Life is not Fair
Bill Gates is quotes as saying "Life is not fair; get used to it."
I'm not a fan of Mr. Gates or his business practices. I see
him as ruthless, incredibly greedy and a shining icon representing
the absolute worst excesses of capitalism. When Bill says that,
I see someone walking by suffering and poverty and justifying his
indifference with that quip (don't bother to tell me about the
Gates Foundation, etc. - that was a political move).
But regardless of my distaste for Bill, he has a point. Life isn't
I suppose if you are a religious person, the unfairness might
trouble you a bit more than it does for those of us without such
beliefs. From a secular point of view, it would be surprising
if life were fair: fairness is a human concept and a human invention.
We impose a veneer of fair play upon our society because it helps
hold things together: grind the peasants too harshly under our boots
and they are apt to revolt and cause unpleasantness. Fairness is
therefore enlightened self interest at some level. But because
it is so important to stable societies, it seems that many of us
have a "fairness gene": we give willingly to charities, we don't
like excessive greed, and we will lend a hand even when there is no
gain for ourselves. Although it sometimes seems that there aren't
enough "good" people, in fact most of us do exhibit those behaviors.
You don't have to be a rapacious bastard to succeed in business. Yes,
some of your competition will be unprincipled and wholly immoral -
certainly many ruined software companies would agree with that while
casting their eyes toward Redmond (Microsoft's headquarters). But
that doesn't mean that you have to toss your morals out the window.
You can have a successful business and still be an honest, caring,
and charitable person. It may be harder, and you may never "own"
your market, but always remember that success is much more than just
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