The Change Of Wealth And Power -- A Western Story


A recent contribution by Tom Garrett to the Payson Roundup (Nov. 11, 2005) "Wealthy is as wealthy does: it's more than things" got me thinking. It brought to mind a picture of our Western culture -- originally drawn by futurist Alvin Toffler in "Power Shift."

I am going to paraphrase him, hopefully true to his intentions.

There are three typical characters in any story of the Wild West, consider them our archetypes: the "cowboy" with his ready guns in his holsters; the "banker" taking care of finances, loans and such; and the "schoolmarm" imparting knowledge and learning on, at times unwilling, youngsters.

These three represent the evolution of wealth and power that has been taking place. Although they are with us all the time, each has assumed prominence at a different time.

Each also brought about a more unified and civilized community.

To start with, the cowboy represented the ultimate power over life and death in the West; the hired gun and "the law" both relied on brute force to make things happen. A basic order was established. Over time, their days of glory faded.

Emerging next as the symbol of wealth and power was the banker, who represented money and the power to buy things that constitute and generate wealth. Just recently, it was mentioned that one's credit score is the single most valuable possession.

We have been moving toward a new direction in recent times, however, namely the power of knowledge that represents wealth. Our ‘schoolmarm' of old has become the force of knowledge capital for the future. We have seen with the advent of the Internet and e-commerce a new wave of creating wealth. Young people barely out of school with their newly acquired knowledge became millionaires, for a while anyway. But that was just the beginning. The power of knowledge is redefining solutions for energy (solar, wind, biomass to name a few); biotechnologies and renewable technologies are currently the fastest-growing segments of all industries. We are at a time when "old money" and "new knowledge" are trading places as drivers of wealth, power and change.

These are exciting times, and as transformations go, the "pioneers" get to fell the trees to allow for new paths to be followed.

Our state has heavily invested in the new biosciences and Payson is reaching out in the same direction. The Goldwater Center for Renewable Technologies recently stated that it will be headquartered in Payson. Our ‘Bio-team' is on the lookout for spin-offs to locate here; and we sent one of our bright students to intern with T-Gen in the Valley.

We need to continue to honor our heritage, while at the same time reaching out to new frontiers, to realize the next level as a more unified and civilized community.

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