This is Walter Isaacson: “Benjamin Franklin: An American Life”
In addition I found an article. This is Time magazine’s cover story on Benjamin Franklin from 2003. It is written by Mr. Isaacson.
This is an English web site discussing what has become of Franklin’s London lodgings in the intervening years. It celebrates Franklin, which leads me to believe that the little inconveniences of Franklin’s leadership in revolution and creation of a spy service against Britain have apparently been forgiven or forgotten. The link to the Franklin House is wonderful and I recommend you take a look at it. To my astonishment and delight, they have a piece of music you can listen to, that Franklin composed. So, to all of Franklin’s many accomplishments, I can add composer. I shouldn’t be surprised. What field of human endeavor did he not find interesting?
via London Sideways
A nice tribute to Benjamin Franklin from a web site entitled “Science.” (I thought I tackled a lot of turf with Business Ethics in my title!)
I was reading the Harvard Business Review when I came across this gem of an article by a John Paul Rollert. In it, Rollert discusses Franklin’s scheme for moral perfection and the cast of villains and heroes who assisted and obstructed his printing business.
I try to read Franklin’s autobiography at least once a year. After writing the biography he would go on to represent Massachusetts before the king, serve in the Continental Congress, and most importantly, serve on the Committee of Five that created the Declaration of Independence. He then represented the colonies to the French king, was one of three American negotiators for the peace treaty ending the Revolutionary War, and then to culminate his career, serve as a delegate as the Constitutional Convention. In the last years of his life, Franklin became an avid foe of slavery.
The autobiography is, thus, an early picture of Franklin before the world shaking accomplishment that would follow. Reading the book is an interesting experience. Franklin is witty, self deprecating and pridefull (often at the same time), cynical, clever and moral (most of the time). He freely admits that sex was a problem for him (he mentions intrigues with low women) and he believed it necessary for good health.
He is the antithesis of Friedman’s pure focus on profit, being an avid member of the community, supporting and creating in the public sphere constantly. He created organized firefighters, lending libraries, the idea of matching funds, and the development of education. He not only spent his own money, he solicited money from others and was willing to suffer controversy if he felt the cause was just. In short, he was a model American.
He was no shrunken, pale reflections of humanity, the kind that worships the green dollar sign above all other treasures. He loved his country and his fellow man. He was willing to suffer ridicule and danger for his country.
I have three heroes in my life, Benjamin Franklin, Henry Drummond (Inherit the Wind) and Caesar as portrayed in Shaw’s play, Caesar and Cleopatra.
I owe you gentle reader an apology. I have talked much about what I have read and what it meant to me and let Mr. Rollert’s article undiscussed. His writing appears in the Harvard Business Review which by itself speaks well of it and I recommend that you read it and get his take on the business significance of Franklin’s writing.
I was reading “The Engineering Ethics Blog” and the author called my attention to an article by Andy Grove which had appeared in Bloomberg. It sounded interesting, so I went and had a look.
(I warn you, I ran across this quote from Grove while backgrounding the column: “You have to pretend you’re 100 percent sure. You have to take action; you can’t hesitate or hedge your bets. Anything less will condemn your efforts to failure.” I became a fan of his at that point, so I am in his corner!)
Andy Grove is one of the founders of Intel, the chip maker. He came to the United States from Eastern Europe, a refugee from the communist bloc. In a lengthy and well written article, he talks about the loss of American jobs and what that means in the long term. Unlikely many who point out problems but have no solutions, he provides a set of solutions as well.
Grove is a visionary and he has become increasingly concerned about the status of the United States. Grove reasons that the United States’ current policy is to allow jobs to go overseas because the jobs created here will be high quality knowledge jobs that pay more and provide more influence. Grove points out that creating one of these jobs is immensely expensive compared to regular jobs and while it is nice to create a few high quality jobs, it’s most unsatisfying when the rest of your population is unemployed.
Grove argues that several Asian countries have careful job creating policies at the national level. He feels we can learn a lot from these nations. In addition, he favors a tax on out sourced products particularly electronics like computers. He admits that this may start a trade war but he says if there is such a war we should plan to win.
I like what he says. I believe he is right and that our nation’s future in disappearing in front of our eyes.
I give you the link to his article here.
Here’s Andy Grove discussing the critical importance of moving transportation from oil to electricity.
I will be talking more about this topic later on. I am struggling with a sinus infection. It’s slowing down my posting.