The Fix by Jonathan Tepperman (Part 2)

Assume the Worst (How Singapore Conquers Corruption). Corruption was an old problem in Singapore. We are very close to eliminating corruption. In 2014, Singapore was ranked the least corrupt state in Asia and 7th in the world. There used to be Chinese triads and secret societies in the 1960s. Our bureaucrats were not up to the task back then. Harry Lee Kuan Yew changed everything and made the eradication of corruption his priority. He survived through the war. He studied in LSE in UK, and then subsequently to Cambridge. Later, he entered private practice. He and a few friends founded PAP in 1954. Corruption was rife back then. By embarking on this campaign, it would differentiate themselves from other parties at the time. By 35, LKY was Singapore’s first PM when they won the GE in 1959. Singapore had no natural resources and there was racial tension at that time. It was 1965, and Singapore went independent after separation from Malaya. LKY realized that Singapore needed good governance. He enforced the rule of law and created a nation that was efficient and secure. He established the CPIB (Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau). CPIB was granted great independence, like the power to investigate, search, perform house arrests etc. Even top government officials were taken to task for corruption. Now, CPIB has 177 staff. Also, members of the public can report anonymously on CPIB’s website. At times, the government will also punish the supervisors of corrupt officials. CPIB also engages in educational and public outreach programs. The Singapore Government also compensates its officials well, more generally than virtually any other state in the world. Singapore also imposes spending limits, keeps elections short and bans political ads. Singapore is very conducive to doing business and our economy is bigger than Philippines. The fear is that government officials might become too complacent. Fighting corruption need not be an expensive undertaking. Given its size, Singapore is more mobile and can react to threats quickly. Singapore is not a true liberal democracy and LKY has done things to keep his enemies weak and off guard. Singapore is known for restrictions on opposition parties, media etc. Many countries have wanted to learn from Singapore’s success.

Civil servants get a range of cushy benefits, from golf club memberships to discounted vacation packages, and their compensation is pegged to two-thirds the prevailing wage for equivalent private-sector work. – Jonathan Tepperman

You can have the best rules, the best anticorruption agency, but if your politicians are corrupt… nothing is going to save the system. It’s as simple as that. – K. Shanmugam, Singapore’s law Minister

Diamond’s Aren’t Forever (How Botswana Defeated the Resource Curse). Botswana had no resources after it was independent from the UK. A large part of the land was occupied by the Kalahari desert. Even the UK had little presence on the place because of the lack of resources. They didn’t invest in much. Botswana was independent in Sep 1966. There was only 1 doctor for every 26000 people and the infrastructure was non-existent. Somehow, diamond deposits were found. However, many expected the government officials quickly harvested them and leave the people in ruins. To everyone’s surprise, that didn’t happen. For over 30 years, Botswana is the number one diamond producer by value, mining and exporting etc. They have a democratic government and have never fought a war. Income levels are of global middle class. Literacy is at an impressive 87%, among other achievements. Corruption levels are very low. Their magic formula was luck, leadership, and good political and economic policymaking. The good thing was that the UK didn’t bother about them and they could start their own culture. Tswana used a system called kgotla to manage disputes. Basically, they were meetings which encouraged free speech. Major issues were debated. The people respected responsible rule and public participation. Seretse Khama was their first president until 1980. He was a crown prince of Bangwato. He studied in the UK. This gave him a strong grounding in Anglo-Saxon constitutional democracy. He married Ruth Williams, white daughter of a British army officer. Khama hated racial discrimination. He founded the Botswana Democratic Party in 1961 with Quett Masire. Botswana opened up their country to anyone who accepted its values. They also invited foreigners as consultants for their government. This helped to build up the strength of their Civil Service. They made English and Setswana their two official languages. The country managed to achieve a great level of ethnic harmony. The two leaders avoided dictating policy and ensured that there was a cabinet to approve policies. Sometimes, the public was consulted as well. It would have been easier to be a dictator and just execute whatever ideas he had straight away. Also, the government could balance its books. The earnings from diamonds had to be spent wisely. De Beers’ had to channel some of its profits to the government. The government officials were also not corrupt. They were surprisingly thrifty when it came to spending. There is also a saving culture in their people. State salaries were kept low too. Stable budgeting was used to ensure over-expenditure would be detected. With more exports, the value of currency will rise, making imports cheaper. However, this means local industries in Botswana might suffer if they are not careful. It created its own currency and invested in human development and infrastructure. Corruption is common when there are big resource profits to be made. The government launched an anti-corruption campaign. The trick was that not too much power was given to any one person. In 1981, exports fell because of a severe recession. Because of this, the government set up rainy-day funds, one for recurring expenses, one for debt payments etc. Because of this, they could build up their reserves fast. Mineral earnings could only be used for investment expenditure. Mining revenues have plateaued and there is lot of room to groom the private sector too. The current leadership is also not as competent as the first generation. Botswana has managed to reverse the resource curse.

This Land is my Land (Why the Shale Revolution Could Only Happen in the US). This is a great American story. It created the energy revolution that transformed everything. Despite its size, it could still succeed. People feared that oil and natural gas production will be hit. However, renewables are still going strong nowadays. The US managed to discover shale and unconventional oil and gas to boost its energy production. In addition, it is exporting a lot of energy. By 2020, the US will be the number 1 oil producer. The energy boom has pumped a lot of money into our economy. Peak oil has been a distant memory, and we are not running out of oil. Fracking is a dangerous process which might harm the environment. Shale boom has reduced emissions, and natural gas has replaced a substantial % of coal. Fracking has also been made safer. There is now closer monitoring and enhanced testing of well components. Fracking Safety will keep improving. However, a plunge in prices will cause the producers to suffer. Shale wells are cheaper to drill. In the 1970s, oil and gas produced slowed. Shell and Esso joined forces when drilling so as to save costs. Many of the smaller independent players could not afford to drill and find new sources of energy. US shale often lays deep underground. George Mitchell came along, he was a geologist. He kept thinking of ways to extract shale from the north east of Texas. He used water, instead of more expensive gels, to perform the fracking. Water was cheap but many thought that it was not strong enough to crack the rock. Sand and polymer lubricants were added to the water and it worked. The shale produced huge quantities of gas over a few months. This would work for oil extraction too. Mitchell deserved the compliments. The US government had its part to play too. The government paid for studies in unconventional oil and gas and also similar projects. The government also used tax credits to help firms. Public investment in technology certainly paid off in a huge way. US law grants owners not just the land rights and use of the land, but also what lies beneath it as well. Because of this, many energy companies started and wanted to compete with one another. Why have the rest of the world not bore more wells? The issue is that the US had major companies, but with also many small ones. The small ones were willing to work hard, unlike the Europeans. Europe has a lot of shale, but energy companies there fear commitment. Some of Europe has also banned shale gas operations. It is time that Europe start harvesting shale too. China is also reluctant to change as it sticks to reliable methods. Labour in China is cheaper. CNPC, CNOOC and Sinopec are huge companies, which are state-owned. China has other issues to tackle, like the water crisis etc. In recent years, brackish water can be used too. China has partnered with giants like Shell etc and tried to learn their methods. However, due to the different terrain, fracking is made more difficult. Many US companies failed before they could succeed. Also, it could be that government companies are not as nimble to think as compared to smaller companies. China still has a long way to go in extracting its shale potential. The US has been ingenious in this regard and many other countries can learn how to innovate and be as nimble as them.

Manufacture Your Miracle (How South Korea Keeps its Economy Growing, and Growing, and Growing). The North and the South went to war in June of 1950. The country was split along the 38th parallel during WWII. Seoul was decimated during the war, so was their infrastructure and economy. However, in recent times, they have managed to thrive. It is one of the richest countries. There are plenty of skyscrapers etc. The Korean male are also taller than their parents. They have experienced growth at a healthy rate for more than 50 years. In 1963, its economy took off. For other than 2 years, their economy generally expands at more than 7% per year. The country have emerged from crises stronger. It has learnt from its mistakes fast. There are 3 phases: developmental dictatorship; democratization and liberalization. Park Chung-hee was a general who seized power of the state in 1961. He came from humble beginnings. He also studied in Tokyo etc. Their exports were pathetic and many people were subsistence farmers. The Korean war ended in a draw, without resolution. The US was bailing out Korea, but at a price. The Kennedy administration didn’t like Park. Many of the citizens didn’t trust him because he had no experience in politics. He had limited appeal. Exporting goods was a good idea, but the question was what to export? There were no natural resources. Manufactured goods was a possibility. The trick was to mass produce clothes and toys for export. This proved to work and oversaw the country’s transformation. He pumped a lot of money into the country’s infrastructure. He built up a meritocratic bureaucracy. The currency was devalued to encourage exports and banks were nationalized. He jailed many of the Japanese ‘chaebols’ CEOs. Later, he worked with them and offered them incentives. Exports grow from $55 million to $1.6 billion in 10 years. Next, Park targeted other type of industries which were more value adding like electronics, automobiles, iron ore etc. Those CEOs who listened to him were rewarded. There were also protectionist measures which were necessary to protect the local industries from competition. Park was a nasty piece of work. Despite this, some people still loved him. Education improved etc. There were no denying his achievements. It was 1979 now. His successor was Chun Doo-hwan, another General. Some of the corporate leaders were becoming very rich and there was income disparity. In 1987, Korea ceased to be an authoritarian state. Roh Tae-woo was the new President after Chun was overthrown. The chaebol kept growing and intimidated others. Chaebol kept growing and was a threat to others. Everything crashed in 1998, during the Asian Financial crisis. Exports collapsed and the currency value halved. IMF had to bail Korea out and many of the big MNCs laid people off. Kim Dae-jung was elected as President. He started the economic liberalization campaign. He believed in profit and growth. He did not resort to short term populist policies. He got rid of many redundant ministries and restructured some of the major firms. In a strange move, he allowed the underperforming big firms to die or be bought over. Daewoo’s crash prompted a turn-around in Korea’s fortunes. His hard measures helped kick start the economy again. Chaebol were associated with poor quality goods. They were forced to innovate under Kim and had to welcome outside expertise. In the past few years, growth has slowed to 3 to 4% only. Heavy state intervention can be helpful if used at the right time. Instead of causing inefficiencies, it helped. The government did not reward corporate leaders much. If you underperformed, you’d get cut off. However, when technology improves, it is more useful to let the private sector take charge rather than protecting local firms. Despite all its problems, South Korea is still a successful country. Being open-minded and nimble was one of its big successes.

Give to Get (How Mexico Got Its Government Going Again). Pena Nieto was Mexico’s president. However, he was in trouble as he allowed drug lords to escape from prison. Their economy tanked also. However, in actual fact, Mexico hasn’t have such a bad democracy. In Latin America, it is quite big. In 2013, 2014, Nieto did very well indeed. Corruption and crime needs to be brought under better control. He managed to unite the 3 parties warring with each other. One of the parties is Mexico’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). Nieto was from PRI. However, some criticized him as Nieto was linked to the party’s elite. He had a poor command of English and had a complicated marriage etc. He won the election in 2012 and had to prove people wrong. He brought 3 feuding parties together: National Action Party (PAN) and the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD). Nieto managed to bust monopolies, re-structure the energy sector and education system, tax laws etc. It was revolutionary indeed. Before 2012, Mexico was disastrous. Their extraction of natural resources had slowed. Corruption was rife and the economy was ruled by some wealthy oligarchs. PRI and PAN couldn’t get along in the past as one would always oppose their bills in parliament, causing deadlock. After 15 years of infighting, the leaders realized that it was useless and it was time to change. Nieto won with 38% of the vote and realized he needed the support of his enemies. PAN also woke up and realized they weren’t doing well. The two parties started to negotiate. Teaming up with other parties was useful, but it was also necessary to take on bullying oligarchs, unions etc. Nieto was not handpicked by his predecessor. He initiated talks with the other 2 parties for reconciliation. These talks were also kept secret. The energy sector was opened up to market forces. Marriage of conveniences do not last long. It will take time for some of their reforms to work. For structural changes, it takes time to materialize. Job creation has shown signs of improving. However, crime rates remains high. The drug cartels have killed many people.

Gruesome as it was, the slaughter was hardly unprecedented in Mexico. The country has suffered all too many massacres over the years; indeed, an estimated 100,000 people have been killed alone since 2007. – Jonathan Tepperman

DIY Defense (NYC and the Art of the Work-Around). The US federal government is dysfunctional at times. It was 11 Sep 2001. 9/11 was interpreted differently by many people. Michael Bloomberg was the mayor of NY. There was little protection for NYC too and national security was an issue. New York had to try to defend itself. Bloomberg started looking for cops to protect the city. He found Ray Kelly. The federal government didn’t offer NY much help. Tourism was badly hit after 9/11 and Bloomberg needed to restore the city. There was little counterterrorism work and poor co-ordination between FBI and NYPD.


The Fix by Jonathan Tepperman (Part 1)

How Nations Survive and Thrive in a World in Decline

Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it, misdiagnosing it, and then misapplying the wrong remedies. – Groucho Marx

Introduction. This book is about success stories which the author has seen for himself. This is about finding solutions in an uncertain world. It is possible to overcome the problems if the right strategies are adopted. The negative news in the media can easily overwhelm you. Life is difficult and some of us have problems to make ends meet. Many Americans are not optimistic about the economy. After 2008, things seemed to go downhill. Even in Russia, there is negative economic growth rate now. In 2011, there was conflict in the Middle East. The US-Iran nuclear deal has been a disaster. Growth is predicted to slow down. Greece almost went bankrupt, the EU is no longer as united as before. ISIS is gaining ground again. Many refugees are heading to Europe. China’s economy is also slowing down. The emerging-market growth rate from 7.4% to 3.8% between 2010 and 2015. The liberal, rules based global order doesn’t seem to be working all that well now. A lot of our global failures is due to the failure of politicians to lead. We need to understand the problems actually and notice that they can be fixed. The stories in the book will show that it is indeed possible to solve. The first problem is inequality. It can certainly pose a lot of problems for us. The income gap in the US is widening and the poor get more disgruntled. The solution is to grow the economy in the past. A lot of corporate profits might be ending up in the hands of the rich. The second big issue is immigration. Many of the displaced are heading to Europe. Trump denounced immigration in a harsh manner. Attacking immigrants might not be the best solution overall. A lot of bright Americans are not retained by their country. The fact is that there is little evidence that immigrants cause a lot of trouble. Although Germany has let refugees in, they are not given the support to integrate in society and they end up causing trouble in the end. The third big issue is Islamic extremism. The Syrian rebel forces were allowed to grow and the Islamic State was formed. The Jihadists seem to be expanded in recent years. Civil War is the next big issue to hit us. Iraq is now in a big mess after the US troops pulled out. There are other civil wars in Africa, Syria etc too. Corruption is the next big issue to face us. Corruption tends to affect both poor and rich countries alike. This often leaves the poor at a disadvantage. It undermines the trust in the government and the system of rule. The Resource Curse is our next big issue (6th). Africa is known to have a lot of untapped natural resources. However, will they be able to handle this wealth? They might invest in the wrong things that do not aid the people. It is also common for resource-rich countries to be run by dictators as you can bribe your people to win yourself votes. Energy is also a big concern. There was a shale revolution in recent years. A lot of the countries that have shale are unlikely going to tap on them. The next big issue is that of the Middle-Income Trap. It is hard to reach the developed country status as there needs to be productivity increases. It might sound easy, but politicians are not up to the task. Many countries know what to do, but executing it is hard. The next major problem is gridlock I. Infighting among political parties in Mexico, Italy etc have caused many problems. Even though India’s Modi is good, he is still facing gridlocks. Despite all the problems in the World, it is not wise to abandon hope. We just need to look for the right fix.

Profits to the People (How Brazil Spreads its Wealth). How did the former Brazil’s president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, turn inequality into a manageable problem? Economic growth is not working the way it is used to. Thomas Piketty suggested a global wealth tax. However, the rich can get around paying tax and it might get controversial. How did Brazil do it? It is hard to imagine Brazil as a model for anything. Brazil is blessed with resources and a young population. Many are living on less than $2 a day. However, by 2011, its economy was growing by 4% a year. Inequality fell as well. Lula had a 87% approval in 2012. Lula had humble beginnings. He worked hard and climbed in the Sao Bernardo Metalworks. Later, he founded the leftist Workers’ Party. He lost the president election 3 times. Many people didn’t trust him at the start and Brazil was in shambles in 2002. However, his predecessor, Cardoso’s structural reforms were not popular. Lula listened closely to the ground and understood the problems people faced. He cut spending and reduced budget deficit and demanded a budget surplus when he took officer in 2003. Within 6 months, their bond value had risen by 20%. Now, he launched a social welfare campaign. His programme handed people money instead of goods or services. These were effect at eradicating poverty. Many denounced the idea as giving the poor dietary staples would be more practical. The food programme launched in the past was a flop as corruption was rife. It was shown that many families did not squander the money. The scheme would be targeted at those in extreme poverty. However, it came with conditions, like parents needed to send kids to school, women needed to go for checkups etc. The critics thought that the money would be better used to build schools etc. There was also concern for welfare dependency. He made the public feel that they ‘earned’ the cash by fulfilling the conditions. Lula had issues dealing with non-compliance with conditions. Also, he had to deal with undeserving candidates applying to the scheme. It worked after he set up a ministry to deal with these issues. The trick was to imposing conditions for assistance. The programme does not give out excessive amounts of money, just enough for the family to get by. It is a cheap antipoverty programme. It was certainly an innovative welfare program. Lula also adopted conservative macroeconomic policies. He offered large firms cut-rate loans. He was not upset that the rich got richer. He wanted the greatest good for all. The results of his policies were great. Bolsa Familia, the social welfare programme, worked wonders. In addition, vaccination rates are increasing, infant mortality is dropping etc. The poorest Brazilians are also more optimistic about their futures. The money was paid directly to the beneficiary, with no intermediary. The rich do not care about the programme as it is run cheaply. Even in 2006, when Lula was allegedly accused of corruption, he still won. Lula was an everyday man who could relate to the poor. However, despite this, there are still 28 million Brazilians living in poverty. The good thing is that the payments given out are quite low and people are still incentivized to work. Many of the international media have lauded this programme as being successful. Many other developing countries are also trying to learn from Bolsa Familia.

If there’s one thing I’m not ashamed of, it’s profit. But I want people to know that my philosophy, at heart, is that of a mother. No one is fairer than a mother. Even if she has 300 kids, she will treat them all equally. That’s what I used to say to the Brazilian people: that I govern for all. – Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva

Let the Right Ones In (Canada’s Immigration Revolution). The middle of the last century was turbulent indeed. In the 1940s, Canada were strict with their immigration policies. Justin Trudeau is their new PM. They took in Syrian asylum seekers. Canada has one of the highest immigration rates in the world. More than 20% of their population is foreign born. People from the Philippines, China and India are there too. Many of their residents don’t mind. There is sufficient public support. There has not been anti-immigrant riots in the last half a century. The government has been good at convincing the people that immigration is a necessity and is good. Pierre Elliott Trudeau was PM from 1968 to 1984. He was extremely charming and smart. He studied in the UK at LSE and gained a holistic picture of the world. The French militant group caused havoc in Quebec in 1967. Trudeau took power in 1968. Trudeau transformed Canada from a bi-national one to a multicultural one. The two language policy of French and English won’t cut it. He wanted to treat the minorities better. He also set up the Human Rights Commission in 1978. He wanted to create a distinctly Canadian identity. Some politicians in Europe have denounced multi-cultural policies. For Trudeau, he still wanted to keep the native and core culture intact. There were two problems: cultural divide and the assimilation of immigrants. It is the world’s second largest state by landmass. There was also a push by the government to increase its population due to the large land mass. In addition, many workers were moving to the US from Canada. In the 1940s, Asians were largely not accepted. In 1962, Canada abandoned ethnicity as a basis for evaluating immigrants. However, Ottawa was slow to adopt this new stance and there were still issues. Later on, the point system was created based on 9 criteria: education, age, fluency in English etc. More non-Europeans entered the country. In the US, immigration still centers on family reunification as the primary entry criteria. However, in Canada, it was different. Ottawa now focuses on formal education. Trudeau oversaw the development of Charter of Rights and Freedoms. All these policies have helped avoid the backlash that modern economies have faced in recent years. Indeed, the immigrants rely less on welfare and their employment rate is also highest in the OECD. This definitely helped to overcome the shrinking and aging workforce. Many see immigration as a way to strengthen nation’s identity. Brits are very hostile towards immigration. The immigration story of Canada has a lot to do with pragmatism and necessity than idealism. The US should study Canada’s success story

There cannot be one cultural policy for Canadians of British and French origin, another for the original peoples, and yet a third for all others. – Jonathan Tepperman

Canada has the highest naturalization rate in the world, with 85% of eligible permanent residents becoming citizens. That’s important because citizens are more likely than guests to invest in their new homeland and be welcomed for doing so. – Jonathan Tepperman

Kill Them With Kindness (How Indonesia Crushed and Co-opted Its Islamic Extremists). In 1998, Indonesia tossed their leader out of office. It has more than 10000 islands. Suharto was a tyrant, but at least he was competent. He kept the economy growing at 7% per annum during his 30 year reign. Although it is a Muslim state, where 90% of the people are Muslims, he crushed those who tried to make it more Islamic. People feared that Islamist militias would start bombing the place. Now, Indonesia is a stable democracy. Terror attacks are rare. The majority do not believe in extremism, unlike in the Middle East. They are close to eliminating the threat of extremist violence. Islam was never imposed in Indonesia in the past. The people are more open minded. The Islamist political parties are also not competent. The irony thing is that as the population became more devout, Islamic extremism declined. Although people want to embrace sharia law, they don’t like the way it is being enforced. Abdurrahman Wahid, Megawati Sukarnoputri, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono managed to do a good job on this front. They all wanted to consolidate the country’s fragile freedoms. The leaders wanted to seem popular by appealing to the common Man. Wahid was a sick old man, but his pluralistic policies were lauded. Megawati was related to Sukarno and didn’t tackle the issues well. However, she got the army out of politics. Yodhoyono was a democrat at heart, despite being an Army General. SBY also protected the minorities and guarded against discrimination. He also actively eradicated corruption. He launched major anti-poverty campaigns. Between 2006 and 2011, Indonesia did very well and doubled exports. Indonesia also learnt that attempts to eliminate Islamic parties like in Egypt have failed. They invited some of these parties into their coalition and cabinet. This was a very intelligent move. Megawati reacted to the Bali bombings and set up an anti-terror unit. It was called Detachment 88. Many of the JI members have been killed or captured. Also, they have been able to dig information out of the criminals. Also, they have tried to rehabilitate those who can be helped. Those prisoners who co-operate are rewarded as well. In July 2014, Joko Widodo was elected as President. He seems even more democratic than SBY and seems willing to fight extremism too. He also doesn’t have an elite background. He is also very into technology and knows the benefits of it. Jokowi is often compared to Obama, who doesn’t have a lot of national and international experience. He is a symbol of hope.

Learn to Live with It (Rwanda’s Wrenching Reconciliation). Rwanda’s Hutu majority tried to exterminate the country’s Tutsi minority. It happened in 1994. Kagame was the then leader of Rwandan Patriotic Front, a rebel army who was fighting the Hutu-led government. The Inkotanyi, Tutsi insurgents, managed to prevail. Rwanda was decimated by the war. Many of the Tutsis were slaughtered. Rwanda is one of the world’s poorest countries. Many of them were suffering from post-traumatic stress as well. The President had to heal the situation and restore order to Rwanda. The government had to deal with genocides. Kagame had to deal with the genocide suspects. There were not enough jails to house these people. Trials alone were not enough, and justice had to be served. In addition, it would not help the victims in somehow forgiving their perpetuators. Kagame was a real pragmatist. The strategy for recovery had 4 parts. The first was that RPF would establish a strong force and build a unified garrison state and control the country. Next, the government would invest in economic growth and build institutions. This included boosting human capital and providing free health care. Corruption was also stamped out. Kagame also tried to turn Rwanda into a race-blind nation. The government created 12 thousand village tribunals to hear the cases. The trials would not last for many days. It would promote both justice and reconciliation, not one or the other. Communities could select their judges, based on their integrity levels. Thus, the people had a say. Gacaca was an ambitious transitional justice projects. Kagame was criticized as many criminals managed to get away with a lighter sentence if they were co-operative. In addition, the judges were not trained. Gacaca was not a perfect system, but they managed to see many cases and speed up the process. It was a good interim measure given the severity of the situation. The tribunals also encouraged engagement between the victims and perpetuators. It also emphasized community service as a form of rehabilitation. The country is in much better shape now. Many people have been lifted out of poverty. A vast majority of Rwandans supported Gacaca. Hutus and Tutsis now live peacefully together. It was a form of enforced unity, but it works I guess. Kagame has become a polarizing figure in the last few years. His critics target his human rights record and intolerance for dissent. His government has been accused of killing Hutu soldiers and civilians. Many nations can learn from Rwanda after their civil war. Usually after a civil war, it helps to take a more radical approach. Rwanda invented a solution, Gacaca, which was tailor made to their own organization. That was remarkable indeed.


The Making of Donald Trump by David Cay Johnston (Part 2)

‘Better than Harvard’. Michael Sexton licensed Trump’s name for online real estate courses. Trump loved this idea. Trump University was born. He promised to handpick the professors etc but this was not true. The address chosen was also used by other criminals. Trump was prohibited using the word university unless it was authorized by the state education department. The professors were actually commissioned sales people, many with little experience in real estate. In 2012, he was sued for civil fraud. Trump, when questioned, said he couldn’t remember what the lawsuit was about. He could not even name one good live events instructor. He said that the education would be better than the best business school. This was not true at all. He also did not review the scripts used by the live events instructors. The whole Trump University was a fraud. The students were taught ‘to prey upon homeowners in financial turmoil and to target foreclosure properties’. The whole course was more of a high pressure tactic to buy into Trump U’s “Gold Elite” package. The Texas attorney took no public action in recommending penalties for Trump’s conduct. Abbott and Trump seemed to have some relationship going on. Pam Bondi, Florida’s attorney general, would investigate Trump. Trump’s office sent a cheque to her to support her re-election. Later, Bondi failed to further carry on the investigation. When the court records was released to the public, Trump was furious. Trump was also involved in problems with charities helping military veterans.

Trump Charities. Liberty House is a small veteran’s charity. Trump wanted to donate $100k but Keith Howard declined. It was illegal for charities to participate in partisan politics. However, some charities accepted the donations. These reduced their ability to receive tax-deductible donations. Trump was questioned by reporters on whether the donated money really went to charities. There are no buildings on Philadelphia campus that bears Trump’s name. Trump often declares a large amount of money would go to charities, but in reality, less of it will be transferred. He claims he is an ardent philanthropist, but there is little record of his charitable gifts given. Trump can’t recall all the veteran organizations that he has dealt with. Trump also has imaginary employees.

Imaginary Friends. When reporters tried to call Trump, a guy named John Baron, a VP of the Trump organization, answered. He said he was Trump’s spokesperson. He explained why destroying the sculptures was the only way. It was actually Donald Trump on the phone. By posing as his publicist, he could get more attention. Sometimes, Trump would confirm what Baron has said to give affirmation to the stories. Similarly, he used this tactic to taunt his enemies. Later, after he was exposed, he switched to using the name ‘John Miller’.

Imaginary Lovers. In 1991, Trump apparently dumped Marla Maples and taken up Carla Bruni. A reporter got a call from John Miller. He pretended to be Trump’s PR man. He said that Trump was too busy to answer calls because he was taking to other beautiful women. Miller claimed that Trump was not seeing Bruni. Bruni would be later treated to a hotel stay by Trump. Carswell, the reporter, was not fooled and knew that was Trump. She doubted he was with Bruni as he knew Trump wanted to have that playboy image. Once, Maples and Trump was caught arguing. In 1991, Carswell released the news that Trump was actually John Miller. In 2008, after Carla Bruni was the first lady of France, Howard Stern asked Trump why he was no longer with Bruni. He denied dating Bruni and claimed she was flat-chested. Trump kept declining to comment. He didn’t want to criticize the first lady of France. A few months later, Bruni slammed Trump for making up stories. Now, Trump would attempt to advance his pursuit of the Presidency.

Myth Maintenance. Trump often recites facts without analysis and threatens to sue journalists. This often shuts reports and journalists from further questioning. He sued Tim O’Brien for wrongly quoting his net worth. The aim of it was to harass him and waste his time. His second strategy is to distort information and contradict himself. When queried in 2016, Trump said he couldn’t know who was on the tape in 1991. He said the voice on the phone sounded like a scam. He denied that it was him on the phone. Trump often uses the words ‘I don’t recall’ very frequently. Trump has also accepted awards that he gave to himself.

I spent a couple of bucks on legal fees and they spent a whole lot more. I did it to make his life miserable, which I’m happy about. – Donald Trump

You mean you are going so low as to talk about something that took place 25 years ago about whether I made a phone call… Let’s get on to more current subjects. – Donald Trump

Collecting Honours. The American Academy of Hospitality Sciences gave awards to Trump. His golf course won the Star Diamond award. Cinque was the President of the Academy. His other buildings have won similar awards. The awards are chosen by the board of trustees. Donald J. Trump sat on the board. In other words, Trump accepted awards from a board on which he was a member. He also gave his friends and family awards. Cinque is often praised by Trump. Cinque has also a history of being involved in organized crime. Cinque also boasts about his prowess with women and his rich friends. In a recent interview, Trump denied attending any board meetings.

If a guy’s (Cinque) going to give you an award, you take it. You don’t tend to look up his whole life story. – Donald Trump

Who’s That? Felix H Sater’s name was usually spelt with one T. However, he added another T to his name, Satter, to conceal his past. His father was Russian mob boss in Brooklyn. Trump said he was unaware of Sater’s criminal background. He was allowed to work on property projects. He was eventually made ‘Senior Adviser to Donald Trump’. Trump had his name on buildings, causing investor to invest. However, they later learnt that Trump was only licensing his name. Sater had a short jail time considering the crimes he committed. Trump continued to work with Sater. When interviewed much later, Trump claimed that he would not be able to recongize Sater.

Down Mexico Way. Trump announced that he would build in the Trump Ocean Resort in a great location. It would be a world-class resort. It would be the new Cabo. The whole Trump family appeared bullish during the launch. Some people purchased because of the strong Trump brand. They would regret their decision. 200 people bought in, paying more than $22 million in deposits. In 2007, construction was underway. 3 months later, the market crashed by Ivanka assured that the project would carry on. Even in 2008, construction did not start. In fact, neither Trump nor the Trump organization was involved as investment partners. They had use licensed the use of their name. All the buyers sued him as they felt that Trump was the developer. Trump denied any wrong-doing. Many of the buyers were given too short time to decide whether to purchase the house. It was unfair business practices. Trump has done something before which was similar too. The fact that Trump licensed his name was not disclosed to buyers.

Trump Beaches a Whale. He wanted updates on the baccarat game at the Atlantic City casino. Akio Kashiwagi was a huge gambler, a billion dollar customer. It was year 1990. He was known as ‘The Warrior’. Trump was very anxious because Akio was up 4.2 million. Wynn was very rich too and personally talked to high rollers. He made the customer feel special. Trump didn’t treat his big customers as well. He was greedy and wanted bigger profits from high-rollers. Many casinos wanted ‘The Warrior’ to play. His life was mysterious. Trump didn’t understand the maths of the games well. The Warrior had already bankrupted a casino before after he won too much. Akio never varied the size of the bets whether he won or lost. Akio brought $12 million to the Atlantic casino and was preparing to lose it all. As a high roller, Akio received wonderful treatment. Baccarat was his game of choice. He left for meals only but continued playing. Akio made the same flat bet every time, this was pure maths. Many of them believed in lady luck. Marcum knew that the odds were 5 to 1 that he would lose his bankroll before doubling it. The house had slim advantages but it would multiply over time. It was predicted in 10,000 bets, Trump could win 5,125 bets to Kashiwagi’s 4875. . Even on the second day, Akio was winning. Trump introduced Khashoggi to Akio, but Akio didn’t know him. It was awkward indeed. Trump was nervous and appeared to ‘sweat the action’. Trump panicked when Akio was up 6.8 million. Trump asked whether Akio was cheating. The next day, his profit was only $4.4 million. Trump said Akio was the greatest when he was only down to $2 million cash. This was dishonourable. Akio left and never came back. In 1992, he was murdered by the yakuza. He died after owing Trump $6 million, on top of the $5.4 million he had previously won. Trump lost big time.

There are no such things as lucky streaks, but all gamblers believe in them. – Marcum

Probability is like a wave. Because of the house advantage, over time the player dips lower and lower until he stops crossing the midpoint and ultimately loses all his money, unless he quits first. –  Marcum

Biggest Loser. Bob Libutti was the biggest loser. Trump treated him like a friend and tried to seduce his daughter. Lubutti was involved in evaluating racehorses. He was charged for civil tax fraud etc. In the 1980s, he led the high life. Trump treated him like a king. Trump took him on helicopter rides and top sporting events and shows. His daughter was Ebie Libutti. Libutti confronted Trump when he approached his daughter. Trump kept fulfilling his demands. Libutti was a very hot tempered man.

Epilogue. Trump is a household name in US history. Voters should definitely ponder about his conduct before voting in November 2016. Action is character. This book is about his relationship with criminals etc. Often, they were profitable in nature and were not subject to greater scrutiny. Trump has threatened to sue me. He dismisses others who do not see him as he sees himself. Trump values money a lot whereas I value honour more. Money can always be earned back again. His conduct should make us reflect on what we want to see in a leader of our great nation. Many of the things he does in business cannot be applied in politics. From his campaign speeches, some of the things he plans to do makes him seem like a dictator. Trump is smart in that he is tapping into people’s frustrations with the current state of affairs. Whether he can put up viable policies is another matter altogether.


The Making of Donald Trump by David Cay Johnston (Part 1)

Introduction. I have been an investigative reporter since young and have freedom to report on what I want. I also happen to be good at what I do. In 1988, I met Donald Trump in Atlantic City. It turns out that he knew nothing about the casino industry. I have a trove of his documents with me. He first mooted the idea of becoming President in 1988. Trump would make a profit in his 2016 campaign. He is always thinking of how to make profits. Through the book, I hope to expose the things he has done. Trump is smart and can deflect enforcement investigations and threatens to sue others. Sometimes, he can come across as ignorant in the way he conducts himself. This book is a presentation of the facts. Trump even hired people to show up and clap during his campaign.

Family History. His family name was Drumpf and he has German roots. Donald’s grandpa was Friedrich and also flouted some rules in his life. He arrived in the US when he was 16. Friedrich started the Diary Restaurant. Trump did not vote regularly at elections. Friedrich’s foray into mining projects were a flop. He later headed for Yukon Territory and started a bar called the Arctic. The gold rush was present and he made some money. Later on, he met Elizabeth Christ, a 20 year old blonde. Later, the family headed back to Germany. Frederick returned to the US and started new ventures. However, he passed on the 1918 influenza pandemic. Donald’s father was Fred.

Trump men favouring busty blondes would become a family pattern. – David Cay Johnston

Family Values. Fred was charged for battling NYC policemen. However, Donald continuously denies the charge. He pretended that if he heard nothing, it meant there was no charges filed against Fred. The public should not know about crime and its implications. Later, Fred built single family houses and even a supermarket. He was a fast learner and turned in a small profit. Often, his buildings were built using cheap materials. To attract attention, Fred would hire beauties in bikinis etc. Fred was also investigated on whether he was into profiteering. He was a household name. Donald denied that his dad profiteered. Nothing came of the investigation though. Fred borrowed money from Tomasello, who was engaged in illicit businesses. Much of what Donald does is learnt from his father. Fred gave Donald much support when he was younger. Donald’s older brother tried to help with the business but didn’t do well. Donald attended the New York Military Academy as he was ill-disciplined when young. Later, he went to the University of Penn. Fred Jr became a pilot but subsequently had alcoholism problems. Donald claims that he was a good student in the University of Penn. However, he doesn’t know what Net Present Value is and how it is measured.

Personal Values. Trump was giving advice to a crowd on how to succeed in life and business in 2005. He was working with a convicted felon and swindler named Felix Sater. He did not prepare for the presentation. Trump did not show the audience any respect by not preparing for the speech. His mentality is to trust no one, even employees. He has been involved in more than 3,500 lawsuits. He has written more than 12 books. Once, he trusted a female employee and when he wanted her to call her friend at a big bank and she refused, Trump fired her. He hates disloyal people, like Rosie O’Donnell. This act of vengeance is certainly at odds with what the Bible preaches. He can’t remember his favourite Bible verse.

Get even. If somebody screws you, you screw them back 10 times over. At least you can feel good about it. Boy, do I feel good. – Donald Trump

I have to tell you about losers. I love losers because they make me feel so good about myself. – Donald Trump

I love getting even when I get screwed by someone – yes, it is true…Always get even. When you are in business you need to get even with people who screw you. You need to screw them back 15 times harder… go for the jugular, attack them in spades! – Donald Trump

A Sickly Child. His dad died in 1999, at age 93. William Trump had problems at birth and Fred Trump Sr would cover the medical expenses. After he passed on, William Trump’s family knew they were not collecting their anticipated share of the estate. The judge ruled that medical coverage resume until the matter could be resolved. Fred Jr sued Donald Trump’s father. Donald was obviously not pleased when someone sued his father. The will excluded Fred Jr and his children. Donald appears to be very vicious in his motto of vengeance. This caused divisions within his family. He also had a close relationship with the notorious Roy Cohn.

Making Friends. Roy Cohn was a notorious attorney and Donald Trump wanted to get close to him. They had a great relationship. Trump always wanted to join Le Club, a hottest club in the city. However, he didn’t know anyone. He hired Cohn to sue the federal government after Trump was investigated of racial bias when hiring operators. Trump allegedly didn’t hire rent out apartments to blacks. As a result, the Federal Government sued Trump. This was a high profile discrimination case and appeared to violate the Fair Housing Act. Cohn claimed that the government was unfair as they were trying to force Trump to rent to people on welfare. Cohn lost the case and the government could proceed with the investigation. Eventually, Trump folded and settled. When confronted by reporters in future, Trump claimed that the government couldn’t prove its case and that he only had to make a minor settlement. Trump learned to place loyalty over everything else. Trump knew he could count on Cohn. He was also associated with powerful Mafia figures who worked in the demolition and construction industry.

Trump’s Most Important Deals. Trump applied for a casino license in New Jersey in 1981 and his background was not thoroughly checked. The government didn’t want a mob-run casino on Atlantic City. Trump talked to the attorney general and told him there was no need to check his background thoroughly. Trump threatened not to bid for the casino if they wanted to check him in detail. Trump had indeed been under investigation before but there was no mention of it in the DGE report. No charges were filed. There were about 4 cases where Trump was involved in shady dealings but these were not reported. Trump did not tick the box for civil misconduct. Lying in his application would result in disqualification. The concrete he used was controlled by a concrete cartel. Roy Cohn helped to ensure that the Mafia bosses would not have the unions stop work on Trump Tower. Barrett was a reporter who managed to examine some of Trump’s business practices. Cody was another crook who knew Roy Cohn. Trump also took kickbacks from contractors etc. Soon, those contractors who fixed prices for concrete were convicted.

A Great Lawsuit. Football made Trump famous. He bought the New Jersey Generals in 1983. The attendance at the games were decent, but were nowhere that of National Football League. Trump was aiming the NFL league. Dixon started the USFL league to slowly compete with the NFL. USFL could celebrate the scoring of goals whereas for the NFL, players couldn’t. Trump held cheerleader try-outs at the Trump Tower to attract attention. He brought them to sleazy bars and some of the girls were offended. In 1984, Trump, together with the other USFL owners, sued NFL. The lawsuit for that NFL allegedly monopolised the tv contracts. Roy Cohn would represent Trump again. The USFL was awarded damages in $3. This was humiliating to Trump. Trump’s legal strategy backfired. USFL folded after that. The court also dismissed claims that Trump wanted to merge the USFL with NFL. USFL wanted to grow fast, but failed. One cannot disagree with Trump. It is like to be a loser.

Showing Mercy. Trump dealt with a drug trafficker named Joseph Weichselbaum. He did unusual favors for the felon, even putting his casino license at risk. When Trump met him, he was already a twice-convicted felon. He was arrested for grand theft auto and embezzlement previously. Joseph and his brother ran a helicopter service and ferried high rollers to and from casinos. Their main client was Trump. Trump also retained Dillinger Charter Services, whose owner was John Staluppi. The mysterious thing was why did Trump keep supporting Joseph’s team when he could have used other firms? Did Trump finance Joseph’s activities? In 1985, he was convicted of drug trafficking in Florida, Ohio and Kentucky. Trump kept paying $2 million per year for the helicopters. One of Joseph’s court case was also transferred to the state of New Jersey, where Trump’s older sister Maryanne Trump Barry was assigned to the case. When she was eventually replaced, Trump asked for leniency for Joseph. Joseph eventually only served a mere 18 months jail. The DGE did not ask deeper questions on Trump’s relationship with Joseph Weichselbaum. There are still things unknown about Trump’s relationship with Joseph. When asked to recall his relationship with Joseph, Trump said he barely recalled who he was.

Polish Brigade. Trump knocked down Bonwit Department store before he built Trump Tower. It was a really famous store. He promised to give the architectural treasures to the Museum of the Art. However, he didn’t keep this promise. He used a Polish contractor and the men need not wear safety gear. It was primitive. The workers were not paid in accordance with wage laws. They were underpaid and made to work like slaves. The crew had huge numbers and suffered. Trump was also known to delay the payments. Trump was told to fire them if he didn’t want to get into trouble with labour laws. Trump would always want to collect more money and not paid people. He was downright greedy and did not care about the workers’ welfare. Surprising, there was no safety inspection of the demolition. The union was under the main control of Roy Cohn, his lawyer. Only when the men threatened to not work, did Trump start to pay them more regularly. Trump testified that he had no knowledge that any worker was unpaid. The judge found that Trump wanted to cheat workers of their pay. Trump had to settle in the end. He also claimed that removing the art would cause a lot more, hence they would be demolished instead. The museum curators were furious. Yet, Trump claims to be an ardent philanthropist.

Feelings and Net Worth. Trump has given different figures when asked to present his net worth. Sometimes, a different figure could be quoted just within a few days. He sued Tim O’Brien after he quoted wrong net worth figures in his books. Trump’s image is really important to him. A lot of information was not disclosed in the financial statements, making it hard to determine how much Trump earned. Sometimes, Trump might even hide debts and other liabilities. Mortgages were not recorded. When estimating his net worth, values of properties are very high. However, when answering to tax authorities, he quotes very low valuation prices.

I would say when I publicly state my net worth, I base it on my general attitude at the time that the question may be asked. And as I say, it varies. – Donal Trump

Trump’s net worth is central to his public persona as a kind of modern Midas. – David Cay Johnston

My net worth fluctuates, and it goes up and down with markets and with attitudes and with feelings, even my own feelings, but I try. – Donald Trump

Government Rescues Trump. Trump made over $375 million between 1986 and 1990 (not profit). However, in 1990, he could not pay his bills. He lacked the money to pay for the construction for Trump Taj Mahal. His casino also risked being shut because Trump could not pay. Trump was bleeding dry fast. Cash was burning and he still had his private jet. The regulators also did not regularly monitor his finances. Lawyers and accountants started going over his books. The Leventhal report showed his net worth was -295 million. The DGE, despite this, did not ask very difficult questions of Trump. Overall, Trump owed $3.2 billion and it was terrible for his creditors. A deal was planned and Trump had to live on $450,000 per month. The press was not allowed to say the word bankrupt. The commission would approve the deal between Trump and his bankers and Trump would be safe. Many reporters did not know that Trump was on the verge of bankruptcy. Donald Trump was saved by the government. Because of this, Trump had to restructure and sell off stake in some of his enterprises. Investors lost more than $1.5 billion when he shrugged off 4 bankruptcies. He was lucky to have escaped.

Gold and Taxes. Trump gives variable values on his property values. Many civil settlements have resulted and these files are all sealed. He overvalued his Trump National Golf Course at more than $50 million. However, when talking to the tax assessor, he quoted the golf club to be less than $1.4 million. He told a reporter subsequently that the value was $9 million. When the town was flooded and covered in silt because of the golf course, Trump refused to pay. The storm water facilities at his golf course failed. The litigation between the town and Trump remains unresolved. Trump valued the National Golf Club Bedminster at more than $50 million and said it had annual revenue of more than $16 million. He paid lower property tax on it because he had goats on the active farmland. He did the same for another of his golf course. Often, he ends up suing the town.

Income Taxes. Jack Mitnick prepared Trump’s income tax returns. They had a close relationship. In 1978 and 1979, Trump paid no federal income taxes. His tax returns showed negative income because there was a rule in Congress that let big real estate investors offset income from salaries, stock market gains, consulting fees, and other income with losses from depreciation in the value of their buildings. A review by the tax authorities concluded that Trump owed more tax in 1984. Once, Trump’s returns showed zero income from the consulting business. The auditors demanded supporting documents for Trump’s large deductions. Penalties were levied against Trump because he could not substantiate. Mitnick claimed that he did not prepare the tax return. When I questioned Mitnick about it last year, he claimed he could not remember. How did his signature get on the tax return then? Judge Barrie ruled that the penalty be upheld. In 1991 and 1993, Trump paid no taxes too.

Empty Boxes. In 1983, Trump had 2 empty boxes mailed to him from an out-of-state address. This was to evade sales taxes on expensive items. Back then, the law was that under NY law, a visitor who buys good and has them shipped to her home state does not have to pay NY sales tax but then owe an equivalent tax to their home state, known as a use tax. But this was not readily enforced. The tax auditors uncovered this scam. There were other rich people involved in this scam. Adnan Khashoggi was an arms dealer who partied with Trump. He also evaded sales tax. It is amazing why billionaires would want to escape small taxes like these. A criminal charge like this would be sufficient to revoke his casino license. Howard Rubenstein defended Trump throughout this saga. The Bulgari staff and the master-mind would be jailed. Trump was let off.


How to Listen to Great Music by Robert Greenberg (Part 1)

A Guide to its History, Culture and Heart

Understanding and Listening to Music. Humans love music and the musical experience can be very intimate. Essentially, it is just vibrations. It is a universal language. Say it with music. It intensifies the human experience. The artist defines his work and gives voice to his time. There has to be a historical context. All music is contemporary music if you understand the history behind it. It is important to grasp the context. Try to google and listen to the pieces featured in the book. The focus of this book is on the best of Western music. Music notation was invented in the 10th and 11th century. The ‘classical music’ phase is from 1750 to 1800. The book focuses on the period between 1600 and 1900. Simple musical notation is easy to understand.

Music is a universal language; one need not speak Ashanti in order to groove to West African drumming; or German in order to be emotionally flayed by Beethoven; or English to totally freak when listening to Bruce Springsteen. – Robert Greenberg

A Mad Dash Through the Roots of Western Music. Music is reflective of the culture. If you know the culture, you will appreciate music better. There has been much change in Western music over the last 1000 years. This was because of composer’s work. The later composers had bigger egos and wanted their music to represent who they were. It was reflective of their experiences. Personal feelings were important for composers. Historical periods change over time. Art becomes different through time and it not necessarily become well. You cannot simply compare music from different eras and judge which is better. Great art is timeless. Music played a role in Ancient Greece. It was humanistic in spirit. They believed in the healing properties of music and thought it was connected with truth and beauty. Music and carnivals were played during their sports events. Ethos was associated with a moral quality. Music was governed by laws from the Cosmos. It heightened the power of words. The Church emerged after the Greek era. The Church became the central philosophic, spiritual issues for Western Europe. Music in church should be divine and it should teach Christian thoughts. They rejected classical music and large choirs. These were the Dark Ages.

There is a reason why we turn to the paintings of Vermeer, the sculptures of Michelangelo, and the music of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, and Brahms, to name just a few, in search of truth and edification, and it has nothing to do with nostalgia for the past. Great art is timeless and it speaks to us, directly and relevantly, across time. – Robert Greenberg

The Music of the Medieval Church. We are now in year 600CE to 1000CE. Europe was in a horrid state and most things were badly destroyed. The Church provided a sense of redemption. Churches were known to preserve culture and be the centre of art and education. Music was used as a ritual and for ceremony. It was monophonic texture, meaning it was just your voice and no instruments. Search ‘plainchant’. There were no large intervals between one note and another. It was calming. No one took credit for producing music. It was meant for the community and for glorifying God. Church music had a huge influence on Western music. Polyphony happened between 900 to 1000 years. Trade was established and wealth was emerging. Architectural technology emerged. Cathedrals were being built. Notre Dame was built in 1163. Polyphony is where two or more melodic parts are heard. This is when a second voice comes in but you are not singing it together. In terms of composition, it is more complicated. Now, we enter the 14th century. This was the end of theocratic age. Secular and non-religious ideas emerged. A new era of Roman art, literature and philosophy emerged. The Notre Dame Cathedral produced composers. ‘Quant en Moy’ is two love poems sung by a soprano and a tenor. It uses isorhythm, where rhythm and pitch can be varied. This was incredible during that period. It was composed in mid 1300s. Now is the Renaissance period. It was the complete breakdown of the Church. It was about humanism and focused on human life and accomplishments. People were explorers. Martin Luther led the Protestant Reformation. Secular education was very prominent. Printed music appeared. Painting and sculpture were very famous and so was music. The words in the song had to be understood. Music should also reflect the meaning of the words. Mass was invented. Examples are the imitation Mass. A madrigal is a secular vocal work for 4 to 6 people. They had to apply ‘word painting’ too. It was like trying to express a poem in music. Listen to Weeleks ‘As Vesta was from Latmos Hill Descending’.

A Necessary and Invigorating Excursion into the Worlds of Music Theory and Terminology. Music is defined by sound. How are pitches arrayed into melodies? A pitch is of a single fundamental frequency. This is the first property. The second is timbre. This refers to ‘tone colour’. Partial vibrations also produce a certain sound, known as a harmonic. Note is a pitch with duration. They are the building blocks of melodies. A chord is three of more pitches played simultaneously. There are series of chords around. Along a string, the various vibrations at various positions produce different sounds. Pitches are an octave apart. An octave is a one-to-two ratio. Texture is the number of melodies and the interaction of each melody with one another. Monophony is like a plainchant. A polyphonic is one where there are two or more principal melodic parts. Imitative polyphonic is where the melody is similar, but played at different time intervals. A strict imitative polyphony is known as a kanon. Sometimes, they are not so strictly imitative. Non-imitative polyphony is a different set of notes entirely. A homophony is where one melody is predominant and all other melodies are accompaniments. Hence, the tonal harmonic system was formed.

Emotional Exuberance and Intellectual Control. The Paradox of Baroque Art. Opera was invented in 1600. Opera transformed Western music. It celebrated human emotion. The orchestra was formed. The Baroque era was between 1600 to 1750. Baroque means ‘a pearl of irregular shape/colour’. It had a negative connotation in the past. This was the era of Galilei, Descartes, Bach, Kepler, Newton. God was still in the picture, but not as much. Everything had logic and symmetry. The music was characterized with tempered and systematic harmony. Theatres were popular too. There was less word painting but the feelings behind the words play centre-stage. The French overture was invented in 1660 for Royals. George Frideric Handel wrote the ‘Overture to Messiah’ in 1741.

Play it, Don’t Say It. The Rise of Instrumental Music. Instrumental music is an art form which can rival vocal music. It is a very abstract concept. Motives are a group of notes from which melody is grown via repetition, sequencing and then transformation. A tune is unique sort of melody. A theme is the idea of a certain section of music. There are conjunct (close together) melodies and also disjunct. The harpsichord was commonly used in the Baroque era and so was the piano. The octave was divided into 12 pitches, with a major and minor scale. Timing of notes was also introduced, whether it is x number of beats. The bass line was developed into a basso continuo. Listen to Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto 2. The basso consists of a harpsichord and a cello. The bass line contains the melodic lines.

What is instrumental music? It is music that has no words, no literary information beyond its title to explain why it exists and why it sounds the way it does. It’s neither physically dimensional nor concrete. – Robert Greenberg

National Styles (Italy and Germany). Beethoven’s 5th symphony is very recognizable. However, the Italian language is more long winded. Vivaldi stretched one word to 74 notes. Music styles are certainly influenced by how languages are spoken. Opera was invented in Italy. French loved their wind instruments. Italian is more similar to Latin. The melodies are usually smooth in nature. Italy was the centre of the Renaissance. Italian is closest to Latin. Vivaldi’s the 4 seasons are among the most frequently heard Baroque works. He usually composed for opera. The music is usually homophonic in nature. Martin Luther was against the Church and thought that one could interpret the Bible differently. All music was a gift to God. German language is full of strong consonants than vowels. There is usually 1 pitch per syllable. The melodies are usually clearly articulated. German music became more popular during the Protestant Reformation. List to Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto 2.

Fugue It! It combines extravagance with systematic organization. Composing is a tedious process. A fugue is a polyphonic composition. Fugues are a highlight of the Baroque era. Bach was a master of the fugue. It contains exposition, episodes and subject restatements. Listen to the Bach’s Fugue in C Minor from the Book one of the Well-Tempered Clavier. Each one is a voice. They will sing different voices at the same time. Each voice that enters must be the highest or the lowest to create effect. There are various episodes and restatements in the centre.

Opera (The Baroque Expressive Revolution in Action). Opera combines everything and is good. The music captures the meaning of the words. The medieval liturgical dramas were popular too. Intermezzo was the precursor to opera. They were commentaries which were sung during plays. It was like a halftime show during a play. Jacopo Peri wrote Euridice, one of the first operas. He invented the partial recitation of words and partial singing. Claudio Monteverdi composed too. His famous work is ‘Orfeo’. Aria literally means air. It is where the information is transmitted via the music itself rather than the vocals. Aria became more popular and the recitative art took a backseat.

This is the basic premise of opera: that music has the power to interpret and intensify the feeling and spirit behind the word. – Robert Greenberg

Opera Goes to Church. The principal genres of music are oratorio, cantata (performed outside religious service), mass, magnificat, passion, motet. These works make use of the chorus. Baroque genres are influenced by opera. Basso continuo was used during the Baroque. Solo singing were used during Masses. Oratorios were initially sacred dialogues. The chorus disappeared from Baroque opera house. George Frideric Handel’s Messiah is widely performed even today. It is the most famous oratorio in history. He travelled a lot and performed all over the world. He knew how to handle singers. He wrote English language oratorios. There are commentators in the middle of the works. It was 2 hours long. Handel’s music was very inspirational indeed. The ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ is very iconic indeed.

A New Liturgy Comes of Age: Lutheran Baroque Scared Music. The Holy Roman Empire was founded to consolidate power. The English were at odds with the French. The Lutheran community emerged from about 1650 to 1680. It was marked by must congregational singing. There were hymns too and they were popular. The sermon was a big thing too. Bach was one of the greatest composers of all time. He composed over 350 cantata in his life. The productive years was between 1723 to 1728. Cantatas were meant to sound like operas. They are the masterworks of the Baroque era. However, there are only about 209 of them still in existence. Cantata 140 is very famous.

Instrumental Form in Baroque Era Music. What do the words like scherzo, trio, allegro mean? Musical forms are important. This is the way to structure time and give order. You must learn to understand the form of music. There are some compositions that do not ascribe to a certain form. These are fantasies, toccata etc. Variations of a theme are quite common. Passacaglia was common too. The bass line was common but the melody might change. Listen to Bach’s Passacaglia in C minor. It has a very firm bass line that keeps repeating.

Baroque Era Musical Genres. There are solo or chamber works. Orchestras back then were not that common. Chamber works were popular, consisting about 6 or 7 musicians. The Baroque concerto appeared around 1680. It is like a soloist battling the collective. Brandenburg Concertos 3 and 6 are orchestral concertos, where there is no soloist section. Solo concertos are where there is a soloist. A double or triple concerto is where there are more than 1 soloist. Tutti refers to everyone. Brandenburg Concerto No 5 has the first movement in ritornello form. The theme are only heard at the beginning and the end. His six Brandenburg Concertos are world-renowned.

Enlightened Is as Enlightened Does – An Introduction to the Classical Era. This is the period from 1750 to 1827. The Enlightenment period was from 1730 to 1780. There was a new middle class emerging. They wanted new education and read to societal injustice. Life was important, even without religion. The middle class could shine. Classical music was meant to be accepted by all countries. It was a combination of all the different nations. Music has to be accessible and please the greatest number. Hadyn was a popular figure in this era. Vienna is the centre of classical music. It was the adoptive home to Mozart, Beethoven etc. The Baroque music was deemed to be more elitist and exclusive. Mozart doesn’t write excessive notes for his music, just enough to create the melody. Mozart’s melody can be easily sung. Hence, it is a vocally conceived melody. Mozart wrote Eine kleine Nachtmusik. It is true that the cultural environment creates the music. Classical music was punctuated with cadence, or punctuation marks. The music gets to stop and breathe, this was rarely the case for Baroque music. In the key of C major, the G pitch is the dominant pitch. There are open, closed cadences. There are also tonic pitches.

Putting It All Together: Classical Era Musical Form, Part 1. Music is now accessible to every person. A music form is the key. Musical form is the most important thing in music. There are theme, variation, minuet and trio form. The theme is usually a tune. Some use a theme as a melody. Listen to Diabelli Variations, Handel Variations, Haydn Variations, Paganini Variations. A theme and variation form a movement structure which is discontinuous. Theme and variations are very disciplined. The coda is an expanded final cadence. Theme and variation is very popular in classical music. Listen to Mozart’s 12 variation on Ah vous dirai-je, Mamam (Twinkle Twinkle Little Star). The first is to make the thematic melody very prominent. Later, there are 12 variations. Minuet and trios are very popular too. The French loved their dances and opera. Dance are also performed in suites, or in sequence. The French perfected their dances. The minuet was very popular in the ballroom. The minuet is a very popular social dance. There is usually the A-B-A structure. Joseph Haydn’s Symphony 88 is a brilliant minuet and trio. A rondo theme is more ambiguous. There is the ritornello form too. Listen to Beethoven’s piano sonata in G major, op. 49 no. 2. Opus literally means work of art.

Classical Era Musical Form, Part 2 (Sonata Form). The word ‘sonata’ has been over-used. It means a ‘sounded piece’. Cantata is a sung piece. There is a single principal theme. There is the exposition, the first large section of a sonata. There is a modulating bridge. This is an aspect of harmony. The keys might change without us knowing. However, this is what makes music fluid in nature. Listen to Mozart’s Symphony in Gminor K 550. Sometimes, there will be thematic changes in sonata. The recapitulation is set in the home key. Mozart was a brilliant child prodigy. Mozart was incredibly prolific. Almost all of them were masterpieces in their own right.

Classical Era Orchestral Genres, Part 1. This is the symphony: music for every person. There are different types of opera and they can vary dramatically. The symphony and the concerto are one of the most iconic of the classical music era. They mean the same thing. The Romans invented the word. The sinfonia had evolved into a symphony. An orchestra is a performing ensemble. ‘Philharmonic’ means loving harmony in English. There are also 4 movement symphonies. The first movement challenges the intellect and the soul and is usually the most complex. It is usually in sonata form. The second will address the heart. The third will usually be a minuet and a trio. The fourth will usually be fast and playful and in rondo form, leaving the audience with a smile on their faces. Recitation is applied to create dramatic effects. The individual melody is very prominent in the Classical music era. Music should be tuneful and entertaining. Hadyn redefied what a symphony sounded like. He wrote 104 of them. These symphonies made him very famous indeed. The London symphonies are among his most famous works. There was a balance between head and heart. The Symphony no. 92 in G Major is one of the most popular. The overture was very popular indeed. From head, to heart, to pelvis, to the toes. Many found his music to be brilliant. Many of his pieces are still performed among modern orchestras today.