A Simple Desire: To Better the World These Essays Highlight Ways to Build Idealism into Future Communities

By David R. Francis, writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, March 26, 1998 | Go to article overview

A Simple Desire: To Better the World These Essays Highlight Ways to Build Idealism into Future Communities


David R. Francis, writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


THE COMMUNITY OF THE FUTURE

Ed. by Hesselbein, Goldsmith, Beckhard, and Schubert

Josse-Bass, San Francisco 285 pp., $25 Put together by the Drucker Foundation, this book of essays is full of rampant idealism. Its authors - educators, think-tankers, corporate executives, consultants, book authors, nonprofit association executives, and a German politician - share a desire to better the world through their ideas and actions. Many qualify as do-gooders in the best sense of the phrase. Each author has about 10 pages to make her or his point. If that point is intriguing, you wish the idea was developed further. If not, skimming proves useful. Here are a few of the ideas: Lester Thurow, economist, Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Capitalism has too short a time horizon. It will not, and cannot, make the investments in education, infrastructure, or research and development needed to generate its own future success. The Internet, for example, was financed by the Defense Department. It could not have been financed privately. It took 20 years to develop, before cheap personal computers allowed it to create new thriving industries. Corporate downsizing, to improve short-term profits, has shattered the social contract between employers and their workers. No matter how much they have contributed in the past, workers see they could be fired at any time. As a result, workers are learning to maximize their short-run earnings by taking wage offers even marginally higher. "Have Gun, Will Travel" becomes the motto. "Yet firms have no source of long-term strategic advantage other than these brainpower workers," Mr. Thurow notes. Bob Buford, cable-television operator: Baby boomers are reaching "halftime" in their lives, when bigger questions start to challenge the pursuit of success. …

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