Jeff Bezo and the Amazon Corporation
Not long ago, Amazon sued East West Companies and Jeff Bezos, the founder and owner of Amazon, claiming they ripped off Amazon by selling cheaply produced DVDs through the mail order catalog. Well, it turns out that not only did Amazon engage in this predatory behavior, it actually caused the problem. Amazon has been taken to court by the United States Justice Department. This is the same company sued by Viacom for putting together a fake college called “The Education Channel” and suing people for hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages over their intellectual property rights.
It appears as if the “Viacom plot” was to have put together a whole “campus extension” of “The Education Channel” on Amazon’s behalf and provided all of the cheap college textbooks they needed to put together a “boot camp” for their “entrepreneur” students to learn without actually having to pay for them. Amazon got sued, because nobody else was buying the DVD’s on eBay and the company was simply trying to use its position of power in the marketplace to dominate all competition. The sad thing about it all is that Amazon could have easily been on top for years to come, simply by sticking with its “life force”. Jeff Bezos and his new college son must be running around acting like total children because they are so focused on building the “life force”.
What an utterly ridiculous thing to even suggest in this day and age, and it is absolutely typical of the direction in which educational systems are going. It would be funny if it wasn’t so pathetic, and we watched on as the government tried to force colleges to hire more people with advanced degrees, simply because they were so adamant that they thought the best minds were at the University of California at Irvine, or whatever school that happens to be. It is absolutely absurd to purport that someone who thinks like a hippie biologists, and who fundamentally misunderstands how the world works, can lead the most powerful entity in the human race. This is exactly the type of leadership we should be rejecting, instead of expecting our education system to function like an old folks home in the absence of electric light and running water.
We need leaders who understand basic logic, and who can use it to conceptualize and design systems. There is nothing wrong with hippie biologists, or people who think the world can be better understood through a process of self-help rather than through econometrics and microeconomics. What is wrong is someone who believes that they know better than the rest of us, who has the time, money, and resources to study something as important as education. No amount of personal experience with life can help someone become an expert on anything, and it is beyond the abilities of most individuals to design a comprehensive and effective educational system.
Jeff Bezo’s thinking should be judged by how well the Amazon bid on EBay performs, and not on his leadership aspirations. He has been awarded a PhD from Harvard University, and he is probably a super genius. But is this really the most important thing? I’m afraid that in the case of education, corporate governance, and in creating advanced technologies for the future, Jeff Bezo’s brilliance is not quite as important as the vision of millions of people who want to see their lives improved, and who are willing to work hard so that they can achieve that goal.
That said, the focus of the present article is not on the merits of Jeff Bezo, or his desire to provide education to the world at large. Rather, it is to draw attention to what seems to be an emerging problem with many in leadership positions today: namely, excessive deference to “expertise” and the ability of educational experts to tell people what to do, rather than trusting their own capacities to achieve results that are suitable to them and to those they are teaching. Indeed, the educational system is arguably worse when too many young people think that everyone knows exactly what to do, rather than being left to their own devices.