Saturday, February 24 , 2018, 8:42 pm | Fair 51º


Paul Burri: Destroying Quality for a Happier, Peaceful World

When all things are equal and we celebrate mediocrity, we're better off ... right?

One of the characters in Ayn Rand’s novel, The Fountainhead, describes his plan for destroying any sense of quality in a society. According to him, it is really quite simple — just socialize all values so that everything is equal.

“Quality” implies that one thing is superior to another, and when all things are equal, nothing is superior and the term “quality” becomes meaningless.

First you praise mediocrity in all things, whether it is in writing, music, the arts or any other human endeavor. Leave no room for praise of excellence. Then you denigrate competition of any kind. After all, if there is competition, there will be winners and there will be losers. And while the few winners will be filled with feelings of joy and pride of accomplishment, the multitude of losers or second-bests will have their spirits hurt or broken. And we don’t want that to happen, do we?

Next, you begin to reward incompetence. Again, this is to avoid crushing the spirits of those who are unable — or unwilling — to try harder, work more diligently or study longer hours. You begin by eliminating any words that have a negative, spirit-quenching effect. Immediately you ban “loser,” “failure,” “incompetent” or “handicapped” from the language. Loser will be replaced by unwinner, failures will become excellent-try successes, incompetent will become specially competent and handicapped will become specially gifted.

And instead of praising the A students, you elevate the C and D students for their “good try” or their remarkable attendance record or their “good texting” ability. (I recently read about a school that claimed that 85 percent of its students were A students. If C represents an average student, how can that be?)

To this effect you design trophies for “Best Attendance” or “Happiest Attitude” or “Most Cheerful Loser” (uh, Unwinner) and award them liberally so that no one — and I do mean no one — ever goes home without a trophy or a ribbon. After all, isn’t it a happy spirit the world needs rather than people who can solve problems and produce real results? Wouldn’t it be better to have a world full of happy people rather than those way-too-serious engineers, scientists and doctors who design things, invent things, cure people? Wouldn’t you rather have a happy, incompetent doctor than a glum expert one?

Along these lines, you discourage any sort of improvement in any area. After all, if it was good enough for my father and my father’s father, it ought to be good enough for me, too, shouldn’t it? Or, if you find that some improvements are unavoidable or simply too popular to deter, modify them in such a way as to make things easier for everybody — so easy that they no longer have to give any serious thought. Let’s make communication so simple that no one has to learn to spell or think clearly. OMG, isn’t that oblivious obveeus obvious? (Whatever.) Well, LOL with that idea.

Lastly, you should begin to frequently and interchangeably use words that are antonyms such as up/down, hot/cold, good/bad and love/hate. So, as George Orwell said in 1984, “Love is hate and freedom is slavery.”

If we can successfully complete these steps — and the sooner the better, if you ask me — we will have a peaceful, happier world.

I hope.

— Paul Burri is an entrepreneur, inventor, columnist, engineer and iconoclast. He is not in the advertising business, but he is a small-business counselor with the Santa Barbara chapter of Counselors to America’s Small Business-SCORE. The opinions and comments in this column are his alone and do not represent the opinions or policies of any outside organization. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click here to get started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >