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From: B. Harris)
Subject: Re: Backlash against HMOs: a declaration of war (was Doctor-bashing)
Date: 16 Apr 1999 16:02:37 GMT

In <> Bret Wood
<> writes:

>I _am_ a proponent of salary reform for CEOs.  But Dr. Harris is a
>staunch Libertarian.  I was just attempting to point out a little
>bit of irony in his statements.

    What irony is that?  There is no irony in the fact that a company
can be made to run more efficiently by being ruthless in failing to
support unnnecessary and/or inefficient personnel.  It's a fact of
life-- indeed a characteristic of all complex networked systems.  In
biology the bodies of animals are similarly ruthless about getting rid
of unnecessary systems during adaptation-- that is, if a remodeling
path can be found to do so without crossing though a zone of business
interruption (unlike an auto plant, the body can't close temporarily
to retool).  All changes have to be rather minimalist, but otherwise,
anything goes.  Those gaps in your hands between your fingers result
from cells being deliberately killed to sculpt your hand.  Your brain
starts out with many times its present number of cells, but as you
began to interact with the world those cells competed with each other
for space and oxygen, and the ones that couldn't find jobs simply
starved or committed suicide.  The result being a brain far more
complex than the DNA which encodes the recipe could possibly specify.
It isn't just evolution that is ruthless in adapting, it's every organ
in every animal.

   Efficient companies, like efficient organisms, stay alive and in
business, and they even grow.  And support those employees who
continue-- that's a fact of life, too.  CEOs who are worth it to their
company's design get paid in proportion to their worth by the
stockholders-- it's sort of like the fact that your brain is 2% of your
body weight but gets 20% of your oxygen and calories (a 10:1 salary
differential).  Or your kidneys being just 0.5% but getting 7% of your
calories (14:1 differential).   If you compare kidney tissue oxygen use
to fat tissue use, the differential gets really huge.  It's not fair,
but a design with those proportions works especially well, and so
survived in the marketplace.  Ultimately it resulted in you, so don't

  Nature doesn't carry what she doesn't have to, and can find an
incremental way to get rid of.  That's why birds have no tails and no
teeth, and not even many introns in their DNA.  Excess weight.  And why
you have no pelt and can't make vitamin C.  Your ancestors didn't need
either at various times and places where they lived, and so they saved
the energy.  By the time some of them moved north and would have found
such things useful, the incremental path back was too degraded, and so
forever closed (the gene that makes vitamin C is still in your genome,
but it's horribly beaten up by now-- a lot like an abandoned building
with no supervisory tennant to maintain it).   It's not fair, but it's
how the world works.   In the end, all that unfairness ended up as
hairless chimp with long legs, ultra sensitive fingers, and a bulging,
mutated brain.   A weird-looking thing indeed, adapted for hot
savannahs, but able to run cultural software complex enough to carry
out behaviors to allow it to live anywhere, from pack ice to desert to
tropical jungle.  Cruelty and death leads to efficiency, which leads to
success, which leads to life, sweet life.  We freely roam the planet
and even head out into space because of that 2% of us that gets 20% of
the metabolic pay.

   If you're into calorie use reform, you're welcome to squeeze your
carotids or something.  However, you'll find it inefficient, over all,
even if you do save oxygen for a while.  If you find a way to continue
after you lose consciousness, other collections of wiser cells will
soon take your place in the market when you go totally bankrupt.  The
same happens to corporations who reform pay to their superior CEOs, if
a superior CEO is what they have and what they do as a corporation
makes a superior CEO (one with unusual energy, skills, wisdom) a need.
That is, if they're competing with other corporations with excellent
CEOs in a market niche where such a thing is an advantage (it isn't for
all of them, and the smaller they are the less it is).  Corporations
with CEOs and janitors making the same salary would long since
otherwise have taken over all aspects of the American economy, whereas
corporations where salaries differ widely are the norm in large
companies.  Instead of uniformity, we have many different corporate
designs, just as on Earth we have animals with many different sizes of
brain.  What you need to succeed in the market or the ecology depends
on what you do-- what niche you fill.

                                        Steve Harris, M.D.

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