- Capitalism and Alternatives -

My spider-senses are screaming 'hyperbole!'

Posted by: David ( USA, home of public libraries with computers and books and CDs etc. ) on October 12, 1999 at 12:28:47:

In Reply to: 'Effective' demand and internet anecdotes posted by Barry Stoller on October 11, 1999 at 12:33:15:

: I'm sure all the neoliberals and libertarians who frequent this debate board were pleased as punch with this Sunday's New York Times Magazine cover story about on Jim Clark, paragon of entrepreneurial acumen.

: Yes, folks, it's yet another one of those rags-to-riches business stories that our American media spits out like so many Big Mac wrappers flapping across the American interstate highways:


: On the face of it, Jim Clark seemed poorly designed to pursue the new new thing [that's no typo, just the latest fatuity dreamed up by NYT editors to describe the 'technology revolution']. He grew up poor in Plainview, Tex., where poor meant poor. He'd been an indifferent student and a cutup---one of those great bad examples to youth who proved that if you really want to be a success in American life, you have to start by offending your elders.(1)

: Oh yes, true believers, it's all there. The occult intellectual virtuosity that required no effort or training whatsoever, his steely determination to change his life, his uncanny entrepreneurial vision, his Gary Cooper independence, and, of course, with the sunset he rides off into, his billions and billions of greenbacks as recompense. This story is as old as the hills.

Well, it is a step above clamoring "It's not fair! Not fair!!!!" But not that big of a step. Maybe I am conceptually arrest here but it sounds a lot like jealousy or hatred of the good for being good on your part. I think that it is an uplifting (if poorly written) article. I personally do not like to read human interest stories (especially those about the little old lady jipped out of fifty bucks while buying a new lawnmower) but they write what sells.

: Lovely!

: ---But what about all the other anecdotes? You know, the other some 200 million Americans, most of whom drudge entire lives through jobs that are a static horror of ingemination, that pay barely enough to feed their children and satisfy their many creditors? What about those vast masses? Where are their stories?

Gosh, 200 million? My spider-senses are screaming "hyperbole!"

: We hear a lot of anecdotes on this board. Frenchy's are even more heart-rending than Stuart's.

I am going to add yet another anecdote to the list. My father grew up in a poor catholic family with 9 other brothers and sisters. His father was a carpenter and his mother was a nurse. They lived on a small farm in northern ontario. My father worked his way through H.S. and had to turn down going to college because he did not have enough money. He went right into the workforce as a tool and die operator. Meanwhile, my mother was going to a community college to become an R.N. Thus, every morning, she had to drive my sister and I at 5:30 a.m. to my aunts house where we waited for her to take us to school. My father was a very hard worker and was also quite intelligent. He was able to work his way up and acquire a managerial position. He taught himself finances and various production techniques. At this point, my mother was working part time(graveyard shift) at a hospital and also as a social worker. My father moved between jobs quickly, always moving up. He still is. In fact, he just quit his job last week because he thought the behaviour of his colleagues was (and still is) unethical (they were lying to the shift workers and manipulatingcontracts). The latest job offer he has gotten (yesterday) was for a VP position with a salary of $250,000 U.S. plus company car. Not too bad for a farmboy with no "official" education. Of course, now we have a competition to see who can command the highest salary in there lifetime. Right now I am only making $6.50/hour at a grocery store part time while I go to school.

: We don't hear too many anecdotes about crushed attempts to escape debt, ill-placed confidence in employer's promises to promote and reward diligent work, life savings instantly erased by a life-threatening illness uncovered by health insurance, and the simple fact that only a fraction of work presently requires---or pays for---any brains whatsoever (no matter how much education you buy). No, we don't hear too many of those anecdotes here.

: And you know why?

: Only 22% of Americans have internet access at this time.(2) That's because computers are expensive. Those anecdotes about institutional poverty, bad breaks, and simple shortage of decent jobs are not heard here---not because they aren't out there in enormous numbers, but because they are not able to break through the computer-cost barrier to get heard.

I am not sure where you live, but every place that I have lived in the U.S. there has been computers in every library available to the public. Do you know what made this possible? Hefty grants from Bill Gates. Do you know where those libraries came from? Andrew Carnegie.
Of course, you will probably say that there motive was to have a workforce with better skills to oppress.

: Which brings me to Gee's idiotic expression 'effective demand.'

: 'Effective' demand seems to somehow belittle or negate ineffective demand. If you have, say, cancer and cannot afford a bone-marrow transplant, the market decrees that your affliction lacks effectiveness in demanding health care. Feel any better now?

I'll just eat lots of broccoli, which has anti-carcinogenic effects :)

: And now, another amazing American business success story to pacify the savages...

How about to serve as an example to others that in the land of oppurtunity nothing is out of ones grasp so long as they have the determination and the skills.

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