Your Friends

I think in the future, one of the criteria I’ll have for a person in power is, “Who are your friends?” If your friends are uniformly rich businesspeople, focused on getting ever richer, then you see regulations, unions, etc. as a problem because they want to do X to increase their wealth, and are frustrated by it. If they’re your friends, you empathize with their frustration, and trying to fix those frustrations makes sense.

On the other hand, if your friends are working class people, whose problems are paying the bills on a day-to-day basis – who work hard and barely get by, who strive and strive and the door of opportunity is repeatedly slammed in their face, then you empathize with those problems and want to fix them.

When I see the current power players going for deregulation, undermining labor and environmental laws, etc. – on a personal level, I suppose I get it. Your friends don’t like those things. They don’t live in the environment they’re poisoning. They aren’t being exploited by management , etc. You see the effects of these things through the lens of their lives, and they’re not a problem. The people who are choking on smog, who are working 16+ hour days to survive – you don’t know any of them, even if you’re employing hundreds of them. And it seems evil. But I get it. It’s invisible. Your friends are what you’re worried about first and foremost. That’s true of everyone, to varying degrees.

So if you want a position of power, show me who your friends are. You may be a great person, but if the only people you know are millionaires and billionaires, I can say with certainty that in my eyes, you’re not qualified for the job, because you can’t understand what the job is.

If you’re in public service, you have to know what pain the public feels. You have to be friends with at least something like a representative sample of the public.

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