Why and How Capitalism Needs to Be Reformed

bank notes

The stats presented by Ray Dalio are staggering and shameful. They are focused on the USA, but I think the broad trends apply to other western nations, including Australia.

The problem is that capitalists typically don’t know how to divide the pie well and socialists typically don’t know how to grow it well.

Ray Dalio

I also agree with his prognosis – unless some of these trends are reversed, we’re heading towards increasing polarity at best, and violent revolution at worst. Particularly concerning are the comparisons in terms of populism and wealth inequality between now at the 1930’s.

That is because capitalism is now working in a way in which people and companies find it profitable to have policies and make technologies that lessen their people costs, which lessens a large percentage of the population’s share of society’s resources.

Ray Dalio

This trend will only continue with increased automation of both blue and white collar jobs. The spoils will increasingly end up in the hands of those who already own capital – particularly those who control the systems doing the automation.

Read more here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/why-how-capitalism-needs-reformed-parts-1-2-ray-dalio

Total Depravity: The Origins of the Drug Epidemic in Appalachia Laid Bare

pain pills

This article is a beautifully written insight into the horrors of the opioid crisis in West Virginia.

I think that this quote really hits the nail on the head:

Around the same time organized-labor laws were weakened, a company called Purdue Pharma ‘invented’ OxyContin, which meant taking a powerful opioid analgesic, giving it a slow-release coating that could be circumvented easily, concealing its potential for abuse, and marketing it aggressively to working-class communities increasingly unable to afford preventative medical treatment for chronic pain.

I hurt my back boxing and was lucky enough to be able to see physio’s, doctors and then undertake a regime of Pilates and swimming to repair the damage, but it took a long time and wasn’t cheap. I can see why in communities where there isn’t access to preventative health care, pain pills could become so attractive.

Another thing that seems to perverse to me is that these drugs can be so heavily marketed and advertised directly to consumers. There seem to be some real structural issues that need addressing. The article is littered with heartbreaking sentences like “time spent sick became time unpaid” that paint a picture of the dire situation people are in.

Capitalism might be about destruction, but it seems like we could and should be doing a lot more to help those whose industries, towns and livelihoods get destroyed.

The island of Sark

sark island

This is a beautifully written and very interesting article about the small channel island of Sark, where cars are prohibited and the lack of street lights provide an incredible view of the stars: Sark really is a world apart.

It was at this location where, in 1859, the islanders gathered to greet Queen Victoria, who was expected to stop off at Sark on her way to Jersey. They had prepared a lavish banquet, and the quay was decorated with flowers, flags and a red carpet. But the queen and her entourage simply sailed by. To make matters worse, by the time they got back to the Seigneurie the dining room where the banquet was to be held had been trashed by peacocks.


A strange story perhaps, but not by Sark’s standards.

Great article: What seven years at Airbnb taught me

Here is a fantastic article by Lenny Rachitsky about some of the lessons he learned during his seven years at Airbnb.

I particularly liked the sections on nailing culture as a competitive advantage and thinking of your org design like a product. I also found some of the following templates useful:

Lots of other gems in there too!

1980’s Playboy Interview with Steve Jobs

Apple Macintosh Computer

We’ve done a lot of studies and tests on that, and it’s much faster to do all kinds of functions, such as cutting and pasting, with a mouse, so it’s not only easier to use but more efficient.

Steve Jobs, talking about that new invention “the mouse”

I came across this fantastic Playboy interview with Steve Jobs in the 80’s. He talks about the upcoming release of Macintosh and his predictions for a personal computer in every house.

Companies, as they grow to become multibillion-dollar entities, somehow lose their vision. They insert lots of layers of middle management between the people running the company and the people doing the work. They no longer have an inherent feel or a passion about the products. The creative people, who are the ones who care passionately, have to persuade five layers of management to do what they know is the right thing to do.

Steve Jobs

It really is a fascinating interview as he discusses his vision for Apple and computing. Looking back at his predictions 30 years later, he was incredibly prescient. Even back then, he was asked about standardising across the industry. He had this to say:

Insisting that we need one standard now is like saying that they needed one standard for automobiles in 1920. There would have been no innovations such as the automatic transmission, power steering and independent suspension if they believed that. The last thing we want to do is freeze technology.

Steve Jobs

I’m amazed how zoomed out his view was. He also shares some amazing anecdotes from his early years; picking up the phone book and calling Bill Hewlett (of Hewlett-Packard) and asking for a job, working to earn money so he could travel, traveling through India and getting his head shaved.

But the next thing is going to be computer as guide or agent. And what that means is that it’s going to do more in terms of anticipating what we want and doing it for us, noticing connections and patterns in what we do, asking us if this is some sort of generic thing we’d like to do regularly, so that we’re going to have, as an example, the concept of triggers. We’re going to be able to ask our computers to monitor things for us, and when certain conditions happen, are triggered, the computers will take certain actions and inform us after the fact.

Steve Jobs, 1985

1000 True Fans

Fans in audience

I was recently chatting to Adam, one of the best designers I know, about The Good News Email. He shared an article with me called 1000 True Fans, by Kevin Kelly, one of the founders of Wired Magazine. It really resonated with me, and is worth a read.

The takeaway: 1,000 true fans is an alternative path to success other than stardom. Instead of trying to reach the narrow and unlikely peaks of platinum bestseller hits, blockbusters, and celebrity status, you can aim for direct connection with a thousand true fans. On your way, no matter how many fans you actually succeed in gaining, you’ll be surrounded not by faddish infatuation, but by genuine and true appreciation. It’s a much saner destiny to hope for. And you are much more likely to actually arrive there.

Kevin Kelly


Startup Wisdom: Kung Fu by Jason Cohen.

I came across this fantastic page packed full of interesting startup advice at Jason Cohen’s blog: A Smart Bear.

Some of the tips may sounds obvious or commonplace, but that’s because they’re true, and they’re also worth repeating. Often I’ll read an article like this and 90% of the advice will be familiar. While I’ve heard it before, it might only hit home in this moment, in this context – and that’s why it’s powerful.

  • If you have more than three priorities, you have none.
  • It’s better to complete 100% of 8 things than 80% of 10 things.
  • The “long tail” can sound appealing, but it sure is easy to sell vanilla ice cream at the beach even when you’re right next to another ice cream stand.
  • The only cause of Writer’s Block is high standards. Type garbage. Editing is 10x easier than writing.

Read the rest of the article here.

“Patagonia is in business to save our home planet.”

Patagonia

I’m a big fan of Patagonia – not only their products, but the way they do business. I loved founder Yvon Chouinard’s unconventional business book Let My People Go Surfing, as well as the excellent documentary 180 Degrees South.

In many ways, Patagonia is one of the original social enterprises. They donate 1% of their revenue or 10% of their profit each year (whichever is greater). They try to ensure that everyone in their supply chain gets paid and treated fairly, and they try to minimise the impact of their business on the environment.

Recognising the urgency of the fight against climate change, Patagonia have gone one stepped further and changed the company mission to “Patagonia is in business to save our home planet.” I think they set a great example about for businesses aiming to be conscious of their impact on the environment. Read more at Fast Company.