly after the Panic of 2008, Reagan economist Arthur (“Laffer Curve”) Laffer complained that President George W. Bush “will be remembered like Herbert Hoover…(and that) the age of prosperity is over,” (WSJ, 10/27/08). And others — including Obama — have compared Obama to Franklin D. Roosevelt who was president during the Great Depression. Surprisingly, Keynesian economists George Akerloff (a Nobel-winner) and Robert Shiller don’t think FDR (or Hoover) went far enough:

“Confidence — and the economy itself — was not restored until World War II completely changed the dominant story of people’s lives, transforming the economy.”

In reality, has identified the Great Depression as an example of panic/recessions that occur 16-18 years after a Maslow Window (another is the Great Victorian Depression of 1873); they tend to be very long and severe as the long wave descends. Conversely, the Panic of 2008 is typical of upswings in the long wave that precede, by less than a decade, the transformative GAPET of Maslow Windows. While still an economic crisis characterized by major suffering, the Panic of 2008 had only a small chance (e.g., WSJ, 9/1/09; Allan Meltzer) of ever evolving into a true 1930s-style Depression (e.g., 25% unemployment).

Given the high likelihood of our next Maslow Window materializing near 2015, the key question is: How will Obama create the exceptional prosperity that is the hallmark of such Camelot-like times?

There are basically 2 options:

OPTION I: Obama becomes a 2-term President: He becomes the new John F. Kennedy without the Vietnam-style baggage of LBJ.
Historical/Economic Model: The 1960s Apollo Maslow Window.

Three ways Obama could trigger prosperity are:

a) The recession will end naturally and prosperity will follow.
Post-War recessions have averaged 11.3 months in length (with the longest 16 months) and the current one is 22 months old. Most economists think the economy hit bottom recently and is currently recovering.

b) Obama will “reset” his presidency resulting in prosperity.
Ted Van Dyk, a long-time Democrat and formerly Vice President Hubert Humphery’s assistant in the LBJ Whitehouse, advises Obama to cut back his proposals and expectations (WSJ, 7/17/09):

“You made promises about jobs that would be ‘created and saved’ by the stimulus package. Those promises have not held up. You continue to engage in hyperbole by claiming that your health-care and energy plans will save tax dollars. Congressional Budget Office analysis indicates otherwise.”

c) The Keynesians are right and major government spending and deficits result in prosperity.
For example, according to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, the idea of slowing major stimulus spending would be an “error of historical proportions,” (WSJ, 9/22/09; B. Stephens). And George Akerloff and Robert Shiller (WSJ, 4/24/09) believe that,

An understanding of animal spirits — the human psychology and culture at the heart of economic activity — confirms the need for restoring the role of regulators as guiding hands in a healthy, productive free-enterprise system. History — including recent history — shows that without regulation, animal spirits will drive economic activity to extremes.

Importantly, an especially intense version of animal spirits (called “ebullience” here) is apparently responsible for the extraordinary exploration and engineering activities during Maslow Windows.

Bottom Line for Option I:
It appears that combinations of b and c are unlikely, but various combinations of a and b or a and c could occur.

In either case, Obama becomes the new JFK. He continues the brilliant, transformative lagacy of Theodore Roosevelt and the Panama Canal, that began with Thomas Jefferson and the Lewis and Clark expedition.

OPTION II: Obama becomes a 1-term president: He becomes the new Grover Cleveland (and possibly LBJ), and leads to a pro-prosperity Republican presidency.
Historical/Economic Model: The Peary/Panama Maslow Window (1903-13).

The New York Times (9/6/09; Richard Stevenson) observed that,

Nearly eight months after the inauguration, the economy … has stabilized sufficiently that the nation is no longer gripped by the sense of urgency that allowed Mr. Obama, almost without challenge, to carry out an audacious act of industrial engineering: reshaping the automobile industry from the Oval Office in a matter of weeks … On health care, he is getting no such philosophical pass … The most relevant political framework instead appears to be a more problematic one inherited from his predecesser: a general loss of faith in government.

On August 21, the Wall Street Journal (8/25/09; William McGurn) reported that,

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said his boss was “quite comforrtable” with the idea that sticking to his agenda may well mean “he only lives in this house” for one term.

Indeed, if unemployment remains high into 2012, reelection will be a challenge for Obama.

Three things that could hinder Obama’s reelection are:

a) The Stimulus has not worked.
The Wall Street Journal (9/17/09; Cogan,Taylor,Wieland) reports that,

The data show government transfers and rebates have not increased consumption at all … and that the resilience of the private sector following the fall 2008 panic — not the fiscal stimulus program — deserves the lion’s share of the credit for the impressive growth improvement from the first to the second quarter.

And as unempoyment heads toward 10%, Obama’s promise that rapid passage of the stimulus package would keep unemployment below 8% has not been realized.

b) Obama’s economic policy may be fundamentally flawed.

Published economic research by the current head of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors — Christina Romer — raises doubts about Obama’s policy of major government spending to end the recession. The Wall Street Journal (8/21/09; Alan Reynolds) quotes Professor Romer’s 1999 study (J. Econ. Perspect.) that between the pre-WW I era and the era of big government (post-WW II), “recessions have become only slightly less severe…and recessions have not become noticeably shorter,” in fact post-WW II recessions are one month longer. WSJ concludes that, based on economic history since 1887, “bigger government appears to produce only bigger and longer recessions.”

If this is true, Obama’s large stimulus/bailout packages and large federal budgets will not stimulate the economy in his first term.

According to William Gale of Brookings,

The budget outlook at every horizon is troubling: the fiscal-year 2009 budget is enormous; the ten-year projection is clearly unsustainable; and the long-term outlook is dire and increasingly urgent.

Add to this White House projections of a 10-year record federal deficit of $ 9 T, and by next decade’s end the national debt will be 75% of GDP, and it’s easy to see why Obama’s job approval ratings have settled into the low 50s.

c) Afghanistan turns into Vietnam.

The New York Times (8/23/09; Peter Baker) has focused on the dangers a protracted conflict in Afghanistan could have on Obama, “The LBJ model — a president who aspired to reshape America at home while fighting a losing war abroad — is one that haunts Mr. Obama’s White House as it seeks to salvage Afghanistan while enacting an expansive domestic program.”

And despite considerable personal popularity around the world, “All that good will so far has translated into limited tangible plicy benefits for Mr. Obama … foreign leaders have not gone out of their way to give him what he has sought,” (NYT, 9/20/09; Peter Baker)

An interesting bottomline emerges:

Re: Prospects for the New Space Age Near 2015:
Based on patterns in macroeconomic data and historical trends over the last 200 years, all realistic roads lead to a 2015 Maslow Window featuring a Golden Age of Prosperity, Exploration, and Technology, although wildcards are possible.

Re: Mr. Obama’s Prospects:
Despite the fact that Mr. Obama is currently setting the stage for a robust, transformative new Space Age within the next 3-5 years, his presidential prospects remain uncertain.

Obama’s long wave timing and election circumstances (i.e., panic/recession) have more parallels with the 1893-1913 Peary/Panama Maslow Window — in which a 1-term Democrat (Grover Cleveland) was replaced by a pro-prosperity Republican — than with the 1949-1969 Apollo Maslow Window of John F. Kennedy. And Obama’s continuing challenges with high unemployment, record deficits, huge budgets, and Afghanistan, pose real dangers for him.

As the New York Times noted and as evidenced by Obama’s descending poll numbers, many Americans are again expressing skepticism about big government and the economy. Obama will have to create prosperity — the cornerstone of the 2015 Maslow Window — and given Obama’s popularity and flexibility, he’s quite capable of doing it.

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Aug 21 2009

Xunantunich and the Large Hadron Collider Support Maslow Window Forecasts

Grandiose structures with cosmic aspirations have a lot in common, regardless of when they were constructed, according to the New York Times (8/9/09; James Glanz). Built around 1500 years ago, Xunantunich, the sacred Mayan pyramid, was the product of a lofty, cosmically sophisticated society that mysteriously disappeared.

Xunantunich and its modern cousin, the Large Hadron Collider, point tantalizingly toward the spectacular 2015 Maslow Window. Click xunantunich.jpg

According to Dr. Richard Leventhal, an anthropologist with the University of Pennsylvania and an authority on Xunantunich,

All of these multigenerational projects are based upon a strong and ongoing belief system in how the world works.

As long as that world view remains in tact, the project continues and is updated by each generation, but if it falters, “all bets are off.” This mirrors the views of 1960s sociologist Fred Polak who cited 2000 years of evidence supporting the importance of a positive vision of the future to the viability of a civilization.

With the Mayans we are apparently seeing evidence of a civilization-level collapse, but Xunantunich itself also speaks of the enduring power of the cosmos to motivate humans toward large, state-of-the-art engineering projects — supporting a major theme and expectation of as we approach the 2015 Maslow Window.

Glanz, himself “a former physicist,” seems to flirt with an anti-technology bias by suggesting that Xunantunich and the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) “have something in common: overreach.” However, Nobel prize-winning physicist Steven Weinberg counters, “I don’t see it in quite those apocalyptic terms.”

And of course Weinberg is right. In reality, despite it’s current technical snags, LHC is becoming a stunning Macro-Engineering Project (MEP) that fits the patterns of MEPs for the last 200 years and points to even bigger things during the 2015 Maslow Window.

Our technical definition of an MEP requires more than just state-of-the-art technology and a large price tag: it must also inspire and excite a large international audience, like the Saturn V Moon rocket of the 1960s did and the Panama Canal still does. As I noted before, in the case of the Superconducting Super Collider, this demand for global interest was one of the nails in its coffin, because major particle accelerators are buried underground and thus hard for the public to see and fall in love with. However, it appears that as we approach the 2015 Maslow Window, the LHC is overcoming this limitation based on its pop culture references — e.g., searching for the “God Particle,” and speculations about small LHC-produced black holes that might gobble up the Earth — and its long wave timing.

Construction of LHC was approved in 1995, near the trough of the 56 year energy cycle, so the project benefitted from the generally upward trend of the long wave until recently. However, cost overruns, budget cuts, and engineering difficulties have driven the cost up to $ 9 B and delayed the opening date to September 10, 2008. Over the last 200 years, this is typical of MEPs that originate far from Maslow Windows.

Rather than comparing LHC to Xunantunich, it is much more interesting to compare it to analogous MEPs of the last 200 years, especially if we want a glimpse of the 2015 Maslow Window.

Each Maslow Window of the last 200 years — except for the first one, the Lewis & Clark Maslow Window — features one primary MEP and one or more secondary ones. For example, the Peary/Panama Maslow Window (1903-13) features the Panama Canal as its primary MEP, and the Titanic ship as a secondary MEP.

In the context of the last 200 years, the timing, technological complexity, and cost of LHC suggest it is a secondary MEP associated with a much larger primary MEP that will appear during the 2015 Maslow Window. LHC appears to be analogous to the Mackinac Bridge (connecting the peninusulas of Michigan), a secondary MEP of the 1950s that preceded the primary MEP — the Apollo/Saturn V transportation infrastructure — of the 1960s Apollo Maslow Window.

I have previously estimated the cost of the 2015 Maslow Window’s primary MEP as between $ 1T and 3T, based on a simple extrapolation of 20th Century MEP costs into the 21st century. (This assumes rapid economic growth characteristic of Maslow Windows as we exit our current major recession in a few years and reignite the “greatest global boom ever” that was interrupted by the Panic of 2008.)

Using simple ratios between the costs of primary and secondary MEPs for each Maslow Window, and assuming that LHC is a secondary MEP of the 2015 Maslow Window, allows another interesting estimate of the cost of the primary MEP after 2015.

Here are the primary MEP to secondary MEP cost ratios for the last 3 Maslow Windows:

Dr. Livingstone/Suez Maslow Window:
Suez Canal cost/Great Eastern ship cost = 50

Peary/Panama Maslow Window:
Panama Canal cost/Titanic ship cost = 50

Apollo Moon Program Maslow Window:
Apollo Moon cost/Mackinac Bridge cost= 200

If we multiply the cost of LHC by these factors we estimate the cost of the primary MEP during the 2015 Maslow Window.

The primary to secondary MEP cost ratios of the 19th and early 20th century Windows suggest a 2015 Window primary MEP cost of $ 0.5 T.

And the 1960s Apollo Maslow Window ratio suggests about $ 2 T.

This cost range — $ 0.5 to 2 T — is close to the earlier range ($ 1T to 3T) that I obtained from simple extrapolation of primary MEP costs.

One could argue that the most modern (e.g., 1960s) cost ratio might be more characteristic of the 21st Century, which would favor 2015 MEP costs of between $ 1T to 3T, like my previous estimates.

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Jun 28 2009

Does President Obama Need Space?

Like virtually all other presidents in U.S. history, President Obama ultimately wants a second term; and to get that, he needs to succeed in his first. So the question becomes: Can space contribute to the success of Obama’s first term?

Does President Obama need space to advance his economic and foreign policy objectives? Click obama-nasa.jpg.

In January I suggested that at least in 2009, space would not be a major focus for Obama. But in a recent op-ed piece in Space News (4/6/09), retired Air Force major general James B. Armor takes a longer view and boldly asserts that “Space is an important ingredient toward addressing every administration agenda and national goal.” He convincingly cites several arenas — including fixing the economy, buttressing national security, education reform, energy independence — that illustrate his point.

I will elaborate on General Armor’s discussion and inject, where appropriate, the lessons of macroeconomic data and historical trends over the last 200 years.

1) Fixing the Economy: Gen. Armor is right that investing in high-tech jobs in space-related industries would have a higher pay-off than many other alternatives. However, the global recession requires Obama to first deal with the issue of confidence in the economy.

As a Keynesian, Obama’s solution includes multi-trillion US$ stimulus/bailout packages, government control of large industries (e.g., auto), and record high deficits. In the language of Keynes, Obama must reverse the current negative “animal spirits” that afflict actors in the economy. Instead of Obama’s hoped-for outcome, some express doubts; for example the Brookings Institution, where “William Gale and Alan Auerbach share increasing public concerns about the deficit…as bad as the $1.7 trillion deficit looks for this year, the medium term and long-term numbers are of much greater concern. Our fiscal house of cards has dire implications for the American economy.”

Unusually intense Keynesian-style animal spirits — called “ebullience” — is a hallmark of twice-per-century Maslow Windows over the last 200 years, including the 1960s Apollo decade and the early 20th Century Peary/Panama Window. However, the lesson of the last 200 years seems to be that ebullience is a result (not a cause) of major economic booms. Akerlof and Shiller (2009) see parallels between now and the panic/recession of the 1890s, but they do not mention the most ebullient decade of the last 200 years — the Peary/Panama Maslow Window — which followed immediately. For those who see current parallels with the 1930s Great Depression, the current long wave trend is up toward the 2015 Maslow Window, as opposed to down during the 1930s, which should help Obama’s chances to ameliorate the crisis.

If Obama succeeds and receives a second term, he will be president during the major economic boom that is expected to open the 2015 Maslow Window, based on the last 200 years of economic and historical trends. If so, he will follow in the monumental footsteps of Presidents John Kennedy, Theodore Roosevelt, and Thomas Jefferson as he initiates the unprecedented great explorations and macro-engineering projects of this time.

Referring to the Great Depression, Akerloff and Shiller (2009) note that, “Confidence — and the economy itself — was not restored until World War II completely changed the dominant story of people’s lives, transforming the economy.” If our economy has not fully recovered by 2015, it’s possible that surging international pressure to build Moon bases and send people to Mars may have a WW II-style transformative effect on the economy.

2) Strengthening National Security: North Korea has recently tested a long-range missile and an underground nuclear device. While it’s doubtful North Korea can weaponize its nukes or control the trajectory of its long-range missiles, the U.S. has taken reasonable defensive measures against a possible missile launch toward Hawaii on July 4. North Korea has also repudiated the 1953 armistice ending the Korean War.

Some have suggested that North Korea is Obama’s Cuban Missile Crisis (of JFK in 1962). In any case, 1953 is exactly one long wave ago and we should expect analogous international pressure points to develop. For example, Iran and North Korea are allies and share missile technology. Protests against the disputed Iranian election have driven a wedge between Obama and Iranian leaders.

In addition, as Obama deals with a resurgent Russia, pursues the war in Afghanistan, monitors progress in Iraq, and continues to defend the U.S. against a 9/11-style attack, Obama will depend on space technology. According to Gen. Armor, “Re-establishing U.S. space leadership in collaborative international projects in all space sectors — civil, military, intelligence — can be a keystone to re-energizing U.S. foreign policy.” As we approach the spectacular and very dynamic 2015 Maslow Window, this will be increasingly evident.

3) Avoiding a Replay of Sputnik: The U.S. should build on the spectacular foreign policy success of the International Space Station by providing international leadership so that global resources, that might otherwise fuel international conflicts at hotspots on Earth, are channeled into a constructive “Grand Alliance for Space.”

About one long wave ago as another international cooperative space effort was taking shape (the International Geophysical Year) during the first Cold War, one result was the surprise launch of the first artificial satellite (Sputnik) that triggered the first race to space and an American on the Moon in 1969.

Based on trends over the last 200 years, in the next few years we are likely to see NASA participate in — or even become part of — a truly global space agency (e.g., Interspace) with a deep space (i.e., beyond Earth orbit) focus.

As Gen. Armor points out, the development of space-related technologies will support Obama’s foreign policy objectives and stimulate global economic growth. And the release of raw human exploration passions will re-energize education reform. “Space has a proven record of inspiring the young … A robust space program will create jobs and motivate K-12 science and math education, as well as focus academia and business as sponsors of scholarships and internships.”

4. Elevating the Human Spirit: Mindful that a new Augustine report on space is being compiled at the request of Obama, I’d like to feature my favorite quote from the original. After describing several rationales for human expansion into the cosmos, Augustine et al. (1990) state that “perhaps the most important space benefit of all is intangible — the uplifting of spirits and human pride in response to truly great accomplishments — whether they be the sight of a single human orbiting freely around the Earth at 18,000 miles per hour, or a picture of Uranus’ moon Miranda transmitted 1.7 billion miles through space, and taking some 2-1/2 hours merely to arrive at our listening stations even when traveling literally at the speed of light. Such accomplishments have served to unite our nation, hold our attention, and inspire us all, particularly our youth, as few other events have done in the history of our nation or even the world.”

Indeed, with the advantage of a powerful, long-term perspective encompassing the last 200 years, it’s clear that large international audiences have been literally enthralled and had their spirits elevated by the twice-per-century pulses of great explorations and macro-engineering projects during Maslow Windows that were unprecedented for their time. The great explorations included Apollo Moon, the polar expeditions, Dr. Livingstone (“…I presume.”) in Africa, and Lewis and Clark; and the MEPs included Apollo infrastructure, the Panama and Suez Canals, and currently ISS.

Commenting on the spiritual importance of exploration, Gen. Armor states that “as a frontier culture, we must be actively engaged in conquering outer space. America will simply not be America is it is not.” And the spiritual and legacy benefits are not limited to America. “The space frontier must be part of any great nation’s legacy. Other countries that aspire to greatness — China, India, Russia and a growing number of new spacefaring states — inherently understand this and emulate us.”

The benefits of these intangible rationales will have a profound impact on our global culture. Leadership means “new missions and activities that continually set legal precedents to ensure that democracy, rule of law and market economy conventions prevail in outer space.” These powerful ideas that conquered the world, offer a positive vision of our space future — for the United States and the world — that is worth aspiring to and energetically working for.

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Dec 25 2008

10 Lessons Dr. Livingstone ("…I presume?") Teaches Us About the Human Future in Space

The inspirational mid-19th Century Great Exploration of Dr. David Livingstone opened central Africa to the world and has surprising parallels with the 1960s Apollo Moon program, as well as many lessons for future human exploration and settlement of space. The top 10 lessons of Dr. David Livingstone include:

10. Generally considered the greatest and most famous of all explorers in Africa, Dr. David Livingstone (1813-1873) was a medical doctor and Christian missionary born in Scotland. His was perhaps the most unusual Great Exploration of the last 200 years because Livingstone did not go for fame, monetary gain, or national prestige. His goals were altruistic: to end the slavery trade, to be a successful missionary, and to open up central Africa commercially to the world.
Dr. Livingstone’s monumental explorations in central Africa indicate the power of a Great Exploration during a Maslow Window to stir the world. However, as great as Livingstone and all the other Great Explorations of the last 200 years are, they only hint at the extraordinary, unprecendented space activities we’re likely to experience during the next Maslow Window, starting near 2015.

Dr. Livingstone thought Victoria Falls was the “most wonderful sight” he had seen in Africa. Click victoria.jpg.

9. Dr. Livingstone’s world-wide fame as a great explorer and humanitarian lives on today even in popular culture (as well as history) over 130 years after his death, and indicates the dimension of his legend. For example, a) Dr. Livingstone appears on the album cover of The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, b) In TV’s Star Trek: The Next Generation, the fish in the background of Capt. Picard’s ready room is named Livingstone after the explorer, c) a video game for the Nintendo Entertainment System is called “Stanley and the Search for Dr. Livingstone,” d) in the 1981 movie Cannonball Run, Burt Reynolds mentions Dr. Livingstone by name, and many others.
Dr. Livingstone’s lasting fame has not been dimished by time, distance, his multi-year disappearance, or his fundamentally altruistic motivations. Indeed, this suggests that pure exploration, for exploration’s sake, is among the most attractive rationales to the global public, and may have implications for future human explorers on the Moon, near-Earth objects, and/or Mars.

8. The financial Panic of 1837 was a major contraction where 40% of the U.S. banks failed and unemployment was at record highs; it lasted 6 years until 1843. According to Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman wrting in 1960, the Panic of 1837 “is the only depression on record comparable in severity and scope to the Great Depression of the 1930s.” Nevertheless, the mid-19th Century Livingstone Maslow Window (roughly 1847 to 1857) opened on time and featured Africa’s most famous explorer (Livingstone), the “technological jewel” of the 19th Century (the Suez Canal), as well as stunning secondary MEPs (including the Great Eastern ship); this Maslow Window’s global ebullience is perhaps best captured by the Gold Rush in the American West (1848 – 1855).
Over the last 200 years, pre-Maslow Window bank panics have not perceptibly affected any Maslow Windows, and may, in fact, have stimulated them somewhat. There were two 19th Century panics (1837 and 1893) both about one decade prior to their Maslow Windows, none in 1949 (post W.W. II) one decade before the Apollo Maslow Window, and one currently in 2008 (8 years before our expected Window). Interestingly, the New York Times (11/30/08) recently suggested that a “deep recession” may have occurred near 1776, 10 – 15 years before the Lewis & Clark Maslow Window. In any case, during the last 200 years, no financial panic has ever delayed or diminished any Great Explorations or MEPs associated with a Maslow Window. With a new U.S. presidential administration highly motivated to ameliorate the current panic, there’s every reason to expect this 200+ year pattern to continue.

7. Although not as formally organized as the elaborate Apollo astronaut training in the 1960s, Dr. Livingstone’s early field experiences over nearly a decade were excellent “training” for his future transcontinental adventures. Initially influenced to go to central Africa in 1840 by a South African missionary, he was funded by his church as he moved from village to village spreading his faith, learning the languages and customs of local peoples, curing the sick, and expanding the infrastructure. Livingstone began to explore new lands and by 1849 The Royal Geographical Society had already awarded him a monetary prize and a gold medal for his discovery of Lake Ngami in the Kalahari Desert.
There is no substitute for significant training and appropriate experience in an environment as similar to one’s future exploration arena as possible. This goes for Livingstone in Africa and future astronauts on the Moon and Mars.

6. Between 1852 and 1856 — at the height of his Maslow Window — Dr. Livingstone made his stunning exploratory 4,300 mile transcontinental journey across central Africa including his amazing discovery of Victoria Falls (which he named after Queen Victoria I). It was the “most wonderful sight I have seen in Africa,” wrote an awestruck Livingstone after he carefully and dangerously measured its height as 360 feet. As he began to explore the Zambezi River area, Livingstone became convinced that opening up legitimate trade routes along this river would remove economic rationales for the slave trade. He returned to London as a national hero, went on a lecture tour, wrote his famous book, and energetically sold his exploration, commercial, and social justice agenda to an eager public. “Livingstone’s fame was so great that (during the) ‘Farewell Livingstone Festival’ on February 13, 1858, just before the explorer’s departure for a second Zambezi expedition, 350 of England’s most prominent citizens” attended, according to Dugard (2003).
Great explorers always have maximum societal impact during their Maslow Windows. Livingstone illustrates the pattern of the last 200 years that has included such timely luminaries as Lewis & Clark, Peary, Amundsen, Neil Armstrong, and others. They all point to the anticipated 2015 Maslow Window as another pivotal opportunity for human expansion.

5. In 1858 Dr. Livingstone triumphantly returned to Africa as the official head of the government-supported “Zambezi Expedition.” However, the British government recalled the failed endeavor in 1863. Although Livingstone had perfected the “small” expedition style of moving through central Africa, he was unaccustomed to managing the much larger Zambezi exploration entourage that he found himself leading. Plus, he became ill for the first time in 1862 partly due to the accidental loss of vital anti-malarial medicine into the Zambezi River. Then, tragically his wife died while traveling with the expedition. “I cannot tell you how greatly I feel the loss,” Livingstone wrote in 1862, “it feels as if heart and strength were taken out of me — my horizon is all dark,” (Dugard, 2003). As if that were not enough, a crucial portion of the Zambezi River — which Livingstone had not previously explored — was simply commercially unnavigable. This triggered the collapse of Livingstone’s anti-slavery strategy as his worst-case scenario materialized.
Dr. Livingstone’s Zambezi expedition reminds us that accidents, unexpected events, and even loss of life are sometimes a challenging part of a Great Exploration, and explorers must be trained to expect the unexpected. For example, when an oxygen tank exploded on Apollo 13 on the way to the Moon, the astronauts lost their normal source of electricity and water, but due to superb planning, determination, and creativity, everyone survived. Livingstone-style tenacity and Apollo-style independence from Earth will be absolutely required on interplanetary spaceflights.

4. British newspapers branded Livingstone’s Zambezi expedition a “failure” although considerable science (e.g. botany, medicine, ethnography) and many geographic discoveries (e.g., discovered Lakes Ngami, Malawi, and Bangweulu, plus Victoria Falls) had been accomplished. However, the Zambezi River was unfit for commercial navigation and Livingstone’s expedition was victimized by intertribal war and slave raids. In effect, “the journey was a highly publicized bust,” (Dugard, 2003). At this low point even the great Livingstone had difficulty finding financial support to continue his African explorations.
After Dr. Livingstone’s stunning African successes, the professional and personal toll experienced by the greatest explorer of his day on the downside of his Maslow Window in 1864 is reminiscent of the Apollo program. After the stunning 1st human landing on the Moon in 1969, public support waned (except for Apollo 13) until the last 3 Apollo Moon missions (18-20) were finally canceled by President Nixon. The bottomline is: As the momentary ebullience of a Maslow Window declines, public support for Great Explorations and associated MEPs rapidly erodes.

“Dr. Livingstone, I presume?” Click stanley_and_livingstone.jpg.

3. Amazingly, even after the Zambezi setback, Dr. Livingstone’s celebrity was so great that he was able to attract private funding to return to Africa. But by 1871 — during his search for the “source of the Nile” — Livingstone had actually lost contact with the outside world for several years. However, international interest in Livingstone was so high that a New York newspaper sent Henry M. Stanley and an expedition of 170 men to find him. Stanley wasn’t entirely sure that Livingstone wanted to be found and it took him 8 months to do so. Then, in Ujiji village on the north shore of Lake Tanganyika, one of the all-time famous greetings took place, “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?”
The Livingstone/Stanley story is impressive testimony of the enduring power of Dr. Livingstone’s global fame as an explorer, scientist, and humanitarian. It’s important to remember that Livingstone wasn’t an American and yet an American newspaper — reflecting their vicarious obsession with Livingstone’s adventures — sent Stanley to locate him. Few people could physically accompany Livingstone on his African explorations, but many were riveted vicariously to his adventures. The same was true of the polar explorers and the crews of Apollo, and will be for future lunar and interplanetary explorers.

2. On Christmas, 1871 Dr. Livingstone’s fever had dropped so he and Stanley decided to have a Christmas feast just like at home. Stanley had “used some very powerful arguments in favor of my going home,” but even Livingstone’s daughter Agnes admitted that, “Much as I wish you to come home, I had rather you finished your work to your satisfaction rather than return merely to gratify me.” Livingstone regarded her with pride as a “chip of the old block.” Dr. Livingstone eventually declined Stanley’s invitation to return to civilization. Fully reprovisioned, he continued his fruitless search for the source of the Nile; Livingstone died in 1873. At considerable risk to themselves, Livingstone’s African crew carried his body for 5 months to the East Africa coast where it was shipped to his burial place in Westminster Abbey, London. Also in 1873, the Vienna stock market crash in Austria began the Long Depression which spread to the United States that fall, and lasted for 6+ years.
The Panic of 1873 is a member of a class of financial panics that occur 16 – 18 years after the economic peak of a Maslow Window; they include the panics of 1819, 1873, 1929, and 1987. (The Panic of 2008 is a class of panics that preceed a Maslow Window.) The last 200 years show that any lingering ebullience and interest in Great Explorations/MEPs associated with the last Maslow Window collapse as the panic deepens.

1. Despite his failed anti-slavery Zambezi strategy and his inability to find the source of the Nile, Dr. Livingstone is widely regarded as the greatest and most famous explorer of Africa. His legacy was polished by Henry Stanley and later positive events that are traceable to Livingstone’s efforts as an explorer, educator, and missionary. For example, the curse of African slavery was finally eradicated due to the inspiration and writings of Livingstone; a month after Livingstone died, England threatened a naval blockade of Zanzibar which forced the Sultan to close its slave market forever.

While a period of european colonization did occur after his explorations, Dr. Livingstone’s name was not stricken from African streets, buildings, and towns, after independence. In fact, many Africans educated in schools established by Livingstone’s followers were leaders in national independence movements in central, eastern, and southern Africa. “Contrary to many western beliefs, Livingstone is greatly respected and admired by a large number of Africans — a sure testimony to the man who spent the majority of his life among them,” (Mackenzie, 1993).

While traveling nearly 30,000 miles over 1/3 of Africa he displayed the best of human values — sacrifice, service, curiosity — and pioneered the opening of central Africa to commerce and science.
Livingstone teaches us that exploration is a profoundly exciting activity with unlimited potential for both scientific and self-discovery. As a result of exploring the most unknown parts of the world he inspired people to care about his beliefs, even after his death. When future explorers seek to expand human civilization into the cosmos and financial and other challenges arise…
…We should — in the spirit of Dr. Livingstone — simply ask: “How much is a new planet worth?”

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Oct 20 2008

Economic Crisis Supports Maslow Window Forecasts

The current economic crisis that caused so much pain and anxiety as it intensified to a credit meltdown about a month ago, supports Maslow Window forecasts in this weblog and elsewhere. Specifically, the long wave timing and character of the crisis is supportive of the Long Wave/Maslow Window (LW/MW) forecast model first published in Cordell (1996), and more recently in Cordell (2006), and expanded in this weblog. The LW/MW model is summarized HERE.

“We are now in the midst of a major financial panic,” according to author John Steele Gordon in the Wall Street Journal (10/10/08). But there have been several over the last 200 years; Gordon counts 9, including this one. has highlighted a class of panics that follow Maslow Windows; they appear 16 to 18 years after their 56 year energy cycle peaks (peaks are in 1801, 1857, 1913, 1969, 2025). This includes the Panic of 1873, the Great Depression beginning in 1929, and the Crash of 1987 (Black Monday). Gordon asserts that the “ordinary recession” of 1929 degenerated into the disaster known as the Great Depression because the Federal Reserve was ineffective; he believes that it’s reorganization in 1934 kept the Crash of 1987 from having any “lasting effect on the economy.”

Gordon’s mention of the 1819 panic completes the pattern:
Each Maslow Window of the last 200 years is followed by a panic 16-18 years after its energy cycle peak. This supports the LW/MW model by demonstrating that major economic events — in this case, post-Maslow Window panics — of the last 200 years are closely associated in time with long-term fluctuations in the economy. has also characterized a class of panics that predate Maslow Windows by about a decade. For example, the Panic of 1837 preceeded the opening of the mid-19th Century Livingstone Maslow Window (of “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?” fame) by 10 years and was a time of very high unemployment when 40% of the country’s banks failed. Ironically, about a month ago I was in the process of writing a new post on the Panic of 1893 and its similarities to today — and trying to develop the courage to forecast a similar crisis today (!) — when the credit meltdown occurred. The Panic of 1893 caused estimated unemployment over 10% for 5+ years. It lasted 18 months but was followed by another recession that lasted until 1897. The combination of GDP declines of several % coupled with population growth meant that GDP per capita didn’t recover to 1892 levels until 1899.

Although the Panic of 1893 began about 10 years before the opening of the 1903 Adm. Peary Maslow Window, the 1903-1913 decade featured exceptional ebullience, including the daring, world-famous races to both N. and S. poles, and construction of the greatest MEP of the last 200 years (until Apollo): the Panama Canal.

The Panama Canal — the greatest macro-engineering project (until Apollo) of the last 200 years — was constructed during the Peary Maslow Window immediately following the Panic of 1893. Click panama.jpg.

One loose end is the Panic of 1949; according to the pattern, the mid-20th Century Apollo Maslow Window began in 1959 and 10 years earlier we should expect a panic. Of course, happily it didn’t occur. Gordon attributes this to the Fed reorganization of 1934 and the post-W.W. II boom. An important lesson is that long-wave timeframes suggest when certain types of events are likely to occur, not when they must occur. Through knowledge of these long-term patterns, we are capable of avoiding disasters.

But what of the future? Gordon links our current crisis to the birth of huge interstate banks in the 1990s, and “Congress’ attempt to force banks to make home loans to people who had limited creditworthiness…” This “created another crisis in the banking system that is now playing out.” Today the New York Times (page 1) profiles Henry Cisneros, who was President Clinton’s top housing official in the mid-1990s, and one of the inadvertant early architects of the current panic.

The Panic of 2008 began about 7 years before the opening of the next scheduled Maslow Window (near 2015). Although 2008 is roughly the expected timeframe for a panic, long-term trends over the last 200 years suggest it arrived a little late, and could have started in 2005 (about one decade before 2015). Or, this may signal the 2015 Maslow Window itself may open a little late.

It’s likely the Panic of 2008 — and the upcoming 2015 Maslow Window — will have more in common with the pre-Maslow Window panics of 1837 and 1893, than it will with the Great Depression of 1929 — a post-Maslow Window panic. Especially if our political leaders can bring themselves to enact a unified, well-capitalized, appropriately regulated banking system.

Consider the technological wonders of the mid-19th Century Maslow Window — Suez Canal, Great Eastern ship, etc. — and those of the early 20th Century Window — Panama Canal, the Titanic, etc. — and their riveting equatorial Africa and polar region Great Explorations, respectively. How scintillatingly unparalleled for their day, despite their pre-Window panics.

More on what the current panic suggests about our future in an upcoming post.

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