Monthly Archives: January 2018

Our economy and our culture

Someone once said, “The task isn’t so much to see what no one has seen, but to think what nobody has yet thought, concerning that which everybody sees.”

Think about this, you could do Richard Branson’s job, most of the time. Most of the time he’s just doing stuff most people could do at work.

His real job is seeing new opportunities, making good decisions, and understanding connections between his audience, his brand, and his ventures.

You could do Warren Buffett’s job, most of the time. Most of the time he’s just reading in his modest office in Omaha. He doesn’t take a lot of meetings or micro-manage his managers.

Once in a while though, he pushes a huge pile of chips across the table  making mostly successful investments in opportunities he sees.

You could do Dave Chappelle’s job, most of the time. Most of the time he’s hanging out in Ohio observing life.

But now and then, he walks out on a stage in front of hundreds of people and has to be funny.

How many more of these folks are out there but haven’t been able to realize there potential because of racism, sexism, and disproportional wealth distribution? Unfortunately, creativity is more broadly distributed than the opportunity to put it to use.

What’s great about this country is that America became the place where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. A Coke is a Coke. You can’t get you a better Coke, all Cokes are the same. Beyonce knows it, the President knows it, the bum on the corner knows it, and you know it.

But what are the tapeworms of the American system? What’s stifling economic competitiveness and impeding a better sense of  American well-being? Workers struggling to make ends meet are a drag on the economy is one. So are opportunities to advance missed because you’re the wrong color, sex, or you’re too poor.

I just saw Dave Chappelle in a routine talking about the problem in the spotlight now – men abusing their power over women (and girls). Dave pointed out that the real problem is systemic not necessarily just bad people.

One point Dave made was, what about rewarding people who come forward to report a wrong or take a stance against something wrong instead of often punishing them? Not everyone has the fortitude or status to come forward, but if more people did and were rewarded for it, the problems wouldn’t be able to fester and hurt more people.

One example Dave gave was how a new South Africa tried to resolve the problem of apartheid by having folks from both sides of the old system come forward and recount their stories. The aim was showing that the system was deeply flawed and the people in it were acting in ways that were promoted by that system.

It comes down to this, if you knew everything about a system and you’d be willing to join in a random place then it’s a fair system. I know it’s not realistic to think 300 and something million hairless monkeys can create a system that fair, but we can do better. Action expresses priorities.