Chinese general and military strategist Sun-Tzu is credited with saying: “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”

In today’s crazy world, how do we know when it is okay to be partners with our enemies and when to keep our distance? The needs of the world (and politics) make strange bedfellows.

It’s important to realize we live in a global economy and we’re a big part of the world market. Most countries depend on trading partners around the world to supply scarce resources to provide essential pieces and parts to maintain their existence.

It can be confusing when most international businesses and governments partner with “bad actor countries” by day and then play covert espionage games by night. Think how uncomfortable it must be to rely on a bitter enemy for economic gain?

U.S. manufacturing played a pivotal role in winning WWII. Today, many high-tech marvels that power our military are made in China, according to a book titled “Sellout” by Victoria Bruce.

That’s why it is hard to understand, considering we’ve lost millions of manufacturing jobs to Asia, how we are now reliant on Chinese companies and other foreign industries for parts and materials critical to our military readiness, including key microchips for spy satellites, missiles and combat aircraft.

Bruce says many of our futuristic weapons require “rare-earth elements” such as praseodymium, neodymium and gadolinium found in varying quantities throughout the world.

The problem is, China has a near global monopoly on processing them for use in manufacturing. Americans invent these modern marvels that are used in telecom equipment and advanced batteries, then contract with Chinese partners to produce them. A few of those companies do have plants in the U.S.

Maybe it’s these partnerships that will make the political leaders realize it is better to find common areas of agreement to build trade deals that are beneficial for both sides. They would be less likely to resort to military conflicts.

Another example of working together is better than going alone. To hold down costs, the U.S. and Russia are partners when it comes to the space programs. The U.S. uses Russian-made rocket engines to launch most Air Force communications and navigation satellites into orbit.

A recent article said the Defense Department will likely use the Russian-built rocket engines through 2025 because Congress has a limited budget for funding development of U.S. made rocket engines that are equal to the Russian RD-180s which power the Atlas V boosters.

This is not something new. The U.S. has depended on the Russian rocket engines for more than two decades and it will take an investment of billions of dollars for the U.S. to develop rocket engines as good and reliable as those made by Russia.


Do you know there are 29.6 million businesses in the U.S. with 500 employees or fewer and they are the cornerstone of the largest economy in the world. That’s 99.9 percent of all businesses. Small businesses employ 58 million Americans, or 48 percent of the workforce.

As Congress works on tax reform, it is crucial the tax law writers aim the reform at small companies that make the economy dynamic, according to Juanita Duggan who is president and CEO of the National Federation of Independent Business.

Seventy-five percent of small businesses pay taxes as individuals. Their top federal rate is 43.3 percent so all the talk coming from the Washington Beltway about lowering the 35 percent corporate rate is not pertinent to the vast majority of businesses.

The NFIB appreciates the talk about lowering the tax rate for small businesses, but it means nothing if those doing the talking are thinking businesses with over 500 employees are small.


Are you willing to pay as much as $1,000 to upgrade your smartphone?

When Apple announced recently that their new iPhone X could cost at least $1,000 when it comes out in November, I’m sure many people were left feeling they may have to keep their current smartphone just a little longer.

Jeff Graham, a columnist for USA Today, argues smartphone users should expect to pay $1,000 for a smartphone that is capable of the many things the new iPhone X can do. He says, “it really isn’t too much to pay.”

Keep in mind that today’s smartphones consolidate many devises into just one incredible instrument. You wouldn’t hesitate to pay $1,000 for a top-name laptop, so why wouldn’t you pay top dollar for your smartphone?

Users can access the internet, receive and send messages to friends, family, co-workers, take incredible pictures with the camera, connect us with as many as four million songs, videos, games, TV shows, news programs and it can notify us of special advertising deals, serve as a GPS, guide us to the nearest store.

And, if you haven’t forgotten, it’s also a phone!

When you consider what a smartphone makes possible, and what it has eliminated, maybe a $1,000 price tag isn’t so far fetched? What if you still had to purchase separately all the individual products that are now incorporated into that one small device?