THE MUSIC MAKER
Douglas Hofstadter's Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought, in spite of having one of the most clumsy titles in the history of literature, is an extraordinarily significant book. Not because of what it contained, mind you - I very much doubt it was devoured on a grand scale by vast swathes of eager readers - but rather because of its place in the history of the 20th century. It was the first item ever sold on Amazon, a company originally set up to sell only books.
That was in 1995 when Amazon's founder, Jeff Bezos, presumably earned little more than the mild ridicule of his chums for starting what was, ostensibly, a risky and rather unoriginal business. These days Jeff earns just under 2,500 dollars per second. That's right, in the time it took you to blink a couple of times in disbelief at what you've just read, Mr Bezos has benefitted from what most people living Andalucía would be very happy to earn in an entire month. This is madness.
In the sixties, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones complained about ninety-nine per cent tax rates and, in the case of the latter, legged it to France to avoid being relieved of almost everything they'd earned. I was always rather sympathetic to their plight. You work hard, take risks, develop your innate talent, create employment and get to keep just one per cent of the rewards. It doesn't seem fair. However, if my calculations are right, and Jeff Bezos was taxed at ninety-nine per cent, he'd still be getting about 216,000 dollars an hour which is even more than London plumbers charge.
Surely somebody has to intervene here. It can't be right that a bloke in a dodgy waistcoat can be richer than some nations. Who, though, is going to take charge of the situation and give the man a call?
"Yeah. Who is this? It's not a good time. I'm negotiating the purchase of a couple of continents."
That's the trouble. Extremely rich people become extremely powerful people and will always have the best accountants and advisors. Sadly, unlikely that any of the big companies will pay appropriate taxes any time soon unless it's entirely of their own volition.
While we're waiting, I quite fancy reading another tome by Douglas Hofstadter which I came across while researching this article. It's called I Am A Strange Loop.
Now that, my friends, is a book title.