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     January 30, 2011

Floating Higher –

   It’s not that our boats contain cocaine, but that we are the beneficiaries of capitalism.  The organization of our ancestors, by a division of labor into efficient industries; improvements in our lands; increases in productivity brought by technology; advances in transportation and the movement of information; all of these have brought such marvels as would perhaps be seen as magic or witchcraft in the not too distant past.  The use of cell phones has become ubiquitous,  even by, especially by, those of us Adam Smith referred to as “inferior people.”

  Higher and higher the boats go.  But what if, as in Egypt where more than half the population lives on about $2 a day, you can’t afford one?  The same devices that were instrumental in electing President Obama are being used to coordinate a revolution that may remove President Mubarack from office.  In the rude beginnings of society, no one foresaw that inferior people might actually form their own democratic union without asking the powers that be for permission, not even a parade permit, no declaration other than cries from the street, just immediate action.

   That the $2 a day people might someday, as a result of being herded into a distinguishable class, realize their common situation is not a new idea.  The $10,000 a day people, whose boats are floating palaces, are very upset about the cell phones.  They decry mob rule.  And in Egypt they completely shut down the transmitters.  In China they filter the internet.  In America there is now talk of a tiered internet.  The reality of unfiltered democracy is striking close to the hearts of those whose yacht clubs race catamarans.   Some beneficiaries float higher than others.  The CEO of BP, called from his yacht race to the scene of oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico, remarked, “I want my life back.”

   In the rude beginnings, no one foresaw  benefits morphing into global hunger, ecological disaster, and the immanent ruination of our lands.  Those benefits also include the means of change that, believe it or not, is actually happening now.  Information, like fingerprint dust at a crime scene, is showing up the Invisible Kings.  People who do not consider themselves inferior, having been assembled under that rubric, are letting the high fliers know that real democracy will require not just an end to invisibility but real accountability that steps off the bottom line to include the whole world and all its people.