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Ignorance is a fool's paradise, not bliss


American indifference to international affairs, which we have frequently lamented, is alarming because the world is in a crisis more serious than the nuclear problem presented by India and Pakistan. The Economist, which is neither alarmist nor rabble-rousing, has (5/30/98) a leader entitled "The challenge for America's rich" contrasting the public spiritedness of "robber barons" like Leland Stanford with the unredeemed selfishness of most of today's wealthy. There is a vague awareness of the deep resentment in this country against billionaire executives who fire hundreds of workers while giving themselves obscene bonuses.

Worldwide, the resentment is wider and deeper. We may despise Fidel Castro, but in the less-developed world he enjoys wide support as the spokesman for the millions who are more worried about the next meal than about the next election. Because of their proximity, the situation is especially dangerous in Mexico and Central America. I recall a wealthy executive who invited me to lunch at the exclusive Pebble Beach Country Club. Having just returned from a tour of Latin America, he was boasting of the number of people he had fired at the company's subsidiaries. Very efficient, no doubt. Horribly insensitive too. What we should do is an extremely complex question, but indifference or callousness are inexcusable, stupid and dangerous.

Ronald Hilton - 06/02/98




Responses to "Ignorance is a fool's paradise, not bliss"


The memo on this subject has elicited much favorable comment. It should be stressed that American billionaires are enlightened by world standards. From Mexico, Ed. Simmen writes:

"Thank you so very much for the commentary. Unfortunately, the same is true of Mexico. Many entrepreneurs here (all very good friends of mine) complain about the fact that they are not selling their products to other Mexicans. I respond with the comment that if they paid their workers a true living wage, their employees would be able to buy their cars, houses, etc. But no. They simply do not understand about very much about "sharing the wealth"! You have to get the money into the economy not just into banks or investments on the stock market. I do not understand what is going on. Your analysis was both accurate as well as necessary."

Ronald Hilton - 06/03/98


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