A more serious problem arose when fellow Quaker Philip Ford, his business manager, embezzled from Penn. He capitalized on Penn’s habit of signing papers without reading them by including a deed transferring Pennsylvania to himself, and then demanded more rent than Penn could pay.
Why am I reading about William Penn? Because Penn was an insider/outsider. Born to wealthy parents and educated at Oxford, he became a marginal religious leader, at one point imprisoned for eight months for writing a “blasphemous” pamphlet. Just as self-experimentation empowered me, cheap travel across the Atlantic empowered Penn. He took his followers to what became Pennsylvania.
I believe that cheap new ways of doing things empower insider/outsiders. A modern example is Stephen McIntyre, empowered by blogs. (His blog is Climate Audit.) The classic example is Martin Luther, empowered by the printing press. In contrast, expensive new ways of doing things empower insiders (the already powerful) because only they can afford them. I suppose the classic example is agriculture. Agriculture is expensive because it requires land. Lots of things start off expensive and become cheap, but many do not. The classic example is agriculture (land never becomes cheap); the big modern example is health care. It is very expensive to develop a new drug or new medical technology. This is at the heart of why the health care industry is extracting more and more money from the rest of us, just as government officials in rural China regularly ripoff farmers. I am unsurprised that doctors resist cheap new improvements, the only way out of a terrible situation. In China, people in rural areas migrate to cities; that’s how they escape. In Croatia, some friends of mine lived downhill from neighbors who were in the Communist Party. My friends were not Communists. One day they woke up to find that the property line between them and their uphill neighbors had shifted downhill about 10 feet. Unlike William Penn and rural Chinese, my friends could not move — and thus the powerful became more powerful.