Martin, You Sanctimonious Bastard

It’s Mark, not Charles, Manson

[A few days ago a Mark Manson posted a note about Brazil. I reposted. Most people either ignored, read and forgot, agreed, or reposted. However, a few slung arrows at me like I was Jon Snow and they were Ygritte from Game of Thrones. I was perplexed.

Let me summarize for FB with a longer blog response below:

  1. I posted, but should have put a caveat: For discussion purposes; just because the author is American I am not endorsing what he says 100%
  2. I think this is worth debate, as FB can be for more than posting selfies with the obligatory Linda/Gata comment and photos of your lunch
  3. I certainly was not blaming or indicting all Brazilians or certainly the poor for the problems that face the country
  4. When I think of all the know-it-alls who invaded my home city of San Francisco and told ME, a third generation San Franciscan, about my city, I understand why Manson’s opinion made you angry
  5. For those that were offended, you know me, you know that was not my intent

Now read on please.]

So let’s revisit in a more distant way some of the premises and issues.

  1. Credentials. Manson is a ‘’Self Help Coach’’ and a ‘’Pick Up Artist.’’ Not exactly a Sociologist or Anthropologist. I actually had read some article by him previously and had thought he was Australian. Did not even know he was American or that he had passed time in Brazil. So you can discredit his credential, but as they say, ‘’even a blind squirrel finds a nut sometimes,’’ so perhaps there was a valid point (or not) among his written vomit
  2. Culture. I don’t think he was all wrong in his points about jeitinho, culture, etc. as those points had been made before by many of the very same archers. Culture plays a part in everything. USA culture plays a part in our fascination with guns, voting for a Trump, believing in the magical economic powers of Bernie Sanders, or actually caring at all about Kimye. What was not said, or discussed, is how culture comes about. Brazil has a 500 year story created via innumerable events and interactions, etc. And like any culture it has a positive side and a negative side. Guessing here, but let’s say you accept too much crap from your government because of your culture (bad). However, you also don’t kill each other in the streets during political protests like in Venezuela because of this same culture (very good).
  3. Pacts. People and Businesses and Governments make pacts amongst themselves. In the USA our US$17T economy is mostly immune to Government intervention and what they discuss only affects the margin. That is why we can debate silly things like who believes in God more #annoying. We are far more at risk from someone sneezing in China (SARS) or lack of regulation on Wall Street — this I fear again, because other than Bernie, no one will do a damn thing (Mortgage Crisis 2). But that is another blog post. In the end, the US Government says it will possibly not let you die, and will help a bit with retirement; the rest is up to you. In Europe, they probably will not let you die and will help you a bit more in retirement. Here in Brazil, in theory, the State wants to help even more (let’s leave aside its ability and effectiveness for now), providing more services from cradle to grave for citizens. Now many Brazilians claim to want a more independent model and more freedom, etc. but I am not sure that the majority does. It sounds nice, until you are affected. Example: it is hard to hire employees, because it is a bitch to fire them. But if YOU are fired, are you OK with 2 weeks pay like the USA or do you want your FGTS and the 40% penalty? Again, I am just asking? We complain about these things in the USA too, but our economy can handle to some extent the ups and downs of these decisions; whereas, your US$2T economy really cannot yet. So these decisions, in a more incipient democracy, are more important. I don’t think Manson made this point. I am.
  4. Poor. I would never blame the poor in Brazil. In fact, the working poor are the class of people for whom I have the most respect. You travel 1–2 hours each way to work, that is, when your bus has not been burned in the name of some ridiculous protest. You perhaps live in a neighborhood that I could not enter without an escort. You work as a valet driving cars you will never own, or in a house caring for kids who vacation in places you will never go, ironing clothes you will never wear…..And you have a smile on your face EVERY day, while we complain about the service at DOM. Seriously, people ask why I live here when I am from San Francisco (I will get to that), but having exposure to this segment has been one of the most rewarding and memorable of my life. And my conversations with valets, cleaning ladies, coffee servers, waiters, taxi drivers, etc. have been some of the most interesting of my almost 20 years of visiting/living in Brazil.
  5. Tech Bubble Parallel. (Bear with me, this is the Big Reveal.) As mentioned, my grandparents emigrated from Russia / Poland pre WWI and WWII to San Francisco, making me 2nd generation born, an irregularity. Most people in SF are immigrants from other states. I was there when South of Market was all bums (cracolandia) and Silicon Valley was basically HP ( when Hewlett and Packard actually worked there). Post 1995 when Yahoo was founded, and Sun and Silicon Graphics were spinning off the first round of incompetent internet executives, and guys like Peter Thiel and Elon Musk and Max Levchin had yet to earn Billions at PayPal; and Omidyar, Page/Brin, had yet to emerge, and James Spader (Black List) lookalike Marc Andreesen from Netscape had yet to neuter Microsoft, and Zuck was yet to deceive the Winklevi, Silicon Valley had just begun to suffer the first influx of the Hublai Clan (Pronounced like Kublai Khan, with Hublai from the word Hubris, meaning Arrogant).
    Perhaps because I am Jewish and inherently cognizant of the value of money. Perhaps because I was a few years older and had an MBA. Perhaps because I had an engineering degree and could do math and understood statistics and probability. Perhaps the combination of the above all led me to know that each of these snot nosed kids was not going to become a millionaire, much less a thousandaire. In fact, most of them were going to work for companies that would disappear and no one would remember them — the company or the kid. At one point, Silicon Valley had like 6000 startups. Forget them all being successful from a market cap standpoint, they could not be successful from a management standpoint. Say you need 8 good execs per company. 48,000 good execs? In one valley? Ha! But I digress.
    But what I found most annoying about these kids was how they started to lecture me on how the Bay Area was the only place to live. The weather. Mountain biking. SF bars. Restaurants. The deck at Sam’s. Napa Valley. Bla blah bla. Hey, dikwad, I have lived in three countries, visited 40+, I am from here, I know what the Bay Area is like. Now STFU. In the end, I had to leave. So I emigrated to Brazil.
    So if this is how you felt reading Mark Manson, I understand (Caiu a ficha). And I ask for your forgiveness, for nothing is worse than some doofus from PQP telling you about your country. I did not read it that way, so that was not my intent, but if that was your interpretation, OMG, sorry for the pain I caused!
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