The Smartest Man on the Planet

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Nick Hanauer is possibly the smartest man on the planet. Not because he was one of the first investors in Amazon, not because he has billions of dollars and his own plane, not because he has given TED talks and been in documentaries, but because he wrote THIS:

Republicans and Democrats in Congress can’t shrink government with wishful thinking. The only way to slash government for real is to go back to basic economic principles: You have to reduce the demand for government.

I’ve read Nick’s article at topinfopost three times now.  And I’m going to read it again.  Because I’ve been listening for years now as my fellow humans devour one another over partisan politics, obfuscate core issues with symptomatic issues, and generally miss the forest for the trees. You don’t have to be a billionaire to see the wisdom and beauty of Nick’s treatise (and of course he didn’t intend you to have to be); while his letter is addressed to the “filthy rich” like him, it’s truly a letter for all of us. Because there are solutions to the sprawling, systemic problems we face in America. And they start with logic.

Many of our fellow citizens are starting to believe that capitalism itself is the problem. I disagree, and I’m sure you do too. Capitalism, when well managed, is the greatest social technology ever invented to create prosperity in human societies. But capitalism left unchecked tends toward concentration and collapse. It can be managed either to benefit the few in the near term or the many in the long term. The work of democracies is to bend it to the latter.

Yes, Nick. Yes, yes, and yes.

Sadly, though, there is still part of me that doubts this message will be as clear to certain others. Namely, people that abuse capitalism so that it serves their baser selves; greed and the hunger for power; the restless pursuit of immortality in the face of indomitable mortality. People that hide behind a perverted idea that capitalism needs an unrestrained, unregulated, laissez-faire monetary system in order to work. People too blind or too in denial to see that the very practice of this unbridled capitalism has fomented the bloated government invading and micromanaging our everyday lives. The kind of capitalism that makes corporations people, that insulates the wealthy from empathy and compassion, that puts *stuff* above human lives.

But, it’s worth a shot, dammit. So preach it, Nick. And Happy Fourth.

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