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C. Stearns: Address to World Summit 2020

Address to World Summit 2020, Seoul, Korea, February 3-8, 2020


Good afternoon, everyone. I am delighted to be able to speak to you on the importance of market-based innovation as a source of solutions for our future. I want to commend the International Association for Economic Development (IAED) for what they are doing to address this challenge.

I had the opportunity to read the IAED resolution and feel it is concise and a great way to chronicle man’s desire for peace, security and human development through market-based innovations. Market-based innovation truly is the primary source of solutions for the future.

I also want to acknowledge the leadership of Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon and her late husband, Rev. Sun Myung Moon for their clairvoyance. Their extraordinary ability to perceive events coming in the future and then to craft strategies to address them is truly commendable.

It is also worth acknowledging that your efforts to assemble leaders from the media, commerce and academia with your three associations will serve as a model for world peace.

I read the Washington Times every day and I can’t tell you how important this newspaper is. It provides insight that no other newspaper in Washington, DC provides. From the balanced coverage of the Brexit issue in Britain to the continued coverage of turmoil with Iran and Iraq, the paper provides factual accounts and much insightful information. I often say after reading that newspaper: “I didn’t know that…why didn’t I read about that before or elsewhere!” I want to commend the staff and editor of this fine newspaper. I only wish they would let me publish an edition of it in my hometown of Ocala, Florida!

And now, a quiz for you: Who is the following individual? How has he impacted our everyday life? He was born in San Francisco in 1955 and was put up for adoption. He went to a local high school where his performance was not strong enough to get him into a prestigious university. 

He enrolled in Reed College in Portland, Oregon, and dropped out after the first year. He went to India to study Zen Buddhism and came back to go to college. His college days lasted about two years and then he quit again. 

He later hooked up with a friend and convinced his friend’s mother to rent their garage to start a company. This was in 1976. Do you know who this was? And the company they started?  

Steve Jobs and Apple. It now has revenue of $270 billion and net income of $59 billion. Apple is one of the largest corporations in the world and what Steve Jobs has done has been transformative for all of us. A large proportion of us in America have the iPhone.

Perhaps many of you have Samsung or Huawei. I remember when I had a Blackberry phone out of Canada. Remember that phone?  

This technology innovation has changed my life and millions of lives, and probably yours. I get up in the morning, check my email, and Wi-Fi to my printer anything I want to save on paper from my phone. In the evening I go on Apple TV and project to my TV set the smart phone screen to watch highlights of NFL games. 

I speak to it and get immediate answers and have a search engine to collate and collect all my news on a daily basis. I order books, clothes, ties and flowers off my phone. It is a constant companion and I can’t do without it.   

Why did this happen in America and not China or Russia or any of the other authorial quasi government-operated countries? I would submit that it is because of the spirit of democratic capitalism. Economists label it “classical liberal meritocratic capitalism.”  

The fashionable alternative today is socialism or what is further defined as political capitalism where decisions are made by a select few, without a large citizen consensus. 

The system of political capitalism has three defining aspects: First, it is a bureaucracy run by the state. Second, the rule of law is applied arbitrarily, much to the benefit of the bureaucrats. And thirdly, the state is autonomous (separate) from the people.  

There is a real battle going on between these two models. We even see this battle in America with the progressives wanting to institute more federal- and state-led government controls which ultimately limit political and civic rights and create civil unrest. Government by the people is destroyed and instead you have government – by a few people.

My goal today is to share the importance of market-based innovation as a primary source of solutions for the future. There are obvious challenges in the environment, healthcare, education, etc., especially in developing areas of Asia, and Africa that need to be addressed. 

I believe there is a case for a new global network of business and economic professionals whose goal is to educate and showcase the need for market-based activities to solve these problems. That is where IAED is important.

There are two fundamental reasons why market-based solutions work best: One, the world is too complicated to be predicted and judged in the markets by bureaucrats. Capitalism is good at doing the one thing socialism or political capitalism is really bad at doing – creating innovation, providing incentives, adjusting market conditions and bringing satisfaction to buyer and seller of commodities. The best example of this is what happened at Apple Corporation.

Second, market-based solutions have the ability to reduce poverty across the board. Let us look at countries who are practicing free markets, for example. These statistics are from a Ford Foundation Professor of Economics at MIT, Abhijit V. Banerjee. Between 1980 and 2016, the average income of the bottom 50 percent of earners nearly doubled as this group captured 12 per cent of the growth in global GDP. The number of those living on less than $1.90 a day – the World Banks’s threshold for “extreme poverty” – has dropped by more than half since 1990 from nearly two billion to around 700 million. Never before in human history have so many people been lifted out of poverty so quickly. Mortality rates have been cut in half. So has the infant mortality rate, saving the lives of more than 100 million children.

A great deal of credit for these gains can go to economic growth from market-based economies.

Decision time: What most developing countries want to know is not whether they should nationalize all private industry overnight, but whether they should emulate China’s economic model. Although China is very much a market economy, the country’s approach to capitalism differs greatly from the classic liberal meritocratic capitalism, characterized by low taxes and few regulations, and even differs somewhat from its European variant which has a great role for the state.  

In China, the state, at both the national and local levels, plays an outsized role in the allocation of land, capital and even labor. Moreover, what elements of the Chinese experience are countries supposed to emulate? For example, the American GDP has more than doubled since 1970, but energy consumption has risen only modestly. America’s per-capita carbon emissions hit a 67-year low in 2017. The greatest environmental degradations are committed by planned systems like the Soviet Union and communist China. The free market is solving problems.

Where is the innovation today? It is in market-based countries where the best workers should end up at the most profitable companies. The most fertile plots of land should be farmed most intensively. Investors should entrust their capital to the most promising entrepreneurs.

China may catch up with US output in per capita terms, but its policy of slowing growth means that it will take a long time.

Notwithstanding the need for a market economy to solve the problems in today’s environment, there continues to be the need for countries to also develop private and public partnerships to provide research in healthcare, improve the functioning of the courts and build better roads.

Before I close, I want to bring your attention to a new technology, namely prompted by Google, Microsoft, and Samsung, which will impact all of us including the media: 

Google Glass Slide 1: It is merging your physical world with your digital life in a device like Google Glass, which you can see here on screen 1. 

Eyepiece Slide 2: It is evolving into an eyepiece, which you can see here on screen 2.  

Contact Lens Slide 3: And eventually it becomes a contact lens as seen in screen 3.

XRA Webpage Slide 4: At APCO we have a client, XR Association, that is promoting this new technology. You can follow what this association is doing to promote this technology from their website seen here on screen 4. With this new technology you can use the device to open the Internet and do everything you can do on the smart phone with your voice, hand or head movements. You won’t need a keyboard.

To see the all the slides, click here.

There are billions of smart phones in the world today. Augmented reality phones with artificial intelligence devices may surpass smart cell phones someday. Holograms on your device with 5 G speeds will allow you, as they say in Star Trek, “To Boldly Go Where No One Has Gone Before.”


Human living standards were pretty dismal for much of human history until capitalism kicked in. Since then, the number of goods and services available to the average person has risen by up to 1,000 percent. 

As the former socialist and now capitalist David Brooks said recently, “Capitalism (sic) …will arouse your energies, it will lift your sights, it will put you on a lifelong learning journey to know, to improve, to dare and to dare again.”

When you look around the globe, you realize that the real argument is not between capitalism and socialism. That social experiment has been tried for 100 years and capitalism won.  Authoritarian capitalism such as is found in China and Russia does not bring optimum results.

Through IAED we can make a difference by educating nations on the role of free markets and providing guidance through leaders who best exemplify these traits.  

Five million persons are registered with the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service waiting to come into the United States legally. Even more are trying to come here illegally.  

WHY? Because of economic opportunity, a chance for a better life. That is what a market-based economy will do for your country.

Thank you.



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