May 2008

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Comments

Sean

This post got me thinking about, of all things, agriculture.

I remember reading that pre-Middle Ages it took 10 farmers to feed 1 non-farmer (in addition to themselves and their families). This was a huge limitation on countries because it meant that 91% of their workforce was unavailable to do the things that tend to advance society. (its also why fishing societies did so well; a fisherman is much more productive)

The other thing all this would mean though is that the entire country would be dependent on these farmers not being lazy asses like, well just about everyone is today.

I can't help but wonder what the relationship is between agricutural technology and laziness in a society.

Conor

A thought-provoking post, as ever, but I think it's a bit misguided. I agree that the continual redistribution of wealth leads to a healthy economy, but I don't think that capitalism is the best way to accomplish this. In fact, I think that capitalism built on the industrial mode of production most often leads to consolidation of wealth, and this is bad.

Hopping from sinking ships is possible in virtually any economic system, such as socialism: just switch projects. The key factor is that the money is moving, and I don't see the need to make the argument that money=capitalism.

Dabo

Capitalism for the most part works exactly like nature - it's called evolution. Nature blindly (or stupidly) throws out all possible combinations to see what "sticks" or survives - witness the countless billions of species that have gone extinct. Similarly, capitalism "stupidly" throws out business ideas, and whichever survives thrives, and the rest is your 90%. Short of a having a time machine that predicts what businesses will survive in the future - or an omnipotent god of capitalism (Bob?) who can tell the successfull business from the dud - this "stupid" model will have to do.

Roger The Shrubber

Scott,

Things are worse than you think. The problem is that failings are not well documented.

This will help: http://worsethanfailure.com/

Mike in Cleveland

Monkeys already can use money .. many psychological studies regarding "token economies" using primates have demonstrated they understand the concept and will work to obtain a reward that can, in turn, be exchanged for something else (food, etc).

Yes, money is a "token" .. money by itself isn't useful for much on a basic level (other than burning it for warmth).

Zach

It amazes me how many people constantly buy stuff they don't need. The entire economy is founded on impulse buying!

Drone74B

I can soooooo relate to what your reader is talking about. I work in publishing, and the amount of miracles I'm expected to work...

Why can't business be more like the military? The one thing I miss about the Army is the knowledge that everyone above you has already walked in your shoes. There's a definite progression of rank in the military. No one starts out at the top, and more often than not, your leaders started out where you are and know what it takes to do your job. Can't say that in the civilian world.

sally

Oh, monkeys know how to use money already:

But in a clean and spacious laboratory at Yale-New Haven Hospital, seven capuchin monkeys have been taught to use money, and a comparison of capuchin behavior and human behavior will either surprise you very much or not at all, depending on your view of humans.

...

But these facts remain: When taught to use money, a group of capuchin monkeys responded quite rationally to simple incentives; responded irrationally to risky gambles; failed to save; stole when they could; used money for food and, on occasion, sex.

Monkey prostitution. For real.

Dee

They stole jpeg images from a website?????

rita mae

My head hurts. REALLY. I was trying to read all the comments from your last posting and I can't concentrate on this blog. Couldn't make it through the whole comment section. I think that blog got the most comments I have seen here. Holy shit! I have never used 99.9999% of those words/sayings.

Most of your readers are relatively young, going by your second to last posting. Scott, go wash your eyes, ears, mouth, hands, and anything else you think deserves it, with a good bar of Dial Soap. Someone's going to be smoking turds in hell for that one.

Keep up the good work, Scott, I bet at least one or two people will get fired for spending too much time on the computer at work on that one. Hey, that ties in with this post. If you fuck off at work, then you either get your "titty in a wringer" or "your balls in a vise" and the work force goes on. Maybe we ARE all hypnotized and you are working for the capitalists so the weaker ones of us can be weeded out. Another conspiracy theory?

Scott, still love you, but still too old to stalk you.

Behemoth

Of course, if the monkey do start using leaves as currency, they're going to be in for some pretty serious inflation come spring time.

DontYouHatePants?

I work as one of only 2 'tech guys' at (name of half-retarded internet company). We have existed for 8 years in one form or another, from 2 guys in a garage (successful) to 100+ employees in a single large office/warehouse (clusterf$%k). The founder, our "Idea Guy", comes up with half a dozen new ideas for our business each year. If we are lucky, the ideas are merely foolish, and only lose us face; the unlucky ones result in us blatantly hemorrhaging cash from evey corporate orifice.

But it is true. No matter how close we come to the brink of doom, our neverending string of catastrofucks still pays the bills. I have never missed a paycheck, and we have literally HUNDREDS of client companies (some of the VERY big... call 'em Mal-Wart, i guess...) waiting for us to unveil our newest dumb-ass idea. And after it fails, they pay us to find a new way to waste still more resources... and of course there are still VCs waiting in the wings to throw literally millions at us when we screw up and are about to go under (again...).

Anybody else feel strangely comforted by this? Somehow there's a lot of satisfaction in the idea that a bunch of goons with all the grace and intellect of a monkey fucking a football can still make progress.... or maybe i'm too damn cynical for my own good. whichever.

-D

Craig Fluck

It's not the heat, it's the stupidity.

gr8hands

Scott,

I absolutely guarantee that at the bank where you worked, only a small percentage of the business they did was "making loans to small business start-ups." And since those losses incurred are often tax deductible (and certainly spread out among the remaining customers in the form of fees), it is a not-much-chance-for-a-loss situation for the bank. BOCTAPE.

Where do you get the figure that 90% of new businesses fail? That's an urban myth. Perhaps the guys around the watercooler at the bank bandied that figure back and forth, but it isn't accurate or based on facts.

You have the degree in economics, so please provide the source for that assumption.

Barring that, because I know it to be false, even when businesses fail, it stimulates the economy. You have to have repossessors, servers of paperwork, people at the bank doing the paper-pushing (electronically now, of course), movers, demolition crews, security personnel, attorneys, secretaries, etc. I mean, all that work of moving someone out of their office doesn't just happen by itself -- someone has to pay someone to do that, and everyone involved gets a paycheck!

So success stimulates the most, economically, but failure does also.

Kenpachi

Interesting post Scott. Some interesting comments too. I am going to reiterate whats been said here :). 'Harnessing the power of stupidity' hmmm...is that the right conclusion?....nobody harnesses anything...components of such a system play their own self motivated role (a defining characteristic of capitalism). It is natural that resources flow from less inefficiency and/or poorer services to more efficiency and/or better services. Nothing is wasted per se. Moron bosses will eventually fall. Even if they are large in number and have a strong clout in decision making.

Weak lion reminds me of the Tofu eating lion from Futurama. Anybody seen it?

But "Never underestimate the power of a mass stupidity" someone said here...how true.

Ray

I call it Corporate Welfare. It never ceases to amaze me how filthy-rich this country is, when we it only takes the 10% who actually work to support the 90% who never do anything productive.

Neighbor Dave

Truer words are hard to come by. Being a product developer I've definitely changed my direction over the years from quality to mass appeal (I like to eat), and yes they are generally exclusive of each other.

I bow at the feet of the guy that came up with the pet rock.

I keep looking for the Scarecrow (Wizard of OZ) to head up new development. He'd have to be a success.

Drew

I'm wondering where I can get some of those garlic flavored mittens.

Bryan

Where I work, we work a lot of hours. This got to us, so without management approval we spent thousands of dollars of our own money to fill the central, open area of an oval-shaped conference room with ball pit balls (Think Chuck E Cheese). It's still there. And even though it was organized by a few key people, it made everybody at the company a lot happier.

David

You really haven't named a post 'The Power of Stupid' yet? Damn.
Also http://www.world-science.net/othernews/070823_baby-talk.htm , for some reason.

spiffy

The genius of capitalism is that no one is in charge. If someone were, that someone would be a moron.

Unfortunately, capitalism is under constant threat from people who, being morons, think that things would be better if only the right someone were in charge.

Lord Acton got it wrong: Power enfeebles the mind, and absolute power enfeebles it absolutely.

Amir

The 90% failure is a myth, never been proven, and when anyone does any research on it, they find that it's GREATLY exaggerated.

http://www.entrepreneur.com/magazine/entrepreneur/2007/february/173214.html

http://www.usatoday.com/money/smallbusiness/columnist/abrams/2004-05-06-success_x.htm

Biff

"You don't need to hit the ball "out of the park" every time. Just getting on base is valuable. And sometimes, bunting into an intentional sacrifice brings in runs too."

I think I will put that on a highly pixellated poster and sell it online so that others can steal the jpegs.

friskybeaver

Says the man who decided to try to start up a restaurant.

DF

To Snappy Bob- "Great blog today. This one is so good that I will print it out and post it on the bulletin board in my office. As soon as the IT poeple fix the printer. It could be awhile."

As the only tech support guy here, I'm not coming to fix your printer today. I got called back off my lunch because the girl at the front desk was complaining that her keyboard was not working, and therefore she couldn't work. The keyboard was fine, she just could not remember her password correctly. From now on, I have fulfilled my quota of dealing with stupid people with stupid problems for the year. Deal with it.

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