My Creed

Over the course of the last couple years of I have been putting more thought into some of the core beliefs I hold about things other than faith or family.  How do I see the world and how does such beliefs affect my decisions and opportunities.  Piece by piece I have been writing these down and although I am certainly NOT done, have decided it is time to actually “say” them out loud.

I believe in actions and distrust intentions.  Every man believes in the cause of his behavior even when that behavior brings about pain and suffering.  Those who created socialism believes they were bringing about an egalitarian utopia and inquisitors believed they were saving the souls of men.

Concentrated power is not rendered harmless by the good intentions of those who create it. –Milton Friedman

The evil that is in the world almost always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence if they lack understanding. –Albert Camus

The logical corollary to my first belief is that I believe that the ends almost never justify the means.  Partly because, I believe that there is no ultimate good that springs magically from a “necessary” string of injustices and evil.  But also because we become what we do and our actions ultimately sculpt us into the object of our behavior.

…let a prince have the credit of conquering and holding his state, the means will always be considered honest, and he will be praised by everybody because the vulgar are always taken by what a thing seems to be and by what comes of it; and in the world there are only the vulgar, for the few find a place there only when the many have no ground to rest on.  –Niccolò Machiavelli

I believe those who desire to “throw away and start from scratch” dramatically underestimates the complexity of a given problem.  Real change happens through evolution over time, through trail, through error, and through the accumulated power of experience to reinforce decisions.  Throwing away history for no reason other than frustration with having to deal with it, most often causes one to repeat it.

It’s important to remember that when you start from scratch there is absolutely no reason to believe that you are going to do a better job than you did the first time. First of all, you probably don’t even have the same programming team that worked on version one, so you don’t actually have “more experience”. You’re just going to make most of the old mistakes again, and introduce some new problems that weren’t in the original… –Joel Spolsky

I believe people are most truly defined by the parts of ourselves that we say NO to.  I don’t drink, I don’t borrow money, I almost never drive a car, and I won’t have sex until I am married, say more about a person (good or bad) than the 10,000 things everybody does or everybody wants to do. Saying yes implies we are like everyone else, that you capitulate to the will of society.  Saying no is self sacrifice and a dramatic statement of individuality.

Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.  –Bernard M. Baruch

If then follows that I believe great acts take great sacrifice and the only sacrifice this is truly great is self sacrifice.  While it may sometimes be necessary to force others to sacrifice, there is never anything admirable about it.  No man should be held in esteem for giving something that he took from someone else.  Sacrifice is not sacrifice when forced upon.

A man who was completely innocent, offered himself as a sacrifice for the good of others, including his enemies, and became the ransom of the world. It was a perfect act. –Mahatma Gandhi

The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day. –David Foster Wallace

I believe, and can categorically prove, that the free market is the greatest vehicle for eradicating poverty, hunger, and disease that has ever existed.  Nothing, no government program, no charity organization, no religious denomination has come anywhere close to the success that the free market and capitalism has at improving the corporeal lives of the human race.

Commerce [and] entrepreneurial capitalism take more people out of poverty than aid. We need Africa to become an economic powerhouse. –Bono

It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. –Adam Smith