Friday, April 8, 2011

Elevator Speech #4--Producers vs Predators and the importance of honesty

The easiest way to distinguish a Producer from a Predator is to determine how important honesty is in one's work. If honesty is the dominant virtue in the task (school bus brake repairman, bridge designer, airline pilot) it is a Producer job. If cunning, deception, and fraud are necessary to succeed in a task (broker selling "naked shorts", preacher pushing "gay" cures, the petty real estate speculators who claim your worn out $50k house is actually "worth" $550k so you can take on more debt, etc.) then it is a Predator job.

The only way for a Producer to become excellent at what he does is to be relentlessly honest with himself, his understanding of the world, and in his dealings with his fellow man.  The folks charged with designing the bridges you must cross better not have cheated while learning materials and structures nor while performing the calculations on the new design.  The folks who built the bridge better not have cheated on welding techniques nor cut corners on the concrete mixes, etc. etc.

Modern societies, by NECESSITY, operate on honest dealings.  Those who lie and cheat are literally nothing less than industrial saboteurs.

As most Producers eventually discover, love for the truth may be the strongest love of all.  When you love the truth, you don't tell it when it's merely convenient or when you are absolutely cornered, you hunt for the truth because it makes you feel good.  Discovering a new and interesting truth becomes an occasion of joy and celebration.

As the Producers gained power through the discovery of ever more indisputable facts--complete a mechanism for modifying the understanding of those facts when new information arrives--this produced an explosion of knowledge that changed the way humans understand themselves.  This has been especially true of the last 200 years.

But there are still liars out there.  In fact, lying has become an epidemic.  And every time a liar succeeds in misleading his neighbors or absconding with his unearned share of the wealth, the ability of the folks who simply MUST be honest to do their jobs well, if at all, is sharply diminished.


More on this utterly fascinating subject

Tony on Pecuniary Culture (my favorite of his posts here)

The culture of Predation
Social Darwinism

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