17 June 2008

Power and Money

In Ender's Shadow, the protagonist, Bean, muses on the nature of loyalty and friendship. They're not things that come easily to him, so he spends a lot of time thinking about them.

Bean tries to puzzle out the reason why one person can control so many others. He figures it's because most people try to acquire power the wrong way. They see obvious sources of power-people and organizations that are powerful(which will henceforth be referred to as POPs). They try to get some of that good stuff for themselves, from the POPs. The problem is that those who have power also realize how very easy it is to lose it- so they hold on to it tightly and apportion it out in tiny, almost useless amounts. This is why your immediate supervisor has just enough authority to make your life miserable, but not enough to actually do anything useful. So you see, trying to get power from those who already have it is next to useless. Trying to work your way up from entry-level almost never works. You'll notice that there are thousands of entry-level slaves for every CEO who managed to claw her way up the ranks.

So how do you get power?

Bean is a bright boy- he saw the answer almost at once. You get power from those who think they have none. Average Joe. The kids who don't vote because one vote doesn't make a difference. From the starving villagers who will trade their freedom forever for food right now. It's easy to take these peoples power because they're willing to part with it. They think the little they have is worthless. So the few people who understand the nature of power can get a little from each person, and it adds up until they are unstoppable, until they control everyone...

Like I said though, Bean didn't understand about loyalty and friendship. He didn't know that power isn't the point at all, loyalty is. Loyalty isn't a means of getting power, but rather, the opposite. Power is a means of gaining loyalty, but if you already have the loyalty of good friends, you don't need to bother with manipulation and other nonsense...

Okay, now we apply this logic to money. I'll try to be brief.

Don't throw yourself into a career at Safeway. Or McDonalds. Or at any big company. You can work your ass off all your life, but you're just chasing the wind. They don't want to make you rich, they just want to keep you from being poor so they can control you. Instead, get rich off people who don't mind giving you money, because they think it isn't worth anything but dollars. Start your own company, providing stuff people want in exchange for the cash that they don't care about and which you so desperately need. You may not get wildly rich, but then money isn't the point. Money is only a way of keeping score.

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