Starving the Monkeys

Starving the Monkeys: An Entrepreneurial Horror is a 2009 narrative fiction written by American author Tom Baugh. Cast as a fictional self-help guide for entrepreneurs, it makes a political statement about the challenges faced by individualists in the modern world.
The book opens with a history of the author, and then transitions into the author's experiences while running several small businesses. The author then presents several simple caveman economic stories to highlight the effects of free trade and the influences of organized religion on law and business.
The middle portion of the book explores the topics of free thought, the interaction of the subconscious and conscious minds of creative people, and how organizations either promote or stifle creativity.
The last section of the book takes a darker turn as the narrator (author) describes his opinions of international relations, the drug war and gun control, and frames these topics within the context of evolution of humanity and a battle of collectivism versus individualism.
Early Biography
The book opens as the author, veiled as the narrator of the book, presents some of his background as a child growing up in Mississippi and his attendance at the United States Naval Academy as a midshipman. There, he was immersed in the culture of naval history and was influenced by many prominent people, including billionaire entrepreneur H. Ross Perot, author and decorated Vietnam War veteran Jim Webb, then the Secretary of the Navy, and Admiral Hyman G. Rickover, all Naval Academy graduates. Other influences cited included numerous United States Marine Corps and United States Navy officers, including General Alfred M. Gray, Jr., who had been recommended by Webb as the Commandant of the Marine Corps during the author's time at Annapolis.
After a series of adventures at the Naval Academy, including a brief stint selling assault rifles from his dormitory room as a holder of a Federal Firearms License and operating an illicit shooting range in the attic above Bancroft Hall, the author took the first Marine ground assignment of his 1988 academy class. As the author states on page 23,

"... those Marine officers at the academy were so damn impressive. I had come within a few signatures of being qualified as a Navy Surface Warfare Officer on my senior cruise aboard the , a common practice a hundred years ago. Despite this, I took the first Marine ground spot issued to my class, a future pilot a few spaces ahead of me in line being the first Marine."

The author then relates his experiences in Operation Desert Storm as a Senior Air Director. He credits General Al Gray's professional education program for Marines and the general's emphasis on maneuver warfare as essential to the fast victory in that war in the Marine sector. During this time, the author's Naval Academy twisting of the rules follows him to the Fleet Marine Force, and he narrowly escapes a court-martial for his diversion of aircraft armed with napalm onto Iraqi artillery, an incident which was discussed in the letters section of the Marine Corps Gazette in 1993.
After leaving the Marine Corps, the narrator operates several small businesses, and relates the problems faced by entrepreneurs regarding employees, customers and government regulations.
Caveman Economics
Throughout the first half of the book, the author describes economics by using stories based on a fictional tribe of entrepreneurial cavemen, some of whom have descriptive names that indicate their profession, such as Tab, an artisan that invented the concept of tabulation of accounts. The author assigns the trademarked term Caveman Capitalism™ to these stories. In addition to free trade, the author uses the caveman concept to explore diverse concepts such as religion, charity, taxation, protectionism, wage and price manipulation and government regulation.
The author compares these simplistic stories of free market cavemen with modern communes, in particular the Dancing Rabbit commune in Missouri.
The Font of Value
The author introduces selfishness and free trade as essential elements of what he calls the Font of Value. In that chapter, he describes the origin of money and value as the natural effect of different economic actors hoping to maximize their personal return. He describes the personal resources of individuals as consisting of four quantities, stuff, push, time and ideas, and relates these quantities to the quality of life that determines the happiness of a person. A mathematical formulation of quality of life is presented, and this is used to describe what the author believes is the folly of a planned economy. As he states on page 92 regarding attempts to automate economic principles with software,

"I consider myself one of the best in the world at that sort of thing, but I wouldn't seriously consider ever being able to get that kind of software to work. But I would be happy to take billions, or trillions, in grants for you to get me to try ..."

The author introduces energy as a fifth resource that is a special combination of the others, and presents a case for energy as the foundation of civilization, and the means by which ideas are enabled to transform stuff and push into more valuable stuff.
Employment Trends
The middle of the book explores the narrator's perspective of employment trends, which he indicates will lead to greater automation, less employment, and more popular demand for employment-creating regulations. The narrator believes that this vicious cycle of automation and regulation will push billions toward subsistence and lead to the starvation of many.
Education and Thought
Throughout the book the narrator emphasizes self-education as a path to personal liberty, and provides a checklist of essential subjects in the chapter Math and Science. The chapter Scholarship and Sadi Carnot presents the narrator's perspective of the stifling of independent thought by an entrenched academic orthodoxy. He uses the 1824 work of Nicolas Leonard Sadi Carnot as an example of classical versus modern scholarship. In The Idea Factory, the narrator presents his techniques for igniting creative thought.
Evolution of Humanity
The narrator expresses a theory of social evolution in which modern society deliberately targets independent thinkers to remove them from the general population. Examples from the drug war, gun control and international relations are cited to support this theory.
The narrator also encourages his listener (the reader) to avoid violence and reactionary outbursts to injustice, and proposes that injustice is a tool wielded by the collectivists to detect and eliminate individualists.
The book attracts three main criticisms, as racist, sexist, and elitist.
The term monkey in the title may be seen by some as a thinly-veiled racist jab. However, the author points out in the Monkey, Defined introduction to the book on page 7,

"In the context of this book, a monkey is defined as a humanoid that chooses to collectively seize, by unearned means, the property, material or intellectual, temporal or spiritual, of its rightful owner. The means employed may be fiat, guilt, force, theft, fraud, subterfuge, or anything other than a willing and negotiated exchange of value.
Conspicuously absent from this definition is race, birth, gender, heritage, cultural influences, or any factor other than that singular deliberate decision. "

On the monkey definition page for the book, similar text is given, except that the word humanoid is replaced by person.
This definition is closer to what Ayn Rand describes in Atlas Shrugged as a looter.
While the race of the tribe used for the economic examples is unknown, a reference is made regarding an interracial marriage, which the rest of the tribe accepts as a matter-of-fact, neither applauding nor decrying the union.
The book contains several sexist undertones, in which some may see the narrator as describing women almost as beloved, pet-like creatures.
However, some of the key heroes in the stories are women and young girls who are depicted as intelligent, innovative and resourceful.
The title of the book, and its relationship to Atlas Shrugged, may lead some to see the term monkeys as referring to the lower classes. However, the narrator gives several examples of how excavator operator and marketing specialist alike can be viewed as high value idea workers. This perspective is in stark contrast to Atlas Shrugged, in which Ayn Rand only elevates certain industry leaders as producers, while their subordinate workmen are seen as functionaries that merely look up to and serve their employer titans.
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