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December 22, 2015


John Charles Thomas

I am glad that you focused on the importance of trust in the context of social and economic systems. One aspect often over-looked by those who espouse radical capitalism is that we live in a complex network of inter-related producers, suppliers, etc. nothing at all like the world where capitalism arose. In 1875, if I were a farmer and sold people tainted food, they would know where to find me. At a minimum, they would not buy food from me again. They might have lynched me. Now, if someone in some remote region of some country is put under huge pressure to produce more for less, they might cut corners and provide food that is sub-quality or even poisoned. The unaided consumer cannot disentangle where the food came from that is making them sick or who is responsible. This is one reason our complicated world currently requires regulation. One could imagine that all these linkages could be made available so that the consumer could accurately and easily access actual information of use about products and services. It might be technically feasible. On the other hand, a huge amount of effort is currently put into commercials, marketing campaigns, special laws, etc. that basically make it easier for large corporations to lie about their products and services. Trivial example: "All natural fruit juice drink with the world's healthiest ingredients" proclaims a huge label on a bottle of sugar water with .5% juice. Calling something "all natural" is not a regulated phrase and so companies feel no compunction whatever about calling a completely artificial concoction "all natural." In the short term, this improves their profits. In the long run, such acts, taken together ruin health and cost trillions in additional health care cost. In addition, such actions destroy trust in the overall economic system. In their attempts to maximize profits through misleading people, corporations are destroying the needed trust in the overall system. Same thing applies to buying elections. When consumer trust reaches zero, it all falls down. That would be a sad and violent time. Hopefully, the availability of information about products on-line, Yelp reviews, etc. can help funnel more money toward trustworthy vendors, whether individuals or companies. Eventually, I hope providers will realize it is in their own long term interest to be honest -- as well as being the right thing to do.


This is just fascinating! If carried into the sector of teaching and learning what will be the role of the Academy? Will the Academy simply serve as the apparatus to match credentialed teachers with Learners? I can already see a major shift happening with the technology choices being made in higher Ed. What will become of the well-defined curriculum, learning cohorts, degree requirements? Brave new world indeed.

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