TCS Daily


Criticize by Creating

By Max Borders - April 3, 2009 12:00 AM

Most people think politics boils down to different answers to the question: how do we make the world a better place? According to idealist Michael Strong, step one is to ditch the politics. The second step to making the world better -- that is, making global progress in areas like human well-being, environmental health and individual happiness -- is to shed what can only be described as some of our cultural baggage.

Consider what we'll call the "Zero-sum Three":

  1. Manichaeism—People are good or evil and the world is black and white;
  2. Pessimism—The glass is half empty (and it's usually somebody else's fault); and
  3. Statism—Government can and should solve all of our problems. It's easier to hope and pray (to bureaucracies) than to "just do it".

Be the Solution, a new book by FLOW co-founder Michael Strong, is as much about unleashing entrepreneurship as it is a serious critique of the Zero-sum Three. And in Strong's view, entrepreneurship is more than just making money. Much more. Drucker and Hayek? Meet Maslow and the Mahatma.

Teaming up in parts of the book with Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, the visionary Strong complements Mackey, the entrepreneur. Together, they show us the sweet spot between theory and practice, claiming with well-earned credibility that the world's biggest problems can be solved by conscious capitalists. That is, if moralists, pessimists and bureaucrats will just get out of the way.

With Be the Solution, Strong has first to dissolve a few false dichotomies. For example, in a section titled "Conscious Capitalism," Strong and Mackey argue that the greedy businessman stereotype and the "evil corporation" narrative are as counterproductive as the idea of the benevolent non-profit staffed with enlightened altruists.

These stereotypes have outlived their usefulness. As a global society we need both nonprofit and for-profit organizations to become holistic and integral; the wall that separates them needs to be torn down and the polarities integrated. Corporations need to become more conscious and identify deeper and more comprehensive purposes for why they exist. They must evolve past machine metaphors and learn how to think holistically in terms of creating value for all of their interdependent constituencies. Likewise, nonprofits must become economically sustainable and realize that money and profits are good, not evil, and that they are a necessary part of a healthy, holistic organization.

Only through "liberating the entrepreneurial spirit for good," writes Mackey and Strong, can we make significant gains in solving the world's biggest problems. That means our ideas about organizational good and evil must evolve. A profitable company may not only have a deeper purpose -- one that creates real and lasting value for humanity -- but that non-profits can be useless resource hogs staffed with selfish parasites (Strong 1, Manichaeism, 0).

But wait. What is the purpose of a business? Economic orthodoxy says "to maximize profits." And in some rigorous analytical sense, that may still be true. But Mackey and Strong think profit is one side of the coin. On the other is the deeper purpose from which profitability actually flows. This may seem airy-fairy; but think about it: businesses must be other-centered to succeed. How can you be other-centered if your focus is only on short-term profit maximization? Are customers not those whom you have devoted your life to serving well (never mind all those who are collaborating with)?

Strong may lose some free-market types by venturing into the idea of "stakeholders." After all, the term has been appropriated by free-riders and rent-seekers whose only stake in a company can be claimed through either scapegoating or political shakedowns. Though when one considers that companies are not discrete functional units but inter-connected members of social ecosystems, there is at least some sense to the idea of shared prosperity and internalizing external costs. For now, I'll leave corporate social responsibility (CSR) debates to the business ethicists. Suffice it to say FLOW co-founder John Mackey is living proof that the line between entrepreneur and conscious philanthropist can be blurry and that one can do very well by understanding the extent to which communities, companies and customers are interdependent.

Another false dichotomy Strong dissolves is that between giving and exchanging. Offering something of value in exchange for nothing may seem noble or good—and it certainly can be. But accepting or rejecting the virtue of exchange of one value for another means the difference between a world of abundance and a scorched earth. And if you're serious about improving the well-being of more people, you can advocate both markets and social entrepreneurship. Idealism and pragmatism are not mutually exclusive. For Strong, they are the two hemispheres of conscious capitalism. The book includes essays by Nobel laureate Mohammed Yunus and development economist Hernando de Soto, which reinforce this idea.

What's the big theme of Be the Solution? Leave both your pessimism and blanket moralisms at the door.

The first thing to realize about India and China is that they are each home to more than a billion people. Together they account for about 40 percent of the global population. In the past 20 years, about half a billion people in these two nations have been raised out of poverty. Now, a negative person might point out that three quarters of them are still poor, but a half a billion no longer in poverty is more than the entire population of the United States.

Of course, neither China nor India got this wealthy giving alms. The egalitarian moralist might feel that it's better that everyone be equally poor. Or he might feel the gap between the haves and have-nots, particularly in the U.S., is unconscionably wide. But Strong resists the politics of envy and reminds us that "from the perspective of Chinese or Indian poverty even the U.S. poor are well fed and mostly well housed." And, he adds "within our lifetimes mass poverty in China and India will no longer exist." How's that for optimism? And Strong's is not an empty optimism. It's an optimism informed by real data. Strong understands the gains from trade and gets that certain kinds of institutions are the bases of prosperity. Social entrepreneurship and conscious capitalism are just the next step in our cultural evolution as capitalists—that is, unless we allow ourselves to be overcome by the Zero-sum Three and the political morass that follows.

Be the Solution is no partisan screed. Some conservatives won't like the touchy-feely aspects of the book, just as most lefties won't like the idea of social entrepreneurship replacing bureaucratic elitism as the means of solving human problems. One could argue Strong's book is the definitive collection of what might be described as essays on transpartisanship. If people stay locked in their partisan cages, the market for this book will be lamentably small. But the first time I ever heard the word "transpartisan," it was from the lips of the author himself. I got goosebumps. Why such a reaction? Among the implications for me was that America has been reduced to so much venality and political team-sports precisely because we've suffered long under the illusion that there are angels in government, devils in business and sheep in our citizenry. Republican and democrat? Another useless duality. That's why the inspirational and "conscious" aspects of the book should at least awaken traditional free-marketers to the need for a more positive vision of social change, one with more specificity than "let the market take care of it." (Never mind the need for a change in timbre.) And with just a little reflection, those who fetishize government power should wake up to the superiority of free association in making the world a better place. Compulsory compassion is, and always has been, wrong-headed.

If not inspired, those who absorb Be the Solution may come away feeling a little sick. Our society wastes so much time and resources on tit-for-tat politics. I know. Game theory says "they force our hand." But we must acknowledge that the decline of Tocqueville's America is due in large measure to diverting resources and manpower to titanic tug-o-wars over which party gets to be our masters. Be the Solution represents a radical new paradigm of social change—one that eschews politics. Apart from the title, that paradigm can be distilled into three words attributed to Michelangelo: "Criticize by creating."


Max Borders is executive editor of Free To Choose Network. He blogs here.
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230 Comments

"identify deeper and more comprehensive purposes for why they exist"; is NO WAY to fight statism
That's the line used by statists to gain moral superiority for THEIR system.

You don't fight your adversaries by agreeing to their moral code.

“Only through "liberating the entrepreneurial spirit for good"” means, it is NOT GOOD now
That’s what the people the author thinks he is fighting, say.

criticize
Although good in many aspects I think this article gets one emphasis wrong. He talks about companies doing more than just gaining profits, but must have social goals too.
But this is already inherent in capitalism if it is a free market environment. If there are two bakers in the village, nobody will patronize one of them if they have really bad product or service and such. It's nothing new that you have to be attentive to the public.

Only in situations where a compnay knows that they will be subsidized, or bailed out, or have a government enforced monopoly where they can afford to ignore the public; like big AUTO, and BIG banks, etc.

What is wrong with 'Wealth of Nations"?
What is 'new' is old because we have a horrible education system and arrogant and immature people who 'feel' the need to take credit for reinventing the wheel every decade or so.

Or "Think and Grow Rich"?

Here's where Strong and Mackey go off the tracks
"But wait. What is the purpose of a business? Economic orthodoxy says "to maximize profits." And in some rigorous analytical sense, that may still be true. But Mackey and Strong think profit is one side of the coin. On the other is the deeper purpose from which profitability actually flows. This may seem airy-fairy; but think about it: businesses must be other-centered to succeed. How can you be other-centered if your focus is only on short-term profit maximization?"

Not in any real world I'm familiar with. Unfettered business people invariably go for the profit. It makes life a lot easier.

Here's how it works. Set up a curve setting price against volume. Let's say your product is a life giving medicine. At one extreme you price it so low everyone suffering from the affliction can afford it. But you can't make any money that way.

At the other extreme, you price it so high NO one can afford it. So you can't make any money there either.

At some point along the curve, profits will be maximized. And I would maintain that price point is achieved when you're only selling to the richest ten percent or so of your potential market. The other 90%? They have to die, that's all.

That's why a majority among us like there to be some levelling mechanism, to artifically incentivise mass distribution of a good that people need. This is a concept that's very hard to get right.. but most of us think it's worth the continuing good faith effort until we DO get it right.

Others like to look for ludicrous instances, where regulation gets it wrong. That way they can delude themselves into thinking it proves ALL regulation is bad.

"artifically ncentivise mass distribution of a good that people need". And by GUN, we’ll get it
..

If only those were the real motivations for most people who enter politics
What is the #1 reason why previously a-political people decide to get politically involved?

Do-gooderism? No

Greed and ambition? Close, but no.

Because they are reacting to a political threat (real or perceived) to their self-interests? BINGO!

How did Howard Dean start his political career? The county or whatever was going to put up condos where he and and his neighbors didn't want them and the rest is history. Crass NIMBYism, folks. That's about as 'self-interested' (borderline 'selfish') as it gets, too.

Although the 'greed and ambition' motivation is probably a very close second. It usually becomes #1 after a person has been in politics for a while, too.

Next to the above universal truths, this article is nothing but a pile of bull-pucky.

No, it's the word of GOD
And he speaketh the truth that all who are not the same as me shall be as me and my flesh shall be their flesh and duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuude.


That is why Sonny Bono ran for office, to open a restaurant.
Those like Sonny are typically conservatives.

The greedy and ambitious are typically democrats like Kerry, Clinton and Obama.

I suppose it had to come to this
Needless to say, those were not the words of the true roy_bean.

Whoever you are, I could forgive your imposture if it were only witty. A good lampoon might enliven the forum.

But this? You should be embarrassed not to have come up with better material.

off the tracks
You said that people might look for 'ludicrous instances'. But your own example of a life giving medicine that should be massively distributed might also be ludirous. What such medicine is like that? Even the aids drugs aren't exactly like that.

Or do you really mean medicines that help out, like antibiotics, etc? Do you mean then that if any single drug is developed it must distributed to all of humanity, then go on to the next one? Or do you think many can be done at once? What about the fact that many people don't even have decent water yet? Who would pay for these drugs for all humanity?

What is this notion of 'levelling mechanism'? What do you do with people who don't want to be levelled?

I've got a better idea about this. Let's say one guy wants to make a designer hat that only princesses can afford to wear when they go to the Henley Regatta. I would say let him alone, and soon his hats will be copied and cheap. Another guy has some drug that he charges $5k a pill for, but it's really good and he makes a fortune on it. If it's really good then other places and people will also copy that drug and sell it cheaper; wait a minute, other places already copy all sorts of drugs. In this manner you don't need a system based on force, like yours.


Yeah, Right
"[S]tep one is to ditch the politics."

Good luck with that.

I have no use for utopian fantasists, no matter what their alignment on the political spectrum.

Preach It, Brother
>"[T]his article is nothing but a pile of bull-pucky."

Amen. I stopped reading right after the "Step one is to do away with politics" nonsense. I couldn't see any need to read further after that ridiculous opening tripe.

I prefer to live in the real world (warts and all), not one fabricated to the specifics of some idealist's imagination.

I request you to expose the sh!t that utopias – like the one (“anarchy”) Marjon sells - can create
Of course, you HAVE NO DUTY to do that; but time permitting, I think it’s a worthy cause in your own rational self-interest to counter the promoters of all kinds of utopias and I earnestly request you to consider it.

Eschew Politics?
Yeah, if we eschew politics socialists will go back under the refrigerator happy with the crumbs they find there. I say we take on every mistaken concept they have corrupting the Constitution and freedom or the socialist distopia will win Big Time.
Eschew Politics..sure, socialists first!
Remember, as long as we have guns the left cannot get their hands on all your money your kids and your property rights.
Dancquill

Expect the worst and you won't be disappointed.
As Churchill said, democracy is the worst system of government, except for all the rest.

Which suggests there is always room for improvement. Unfortunately, that improvement can only come within the soul of each and every human.

But since you don't believe men have souls you always count on people acting like primitive animals and you then use that supposition to justify your statist policies.

Throughout history, the most effective real change has occurred at the grass roots, individual level. Jesus changed people one person at a time just as every other inspirational leader has done throughout history.

The mistake so many make is that 'utopia' can be imposed from above. It can never happen. However, a social organization that expects the best of people but prepares for the worst will be more encouraging than the one you advocate: assuming everyone, including yourself, wants to commit murder.

Marjon says "ALL that is required to BANISH VIOLENCE from the world is to just WISH it”
Jesus or no Jesus, Religion or no Religion, Soul or no Soul, men have "free will". This means, ANYBODY can indulge in ANY act that's physically possible. In other words, there is NO 100% GUARANTEE on anybody’s future actions.

You can EVADE this fact all you want Marjon. You can WISH all you want that that should not be the case. But Facts CANNOT BE WISHED away.

It's YOU who want to have the option to commit PREMEDITATED "murder" with a CLEAN conscience. That's why you promote "anarchy" a system where ANYBODY can use ANY AMOUNT of PREMEDITATED DEADLY force whenever he “feels” like it, on whoever he ‘feels” “wronged” him.

false claim re 'anarchy'
I've read all kinds of anarchist stuff and haven't seen the claim by them that they suppose anarchy is any sort of utopianism. The claim is that it just means people will be freer if there is no repressive predatory government to suppress them. The claim is liberty, not utopia.

"Liberty + Responsibility = Our Freedom "
"Some forty years ago in his national best selling book Man’s Search for Meaning, Dr. Frankl advanced the idea that to have freedom endure, liberty must be joined with responsibility. To that end, he proposed that the “Statue of Liberty on the East Coast be supplemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast.”"

http://www.sorfoundation.org/dr-frankls-vision/biography-of-dr-frankl

Responsibility is the component that too few libertarians discuss. In free markets, it is the customer that keeps businesses responsible. It is society that keeps individuals responsible. Not with oppressive government, but with persuasive acts like shunning and speaking out. Libertarians may support decriminalizing drug use and prostitution, but it is irresponsible for the libertarians to ignore the consequences. It is not inconsistent to support decriminalizing drugs and to encourage people not to partake. That is how character is built.

Very Simple
Utopians of all ideological stripes require a fundamental restructuring of human nature such that it comports with the tenets required to make a given utopian society function, well, utopian-ly.

To the degree that any root instincts, appetites and emotions which comprise human nature are predictable throughout time, the great ongoing lab experiment that is human history reveals Thucydides' observation to be correct: the essence of human nature is flawed and imperfectable. Consider human nature to be as water: the delivery system may change, but its essence stays the same; humans as sentient beings may all herd themselves (i.e., organize into societies) along the same directional path (i.e., advance in knowledge and technology), but just like individual water molecules mingling and swirling and bumping as the stream or river or tide flows, individually humans will stray and vary as they go (personality traits, individual choices, etc.). To get any two human beings to behave & think & respond to outside stimulus in exactly the same way is impossible -- it's what makes us individuals. And that individuals will often behave in "imperfect" ways is what makes us human.

Therefore, any socio-political system within which humans organize themselves (social beings that they are) will have to contend with the fact that, being flawed (i.e., allowing for individual failings and shortcomings), human nature will not allow every single human to willingly behave within the confines necessary to make the chosen organizational system operate without any hitch whatsoever. And the presence of hitches is what prevents utopian societies from existing, otherwise they wouldn't be utopian by definition.

Even the Marxists, for example, recognized this undermining factor which is why they advocated for a complete restructuring of human nature itself (the "New Man") in order for their collectivist socio-political system to create a socialist utopia. However, such a socialist system is inevitably doomed to fail in its attempt at utopia because in its non-recognition of humans as imperfect it fails to account for a) the value of incentives for human behavior, and b) the fact that human nature -- being devoid of the requisite altruism necessary for collectivism to thrive -- dictates that humans simply are not constituted such that they will work as hard and diligently for the sake of others as they will for themselves and their immediate family.

In short: human nature is imperfect, therefore anything resulting from human creation and interaction (including societal organization) will by default also be imperfect.
That's been the undergirding principle of "conservative" ideology ever since the digression in ideologies began. The argument is that it's the defective nature of human beings (chiefly unshapable by outside forces, despite what that boob Rousseau contended) that permits the weaknesses in any human-erected (as if there can be any other kind) socio-political organizational structure to be exploited. Human behavior en masse may be constrained via laws and regulations (and necessarily so, in order for society to function with as little upheaval as possible) but basic human instincts and appetites always remain -- recognizing that fact is what separates the utopians from the realists. Utopians depend upon human nature's maleability in order for their envisioned society to exist; realists recognize the non-maleability of human nature and, while not welcoming the disorder it can create, simply strive to propagate the best societal conditions possible that flawed nature will sanction.

[My recommendation along these lines is Sowell's wonderful "A Conflict of Visions" which best explains the contending "human-nature-as-maleable-vs.-unmaleable" ideological arguments (or, in his words, the "constrained" vs. the "unconstrained" visions). The theoretical underpinnings apply to utopians in general, not just those of the leftist orientation (although his examples are primarily leftist vs. rightist).]

Now, all that doesn't directly address all the specific sh*t, as you put it, which various utopian-goaled societies can engender -- but given the history of human kind one can easily extrapolate via example the types of troubles and shortcomings and outright horrors which human nature itself is capable of permitting. I merely contend it's better to recognize those capabilities and attempt to cope with them as best we can in the context of recognizing their inevitable occasional resurgence rather than to naively believe they can all be eradicated by somehow "rebuilding" the essence of human nature itself if only we had the correct organizational system which would do so. And as we've seen by historical example, deeds done in the name of constructing societies such that human nature itself will necessarily need rebuilding and perfecting in order to thrive has resulted in some of the worst horrors ever inflicted (Stalin and Mao come to mind).

All of which probably doesn't correspond satisfactorily to the precise point your post, but it's the best I can muster on a lazy Sunday morning.

The only person we can really change is ourselves.
A society that encourages, not coerces, individuals to overcome their animal nature will certainly lead to a better society.
If those 'realists' don't agree, why don't they just commit suicide as they must believe there is no hope.

Utopian Tendency
Ideologies of any stripe can make the claim that they AREN'T interested in implementing their notions of societal organization with the goal of a utopian outcome ("Hey, we just want to make things better"). However, that doesn't mean that utopians adhering to those various notions don't exist. One can very easily envision a Socialist, a Communist, an Anarchist, a Libertarian, a Christian, an Atheist -- basically an absolutist with regard to whatever principle provides the undergirding philosopical basis for their preferred society -- arguing that, "If only everyone were [X] and adhered strictly to the bedrock tenets of philosophy [X], we'd have a perfect society where mankind would thrive without woes or conflicts of any kind." There may not be many (pertaining to every theoretical angle possible) stating that belief outright, but given the inclination of theoretical purists I have no doubt that they exist.

Existence & Hope
>"A society that encourages, not coerces, individuals to overcome their animal nature will certainly lead to a better society. If those 'realists' don't agree, why don't they just commit suicide as they must believe there is no hope."

Please define "better society." Better than what? And "hope" for what? What kind of hope? That's the kind of empty rhetoric that spurred Obamians to vote. Also, how does any society "encourage" without coersion? Laws are by definition coersion because they provide penalty for failure to adhere -- that's not "encouragement." You're speaking in platitudes.

Being a realist and recognizing that human nature will inevitably result in the occasional discontent or conflict or horror doesn't mean that a pleasing, happy, fruitful existence ON THE WHOLE is impossible for individuals. The role of any society is indeed to attempt to curb as much as possible humans' "animal nature" -- thus the necessity of laws (as I stated in my post). However, "hope" that laws will eradicate altogether those baser instincts entirely is the bedrock of naivete; societies have had laws against murder, for example, for millenia -- has that made murder as a phenomena disappear altogether? I can sure hope it does, but gosh -- the history of mankind doesn't give any rationalizaion for such hope.

I see no need to commit suicide simply because I recognize that some people will always do bad things to other people, no matter how many laws addressing that contingency are enacted. Expect to curb -- yes; expect to eradicate -- no. If you can evidence anything in the history of human existence that indicates any other possibility, please delineate it. As Dennis Miller once stated, "What is human nature from the beginning of time? What are the consistent themes? Two guys around a campfire, third guy comes across the river -- 'Let's club his f**king head in.' I just read history, man." Just so -- I'm simply being observant. Do I WANT the two guys to bash the other's head in? Absolutely not, and I'm glad there are laws to help deter such behavior -- but I'm not surprised when it occasionally happens.

Commit suicide simply because I live in the real world where bad things are bound to happen and I'm not surprised when they do? Either "hope" for prevailing goodness or check out altogether? Please. Talk about your false dichotomies...

another misrepresentation
Whan you said, " "anarchy" a system where ANYBODY can use ANY AMOUNT of PREMEDITATED DEADLY force whenever he “feels” like it, on whoever he ‘feels” “wronged” him.

I notice you saying that, but actual anarchists don't. They just want freedom for repression, and that no one initiate violence. These ideas you mention about 'feels like it', wronged him, etc. do not appear in their literature, only yours.

You are bad mouthing a notion, anarchism, for something it doesn't even state as its own goals.

That would be like telling a dog that it's not enough of a cat.

tendencies
Yes, that type of people can exist; they just aren't anarchists. Your 'undergirding philosophical basis' doesn't obtain in the case of anarchists. It just means NO government to represse us.
They don't even hint at utopianism or perfectionism or anything like that. You can't still have a nagging wife, a ***** of a mother in law, a daughter who is a ****. It's just that there's no government to shake you down, to draft you, to start wars, to print fiat money, to make weapons of mass destruction, to require permits for garage sales, to buy luxury items for themselves, to throw you in their rape rooms for things like smoking dope, ad infinitum.

Better is a relative term.
Are you better off today then your grandfather or great-grandfather or.....keep on going.
If you think yes, why do you think you are better off? If you think no, why not?
What do what to see improved for your children, if you have any?
What I think is better is more individual liberty, more opportunity, longer, healthier life, less strife, less poverty, better food, etc. Most parents hope for a better life for their children.
I submit we are better off today and we are better off because of capitalism, individual liberty, private property rights, etc.
Why did it take humans thousands of years to reach such a state? Why couldn't the Greeks or the Sumerians or the Egyptians achieve the prosperity and technology we have today? I submit it is empathy and the capacity to see others as individuals not property or tools for us to use.
Although the liberals and the Randians want to deny it, grass roots Christianity played a major role in giving people hope and the morality to achieve our success.

I didn't catch that
Gotta give him/her credit for just adding an extra underscore. If Roy didn't speak up, I would have continued with my initial response involving the possibly that the shuffleboard court drinks may be spiked with illicit substances.

and Clint Eastwood ran for Mayor of Carmel
because they denied him a permit to expand one of his restaurants, I believe.

they'll turn the guns on us instead
"Remember, as long as we have guns the left cannot get their hands on all your money your kids and your property rights."

Until they brainwash the kiddies with enough Enviro-fascism so that one night little Joey brings your coveted Winchester into your bedroom and blows your head off to prevent you from polluting the air with anymore CO2 you exhale.

Don't laugh or discount this: the Left has done a fantastic job of pressing into service the guns in the black community into most useful tools of the liberal-induced destruction going on there.

There is one system that does work
"Utopians of all ideological stripes require a fundamental restructuring of human nature such that it comports with the tenets required to make a given utopian society function, well, utopian-ly."

Yes, such is very evident in books like 'Ecotopia'. Everything has to work as a whole in order for the society being to described to work at all. The Federation in Heilein's 'Starship Troopers' likewise would never work in practice.

No, I can think of one that 'would' have a shot at working: A system designed from the ground up that focuses on human weaknesses as they really are and has means to limit the damages of those weaknesses (suppressing moral hazards, mainly) and/or projects them into productive uses.

We have the historical and intellectual frame work of just such a system. It is called, 'free enterprise'.

Too bad we don't have the guts to really implement it.

People who really have made the world a better place
In today's local paper there's a story about three NCSU seniors, not even grad students, who "have invented a small device that can diagnose tuberculosis in seconds, at a cost of less than a dollar-- an invention that, if successful, could help eradicate an epidemic that infects millions of people every year in poor countries."

To read it, google "students devise low-cost tb test".

Note that they went to a state-sponsored university, where they could get an affordable education and maximise their personal potentials, courtesy your tax dollars and mine (if you live in NC, that is).

So why haven't any of the major medical technology firms come up with something like this? It can't be that hard, if undergrads could readily figure it out.

Easy. The for-profits saw no market for it.

All a test like this does is save lives.. tens to hundreds of millions of them. It doesn't make a dime for anyone. What it does is enable medical techs in those areas of the world where there is ramant TB but no money to diagnose on the spot, and refer for treatment. The way they have to do things currently is to ship blood samples back to the first world for analysis.. something costing big bucks and taking weeks for the results to arrive. By then the early-onset patient is either in the next stage or has infected others.

It's a ground breaking development. But one that could never be possible in the for-profit world.

It is not guts that are required.
What is required is the elimination of one of those weaknesses, the need some have to control others.

Cancer drugs
"You said that people might look for 'ludicrous instances'. But your own example of a life giving medicine that should be massively distributed might also be ludirous. What such medicine is like that?"

Right at this moment I'm watching a segment of Sixty Minutes. A state sponsored low-cost cancer clinic is closing down, from budgetary problems. One patient there, now in the act of dying, needs a series of drugs to stay alive.

The cost for just one of those drugs? Fifty thousand dollars per treatment.

As long as such drugs are left in the hands of profit takers, people who can't afford such ridiculous sums will die. And the "owners" of the drugs can say "So what? They can't pay."

you can not eliminate the weaknesses, remember?
You can only suppress them or (better yet) channel them into productive activities.

The Constitution tries to do both.

NCSU will donate the patent?
NCSU will try to make money on any device or product they develop. Since they have a state subsidy, they don't have to make as much as a private company will billions invested in capital equipment and employees.

BTW, how much money were the students paid?

Read the article
If you wanted the answers to these questions and speculations you could always read the article.

NCSU did not sponsor this invention. It was something three students working together came up with. The patent will therefore belong to them.

I doubt that they spent billions in developing this gadget. It's not that complicated.

I also doubt they will be charging $50,000 per use. The whole utility of the device is that it's virtually cost-free. Therefore penniless people in areas with endemic TB can be tested and diagnosed on the spot.

a better place.
In another way of looking at this is, who would expect a company to produce something they couldn't make money on?

But I notice you didn't say the big pharma was PREVENTING those kids from setting up a factory and doing it all themselves, right?

And if it has no patent, then other countries can copy it right away too. So what's the problem?

In a free economy you would be able to invent, or produce, or sell at a loss if you want. So guys like you can voluntarily contribute to this project.


Usage
You mean the total elimination of gov't in which everyone would be free to their own devices a la Anarchistic philosophy wouldn't in some idealistic Anarchist's mind yield a utopian existence? "Utopian" in my usage relates to societal organization, not personal relations. Not even utopian Socialists believe that the nagging wife and other such personal phenomena you cite would disappear if the government controlled the means of production.

Achieving the complete eradication of any gov't organization that would shake you down, draft you, start wars, print fiat money, etc. would indeed seem to fit the paradisical bill for idealistic, purist Anarchists. The rest is merely interpersonal.

Extreme visions
You know, Stinky, I actually agree with you. Every kind of extremist has a vision of utopia that he thinks would make everything and everybody hunky dory if only the dumb bells could see the light and help him implement it.

And every vision of utopia is different from all the others. That's why the extremists could all reach their own promised land only if there were a couple of dozen more New Worlds to conquer.

But there aren't. And this New World is mostly populated by middle of the roaders-- tepid people with no pronounced convictions, other than the wish that things don't get any worse than they are.

Our colonel here fits my definition of an extremist. At least, I think most people would be a little ill at ease in a utopia designed by a guy who fantasizes about things like the US government trying "to throw you in their rape rooms for things like smoking dope, ad infinitum."

This just don't sound very American.

Twisted
This comment of yours speaks volumes about what makes us different:

"In another way of looking at this is, who would expect a company to produce something they couldn't make money on?"

Who, indeed, would ever want to do something just because it might save hundreds of thousands, or possible millions of lives? Unless, of course, you could get very rich in the process.

"But I notice you didn't say the big pharma was PREVENTING those kids from setting up a factory and doing it all themselves, right?"

No, I didn't. I said words to the effect that the thought of making drugs that did nothing but save poor people's lives never crossed their minds.

The for-profits that you see no harm in are predators on the general population. They are the reason our health care is twice as expensive as that of any other advanced nation. And I think their influence makes us each the poorer the more we have to pay and pay.

I would like to see them curbed, so that our lives were less expensive. And I would change the dynamics by shortening the period a patent holder was able to keep an exclusive right to his intellectual possession.

Or better yet, don't reward such weakness.
Which is what we are doing now.

Two bakers...
Both bakers in your village create wealth by converting flour and water into bread by baking dough in an oven. Whether or not they are able to sell that bread for enough money to pay for the flour...and the wood for their stove...determines if they will be able to continue baking bread.

Only if the bread is so bad that it is worth less than the flour cost...did they not create wealth. This is what we do as humans. This is organic capitalism. This is our behavior. Our biology. Ultimately we take the raw materials of organic compounds, air, water and sunshine and we process them into biomass. As humans we make more humans. And we build a better life for ourselves.

So we must work at a profit or we are working at a loss. Either we create wealth or we destroy assets and we waste resources. But any way that we work economic behavior is a subset of our social behavior. Economic profits are social gains. Money is only the medium we employ to assign control inside the hierarchy of our culture.

Those who bake lousy bread should be put out of the bakery business for the common good of society...and we use money as the vehicle to bring us to that outcome.



"should be put out of the bakery business for the common good of society."
Who puts them out of business? The state or customers?

comparing extremes
Let's see if I've got this straight. I don't think it's ok to have all those(how many) guys in jail for things which I don't think should be against the law in the first place, like smoking dope and other such non violent crimes.

You seem OK with that policy, and you want to force me to pay for it, and you call ME an extremist?

How can, 'leave me alone' be an extreme position?

twisted differences
Let's see if I've got this one staight. Your claim is that a company is a preditor if they don't make something that is not their goal to make, but that you think they should be making, right?

I also notice that you yourself are not making those items, but are doing something else with your life; yet you want to force somebody else to make them. So if they are predators for not doing something they have no claim to have anything to do with, wouldn't you also be a predator?

Are you also angry at HomeDepot, and General Electric for not making those items?

Here's a better idea, we have a place where ToysR us, can make anything it wants, and so can you.



Still at IT, Eh?
"As long as such drugs are left in the hands of profit takers, people who can't afford such ridiculous sums will die. And the "owners" of the drugs can say "So what? They can't pay."

First of all, a person "in the act of dying" is usually eligible for medicare so what you are really saying is the friendly federal government won't pay. Secondly the phrase "profit taker" reveals your attitude on PRODUCERS, which is they are nothing more than thieves, producing nothing of value. But without producers, there's nothing. Third, a good part of the costs of development is complying with the costs of the FDA, mandates. Now I know you'll wave some "safety" banner around, but the problem with "safety" is that its a fiction, that its a statistical inference and there's both Type I & Type II errors in statistics. In short, the "safer" things are-the more you risk declaring efficacious drugs to be unsafe.

Have you ever had an intelligent thought on economics?

Extortionate levels of profit
"First of all, a person "in the act of dying" is usually eligible for medicare so what you are really saying is the friendly federal government won't pay."

The clinic was operated by the State of Nevada, and was being closed down for budgetary reasons. The patients in question were all in the "doughnut hole".. not sufficiently impoverished to qualify for Medicaid, too young for Medicare and too poor to buy private medical insurance.. or, in this individual's case, refused due to the prior medical condition of having terminal cancer.

"Secondly the phrase "profit taker" reveals your attitude on PRODUCERS, which is they are nothing more than thieves, producing nothing of value. But without producers, there's nothing."

Developers of novel cures must certainly be given incentives and seed money to provide research facilities. But this is an area that's been terribly over-incentivized. Unsupportable levels of incentives are being borne on the backs of all of us.

And these profits do not go to the actual scientists in the labs, who are paid relatively modest wages. Instead they go overwhelmingly to passive investors, and to a lesser extent to the physicians, in the form of bribes to over-prescribe the drug comany's best profit leaders to their patients.

Recall that when the Republican Congress passed the prescription drug benefit they left us unable to collectively bargain for appropriate prices. We were just told to pay whatever the giants demanded. THAT is where the absurd sum of $50,000 for one treatment came about.

It's a scam being perpetuated on the public. And the profit levels we're now seeing are obscene.

I won't join in your custom of ending every post in a gratuitous insult. I'll only say that if you were arguing in good faith, as I am, you'd consider these obvious facts and admit the truth to them.

Always the provocateur
"Until they brainwash the kiddies with enough Enviro-fascism so that one night little Joey brings your coveted Winchester into your bedroom and blows your head off to prevent you from polluting the air with anymore CO2 you exhale.

"Don't laugh or discount this: the Left has done a fantastic job of pressing into service the guns in the black community into most useful tools of the liberal-induced destruction going on there."

You'll find very few takers for this fantasy outside your own nutjob universe. So now you're saying it's the Left who has caused the proliferation of guns in our society? Where did you read that?

And it's the Left who've been whispering in the ears of all these disgruntled castoffs, telling them to turn their guns on ordinary citizens? As currently occurs on a weekly basis? Isn't some shred of evidence required to support such an unlikely theory?

I don't quite see it. If we were to take a count of incidents where a disgruntled black person targeted white oppressors because of centuries of injustice, I think we'd only come up with one single instance.

The time would be April, 1969. The son of the much vilified actor Stepin Fetchit, apparently distraught over the shooting of Martin Luther King, shot fifteen mostly white people on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, killing three of them before turning the gun on himself. Most people considered it as stemming from a lifetime of stress over being Fetchit's son.

I can't think of any other such instance. John Muhammed springs to mind, of course.. but that was an elaborate scheme to cover up the planned death of his estranged wife. Hardly the beginning of the race war, uprising of the mud men or whatever you're trying to instill these carefully concocted fears about in us.

Fear is a proven motivator. Those who use it should be recognized for who they are: purveyors of hate.

The War on Drugs
I agree with you on this much. The drug laws we have are highly unjust, used as a means of crude social control, disproportionately targeted toward the black and poor segments of society, and effectuated through draconian punishments. It would be hard to imagine any basis for massive institutionalisation that was more malignant. (Well, maybe imprisonment for political views.)

But let's not use lies to promote our cause. We've seen altogether too much of that kind of thing used against us by the Powers that Be. Their lies have been the principle tools of our own enslavement.

Thus I would be pleased if in the future you would not talk about things like dope smokers being thrown into rape rooms. That doesn't happen in this country. Ever.

The truth is a far more effective tool against injustice. Lies turn you into one of Them.

Now that we're in a truth telling mood, you can answer a question for me. You say "You seem OK with that policy, and you want to force me to pay for it" etc.

Where have I ever said that I support the war on drugs? Please give me a reference from one of my posts. If you can't find it, you have my permission to paraphrase.

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