To Bill Gates, and Other Philanthropists

© 2000-2002 Philip Hyde, CEO, The Timesizing Wire, PO Box 622, Cambridge MA 02140 - Homepage
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Dear Bill -

Philanthropy, during our lifetimes in the USA, has moved from duty (eg: religious tithing) to caprice, from systemic to haphazard. So even though we have more millionaires in America today (2004), we have less charitable giving, and more downside problems such as poverty (viz. wider income gap) and hidden unemployment (welfare, disability, homelessness, incarceration, suicide).
And now, any economic design, such as ours, that relies for vital functions, such as the centrifugation of wealth, on charity is lethally flawed. Donor satisfaction has become the main point, not donee satisfaction or process effectiveness. Thus charity has become less and less effective as a centrifuge mechanism for income and wealth and more and more of a perpetuating mechanism for the hyperconcentration of income and wealth. The wealthy are giving to wealthy "charities," such as the wealthiest universities, like Harvard, which already has an endowment of $19,000,000,000 (oops, see "Harvard endowment posts 21.1% return [bringing its total value to $22.6B, the wealthiest non-profit in the world after the RC Church]," AP via 9/15/2004 WSJ, B2). Philanthropists are "taking coals to Newcastle"; that is, back to the coal mines.

This is a violation of the law of marginalism, explained by Will Rogers thus, "Money is like manure - it's no good unless it's spread around." The boring old megaproblems go on and on: hunger, poverty, disease, unemployment, war. And as the funnelling of income into the topmost brackets proceeds without limit, the concentration of wealth periodically reaches self-undermining levels characteristic of economic depressions, in which the problem is not a lack of money - there was plenty of money in the Great Depression, but it was not in play, not "in circulation" - it was all compacted among a small percentage of people in the topmost income brackets. In a depression, the concentration of income becomes so tight that the affluent cannibalize their own consumer base, and suction the markets away from their own investment targets. Result? The wealthy slow down the centrifugation and circulation processes even further, by pulling back into cash - as today (Sept/2004).

When will we ever learn? - when will we really "put the moves on" in human progress? All the great advances in social evolution were new techniques of systemic sharing: ways of becoming more available to one another on this planet. All we really have is one another, and the more we can access one another without violation, the more of our hopes and dreams we can achieve, and the less boredom and depression we'll experience.

Today, we're finally in the middle of the Economic Age, where we have the great new tool, but not its great new application. The great new tool is quantification, or "mathematics as a second language," based on statistics and probability. But we have jumped a step in our philanthropy. We have jumped in our charity to monetary centrifugation, thereby merely creating dependency. What we've overlooked is that the basic quantifier is not money but time. And in terms of worktime, it's also the most basic dimension of value to centrifuge, anchoring, as it does, the monetary dimensions of income and wealth.

Each of the big old megaproblems (hunger, poverty, disease, unemployment, war) has a basic and characteristic value-dimension that access it to solution and make it actionable. Food, money, healthcare, work, peace - these resolve into: money, money, money, work, work. But as we've mentioned, we can't centrifuge the money dimensions (income, wealth, credit) first without creating dependency. What's wrong with that? We borrow from the next great era, the Ecological Age, to answer, it's unsustainable. It's only short-term and near-sighted, which are the two major limitations of the Economic Age. So the five bad old megaproblems we mentioned translate from money money money work work into work work work work work. In short, the very next solution we must target from our current standpoint, or pausepoint, or maelstrom, or squirrel cage, or resistance point, or plateau of human progress, is full employment. We cannot target universal decent income or universal minimum wealth, because they are both unsustainable without the mutual exchange involved in work or employment. The great problems must be addressed in a certain order, and that order is not arbitrary or optional. It is fixed by inherent, functional and semantic natural laws.

So the first and most basic problem of our lifetime is unemployment, and the first and most basic solution to design and implement is full employment. This is a matter of sharing the market-demanded employment. This requires assuming it is, in a critical sense, finite and limited, even though it may always be spontaneously, in some areas, growing. This means we must abandon the comforting and solution-deactivating notion that "technology creates more jobs than it destroys," and certainly we must quit laying on worksharers with the sneering accusation of "Lump of Labor Fallacy." The practical and ongoing rebuttal of the flawed reasoning underlying this sneer is the daily layoffs and downsizings throughout the developed world.

So worksharing is of the essence during our lifetimes. It forms a bottleneck to progress, a logjam against substantial human advance. We either solve this one or we stay circling in the frenzied whirlpool of our current stage of development forever.

The most gradual and market-oriented design for full employment is the five-phase Timesizing worksharing program. It also includes an alternative inflation control so that full employment no longer is self-limiting or even -undermining. It also touches the whole core of the economy and redesigns all the central institutions for sustainability. It even leads on to subsequent programs that build on itself, so it avoids the One Step to Perfection mirage.

For more information on how the future will balance the economy better and better and get further and further from the ridiculous and dangerous situation of one person like Bill Gates when Microsoft stock peaked in the late 1990s having $100B (unless everyone else is averaging $500m), see our laypersons' guide Timesizing, Not Downsizing is available from * online, or at the Harvard Square Coop (3rd floor mgmt or econ §§), Cambridge, Mass., USA.

Questions, comments, feedback?  Phone 617-623-8080 (Boston) or email us.

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