Towards (A) Dynamic Economy
If you want to influence a country’s intellectual trend, the first step
is to bring order to your own ideas and integrate them
into a consistent case to the best of your knowledge and ability.
Upon this gifted age, in its dark hour,
Edna St. Vincent Millay
My web site, millout.com, was posted in early summer 2000. When constructing the site, I was unaware of work that had been done in the area of steady-state economics. I was also short on details with respect to the lodging concept outlined on the site. The purpose of this page is to expand on the concept of "quality economy" and develop more detail and scope for the "lodging" concept itself. Ultimately, the goal is to merge the ideas with on-the-ground building.
While reading Believing Cassandra, I was struck by the author’s use of the word dynamic when referring to steady-state economics. Dynamic Economy has a nice ring to it and conjures up images of a more interesting world than does steady-state and neoclassical. The purpose of constructing this Lexicon is to develop an economic premise (and share a philosophic framework for that premise); outline the foundation of an institution that supports that premise; and provide a brief description of the physical infrastructure that is a key component of the premise.
The format provides the source of many old and new ideas along with my comments (designated as MH). Links to the source books/material are provided in a Reference section. The Lexicon is alphabetical and an Index is provided. I would encourage browsers to read the "source" books for a more complete understanding of the concepts that are presented. If you read the Summary and it does not make sense, please read the Lexicon in its entirety. Most people are well-versed in the language of the consumption economy, but have had little exposure to anything else.
Please note that all brackets in the Lexicon contain my comments. (There may be an exception or two in the Ayn Rand quotes.) The text, including those words and phrases in italics and bold print, is as found in the material cited, unless noted in brackets. Please accept my apologies for any processing errors.
Because the current economic system puts us in BOXES, it is difficult for us to be objective. However, reason is necessary in order to develop ourselves and society in the long term. Ayn Rand’s OBJECTIVISM is one source of philosophical guidance. Another source is Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson is quoted by a diverse group of authors in the Lexicon.
Historically, dynamic human societies, stagnant human societies,
human societies in decline, and human societies that have become extinct
can all be found. The dynamic living ones are those that have a vision,
build upon that vision, and manage to keep
the tensions of wealth creation in balance.
Lester C. Thurow (Building Wealth)
Our current "economic" system has resulted in inefficiency. (See STATISTICS) In many respects, it has led to unhappiness and unhealthiness. It is complicated and characterized by forces (corporations, non-profits, liberals, conservatives) that spend all their time and energy working against one another. It is not dynamic. (See the estimated percentage of people who have reached the self-actualization stage in MASLOW’S HIERARCHY OF NEEDS.) It is the Empty Bay Era. Our boat slips are full of expensive boats that we rarely use, even on gorgeous weekdays. We are a nation of mowers, edgers, and chemical application specialists rather than a nation of gardeners. The glib rule.
A dynamic economy -- focusing on investment and economy rather than supporting an outdated consumption system -- will permit us to move towards self-actualization individually and globally. It requires moving away from specialization to a certain degree. New institutions that foster creative, comprehensive thinking are key. It requires a movement away from risk-tolerant, "slap it up" builders and towards risk-averse, thoughtful, hands-on builders. One way to accomplish this is to create a voluntary, bifurcated economy in which food, shelter, and a health network – and indirectly community and self-esteem – are provided by learning-oriented institutions in order to create a base that fosters self-actualization. Essentially, we shift the corporate, bottom line mentality from within the existing work world to the world outside of work. The consequence is a much more independent populace. INTROSPECTION will reveal that, for the most part, our current independence is a fallacy. Less can be more.
Institutions that foster dynamic economy will be structured like a combination of a university (trustees, education mission, and group transportation); a utility (bond-like returns and first class equipment); a global corporation (shareholders and first class facilities); and the weekend homes of the wealthy (guest suites, luxury automobile available, personal chefs, and caretakers). Shareholders, depending on their level of investment, would have the right to utilize the facilities for anywhere from one week each year to fifty-two weeks each year. Those rights that are not exercised would be available to other shareholders, firstly, and on a scholarship basis, secondly. Essentially, a network of people focused on sustainable and dynamic living – personally and possibly professionally. (See ASSOCIATION) This type of independent network and infrastructure is conducive to knowledge work.
Without a remembered past and a charted future, few humans see
the journey that they are in fact taking. Not knowing that they
are on a journey, they cannot and will not build the tools that
will be necessary if their journey is to be successful.
Lester C. Thurow (Building Wealth)
Urban, suburban, and recreation real estate comprised of the following combinations: gourmet kitchen/dining alone; gourmet kitchen/dining and library/conference; gourmet kitchen/dining, library/conference, and 6-10 suites (bedroom, study/living, and bathroom); and "villages" comprised of multiple gourmet kitchen/suite combinations and possibly golf courses. Each property will contract with chefs on a weekly or monthly basis. Those facilities with suites (condo-inniums, for lack of a better term) will contract with caretakers to look after the property. This type of institution and infrastructure could serve to enhance life in new towns (see NEW URBANISM), isolated subdivisions, and urban areas in transition. It also has the potential to add life and a comprehensive educational curriculum to community colleges.
As an on-the-ground start, my plan is to build a 6-10 suite, recreation-oriented property in Southern British Columbia. (It makes sense to develop destination properties first and then expand to urban and suburban locations as comfort with the concept develops.) The goal is to be within four driving hours of both Spokane and Calgary and to be within a few minutes of at least one downhill ski area and several golf courses. In general, construction will be similar to that of projects featured in Taunton Press publications. The ownership structure will be a trust -- likely something that can easily be converted into a Real Estate Investment Trust. As with everything in our lives, the structure will be dictated by the wacky and complicated tax code.
Please submit comments and questions to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Send me an email if you are interested in receiving additional details as they become available. Let’s get started on building a more dynamic/resourceful world.
A "closed mind" is usually taken to mean the attitude of a man impervious to ideas, arguments, facts and logic, who clings stubbornly to some mixture of unwarranted assumptions, fashionable catch phrases, tribal prejudices – and emotions. But this is not a "closed" mind, it is a passive one. It is a mind that has dispensed with (or never acquired) the practice of thinking or judging, and feels threatened by any request to consider anything.
What objectivity and the study of philosophy require is not an "open mind," but an active mind – a mind able and eagerly willing to examine ideas, but to examine them critically.
Ayn Rand, The Ayn Rand Lexicon: Objectivism From A to Z (Edited by Harry Binswanger), p. 347
MH It’s appropriate that this is the first entry as it is probably the most important.
Integrate Work and Lifestyle
People today have the opportunity to enjoy far more rewarding lives. The conventional pattern is to learn and prepare for a career, work hard, postpone pleasure, and save for retirement. It may be that, for many, a more balanced alternative includes a lifetime of learning [emphasis added], some pleasure along the way, and enjoyable work. Some people of all ages are doing this now, and it may become a normal pattern for everyone. This leads directly into active aging.
Thornton Parker, What If Boomers Can’t Retire? How to Build Real Security, Not Phantom Wealth, p. 171
The Master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his education and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence in whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he is always doing both.
Zen Buddhist Text (First spotted at www.lthurow.com )
MH The conventional pattern is probably popular because it is perceived as secure. However, much of that security is built on some demographic phenomena that are very unstable. Baby Boomers will need an income stream when they start to retire around 2008 or so. Since most stocks do not provide dividends they will be forced to sell stock for income. Because of the Baby Boomer population bulge, there will not be as many potential buyers as there will be sellers. This will cause stock prices to drop.
There is a crucial difference between an association and a tribe. Just as a proper society is ruled by laws, not by men, so a proper association is united by ideas, not by men, and its members are loyal to the ideas, not to the group. It is eminently reasonable that men should seek to associate with those who share their convictions and values. It is impossible to deal or even to communicate with men whose ideas are fundamentally opposed to one’s own (and one should be free not to deal with them).
Ayn Rand, Philosophy: Who Needs It, p. 45
But what began as a healthy cry for personal freedom has become an obsessive whine for personal satisfaction. What we need today is balance. The writer of the 1977 [Woman’s Day] article seemed to anticipate the challenge we now face. "It’s not as simple as it sounds," the writer warns. "We all accumulate obligations and commitments to other people as we go through life. We need one another as much as we need the freedom to be ourselves. If we don’t want to end up isolated and alienated from each other, we have to find a balance between what we want and what we owe others."
Laura Pappano, The Connection Gap: Why Americans Feel So Alone, p. 135
Dinosaurs should die. This lesson we have learned over and over again. And innovators should resist efforts by dinosaurs to keep control. Not because dinosaurs are evil; not because they can’t change; but because the greatest innovation will come from those outside these old institutions…Because the Internet is inherently mixed – because it is a commons built upon a layer that is controlled – this tension between the free and the controlled is perpetual. The need for balance is likewise perpetual. But the value of balance is not always seen. This value we need to keep in focus.
Lawrence Lessig, The Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World, p. 176
Writers of the era saw new possibilities everywhere. One of the earliest was the fifteenth-century humanist Lorenzo Valla. Valla attacked medieval traditions and papal claims to temporal authority. In his book on the nature of the true good, De voluptate, he redefined pleasure and virtue to establish a middle ground between the Epicurean who endorsed a life of pleasure and beauty and the Stoic who prescribed simplicity and self-restraint. Predating the utilitarian philosophy of Jeremy Bentham, this work argued that virtue was the "calculus of pleasure." Pleasure was not a bestial impulse, but a principle of reason and discernment. Virtue was a talent and the ability to endure.
Joanne B. Ciulla, The Working Life: The Promise and Betrayal of Modern Work, p. 48 & 49
MH Our current system puts us in boxes that serve to inhibit creativity and/or active thinking. Some of these boxes are: Mortgages (means "death pledge" in French), Specialization (the Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance stress factor), Auto-dependent Residential and Working Environments, and Employee-Employer relationships (Bureaucracy/Hierarchy). To understand the language of this Lexicon, one has to put one’s active thinking cap on and think outside the box (es).
What is completely left out of standard economic theory is any view of human beings with the characteristics that make them human – not just another animal species. Humans are social builders who can get direct benefits – utility – from building. They can enjoy and take pride in investment goods just as in consumption goods. Whether individuals do or do not take pride in, and get utility from, those investments depends upon their social conditioning.
Capitalism comes with a built-in genetic disease – a tendency to save and invest too little. To offset this genetic tendency, building must be seen not just as an end in and of itself. Building is a direct form of enjoyment. It is a process of creation, and humans are by nature creative. It is the equivalent of writing or reading a great book. One can measure a book’s worth by its selling price, but the book lasts forever and yields benefits over and beyond its monetary costs of composition and printing. The same is true of great building projects focused on the future.
Many successful societies have existed in the past whose social conditioning led to investments being more important than consumption. Imperial Rome was one such society. Private citizens competed for the honor of building public buildings. But these large investments require an ideology extolling investment. They don’t happen unless such an ideology is invented and sustained. Urges to build have to be supported so that they are at least coequal with urges to consume.
In America, all of our social conditioning is now leading not just toward the primacy of individual consumption but toward the view that nothing else matters at all. Billions are spent advertising the benefits of different consumption goods. Little or nothing is spent advertising the importance of investment goods.
Lester C. Thurow, Building Wealth: The New Rules for Individuals, Companies, and Nations in a Knowledge-Based Economy, p. 159 & 160
MH Building Wealth is probably the most frequently quoted book in the Lexicon. I believe that Lester Thurow makes the most coherent case for change that I’ve read to date. If you could buy only one book on dynamic economy, this is it. See CONSUMPTION.
MH Much of our building – physical infrastructure – has been done by risk-tolerant, "slap it up" builders who do not have any qualms about filing bankruptcy. The quality of the construction in the last few decades has been, in general, dismal. The S & L debacle showed us what happens when you combine easy access to capital with greed. We need to establish an institution that encourages risk-averse individuals to get involved with building.
China could have been the birthplace of the first industrial revolution, but it had a culture and an organizational structure that prevented it. Using the new means destroying the old, and many societies, not just China, have found that impossible to do. Change is something that most societies fear. Without the comfort of the old, chaos always seems to loom. Since chaos must be suppressed, new knowledge must be repressed. Today’s fears about what biotechnology might do echo those fifteenth century Chinese fears of new technology.
Lester C. Thurow, Building Wealth: The New Rules for Individuals, Companies, and Nations in a Knowledge-Based Economy, p. 103
The fact is, DNA research has shown that 70 percent of the human population has a risk-averse gene. Furthermore, there is at least one piece of significant evidence to corroborate this finding: Growth companies in this country can’t find enough good people to work in their fast-paced demanding environments. Most applicants do not proactively embrace change and are not willing to learn new skills and new ways of working.
Human nature makes the secret of change very simple and obvious: Most people will only change when an emergency or a radical change in the structure of their living or working circumstances forces them. In a crisis, everyday people become heroes, but only then. Most people resist change, period!
Even with the best of intentions, corporate executives and employees will never accomplish meaningful change unless there is a crisis that threatens their very existence, or unless management makes a unilateral decision to radically change the structure of work and its rewards. Speaking about radical change while remaining in a traditional structure does little or no good. [Emphasis added] The system rewards conformity, not risk. It watches the subtle maneuvering of hierarchical politics, not the needs and priorities of customers. And it has implemented a secure system of steadily rising pay scales and promotions that are viewed as entitlements rather than as recognition for individual results and productivity.
When every process is broken down into many specialized functions, coordinated by people who never see the customer, who knows who is responsible? Most employees in hierarchical, bureaucratic organizations just do as they’re told, play politics with the right people, and then blame another department or the management when something goes wrong….
The secret to corporate change is that you must shake up the old system and create a new structure first.
Harry S. Dent, The Roaring 2000’s: Building the Wealth and Lifestyle You Desire in the Greatest Boom in History, p. 171 & 172
MH The corporate system as a whole is limiting because it exists – for the most part – to sell products and services. We can have a more dynamic economy if we apply ourselves to the world outside of corporations. This is where most of the inefficiency exists. This is the realm that needs to be reworked. However, the critiques of improving life inside the corporation can provide valuable lessons for outside the corporate realm.
Most Americans are so convinced that what we have is so wonderful that they deem changing it non-negotiable. This is how President George Bush described the American lifestyle when refusing to go along with the changes discussed at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. I think this non-negotiable point is in the Lexicon twice. It’s worth repeating as it symbolizes the resistance to change that has prevented us from dramatically improving our lives.
"Some men look at constitutions with sanctimonious reverence and deem them like the ark of the covenant, too sacred to be touched. They ascribe to the men of the preceding age a wisdom more than human and suppose what they did to be beyond amendment…We are certainly not advocates for frequent and untried changes in laws and constitutions…but we also know that laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind… As new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times."
Thomas Jefferson as quoted by Alvin and Heidi Toffler in Creating A New Civilization: The Politics of the Third Wave, p.90
It is painful for an adult to restructure the framework of his or her beliefs. For society as a whole, the time required for this process is often measured in generations. …Unconventional views are best introduced slowly, with adequate evidence.
Garrett Hardin, The Ostrich Factor: Our Population Myopia (New York, Oxford University Press 1998), p. 56-57
MH One thing we can agree on is that we can do better. [See STATISTICS] In order to do better, we have to change a few things. We can probably agree on most of these things. The inequality gap is one example. Most of our problem to date has been a reluctance to admit that we need (to) change.
The future of our population—the future of humanity—is under a cloud of evolutionary uncertainty. Yet to do nothing is not a realistic option because nothing never happens. The uncertainty is both a threat and a promise. Which of the two will dominate our future is—theoretically—within our power to determine. Surely we are the only species of animal that is aware of this opportunity. Can we—or some of us—correctly discern the dangers of the future? And can a minority of our population persuade the majority to grasp the nettle of responsibility for what will happen?
Garrett Hardin, The Ostrich Factor: Our Population Myopia (New York, Oxford University Press 1998), p. 45 &46
If you want to stride into the Infinite, move but within the Finite in all directions.
Goethe as quoted in The Global Brain : The Evolution of Mass Mind From the Big Bang to the 21st Century, p. 207
In those memorable pages [Thomas Paine’s pamphlet Common Sense], Paine wrote, "I offer nothing more than simple facts, plain arguments, and common sense." And he asked of the reader only "that he will divest himself of prejudice and prepossession, and suffer his reason and his feelings to determine for themselves."
Marjorie Kelly, The Divine Right of Capital, p. 107
Old vs. new. That battle is nothing new. As Machiavelli [1469-1527] wrote in The Prince: "Innovation makes enemies of all those who prospered under the old regime, and only lukewarm support is forthcoming from those who would prosper under the new. Their support is indifferent partly from fear and partly because they are generally incredulous, never really trusting new things unless they have tested them by experience."
Lawrence Lessig, The Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World, p. 6
We as a society should favor disrupters. They will produce movement toward a more efficient, prosperous economy. [Clay] Christensen [author of The Innovator’s Dilemma] argues for management structures that would facilitate that; the Internet is an architectural structure that does the same.
Lawrence Lessig, The Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World, p. 92
MH First, people must get out of their BOXES. Why not achieve this through a new institutional structure? An institution that focuses on applying the most positive aspects of other institutions such as large corporations, faith-based entities, social and athletic clubs, etc.
Larry Lessig knows something rare and vital: human creativity, like its species of origin, arises from the processes of nature. Like the rest of nature, all ideas are part of a seamless whole, a commons. If, in our greed, we chop the ecosystem of Mind into unconnected pieces, we will despoil it just as we are destroying the rest of our environment. Trying to own thought exclusively is as dangerous, selfish, and shortsighted as trying to own oxygen: we might enrich ourselves but asphyxiate our descendents....
John Perry Barlow, Berkman Fellow, Harvard Law School, cofounder and vice chairman, Electronic Frontier Foundation reviewing The future of ideas: the fate of the commons in a connected world by Larwence Lessig (Back Cover)
The Net does not enable control; in this sense, it therefore encourages those ideas that would have been blocked by a system of control. Where many people have to sign on before a project gets going, the opportunity for irrational vetoes becomes quite great (corporations protecting their vision of the market; management restricting how much they want their departments to change).
Lawrence Lessig, The Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World, p. 138
Nothing today, likely nothing since we tamed fire, is genuinely new: Culture, like science and technology, grows by accretion, each new creator building on the works of those who came before. Overprotection stifles the very creative forces it’s supposed to nurture.
Judge Alex Kozinski as quoted in The Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World, p. 204
This balance is necessary, Kozinski insists, "to maintain a free environment in which creative genius can flourish." Not because "flourish[ing]" innovation is the darling of the Left, but because innovation and creativity were the ideals of our founding republic.
MH Alex Kozinski is a Reagan appointed judge of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Additional Kozinski quotes: "Something very dangerous is going on here. Private property, including intellectual property, is essential to our way of life. It provides an incentive for investment and innovation; it stimulates the flourishing of our culture; it protects the moral entitlements of people to the fruits of their labors. But reducing too much to private property can be bad medicine." P. 203 "Private land…is far more useful if separated from other private land by public streets, roads and highways. Public parks, utility rights-of-way and sewers reduce the amount of land in private hands, but vastly enhance the value of the property that remains." P. 204 [MH This is not always the case. One example is homes close to multi-lane highways. The scale of man-made environment is of importance.]
Lawrence Lessig, The Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World, p. 203 & 204
If there is one thing that is certain about governments and innovation, it is that those who are threatened by new innovation will turn first to the government for help. Spectrum policy is not, and has never been, different. Every new idea is a threat to those who depend upon old ways of doing business. As David Hughes puts it, "[B]ig corporations have always marched to government to lock in their profits."
Lawrence Lessig, The Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World, p. 223
Our single, overriding view of the world is that only property matters; our systematic blindness is to the lesson of our tradition – that property flourishes best in an environment of freedom, both freedom from state control and freedom from private control. That a commons can have a value greater than the same assets would if enclosed.
Lawrence Lessig, The Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World, p. 236
Finally, inventors should be able to choose from a variety of patents or copyrights. A differentiated system might offer different levels of copyrights. Cost, speed of issuance, and dispute-settlement factors could vary. Let those who file for patents decide what type of patent they wish to have. In no other market do we decide that everyone wants and must buy exactly the same product.
One size does not fit all. Trying to squeeze today’s developments into yesterday’s system of intellectual property rights won’t work. The current one-dimensional system must be overhauled to create a more differentiated one.
Lester C. Thurow, Building Wealth: The New Rules for Individuals, Companies, and Nations in a Knowledge-Based Economy, p. 262
Even in public, we are absorbed by our cell phones, doing the trivial or important business of the day, or focused on our mission and the minutes as they tick off. We don’t look at other people, and they don’t look at us.
Laura Pappano, The Connection Gap: Why Americans Feel So Alone, p.38
MH Create an environment where people want to be engaged with their immediate surroundings.
Our homes, like our lives, today are more airtight, more impermeable, more sealed off from the world outside. Lars Eighner, who was homeless for three years and wrote the book Travels with Lizbeth, noticed this sort of change when he observed about the new experience of apartment living. "I’m more isolated now." Once exposed at all times, he is now secluded from the daily witness of people’s lives and theirs of his. Even when he occasionally sees the neighbors, he says, "you have no idea who they are and what they’re doing." It may be an obvious comment coming from someone who has been homeless, but many others of us could echo his words. In a sense, we have all left the street and gone indoors.
Laura Pappano, The Connection Gap: Why Americans Feel So Alone, p. 105
MH Create an environment where neighbors find it compelling to interact. Many of the patterns to improve community can be found in A Pattern Language.
He [French cultural thinker Jean Baudrillard] paints our new existence as an empty landscape, uninteresting in its repetitiveness and reduction. Our exchanges, like our physical selves, are reduced to function, for function is all that we choose to value and recognize as legitimate. Fading are the moments that expand almost novelistically, that inspire wonder and thought, that leaves us feeling utterly alive, certain that there is meaning in our existence.
We are collapsing not just space but life itself. In seeking the efficiency that comes with mobility, we are editing out the details that are not, we believe, essential. Even as we can do more of everything from everywhere, we are also teaching ourselves not to see anything we’re not looking for. We focus on the essentials, the mission at hand, the appropriate speedy response. We are moving from living in the tangible world to existing through the virtual experience.
Laura Pappano, The Connection Gap: Why Americans Feel So Alone, p. 90 & 91
MH Currently, we are commuting though life with all the sameness that entails. We should be traveling through life with all the experiences that a meaningful journey can bring. We need to get rid of some baggage – literally and figuratively – in order to make the journey more enjoyable.
For example, pedestrians, walking at a slow pace on an uncrowded sidewalk, can insist on their right to walk where they please: no great harm will be done to the community. By contrast, it is suicidal for the drivers of our multitudinous automobiles to insist on the right to drive on the left or the right, as suits their fancy.
Garrett Hardin, The Ostrich Factor: Our Population Myopia (New York, Oxford University Press 1998), p. 25
MH But yet, auto-mobility is synonymous with freedom in our society. In addition to causing a tremendous amount of damage and stress, it is confining.
Competition and cooperation are the final pair that must be balanced in the wealth creation process. The need for both is easily proved.
The fall of communism proves that a system that focuses on community cooperation to the exclusion of individual competition does not work. Many countries tried it. It did not work anywhere….
Socialism and communism failed because neither had a change agent. Both deliberately banished entrepreneurs. In their view it was unfair that entrepreneurs got so rich and powerful. The central planner was supposed to replace the entrepreneur and be the change agent in socialism. But it did not work. Centrally organized economic change is theoretically possible but in practice impossible. The economic losers who already exist are always politically stronger than the potential winners who have yet to come into existence. What already exists politically captures the central planning agent, the designated change agent, and turns it into a backward-looking bureaucracy protecting the old rather than a forward-looking bureaucracy promoting the new. Without a real change agent, stagnation eventually sets in.
By way of contrast, in capitalism the winners do not have to negotiate with the losers in the planning apparatus. The winners simply push the losers ruthlessly aside in the market.
But history also teaches us that all individual competition and no community cooperation does not work. America tried survival-of-the-fittest capitalism in the 1920s. It left us with Herbert Hoover and the Great Depression. Unfettered financial markets imploded and pulled the industrial economy down with them….
History teaches a simple lesson. The pendulum can swing too far in either direction. Competition and cooperation have to be kept in balance.
Lester C. Thurow, Building Wealth: The New Rules for Individuals, Companies, and Nations in a Knowledge-Based Economy, p. 237 & 238
This is, in short, an ancient and persistent piece of wisdom, perhaps most simply expressed in the old adage that, to a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
Neil Postman, Technopoly, p. 14
What You Seek Is What You Find
Interpretations of economic affairs are highly dependent upon the analytic perspective of the observer and upon his or her assumptions as these determine what the observer looks for or emphasizes.
Robert Gilpin, Global Political Economy: Understanding the International Economic Order, p. 31
MH Some economists are paid simply to support a position. Obviously, if we were all knowledgeable about our needs – vs. wants – this would not be a concern. See CONSUMPTION.
In prosperous and quiet times, the forces of self-interested preservation will often defeat the forces of renovation."
Ted Halstead and Michael Lind, The Radical Center: The Future of American Politics, P. 214
More broadly still, the general direction of our nation’s economic policies betrays an obsession with the past at the expense of the future. From the Great Depression onward, political leaders from both parties have sought to subsidize consumption (through the tax code and through our retirement program) in order to create a mass consuming public for industrial era manufacturing, and to help our cold war partners run large trade surpluses with us. But with the retirement of the baby boom generation now imminent and the growing economic weight of the rest of the world, this industrial era emphasis on consumption at the expense of savings and investment may be precisely backward. Indeed, we probably have more to fear from the fact that personal savings have dipped below zero less than a decade before our nation’s largest generation begins retirement, than we do from a temporary economic downturn caused by falling personal consumption. Obviously, our reigning political duopoly has yet to come to terms with the new economic dynamics of Information Age America. Neither party has adequately confronted the pro-consumption bias in our current economic incentives, and neither has proposed a way to increase personal savings that does not favor the rich.
Ted Halstead and Michael Lind, The Radical Center: The Future of American Politics, p. 10
History is clear. Those individuals and societies that are remembered were builders. Sometimes the building is physical; sometimes the building is intellectual. But those who are remembered are always builders.
Consumers – the defining characteristic of our era – are never remembered. To understand why this is so, one need only think of how humans are different from other animal species. What has given us dominance on the surface of the earth is not the characteristics (strength, speed, killing abilities) that make the lion the king of the beasts. It is not the desire for consumption. Every animal species wants to be well fed, sheltered, and safe from predators. What makes humankind different is that by nature we are builders.
Lester C. Thurow, Building Wealth: The New Rules for Individuals, Companies, and Nations in a Knowledge-Based Economy, p. 284
We have become a culture no longer of producers but of consumers. Your station in life is measured not by what you create but by what you can buy….Purchasing power dominates our sense of self-worth. The goal today is not to be interesting but to be rich.
Laura Pappano, The Connection Gap: Why Americans Feel So Alone, p.45
MH Some of the most damaging characteristics of the current consumption-based economy are: 1) Subsidies, 2) Income Taxes, 3) Passive Minds, 4) State and Economics are not separate, and 5) Lack of multi-disciplinary studies. Obviously, these are all related.
Man gains enormous values from dealing with other men; living in a human society is his proper way of life – but only on certain conditions. Man is not a lone wolf and he is not a social animal. He is a contractual animal. He has to plan his life long-range, make his own choices, and deal with other men by voluntary agreement (and he has to be able to rely on their observance of the agreements they entered).
Ayn Rand, The Ayn Rand Lexicon: Objectivism From A to Z (Edited by Harry Binswanger), p. 275
Conventional education in arithmetic and statistics is useful but not sufficient to deal with the sorts of problems that now rapidly approach us.
Garrett Hardin, The Ostrich Factor: Our Population Myopia (New York, Oxford University Press 1998), p. 19
MH The key is a multi-disciplinary education. See EDUCATION.
We lack real alternatives to the stockholder-focused corporation because virtually all public corporations have that design.
Majorie Kelly, The Divine Right of Capital, p.145
In dominant corporate governance scholarship, as we have seen, the corporation today is viewed as a nexus of contracts. Stockholders alone are said to have a contract for control because they take residual risk – that is, they receive income that’s not fixed but variable, based on firm performance. But Blair argues that employees also bear residual risk when they develop skills that don’t easily translate to other firms. Thus when employees are laid off, they often take new jobs at substantially reduced pay and never fully recover their firm-specific investments.
Majorie Kelly, The Divine Right of Capital, p.154
MH Traditionalists/Conservatives will say that it was the capital interests that paid for the training. The problem is that specialization is the order of the day – at least in part due to SCALE and HIERARCHY.
Imagining a new economic order is a first step, but finding a way to bring that vision into reality will be the final step. Ultimately it will mean working through the judicial and political process, and that means tackling the system’s ingrained prejudice toward wealth. In other words, before we can use our legal system to control the money-making machines called corporations, we must free the legal machinery itself from the grip of corporations and wealth.
Majorie Kelly, The Divine Right of Capital, p.159
MH It will take a long time to change this system. My biggest problem is not the corporate structure itself, but rather the growth-oriented mission of most corporations. Those who believe that change is necessary have to put themselves in the position to "check out" of the system or "break away" from the system, rather than fight the system. The corporate paradigm – lowering transaction costs and striving to be efficient – makes more sense outside of the corporate world as we know it today. Apply corporate efficiencies and defined missions to the world of shelter, food, health care, etc. rather than to the world of work alone.
RULE SEVEN: Any society that values order above all else will not be creative, but without the right degree of order, creativity disappears as if into a black hole.
At the individual level these same forces show up as a tension between tradition and rebellion. Einstein dropped out of high school at fifteen; renounced his citizenship one year later; lived on the margins socially, economically, and morally; called himself a gypsy and was considered a bohemian by others. His life was in some sense a search for order in disorder, both scientifically and sociologically. Great creativity requires hard facts, wild imagination, and nonlogical jumps forward that are then proved to be right by working backward to known principles. Only the rebellious can do it.
Lester C. Thurow, Building Wealth: The New Rules for Individuals, Companies, and Nations in a Knowledge-Based Economy, p. 105
MH As stated in my CORPORATIONS commentary, we should take the "principles" of corporations and apply them to life outside of work. Lower transaction costs. (Who said that corporations succeed because of low transaction costs?) Focus on the streets of life, rather than the contrived streets within the realm of cubicles.
The first step in discovering our true passions and talents is to isolate and eliminate clutter in our lives, including in our finances, and a good place to start is to look at how our addiction to clutter is born out of the society we live in.
For instance, if a person in a household that has a habit of watching television four hours a day, there’s a good chance that person will become addicted to watching a lot of television.
I am not one to say four hours of television a day is too much television, but there is a little voice inside me that says four hours of television a day will not help me in my journey toward discovering my talents and passions and living a healthy and productive life. Unless people who watch four hours of television a day are creatively shown why watching that much televison might be counterproductive to living healthy and productive lives, chances are these people will have a difficult time breaking an addiction to television.
Even though this addiction to television might hinder someone’s ability to think creatively and communicate effectively, watching television is still a difficult habit to break, because for the most part those who are addicted probably don’t know any better.
Bill Schultheis, The Coffeehouse Investor: How to Build Wealth, Ignore Wall Street, and Get On With Your Life, p. 32 & 33
MH See TELEVISION.
The great creators – the thinkers, the artists, the scientists, the inventors – stood alone against the men of their time. Every great new thought was opposed. Every great new invention was denounced…The basic need of the creator is independence. The reasoning mind can not work under any form of compulsion. It cannot be curbed, sacrificed or subordinated to any consideration whatsoever. It demands total independence in function and in motive. To a creator, all relations with men are secondary.
Ayn Rand, The Ayn Rand Lexicon: Objectivism From A to Z (Edited by Harry Binswanger), p. 109 and 110
MH Goal- Create places and institutions that foster this independence – and fosters relations with others. Remember Ted K.?
Public opinion, because of the tremendous urge to conformity in gregarious animals, is less tolerant than any system of law.
George Orwell as quoted in Howard Bloom, The Global Brain: The Evolution of Mass Mind From the Big Bang to the 21st Century, p. 81
The oneness which gives society the punch of a bayonet produces over the course of time a paralyzing rigidity.
Howard Bloom, The Global Brain: The Evolution of Mass Mind From the Big Bang to the 21st Century, p. 194
Imagine a country the size of France suddenly sprouting in the middle of the United States. It is immensely rich in culture, with new ways of life, values, and worldviews. It has its own heroes and its own vision for the future. Think how curious we all would be, how interested to discover who these people are and where they have come from. In Washington and on the Sunday morning news shows, politicians would certainly have strong opinions about what it all means, and pundits would be expressing their views with their usual certainty. Businesses would be planning strategies to market to this population, and political groups would be exploring alliances. The media, of course, would be blazing with first-person interviews and inside stories of the new arrivals, instead of the latest Beltway scandals.
Now imagine something different. There is a new country, just as big and just as rich in culture, but no one sees it. It takes shape silently and almost invisibly, as if flown in under radar in the dark of night. But it’s not from somewhere else. This new country is decidedly American. And unlike the first image, it is emerging not only in the cornfields of Iowa but on the streets of the Bronx, all across the country from Seattle to St. Augustine. It is showing up wherever you’d least expect it: in your brother’s living room and your sister’s backyard, in women’s circles and demonstrations to protect the redwoods, in offices and churches and online communities, coffee shops and bookstores, hiking trails and corporate boardrooms….
This new country and its people are the subject of this book. We report thirteen years of survey research on more than 100,000 Americans, hundreds of focus groups, and about sixty in-depth interviews that reveal the emergence of an entire subculture of Americans. Their distinctive beliefs and values are shown in the self-scoring questionnaire on page xiv. The underlying themes express serious ecological and planetary perspectives, emphasis on relationships and women’s point of view, commitment to spirituality and psychological development, disaffection with the large institutions of modern life, including both left and right in politics, and rejection of materialism and status display.
Since the 1960’s 26 percent of the adults in the United States – 50 million people – have made a comprehensive shift in their worldview, values, and way of life – their culture, in short. These creative, optimistic millions are at the leading edge of several kinds of cultural change, deeply affecting not only their own lives but our larger society as well. We call them the Cultural Creatives because, innovation by innovation, they are shaping a new kind of American culture for the twenty-first century.
Paul H. Ray, Ph.D. and Sherry Ruth Anderson, Ph.D., The Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People Are Changing the World, p. 3 & 4
MH Provide an infrastructure to improve connections and creativity for this group – many of whom are likely introverts.
I believe we can find those ideas by returning to the fundamental principles of democracy, for as Alexander Hamilton once said, "the best way of determining disputes" is to ascend to the simplest principles. Today the principles we need are starkly simple, like the principle that corporations must not harm the public good, that employees are part of the corporation, that wealth belongs to those who create it, and that community wealth belongs to all. [See COMMONS.]
…If democratic principles of economics were understood today, our rights might no longer be buried under obscure judicial decisions, or lost in the mumbo jumbo of economics and financial analysis.
…Where, for example, is the ACLU of economic democracy?…We need membership organizations like these, as well as think tanks to develop research and disseminate ideas.
Majorie Kelly, The Divine Right of Capital, p.185
It all begins with a change of mind. As Joel Barlow suggested in a 1792 work, what separates the free from the unfree of the world is merely a "habit of thinking." Many "astonishing effects," he wrote, "are wrought in the world by the habit of thinking" (italics in original). In America, he said, it was the thought "that all men are equal in their rights" that created the Revolution.
Majorie Kelly, The Divine Right of Capital, p.186
MH In order to think, we have to get out of all the BOXES in which we’re stuck.
Democracies respond to public demands. Remedial policies to restructure services, institute an on-the-job refundable training tax, or reform America’s secondary education system are not going to be implemented unless there is a public demand to stop a process that has for twenty-five years been leading to greater inequality [emphasis added]. But there is no such demand. Instead, in every election the proportion of voters goes down, and those citizens who give up voting are precisely those workers whose incomes are falling. Voting percentages are twice as high at the top of the income distribution as at the bottom. Those with stagnant or falling incomes may be a majority of the population, but they are not a majority of the voters.
Lester C. Thurow, Building Wealth: The New Rules for Individuals, Companies, and Nations in a Knowledge-Based Economy, p. 273
Whereas economists regard an economy as a market composed of impersonal economic forces, specialists in political economy interpret it as a sociopolitical system populated by powerful actors. Such conceptual differences distinguish the study of economics from that of international political economy (IPE).
The neoclassical economic interpretation is that the economy is a market of a collection of markets composed of impersonal economic forces over which individual actors, including states and corporations, have little or no control. As former New York Times economic commentator Leonard Silk has described it, for economists the economy is nothing more than a collection of flexible wages, prices, interest rates, and similar forces that move up and down allocating resources to their profitable use as buyers and sellers rationally pursue their own interests. Such an economic universe is a self-regulating and self-contained system composed solely of changing prices and quantities to which individual economic actors respond. Economic actors are assumed to be "price-takers" who seek to maximize, or at least satisfy, their private interests as they respond to changes in relative prices or to changes in economic constraints and opportunities.
The political economy interpretation used in this book defines the economy as a sociopolitical system composed of powerful economic actors or institutions such as giant firms, powerful labor unions, and large agribusinesses that are competing with one another to formulate government policies on taxes, tariffs, and other matters in ways that advance their own interests. And the most important of these powerful actors are national governments. In this interpretation, there are many social, political, or economic actors whose behavior has a powerful impact on the nature and functioning of markets. This conception of the economy as an identifiable social and political structure composed of powerful actors is held by many citizens and by most social scientists other than professional economists.
The role of institutions in determining economic behavior and outcomes is of particular interest in the political economy interpretation. Social, political, and economic institutions are significant in that they determine, or at least influence, the incentives that shape the interaction of individuals and groups as political and economic actors. In economics the two principal explanations for the creation of institutions are neoclassical institutionalism and the theory of public choice. Both of these theories assume that institutions can be explained as resulting from conscious action by economic actors to further their economic interests. These two positions differ, however, regarding the purpose of institutions. Neoclassical institutionalism is based on the belief that institutions are created primarily to solve economic problems and will result in increased economic efficiency; for example, neoinstitutionalists believe that business corporations are created to reduce transaction costs. The public-choice position, on the other hand, believes that government institutions are created by powerful groups, public officials, and politicians to promote their own self-interest and that they decrease efficiency; for example, tariffs are essentially rent-seeking devices to shift income from consumers to domestic producers. Both positions, however, explain the creation of institutions as resulting from rational intentions.
Political economists, on the other hand, believe that institutions are created for a variety of rational, irrational, and even capricious motives. Moreover, in contrast to economists’ emphasis on efficiency or rent-seeking, the political economists argue that institutions are built on the idea of path dependence and that economic and other institutions are the result of accidents, random choices, and chance events that frequently cannot be explained as the result of rational economic processes. Institutions are sometimes the consequence of historical accident and self-reinforcing and cumulative processes. (One of my favorite examples is the constitutional prohibition against foreign-born Americans becoming President; its purpose was to bar the detested Alexander Hamilton from the presidency.) As a consequence, many institutions are neither efficient not do they necessarily represent the economic interests of the individuals who brought them into existence. However, once these institutions are created, for whatever chance or irrational reason, they have a powerful advantage over new and more efficient institutions that could otherwise displace them.
Institutions are even more tenacious than neoinstitutionalism and public-choice theory suggest, and it is frequently difficult to replace an inefficient institution with a more efficient one.
Robert Gilpin, Global Political Economy: Understanding the International Economic Order, p. 38 & 39
MH Essentially, our current economy (system) is controlled by those with the rhetoric of neoclassical economists and the recognition that the system is one of politics. It cannot be emphasized enough that the current system does not have any connection to wealth creation – doing more with less. This is because politics and hierarchy control the system.
Sustainability in the World3 model, or "dynamic equilibrium" in systems language, was attained only when three things happened: technology drastically improved, the population growth rate dropped to zero or less (about two children per woman), and the growth of industrial throughput stabilized. In other words, Growth stops, but Development goes on. The economist Herman Daly has called this condition a "steady state," but of course there’s nothing necessarily steady about it except the total numbers. The more important word is "dynamic." Change continues to happen – radical change, in the direction of radical improvement. [Emphasis added]
Alan AtKisson, Believing Cassandra: An Optimist Looks At A Pessimist’s World, p. 135
Profit-making business firms rather than nonprofit universities may well be best positioned to be the prime educational institutions of the future. …Maybe profit-making educational institutions won’t drive non-profit education out of business, but then again maybe they will – and very quickly. Think of the recent rapid changes in health care. An industry that had been dominated by nonprofit hospitals for a century was within a decade converted to an industry dominated by for-profit HMOs.
Lester C. Thurow, Building Wealth: The New Rules for Individuals, Companies, and Nations in a Knowledge-Based Economy, p. 31
MH This scenario would likely mean a move away from liberal arts education and towards even more specialized education. This would be a shame. The goal should be creating a system in which liberal arts students can earn a living.
But let us suppose, as [Thomas] Jefferson did and, much later, John Dewey, that a democratic society must take the risk, that such a society will be improved by citizens of a critical mind, and that the best way for citizens to protect their liberty is for them to be encouraged to be skeptical, to be suspicious of authority, and to be prepared (and unafraid) to resist propaganda. And let us suppose further that at least some parents believe it to be an important goal and will raise no objections against it. We would then confront another major problem: How do you teach reason and skepticism? Experience has shown that this is very difficult to do. Teachers are usually not trained to do it, and students are not accustomed to the rigor of it. …As I remarked earlier, skepticism is the principal legacy of the Enlightenment. There is nothing more profound to do than to carry that legacy forward by making an effort at conveying it to our young.
Neil Postman, Building a Bridge to the 18th Century, p. 160 & 161
Such learning [critical thinking] is at the heart of reasoning and its product, skepticism. Do we dare do such a thing? Have you heard anyone talk about this? The president, the secretary of education, a school superintendent? They want our students to be answer-givers, not question-askers. They want students to be believers, not skeptics. They want to measure the quantity of answers, not the quality of questions (which, in any case, is probably not measurable). Those who think otherwise, who think an active, courageous, and skillful question-asker is precisely what a "proper education" should produce, can take comfort and inspiration from Voltaire, Hume, Franklin, Priestley, and Jefferson. Surely they would applaud the effort.
Neil Postman, Building a Bridge to the 18th Century, p.162
A second reason to support this approach [laying out both evolution theory and creation theory and letting students judge their merit as science] is that science, like any other subject, is distorted if it is not taught from a historical perspective. Ptolemaic astronomy may be a refuted scientific theory but, for that very reason, it is useful in helping students to see that knowledge is a quest, not a commodity; and that what we will know in the future may make a hash of what we now believe.
Neil Postman, Building a Bridge to the 18th Century, p.169 & 170
The principle is simple: efficiency is best served when gains go to those who create the wealth.
To use again the terminology of Jeff Gates, we must look at opening the closed loop of wealth creation. Instead of allocating wealth only to wealth, we need a greater emphasis on mechanisms that allocate wealth to merit. We must recognize new principles: First, that infinite and increasing flows of wealth for a onetime hit of money are artificial, aristocratic, and absurd. Second, that wealth flows more naturally to those who create it. As Thomas Jefferson put it, the "artificial aristocracy founded on wealth" must make room for the "natural aristocracy" of talent.
Marjorie Kelly, The Divine Right of Capital, p. 108
MH The key is for those who are creating the wealth to be able to leave the system. In other words, get some leverage. This is difficult to do when we are in BOXES.
Enlightenment is a matter of seeing old
customs with new eyes. The Enlightenment was the era that sought to
ground institutions anew in reason – in contrast to the Old Regime,
which grounded the monarchy and aristocracy in "tradition, custom, and
convention." Enlightenment is about questioning tradition. [Emphasis added]Index | Reference Links | Summary
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Majorie Kelly, The Divine Right of Capital, p. 96
Seeing differently is what enlightenment is about. For change begins in the mind – just as the American Revolution began in the minds of Americans. As John Adams once wrote to Thomas Jefferson, "What do we mean by the Revolution? The war? That was no part of the Revolution; it was only an effect and consequence of it. The Revolution was in the minds of the people."
Today, we again need a revolution of the mind. We must realize again that some persons do not matter more than others. The economic rights of employees and the community are equal to those of capital owners. Fully internalizing this truth is not only the starting point of change. It is indeed change itself.
Majorie Kelly, The Divine Right of Capital, p.106
Two new books do an extraordinary job of clarifying the course of human development, and even help us to see the incredible stage just ahead. The first book is A Brief History of Everything by Ken Wilbur (Shambhala, 1996). Wilbur is an extremely astute and realistic scholar of developmental psychology, human evolution, and spiritual traditions. He offers the broadest and most complete understanding I have come across, and even documents the role played by technology and economics in our history.
Wilbur makes a very factual and convincing argument that the concept of developmental psychology, which traditionally address the individual over a lifetime, can be applied to collectives; for instance, to the human species as a whole over great expanses of history and evolution. Just as we can track the stages of development in a child, noting when he or she gains different kinds of intelligence and capabilities, so, too, can we track the development of an entire culture or civilization.
Both the individual and the collective pass through distinct stages of development. Despite the fact that, as individuals, most of us clearly mature into adults over the course of a single life, humanity in a broader sense has remained at a more childlike, immature stage of psychology and spirituality. We can look to our religious beliefs, for example, to gain insight into our collective psychology. While there are many religions in the world today, there is a clear common denominator among them. Most people in developed countries worship a parental god that authoritatively sets rules of behavior and metes out rewards and punishments. In a recent survey, 70 percent of young people stated that they believe in a judging god that monitors their lives. In a broader survey in the United States, 80 percent believe in a heaven and hell, and almost half of those believe that heaven is outfitted with winged angels and melodious harps.
In a similar fashion, most people have looked to institutions as parental figures that will take care of them. The corporation has provided them with lifelong jobs, health care, and subsidized their retirement. The government provides them with welfare benefits, Medicare, and social security. On the job, most people are told what to do, and when and how to do it. They follow the rules and roles established by their superiors who run their lives and reward them, or withhold reward, just like a parent.
If anyone can persuade me that this is not a childish view of life, I would like to hear it. We look in disbelief at how people in ancient Greece could have believed in Zeus and Aphrodite, or that tribal cultures today believe in gods that blow out the volcanoes and create bountiful crops. Future generations will see our belief in a father god who takes care of us and punishes us when we’re bad in much the same way.
Without going into the sensitive area of religion, here’s the critical point. Our beliefs do not signify that something is wrong with our society. They do signify a certain natural and useful stage in our evolution. We create and rely on belief structures and ethical standards that are consistent with our stage of development. Our psychological (or as some would call it, spiritual) development clearly evolves. Furthermore, expectations about behavior coincide with these developmental stages. For example, we don’t expect children to stop believing in Santa Claus, or to make sophisticated judgements, or to take personal responsibility for their actions, or even to support themselves until they’re old enough.
Periods of radical technological and social change like this one tend to force leaps in evolution that move us into new stages of human growth. Part of the process of moving to a new stage of development is becoming more aware of the stage we are leaving. This awareness needn’t be accompanied by judgement or condemnation, but it would help to have a clear picture of where we are now and where we are going.
Harry S. Dent, The Roaring 2000’s: Building the Wealth and Lifestyle You Desire in the Greatest Boom in History, p. 191 & 192
As our life expectancies increase, and as our education and human development stretches later into life, we develop higher capacities for complex consciousness. Wilbur emphasizes that "the world looks different" at each stage of development, because each level of consciousness offers a different view of it. That’s why we must stop trying to recreate the past. There is no going back in the evolution of consciousness, intelligence, and the educational systems that cultivate them. Instead, we must go forward to the next stage, and start bringing new principles into our institutions and business organizations.
Longer learning cycles for youth, continuous learning throughout adulthood, and multiple-career cycles are on the rise. If we can, we should remain in a learning mode throughout life, trying different jobs and functions instead of getting locked into a single career path, putting off having kids until we gain more wisdom and maturity (so more of us can develop the higher levels of right-brain capacity). And why not? We continue to live longer. What better way to use those years than to take longer to educate ourselves, and prepare for varied and interesting careers, and acquire more complex skills and organizational systems (networks)? Better yet, there is no age at which it’s too late to learn. You can develop these more right-brain capacities at any time, providing you already have the basic left-brain capacities that precede them.
Today, human maturity means developing the intuitive capacities to recognize your own needs, your own values, and your own purpose. It requires granting yourself permission to pursue your particular path, via your own learning process. This is what Maslow calls self-actualization in his hierarchy of human needs. This occurs increasingly between the relativistic and nonlinear stages of development. That is where the leading edge of people are moving, at this point in time. The most leading-edge nonlinear thinkers are the visionaries and entrepreneurs who are leading us into this new era, and are setting new moral values consistent with a new economy and new stage of consciousness.
The new paradigm of the right-brain revolution is the individual who determines, through introspection and personal evaluation, how he or she best fits into society. The new organizational paradigm is a school of minnows instead of a whale – a network of vertical and horizontal intelligence and learning that depends on individual creativity and accountability. [Emphasis added] Since the new organization runs from the customer back, not the top down, such organizations require inner-directed people who, at a minimum, make decisions and are operating in the self-esteem stage, and even better leaders and entrepreneurs who are primarily in the self-actualization stage.
In other words, we need entrepreneurs, not bureaucrats. We need more leaders and fewer followers….
Harry S. Dent, The Roaring 2000’s: Building the Wealth and Lifestyle You Desire in the Greatest Boom in History, p. 200 & 201
Computers are the powerful linear, left-brain machines that are going to assume most of the managerial, professional, technical, and clerical job functions of today, just as powered machinery assumed most of our physical farm and factory jobs of the past. Non-linear, more right-brain skills are the key to the new economy. The new network structure for management and communications will increasingly dominate in the coming decades, just as the assembly line and linear, left brain-oriented skills did after 1914.
This right-brain revolution does not ignore or disregard left-brain skills. Human development is best understood as adding new skills on top of previous ones. The Information Revolution allows a much greater quantity of linear, left-brain input, managed by computers and the Internet, to feed our intuitive and more creative right-brain processes. Therefore, we need school and business-management approaches that build both kinds of capacities and coordinate them in new and creative ways. Whereas we once exported assembly-line business practices to our educational institutions to meet the economy’s demand for left-brain skills, now we must bring the network model to our schools to stimulate the development of creative, right-brain skills that will be required in the twenty-first century….
This is just the beginning of the network organizational structure and the right-brain era of creative, self-actualizing behavior. These new structures and skills will dominate the next decade and continue to unfold until the middle of the twenty-first century, just as left-brain assembly line consciousness dominated the Roaring Twenties and most of this century. Then we will be poised for the next leap in human evolution – but that’s another story.
Harry S. Dent, The Roaring 2000’s: Building the Wealth and Lifestyle You Desire in the Greatest Boom in History, p. 203 & 204
Unfortunately, the barn-raising
sensibility has given way to a preference for hiring professionals. In
the process of giving over chores big and small to experts, we are
relinquishing not only the work itself but also our ability to judge
the work and faith in our own common sense. We let the professionals
dictate the standards, tell us the right way to do the job. We become connoisseurs not of doing but of choosing who is best.Index | Reference Links | Summary
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…In the end, the quest for perfection – for our children and for us – is a sign not so much of refinement as of insecurity. The oft-overlooked truth is that one road to connection is through our own competence and, most critically, our willingness to share it with others. The force of progress would have us believe that we are entitled to the best, fastest, newest products and services, that we are too busy to bother with the mundane, too important to do the grunt work ourselves. Not only does such thinking short-circuit our own development, but removes a potentially enriching avenue of experience and a means of connection.
Laura Pappano, The Connection Gap: Why Americans Feel So Alone, p. 205 & 206
Free market theory provides the smoke screen, but the real problem is what that theory conceals, which is the structure of power. The problem is that we have never fundamentally altered the corporate structures that the Robber Barons bequeathed to us, which harken back to the aristocratic age. We’ve yet to reach these core structures effectively with legislation, so in enacting laws we’ve been like homeowners chopping down nuisance trees that continually spring back because we failed to eradicate the roots. Our laws have focused on specific symptoms while leaving the underlying illness untouched. [Emphasis added] That illness is the corruption of the free market known as shareholder primacy, which is made incurable by the legal notion that corporations are private and may not be altered.
Majorie Kelly, The Divine Right of Capital, p.134
MH Again, in theory, the corporate/shareholder system is not problematic so long as the workers can leave at any time. This leverage and the will to personally boycott a company that is behaving in a manner that is detrimental to the public’s health and productivity would completely alter the face of corporate dominance. We have to seek out the root of the problem. Typically, the problem is lack of knowledge caused by passive minds. This passivity is often involuntary – we do not question because it will cost us our economic livelihood.
The World is in a continuous process of transformative change. The task before us is to redirect that process toward an elegant set of solutions to the unprecedented problems facing humanity – and to do so quickly.
Alan AtKisson, Believing Cassandra: An Optimist Looks At A Pessimist’s World, p. 23
MH A hierarchy is inherently inefficient and fosters politics -- which is also inefficient. The consequence is a lack of independence. Most existing institutions are hierarchical. The efficiencies of a hierarchical structure may have thrived in the industrial age but are counterproductive in the knowledge age.
Just as large institutional parasitic investors are driving capital away from important but unspectacular internal investment opportunities in corporations, the stock market and mutual funds are driving capital away from little companies and community opportunities. The reasons are different, but the root cause is the same. They can’t compete with what appear to be more rewarding alternatives.
As Chapter 9 will explain, by 2030 the country will need affordable homes for 34 million more people over age 65, along with adequate transportation and secure appropriate jobs for many of them. Few of the productive investments that will be needed to meet those massive requirements can possibly double in four years or less. Unless investment practices and priorities are changed, the private sector will not make those investments.
Thornton Parker, What If Boomers Can’t Retire? : How To Build Real Security, Not Phantom Wealth, p. 131
Ideas are the foundation of social order. If we are to build a new order, we must build on the base of ideas.
Majorie Kelly, The Divine Right of Capital, p. 11
Stock markets are no longer places of "investment"....[They are] only psychologically connected with the capital gathering and capital application system on which productive industry and enterprise actually depend....The purchaser of stock does not contribute savings to an enterprise…he merely estimates the chance of the corporation’s shares increasing in value. The contribution his purchase makes to anyone other than himself is the maintenance of liquidity for other shareholders who may wish to convert their holdings into cash.
Adolf Berle as quoted in The Divine Right of Capital, p. 35 &36
That income [corporate] is the product of someone else’s toil. If stockholder productivity has been negative, employee productivity has been positive and rising. But employee rewards have not kept pace. Stephen S. Roach, chief economist at Morgan Stanley & Co., points out that the rise in employee productivity over the last decade has been three times the rise in compensation. Even with the pickup in real wages starting in the mid-1990’s, he emphasizes, "we still have fifteen years of an enormous gap between worker rewards and worker contributions."
Marjorie Kelly, The Divine Right of Capital, p. 37
MH In many instances, this gap does not apply to senior management. The senior positions are often political in nature. See PETER PRINCIPLE. They serve to keep the subsidies flowing as well as appease board members and customers/clients. Glibness helps.
Governance by taboo – by norms not open to discussion – is characteristic of closed societies, [Karl] Popper wrote. Such cultures make no distinction between natural and normative laws, like the distinction between, say, the law of gravity and the divine right of kings. These societies believe their customs have the same force as natural law, and may never be altered.
The art of ruling in such a society, Popper observed, is a kind of "herdsmanship,…the art of managing and keeping down the human cattle." These are the workers and servants, "whose sole function is to provide for the material needs of the ruling class." No one questions this social order, Popper wrote, for "everyone feels that his place is the proper, the ‘natural’ place, assigned to him by the forces which rule the world."
Marjorie Kelly, The Divine Right of Capital, p. 61
MH A current example of this is the Bush Administration’s refusal to release the records of meetings in which energy policy was formulated. Indeed, Vice President Cheney is a walking embodiment of the blurring of politics and economics. So far, the general public has been satisfied with a few consumer tidbits and the implied promise that you too can "have it all."
The problems with the enclave model of economic development are not economic. It could work for skilled Americans just as it works for the software engineers in Bangalore, India. The problems aren’t really even political. India shows that countries can coexist with great internal inequalities for long periods of time without blowing up politically. The problems are basically moral. Is one living in a good society if that society knowingly lets a major fraction of its citizens drop out of the first world and effectively become third world wage earners.
Lester C. Thurow, Building Wealth: The New Rules for Individuals, Companies, and Nations in a Knowledge-Based Economy, p. 268
All successful societies periodically confront new problems that their old institutions cannot solve. If they are to remain successful, they have to reinvent themselves. Yet social systems are very resistant to change and have an enormous ability to tolerate, rather than solve, problems. The path of least resistance – simply allowing problems to fester – all too often ends up pulling down even the greatest of societies. The actions that must be taken to resolve any of society’s problems are seldom in doubt. The issue is always how a society with festering problems can force itself to act before there is a crisis that may take the system down with it.
Lester C. Thurow, Building Wealth: The New Rules for Individuals, Companies, and Nations in a Knowledge-Based Economy, p. 50
MH The goal is to build an institution that actively seeks change. Focus on how.
An emotion as such tells you nothing about reality, beyond the fact that something makes you feel something. Without a ruthlessly honest commitment to introspection – to the conceptual identification of your inner states – you will not discover what you feel, what arouses the feeling, and whether your feeling is an appropriate response to the facts of reality, or a mistaken response, or a vicious illusion produced by years of self-deception. The men who scorn or dread introspection take their inner states for granted, as an irreducible and irresistible primary, and let their emotions determine their actions. This means that they choose to act without the context (reality), the causes (motives), and the consequences (goals) of their actions.
Ayn Rand, The Ayn Rand Lexicon: Objectivism From A to Z (Edited by Harry Binswanger), p. 228
Socrates said, "The unexamined life is not worth living."
Neil Postman, Building a Bridge to the 18th Century, p.11
Changes [deregulation causing the market to treat utility stocks like trading commodities] of this type are in the wrong direction for two reasons. First, many retired people need the safe and predictable dividend flow with opportunities for modest growth that utility stocks used to provide. [Emphasis added] Retirement investments should pay incomes from then-current earnings streams, not from stock sales. They should provide real, not phantom returns.
Second, planning was fundamental to the success of regulated utility companies because they had to make large, long-term investments. Their future was linked directly to the future of the areas they served. After government assistance programs that had helped communities plan their orderly development were curtailed, utility companies were ideally positioned to help the communities and small industrial customers in their service areas. But now that utilities are being decoupled from their geographic boundaries, that help has been reduced or eliminated in waves of cost-cutting. So far, nothing is filling the void.
Thornton Parker, What If Boomers Can’t Retire? : How To Build Real Security, Not Phantom Wealth, p. 136
MH I’m not sure which government assistance programs the author is referring to in the paragraph above. What I find interesting is this type of steady investment with dividends.
Some of the new financial institutions and instruments should channel savings to smaller, often community-based companies that need equity capital but do not have the growth potential that attracts venture capitalists. The institutions should be active partners that help the companies succeed.
Thornton Parker, What If Boomers Can’t Retire?: How To Build Real Security, Not Phantom Wealth, p. 163
As job uncertainty rises, those with a strong interest in the success of their current employer decreases in number. Surveys show that while attachment to their occupation has remained constant for American workers over the last two decades, those with a strong attachment to their employer have decreased by one-fifth. When more than half of the workforce report that they have no attachment to their current employer, something serious has happened. The system is evolving toward less commitment and less skill investment, just as it should be evolving in the opposite direction.
Lester C. Thurow, Building Wealth: The New Rules for Individuals, Companies, and Nations in a Knowledge-Based Economy, p. 143
MH The goal should be to reduce the reliance on jobs and increase the emphasis on developing right livelihoods. This probably means a more human-scaled system. Preservation of jobs is not compatible with the realities of the global economy. Preservation of jobs – or maybe more accurately, the rhetoric of job preservation – has been very destructive to our resource base over the past century or so.
Man is the only living species that can transmit and expand his store of knowledge from generation to generation; but such transmission requires a process of thought on the part of the individual recipients. As witness, the breakdowns of civilization, the dark ages in the history of mankind’s progress, when the accumulated knowledge of centuries vanished from the lives of men who were unable, unwilling, or forbidden to think.
Ayn Rand, The Ayn Rand Lexicon: Objectivism From A to Z (Edited by Harry Binswanger), p. 275
MH Our current system of government, large corporations, tax structure, etc. discourages individuals from thinking. We must actively analyze the merits of all institutions regardless of sacredness. Reality, however, dictates that we strive to accomplish some change by working within the established institutions. "Borrowing" the best attributes of existing institutions is a way to start. Many of the problems of today are a matter of scale and degree.
Known technologies are often not used. Pre-Columbian American Indians did not use the wheel, but wheeled toys have been found by archeologists in the Americas. Using knowledge to build is not automatic. Humility is in order. Undoubtedly there is something right in front of us today that we are missing and that will bring wonderment to the minds of those in the distant future. How could they (we) have missed it?
Lester C. Thurow, Building Wealth: The New Rules for Individuals, Companies, and Nations in a Knowledge-Based Economy, p. 102
MH In many cases, it is because we are unable to get (think) outside of our BOXES.
I am referring to the idea that to become educated means to become aware of the origins and growth of knowledge and knowledge systems; to be familiar with the intellectual and creative processes by which the best that has been thought and said has been produced; to learn how to participate, even as a listener, in what Robert Maynard Hutchins once called The Great Conversation, which is merely a different metaphor for what is meant by the ascent of humanity. You will note that such a definition is not child-centered, not training-centered, not skill-centered, not even problem-centered. It is idea-centered and coherence-centered.
Neil Postman, Technopoly, p. 188
In the first two books of Novum Organum, which consist of 182 aphorisms, Bacon sets out nothing less than a philosophy of science based on the axiom that "the improvement of men’s minds and the improvement of his lot are one and the same thing."
Neil Postman, Technopoly, p. 37
"There is no social change without knowledge," says Amy Domini, namesake of the Domini Social Index.. As she put it, "You create data, then knowledge, then social change."
Marjorie Kelly, The Divine Right of Capital, p. 106
…Here I am addressing a problem no culture has faced before – the problem of what to do with too much information….My focus here is on how at least one medium – the newspaper – can assist in helping everyone overcome information glut.
To say it simply, newspapers should, for a start, get out of the information business and into the knowledge business. What do I mean by "knowledge"? I define knowledge as organized information – information that is embedded in some context; information that has a purpose, that leads one to seek further information in order to understand something about the world. [Emphasis added] Without organized information, we may know something of the world, but very little about it. When one has knowledge, one knows how to make sense of information, knows how to relate information to one’s life, and, especially, knows when information is irrelevant.
It is fairly obvious that some newspaper editors are aware of the distinction between information and knowledge, but not nearly enough of them. There are newspapers whose editors do not yet grasp that in a technological world information is a problem, not a solution….I wish to suggest that it is time for newspapers to begin thinking of themselves as being not merely in the knowledge business but in the wisdom business as well.
You may be inclined to think I am going too far. But I wish to define "wisdom" in a way that will make it appear to you entirely practical. I mean by wisdom the capacity to know what body of knowledge is relevant to the solution of significant problems. Knowledge, as I have said, is only organized information. It is self-contained, confined to a single system of information about the world. One can have a great deal of knowledge about the world but entirely lack wisdom. That is frequently the case with scientists, politicians, entrepreneurs, academics, even theologians. …Knowledge cannot judge itself. Knowledge must be judged by other knowledge, and therein lies the essence of wisdom.
Neil Postman, Building a Bridge to the 18th Century, p. 92-95
…Editorials merely tell us what to think. I am talking about [the newspapers] telling us what we need to know in order to think. That is the difference between mere opinion and wisdom. It is also the difference between dogmatism and education. Any fool can have an opinion; to know what one needs to know to have an opinion is wisdom; which is another way of saying that wisdom means knowing what questions to ask about knowledge…
…Consider who was interviewed by journalists during the U.S.-Iraqi war. On television and radio and in the press, generals, experts on weapons systems, and Pentagon officials dominated. No artists were interviewed – no historians, no novelists, no theologians, no schoolteachers, no doctors. Is war the business only of military experts? Is what they have to say about war the only perspective citizens need to have? I should think that weapons systems experts would be the last people to be interviewed on the matter of war. Perhaps the absence of any others may be accounted for by saying the first casualty of war is wisdom.
Neil Postman, Building a Bridge to the 18th Century, p. 96 & 97
As the Emeritus Librarian of Congress Daniel J. Boorstin has documented, it is always difficult for a discoverer to gain the respect of those who presume a knowledge of the terrain. " ‘Knowledge’ was the barrier to knowledge," Boorstin (1983 : 344) said of the many medieval attempts to replace antiquated Greek anatomy….As Kuhn pointed out in Scientific Revolutions, despite the lack of credibility afforded to discoverers from outside a discipline, they are precisely the ones with the best chance to discover. They do not suffer the tunnel vision of paradigm. They start with few assumptions, or in some cases with seemingly unrelated assumptions that turn out to be profoundly applicable. Aside from observers outside the discipline, younger practitioners from within the discipline, with less indoctrination, are more likely to make revolutionary discoveries.
Brian Czech, Shoveling Fuel For A Runaway Train: Errant Economists, Shameful Spenders, And A Plan To Stop Them All, p. 78 &79
MH How about an institution that provides a venue for creative thinking? One that is outside of the normal think tanks – and the agendas of their supporters.
In terms of transcending the field of economics, perhaps the most profound applications have been elaborated by Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen, a professor in the department of economics at Vanderbilt University. Trained as a statistician and mathematician at the Sorbonne, he also studied physics and, eventually, economics at Harvard under the prolific Joseph Schumpeter. So Georgescu-Roegen took his mathematical education, supplemented it with a knowledge of physics, and, familiarized but not indoctrinated with neoclassical theory, moved on to economics.
Brian Czech, Shoveling Fuel For A Runaway Train: Errant Economists, Shameful Spenders, And A Plan To Stop Them All, p. 82
MH Will a diverse academic profile become more common? Likely.
The Earth Summit was officially known as the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (or UNCED, which, as critics loved to point out, is pronounced "unsaid"). This global conference, attended by thousands of people, produced weighty documents and a handful of very memorable quotes, such as President George Bush’s remark that the American lifestyle was "non-negotiable."
Alan AtKisson, Believing Cassandra: An Optimist Looks At A Pessimist’s World, p. 33
The majority of the boomers will probably spend many years in the Employed class, either because they want to or because they have to. This class will force communities, employers, and the country as a whole to face issues that are being avoided today. It is not reasonable to expect millions of people in their sixties and above to be as flexible, adaptable, and able to move to other locations as younger people.
Thornton Parker, What If Boomers Can’t Retire?: How To Build Real Security, Not Phantom Wealth, p. 65
MH Blending life outside of work with work itself will eliminate many of the potential problems caused by demographics and will also improve physical and mental health.
While Americans have long been viewed as individualistic, in recent years, as Hacker suggests, we have moved far beyond that. We have become the champions of our worlds, the stars of our own fantasies and real-life dramas. We can blame the values of our age: the hunger for acquiring wealth, power, and material goods far beyond personal need. Or blame globalization and its accompanying fear of insignificance. Or blame marketing and the incessant mantra of self-focus. Or even blame the rise of a therapeutic culture. Whatever the sources, we are drawn into an ethos in which the individual is encouraged to reign supreme, regardless of the cost. We all ache to be celebrities, to be Number One – not merely the good or competent, but the superstar with the huge multiyear contract and the sneaker endorsement. The society we inhabit today allows – or perhaps insists – that we be rulers, that we not back down or inconvenience ourselves for another. Power and status now reside in the ability to demand and instantly get material things, attention, and service.
Laura Pappano, The Connection Gap: Why Americans Feel So Alone, p. 133
MH I love the term "Little Kings." Jack Lessinger, author of Regions of Opportunity and Penturbia, coined the phrase in the 1980’s.
But as with many solutions, devices like a Fair Exchange Fund could bring a new set of problems. They may mean citizens actually come to favor pollution and resource extraction because such acts bring direct financial benefit. We can already see this as a side effect of the Permanent Fund in Alaska, where in some quarters there is strong support for opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling, even though such a move could be environmentally disastrous.
Marjorie Kelly, The Divine Right of Capital, p. 125
MH The Permanent Fund has also led to dependency on the part of residents and has not led to independence in any form or fashion -- except to fund a few college educations. Most of the money is spent on consumer goods like large-screen televisions.
By the turn of the century , advertisers no longer assumed that reason was the best instrument for the communication of commercial products and ideas. Advertising became one part depth psychology, one part aesthetic theory. In the process, a fundamental principle of capitalist ideology was rejected: namely, that the producer and consumer were engaged in a rational enterprise in which consumers made choices on the basis of a careful consideration of the quality of a product and their own self-interest. This, at least, is what Adam Smith had in mind.
Neil Postman, Technopoly, p. 169
[L]et’s review a very simple concept introduced in the early 1900s by Abraham Maslow, one of the founding fathers of modern psychology. It’s called the hierarchy of human needs. He developed a scheme for classifying levels of human development that is very easy to understand and apply. …
Maslow points out that our first need, and first priority, is survival. Until people are able to meet their most basic needs for food and shelter, they can’t concern themselves with personal development, or any other higher needs. People dealing with survival issues tend to be very egocentric and even violent when their survival is at stake. In one sense, very young children deal primarily with survival. Most impoverished people in the United States, approximately 10 to 20 percent of our society today, are living at or near survival levels long past their childhood. Basic survival needs shape the existence of the greatest proportions of people in developing countries. For billions, starvation is a daily reality.
The second stage of human development identified by Maslow is belonging. Once basic survival needs are met, people focus on belonging to a group, a family, a community, a tribe, a country. This is the first step towards socializing, building relationships to others that don’t exclusively serve survival needs, and learning to follow rules of behavior. …
Maslow’s third stage is self-esteem. Once people attain the security of belonging to a community, they aspire to stand out, to become achievers. …Self-esteem is of primary importance to approximately 20 to 30 percent of our society today. But this number, unlike the number of second-stage individuals, is rapidly expanding.
Maslow’s fourth stage is self-actualization, the highest stage of development that he observed and named. Even today, there are a small number of individuals at this stage of development – realistically, between one-half percent at the low end and at the greatest stretch, 4 percent at the high end. These people have achieved self-esteem and material success, and, therefore, choose to shape their own destinies. Conforming is not the path of these people. By developing two skills, first critical thinking in the self-esteem stage, and then introspection, they understand their own needs, strengths, and weaknesses. As a result, they become capable of setting their own direction for life and of managing their own path of development and learning. These people represent the rare leaders and visionaries who produce the most important innovations in our society. …
The most important changes in our society are clear. For the first time in history, massive numbers of people are moving into Maslow’s self-esteem stage of development, while a strong minority is moving toward the self-actualization stage. To attract the best people at the highest stages of consciousness, companies will have to offer more than just monetary rewards. Meaning and purpose are far more powerful incentives for people who already have mastered the basics of survival and belonging. They are the prime incentives for the self-actualizers who direct their lives according to higher inner principles, and who take on a greater responsibility for their impact on others and the world.
Harry S. Dent, Jr., The Roaring 2000’s: Building the Wealth and Lifestyle You Desire in the Greatest Boom in History, p. 186-190
MH The structure of our society makes it extremely difficult to reach the self-actualization stage. A bifurcated economy would be major step towards self-actualization. We would form institutions that provide the services of food, shelter, and health with a fixed return to investors – say 4%. Investors would also be service users – now or sometime in the future. Earn 4%. Pay 4%. Why should I pay 7% on my mortgage when my money market account is earning 1%. I realize that one must be rewarded for risk, but the spread is outrageous. Assets would be owned by a trust, much like your social or athletic club or universities. This type of ownership saves on transaction costs.
We all need to do something – to do anything. It does not matter how small the act is, but an act done with the aim of removing barriers is a road to making our individual lives richer and to making our world a more connected place. Social action does not happen is isolation. One person’s meaningful act that can have a ripple effect, creating an opening for others to participate. Here in Boston a friend of mine started a program called Citizen Schools, which recruits working people – lawyers, judges, journalists, chefs, writers, dance instructors, massage therapists, carpenters, skateboarders, AIDS researchers, anyone with a talent and a willingness to teach it – to work with middle school children. The children serve as apprentices to the volunteer teachers. They learn how to, say, argue a legal case, publish a newspaper, perform shiatsu massage, and other real-world skills.
Laura Pappano, The Connection Gap: Why Americans Feel So Alone, p. 208 & 209
However, small businesses typically cannot benefit from economies of scale as do larger corporations. Furthermore, they lack the specialized expertise to guide them in making better strategic decisions. In other words, smaller businesses tend to be excellent browsers, that is, good at customer focus, but they lack the power of the servers, the vast sources of expertise, and economies of scale that large corporations enjoy. As a result, in niche markets, smaller companies tend to have the edge. In huge commodity markets, larger companies have the clear edge.
The ultimate beauty of the network organizational model is that it allows a business to combine the best of both worlds, just as we do within industries. Network organizations can benefit from the economies of scale of large commodity production systems and specialization in expertise, while paying attention to the individual and changing needs of their customers.
Harry S. Dent, The Roaring 2000’s: Building the Wealth and Lifestyle You Desire in the Greatest Boom in History, p. 174
MH Is a network the best foundation for building a dynamic economy? How would the network be assembled?
Principle 3. [For transforming your company]
Make Every Individual or Team a Real Business
The purpose of applying this principle is to create a corporate environment in which the smallest efficient teams have the urgency and opportunity to be proactive, creative, and accountable. To accomplish this, constantly strive to make every process that your company performs the single responsibility of one individual or self-managed team.
Harry S. Dent, The Roaring 2000’s: Building the Wealth and Lifestyle You Desire in the Greatest Boom in History, p. 180
MH Any dynamic economy facility would have one person – or a team – who was responsible for every aspect of construction and operation.
The New Urbanists, the neighbor builders, may try but cannot force people to interact. What’s more, despite the rhetoric about community, New Urbanist communities can themselves be isolated from the outside world, physically, stylistically, or practically. Most interesting, though, is the fact that planners, architects, designers, and residents are looking for design solutions to what they see as a crisis of community. What should a modern neighborhood be like?
Laura Pappano, The Connection Gap: Why Americans Feel So Alone, p. 124
A twenty-eight-year-old documentary film producer likes the urban street sounds that come through his open apartment windows – the sounds of people laughing, talking, dining, which are foreign to most residents of Cape Cod. But is this a community? Does it feel like one? Certainly, it looks like one, with buildings constructed to mimic an old downtown with different architectural styles for various shop facades and apartments on the second floor. But it may be too early to judge. Several months after moving in, the film producer said he still hadn’t had much contact with neighbors in the other rental units. "Everyone goes their different ways," he said, "It’s not like I’ve gone out of my way to meet anyone or anyone’s gone out of their way to meet me."
New Urbanist communities look appealing, and some who live in them are quick to offer testimonials about the friendly environment. But the job of forging real connections between neighbors may be too great for design alone.
Laura Pappano, The Connection Gap: Why Americans Feel So Alone, p. 128 & 129
MH Most of us get some, if not most, of our community at work. How do we take it to the streets? How about sharing a gourmet kitchen and moving it to street level for both private and public use. I have visited one of these "New Urbanism" towns several times and found it to be empty at mid-day. Not a trace of energy to be found. While good design is necessary for the most comprehensive form of Dynamic Economy, the design by itself does not result in Dynamic Economy.
I am not primarily an advocate of capitalism, but of egoism; and I am not primarily an advocate of egoism, but of reason. If one recognizes the supremacy of reason and applies it consistently, all the rest follows. This – the supremacy of reason – was, is and will be the primary concern of my work, and the essence of Objectivism.
Ayn Rand, The Ayn Rand Lexicon: Objectivism From A to Z (Edited by Harry Binswanger), p. 344
MH One of the reasons that I am a believer of this philosophy is that it focuses on the individual. (See INTROSPECTION.) This is where change has to start. Like any body of knowledge, Ayn Rand’s work is a product of her life and times. As such, it contains biases that the reader must recognize. For example, her views of McCarthyism might be different today. Also, her views of the corporation might be different. Today’s large corporations are primarily a product of the blurring between politics and economics. Something she opposed. Readers should also be careful when reviewing "2nd Generation" Ayn Rand work such as that produced by the Ayn Rand Institute. Much of their work seems to be biased toward large-scale corporations – probably major financial contributors. Unfortunately, there are laws that protect the identity of donors to non-profit entities even though these institutions are effectively subsidized by the American public. As long as one is ever vigilant to these inconsistencies, her work provides, in my opinion, an excellent basis for justifying meaningful reform in our current institutions.
MH A note on egoism. Certain forms of Buddhism proclaim that non-egoism leads to creativity – a critical component of living well and advancing. In order to improve at this stage, however, I think that egoism is necessary in that it created current conditions. Sort of like fighting fire with fire. Stopping a plane by reversing the thrust. As we develop as a society and individually, egoism might be required less and less.
Conversely [compared to the lack of order and discipline in the United States] a high degree of order in Japan has led to a lack of economic creativity.
Lester Thurow, Building Wealth: The New Rules for Individuals, Companies, and Nations in a Knowledge-Based Economy, p. 226
MH Create environments that stimulate independent thinking.
Some firms – like SAIC – get around the obligation to buy back shares by creating an internal market, allowing employees and retirees to sell shares among themselves. On a public policy level, we might do something similar by creating special financing vehicles that allow employee-owned firms to become "semipublic" – to have access to equity investments without giving up control. As we now promote home ownership with institutions like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – which repurchase home loans from lenders – we might promote employee ownership with a similar federally chartered institution, say, a Federal Employee Ownership Corporation (FEOC).
Such an entity could purchase shares, perhaps only from majority-employee-owned firms, and hold them like a mutual fund.
Marjorie Kelly, The Divine Right of Capital, p. 118 &119
MH Some say that these federal charters grant unfair advantages to holders. The mutual fund idea is worth exploring – sans government.
MH Most of those who are around businesses – particularly large businesses – are familiar with this term. It essentially states that men and women are often promoted beyond their level of competence. This is a product of a system that encourages the combining of politics and economics. Both George Bushes and Ken Lay come to mind. While these men probably have the ability to succeed at something other than kissing up, they probably would not be in the public eye without the general acceptance of combining economics and politics. Scott Adams (Dilbert) has made a career out of portraying this principle in action.
The term "philosophe" suggests something different [from philosopher]. We think of a philosophe as a person involved in political and social affairs, who is eager to change the way things are, who is obsessed with the enlightenment of others.
Neil Postman, Building a Bridge to the 18th Century: How the Past Can Improve Our Future, p. 103
What is needed to get a modern democratic process underway? Mass political mobilization, obviously. But one thing we know from history is that political mobilization is impossible without an intellectual mobilization to clear the way. The French Revolution would not have taken place if the philosophes had not laid waste to the concept of aristocratic privilege, the civil rights revolution of the 1950’s and ‘60’s would never have happened if innumerable writers, journalists, and others had not taken similar aim at an entire body of racist ideology, and so forth. Any movement to dethrone the Constitution requires a comparable intellectual effort, one that is both radical and comprehensive, taking aim not merely at this or that feature, but at the central ideas on which the entire political structure rests.
Daniel Lazare, The Velvet Coup: The Constitution, The Supreme Court, and the Decline of American Democracy, p. 133 & 134
MH The key is to get beyond the partisan rhetoric. Those who have better ideas must implement. The builders of our infrastructure will continue to build (in general) a low quality private and public environment.
A drastic change in economic thought would better be classified as a change in philosophy, a correction in logic, or an adaptation to current societal values – not a scientific revolution.
Brian Czech, Shoveling Fuel For A Runaway Train: Errant Economists, Shameful Spenders, And A Plan To Stop Them All, p. 81
MH See OBJECTIVISM.
"Conservatives" vs. "Liberals." Both [conservatives and liberals] hold the same premise – the mind-body dichotomy – but choose opposite sides of this lethal fallacy.
The conservatives want freedom to act in the material realm; they tend to oppose government control of production, of industry, of trade, of business, of physical goods, of material wealth. But they advocate government control of man’s spirit, i.e., man’s consciousness; they advocate the State’s right to impose censorship, to determine moral values, to create and enforce a governmental establishment of morality, to rule the intellect. The liberals want freedom to act in the spiritual realm; they oppose government control of ideas, of the arts, of the press, of education (note their concern with "academic freedom"). But they advocate government control of material production, of business, of employment, of wages, of profits, of all physical property – they advocate it all the way down to total expropriation.
The conservatives see man as a body freely roaming the earth, building sand piles or factories – with an electronic computer inside his skull, controlled from Washington. The liberals see man as a soul freewheeling to the farthest reaches of the universe – but wearing chains from nose to toes when he crosses the street to buy a loaf of bread.
Yet it is the conservatives who are predominantly religionists, who proclaim the superiority of the soul over the body, who represent what I call the "mystics of spirit." And it is the liberals who are predominantly materialists, who regard man as an aggregate of meat, and who represent what I call the "mystics of muscle."
This is merely a paradox, not a contradiction: each camp wants to control the realm it regards as metaphysically important; each grants freedom only to the activities it despises. Observe that the conservatives insult and demean the rich or those who succeed on material production, regarding them as morally inferior – and that liberals treat ideas as a cynical con game. "Control," to both camps, means the power to rule by physical force. Neither camp holds freedom as a value. The conservatives want to rule man’s consciousness; the liberals, his body.
Ayn Rand, The Ayn Rand Lexicon: Objectivism From A to Z (Edited by Harry Binswanger), p. 100
Opposition, on the other hand, was all the Country [party that opposed Walpole’s Whigs in early 16th Century Britain] was good for; its purely negative ideology rendered it much better at criticizing power than exercising it.
Daniel Lazare, The Velvet Coup: The Constitution, The Supreme Court, and the Decline of American Democracy, P. 24
MH Sounds like the two major parties today.
It was an example of the studied ambiguity that is the heart of American political rhetoric….It [Clinton’s comments] implied that Breyer understood that the founding generation’s original intent must still be regarded as paramount. While Republicans and Democrats might argue over exactly what that original intent might be, the game of American politics required that both sides claim to be merely executing the will of a group of eighteenth-century tribal patriarchs. While Americans were free to interpret the Founder’s words as they wished, they were not free to disregard them.
Daniel Lazare, The Velvet Coup: The Constitution, The Supreme Court, and the Decline of American Democracy, p. 89
MH Lazare’s response to Clinton’s comments when introducing Supreme Court nominee Stephen G. Breyer in 1994.
Rather than belaboring politics with myriad rules and regulations whose purpose is to protect democracy against itself, the solution is to free up democracy so that it can reorganize itself on a more rational basis.
Daniel Lazare, The Velvet Coup: The Constitution, The Supreme Court, and the Decline of American Democracy, p. 126
The [political] system is so inured against change that it is unable to tolerate even the most modest [change]. With both Democrats and Republicans desperate to maintain their strongholds, neither would agree to any change that might in any way benefit the other. Instead, each will happily wait for the opposing side to make the first move, which, of course, it never will.
Daniel Lazare, The Velvet Coup: The Constitution, The Supreme Court, and the Decline of American Democracy, p. 127
MH As a consequence, change must take place outside of the political system.
If the earth must lose that great portion of its pleasantness which it owes to things that the unlimited increase of wealth and population would extirpate from it, for the mere purpose of enabling it to support a larger, but not a happier or a better population, I sincerely hope, for the sake of posterity, that they will be content to be stationary, long before necessity compels them to it.
John Stuart Mill as quoted in Shoveling Fuel For A Runaway Train, p.94
Many scholars now recognize that the disciplines of economics, ecology, and ethics share a common problem, namely: to discriminate among limitless demands in a world of limited resources. Some contemporary economists reject this generalization because the economics that become orthodox in the two centuries after Adam Smith built its theories on the unstated belief that limits do not exist; or if limits do exist, they must not be allowed to curb growth. Perpetual growth has become a secular religion built on the assumption that growth = progress. p. 5
If you have access to a collection of elementary economics texts, look in their indexes for entries under "economies of scale" and "diseconomies of scale." The first category will be in almost every book, but very few books will have even a single entry in the second category. The implied moral in the unbalanced books is obvious: "we can’t have too much growth." p. 15
Human beings are social animals, reacting to one another. With experience the members of a group of social animals—any social animals—will rank themselves. Differences in power become augmented by positive feedback (the engineer’s descriptive term) into vicious circles (the moralist’s judgmental term). As cynics say: "The rich get richer, and the poor get children." Differences may be stabilized into social hierarchies, the interactions of which are the very stuff of history. P. 110
Garrett Hardin, The Ostrich Factor: Our Population Myopia (New York, Oxford University Press 1998)
Henry David Thoreau was particularly attuned to the power of homes and property. He pitied "the young men, my townsmen; whose misfortune it is to have inherited farms, houses, barns." Property, he believed, was a burden, making one a slave to its care and dictating one’s course in life.
Laura Pappano, The Connection Gap: Why Americans Feel So Alone, p. 107
MH Property rights are probably more important than property ownership. The stress of a mortgage is typically overlooked when we examine the benefits of home ownership. It is a confining process and impacts our judgement in insidious ways. We become "yes" people in our jobs and risk-averse with respect to our principles.
Although we don’t much notice it, I’d argue that disconnection is costing us, both in dollars and cents and quality of life. It costs us individually when we hire people to do what others once did – or could do – freely, like watch a child, pay attention to our homes when we’re away, visit with an elderly neighbor, or change a lightbulb that’s tough to reach. It also costs us as a society in terms of social services and programs – for profit and not for profit – that now provide what friends, neighbors, and family members once just did. Our social isolation has a financial price tag. Physicians’ offices are jammed with parents who have simple childcare matters needing answers – answers once provided by an involved extended family.
Laura Pappano, The Connection Gap: Why Americans Feel So Alone, p. 206 & 207
A related approach is represented by the Calvert-Henderson Quality of Life Indicators – developed by Henderson and the Calvert Group of social investing funds – which measure U. S. socioeconomic health using twelve indicators, including health, education, public safety, and environment, as well as more traditional indicators like employment and income. While that approach uses multiple measures, a single measure has been developed by economist Herman Daly, and John and Clifford Cobb – the Genuine Progress Indicator, which deducts many environmental and social costs from Gross Domestic Product, and adds nonmonetary items like household and volunteer work, to arrive at a more accurate overall figure of genuine progress.
Marjorie Kelly, The Divine Right of Capital, p. 104
Necessarily but perhaps unfortunately, the Bible also explained how the world came into being in such literal detail that it could not accommodate new information produced by the telescope and subsequent technologies.
Neil Postman, Technopoly, p.78
It is not quite accurate to say that Americans have led the unexamined life. To the contrary, self-examination and even self-laceration have been common American themes. But as one might expect of a fundamentally Protestant culture, the self-laceration that Americans have engaged in from time to time has been of the Old Testament sort, the kind that occurs when a chosen people punishes itself for failing to live up to God’s trust. What Americans have never done, on the other hand, is to take concepts like that of a chosen people or divine trust and subject them to merciless examination. They have never tried to dethrone the concept of divinity and have thus ended up reinforcing it instead. The so-called American Enlightenment of the eighteenth-century was pallid affair designed to place religion on a firmer intellectual footing. Yet what America needs is a real enlightenment whose goal is to drive out faith rather than replace it with some other form.
Daniel Lazare, The Velvet Coup: The Constitution, The Supreme Court, and the Decline of American Democracy, p. 137
In the spiritual realm, India gave us Buddism, the first major religion to spread far and wide without conquest, and arguably the major religion whose founding doctrines (unembellished by later editions) most readily survive the modifying force of modern science.
Robert Wright, NONZERO: The Logic of Human Destiny, P 171
MH Religion – or any other code for living – can be a detriment to progress if it promotes passive rather than ACTIVE MINDS. Passive minds lead to fundamentalism.
MH Someone who can visualize most of the consequences of their actions. We need an institution that will encourage those who are risk-averse to be the infrastructure builders, rather than those who do not know or do not care about the consequences of their actions.
There is a simple reason why big rich companies and big rich countries do most of the [Research and Development] spending. Here again the analogy to oil exploration holds. If a small exploration company drills two wells, it is in a highly risky business. Two dry holes and the firm is bankrupt. If a large company drills a thousand wells, simple probabilities and the law of large numbers guarantee that the company will drill some dry holes, but somewhere they will hit oil. A few dry holes at the beginning of the process won’t throw them into bankruptcy.
Lester C. Thurow, Building Wealth: The New Rules for Individuals, Companies, and Nations in a Knowledge-Based Economy, p. 109
MH This model applies to resource extraction, but does it apply to resource conservation? A dynamic economy would reward conservation and prevention rather than consumption and cures. In my opinion, the most critical element of scale today is human scale. Essentially, for several decades, we have built everything to automobile scale. This has been costly in many areas, including loss of community, health, and the tremendous cost of infrastructure.
No solution will be perfect, but citizen and employee property rights are worth developing in law because they have the potential to create a countervailing force to the growing global power of finance. They may ultimately help create a more broadly grounded economic governing power. But in the meanwhile, they can also help create a broad constituency for change. If self-interest must never be allowed to run rampant, it can still serve as an engine of change. We are rarely so moved to fight for something as when we stand to gain from it.
Marjorie Kelly, The Divine Right of Capitalism, p. 125
Looking forward, the new technologies that permit globalization and change the needed skill sets have cut the link between company-organized careers and individual skill acquisition. Individuals don’t know what skills they should acquire or how to personally manage their careers even if they are willing to make the necessary investments. In a knowledge-based economy, skill acquisition is not something that can be limited to formal education between the ages of five and twenty-five, yet there is no system for organizing skill acquisition after age twenty-five.
Looking downward, skills and education in the bottom two-thirds of the workforce are as important as skills and education in the top one-third. Neither can reach their potential without help from the other.
Along with recessions and financial meltdowns, capitalism has another genetic weakness: myopia. Using discounted net present value as the basis for decision-making, it has an intrinsically short time horizon. Private business firms usually use three- to five-year planning horizons. Those horizons simply aren’t congruent with developing the skills that knowledge-based societies need to thrive – sixteen years for a college graduate, twenty-two years for a Ph.D. Much like a snake that sheds its old skin so that it can grow larger in a new one, the education and skills acquisition system will have to become something quite different in the twenty-first century.
Looking at the three developed regions of the world, two have education problems. Japan is superbly creative at the bottom, but needs creativity at the top. America is superbly creative at the top but needs better skills at the bottom. Only Europe can claim to be well educated at the bottom and creative at the top.
Lester C. Thurow, Building Wealth: The New Rules for Individuals, Companies, and Nations in a Knowledge-Based Economy, p. 146 & 147
MH Wealth is commonwealth in the Knowledge era. The problem with most businesses is that their sole purpose is to sell products and services, rather than develop people and places.
The consequences [of the Constitution having a Euclidean structure] were politically debilitating. If American patriots were to be loyal to the new republic they had helped to create, for example, they had to be loyal to the Declaration of Independence that had given it birth. This meant accepting the proposition that "all men are created equal" as axiomatic, which meant not asking how such a thing could be the case when roughly a fifth of the US population in the late eighteenth century were held in slavery. If they were to remain loyal to the new constitutional order, similarly, American patriots would have to banish all questions having to do with the nature of government, the relationship between law and politics, the role of the people, and the purpose of a constitution itself, questions that the Constitution had supposedly settled and questions that would therefore have to remain settled for as long as the Constitution stayed in effect. This was the original closing of the American mind. Beginning in the 1790’s, what we hear from a string of foreign visitors is a series of reports concerning the self-contained nature of the new political culture. As one such visitor, the Duc de Liancourt, observed, Americans were now convinced "that nothing good is done, and that no one has any brains, except in America; that the wit, the imagination, the genius of Europe are already in decrepitude."
Daniel Lazare, The Velvet Coup: The Constitution, The Supreme Court, and the Decline of American Democracy, p. 66
MH Our arrogance goes way back.
Thinking for oneself was dangerous. Trusting in the sacred wisdom of the Founder was by far the safer course. Liberty depended on fidelity to an ancient body of law regardless of what the ancient law might be. [The author’s reaction to Democrat and Republican politician’s citing the Constitution as justification for certain acts of the 1980’s and 1990’s.]
Daniel Lazare, The Velvet Coup: The Constitution, The Supreme Court, and the Decline of American Democracy, p. 88
MH Think tanks rely primarily on the donations of individuals and corporations that have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. As an example, one of the Hudson Institute’s largest source of funds is AMWAY. This helps explain why a Hudson fellow wrote a book entitled "Saving the Planet With Pesticides and Plastics."
By 1998, better than half of state and federal inmates, one million people in all, had been imprisoned for theft, drugs, and other nonviolent offenses, a figure better than three times that of the entire prison population of the European Union.
Daniel Lazare, The Velvet Coup: The Constitution, The Supreme Court, and the Decline of American Democracy, p. 130
While billionaires and market wealth dominate the headlines, there is another way to look at wealth creation that could generate a very different set of headlines if anyone wanted to pay attention. Real wealth is the ability to produce more with less – to generate a flow of goods and services without having to sacrifice something of equal value. The real wealth of an individual who sacrifices his leisure time to work and generate a flow of income is not measured by the capitalized value of the income earned. The value of the extra time sacrificed has to be subtracted from that new market wealth to determine if gains in real wealth have occurred. The United States, for example, is first in the world in terms of GDP per person but ninth [Belgium is first] in terms of GDP per hour of work. Americans have more money because they have less leisure. …If the leisure time sacrificed is more valuable than the new goods bought, the individual has become poorer despite having more market wealth. Real wealth is not created by taking time away from other activities and devoting it to money-making activities. Real wealth is not created by increases in what economists call labor productivity: the same time spent working generates more income (and hence wealth) than it did in the past.
Lester C. Thurow, Building Wealth: The New Rules for Individuals, Companies, and Nations in a Knowledge-Based Economy, p. 36 & 37
But better measures of service productivity may also turn up a lot of negative productivity growth. In the last two decades, life expectancy has increased 4 percent in America, but spending on health care has increased 500 percent. Americans spend twice as much on health care as either the Japanese or the British, yet on all measures of health are less healthy than either. If we measured automobile services, we might find that greater congestion and time spent commuting has offset the benefits of better cars needing less maintenance.
Lester C. Thurow, Building Wealth: The New Rules for Individuals, Companies, and Nations in a Knowledge-Based Economy, p. 31
A lack of order and discipline also contributes to the lowest productivity growth rate in the developed world. Consider the criminal justice system. In the United States, 1,800,000 inmates are guarded by 300,000 public and private correctional officers. Many sit idle when they could be productive. China, a totalitarian country with five times as many people, has half a million fewer people in jail. Those Americans not in jail are guarded by an additional 1 million public policemen and 900,000 private security guards. Nowhere else in the world are any of these groups as big. All of this activity represents potential output and productivity lost.
Lester Thurow, Building Wealth: The New Rules for Individuals, Companies, and Nations in a Knowledge-Based Economy, p. 226
But the percentage of those reporting [in a poll conducted by the Pew Research Center] a "very great deal" of satisfaction with the city or place they live – the community at large – declined to its lowest level in more than twenty years, with only 15.7 percent expressing the highest level of satisfaction, down from 23 percent.
Laura Pappano, The Connection Gap: Why Americans Feel So Alone, p. 172
Although the results are mixed, as Table 2 reveals, with respect to seventy-five separate objectives the progress made by the United States [compared with that of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, and Sweden] from 1960 to the mid-1990’s has been below average in roughly two-thirds of the cases and at or near the bottom of the list in approximately half.
Derek Bok, The Trouble With Government, p. 29
MH Some of these objectives are housing affordability, literacy, and net investment in plant and equipment as percent of GDP. We can do better. It is remarkable how many well-educated individuals are unaware of – or choose to ignore – the dismal U.S. track record in important areas.
Finally, in the reckoning of national waste, there is money. The United States, which prides itself on being the richest country in the world, cannot balance its budgets (the present federal budget is not balanced using conventional accounting methods), fund properly its educational system, repair its bridges, or take care of its infirm, aged, mentally ill, and homeless. Where, then, is all our wealth going?
The degree to which resources and people are wasted shows up, in fact, in overall gross domestic product. Of the $9 trillion spent every year in the United States, at least $2 trillion annually is wasted. What is meant by "waste" in this context? Simple stated, it represents money spent where the buyer gets no value. An example of waste familiar to everyone is sitting in a traffic jam on a congested freeway. Money is being expended on gas, time, and wear and tear on car and driver, but it produces zero value. Discretionary activities, cruising the streets in low riders or speeding across Lake Mead in a 600 hp cigar boat, aren’t counted here as waste. Waste is a built-in feature of an outmoded industrial system and it saps our national strength. Here is a partial list of how money is wasted in the United States:
Highway accidents cost society more than $150 billion per year, including health care costs, lost productivity, lost tax revenue, property damage, and police, judicial, and social services costs. According to the World Resources Institute, highway congestion costs $100 billion per year in lost productivity; that figure does not include gasoline, increased accidents, and maintenance costs. In the United States alone, the total hidden social costs of driving, not paid by the motorist, total nearly $1 trillion, including such expenses as building and repairing roads, economic losses due to congestion, ill health caused by air pollution, and medical costs for the victims for the victims of the 2 million accidents each year. We spend $50 billion a year to guard sea lanes bringing oil from sources we would not need if the Reagan administration had not gutted light-vehicle efficiency standards in 1986. Nearly $200 billion a year in energy costs is wasted because we do not employ the same efficiency practices as Japan in businesses and homes.
In health care, $65 billion is spent annually on nonessential or even fraudulent tests and procedures (including 420,000 unneeded caesareans). By some estimates, $250 billion of inflated and unnecessary medical overhead is generated by the current insurance system. We spend $50 billion a year in health costs because of our dietary choices, and as much as $100 billion on costs related to the effects of polluted air. We spend $69 billion on obesity, $274 billion on heart disease and strokes, and $52 billion on substance abuse. Health-care budgets are being increasingly burdened by such "old" diseases as staphylococcus and tuberculosis, now appearing in new drug-resistant forms thanks to shortcuts taken to save money in public health, prisons, homeless shelters, and medical treatment.
Legal, accounting, audit, bookkeeping, and recordkeeping expenditures that are required to comply with an unnecessarily complex and unenforceable tax code cost citizens at least $250 billion a year. What Americans fail to pay the IRS adds up to another $150 billion.
We pay criminals $40 billion a year for illegal drugs. Crime costs $450 billion a year. Another $300 billion is spent on lawsuits (how much of that amount is necessary can be gauged by the fact that the United States has 70 percent of the world’s lawyers).
This inventory doesn’t account for costs to clean or contain Superfund sites. It doesn’t count cleanup of nuclear weapons facilities (estimated as high as $500 billion) or the annual expense of disposing of 25 billion tons of material waste. Also ignored are subsidies to such environmentally damaging industries as mining, nuclear utilities, unsound agriculture, and forestry. In various ways topsoil loss, loss of fisheries, damage from poor land management, water pollution, and potential losses due to climate change are all subsidized. Then there is government waste, consumer fraud, legal and illegal gambling, costs related to replacing shoddy products, and the social costs of unemployment. It is conceivable that as much as one-half of the entire GDP is attributable to some form of waste. If even a portion of these expenditures could be shifted to more productive uses, money would be available to balance the budget, raise superbly educated children, restore degraded environments, and help the less fortunate. If that seems an overly optimistic projection, consider that, had we adopted in 1974 the efficient energy practices of some other advanced industrial nations, and applied the savings to the national debt, we would not today have a national debt.
Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins, and L. Hunter Lovins, Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution, p. 57 & 58
MH As one can see, there is plenty of room for improvement. Our national hubris sometimes prevents us from advancing.
Total subsidy, as in the Canadian case [Newfoundland fishermen] is exceptional. More common is the partial subsidy, which still does harm because it commonizes the costs over the whole body politic while privatizing the profitable aspects among a much smaller group. A subsidy is sometimes symbolized as a "CC-PP Game" (Commonize Costs-Privatize Profits). Each beneficiary of this game receives a (relatively) large personal benefit from it, while each victim—each taxpayer—suffers only a small personal loss.
Garrett Hardin, The Ostrich Factor: Our Population Myopia, p. 144
MH Many of our subsidies, such as those for educating and raising children, shift funds from a smaller group to a larger group. Replacing income taxes with a tax that recognizes that there are limited resources would solve some of these unfair shifts.
Americans have built a system that encourages personal consumption and discourages tool-building. One could easily rig the American system of incentives to persuade us to invest more and build more tools. It is simple to list the public policies that might correct the tendency of our society to underinvest. Many articles and books have already done so….
The problem is not figuring out what might be done to increase American tool-building activities, but getting ourselves to change the incentive structure embedded in the American system. The what-to-do is easy. The how-do-we-get-it done is hard.
Americans won’t do it until they persuade themselves that it is important to do it. Only those who see themselves as builders and who get pleasure from both building and admiring their building after it has been completed will deliberately adjust their systems to raise investment and lower consumption.
Lester C. Thurow, Building Wealth: The New Rules for Individuals, Companies, and Nations in a Knowledge-Based Economy, p. 275
MH Focus on the how. The Economy as described ad nauseam by the media is actually the Consumer System and has nothing to do with economy – doing more with less.
The most obvious question to be asked about any new technology – for example, interactive television, virtual reality, the Internet, or, for that matter, doorknobs and toasters that "understand" human speech – is, What is the problem to which this technology is the solution?
Neil Postman, Building a Bridge to the 18th Century, p. 42
But let us say that we have found a technological solution to a problem that most people do have, that we have some notion of who will pay for it, and that we are aware of those who might possibly be harmed. And let us suppose further that there is a will and even an enthusiasm to move ahead with the project and to speak favorably of its prospects. We have, then, the following question to ask: What new problems might be created because we have solved this problem? The automobile solved some very important problems for most people, but in doing so, poisoned our air, choked our cities with traffic, and contributed toward the destruction of some of the beauty of our natural landscape. Antibiotics certainly solved some significant problems for most people, but in doing so, resulted in the weakening of what we call our immune systems. Television [See TELEVISION] solved several important problems, but in solving them changed the nature of political discourse, led to a serious decline in literacy, and quite possibly made the traditional process of socializing children impossible.
Neil Postman, Building a Bridge to the 18th Century, p.48
MH Dynamic economy focuses on prevention, rather than cures. Be proactive, rather than reactive. In the existing economy, all the money is in finding cures – and creating something to consume that will provide the cure or "cure." Most of us have heard the saying that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Currently, we have a "cure" system and we need to transition to one that is focused on prevention.
Electronic contact, after all, is quicker [than physically showing up at the store, bank, etc.]. You can do more in less time – commuters can do it while in transit. Instead of staring out the window and thinking as the train delivers them uptown, downtown, or out to the suburbs, people pull out cell phones and laptops and get to work, go online, or make plans. In our society, it feels good to be so efficient. But such efficiency, which is noted as a kind of superiority, is not an isolated act. It is a pattern of living that alters the way we relate – or don’t relate – to the physical space we inhabit. The cell phone may make you more connected to distant places, but it leaves you less connected to wherever you are at the moment. There is no magic to two people finding themselves together in the same place if one is talking on a cell phone.
…Mobility is no longer about reaching a destination; it is about motion.
…The experience today is not of traveling from one wholly discrete location to the next, pausing once we arrive to get our bearings and scout the surroundings. Rather, we are always in motion, whether close to home or far away. The actual locations are merely the backgrounds that whiz by. Motion – mobility – has become the steady state. Physical places have become like virtual locations that can be assessed from anywhere at any time. We are no longer oriented to terrain and the worlds that may unfold there but to the act of passing through.
This sensation feels new and exhilarating at times. It is heady to realize all the things you can do while in transit or the ease with which you can travel once-great distances. But this new order has unsettling consequences for the time, value, and attention allotted to personal interactions, quiet experiences, and reflection. These, after all, are the things that allow us to make meaning out of the jumble of daily experience. They connect us to our own lives, to other people, and to our world.
Laura Pappano, The Connection Gap: Why Americans Feel So Alone, p. 76 &77
MH One result is that we live more stressed out lives. Rather than planning on being on time, we can be late because we can be reached. As I write this, I can see someone showing up at the home across the street. The homeowner is not at home. Body language tells me that the caller is perturbed and expects the resident to be home. As he walks away from the house, he reaches for his cell phone. He sits in his car for ten minutes and the homeowner shows up. Obviously, not a very good way to begin a visit. To a certain degree, cell phones have caused us to reduce our planning.
In Why Things Bite Back, Edward Tenner makes the observation that while technology may have provided many advances, it has not made us any happier. Technology has modified our surroundings, he says, but "we are still unhappy about those surroundings, more discontented than when they were inferior." Technology may do some things for us, but it also demands more from us. Tenner writes that "the social goal of a new Athens, of machine-supported leisure, has proved a noble mirage. Technology demands more, not less, human work to function.
Laura Pappano, The Connection Gap: Why Americans Feel So Alone, p. 97
MH I’m reminded of an article describing the stress of a one-day, mini-vacation taken by a couple. The flight was late. All the husband did was talk business on the cell phone when they reached their destination. It often seems that cell phones make us think that we are more indispensable than we were before cell phones. Maybe, this is a function of specialization.
And yet, as television begins to render invisible the traditional concept of childhood, it would not be quite accurate to say that it immerses us in an adult world. Rather, it uses the material of the adult world as the basis for projecting a new kind of person altogether. We might call this person the adult-child. For reasons that have partly to do with its commercial base, television promotes as desirable many of the attitudes that we associate with childishness – for example, an obsessive need for immediate gratification, a lack of concern for consequences, an almost promiscuous preoccupation with consumption. Television seems to favor a population that consists of three age groups: on the one end, infancy; on the other, senility; and in between, a group of indeterminate age, where everyone is psychologically somewhere between twenty and thirty and remains that way until dotage descends.
Neil Postman, Building a Bridge to the 18th Century, p.193
We do not judge TV; we accept it and live by it. Jerry Seinfeld seemed to recognize this when he announced the end of his popular show, Seinfeld, after nine seasons. In an interview printed in January 1998, Seinfeld complained about the medium and the way it creates malaise. "It’s a habitual medium," he says. "Most people aren’t really entertained. What they need is they need to watch TV. Entertainment is almost a luxury item." He goes on to lambaste TV even more pointedly: "Television is like a flyer somebody sticks on your windshield. Who gives a damn what’s on it? It’s iridescent wallpaper. Sometimes I think people just like the light on their faces."
Laura Pappano, The Connection Gap: Why Americans Feel So Alone, p. 51
MacBeth and colleagues gave tests to schoolchildren and adults in the three communities [one with no television reception, one with one channel, and one with multiple channels] to judge their creativity and problem-solving abilities, especially the tendency to find "out of the box" solutions. MacBeth concludes, after much caution about reading too much into the results, that "the availability of television and normal patterns of viewing, had, on average, a negative effect on creative thinking for both children and adults."
Laura Pappano, The Connection Gap: Why Americans Feel So Alone, p. 69
Starving for time does not result in death, but rather, as ancient Athenian philosophers observed, in never beginning to live.
John P. Robinson and Geoffrey Godbey, Time for Life: The Surprising Ways Americans Use Their Time, p. 34
…[U]nions, primarily designed for the crafts or for manufacturing, need to be totally transformed or else replaced by new-style organizations more appropriate to the super-symbolic economy. To survive they will have to support rather than resist such things as work-at-home programs, flextime and job-sharing.
Alvin and Heidi Toffler, Creating A New Civilization: The Politics of the Third Wave, p. 53
MH The key is independence. Unions, by design, foster dependence. Do unions have a role to play in fostering independence?
Alternatively, perhaps the new great fortunes represent the mobilization of more resources (more leisure time lost, more current consumption sacrificed, more natural resources used up, more of the environment degraded) and the transfer of existing wealth from the many to the few. Profits and stock market values have gone up on the financial exchanges because wages have gone down on the factory floor. To some extent there is supporting evidence for each of these suggestions.
Lester C. Thurow, Building Wealth: The New Rules for Individuals, Companies, and Nations in a Knowledge-Based Economy, p. 41
MH Over the long term, wealth cannot survive without commonwealth. In the short and long term, wealth and shifts in wealth such as those outlined by Thurow can do tremendous – maybe irreparable – damage.
The alternative, in a democratic era, is Thomas Jefferson’s vision of all citizens owning productive assets and enjoying the fruits of their own labor. Similarly, Thomas Paine’s vision was of "every man a proprietor." It’s a worthy ideal, to own one’s place of work. But in the corporate era, most citizens are necessarily employees, and always will be. We need a new economic vision for a new era: not every man a proprietor, but every employee an owner.
Marjorie Kelly, The Divine Right of Capital, p.110
MH Do we really need the hierarchy of a corporation? (See EFFICIENCY.) Is there another way in the knowledge era?
For Aristotle our real work in life is the work of being human. Freedom from fear, material needs, and commitments allows us the liberty to develop ourselves through leisure….Aristotle believed that education for leisure would teach people how to engage in learning and activities that are good in themselves, because it is these activities that make humans unique in contrast to animals. He suggests that students study subjects such as reading, writing, drawing, physical training, and music. This idea of education is the basis of the liberal arts, which are the arts needed to live in a free society. The Roman Cicero also believed in the liberal arts. He said education should separate the truths needed for life’s necessary cares from knowledge that is pursued for its own sake. The liberal arts ideal is knowledge that we pursue for its own sake. It is ironic that most students today pursue a liberal arts education so that they can get a job, when ideally it was meant to teach them how to use their leisure, not how to work.
After looking at Aristotle’s criteria for leisure, one can see why it is callous to think that the unemployed lead lives of leisure. Leisure is more than free time; it is freedom from need and the necessity of work, and an opportunity to do specific things. People who have lost their jobs or cannot get jobs are not free from work. If anything, they are not free to work, since they have little choice in the matter. Leisure also requires safety and security, which do not characterize the urban areas of unemployment described by [William Julius] Wilson [in his book When Work Disappears]. Lastly, Aristotle tells us, leisure requires education, which imparts knowledge and moral virtues such as justice and self-discipline. Leisure also gave the ancient Athenian time to participate in civic affairs, which would certainly enhance a person’s feeling of self-efficacy. In theory at least, if you set up a society for Aristotelian leisure, it might provide people with the same psychological and social needs as a society set up for work. In an Aristotelian utopia there would be no idle minds, hence no workshops for the devil. [See ACTIVE MIND (AND PASSIVE MIND)]
Joanne B. Ciulla, The Working Life: The Promise and Betrayal of Modern Work, p. 6
Many of us have an image of work that we’d really like to do, but few dare to give up the security, prestige, and buying power of our current jobs to do it.
Joanne B. Ciulla, The Working Life: The Promise and Betrayal of Modern Work, p. 19
MH We pay a tremendous price for this security. See BOXES.
…McKenna and the successful women she interviewed for her book, have discovered that the "great job" that they worked so hard to get wasn’t what it was trumped up to be. Work was cutting into life outside of work. Life outside of work had more to offer than life at work. Poor women have always worked outside the home and have had few illusions about what work is and what it means. However, because women are still relatively new to the ladder of success and high-powered positions, it may be easier for them to see when work is an emperor who isn’t wearing any clothes. In recent years a growing number of men have also come to this conclusion.
What is so great about work? Some jobs are interesting and fulfilling and some are not. Some jobs are worth investing large amounts of time and energy in and others zap us of our energy and time to enjoy other things in life. But what about work itself? In our culture work is virtuous and time without work is potentially dangerous. Work gives people identity, self-worth, and the sense that they can shape and influence the world around them. Perhaps the most fundamental satisfaction that work offers is the satisfaction of getting what we need to stay alive.
Joanne B. Ciulla, The Working Life: The Promise and Betrayal of Modern Work, p. 21
Aristotle distinguished between work done to produce things for use in the household and work done for commercial gain. He said that household work, done to produce the things we need to stay alive, is natural and finite because human needs are finite. He called household production oeconomia. [I read somewhere that this is the origin of the term economics.] Retail trade or work done for financial gain is not natural to humans, because, according to Aristotle, it is carried out for human wants. Wants, unlike human needs, are unlimited. And the most hated and unnatural way to make money is through usury and interest. Money should be used for exchange, not for the breeding of more money. Those who believe they should spend their lives working at getting or not losing money are, according to Aristotle, "intent on living only, and not upon living well." People who are consumed with getting wealth use everything as a means to wealth. They are not able to enjoy anything for its own sake, which, as we saw earlier, was Aristotle’s definition of a leisure activity. Furthermore, people who work for wealth are never satisfied, because the things that they want and the work that they do to get it are never-ending. Aristotle’s concern about people who focus their lives on working to make money was shared by Aesop and, as we shall see, later by the Catholics and Protestants, albeit for different reason.
Joanne B. Ciulla, The Working Life: The Promise and Betrayal of Modern Work, p. 36
Campanella’s La Città del Sole (City of the Sun), written in 1602, emphasized a social order based on communal living and science. Campanella makes all classes of society equal in his utopia, and everyone in it loves working because they all have jobs that are suitable to their character. However, Campanella tells us that the most noble people are those who work at more than one trade. The person defines his or her work, not vice versa – the man makes the work rather than the work the man. What we call the Renaissance man stands in sharp contrast to the modern view. While we still admire well-rounded people, we tend to encourage and reward those who excel in one profession or area of work.
Joanne B. Ciulla, The Working Life: The Promise and Betrayal of Modern Work, p. 49
Conscientious students of strikes are convinced that the demand for higher wages is often a cryptic call for work that is more challenging or more emotionally interesting (choose your own adjective). The impersonality of a production line can alienate workers. Alienation can produce revolt. And revolt, when opposed, often focuses on the wrong cause. Wages may be raised beyond necessity. Each inefficiency of production has the potential to breed others. A vicious cycle is set up by society’s blindness to the psychological environment of work.
Garrett Hardin, The Ostrich Factor: Our Population Myopia (New York, Oxford University Press 1998), p. 86
MH Unions, unfortunately, focus more on jobs than on right livelihoods. See UNIONS.
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