A former hedge fund manager who bought a drug company has hiked the price of a generic drug 55x to pay for the purchase. The drug was $13.50 a dose but is now $750.00. It costs $1 to produce. The drug treats toxoplasmosis and is widely used by sufferers of AIDS.
So clearly Martin Shkreli, the capitalist in question, is all about the money. No morals. No philanthropy. In fact rather the opposite. What does that say about our society? When the winners take all? It’s not that he should be punished. It’s not that his wealth should be confiscated. It’s that we should ask ourselves what kind of civilisation we are choosing when this kind of behaviour appears “justifiable”, because it doesn’t seem just to me.
If the highest achievers, the brightest stars, the richest, the winners are only interested in taking more, shouldn’t we all wonder what morals our civilisation promotes? It’s not that people are bad – everyone’s “good”. But the result of all our choices promotes a dynamic which appears quite feudal and therefore inflexible, often unfair and probably dysfunctional. Certainly we are seeing the cracks in our civilisation – economic crisis, immigration crisis, food crisis, …
The solution? Change our choices. Each of us can make small changes which determine the shape of civilisation. What we eat, what we wear, what we consume, what we waste. Our individual behaviour results in the civilisation we have, including a hedge fund manager taking more stuff from people in already difficult circumstances.
OECD research shows that frequent use of computers in schools is more likely to be associated with lower results. Among 70 countries, heavy investment in information and communications technology have seen “no noticeable improvement” in Pisa test results for reading, mathematics or science.
This is not surprising. As with any technology, it can be “good” or “bad” depending on how it is used and all too often ICT is used as a substitute for thinking. That might be ok if you are a thinker, but if using a computer is just a crutch, used to copy/paste ideas or fill time will 2D pictures and sound, then its use is retarding your development.
The prospect of your job being automated is increasing. The convergence of neuroscience, computing, biology and engineering has already made robotic prosthetics a reality and everyone carries a small thinking machine so that they can remember phone numbers, birthdays etc (media device/phone).
We are certainly choosing a future in which we don’t work. We haven’t addressed the consequences in a thoughtful way evidenced by the unchanged platitudes by politicians, ongoing agglomeration of industry and commerce (get big to survive) with its attendant pyramid of wages (little at the bottom, inconceivable wealth at the top) and public education systems still modelled on the factory.
Everyone is good, yet somehow the product of our civilisation is often pain and suffering.
More people are becoming aware that something needs to change and are even doing something about it. Simply talking about the challenges is a start, while others initiate changes in behaviour such as what they eat or wear. But engaging a big picture perspective is difficult and can seem futile because the system seems dysfunctional.
The text below is from a blog about morals (personal) and ethics (system) which is a short read offering insight in to the nature of the problem. Perhaps having read it you might contrive ways in which you can contribute to system enlightenment in your work and life, before this civilisation implodes like all those before it. Enjoy …
Our current ethical system requires politicians to act unethically, to do great harm to people they don’t know, while protecting those they do. This can hardly be denied, and was on display in the 2007/8 financial collapse and the bailout after. The millions of homeowners and employees politicians and central bankers did not know were not helped, and the people the politicians and central bankers and treasury officials did know, were bailed out. Austerity, likewise, has hurt people politicians don’t know, while enriching the corporate officers and rich they do know.
I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be an emperor. That’s not my business. I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone if possible- Jew, Gentile, black men, white…
We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each others’ happiness, not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone. And the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way.
Greed has poisoned men’s souls; has barricaded the world with hate; has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed. We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical; our cleverness, hard and unkind.
We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery ,we need humanity. More than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost. The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in man; cries out for universal brotherhood; for the unity of us all.
Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world, millions of despairing men, women, and little children, victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people.
To those who can hear me, I say “Do not despair.”
The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed, the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress. The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people. And so long as men die, liberty will never perish.
Soldiers! Don’t give yourselves to brutes, men who despise you and enslave you; who regiment your lives, tell you what to do, what to think and what to feel! Who drill you, diet you, treat you like cattle, use you as cannon fodder!
Don’t give yourselves to these unnatural men—machine men with machine minds and machine hearts! You are not machines! You are not cattle! You are men! You have a love of humanity in your hearts! You don’t hate!
Only the unloved hate; the unloved and the unnatural.
Soldiers! Don’t fight for slavery! Fight for liberty!
In the seventeenth chapter of St. Luke, it’s written “the kingdom of God is within man”, not one man nor a group of men, but in all men! In you! You, the people, have the power, the power to create machines, the power to create happiness! You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure. Then in the name of democracy, let us use that power.
Let us all unite.
Let us fight for a new world, a decent world that will give men a chance to work, that will give youth a future and old age a security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power. But they lie! They do not fulfill their promise. They never will!
Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people!
Now let us fight to fulfill that promise! Let us fight to free the world! To do away with national barriers! To do away with greed, with hate and intolerance!
Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men’s happiness.
Soldiers, in the name of democracy, let us all unite!
We joined an eclectic group at Voice Box at the end of June. We were asked to talk for five minutes about Common Sense, a book about people, planet and profit by a venture capitalist. Here is the edited version of the video showing the slides more clearly. Enjoy!
It started a bit later than planned because the normal school run delay was compounded by an emergency breakdown of a client’s computer .,..
The field was rowed around noon and then square baling started. Padraig would arrive at 3pm to round bale. I needed 200 square bales for 2 customers who each wanted 100.
The baler was acting up. The knots weren’t holding and a bale in every five would be lost. Noel cleaned the knotter and after a couple of rows it loosened up and ran better.
Still it wasn’t easy to guess how much hay would equal 200 bales …
In the end we baled 241 square. Padraig got 38 round.
One customer took 136 by mistake, and paid for the extras too. The other took his 100. And there were 5 left for us. Unbelievable. By pure chance we split the field precisely in the right place to get the square bales the customers wanted without leaving anything in the field to await the rain. It couldn’t have been better if it had been planned!
Very lucky. Or maybe we’re leaning to feel the rhythm of the universe and surf the cosmic wave…
I must have been on a roll because a similar coincidence occurred in the evening. #4 wanted to watch an inappropriate film that was playing for his elder siblings … Having said “not for you”, about half an hour later I had a feeling he might have ventured in to join his brother and sister, so I checked. He had walked in 10 seconds before I checked!
The idea is to do Common Sense in 5 minutes (apparently the bell rings when time is up. 😉 ) It will be a challenge, but fun. Now to squash the book in to 5 minutes before next week …!
Also there will be
John McKew, IT Carlow lecturer
Majella Swan, Carlow School of Music & aspiro choir
Ed Byrne – limestone / salvage
Eddie Sheehan – musician / composer, teaches at Carlow College
It should make for an interesting evening. Please come along. Ask questions!