Why do I trade guns? Because there is a demand for it. And it’s extra income,” said Paraas, a former communist guerrilla whose day job as a community organiser for a non-government organisation is not enough to pay his bills.
The condensation [of The Road to Serfdom] published in the Reader’s Digest was less an abridgment than a re-creation. Although the final product was widely attributed to Max Eastman, the magazine’s founding editor, DeWitt Wallace, spent hours reworking it himself. Both were drawn to the text in part for ideological reasons: Eastman was a recent convert from socialism and one of Stalinist Russia’s most prominent critics, while Wallace was a staunch anticommunist who had recently guided his magazine, as the sympathetic editor of the Saturday Review of Literature observed, on “a conspicuous list to the extreme Right.” In their reworking of The Road to Serfdom Hayek’s style was simplified and dramatized, his observations were reordered and reconnected, and new sentences were written to impart an appearance of seamlessness to disconnected snippets. As a result, many of Hayek’s qualifications were lost. As one critic observed, the text itself had become an enactment of readers’ tendencies to take sentences out of context in order to support their own point of view…
Conservative politicians, journalists, and business leaders were quick to appropriate the Reader’s Digest version as a useful aid in their efforts to roll back the New Deal state. Citing the fact that it was undoubtedly “one of the most important and significant articles in recent years,” the Digest in a sidebar to the article had advertised reprints made available by the Book-of-the-Month Club, offering steep discounts for bulk orders. Over a million orders for the reprint version were placed, many by corporations and their advocacy groups, dwarfing the 40,000 copies of the original version that had been sold.
Employees of companies including General Motors and New Jersey Power and Light received copies courtesy of their managers. Look published a cartoon version, which was reprinted shortly thereafter in the General Electric Company’s magazine. The National Association of Manufacturers, eager to expand its public relations activities as the war approached a close, mailed free copies to all of its 14,000 members. Editorials in the conservative Hearst newspapers urged “every free-acting, free-thinking, free-writing American” to read “every line,” and its syndicate King Features distributed the condensed version shortly after Hayek’s arrival in the country. In order to exploit this publicity, Hayek’s lecture agency built his tour around presentations before chambers of commerce and bankers’ associations. Meanwhile, moderate business organizations like the Committee for Economic Development chose to keep their distance because Hayek had developed a reputation as— in the words of one observer—“a made-to-order hand grenade for conservatives to hurl at planners.”
At a number of points in [The Road to Serfdom] Hayek explicitly condoned a vigorous role for the state. He informed his readers that responsible governments could limit the fluctuations of the business cycle through monetary and perhaps even fiscal policy. They could provide those items, like transportation infrastructure, that the price system failed to allocate efficiently. They could maintain quite strict regulations against certain business practices by limiting working hours, requiring sanitary arrangements, proscribing the use of poisonous substances, prohibiting deforestation, preventing harmful farming methods, restricting the noise and smoke produced by factories, and imposing stringent price controls on monopolies to curtail extraordinary profits. And they could develop forms of social insurance that provided redress to victims of earthquakes and floods, that compensated victims of sickness or accidents, and that ensured a basic minimum of food, shelter, and clothing for all. Hayek supported a role for the government in counteracting the business cycle, constructing new infrastructure, regulating a broad range of business activities, and administering extensive social insurance guarantees. It is not difficult to understand why he grew frustrated with those who confused this vision with what he described as “dogmatic laissez-faire.”
Nothing in the history of American business … justifies undue confidence on the part of the American public that it can trust big business to take care of the community without supervision, regulation or eternal vigilance.
There is always a principle, plausible and even sound within limits, to justify any possible course of action and, of course, the opposite one.
If 2006 was all about social networks, user-generated content and YouTube, then it’s a fair bet that 2007 will be about further personalizing life online. Already, portals like Google and Yahoo! offer customizable pages. Want to see a calendar, learn a new word-of-the-day and check local windsurfing conditions all from your homepage? No problem, you have thousands of widgets to choose from. And the fact that they’re so intuitive has made the features very popular. “The Google personal homepage is the fastest-growing Google product,” says Marissa Mayer, the company’s vice president of “search products and user experience.” “This market is going to be very large.
Mr. Kawasaki refers to widgets as “digital bling.” (Mr. Kawasaki’s blog, How to Change the World, is among the 50 most popular blogs, according to the ranking site Technorati.) He says he enjoys experimenting with new widgets on his blog, but is wary of getting carried away. “I don’t intend to be Mr. T, but I don’t want to be Audrey Hepburn, either, with just a string of pearls,” he said.
But while widgets are growing in popularity — the first major conference dedicated to “the emerging widget economy” was held in November in San Francisco — they can still be perplexing to bloggers and readers. And some are wondering whether a blog can become weighed down by too many widgets.
“the emerging widget economy”
“Widgets pull content or services from some other place on the Web, and put it into your personal page,” said Fred Wilson, a venture capitalist at Union Square Ventures in Manhattan.
PASTOR BOB HYATT acknowledges that his widget fixation may be getting a little out of control.
Thatcher’s ideas resonated because they were an effective antidote to the problems of the times. In the 1970s, the Western world staggered under the weight of oil shocks, rising wages, rocketing inflation, slowing productivity and growth, labor unrest, high taxesand sclerotic state-owned companies. These are not the problems we face now.
You are most productive when you can focus. Don’t kid yourself, the hobby startup that...
Venkatesh Rao published a thought-provoking piece on Ribbonfarm today, comparing the deal-seeking...