Will Betterness Work?

Umair Haque Beterness Manifesto is one of the most influential document published in 2011. Below are three essential quotes. They are designed as a remedy to the malaise we observe mainly in US economy and psyche. Summarizing the quote, betterness implies:
  • We are the freest people in history. It time to use our freedom
  • We are worthy and we have talent. Start a new company or find a better one, rather than wasting your life in "organizations that misallocate it, underutilize it"
  •  Over the next decade, the businesses that can't do better, the ones you're giving your talent away to, are to go extinct anyway. Cut the cord now, before the axe falls and cuts it for you.
  • Stop living somewhere where you're forced to, like it's groundhog day
This is what will bring us betterness. But how is this applicable to people living in North Korea? They will read the four bullets of advise above, as if applicable to people living on the moons.

Perhaps everyone agree that this is a problem in North Korea, but what about most of Europe? Even United Kingdom, the civilization that created the democratic institutions as we know them today, people are happy to be underutilized as long as they have a job security and small town values preserved. And regarding point #4, no one really wants to live anywhere else.

Why Umair Haque  - himself  a member to the world top 50 thinkers award recipients in 2011 - met much more adoption in US than England? The two countries have a long time peculiar relationship. The British supply original ideas and individual brains of historic significance (e.g. Darwin, Lord Keynes,  or the Rolling Stones) but US is the place where these ideas not only become reality, but blossom.

Here is the paradox: betterness, designed to  revitalize talents and prosperity everywhere, will distance US from the rest of the world and maintain the advantage US economy has when producing iconic brands like Apple, Google, Facebook and tomorrow many more. One can not create iconic brands without tolerance to risk and freedom.

Therefore the betterness will create even a wider gap between North America and the rest of the world, with exception of a few countries (Israel is one of them). Betterness will create inequality.

Inside US itself, the Silicon Valley mentality dominates only in isolated spots. And nearly 90% of American employees simply lack the desire, never mind the guts, to leave a 20th century corporation that assures them a salary month to month while the lifetime employment is nothing but an illusion that can be shattered at any given moment.

For those talented and extremely gifted,  there is always a the option to open offices in US  and operate from Silicon Valley. You can not wait for ever for the political system to change in your country. You can not wait for ever to see deeply ingrained suppressing mentalities (like the caste system in India) to disappear over night.

This where I try to help.

Real change doesn’t begin with governments, presidents, or prime ministers. It begins with each of us. In the 20th century, never-ending mass-marketing, monopoly, and mega-politics came together to convince us, each and every one, that we’re not really free: just free enough to choose between different flavors of the same old toxic junk. It was a trick, a ploy, a television hallucination. We’re the freest people in history. It’s time to use it like we meant it."
"You're worth something. Stop giving your talent away to organizations that misallocate it, underutilize it, and possibly even abuse it. If you're doing something meaningless, quit. Betterness can't happen if you're spending your life churning out toxic junk. It can only happen when more meaningful work is done. Find a company that's better. Better yet, start one. No, it's not easy. But here's the thing: over the next decade, the businesses that can't do better, the ones you're giving your talent away to, are to go extinct anyway. Cut the cord now, before the axe falls and cuts it for you."
" If you're living somewhere meaningless, move. Exurban sprawl, mega-highways, big-box stores: that was the American Dream in the 20th century. In the 21st, it's closer to the awesome Richard Florida's dream of thriving, tightly-connected communities, that make up vibrant cities. Living somewhere where you're forced to, like it's groundhog day, hit the same old big, lame, toxic businesses, over and over again? Those places and spaces were built to support an industrial economy. Today, they're a barrier to letting it crumble and fall. Move somewhere where there's a local community made up of passionate, talented people, a community you can nurture and that nurtures you. It just might be good for your soul."

The Betterness Manifesto by Umair Haque

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