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"What effect must it have on a nation if it learns no foreign languages? Probably much the same as that which a total withdrawal from society has upon an individual."
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Wednesday, July 30, 2003
 
An Immodest Proposal

So it's capitalism they worship, eh? Let's give it to them:

"Perfect" capitalism assumes that everyone knows the price point of every supplier in a market. Businesses that offer different prices to different customers are (with certain exceptions) prosecuted for it. How is one to price one's labor without knowing what others receive for theirs? It shall therefore be mandatory for businesses to make public the amount paid to each employee...say...on a quarterly basis. A meeting will be held in every office, in which every employee's name, number of years at the company, and salary are read aloud. Directories of salary will be published on the internet.

In the interest of fostering the most efficient possible commerce, it will be necessary for all companies to know how much wealth each person has in order to target advertising as precisely as possible. Home appraisals, car(s) value(s), loans, etc., will be updated annually. Directories of wealth will be published on the internet.

In the interest of perfecting financial markets, each person's investment portfolio should be available on a minute-by minute basis. If Jeff Goldblum decides to buy heavy into Verizon, your computer should pop up a window to tell you about it. If Mrs. McGillicuddy's prize pooch produces an improbable number of pups, the people have a right to know.

That's capitalism, right? We should make nakedly stark the poverty of folks you thought were doing all right. We need to expose the nest eggs of people who don't need help. How can one hope to emulate the wealthy (disseminate best practices) without knowing who they are and how they do it? How can one avoid the mistakes of the poor without knowing what they did wrong?

In this culture, money is everything. The organizing principle of our economic system is said to be "capitalism," which holds that an "invisible hand" determines the price (relevance, worth, existential quotient) of a commodity in a truly open market. If we are to have actual capitalism, bright light must be shone on every aspect of the financial world, including the personal. Given that a Time magazine poll has 39% of Americans already or expecting to be at some point in their lives in the top 1% of income, such illumination is essential.

Who's with me?