Economic Multipliers (43)

Do you know what these are?

They help CREATE wealth in systems.

Good authors are economic multipliers.


What might a need to inject more humor into my life, two rummage sales, the November 1959 issue of Field and Stream magazine and James Michener have in common? In the most circuitous way, all of these led me to books which gave me greater insight into how other people think and how the world and all its problems haven’t changed much over the years but the attitudes that people have about problems have changed … and A LOT.

I picked up A Treasury of Humor (Eric W. Johnson, Editor, 1989) for a mere quarter. Humor is an individual and quirky kind of thing. I always think something is truly funny if the person that is hearing the story or joke finds it funny … and that people are usually ‘safe’ with humor if they are making fun of their own shortcomings and unusual behaviors – not other people’s. In today’s world, that’s called being ‘politically correct.’ I wish I was always politically correct but I’m sure that I’m not … I enjoyed too much of this book to think that I am.

But that’s not why I’m mentioning this book. Johnson’s book led me to an at-one-time banned book that I wouldn’t normally have read: Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D. H. Lawrence (1928). Johnson mentioned that it had been reviewed by Field and Stream magazine as a possible alternative to J.R. Miller’s Practical Gamekeeping. The reviewer was (on the whole) being ‘funny’ and I’m sure giving guys a reason to read a book that they normally wouldn’t have read either.

Quite ‘steamy’ in prose, young people today would find it hard to believe that it took around 40 years for this book to be ‘unbanned’ in some parts of the world. The problems that the book presents are all ‘current’ problems. The attitudes that people have regarding the problems have changed dramatically.

If I had read this book when I was 20 years old, I would have gotten caught up in the ‘steaminess’ of it all. This older version of me was also fascinated by the concepts of ‘fear’ that D. H. Lawrence presented:

  • the fear of being left alone …

  • the fear of being handicapped in some way and having to rely on others to ‘make things work’ … (As the generations age among all the industrialized nations, I believe the more we can alleviate this ‘fear,’ the stronger all of our nations will be.) …

  • the fear that relationships can be destructive traps …

  • the fear that societies will change in ways where it’s not possible for us to adapt …

… all concepts that connect to a James Michener book that I gleaned from a neighbor’s rummage sale: The Drifters (1971). Author of more than 40 books, James Michener was not a writer of humor: I believe he wrote specifically to teach us how different people think and how that thinking drives how societies (and people) evolve.

The Drifters features a 61 year old man who works for a large corporation that handles the financing of numerous ‘development projects’ around the world. As he goes about his ‘business,’ he ‘collects’ the stories of a group of young people who are all very diverse in their history, education, and thinking. The one thing that binds them together is that at this point in their lives, they are all global ‘drifters.'

I checked: James Michener would have been around 61 when he started writing this book. I believe he ‘synthesized’ the thoughts of the young people he met who were dealing with changes in the world that they did not know how to deal with. I believe he wanted young people to know that they were not alone and that although he could not fully understand their thinking, he also knew that his own thinking was not ‘complete.’ He did not have all their answers: He wished he did.

The Drifters was written at a time when there was significant social upheaval in the United States and elsewhere: Some of the ‘solutions’ that were applied are haunting us today.

If you ever take the time to read Lady Chatterley’s Lover and then The Drifters, say to yourself that in less than 100 years, we have gone from a banned book to today’s social media: It’s no wonder that the generations are having a hard time getting their heads around how to best deal with problems that haven’t changed but attitudes that have … and A LOT.


P.S. Good authors normally give good directions but people who do not consider themselves to be ‘scholars’ many times skip citations and ‘further reading’ lists. Jared Diamond, in his book Guns, Germs and Steel (a book written for the ‘non-scholar’), has an amazing reading list (see Chapter 13 reading list) for individuals interested in technology … books like:

    • Diffusion of Innovations by Everett Rogers and

    • Networks of Power by Thomas Hughes

Not only does he provide an extensive list … he tells you why he thinks they are significant.

Are you …

    • a farmer? … Chapter 4-10 readings

    • a doctor? … Chapter 11 readings

    • a general? … Chapter 3 readings

    • a code breaker? … Chapter 12 readings

    • a historian, linguist, anthropologist or archeologist? … Where would I begin?

The striking thing to me is not that Jared Diamond’s lists seem so complete: The striking thing to me is that I believe he selected so many ‘solid’ books and I don’t think I’ve read any of them.