Ming the Mechanic
The NewsLog of Flemming Funch

Thursday, June 17, 2004day link 

 Ownership Society - members only
Via Wealth Bondage, here's this from the Cato Institute:
An ownership society is a society that values responsibility, liberty, and property. An ownership society empowers individuals by freeing them from dependence on government handouts and making them owners instead, in control of their own lives and destinies. In the ownership society, patients control their own health care, parents control their own children's education, and workers control their retirement savings.
Yes, too bad you don't qualify. What a chilling bunch of crappy double-speak. What it means is: This is why you have no healthcare insurance, why the public schools are enormously underfunded, and why the social security fund has been depleted years ago. It's because you're supposed to do all of those things yourself. Because that's what it means to be a free person: that the government isn't doing anything for you. If you pay for everything yourself, you're in control. I guess that's a particularly American illusion. Or a conservative political ideology, or whatever we'll call it. Pretty much from the same people who've increased the U.S. taxation and national debt and corporate welfare, orders of magnitude more than any of their democratic counterparts who were actually expected to do so. A couple of Republican presidents have succeeded more than any communist revolution would have. The reality of an ownership society unfortunately became that for 99% of the population, somebody else than you owns you and the output of your creativity and productivity.

If it were for real, it would be nice of course. I.e. that people can be in control of their own lives, and own what they do. And be responsible and free. But that requires real ownership and real freedom. Not just that the government takes half your money and doesn't give it back, and you're free to have a mortgage and buy a big car on credit, and that you just barely can afford your health insurance. No, rather real freedom and real democracy and ability to live by your own devices. Owning your own life. Co-owning society. Would be a nice idea.
[ | 2004-06-17 15:37 | 12 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

 Structural Holes
David Teten writes on Online Business Blog.
You will usually benefit if the members of your network do not know one another. Ronald Burt, in his innovative and influential book, Structural Holes: The Social Structure of Competition, provides fascinating support for the argument that both people and companies benefit by sitting in a “structural hole” of a network. A structural hole exists when there is only a weak connection between two clusters of densely connected people.

For example, let us say you are the head of German country sales for Hasbro, Inc., a major manufacturer of games and toys. Your value to Hasbro is as a pipeline to the German market. It is in your interest to build relationships with many people in both Hasbro headquarters and in the German market. You fill a structural hole between those two groups. In order to preserve that structural hole, we recommend you should probably not introduce the two pools of people (the American Hasbro toy-sellers and the German toy-buyers).
I suppose that is traditional wisdom of job-security, applied to social networks. But I think that, as a general philosophy, that sucks big time. You try to deliberately keep the people from talking to each other that would most benefit from talking to each other, by making yourself the networking tollbooth.

Oh, I think most people do it in one way or another. Most people have their job because somebody somehow believes that they're needed for it. And if we're talking about knowledge work, or about the work of connecting some people over here with some people over there - then your job security might easily seem a little fragile. So, one easily gets into keeping some key pieces of information secret, so that nobody will be inspired to cut you out of the loop. Doesn't make it right, though.

In my ideal world, it would be the people who actually make the most difference who'd have the best job security. Not the people who pretend they're invaluable, simply because they hide part of the picture from everybody else. But, alas, society doesn't really work that way. You get paid by making somebody feel they have to pay you, not particularly by doing great work.

Although, the people who actually have figured out the system are doing the opposite. I.e. getting themselves out of the loop, rather than trying to seem like an invaluable link. I'm talking about the people who make businesses, as opposed to trying to hold a job and appear like a good employee. The trick is just how to engineer that most of us possibly might end up being so skilled or lucky.
[ | 2004-06-17 16:02 | 3 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

 Proton Breeze is On
picture I'd really like to be able to watch Danish TV sometimes, and that just became a lot more likely. Here you see a Proton Breeze M rocket taking off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan this morning, carrying Intelsat 10-02. That is a huge communications satellite, incidentally built here in Toulouse, which, amongst other things, will provide video conferencing, internet access, telephone, and many TV channels. Including the Danish ones. The major new thing in addition to the added bandwidth will be its coverage area, which means the signal will be available with a normal small parabola, even in southern Europe.
[ | 2004-06-17 16:07 | 1 comment | PermaLink ]  More >

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