THE BEAD BUYERS | 1998-11-07

Hoogeetoobee the Elder spoke unto his son, "Young one, a man is only a real man when he has a BLUE glass in his nose."

Hoogeetoobee pointed at the blue glass shining in his nose and said, "My son, among our people, blue glass beads are deeply valued. If you wish a wife, take all your pigs to white men and get blue beads for your nose, not red beads."

And Hoogeetoobee was right. His son took all his pigs and bought blue beads and put them in his nose, and he had many wives of his tribe, which loved blue beads.

The tribe soon died out.

Wise Hoogeetoobee was right. He gave his son excellent advice for getting along in the grown-up life of his tribe.

But it is also true that that was one dumbass crowd of savages.

This year, a very thick but popular book called *The Wealth and Poverty of Nations* was published. It is by a Harvard professor, but it is popular because this Harvard professor is talking sense.

No, I have not been drinking, this Harvard professor actually makes some sense. He says that countries that are poverty-stricken are that way because they are run by what might technically be referred to as a crowd of dumbasses.

His language is more diplomatic, but that is what he is saying.

Historically in Latin countries, for example, real men in every class tended to mean men who did not work. The goal of a really macho man was to be nonproductive.

Real macho men in America tell us that "It's not what you know, it's who you know." That is true.

It is almost fatally true. When we ran head-on into a Japanese economy which was deadly serious about WHAT people knew, we damn near went under. What saved us was that the Japs had some "real man" advice THEY lived by.

The real men who were on top in Japan lived by clique. At the top, they went by WHO you knew. As a result, they made big loans on the basis of other real men asking for them. Their heroes defaulted, and the whole thing seems to have collapsed on them, saving the US for the time being.

But somewhere there is always a bunch of people, some Bill Gates', who take output seriously. Who you go to lunch with is such places is no substitute for creativeness or knowing your business. Whenever that happens, a lot of modern coat-and-tie bead-buyers get ruined.

Whenever someone tells me how to get along in a society, I listen for this bead-buyer crap. I am not so impressed by the wisdom I am hearing as I am by the sheer cowlike dumbness of people who can be "handled" this way.

Dale Carnegie says remember their names, that bowls them over. Other good advice tells us that "this is the way you talk to women," and "that is the way you flatter men's vanity." This is usually good advice. It also tells me that we live a society where grown men and women give out their money and their votes on that kind of basis.

This is a LOT more sophisticated than a blue bead in your nose.