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Thomas Brucia


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Are creativity and leadership overrated?

Isn't the ability to follow instructions equally important as being creative? The world is dependent on millions who do things over and over again: accountants, repairmen, farmers, and so on. The wages of innovation can often be dismissal or disaster -- whereas the rewards of doing one's job are significant. So too with 'leadership': leaders must always be a tiny minority, because without followers, they are nothing...... Or am I missing something?


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    Nov 16 2011: A very insightful comment. I think though that while repetition creates experience and skill creativity finds fulfillment in free expression - and the two work very well together.

    As for leaders - well I am with you - although it is the nature of human species (like apes and dogs) to arrange their societies with a leadership model - they are tribal - and tribal leaders are those with skills for protection and survival of the group - with experience to serve the needs of the whole from broader perspective. Many cannot be bothered investing that much energy and taking that much responsibility - are happy to be a follower only.

    I think our society falls down in the leadership area - in the way we have used the media and popularity ideal to appoint leaders in our current systemic model of governance. Our democratic model of governance tends to be around voting and popularity. Popularity is an overrated attribute for leadership in this arena because it has little to do with competency and ability to perform. It helps to be a popular leader but it is not the reason that a person should be given a job that involves serious responsibility for the greater needs of others. I know it arises from the local level - the representative who gets along with all the neighbourhood - and takes an interest in local issues. Great but are they competent to then rise and serve a national and/or international governance decision making - simply by being voted into the position? I think democracy leadership would work better if we built in accountability screening and pre-check competencies based on leadership values and qualities - for the nature and extent of the role likely to be filled - and then go to issues, policies - platform - and popularity is kind of the last part. This is how we'd take a job. Also Having a political degree does not fulfil all the pre-requisite competencies for good leadership. This is different from the hero model - who traditionally earn's his pop
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      Nov 16 2011: I would suggest you don't make our culture take enough responsibillity for itself. Democracy is the worst form of government except for every one we've ever tried. The basis of democracy is that YOU CAN trust regular everyday people to pick good leaders. The whole idea of America is that we don't need checks and balances on elected officials, because the courts already balance them out, and people won't elect incompetent boobs like George Bush and Rick Perry.

      Our generation of Americans failed to take their responsibillity for that trust. We proved that democracy makes big mistakes... That's our fault though as people. Our culture needs to change, we need to become a nation of engaged educated citizens that would never let George Bush anywhere near the whitehouse again. We need to earn the trust that democracy bestows upon us, or we're asking for someone to take it over.
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        Nov 27 2011: Hi David,

        With due respect, as i read your comments, i understand that if only we were engaged citizens, if only we spent the time to research our candidates and vote for the best one, then democracy would yield its fruits to us.

        I would borrow from the title of this question and say that voting is overrated too.

        Sometimes I see presidential elections through a little metaphor: someone has a million dollars in his hand and you get to decide whether he will give them to his cousin or to his aunt. Regular citizens have very little to say in terms of proposing candidates. Regular citizens have very little say in terms of legislation proposed or passed. They only get to decide between candidates imposed by others. So in a sense, many elections become a choice of the less of two evils.

        Another problem with vote is that you only get to evaluate presidents every 4 years and representatives every 2 years. In between, there is no vote required from your part.

        Maybe a good way to make democracy work a little better would be to vote as we do today, but then vote again every couple months (or every month) to decide whether to keep someone in office or be replaced. Maybe that way people would have a bit more control through voting?
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          Nov 27 2011: voting deminishes in value all the time, look at the percent of people who dont vote, But i realy dont see a beter way, still its radiculous that we can vote and still have no control of where our money is spent, i think the two are related, if voting became people being forced to choose where to best spend their taxes that would be best? like it or not money is the gasolline of the world mankind runs on it.
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          Nov 27 2011: I would only ask Andres... Over rated when compared to what? Yes, the voting model has been corrupted, by something we call capitalism, but doesn't even resemble capitalism anymore. I actually mention this once before... but Rome didn't collapse to a better philosophy, it collapsed to barbarism, tribaliism, and in fighting. Internally people began to hate the tyranny of the majority, and they turned against the democratic model, and gave it up... or more accurately, didn't fight to preserve it, it gave way to what? A period of time, known as The Dark Ages.

          I think America's most important place in the worlds future is in ensuring, that if someone else, or a conglomerate entity takes our leadership role away... It's actually a better model then our own. We have to make sure we don't let marxism, devolve into communism, and call itself better than democracy. We've already proven as a people throughout hundreds of years, that model isn't better, it makes people more miserable.

          It's important to recognize the inherent inequallities emerging in "capitalist democracies", and fix them... or stuard them and uphold them until we have something better... We can't be dragged backwards to a totalitarian state, because capitalism, and democracy are "over rated".

          The definition of over rated, would imply that there is a rating system in political philosophies, and there is another one out there that is unfairly low on the list, because the number one spot is over rated... I would like to suggest that both idealogies, are fantastic, number one, dominant dynasty teams... In the minor leagues. We're not at the right philosophy of governance yet... but democracy and capitalism as basic rhetorical models still easilly earn their number one spot... imho.

          Both of these philosophies rely on hero model ideology. We need the right people to be popular leaders. We need the right people to be rich creative industriallists. We need to make it happen... In my mind anyway.
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        Nov 27 2011: Hi again David,

        I don't think i can agree with your conclusion that the collapse of Rome was caused because the Romans wanted to get rid of democracy. But i will have to go back to read my history rather than giving you a half baked reply on that.

        Why would it matter what kind of model exists in a new conglomerate entity if it were to replace the USA's leadership? I mean, the USA is capitalist today and that has not prevented a socialist country from thriving (China), so if China were to take a leadership role, why that would prevent the USA from thriving?

        Progress moves forward, I fully agree with you on that. I don't think anybody advocates moving backwards to a totalitarian state. But that is not the only alternative available when people talks about improving capitalism. My suggestion, for example, does nothing suggest to change any of the basic premises of capitalism as it is practiced in the USA (even though i can think of a few suggestions). What i suggested was to vote more often to see if this would increase the voter's power over elected officials.

        My use of the word overrated had nothing to do with comparing capitalism against other alternative economic systems, but rather (from the definition overrate: to overestimate the merits of) my intent was to highlight the fact that we tend to think vote in the USA has more power than it actually does.
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          Nov 27 2011: Rome didn't fall entirely from this... but it basically lost to several weaker enemies, all at the same time, and the people didn't want to fight to maintain it's dominance. Barbarians eventually sacked Rome. I would have suggested Rome giving up it's empire, and losing a few wars of revolution... but even if you were going to let Rome be sacked, fight to bring back democracy.

          America today, is in no way shape or form capitalist. Capitalist implies a meritocracy where the government has little or no influence over purchasing decisions. We haven't been that... well, ever, but we were closer at different points in time. We have a mixed capitalist socialist model with a safety net, just like Europe. More importantly we're not capitalist because our government has a huge influence over what products are made and sold, what experiments are done... they have influence across the board, and their influence is usually funded by corporations.

          China, who you Cheerlead for a bit here, is a totalitarian state. I've been there. When engaged in a conversation with a local women, talking about the economy, I suggested "the american people really want you to start getting paid better here, and the corporations, and the government don't always want that"... then I realized that I might be being incredibly rude "Oh, I'm sorry, am I even allowed to say things like this here, I don't want to be rude"... See said to me "Yes... YOU... Are, allowed to say things like that here" with shame on her face... and I felt horrible.

          I don't want to live there... No one else does either, it's miserable, but they're doing the best they can. I would suggest that we progressed backwards and went too far towards communism, imperialism, and corporatocracy in the US... We've seen those things before and they don't work. Capitalism worked back when we had something close to it. We've devolved in America, towards a Chinese standard of living, I think something better is out there.
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        Nov 27 2011: Hi David,

        I see that you are talking about the laissez-faire austrian school of "pure" capitalism. "if only we could go back to... well... if only we could get rid of... maybe capitalism would thrive) You should talk a bit more to Krisztian Pinter. He shares many of your views, and i have seen he defends them fiercely in other TED conversations. I do not advocate for laissez-faire. But fortunately the definition of capitalism is not owned by the austrian school so capitalism can change and be improved.

        You misinterpret me if you think I advocate that every country should adopt china's government, or that it is better. I do not advocate that every country adopts the usa style government either. We were talking about leadership, not about government or economic system, I was using it as an example (given the fact that there is no other country that seems to be on the rise like they do).

        Actually, I was lucky and I lived in china for a few months. And I returned to visit 6 or 7 more times. I made very good friends that i keep even after more than 10 years. They did not have problems talking to me about their government, religious practices or other topics. There is illegal to speak in public against the government so most refrain to do so. Here is illegal to camp in a public space if your motive is protest the government so now people are starting to refrain from doing so.

        But I didn't want to stay with the media-distributed image so i traveled a bit more in-land to see what real chinese life was like. They got it pretty hard indeed. And my conclusion was that the major contributor to the problem is the combination of their government policies with the pressure that foreign enterprises put on young people to migrate to big industrial cities and work for miserable salaries. And it is not the government who dictates these salaries, by the way, pure supply and demand of cheap labor.
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          Nov 27 2011: I appreciate the "pure" austrian school, laissez-faire. I even have a bit of a sweet tooth for Ayn Rand and some of her Libertarian friends at times. In the culture war however, those people are on the wrong side, I'm not in that camp. I'm okay with a mixed economy... I like a safety net.

          I'm a fan of retirement benefits, but we should have a large insurance pool and constantly be adding to it, in case there is a glut of elderly in a generation. We have to pay what it costs. I want us to pay Chinese people what they SHOULD cost, as valuable human beings, not what they cost in the laissez faire system of a billion starving people will do anything cheap. I actually suggest an international minimum wage on products sold, and a public internet education system. I'm not a laissez-faire capitalist at all...

          In philosophy, and theory, however... I think in the back of our minds, we all know that the future system has to have some threads of that. It has to be closer to a merit driven economy, where hard work pays off. We can't let any country become a place where if you do nothing to contribute, you still get everything you want... Some people call that a heaven, I call it hell. I want to be good at something, I like competing a bit. I like the idea we're not all the same, and we have strengths and weaknesses... Without that, there's very little to look forward to.

          I think this all relates to the topic, because I think survival of the fittest, makes us love capitalism, and democracy. Capitalism and democracy, make us love hero myths, leadership, and creativity... and I don't think those ideas have yet been replaced by something better. We need a better myth to come along. If America loses it's dominance, which it likely, rightly should over time, and we should share the burden, it's going to be a difficult battle to make sure that this conglomerate entity is better at providing freedom, justice, and merit based wealth, than America ever was.
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          Nov 27 2011: My point with Rome, is that at some point in time, most of the world was united under a free market democracy. A corrupt, and often evil, and imperial democracy, but democracy at its core. Somewhere between there and the dark ages, everyone in the entire world had given up on the concept of self governance, and we had returned to Monarchy... That's my great fear, that we'll give up something messy and difficult to control, for something much, much worse.

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