6 Comments
Apr 27, 2023Liked by Brian Klaas

You answered so many questions I have had. Why don’t the wealthy help others when they have more money than they could ever spend? Why don’t our politicians help our country become better and improve others lives? Why do the wealthy think they’re better than others just because they have more? The unearned overconfidence and wealth competition that spurs money makers on, and I would add a distinct lack of empathy. Billionaires-more money than sense, as my grandmother would say!

Really enjoyed this research and piece of writing.

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Apr 26, 2023Liked by Brian Klaas

Brian, this goes well with the myth of the secret genius! CEOs, politicians, billionaires all fancy themselves masters of the universe. Over confident, charlatans and blowhards! Only a handful make it, most will crash and burn in public and embarrassing ways!

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Apr 27, 2023Liked by Brian Klaas

You've explained this so perfectly.

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Jul 4, 2023·edited Jul 4, 2023

Really stinkin spot on. Thank you for the amazing insights.

These dynamics are all too familiar to me and I see things much the same way. Especially people born with privilege and power are often all too eager to prove to everyone including themselves that they deserve it, and that often takes the form of cornering a ridiculous amount of resources as a means to “keep score” feeding into the same type of simplistic thinking that money equals worth, and those that have more are inherently better.

That being said, I’d challenge those of us with this perspective to try to see entrepreneurship in a slightly different light too, if only momentarily. There is a flip side to some of these same qualities that does have positive value for society. Risk taking is at the heart of entrepreneurship and investment, and these are closely tied to these same ideas regarding confidence. We absolutely need risk takers to be overconfident to put their resources at risk to bring new innovations to market, create jobs and advance humanity.

This blog piece from Ben Kuhn on how ‘staring into the abyss’ to face uncomfortable truths being the single most essential skill for entrepreneurs demonstrates this flip side.

https://www.benkuhn.net/abyss/

Essentially, if you do not have flexibility in questioning the most basic concepts of your business thesis, your business is unlikely to succeed. It is quite psychologically painful for most to be so flexible and open to pivoting, yet remain so focused and dedicated to effectively and continually drive it forward. And so this is a rare and valuable trait. But its my observation that there a few areas where it is harmful to an enterprise for its entrepreneurs to question- namely, whether the business or the people driving it are actually worthwhile and good. If the people driving it are questioning these things, rather then relentlessly promoting them, then there is about 0% chance of success. This usefulness amongst entrepreneurs often becomes ingrained into identity in runaway fashion.

The trouble is we allow this, let all this run away in the extreme with poor practices, culture and institutions. Here in the US, Inherited wealth should be taxed far more thoroughly. We also need caps on political spending and dark money, campaign finance reform in general.

Cheers and thanks again

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Thank you for this great exposition. You touch on one of my favorite themes, the myth of fungible expertise. I believe, Socrates first wrote about this. You gave great examples, including Elon musk. Great innovator, and has undeniably done a service to those who believe in climate change, but as the arbiter of free speech? Please, NO!

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as usual a fascinating analysis.

In terms of the more general lust for power, what changes in political structure do you imagine could work to weed out the folks into politics for their own sense of power? Would making any political candidate donate X% of their total wealth (including spouse) to charity before running? It could be on a graduate scale. This would be separate from putting the rest in a blind trust.

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