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October 28, 2006

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Legacy leaders need little assistance, Doctor. But it's good of you to think of them anyway.

Which is the legacy leader and which are the critics?

The feasting, Tutor, is an organic expression of the people's will, as symbolized by their consumer choice to be consumed. That their bones were picked clean is an unfortunate side effect of the legacy leaders' rational maximization. But rather than think of it in such despressing terms, consider the jobs opportunities opened up in the service industry. Some of the legacy leaders look like they need a good shampoo and a grooming. It's a . . . it's a once in a lifetime chance for some lucky provider.

A legacy leader - I wish there were more. Those who have the money in our system do not have to part with it, except to taxes, and they can work their way around them by planning or legislative relief. Those who give are to be praised, those who give wisely even more so. Those who give foolishly, or for ends that are venal come in for their share of criticism. There are good and bad sorts in all walks of life. We are inside the same system. The ills of that system are legion. Giving, volunteering, civic leadership - I'll be you do some of that yourself, Mr. Scruggs. Blogging and linking count too. Giving all around.

I agree, Tutor. Building the world we want within the world we have is about the best we can manage. It sometimes takes a lot of guts to stand up, defy the conventional wisdom and say it can be done.

Good point, JA. The conventional wisdom is so often based on nothing. Economics has so little theory with solid mathematical foundations, and so much incompetent speculation. I'm just enough of a mathematician to tell the difference, but not enough of one to do the work.

The sort of independent theoretical work that is at the foundations of TWWW is one of the critical leverage points. A virtual think tank is very cheap. Lots of free-range scholars eager to do the work, a virtual roof is easy and cheap these days (private/public blog/wiki systems to start). Punctuate with Open Space events to connect scholars, givers, grasstops leaders and work together on strategy and tactics.

I wish some significant donors would start to get this and begin to work this way. Because they are not buying any bricks and motar, no offices, no traditional administrative functions, it has to be much more efficient. The donor also gets to be as involved as they want in the processes. If they define the scale and purpose of the work they want to do and it is a simple matter (for someone with the right skills/experience) to outline a plan of action. The outcome will not be predictable, but that's the whole point, to learn what we need to learn to self-organize the next organizational/cultural level.

We went through the fads of "the learning organization". Most organizations didn't learn anything. We want to design organizations to learn and grow with that experience and knowledge. We trust the outcome because we trust the process, not because we know where we are going.

Gerry, that is a great comment. I wish more could read it. That is the kind of "mix" I would love to see evolve from the hybridization of the Dumpster, Omidyar.net, Inspired Legacies, Gifthub, TWWW, and Wealth Bondage. Why aren't truly subversive "free range" intellectuals funded? We all know the reasons, it is pretty obvious, and I see it more like this: "I got a day job in WB; I got all kinds of contacts inside and ooutside WB; all I want is the chance to keep both lives going for as long as possible, until something new comes together from the marriage of both." I really don't expect to be paid for satirizing wealthy people, or their advisors, or their ideology. Of course not. I just hope to get away with it without becoming persona not grata in propria persona. You might say the gift I am given is being invisible, marginalized, allowed to live and carry on. Let's say someone said, here is $10,000 for each of 5 people. Go make yourself a Dumpster Think Tank," how would that be much better? You would have to be talking multiples of that for it to be a "job," as opposed to a hobby or a folly. And if someone had a million a year budget, they would want "a logic model" connecting the funding to a "metric" and a "result" by way of "social return on investment," or "political return on investment." To me that is exactly what I do not want, or need. I have enough of that sterile management in my cubicle at Wealth Bondage.

Making trouble, that I do for fun, for free, and for my own sanity, at the risk of my day job. Isn't that the nature of the game, for us? At best we can find a day job whose "domain" of expertise overlaps with our intellectuall trouble-making. For me it is philanthropy, for someone else it might be PR, advertising, sales, manufacturing, law, journalism, or theology. Why do we assume that it takes a budget to create social change? All it takes is for us on the inside to lead a second life outside and ruthlessly satirize our "real" identities, and the games we play so well for money. The game would crumble if a critical mass of us made carnival of our world, masks of our own faces.

J. Alva, losing over and over takes courage, determination, or stupidity, particularly once you realize that the odds are intentionally stacked against the effort. The game is rigged, no one will pay to have it unrigged. Those who unstring the game are potentially pariahs. Yet, the need to do it is compulsive - in you, certainly. At the same time, imagining and working towards a better world, in whatever small ways, a positive effort, in whatever small way, seems only right. Raising kids, teaching, setting an example, retaining a sense of humor, creating a bit of art-like material, we all can do a tiny bit, however unlikely to have a major effect. And when we do it encourages each other and a larger group. Cynicism at its worst is self-fulfillin: learnned helplessness, Seligman's characterization of depression, and a pretty good characterization of anomie in our electorate.

The sort of independent theoretical work that is at the foundations of TWWW is one of the critical leverage points. A virtual think tank is very cheap. Lots of free-range scholars eager to do the work, a virtual roof is easy and cheap these days (private/public blog/wiki systems to start). Punctuate with Open Space events to connect scholars, givers, grasstops leaders and work together on strategy and tactics.

I wish some significant donors would start to get this and begin to work this way. Because they are not buying any bricks and motar, no offices, no traditional administrative functions, it has to be much more efficient. The donor also gets to be as involved as they want in the processes. If they define the scale and purpose of the work they want to do and it is a simple matter (for someone with the right skills/experience) to outline a plan of action. The outcome will not be predictable, but that's the whole point, to learn what we need to learn to self-organize the next organizational/cultural level.

... early-stage wirearchies, imo.

Of course you're gonna lose over and over again, it has to be that way. But increasingly this is the way things will get done, including things you don't want to see get done, disagree with, etc. Those who learn (and practice) how to get effective will get out in front, move faster and/or more easily. WB is and has been a good warm-up stretch.

Let's say someone said, here is $10,000 for each of 5 people. Go make yourself a Dumpster Think Tank," how would that be much better? You would have to be talking multiples of that for it to be a "job," as opposed to a hobby or a folly. And if someone had a million a year budget, they would want "a logic model" connecting the funding to a "metric" and a "result" by way of "social return on investment," or "political return on investment."

Exactly. The thing is that they do sometimes find these think tanks to the tune of many millions. Of course, 10K at a crack is only ok if it keeps coming each quarter, or each month for the more senior fellows. But really it isn't much more than that, and very little in overhead. A generous patron might give benefits including health care, but it would be workable without that.

Yes we would do much of this for nothing and will continue to do so, but I can't easily undertake a serious research program if we all have to have day jobs that take most of our attention. It is a matter of capacity, if you fund creating people they have more time for creative work and waste less on non-artistic considerations.

Further, in the long run many initiatives will turn out to have comercial value, and I expect that something sustainable can emerge. It would just get a big boost from some strategic money right now, and as JJ suggests when the competition adopts the strategy first you are playing catch up.

Citizenship is not a high paying job. 40 hours a week for work; 40 for citizenship and family. Still leaves 8 hours a day for sleep. Plus you can sometimes leverage your job contacts and professional training. "Sleepwalkers" may be "sleepers" inside wealth bondage, ready to awaken. A critical mass of philanthropy bloggers now seems immanent. While philanthropy is a rareified topic, it opens out into topics like ideology formation, capitalism, gift culture, volunteerism, financial services, social justice, policy formation, think tanks, and almost any cause or topic funded by philanthropy. In a way, the intersection of those blogs, and their interconnections will become a kind of ad hoc Think Tank. When Schambra and people of his calibre begin to notice, and take us on, an important change will have taken place. Instead of being honored to come to his place, on his agenda, he will have to enter Wealth Bondage or White Courtesy Telephone and converse like a person, rather than an intellectual assasin for his funders.

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