In the history of the United States, there has never been a first daughter who has been as visible and influential as Ivanka Trump. Before Ivanka, daughters of Presidents were mainly quiet in the background, were classical pianists, or aspiring actresses (Patti Davis, daughter of President Ronald Reagan) and became TV personalities (Jenna Bush Hager); others were non-conventional (Amy Lynn Carter, daughter of President Jimmy Carter, who was arrested for protesting against the CIA), and even served as acting First Lady (Mary Scott Harrison, Mary Woodrow Wilson), vocal supporters of their father (Julie Nixon), many worked for charitable causes (Susan Ford, Lynda Bird Johnson, Luci Baines Johnson, Chelsea Clinton), or would become social entrepreneurs (Barbara Pierce Bush) and ambassadors (Caroline Kennedy).
Ivanka Trump, sitting in the Presidential chair, while her father and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, are standing beside her.
Ivanka is a first daughter who has been actively involved in politics on all levels. Although, her role is officially: “Adviser to the President”, Ivanka has acted as a diplomat, ambassador, liaison and even took the place of former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s role in meeting with the South Korean Foreign Minister last month, a meeting which was followed by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s secret meetings with North Korea in early April, in which shortly after, her father, President Trump declared that he “gave his blessings” in peace talks between South and North Korea.
Ivanka Trump in a meeting with South Korean Foreign Minister Kyung-Wha Kang last month taking the place of former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
Serving under her father in the US Govt, Ivanka has opened her life up to extreme public scrutiny, and the media has generally been critical of every aspect of Ivanka’s past business dealings to the questions about her conflict of interests to unwelcome comments and messages from other women whom she has attempted to support.
Girls Who Code founder Reshma Saujani told Ivanka “not to use her story” in which Ivanka wrote favourably about the founder in her book: Women Who Work: Rewriting the Rules of Success. Whereas, Reshma could’ve used this opportunity to open a dialogue with Ivanka about President Trump’s policies, she decided to publicly shun her instead.
Many children of Presidents often differed with their fathers in their political views. The Bush sisters, Jenna (right) and Barbara (left) do not consider themselves Republican nor Democrats, and Barbara Pierce Bush (named after her grandmother) was a public advocate of gay marriage.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney did not attend the wedding of his lesbian daughter, Mary Cheney (right) to her longtime partner, Heather Poe (left). During his time in office, Dick Cheney did not support gay marriage, however, he said he was “delighted” that Mary married her same sex partner in 2012.
It appears that in our era of #MeToo, we have embraced and empowered women who have been victims of sexual harassment, but women, such as Ivanka, who holds an influential and powerful position, we have mocked, ridiculed and rejected relentlessly, which is paradoxical to the atmosphere of cultivated solidarity. If we are to truly embrace and support a fair gender society, we must also support the women who are in power and work with them to effect change that is necessary to move our society forward.
Ivanka, who in the past, has been a supporter of Hillary Clinton, before her father ran for office, describes herself as non-partisan, as many young people have begun to shed their Democratic or Republican identities. In an increasing climate of the politics of division, race bait politics has served to create a deep divide amongst people, in which the important issues are often unnoticed in favour of the emotional discourse that occurs when people are distracted by fake news. As Cambridge Analytica has taught us, when people are preoccupied by emotional discourses in heightened racial tension through highlighted news coverage, they do not pay attention to what the government lobbyists are actually doing right in front of them.
We live in a society in which corporate lobbyists have all but eroded the system of representative democracy. When the Founding Fathers of America created a separation between Church and State, they did not foresee the same relationship play out between Corporation and State nearly 100 years later.
President Eisenhower warned Americans of the emerging business model of war as profit in the Military Industrial Complex. China, learning from the downfall of past colonial eras and regimes has shifted towards the building of new trading routes to connect Asia with Europe and Africa in an emerging era of global trade to exert their soft power.
Beginning in the late 1950s, this era would mark the beginning of the domination of the Military Industrial Complex. President Eisenhower in his farewell address in 1961 warned us that the “war as profit” model, in which military expenditures exceed all other spending raises a threat to the quality of life in America.
President Eisenhower alerted the population that, “We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”
It has been repeatedly polled that the majority of Americans are against foreign invasions of other nations. Television coverage of the Vietnam War lead to protest on a massive scale in the 1970s, which ultimately lead to a banning of war coverage in the media in subsequent generations. After the devastating effects of the Iraq War began to seep into the American economy, Senator Patrick Leahy introduced the War Profiteering Prevention Act of 2007 to prevent corporations and private individuals to profit from war, which never garnered any support and never became enacted.
The top 10 US defense contractors continued to profit on war expenditures whilst the US economy tumbled into a stock market crash in 2008.
Why the Iraq War may never find any resolution. Many US Senators, both Democrats and Republicans alike made $196 million+ in 2008 alone in personal profits due to their investment in the Iraq War. Many members of Congress are set to gain even more personal profit if the US were to enter a war with Syria and Iran. War profiteering is still legal in the United States.
The words of the Eisenhower era echo in our generation today, as we have seen how the war profiteering model has launched the American economy into successive recessions, whilst the top 10 defense contractors and many members of Congress have profited on the bloodshed of our soldiers.
"It is with the book of history, and not with isolated pages, that the United States will ever wish to be identified. My country wants to be constructive, not destructive. It wants agreement, not wars, among nations. It wants itself to live in freedom, and in the confidence that the people of every other nation enjoy equally the right of choosing their own way of life."
— President Dwight D. Eisenhower
China, as an emerging superpower, has learned from past colonial eras and regimes that the war profiteering model is inherently unstable, and that the best way to continue to expand its power is through infrastructure development and trade, and has launched an initiative similar to the one that the US had created in Europe under the Marshall Plan. After the devastation of WWII, the US launched the Marshall Plan, an initiative by General George C. Marshall which provided economic assistance (equivalent to $110 billion US dollars today) to help build Western European economies. During this time, the US grew in influence and power as a global world power due to its investment in Europe, and would eventually become the largest world economy.
In a parallel manner, China has the launched the One Belt One Road plan, and the US has sat in stony silence, resisting China’s efforts toward peace and building new trade pathways, similar to how the former USSR objected against the Marshall Plan during its inception nearly 80 years ago. The USSR would continue to use the war profiteering model at the cost of its GDP which would eventually lead to its downfall in 1991.
Academics have made comparisons to the USSR in 1950 to the present era USA in which a similar pattern is taking shape of the spending of military expenditures relative to its GDP. This pattern suggests that the US is heading towards a decline similar to that of the USSR if the war profiteering model is to continue.
Despite that South and North Korea have both wanted peace for decades, it wasn’t until recently that there was a sudden shift in the tide. A war with North Korea would only come at the cost of great collateral damage in South Korea and Japan, two allies of the US. Instead in previous administrations, the US govt had refused to open a dialogue with North Korea, although President Obama enacted a foreign diplomacy policy of nuclear disarmament, restoring full relations with Cuba and a deal with Iran through the pressure of sanctions. However, President Trump is the first US President who is opening the United States to a meeting with North Korean leaders, and this represents a break in the cycle in which one wonders how much Ivanka had steered her father towards a possible open dialogue towards peaceful resolution?
Different styles in diplomacy and hospitality. Ivanka Trump at the 2018 Olympics. She sends a winning smile in the direction of North Korean General Yong-Chol Kim whilst Vice President Mike Pence does not acknowledge nor make eye contact with Yo-Jung Kim, sister to the North Korean leader who is seated behind him.
Although Mike Pompeo, the US Secretary of State and the former CIA director, met with the North Korean leaders in early April, and most likely had discussions about guaranteed security protections for the North Korean leaders, in which US defense contractors would probably most likely profit, it appears that Ivanka’s diplomatic role at the Olympics and her subsequent meeting with the South Korean Foreign Minister Kyung-Wha Kang, could’ve influenced her father, President Trump to also give his “blessings” for peace in the region.
The question then is can Ivanka Trump steer our nation’s present course from “war as business” economic model to one that supports education, infrastructure, small businesses and clean energy?
However, now as a war with Syria and Iran loom in the horizon, with many members of Congress set to privately profit (in addition to the defense industries’ top 10), can Ivanka Trump, a woman, a mother, an entrepreneur, and adviser to the President be able to take on the war profiteering corporations to alter the United States' path from a fate similar to the one that the Soviet Union realised too late which ultimately lead to its dissolution?
By Sierra Choi
This article originally was published in www.globalfounders.london
For many people, etiquette has an old-fashioned connotation that reverts back to the turn of the century when gentlemen wore hats and ladies were supposed to act like ladies, dressed in extravagant attire. However, as the sexual revolution dominated the 1960s and 1970s, education in etiquette soon was set aside in favour of a radical kind of feminism. Etiquette was viewed as a way of behaviour that previously held women back from entering male-dominated professions, prevented women from speaking up about their opinions, and reaffirmed a sort of patriarchal society. “Women who are polite don’t change the world” and “Nice girls don’t get the corner office”, young women were told.
The sexual revolution of the 1960s rebelled against the tradition of previous eras in which women were prevented from entering male-dominated positions and were regarded primarily by their physical appearance. Etiquette was viewed as a confirmation of patriarchal society.
However, as we enter a new era of multi-national corporations and technological globalisation, etiquette is now transforming the way people connect through each other’s cultures, dining experience, and the common courtesy shown to people within and outside our primary culture.
For contemporary Americans, etiquette is a way of speech, saying “thank you” and “please”, speaking politely to others. For the British, etiquette is a way of behaviour, showing courtesy and being considerate and thoughtful to others, possessing social skills in which they don’t impose upon others or make others feel uncomfortable. For the Japanese and the Scandinavians, a similar courtesy towards others is shown and education about personal space is often accentuated, and one might repeatedly hear “sumimasenn” (すみません: "I’m sorry" in polite form) on Japanese public transport if one accidently moves too close into your personal space, something that rarely happens in places such as New York City, Beijing or Seoul.
A lack of etiquette education in China has even lead the nation to integrate a system called social credit that is set to launch in 2020. Beijing will give each citizen a social credit rating based on behaviour such as loyalty to their parents, being well behaved in public transport, and not bypassing subway fares, in which violations of these sort will ban people from receiving loans, jobs and prevented from air travel. Totalitarian in its scope, this system has been criticised as implementing an artificial kind of morality that will be dictated onto a population of 1.4 billion people which could potentially become utilised as a tool to blacklist innocent people.
click for video https://youtu.be/R32qWdOWrTo
In an episode called Nosedive in Black Mirror (S3 E1, 2016), social credit ratings lead to a character's obsession with popularity that eventually leads to acts of desperation. The satirical episode highlights how a social credit rating system can backfire on populations. China will be implementing a similar social credit rating system in 2020.
However, as China moves closer towards a global world power, this presents a unique opportunity for American and British e-Commerce and lifestyle companies to expand into China, South Korea and North Korea to propagate a new type of etiquette education, one that is global in scope, and takes the best parts of the past era of gentlemen whilst incorporating a new, revitalised feminist education that eradicates the misandry present in previous generations.
Institute Sarita Etiquette School was founded by a Georgetown University graduate in which her institute offers courses for single and married ladies in the art of dining, appreciation of aesthetics, and a course on luxury brands. Another popular etiquette course in China is through the British School of Etiquette.
click for video https://youtu.be/7UIThICPEY8
10-12 day courses cost around $13,000 - $16,000 ( £9,336 - £11,490) at the Institute Sarita Etiquette in China. Ladies learn how to use cutlery, dine and learn about art, aesthetics, pairing wines, making conversation and pronouncing the names of luxury brands.
It used to be that luxury brands sales had dominated cities such as Paris and London, but now, as new billionaires and multi-millionaires crop up in China at a rapid pace, Chinese customers make up 32% of the worldwide luxury sales market estimated at €262 billion. Luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton, Kering and Burberry are dependent on the demand coming from China.
Whilst institutions such as Sarita offer etiquette courses for a hefty sum in a short period of time, American and British lifestyle startups have the unique vantage point of being able to offer these sorts of courses via an ongoing subscription base in which courses could be offered both online and through workshops.
Goop Mrkt pop-up shop during the winter holiday in 2015 at Columbus Circle, New York City.
Goop is a US based eCommerce and lifestyle startup founded by Gwyneth Paltrow that has recently received $50 million in series C funding for international expansion.
Known for its quirky items such as jade eggs and focus on alternative medicine, the lifestyle brand highlights natural beauty, travel, luxury brands and topics in women’s health. Goop also sells its own brand of natural fragrances and staple wardrobe items that focuses on high quality fabrics. In addition to weekly podcasts and cookery videos, Goop could integrate etiquette education as part of its subscription base that could appeal to a wide demographic in China.
Samantha Cameron, founder of the fashion brand Cefinn and wife of former Prime Minister David Cameron.
In a similar manner, Samantha Cameron, who is the wife of former Prime Minister David Cameron, has recently launched her own fashion label called Cefinn. Known as the lady who didn’t wear a hat by breaking with tradition at the wedding of Prince William and Duchess Kate Middleton, she is recognised for her frugal but feminine and elegant style. However, Mrs. Cameron has a distinctive advantage in that as the wife of the former Prime Minister, she has had experience meeting and dining with political leaders around the world, and could potentially become a leading style and etiquette expert to women in China who are avid to learn from a woman who must surely have many anecdotes and stories to tell, not only about the particular habits and personalities about political leaders, but also about her travels, decoration and remodeling tips; and also raising children. Although her style of clothes might not particularly appeal to all women, many more women would want to gain knowledge from her experiences, and as the etiquette educational market is expanding in China, South Korea and possibly also North Korea (as peace could possibly be just around the corner) this presents an opportunity for Mrs. Cameron to utilise her soft power, by propagating British influence into nations in which an education in etiquette has not existed until recently.
Jackie Kennedy was the first to break tradition with the past by inviting a television crew to a tour of the White House and by wearing a strapless dress that revealed her bare shoulders in formal state dinners with political leaders around the world in the early 1960s. Her break with etiquette represented a young, emerging America contrasted by Old European values.
Both Michelle Obama and Ivanka Trump followed the Jackie Kennedy example by breaking from formal dress attire in which a tacit rule exists to cover up one’s shoulders in meetings and dinners with world leaders.
For most people, there is nothing duller than having to read a book on manners or etiquette written in a style of language that is a reminder of the era of oppressed women. As American families spend less time with their children in a lifestyle increasingly dominated by their careers, and with a growing demand in China, an education in etiquette seems to be making a comeback in an expansive, international atmosphere of business in which isolationism of the Cold War era no longer applies. Etiquette no longer represents the symbol of the oppression of women in previous eras and instead, can be an enlightening discourse into the exploration of other cultures by simply showing common courtesy and respect for our fellow colleagues and human beings. Lifestyle brand leaders, as well as emerging fashion brands can exert their soft power in nations such as China and South Korea by portraying a new era of feminism and etiquette that could influence a new generation of men and women around the world.
By Sierra Choi
This article originally appeared in www.globalfounders.london
As you might have been aware, world leaders met again at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland earlier this year in January.
One particularly interesting talk that might be relevant for people all around the world was the session on Secrets to a Long and Happy Life.
Click for video https://youtu.be/a84hKrTXg0A
National Geographic Fellow and Writer Dan Buettner reveals insights about Singapore's diverse community in "Secrets of a Long and Happy Life" at the World Economic Forum 2018 in Davos, Switzerland.
Although from popular media, happiness may often be equated with the accumulation of wealth, fame and ambition; over the centuries, philosophers have had many theories of happiness in terms of egalitarianism, collectivism and self-agency. And it appears that in practice, philosophers have been mainly accurate in how societies achieve happiness.
Despite that happiness might be a subjective perspective that might not be easily quantifiable, writer Dan Buettner gives a little background about two nations that are considered to have the highest happiness index in the world: Singapore and Denmark.
Singapore used to be a fishing village 50-65 years ago, but transformed from a third world nation into a multi-racial, diverse, first-world nation within a single generation. In addition, Singapore is an outlier nation in which many different ethnicities live together in harmony: Indian, Malay, Muslims, and the Han Chinese.
In Singapore, where many different ethnic and religious groups, such as Indians, Malays, Muslims, and Han Chinese live in harmony, children are taught at the same schools and residents in housing developments reflect the diversity of the population without segregation.
Whereas, many nations, such as the US focus on self-actualisation, and individualism, in many Asian nations, Confucian values such as harmony, respect for others, and security reflect the values and education of the people.
The cultural and political architect of Singapore was Lee Kuan Yew, the first Prime Minister of Singapore. With his educational background from the University of Cambridge, he had a vision of how Singapore would transform and become the nation it is today. Some of the plans he implemented ensured that everyone in Singapore would be able to own their own home and also one in which every housing project would reflect the ethnic diversity of entire country. There are no ghettos of Malays nor gated communities of the Han Chinese in Singapore and everyone attends schools together without segregation of economic disparity. This should be a somber reflection on the segregationist history of the United States, beginning after the Civil War to the current era in which dramatic, geographic distinctions have risen between the different classes with San Francisco being a prime example where the homeless often congregate on the streets and often pushed out from home ownership by real estate investors, and where the most number of tech billionaires are located.
This lack of security in the community - where people are not guaranteed housing, and where many people have fallen into severe debt from home ownership in which during the housing crisis of 2008, many people eventually lost their homes has been a continuing pattern in the United States. In addition, the severe, displaced, geographical segregation between the classes and advent of crime and gang warfare has transformed the United States from one of the happiest nations in the world, to one of the least happy nations in the world, in terms of quantifiable population markers.
In Denmark, design thinking is a part of everyday life. Everyone has access to free education, free healthcare, paid to attend university, offered long maternity leaves and retire with complete comfort. This allows the population to focus on pursuit of their passions, instead of being afflicted with the stress of finding work to pay for basic necessities or the pursuit of the accumulation of wealth as is prevalent in other nations, such as the US and the UK.
Other nations, such as Denmark may not have the most number of billionaires in the world, but it is a place where trust, tolerance, and equality are prevalent in the population. Every man, woman and child in Denmark have access to free education, free healthcare, and are even paid to attend university; they are also offered long maternity leaves, and retire with complete comfort. According to Dan Buettner, Danes over 60 years old are the happiest people in the world. This should serve as a stark reminder to the American and British populations, in which our senior citizens are often forgotten, discarded, overmedicated and sent to die in nursing homes and the growing number of homeless people and rise in crime have been the talking point of much political debate.
Windsor Council in the UK has been implementing a plan to remove all the homeless people near Windsor Castle ahead of the Royal Wedding which has caused controversy. The sight of the homeless has become commonplace in San Francisco and London, two cities where the most number of billionaires live in the world.
Furthermore, Mr. Buettner sources a Gallup poll in which he cites that only 30% of people love their jobs in the US, whereas in Denmark, 80% are happy in their jobs because Danish people are able to pursue their passions, and not merely their ambition for wealth accumulation. Living in an environment where all their basic needs are taken care of such as having a home, free access to healthcare and education, and having security in their communities, Danes are able to extend their energies on the sectors that fuel their passion and curiosity. Design, art, architecture, and the environment become of central importance, and not a mere distraction.
"We certainly don't wish Singapore to be a first-world economy but a third-rate society, with a people who are well-off but uncouth...We want to be a society rich in spirit, a gracious society where people are considerate and kind to one another, and as Mencius said, where we treat all elders as we treat our own parents, and other children as our own." - Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong
This should be in stark contrast to the rather grim problem of racism and segregation that is occurring in the rest of Europe, in regards to the immigration problems that are currently taking place in Germany, Sweden and the UK. Although Chancellor Angela Merkel had the best intentions in allowing immigrants to enter Germany, as a reminder of the painful lessons from WWII that eventually lead to the formation of the European Union, the sudden spike in the rate of crime has made many in the population fearful for the future of Germany.
Currently when migrants enter Germany, they are often segregated from the rest of the population and do not have access to community resources; young men are often left without parental supervision whilst many are barred from having jobs for a period of time. This has lead to a desperate state in which many immigrants have been self-organising into gangs and committing crimes, similar to the problem of ghetto culture in the US. The US, Germany and UK should take into account how Singapore was able to assimilate many different ethnicities into a relatively compact geographical area where they live in harmony. It appears Singapore was successful in doing so by preserving the cultural differences between ethnicities and by not segregating neighbourhoods nor housing projects nor educational opportunities, and allowing everyone to have access to all of the nation’s resources.
If we take Singapore as an example in diversity - Germany, the UK and US would have to make changes in law in how real estate investors operate within their nations, by preventing corporations or investors from buying up all the properties, flooding the market, and inflating the prices to extreme levels.
Recently, a writer, lecturer and journalist friend of mine in San Francisco has told me that the house he has been living in for 10+ years has recently changed ownership by a real estate investor, who is planning to renovate the house and sell the house for 10x its current value, inflating the value of the house and raising the rent into unattainable margins. Like many long-time San Franciscans, he will be moving out of the area, and the house will probably remain empty, like many investment properties across the United States, UK and Germany in which a significant rise in the housing market could be attributed to the collective actions of the investors and real estate conglomerates that have been buying up all the available property and pushing out its local citizens from ownership.
In comparison, in Singapore, 80% of the population live in government-built residences. At its inception, Singapore’s Housing and Development Board (HDB) began by building rental housing for poor families in 1960, but by 1964, switched to building flats for sale to the masses. Singapore’s first Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew wrote that, “home ownership would give every citizen a ‘stake’ in the country.”
When we examine migrant crime, from a cursory view, it appears to be based on differences in religion, language and culture and we have attributed these differences to violent clashes and rise in crime; however, further in-depth examination may lead us to see migrant crime from an entirely different perspective. Singapore has taught us that for many different ethnicities to be knitted together in close harmony within a single community, that the key to solving these clashes may be as simple as home ownership. When immigrants have a “stake” in the country, as PM Lee Kuan Yew has written, there is an incentive not to commit crime. Crimes by migrants can largely be attributed to being abruptly rooted from their own nations and communities, not having a permanent place to live, and being segregated from other citizens without having the same rights to live, work and have ownership of where they are. This lack of community and self-agency lead to acts of desperation, which is what is currently occurring in Germany, the UK and many other nations in Europe.
If we examine the landscape of the UK and the US, many investment properties are left uninhabited. In North London, inside “Billionaires Row”, rotting, derelict mansions worth £350m+ are left deserted. These crumbling mansions may serve as a reminder of what could potentially occur in cities such as San Francisco. They also represent an opportunity for lawmakers in the UK to make a change in law to perhaps allow these kinds of buildings to be renovated into government-owned flats in which they can follow Singapore’s lead into home ownership for the masses.
Billionaire's Row in North London. These mansions are unoccupied, rotting and falling into disrepair.
To build a nation in which happiness has a tangible and quantifiable factor, we must first build homes for the people who live there, and allow acceptance of different cultures and religions through education, architecture and art. For many years, San Francisco has been throwing money at different charities and organisations to help the homeless which have not had much success. The underlying root of the rising crime by migrants in Europe can be parallel to the homeless problem in America’s tech capital and also in London: a lack of a place where they call “home”.
As the University of Cambridge educated, current Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Hsien Loong has said: “No race or culture is coerced into conforming with other identities, let alone that of the majority...In fostering such an approach for a multi-racial, multi-religious society rooted in its Asian cultures, [we] also need the arts and culture ‘to nourish our souls’”.
Art, music, performance and architecture are ways that people have celebrated our different cultures throughout history, and so these are also the mediums in which we can also utilise to build a more cohesive, harmonious and multi-racial community.
By Sierra Choi