Sanding our assholes with 150 grit. Slowly. Lovingly.

Why be Good?

No really. Why? I am seriously asking here. I'm whacking away at a thread in the main section on a guy looking for startup dev's, and he seems to be a real weasel, and I'm just thinking that I could provide for my family a hell of a lot better on the 2 mil a year his business is pulling than on the sub-40k I make (my wife works, too). I could donate to charities, get out of debt, set aside money for my kids' future, and all that.

There are shitloads of ways to make easy money legally that only require you to be a slimeball to do it. So why not be one?

There's no apparent penalty to driving like an asshole - cut people off and all they can do is honk at you at most. I don't live where people shoot you for that. People run red lights here all the time - it's so normal, nobody cares. Aggressive people get what they want, and don't have to care if people's feelings get hurt in the process just because they're assholes to begin with.

So where are the penalties for being an aggressive jerk? The world doesn't work the way I'd like it to. You don't get bonus cookies for being nice. If you're an asshole people look at you as someone who "gets things done" and forgives you for the assholism. I don't see karma working. I rarely see people forced to pay a weasel tax, and when they do have to, it's minimal compared to the amount they made being a weasel.

It just pisses me off. What goes around is supposed to come around, and I really don't think that it does. So why be Good?
Permalink Aaron F Stanton 
March 13th, 2005
> So where are the penalties for being an aggressive jerk?

Um. You're an agressive jerk?
Permalink MarkTAW 
March 13th, 2005
As in, that's penalty enough.
Permalink MarkTAW 
March 13th, 2005
And high blood pressure.
Permalink Christopher Wells 
March 13th, 2005
Ok, Mark, sure, being an aggressive jerk should be a penalty, but to them it isn't. They don't see it as a penalty at all. It's just their way of getting what they want, and they pretty much do get what they want.

Re: high blood pressure - The stress of not getting what you want can do that to you, too, so I'm not sure that counts.
Permalink Aaron F Stanton 
March 13th, 2005
"So where are the penalties for being an aggressive jerk?"

imagine your wife being married to an aggressive jerk...your kids living with an aggressive jerk as a father...

imagine your friends having to put up with an aggressive jerk, your fellow workers having to work with an aggressive jerk.

the thing about someone choosing to be an aggressive jerk, is that everyone else has to pay for that decision.

me, I *am* an aggressive jerk at times, but I choose those times carefully and try to only inflict it on those who deserve it.

frankly, if I had to choose between being who I am, and never, ever having 2 million to rub together or being an aggressive jerk and being a millionaire Id choose being a soppy, geeky family man and computer programmer over being a millionaire.
Permalink FullNameRequired 
March 13th, 2005
"Id choose being a soppy, geeky family man and computer programmer over being a millionaire."


you aren't geeky boss.
Permalink  
March 13th, 2005
See, that's the thing...I've chosen pretty much the same thing, too. Because I do care about other people's feelings. An aggressive jerk already doesn't care, so doesn't see the point in not being one. So there's no penalty to them. It just sucks.
Permalink Aaron F Stanton 
March 13th, 2005
im not bloody soppy either, you never asked why I fired your predecessor.


...reading JOS in my time? why dont you steal some money from the petty cash while you are at it...
Permalink FullNameRequired 
March 13th, 2005
Do not fret because of evildoers,
Nor be envious of the workers of iniquity.
For they shall soon be cut down like the grass,
And wither as the green herb.
Trust in the LORD, and do good;
Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.
Delight yourself also in the LORD,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.


...That's one answer, anyway.
Permalink Kyralessa 
March 13th, 2005
That would comfort me if I believed in God, I guess.
Permalink Aaron F Stanton 
March 13th, 2005
One reason for being 'good' might be to become employable. I saw and read the following picture and poem on the wall of my school every day:

http://www.trustyservant.co.uk/html/the_porch.html

> So why not be one?

At least a couple of reasons.

One is that, perhaps you wouldn't be a good one.

Another, that I console myself with, is that I don't want to live in a world of agression: which (a world without agression) cannot happen if I'm agressive myself.

> I don't see karma working. ... It just pisses me off. What goes around is supposed to come around, and I really don't think that it does.

At the *center* of the Wheel of Life are three animals: the snake (representing anger and hatred); the rooster (representing greed, desire and attachment); and the pig (representing ignorance and ego-delusion).

Ignorance begets greed, avarice begets anger, and anger begets ignorance.
Permalink Christopher Wells 
March 13th, 2005
Well, another answer could be that you're seeing these people on the outside, from afar; their lives may look very different from the inside.

Personally I'm disgusted with people who run red lights...but every so often I do it myself, and I find that I'm not disgusted with myself, for unlike those other people, I always have a good reason. Mm-hmm.

But I've found that once I stop giving myself a pass, and start coming down hard on myself for the same things I criticize other people for, I don't get bothered so much by other people's wrongdoing, because I can understand it better.
Permalink Kyralessa 
March 13th, 2005
I don't know whether I can answer your question. I can only answer for myself, because the subject is a matter of feelings on my part, and I don't know whether you have those feelings too.

Over the last couple of years I've come to realize that making other people happy makes me happy. I also know that beeing good to other people makes them happy. In this way I have created the principle of "being good, is good" that I've placed somewhere deep down in me, where it guides my actions.

I don't know whether you feel the same, but that's a least my non-religious reasoning why it pays off to be good to others.
Permalink Peter Monsson 
March 13th, 2005
Aaron, the answer is that you can't make yourself be a trickster. You are either born a trickster or not. When a straight up person tries to be something he is not, it eventually wears away at him.

I had a good friend who was in a bit of trouble finincially and decided to make some quick cash working for a live porn site. One of those where someone with a credit card can, in live time, specify what sort of acts they want to see the 'actors' 'perform'. He was morally opposed to this sort of work, but he needed the money and he figured that a couple months would get him squared up and he colud do something else. Well, he did it for almost two years because new expenses kept coming up. One day he called me and lamented that he felt like the devil had got his number. I told him to get out of that work since it was eating away at him. He tried not to look at the things he was putting on the web, but he saw them nonetheless. And he heard the girl talking about their problems of drug addiction, their criminal boyfriends, and the girls that had to 'retire' because of aids.

A month after I talked to him, his wife found him in a closed garage. The engine was running.

His three little girl will never know their father.
Permalink Rich Rogers 
March 13th, 2005
Being good and being a jerk seem reconciable. What is it about jerkiness you are apposed to?
Permalink son of parnas 
March 13th, 2005
What I'm thinking is:

1. Why are assertive people who go for what they want "jerks."

2. "It just pisses me off." Why? Sounds like he hit a nerve. Some part of your personality you've been repressing for a while.
Permalink MarkTAW 
March 13th, 2005
"Why are assertive people who go for what they want "jerks.""

they are not necessarily; I know a number of people like that who are very good people.

I *also* know a few (definitely a minority) who are compelte jerks, most very successful entreprenurs are actually very nice people, but a subset confuse rudeness with being assertive, and waffling on in market speak with 'selling themselves'

"Sounds like he hit a nerve."

<g> he did with me as well, prats like him give the rest of us assertive, bossy entrepreneur types a bad name.

...or maybe he just made me feel old, I remember when I actually got excited about new software ideas, now I just wish it would all spontaneously combust and I could go work in a green field somewhere...maybe stopping occasionally to watch the clouds float past.
Permalink FullNameRequired 
March 14th, 2005
Aaron how easy it is to discourage you. Isn't it?
That you have started judging your worth by comparing your self with other people.

We can find thousands of reasons to feel discouraged about but pity is, we can't find a single reason to feel proud of ourself.

Just someone discouraged you, and you got discouraged. Isn't it the same that that "someone" wanted.

Just someone hurt you, you got hurt. Isn't it the same that that "someone" wanted.

Let me be straight. If you can be discouraged so easily that you have the "need" of comparing your earning with someone than their is seriously something wrong.

For those inconsiderate people who don't care about others. As you said,

Let them waste their time at reaching at a destination in a hurry and hitting people around and then realizing the destination is not that wonderful as they imagine it would be. And then they would realize they missed something.

And for you,

Take a football. Go to an orphanage. Play with orphan children for one hour. Make them feel good about themselves.

And feel good about yourself. That you are among the "few" who ever did this.

Sincerely.
Permalink Another posters... 
March 14th, 2005
Does this guy (in the main forum) remind anyone else of the DD/JD twins, but with an attitude?

http://discuss.joelonsoftware.com/default.asp?biz.5.48605.24
http://discuss.joelonsoftware.com/default.asp?biz.5.48724.29
http://discuss.joelonsoftware.com/default.asp?biz.5.48782.7

I have to admit, he's a good troll. He even managed to get someone to post another tread rekindling the conversation.
Permalink MarkTAW 
March 14th, 2005
Pride, honour, the ability to look at yourself in the mirror. ..

If you believe in some sort of divine judgement then your life is weighed at the end. Those of us who don't have to do that calculation for ourselves. Either way the ability to construct a view of the world and to live according to it is one of the few distinguishing characteristics of our species.

In the end does it matter...no. But in the end nothing really matters - we are at too small a scale in the universe to make much of a dent - so any meaning has to come from within. Live in the way you want to be remembered - it's all you can do.
Permalink a cynic writes... 
March 14th, 2005
Snake oil salesmen are hypnotic, that's how come they can get away with selling their particular kind of snake oil.

Such people are repellent but also charismatic at the same time. You could use some kind of Christian apologia and imagine that charisma employed for doing good instead of what seems to be ill. But isn't a con a con?

Hyaena, Loki are attractive because everyone likes tricks if they're played on someone else and they also, occasionally, cause new things to happen by breaking the rules.

If the snake oil salesman conned the young virgin into going back to her parents then we'd see the act as Good, if instead he conned her into bed and subsequent abandoned pregnancy then we'd see not only the act as Bad but the man himself as Bad. Qualitatively what is the difference?

Is it that in the second instance he conned for his own reward selfishly, and in the first he conned unselfishly for her own sake? But if it gave him pleasure to turn her back to her parents, because he could and in willing made it so, isn't that just as selfish?

In both cases we assume the virgin girl has no intent of her own, no will and no understanding of consequences. That may be so, but its a judgement too quickly made, the virgin girl may be attempting to con the salesman into rescuing her from what she sees as a restrictive and abusive family and in the scheme of things is willing to risk pregnancy in the process.

If a man leaves a donkey by the side of the road and appears to abandon it and another man comes along and feeds the donkey and when challenged by the first man the second man willingly gives up the donkey, for some suitable compensation we treat this as a normal transaction with possibly a lesson for the first man.

If a man steals a donkey and then sells the original owner the same donkey back again because in stealing it he also took all the papers proving ownership then we condemn the thief but we go on using the same system of proving ownership.

In the former case I might argue that the second man is also taking advantage, the donkey isn't ill or hungry and doesn't need shelter, the first man may be trusting in leaving it by the side of the road but he is not necessarily careless. In the latter case I might also argue that the means for enabling the theft have been given to the thief. If there were a proper means of knowing who owned what, or rather if it were assumed that no matter what proof of title someone waved unless a physical change of ownership was made we assumed that property stayed with the last person then it would not matter and we could just confiscate the property back when the thief tried to sell it.
Permalink Simon Lucy 
March 14th, 2005
I've tried faking it as an agressive jerk and I've decided that the feelings of guilt and angst afterwards just aren't worth it. I'm guessing that 99% of the people you see doing stupid things are doing it as a momentary abberation and only 1% behave like that all the time.
Permalink Ross 
March 14th, 2005
The software industry isn't so large to where you can piss people off and not have future repercusions.

There's one guy I worked with who would be a perfect fit for Kan the domain jackal -- he was just in it for himself, and didn't actually produce any code for the people employing him. When you saw him working, it was always on one of his personal projects, and not the one he was being paid for.

He has job-hopped his way through the local area, and word is starting to get around about him. He'll probably have to move to another part of the country sometime in the future in order to keep on working.

And even then, I don't know how much good that will do him -- anyone can do a Google on you nowadays, and get a pretty good impression of your personality from what you've posted, as well as what others have said about you. Reputation is becoming more important than ever, and if you're a jerk, that's what will be reflected.
Permalink example 
March 14th, 2005
Thanks, all.

See, I've known for some time that what makes me happy is getting what I want. (Well, that and caffeine, but that's beside the point.) It's also becoming obvious to me that the key to getting what I want is just doing what it takes to get it and overcoming objections that come up en route. That can consist of convincing them point by point to agree, or it can consist of just running roughshod over them.

What I'm also figuring out is that it's like math. I like math because it's simple - there is no arguing good or evil with math, it either works or it doesn't. If it works, you did it right. If it doesn't, you did it wrong. Getting what you want is the same. If you got what you wanted, you did it right.

If what you want happens to include making people happy, and you don't want to feel guilty by making then unhappy, you have to include that in your goals. If you feel, as muppet seems to, that there are things that are always evil regardless of circumstances, then you have to take measures to ensure you never find yourself put in circumstances that force a "Sophie's Choice" on you.

I thought at first that Kan's thread in the other section was what triggered the current whining session I'm putting you guys through, but that's actually secondary. Without meaning to, Sathy triggered it. I don't have time to do what I want - Rather, I *do* have time, but I am reluctant to sacrifice certain things in order to obtain other things. I can work my 40 hour a week job that I like but does not pay well enough for me, and I can spend time with my family, and I can work on my own projects, but I can't do all three. There's only enough time for two. I have to decide on which two, and be willing to live with that.

So anyway, thanks.
Permalink Aaron F Stanton 
March 14th, 2005
++What I'm also figuring out is that it's like math. I like math because it's simple - there is no arguing good or evil with math, it either works or it doesn't. If it works, you did it right. If it doesn't, you did it wrong. Getting what you want is the same. If you got what you wanted, you did it right.++

This is why you're a sociopath. Get some counseling or something. Your kid will thank you.
Permalink muppet 
March 14th, 2005
I'd argue with muppet, but that would just be evil.
Permalink MarkTAW 
March 14th, 2005
Thanks, muppet. We've been through this already.
Permalink Aaron F Stanton 
March 14th, 2005
Sure we have, but you're still a sociopath.
Permalink muppet 
March 14th, 2005
So, Simon, if I leave a table in, say, Borders, and come back while later and find some weirdo sitting on my stool, what should I do?
Permalink Crazy Oriental Woman 
March 14th, 2005
I could be one dirty bastage if I really wanted. I bet I could climb to the top echelons of society on the backs of others and stand atop the mountain of broken lives, careers, and men waving a golden flag while dancing in tap shoes on my mercedes that I repaint every other day.

To me at least, I would have accomplished nothing. Many people have the capacity to cheat, rob, and weasal their way to the top. The ones that do so will never be happy. Getting as far as you can while upholding values you are proud of... that is worthwhile. I think you'd also find that in taking the one path, you'd be surrounded with cheats, robbers, and weasals; taking the other, by people you can really count on and cherish.
Permalink I am Jack's good goal 
March 14th, 2005
Crazy Oriental Woman, unless you want to form part of some small and obscure folk tale I'd suggest ignoring the interloper and find a different book shop.
Permalink Simon Lucy 
March 14th, 2005
There are several driving forces that are urging guys to be abusive, jerks and/or greedy. This list is not exhaustive:

1 - Age.
2 - Valuation of money.
3 - Rewarding of behaviors by females.
4 - Some innate greediness.

1: Younger men tend to be more aggressive than older men, which includes greater "jerkitude." The guys cutting you off in traffic aren't always 20 year olds, but the rate of getting cut off in traffic by the younger crowd is far more prevalent than the rate that old farts (35+ do). Testosterone poisoning is far more of a danger to society than we are willing to admit. And until we can face it, we won't be able to do anything about it (except bellyaching).

2: If someone acquires large sums of money, our society values them far in excess of what they've actually accomplished. Our literature of success tends to be written by people who don't have a real clue how or why they succeeded in life. Our current ethical standards seem to over value companies that rob, cheat or steal their way to billions. Just look at how valued Enron and WalMart were/are. Look at how valued Carly Fiorina is for her incompetance/butchery of Lucent and HP. The bandits are rewarded for unethical behavior, and the nice guys finish last.

3: I've noticed that most younger women desparately seek drama. Males who don't create drama are deemed "uninteresting" or "dull" and get rewarded with "no sex for you!" Males who excel at creating drama get rewarded with the pink taco. American women seem to overdose on the drama, and start looking for more stable and mature men in their lives, mostly starting in their early 20s (the transition to looking for stable men seems to be completed sometime between 25 and 30). They've spent their teen years training/rewarding guys to be jerks, then turn around and want more normal guys. Why do the jerks get the women, and nice guys finish last? I explained it very tersely above. Guys who've been rewared for bad behavior will continue that behavior for a long time after they stop getting rewarded.

4: Robert Ringer wrote a number of books, the 2 more relevant ones are "Looking Out For Number 1" and "Winning Through Intimidation." He described a number of characters you'll meet in life, a little about their motivations, and how to succeed in life despite their efforts to intimidate you. Some people feel that their "fair share" is everything (including your cookies). Those would be described as "Type 1" and "Type 2" people in Mr Ringer's books.

Why be good? If you can't look yourself in the mirror, you're doing the wrong thing.
Permalink Peter 
March 14th, 2005
"There are shitloads of ways to make easy money legally that only require you to be a slimeball to do it."

I disagree with this assertion. Being a slimeball is a lot more work than you might imagine.
Permalink Rob Gordon 
March 14th, 2005
Being "good" is a long tern investment. It doesn't have a single large payoff, but rather has a general amelieorating effect. Also doing good is generally a quiet behaviour. People who are interestead in doing good generally don't spend too much time on how they can get noticed.
Tthe "bad" behaviours that seem to pay off, but only in the short term, are usualy accompanied by alot of noise, so they stick out.
Permalink Honu 
March 14th, 2005
Another reason not to be "bad" or "evil" is that you never know who you are going to end up screwing over. Not everyone out there just bends over and takes it. My roommate and I played rugby in college and were both REALLY nice guys. Didn't really party, didn't do the typical frat guy / sports guy stuff to girls, weaker people. My roommate though grew up in a REALLY tough neighborhood, so he had been in many fights, been stabbed, robbed, etc, generally a tough guy. Anyway, whenever someone did something like the OP mentioned he would follow them and confront them with the general "hey, <that> was f-ed up, don't ever do that again" and people would either A) Say sorry, be embarrased in front of someone, and think twice or B) (The real a-holes) would tell him to f- off, confront him back, usually resulting in them finally swinging at my roommate, and then promptly getting beat to a pulp. So yeah, long story, short moral.. don't fuck with people.
Permalink Anon 
March 14th, 2005
Like the previous Anon described, I am just like that roommate. I am pretty nice, but when people do f'ed up things I confront them about it.
Park in a fire zone to run into the store I am in and I will call you out in front of the entire store.
Park in a handicap spot and not have a sticker (it has become useless to confront non-handicap people with stickers, too many of them).
Litter at a stop light, and if you are stopped I will get out and throw it back into your car.

The problem is poeple need to stand up for what's right, not sit back and watch an asshole get away with it. Sure you may end up dead (happened to a friend that tried to stop a rapist), but if it is not worth standing up for what's right, well sorry you don't deserve what's right.

This is the fundimental thinking that helped found the United States, we seem to have forgotten this over the last century. (And no I don't think this is a justification for our being in Iraq, if we went in 10 - 15 years ago, then maybe)
Permalink A Real American 
March 14th, 2005
Most of my family is Canadian, and I've grown to like some of their fundamental rules regarding the previous post and my first post. If say you are in a bar and some guy is acting like an asshole, so much so that someone needs to do something about it, the responsibility falls on the first man that spots it. So, you see some guy being too aggressive with a girl in a bar, YOU have the responsibility to go to her aid. If the asshole doesn't quit, it's YOUR job to hit him in the nose. You will always have backup, because for the most part someone noticed the same thing as you, but you were the first to spot it. This mentallity doesn't work in the states as well, I just end up getting kicked out by the bouncer. Also, people sue in the US.
Permalink Anon 
March 14th, 2005
One big fat self-interested reason to be good is that is the way to have other good people in your life.

If you are a shitty and underhanded person, that's also the kind of people you'll end up affiliating with. In the long run scumbags do not keep good friends, lovers, spouses. Yeah, some of them get rich. Not that many. Still not a good trade, if you ask me.
Permalink Matt Conrad 
March 14th, 2005
"Park in a handicap spot and not have a sticker (it has become useless to confront non-handicap people with stickers, too many of them)."

This is not standing up for what is right; this is showing your ignorance. Not all disabilities are visible, and you don't have to be paralyzed or have a limb missing to use a handicapped parking space.
Permalink Kyralessa 
March 14th, 2005
Kyralessa,

No sticker is no good.
Permalink Rick Tang 
March 14th, 2005
Handicap spots are not for the handicapped, they're for people with stickers.

Tsssst.
Permalink Zorg 
March 14th, 2005
I once yelled into a crowded cafe at a guy who parked in a handicap space (no sticker), ran (yes ran) into the cafe. I actually yelled "The only handicap you have is your tiny brain!" He spun around and got pissed until he saw who said it, and he went about buying his coffee while everyone stared at him.

Note: My grandfather has M.S. and IS handicapped.
Permalink Anon 
March 14th, 2005
> It's also becoming obvious to me that the key to
> getting what I want is just doing what it takes to
> get it and overcoming objections that come up en route.

These people are called sociopaths. See Richard III.
Permalink son of parnas 
March 14th, 2005
Sorry for the confusion; my comments were directed to the part in parentheses, about confronting supposedly "non-handicap people with stickers."
Permalink Kyralessa 
March 14th, 2005
Sorry, but handicapped stickers, etc. are for people who have trouble walking. Not people who have a mental handicap, they can walk, they can park in a normal spot.

If they have an artifical leg (only bellow the waist as these impact WALKING) sure they can park in a handicap spot, but at least in the state where I live if you loose a finger you can get a handicap plate/sticker, this is rediculous.
Permalink A Real American 
March 18th, 2005

This topic was orginally posted to the off-topic forum of the
Joel on Software discussion board.

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