These are just notes. Some of the links may be incomplete but the basis, I think, is strong.
Theory: The more you can find out about your culture, the more you’re capable of moving upward. This is buffered by risk, which prevents people from acting based on potential repercussions.
Huge mouthful, I know. Let’s break it down so it makes a bit more sense.
Imagine you’re a serf in a kingdom 600 years ago. You know of the king, you may even have seen him, but you have no idea how to get up there. How does someone become a king, a duke, or even a court jester? You have no idea, because this information is not available to you. You know no one that can get you anywhere close to the king so you can find out. You’re stuck.
Compare that to your favourite CEO, maybe Steve Jobs or Richard Branson. They have biographies (sometimes many of them) and Wikipedia pages. Their stories are well known. You know how they made computers or built their companies, and you know where they’re going from here based on their quarterly reports and by reading message boards like The Motley Fool.
In one case, you know nothing about how to get where you’re going. In the other, you know much more. Naturally, you are more capable of getting there. So far, so good.
This means that a transparent society is naturally a more democratic one, where you see people around you capable of doing great things so you’re more prone to want to do them yourself. But risk prevents this. It has to seem as if you’re not going to be hurting yourself for potential gain.
Here’s another interesting part of the equation. Risk is increased by debt. Since I teach people about taking risks when I do speaking events, this was a huge breakthrough for me. I picked it up from Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of The Black Swan, who we wrote about in Trust Agents and happens to be paleo. Here’s a video of him talking about it:
The argument is simple and can be explained by an easy analogy: If you have kids, that is debt in the form of future food and housing. If you have a house, that is debt in the form of future mortgage payments. Both of these decrease the chance you’ll quit your job and start your own company. Risk increases your acceptance of the status quo.
I’m unsure whether health care helps people become entrepreneurs or vice-versa. There is a huge startup culture in Silicon Valley but I’m not sure that means anything. Quebec has a huge portion of small companies contributing to its GDP but has a culture of submitting to hierarchy, so who knows. Maybe even a more collective-based culture (naturally submits to hierarchy) is also prone to giving health care, while a highly individualistic one is less so. But I know I feel safer doing many things based on the fact that my basic needs are taken care of by a support network of friends/family/government.
The reason you’d want upward mobility in the first place is because it’s the opposite of debt– it’s like putting money in the bank in the sense that your future self is (or your children are) in a better position. And this, in turn, is better because you have control over your own time, which leads to more self-actualization (hopefully).
Anyway, this is a real reason why you’d want to prevent debt and/or live in a transparent society, of which the web is a prime example. The more you can find out about everything around you, the more you’re capable of finding a good path for yourself. Btw, this is totally different from school, which IMHO rarely teaches you actual success skills and is devalued by it being the most commonly taken path.
Again, sorry if it’s not entirely making sense yet. But I’m pretty sure that, if you read this blog, you can keep up.