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Note the arguments below (the positive statements concerning reality). What's the truth value? What's left out—where are his blind spots?

Why The List (400 Wealthiest)

Steve Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 10.08.01, 12:00 AM ET

This issue vividly illustrates one of America's basic strengths: the extraordinary dynamism and creativity of our free enterprise system, a system that prizes and encourages people who, in Abraham Lincoln's words, try to improve their lot in life. Energy, mobility, change are the constants. Look at how much this list changes each year. Today's success is no guarantee of success tomorrow.

The FORBES 400 ( demonstrates that the real wealth of our nation is not physical—jewelry, gold, large cash accounts, lots of land—but metaphysical, what stems from the human mind—creativity, imagination, innovation, inventiveness. It is character—a stick-to-itiveness and a willingness to take risks, to take leaps into the unknown. The freedom to turn thoughts, hunches, insights and dreams into realities not only makes America rich but also keeps it perpetually on the move, open to new things and to new ways of doing things.

None of us really relishes the oft-disruptive nature of democratic capitalism. Few blacksmiths welcomed the advent of the automobile. But as a society we have been remarkably open and accepting of change, recognizing that ultimately we all benefit from it through a better standard of living and a better chance to move ahead. The tractor and other technological advances sharply reduced the number of people needed as farmers. Former farm laborers, though, earned substantially more working on Henry Ford's moving assembly lines in Detroit than they did tilling fields.   (See Section III —Society, Chapters 23 through 26: "A Century of Social Transformation — Emergence of Knowledge Society; The Coming of Entrepreneurial Society; Citizenship through the Social Sector; From Analysis to Perception — The New Worldview" in The Essential Drucker by Peter Drucker)

Some people look upon this list only voyeuristically—who's got how much, who's up, who's out. They miss the fundamental and infinitely more exciting factor of the mobility, turbulence and creativity of the American economy.

The essence of democratic capitalism is not greed or rapaciousness, human emotions that have been with us since the beginning. It is, rather, anticipating and meeting the needs and wants of other people. You may want to do well for yourself, but you and your firm won't succeed unless you offer a product or service that people are willing to buy. One way to describe it is "knowing your customer."

Democratic capitalism encourages trust and cooperation. With no central authority guiding us, we work to produce goods and services that continually make our lives materially better. The system takes personal ambition and channels it in ways that can benefit us all from its fulfillment. We have demonstrated, as no other economy has, that life need not be a zero-sum game, that one person's gain is not necessarily another person's loss.

High tech is in its infancy. The temporary slump is just that. After all, we have had some 300 serious auto manufacturers over the past century in America. The fact that 99% no longer exist does not mean there is a shortage of cars, vans or SUVs.

Some critics carp that a third of our listees inherited wealth. So what? But what they do with it—enhance it, diminish it, give it away—is intriguing.

The fact that democratic capitalism has us serving others as an integral function underscores America's philanthropy. Many people still think that commerce and charity are at opposite poles. They are actually two sides of the same coin — the coin of serving others. It is no coincidence that this most commercial of nations is also the most philanthropic.

John D. Rockefeller created mighty Standard Oil. He also gave us the University of Chicago and Rockefeller University, and his descendants helped create Colonial Williamsburg and fund our national parks.

Democratic capitalism is the most inclusive system in history. Anyone can become part of it. Look at Asia. Only a few decades ago, incredibly, some "experts" said Japan would forever be a poor, underdeveloped, mostly agricultural nation. Experts also opined that Asians didn't have the "right cultural heritage" to build fast-growing, advanced economies. Dozens of years ago Hong Kong was one of the poorest pieces of real estate on earth, with a miserable per capita income, suffering "overpopulation" and utterly lacking in natural resources (it even has to import water).  

Free enterprise—grounded in strong moral values, as it must be if it is to survive—allows the most unlikely people to burst the bounds of the present with breathtaking breakthroughs and advances, thereby enriching us all.

See Chapter 25: "Can the Democracies Win the Peace?" in Managing in a Time of Great Change by Peter Drucker


“The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not turbulence; it is to act with yesterday’s logic”. — Peter Drucker

The shift from manual workers who do as they are being told — either by the task or by the boss — to knowledge workers who have to manage themselves ↓ profoundly challenges social structure

Managing Oneself is a REVOLUTION in human affairs.” … “It also requires an almost 180-degree change in the knowledge workers’ thoughts and actions from what most of us—even of the younger generation—still take for granted as the way to think and the way to act.” …

… “Managing Oneself is based on the very opposite realities: Workers are likely to outlive organizations (and therefore, employers can’t be depended on for designing your life), and the knowledge worker has mobility.” ← in a context




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