Journal: News & Comment

Monday, January 13, 2003
# 12:15:00 PM:

Capitalism with too much capital

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Here's a thought-provoking essay (via Doc Searls). Some key quotes:

Leaders [as opposed to managers] are people who know how to do what is done by the people they lead. Leaders expose themselves to the inconvenience of proceeding in front of the troops.

Each age defines itself by its dominant scarcity. The age of agriculture arose when agriculture was less usual than hunting and gathering. The Industrial Age was notable when mass production was novel rather than routine. Industrialism's handmaiden, Capitalism, became our defining modality when there wasn't enough capital available to fund all the useful industrial possibilities. [...] But it's the 21st century [and] capital is free, Capitalism is passé.

Like any age, we're focused on the problem that we started with, not the one in front of us. Our economic problem is obvious: we don't know how to inspire and deploy the energy and skill of our work force, so instead, we're trying to put more money into the hands of the wealthy so they'll invest it in enterprises which will be better equipped to do more of what already isn't working.

People are managed because they have a job, and holding that job is their profession. Productivity is something else.

I may not agree entirely, because I do think that people with new ideas need money to make them work in our society, and right now that money tends to come from other, richer people. Wanting to be richer is not an entirely bad impulse either. But thinking that capital markets are the only way to improve life looks more and more naïve as time goes on.


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