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Life is not Fair

© December 2005 Tony Lawrence
December 2005

Bill Gates is quoted 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 fair.

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 money.

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Sat May 2 11:46:05 2009: 6302   rob

You are an idiot. "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." Is this your guess? Someone who is troubled by anothers' greed has a problem with life being not fair. Yes, I'm sure your little head is spinning right now churning through your response possibilities rather than trying to see my point past my name-calling. Good people, as you would like to consider yourself, do not seek to look at people in the worst light, but the best possible light... it is a riot seeing you go down your make-believe senario regarding Gates use of this quote... "the capitaist pig couldn't have been trying to help someone or just state the obvious, no... he must have been looking down his nose at someone hurting on the street when he said this quote." You are exactly who you oppose, get used to it.

Sat May 2 17:09:53 2009: 6303   TonyLawrence

I can't really tell if you are angry because you are a Bill Gates fan or because you don't like my mention of religious beliefs, but I can tell that you totally misunderstood what I said - most likely because you didn't bother to read beyond whatever it was that sent you into your rant.

But never mind.. anyone who begins an argument with "You are an idiot" obviously isn't in a frame of mind conducive to rational discourse.


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It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity. (Albert Einstein)

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