Friday, June 27, 2008

A Little Of The Old In And Out

In: "Creative Capitalism." Michael Kinsley and Conor Clarke have started a website to begin a serious conversation about how capitalists can use their ambitions and raw energy -- Thumos, the thumoeideutic -- to help the world's poor, uplift the downtrodden, and not merely accumulate toys. From Creative Capitalism:

"'Creative Capitalism: A Conversation is a web experiment designed to produce a book -- a collection of essays and commentary on capitalism, philanthropy and global development -- to be edited by us and published by Simon and Schuster in the fall of 2008. The book takes as its starting point a speech Bill Gates delivered this January at the World Economic Forum in Davos. In it, he said that many of the world's problems are too big for philanthropy--even on the scale of the Gates Foundation. And he said that the free-market capitalist system itself would have to solve them.

"This is the public blog of a private website where a group of invited economists have spent the past couple of weeks criticizing and debating those claims. Over the next couple of months we'll be posting much of that material here, in the hopes of eliciting public commentary."

And from The Corsair's response: "How do we 'find a way to make the aspects of capitalism that serve wealthier people serve poorer people as well'? I agree that economic self-interest is one of if not the most powerful motivating forces in the world, and harnessing that energy towards uplifting the quality of life of the poor is a smart thing to do. We'll never arrive at 0% global unemployment, to be sure, but the closer we approximate that figure, I'm betting that wars and famine and disease and the perennial geopolitical frictions that distract us, as human beings and as civilizations, from doing The Great Things, would lessen significantly. Consider the potential of all the children in the so-called Third World that never make it to adolescence. Imagine the lost potential! Leo Strauss, a profoundly misunderstood thinker, used to say something to the effect of that he, per se, was not philosophizing, but merely preparing the ground for the Burmese philosophical genius in 2020, who will take up where Aristotle left off. What if that genius of world-historical dimensions dies of cholera in South America, unheralded and unsung? And what if the CEO of the next Microsoft, or the warrior of the next Kuhnian scientific revolution is killed by the janjaweed in Darfur over water use?

"There is so much spiritedness -- the Greeks called it 'Thumos' -- going on on Wall Street and London and Chicago and other places. That energy, if harnessed, would be a perfect alternative energy source for the planet. How does one do it? You've assembled some great minds, but I'd ask only that you maybe consider some philosophers on the panel. A theoretical inquiry into the nature of 'Thumos' -- which is what you guys are trying to make work for the betterment of the poor -- might be an interesting starting point in refining the questions asked to the economists. Philosophers are very good at asking precise questions."

Out: Rascism in Brazil. Bloomberg has an interesting article about how darker-skinned citizens are treated. From Bloomie:

"Dias, who lives with his wife and two sons in a 170-square- meter (1,830-square-foot) high-rise apartment in Sao Paulo, says the four of them are the only blacks among 1,000 individuals in the condominium complex. Another resident once confronted his son at the condo's swimming pool and admonished him that the facility was for residents only, not for the children of workers, Dias says. 'How can I possibly get used to this?' Dias asks during an interview in a third-floor conference room at HSBC's Sao Paulo headquarters. Nelson Santos, an economics professor at Universidade Federal de Pelotas and Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, says that 'things that should be trivial become an embarrassment.' He recalls once in his 20s being trailed by security staff at Iguatemi, a high-end mall in Sao Paulo."

No comments: