Nine Gods at the Table

Catch a good view of her standing there and she’ll stop you right in your tracks – move a little further up the way and he’ll no doubt do the same right where you stand. Tall trunks that escape from the ground with purpose, purpose to expand a thick cluster of bold branches that holds up a perfectly-symmetrical bouquet of woven leaves showing-off well into the sky. Both the he and she exquisiteness of an American Mahogany Forest can easily illuminate their majesty if you just take the time to notice.  
Power and Grace are not something that every hundred-year-old tree can own.  

“Ok everyone can we begin the meeting. Please Gentlemen.”  
Eight men only… no Assistants allowed, begin to pull away from their blustery conversations and head towards their seats.  
“The President’s limo has just arrived in the underground, he has only forty minutes for this meeting. He has a lot to say to you gentlemen… so if we can please give him his time to speak that would be greatly appreciated. This is very important to the President.” Eight ‘experienced’ men in either a black or navy suit start to heed the President’s Assistant. When the President does walk in there should only be eleven People in this room… top secret does not begin to cover what they’ll be talking about.  
“Good morning Gentlemen”, an upright stride into a large board room with an all-glass wall aimed right at an overcast Manhattan Skyline.  
‘Experienced’ is just another way of describing silver-streaked men who possess all the power of the global economy… through the White House of course.  
“Thank you all for attending… this is a very important meeting that I need to have with all of you.” The President heads straight for the credenza… and pours a glass of water resting on the impressive piece of wood furniture by the wall. He takes a sip… showing pleasure as he does… and then places the empty glass back on the table… and heads back towards his awaiting assembly. “Gentlemen, I need you all to understand that nothing discussed here will ever leave this room.” Eight faces do not flinch. “This is about resetting the global economy by resetting the global rules.” These are eight CEO’s from eight of the largest most complex global companies in the world… with red white and blue genetics. “The World Trade Organization is the most advanced trading group that has ever been created. I want to add a new member into this group.”  
“Well well well… aren’t you a sight for sore eyes Mr. President!”, bursts into the room, “and hello to all of you too”, moving towards the massive board room table, “smells like a testosterone festival in here”, and taking the only seat available.  
One should never take Miss Judith Kane lightly.  
“Glad you could make it Judith”, the President looks like he wants to get back to his meeting, “as I was saying… The President of the United States wants to add a new member into the WTO.”  

A thick slab of a board room table sets a substantial tone for this type of gathering… nine CEOs all present… all of them sitting around this impressive piece of lacquered wood with its’ straight grains and reddish hues. Looking at it does something to your soul… exalting the heavenly capabilities of nature when a man’s creativity gets a hold of it.  

“We need to plan for a new economic order that can and will propel the Planet’s economic growth into the next century… the twenty-first century.” Nine CEO’s all widen their eyes… growth to them is just another word for Profits. “I have been in discussions with China’s ruling Party at the highest level… this is big Gentlemen… and Gentlewoman.” Miss Kane acknowledges the acknowledgement. “Real big.”   
President William Clement is riding a wave of popularity not seen by a U.S. President in a very long time. Economic Prosperity… which is really the only prosperity that matters to a sitting President… is well off the charts. Unemployment is low. Home-ownership is high. Interest rates are extremely accommodative. And well… basically it feels like the roaring twenties all over again. The President has just won a second term with a landslide victory over a Prehistoric Opponent… Americans are feeling Progressive here in 1997 – the world is surprisingly peaceful so why not? Russia is no longer an adversary… and China just wants this new system of economic freedom with political rigidity – whatever the hell that means! New notions have to be tested before the history books can judge them.  
“I like what you’re saying Bill… I like it a lot”, Reginald Dwight offers-up a teacherly tone, “I’ve been saying this for a very long time. I can put those Chinese to work right away… open up factory after factory in twenty cities at least, practically overnight.” Reginald Dwight is the CEO of The Hardware Depot – the world’s largest retailer of all kinds of building supplies. His thick hands and square jaw look like he started-out on the ground floor of such an enterprise.  
“Thanks Reginald… thanks for the vote of confidence.”  
“Mr. President do you have any idea what the import taxes are to get my chips made outside this country?” A handsome man in a yellow tie and navy suit pipes up.  
“That is exactly what I am trying to address here. My contacts in Beijing tell me they have hundreds of million of workers ready to get to work producing all kinds of items for us here. They just need the favourable tax structure for getting it into our country.”  
“I’ve been trying to get my hosiery made there for years”… sighing… “I tell you they are going to need to invest in some hi-tech machines… some hi-tech manufacturing processes so they can make the many flavors of undergarments my customers want.” Judith Kane announces to the room with a CEO’s voice.  
“They have informed me that they are open to having every company over there teaching them how to make all your products. They really want to get this right.” 
The room suddenly goes quiet.  
“They will stop at nothing… nothing at all trying to make exactly what you all need.” 
These kinds of profits do not come around often. 
“I have assurances at the highest level that they will build whatever you want.” 
Still quiet. 
“We need to move on this… they can be up and running at full capacity in twenty months.” 
This quiet is like nothing the world has ever seen. 
“So you’re telling me I can get my chips made there and then bring them in with no duties?”, Alex Grand of SmartChip Technology asks.  
“That is what I am saying.”  
Mr. Grand and his Golfer’s tan leans-back in his chair.  
“How about my steel requirements… I can’t just use any steel for my rides.” 
“I’ll pay for you to go over there and make sure they are doing what you need. My office will see to it that you get the right steel.”  
Daniel Beasley of Beasley Amusements has been silenced – his company owns fourteen amusement parks across the country and has plans for eight more in the next two years.  
“You’re telling me I can make my computers over there?”, Michael Zack interrupts.  
“I am”, the President responds without flinching.  
“You want me to trust the Chinese with my proprietary secrets… you want me to trust them with the tricks I’ve learned over my career?”  
“Non-disclosure agreements”, staring forcefully at the entire table, “they will abide by every one of your secrets.” 

Intellectual property is the cornerstone of free-market capitalism… lose any of this credibility and you have nothing more than a gangster economy… and of course the end of any geniuses toiling away in their basement for years trying to change the world. 

“What about getting my goods into the Chinese Market?”, Terrence Day asks the President, “the Chinese workout don’t they?”  
“They do… and that’s why I’m sure you will have plenty of budding Chinese athletes wanting to buy your running shoes and t-shirts and shorts.”  
“Damn right I will… all one billion of them”, the CEO of the largest sport apparel company announces with a clear tone of greed.  
“Gurdeep is not going to be happy.” “Why do you say that?”  
“Because he just took out a massive loan in order to build me a new factory for my tractors.”  
The room is quiet… empathy and business never exist for long.  
“The Chinese will make your tractors and combines and excavators… all of your machines”, the President sounds so sure. “So you want me to hang my Indian partners out to dry?”  
Again with the silence. 

Joe Steelman has been the CEO of the largest heavy equipment maker on the Planet. Stock market analysts use their quarterly sales as a harbinger for the overall economy. 

“You want me to make my car parts in China? My Great Great Grandfather would be rolling over in his grave.” “Your Great Great Grandfather would be proud that you are exploring such a profitable opportunity. Do you know how many cars you could sell to over one billion People?” Staring into the tall buildings beyond the windows… Frederick Dash is surely tallying the mega-profits that the President just made him aware of.  
How did President Clement get here?  
And why is he so adamant about wanting the Dragon from the East in?  

It all started after the unspeakable calamity of World War two… when a General Agreement of Tariff and Trade (GATT) was put together in order to foster a new era of economic cooperation. Smoldering ruins was no way for the world to live… if that was even living at all.  

“So you mean to tell me they are going to listen to my needs… listen to what I want for my customers?” “You have my word.” “And if they give me any sass… any shortcuts for the quality I need?” Judith Kane is both self-made and uncensored. “Then you contact me directly… I’ll be right on it.” Her power pantsuits are typical of her brand. “I’m going to hold you to that Bill… hold you to that for sure.” Tight-fitting without any excess material. “You do that Judith.”   

The World Trade Organization of 1995 is merely the grown-up offspring of such Post-War thinking, one of the greatest achievements of a globalizing Planet that today includes 98% of international trade… which means 164 Countries to be exact. 

“Any more questions?” The President keeps staring at the occupants of this room. He chose this board room in this office because he remembers the first time he saw this table… he couldn’t get it out of his head. A massive mahogany table with a thick layer of shiny lacquer enforces the American Exceptionalism that he needs to fill the air when talking straight with the nine most powerful CEOs of his country.  
“Sounds like you’ve covered all the bases Bill”, everyone nods after Textile CEO Tommy Cotton’s conclusion.  
After all his Presidency depends on it… or so he thinks.  
“Count me in”, a usually gruff Cotton offers with a greedy grin.  
Presidents always want a serious legacy.   

2022“Supply chains are closing down and moving out of China fast… Intellectual Property theft has been rampant and it seems there is no winning on this topic with Beijing. Open markets that were promised to American companies have never truly materialized… and the crisis of Covid, well that just exposed the permanent rigidity of this ruling Party.” 
Can business without rules ever exist for long?