We simply don’t get it; better yet, we simply don’t want to get it! For all our proud puffing of an academic structure in economics second to none, coupled with business expertise we continuously claim to be the envy of the world, we’ll soon be proving ourselves as nothing but an inflated yokel with our pants down, squatting behind a pyrite-dust sprinkled curtain in a fantasyland we’ve created and nostalgically view as the United States of Oz. And by soon, one can predict it to be within a short generation… two decades, at most, by all indications.
Rampant predatory business and limitless unrestrained greed have made our free enterprise system during the past three decades nothing but a joke in bad taste… for our system is neither free, nor does it reward enterprise. Ours has become a system of maximized spoils serving exclusively those who hold what has become the primordial factor of production or wealth creation: capital.
Although the game “rock-paper-scissors” is gradually coming into disuse in the folklore of our current youth, I vividly recall it as an American childhood staple, even if its roots had been transplanted from Asia; one certainly preferable to the flipping of a coin.
I personally took the concept further in my graduate business studies, at the cradle, or “lab,” of those two great management theorists at UCLA, Harold Koontz and Cyrill O’Donnell. I remember some of those early reviews and discussions of Koontz’ The Management Jungle, even a paper I prepared arguing several points of analogy between rock-paper-scissors, the game, and labor-capital-technology, the factors of production – where labor encompassed entrepreneurship as well.
These factors of production seemed as concepts so easily understood then, so clear-cut and complementary, even if there were many variations to the theme, that it made us gain respect for an art, business management, aspiring to be a science… just like economics, we thought.
But time can change concepts or play a hand in redefining them. The relationship which existed in the factors of production of four decades ago here in the US was put to trial, found guilty and executed in barely a generation as business people, academics and politicians laid the red carpet for the advent of globalization; and the balance which had existed between the factors of production to create wealth disappeared, labor and technology becoming subservient to capital. And that’s precisely where we find ourselves today: over 80 percent of the population in America, all non-capitalist – even if spuriously-painted otherwise, at the mercy of fewer than 20 percent: the Knights and Squires controlling the surviving factor of wealth creation: capital. [Technology is now an indistinguishable part of capital… more specifically, those who possess capital.]
Now for the sad reality we live in this “exceptional” country of ours: we probably have upwards of 10,000 “gifted” experts in the field of business-economics filling lucrative positions in academe, think-tanks and similar nests of intelligentsia… yet, all that sapientia plena has given the nation little or no warning on the build-up of economic bubbles or the impact of globalization… nor submitted serious, credible proposals on how to cope with changes that would affect the lives of millions of Americans, not just today but in future times. An over-inflated legion of best-and-brightest who have measured up to be neither best, nor brightest; unfortunately just serving their personal needs as consiliari to a sociopolitical system run by self-serving corrupt politicians at every level of government.
Detroit just made the news as it filed for bankruptcy. A model city in the century-old upsurge of American industrial enterprise, it has now become the prophet-messenger of its decline – over 70,000 decaying structures and pension-promises which won’t be kept in this city being an albatross for what’s to be new America. At the end of the day, a productive society must create an efficient combination of building products and needed services… its GDP hardly to be represented by a ridiculous measurement of over-consumption and unneeded services. There’s little, however, that can be done to keep the curtain down in Oz. It’s slowly going up… and soon the world will see us with our pants down. And as the curtain goes up there won’t be a place for us to hide, and we’ll have no other choice than to return to the reality which is Kansas.
Ben Tanosborn is a syndicated columnist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ben’s website: http://www.tanosborn.com/