In a recent article, David Brooks outlines two types of business people, princes and grinds.
Princes, who can be male or female, are senior executives at major corporations. They are almost always charming, smart and impressive. They've read interesting books. They've got well-rehearsed takes on the global situation. They can drop impressive names as they tell you about their visits to the White House, Moscow or Beijing. If you're having lunch or dinner with a prince, you're going to have a good time. Grinds, on the other hand, tend to have started their own company or their own hedge fund. They're often too awkward to work in a large organization and too intense to work for anybody but themselves. Over lunch, they can be socially inert. You try to draw them out by probing for one or two subjects of interest to them. But as often as not, you find yourself playing conversational ping-pong with a master of the monosyllabic response.
Every once in a while you'll run into one who can't help but let you know how much smarter he is than you or anybody else in the room. Sitting at this lunch is about as pleasant for him as watching a cockroach crawl up his arm. He'd much rather be back working in front of his computer screen.
Since the princes are nicer and more impressive, it is easy to be seduced into the belief that they also are more trustworthy. This is false. During the last few years, for example, the princes at Citigroup, Bear Stearns, Goldman Sachs and Lehman Brothers behaved with incredible stupidity while the hedge fund loners often behaved with impressive restraint.
Brooks goes on to note that, despite the failure of the "princes" in the recent economic downturn, it has been these same princes who have been the main beneficiaries of government largess in the various stimulus packages.
They [Grinds] need a wide-open economy with plenty of creative destruction. They need an atmosphere of general confidence, so bankers will feel secure enough to lend them money, so big companies will feel brave enough to acquire their start-ups, so they themselves will feel the time is ripe to take on their world and show their brilliance to all of humanity.
The princes can thrive while the government intervenes in the private sector. They've got the lobbyists and the connections. The grinds, needless to say, don't.
This is a basic principle well understood by libertarians that the very act of the government stepping in with rules and regulations benefits those who already are connected to the establishment and know how to work it at the expense of those who are not. As such the notion of the government doing anything to help the needy is a contradiction in terms. This is not to say that there should be no laws. I believe in government and that it should protect people from direct non-consensual physical harm caused by others. That being said, with any government aid program, the wrong thing you can be certain of is that, whatever else it does, it will not go to those who actually need the help.
This notion of princes and grinds also struck me as reflecting those on the spectrum and neurotypicals. Look again at the description of the princes and ask yourself how many of them are Aspergers? Now consider the grinds; these are people who do not do well in social situations, but carry a very narrowly focused intelligence. You can practically sign such people up on the spot. So who do you want to trust the economy to, neurotypical prince, whose talent is to game the system, or the Asperger grind, who may actually know something?