Today's a work day, but I thought I'd leave you (care of Maggie) with a bit of one of the Amazon WALL -O-TEXT reviews of "The 5,000 Year Leap":
The author is an intellectual, which is good, however, he is so caught up in his own world view (which is distorted) that he arrives at many false conclusions. 1) all of American progress is due to capitalism and freedom to do what you want. False, Thomas Jefferson said "If men were angels, we wouldn't need government." We need a big government to have enough power to control giant corporations. That should be obvious now, as we are about to fail & fall into another depression because of the greedy SOB's who screwed us all, and stole money right and left, because Bush destroyed most of the oversight and watchdogs who were trying to keep unbridled greed from running rampant! Capitalism without morality and a stronger structure to keep oversight is the same as totalitarianism, as it will inevitably lead to one successful corporation destroying another until there is only one left. As an example, look at the excesses of Microsoft when it was in its heyday. There were dozens of excellent computer programs written/invented in the late 1980's and early to mid-1990's which were brought about by small businesses, and which their survival depended on selling. In most cases like this, and I am aware of close to 10 personally I was interested in, Microsoft announced they were going to add that feature either to their operating system, or to Internet Explorer in the next year. In every case I know of like this, the sales of these small start-up companies (the kind that create the 5000 year leap) dropped so drastically, that the companies went bankrupt and died out. In the vast majority of these cases, Microsoft never did bring out the feature they had said they would. It is not clear to me if they were just plain evil, or if they were intending to produce something like the products they killed off, but in either case, no one else would dare step in and try to produce it, after seeing how the originators of the idea were crushed by the larger corporation, Microsoft. 2) Perhaps this man's ideals could be met by a modified form of capitalism wherein there was some society or government defined limit to how big a company could be allowed to grow. It should be obvious to everyone today that when some companies grow too big they suffer from the dictator at the top. (In case you never thought about it, the government that everyone seems to like to vilify and hate, is elected by us, but the CEO of your company is the dictator that can fire you any time he wants, and thus he has life and death control over whether or not you can pay for your house and feed your family.) The corporate CEO does not answer to you, and you cannot vote for or against him unless you own stock, and in a large corporation that means very little, because the amount of stock you can afford is a paltry percentage of the total amount unless you are a billionaire. One of the major problems in the world now is the growth to humongous size of corporations, so that they are able to control governments. A few examples: a) look at the horror and devastation that Shell Oil has brought on several small South American nations, where they are so powerful that they can afford to give millions of dollars (or hundreds of millions) to support corrupt politicians, and they are (or at the very minimum were up until a few years ago) polluting the environment to the point they should have senior executives being tried for mass murder! (Watch some of the environmentally oriented documentaries on educational or science channels for more details) There are multiple whole villages where massive increases in cancer are seen from all the organic toxins just being dumped on the ground, or where oil pipelines are leaking, but it's cheaper to let them leak, then to repair them. This is great for the efficiency of capitalism, but morally reprehensible to the average human. Similarly, towns in Nigeria are now uninhabitable due to oil company callousness (I think this may also be from Shell Oil actually). Another example of a company grown too large, too big in the ego of the CEO, and creating disaster for others, including almost ALL of its employees is Enron. Enron purposely re-designed the way its accounting practices were carried out so it could deceive the investors and its own employees. It is a perfect example of what happens when capitalism is allowed to run free with no laws, morals or oversight from a more powerful government that has enough power to control it. It was not controlled in the end, it simply imploded, and maybe less than a dozen of the exploiters who screwed grandmothers in California out of their life savings (making them pay higher electric bills due to purposely staging brownout when there was plenty of power available), as opposed to hundreds or thousands of immoral SOB's who should have gone to jail for the equivalent of economic war crimes against the American public. 3) American giant corporations are NOT American. Look at Haliburton, who screwed the American taxpayer out of billions of dollars by having no bid contracts in Iraq, thanks to having Vice President Cheney as a friend in the White House. They have now moved their corporate headquarters to Dubai, an Arab country! All these SOB's care about is earning more money, and damn whomever gets in their way. 4) There are good things that have been done by large corporations, but that does not mean we should roll over as this author seems to think, and just let everyone have at it, doing whatever they want to, to try and invent or build whatever they can get away with. 5) Look at China today, that's the closest thing we have to pure capitalism on the planet today. The government lets them run wild, only pulling them in when they threaten to destroy their trade advantages by causing bad headlines such as those with the poisoning of our dogs, or the lead based paint on children's toys sent to America. (Then they finally did what maybe we should do with some of our evil CEO's, they executed some of them.) That serves as a good reminder to the next guy that maybe he should not just do what he can get away with all the time.) 6) One of the most obvious Errors in this book is possibly closest to me. As a physician, with real knowledge of how drugs are tested, OK'ed by the FDA, and recalled, I am aware of the huge influence that multibillion dollar companies have on drug regulation. The FDA in the last 10 to 20 years has started allowing many more drugs to be put on the market, based on studies funded by the drug industry! (Has anyone here heard of conflict of interest?) Obviously, if your University or you as a professor of Medicine obtain a multi-million dollar grant to research a drug for a company that is paying you the millions of dollars, you are going to be influenced (even if it's subconsciously) to not want to "bite the hand that feeds you." A specific example is the drug Vioxx, an anti-inflammatory drug. Soon after it was released onto the market, there began to be reports that there were a significant number of people having kidney failure due to use of this drug. It was still not pulled off the market for almost 2 more years, as the FDA (which is highly compromised) kept putting off pulling it, based on arguments from the drug company, and listening to arguments like: "What will those people using it do, there's no good substitute for it?" [Yeah, well, there's no good substitute for having your own functioning kidneys either!)
I think you guys get the point. Capitalism unbridled is a horror of manipulation and domination by the most efficient company, which does not mean the most compassionate and caring company. Corporate bottom lines are based on profit, not on not killing people or polluting the environment, and basically, we should not let capitalism run rampant without large powerful government oversight, or we will eventually be in a dictatorship run by one company with executives that we do not get to vote in or out of office. Thanks for reading.
Take note; this reviewer is a doctor.
And, Mr Physician, JAMES MADISON said in Federalist #51:
But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.
Now, that there is one of those dealos OC was talking about yesterday where the review misquotes someone (in this case MADISON) and make the phrase to mean something it didn't.
I know OC is appalled.