The Work of the One Percent

and of many others who are not in the top one percent.

I just finished being discussion leader of a colloquium on “Liberty and Power” in Fort Lauderdale. It was glorious to go into various establishments without wearing a mask. (I recognize that some of these establishments might have wanted to require masks and were prevented from doing so by the governor. I hope, but don’t know, that the ones I didn’t wear a mask in were ones that didn’t want to require masks.) And I had a great time. One of the readings was from a George Gilder book I hadn’t known of. It’s titled Knowledge and Power: The Information Theory of Capitalism and How It Is Revolutionizing Our World.

I particularly liked this excerpt:

Entrepreneurial knowledge has little to do with the certified expertise of an advanced degree from an establishment school. It has little to do with the gregarious charm of the high school student voted most likely to succeed. The fashionably educated and cultivated spurn the kind of fanatically focused learning undertaken by the 1 percent. Wealth all too often comes from doing what other people consider insufferably boring or unendurably hard.

The treacherous intricacies of building codes or garbage routes or software languages or groceries, the mechanics of butchering sheep and pigs or frying and freezing potatoes, the mazes of high-yield bonds and low-collateral companies, the murky arcana of petroleum leases or housing deeds or Far Eastern electronics supplies, the ways and means of pushing pizzas or insurance policies or hawking hosiery or pet supplies, the multiple scientific disciplines involved in fracking for natural gas or tapping shale oil or contriving the ultimate search engine, the grind of grubbing for pennies in fast-food unit sales, the chemistry of soap or candy or the silicon-silicon dioxide interface, the endless round of motivating workers and blandishing union bosses and federal inspectors and the IRS and EPA and SEC and FDA—all are considered tedious and trivial by the established powers.