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August 4, 2011

The Space Race then, The "Small Race" Now

By Rob Kall

Nature adapted to the extinction of big by making smarter smaller animals. We need to do the same with business. Making small big is a huge project that we have to make a major commitment to. We've already done it with nano-technology and microprocessor, putting in our pockets computers that used to fill a room. Now we need to apply our abilities to business.

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Russia's Sputnik set off a "space race."

Russia's successful Sputnik satellite launch began a space race. Now, we need a comparably funded "Small Race," and we need to do it fast.

JFK had a panic attack when the Rooskies put a Uri Gagarin into space, way ahead of the US and then, he put us on a visionary trajectory to land a man on the moon.

Now we face a comparably massive crisis-- the threat of "BIG." 

I'm talking too big to fail banks and financial firms, too big to fail pharmaceutical companies and health insurance companies and energy companies. 

I'm talking about billionaires who are totally deforming political democracy and politics. 

Bernie Sanders has tried to introduce legislation to eliminate too big to fail banks and finance companies. That didn't go anywhere. 

Imagine if JFK tried to get congress legislation to send men to the moon without first creating a space program. You need to take small steps before the big ones. 

We need to develop a science of shrinking, a science and technology of supporting small and eliminating and preventing "too big," which includes too big to fail business and billionaires. 

I propose that we-the-people need to fund research to reduce big and strengthen small. This should be approached with the urgency that the nation approached the space race, and comparable funding:

  • Identify concrete ways to systematically dismantle too-big-to-fail businesses in all categories. 
  • Develop models and approaches that make it a disadvantage to grow bigger. 
  • Develop taxes that make it MORE expensive and less profitable to get bigger, especially by acquisitions and mergers. 
  • Develop policy approaches that make it virtually impossible to get approval for acquisitions and mergers that make already too-big-to-fail companies bigger
  • Develop new models that enable coalitions of small businesses to work together without being acquired by mega-corporations-- so they can stay small while still benefiting from economies of scale.
  • Develop models for preventing individuals or family dynasties from becoming billionaires with the power to deform the political order


Why begin a "Small Race?"

  • America is at risk because too-big-to-fail companies and too wealthy billionaires are deforming capitalism and politics, making the US a less competitive nation, dragging down the US in measure after measure of international rankings, from life-span to educational performance to broadband availability.
  • Big corporations are pathologically distorting the political landscape. 
  • Big corporations have disrupted the functioning of capitalism. 
  • Big corporations have become more powerful than nations. 
  • Big corporations have priorities that have nothing to do with human needs and they are profoundly influencing political and government policies at all levels in ways that hurt humans and particularly the middle class and most vulnerable. 
  • Too Big corporations and the most wealthy are destroying the fabric of American society, culture and community. 
  • We know that small business is the most important source of new jobs and innovation.
  • We need to identify new technologies and approaches to support small business, which support keeping them small while enabling bottom up cooperation and interdependence between companies, so they can stay small and exploit some of the advantages that big businesses enjoy. 

The US space program was funded by government. It's unlikely that the current political situation will permit that. So the funding for the first steps of the "Small Race" will have to be funded by foundations and wealthy individuals. There are a few hundred millionaires who have figured out that big is bad, who are working to make a more economically just world. Perhaps they'll help fund people who can start putting time into exploring the "how" of staying small, the "how" of shrinking "too big."

It is not enough to just say "too big" is bad. We need to get serious about doing something about it. 

I like to look to nature for insights, ideas, metaphors and analogies. The dinosaurs demonstrated that for a while, life forms could get really big. Then something really big happened. Perhaps it was  a meteor or volcanic eruption that changed the climate so big dinosaurs could no longer exist. They went extinct. 

The current world economic model of mega-corporations is on a short track to extinction. We need to make that happen and the only sane way to do it, so we can survive the aftermath is to take a scientific approach and plan for how to make it not only happen, but to lead to a better, healthier, smarter economic system. Nature shifted from giant reptiles to smaller, more nimble, smarter mammals. It's time we do the same thing with businesses, which have only been on the face of the earth for a few hundred years. 

The motivation for the space race was competition with Russia. It was about national pride and the threat of a Russian military advantage in outer space. The US military got behind the space race. Perhaps some of the earliest funding for a "Small Race" would be well invested in identifying major parties, like the military, big advocacy groups and constituencies and the like that could get behind and profit from a "Small Race."

We know that once the US landed men on the moon, the NASA budget was halved between 1966 and 1976, once it was clear Russia was no longer competing. We need to explore ways to motivate support for and participation in the "Small Race" and identify spin-off technologies and opportunities that will develop from its implementation, just like NASA developed thousands of new technologies that were adopted by business and consumers. 

When the US finally managed a successful satellite launch, Werner von Braun was accorded hero status. 

We need to make it clear that successes at making Big small will be accorded comparable rewards-- and plan to come up with ways to reward such successes. 

image from youtube video by Smenu

Nature adapted to the extinction of big by making smarter smaller animals. We need to do the same with business. Making small big is a huge project that we have to make a major commitment to. We've already done it with nano-technology and microprocessor, putting in our pockets computers that used to fill a room. Now we need to apply our abilities to business.



Submitters Bio:

Rob Kall is editor-in-chief, publisher and site architect of OpEdNews.com, President of Futurehealth, Inc, and an inventor. He hosts the Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show, aired in the Metro Philly area on AM 1360, WNJC. Over 200 podcasts are archived for downloading here, or can be accessed from iTunes. Rob is also published regularly on the Huffingtonpost.com

Rob Kall Wikipedia Page

Rob is, with Opednews.com the first media winner of the Pillar Award for supporting Whistleblowers and the first amendment.

See more Rob Kall articles here and, older ones, here. To learn more about Rob and OpEdNews.com, check out A Voice For Truth - ROB KALL | OM Times Magazine and this article. For Rob's work in non-political realms mostly before 2000, see his C.V..  and here's an article on the Storycon Summit Meeting he founded and organized for eight years. Press coverage in the Wall Street Journal: Party's Left Pushes for a Seat at the Table

Here is a one hour radio interview where Rob was a guest- on Envision This, and here is the transcript. 

To watch Rob having a lively conversation with John Conyers, then Chair of the House Judiciary committee, click hereWatch Rob speaking on Bottom up economics at the Occupy G8 Economic Summit, here.

Follow Rob on Twitter & Facebook. His quotes are here

My articles express my personal opinion, not the opinion of this website.

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