CUSO Talk with Phil Love
by Phil Love, Pactola President/CEO
CAP Senior Partner
5/8/2019

I attended the 2019 Credit Union Association of the Dakotas’ Annual Summit last week. First, let me say, for any of you in leadership or who will be in leadership at your respective institutions in this area of the country, events like this should be set on your calendar and attended. They are golden opportunities to grow personally and network with others. 

One of the speakers made a comment that it is time for us to get up and defend capitalism. I nearly leapt to my feet at the back of the room cheering for this statement. We live in a strange time when the merits of socialism in its various forms of taking from the wealthy to give to others is mentioned daily by elected officials and those seeking election. This is done even though this system has failed when it has been tried in places like Venezuela. This is a far cry from how the dangers of communism were spoken of constantly when I was a boy and young adult.

Of all the arguments one could make against the economic system of socialism, I will make only one: We just aren’t wired this way. Our own Declaration of Independence states this well. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” This sentence states clearly how humans are made up in their basic DNA.

I studied economics in college as my major. I heard one economist who was able to boil down economics into four words. These are, “People respond to incentive.” That is how we are made. We are made with the desire to achieve, to do great things, and to reap the rewards from climbing to the top. Our entire society is based upon this. The best economic system is one which is the closest to how human nature is wired.

Is this fair? Of course not. Life isn’t fair. It is not fair that I cannot hit a curve ball or play first base like Paul Goldschmidt. Yet it would be more unfair for you if you paid $50 for a seat and another $25 for a bratwurst and beer while watching Phil Love try to perform on the field as a major league baseball player. There will always be areas which are not fair. Some will succeed, and others will fail. 

What is worse is when we give up incentive for what is noted as economic security, governed by a small group of people, who have tasked themselves with taking from some and giving to others as they see fit. This robs people of the very human spirit to achieve and receive incentive in the open market. Benjamin Franklin, one of our founding fathers, understood this as slavery when he stated, “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” 

Should we help others who are less fortunate? Of course. Should we work to cooperate with others? By all means. Working together can accomplish more than just working alone. These are signs of unselfish maturity as we understand we are mere stewards of what we have been entrusted with. 

Again, I stand in agreement that we should defend capitalism. There are many reasons, but most importantly, this is just how humans are made. 

But next, we live in the midst of a surveillance society. The New York Times recently ran an article on how surveillance cameras can be used to track and monitor people. It turns out this can be done very, very quickly and very, very inexpensively. This means, it is being done. The article goes on to say that 54% of all American adults exist in a law enforcement facial recognition database, according to staff at Georgetown Law School. If you consider one small area of lower Manhattan, there are 9,000 different camera feeds just in this one area! In London, there are so many cameras that if you are outdoors or in any commercial space, there is no place to hide from being constantly being recorded and monitored. 

There are huge worldview and moral issues raised by the surveillance society, but I found an interesting article on holdouts in the world who will not cooperate with constant monitoring. I picked up a Wall Street Journal at my hotel on Wednesday of last week and was greeted with this front-page headline: “Facial-Recognition Software Meets Its Match:  Barnyard Animals”. The subheading goes further, “Cows and pigs kick a fuss when it’s time for a photo; It’s not like you can tell a donkey to stand still.” 

All kinds of folks in agriculture want to use facial recognition software as a method to track and manage the herds more efficiently. But this is not working well. The article tells us cows have tried to hide, they have licked cameras, and they have untied equipment cables with their tongues. Pigs have squirmed out of reach, donkeys have kicked camera phones and sneezed in photographers’ faces.

One analyst stated, “It’s not like you can tell a donkey to stand still and raise its chin up slightly. That’s not just possible.” The article states, “Animal faces require hundreds of reference points, many more than humans to derive algorithms that can achieve similar levels of differentiation.” Another analyst quoted, “At the beginning, we weren’t even sure of exactly where the focal point of a cow’s nose should be!” 

Another analyst quoted stated that “Animals are generally not the camera loving type.” The article reported one photographer in the study about his first outing to photograph pigs, this individual made the error in arriving just before feeding time. He tried to hide as 30 hungry hogs turned on him. He slid and fell. “I had to throw out everything I was wearing!” 

So, we have finally met the resistance to the surveillance society; it turns out the resistance has a snout and a tail! But nobody really knows, where the true focal point of it is!

 

Pactola is a CUAD CAP Senior Partner and a subsidiary of Midwest Business Solutions. We are a Credit Union Service Organization that is dedicated to commercial and agricultural lending and serving multiple credit unions and banks throughout the United States with our services. We help our partners increase their earning assets and profitability. By doing so, we help them become a relevant financial force in their community increasing social good through helping businesses and farmers. Visit our website to learn more. You can contact Phil Love, Pactola CEO at phil.love@pactola.com or 605.223.5154.

 

 

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