Why there can be no true meritocracy in business

A meritocracy implies a hierarchy.  From most to least, or some such.  To rank people according their “merit” we must know what is meritorious.  Meritoriousness must be measured against a notion of the good, which I believe is objective.

In business, merit is measured by what?  Productivity, nepotistic standing, wokeness, HR mommies?  What exactly is merit in business?  We are taught that merit in a western economic system is related to ability, skill, etc.

It is not.  Time and again when I was in the business world my business was judged by it’s ability to cut cost, meet deadlines, “innovate,” and other weird stuff that has nothing to do with the good, skill, or ability.

Do you need to cut costs? Just cut corners.  Have a tight deadline?  Just cut corners.   That’s not to say be shoddy, it is to say that we were not allowed to do our best work, to show our skill, to demonstrate our superior professional judgement.  The vicissitudes of business wouldn’t allow it.

Merit is almost always judged based on criteria that are abhorrent to the craftsman.

I realized this yesterday.

On our south place we had an old silted in pond that the beavers had destroyed.  We need more water on that place, both for livestock and for a fishing pond.  So I called by friend Red at Haggard Excavation (Chelsea, OK 918-789-3211) and had him come out and dig that old pond out and expand it.

He did a great job, leaving us with a 150’X80’ pond.  When it’s full the water will be 14 feet deep, with 2’ of freeboard.   The bottom of the pond is a rectangle too.  It’s 80’X35’.   (Have the kids calculate the volume.)

I’ve seen many dozens of ponds being dug over the years.  The dozer man comes out, shoots his grades, digs the pond, builds a spillway, then he leaves.  The owners then proceed to wait till the pond fills.

Then I saw Greg Judy at GreenPasturesFarm.net.   If my memory serves me, he and his earthwork man Johnny built 18 ponds on his 1600+ acre operation last year.  Mr. Judy, who I’ve had occasion to speak to a couple of times let me know I would have an erosion problem on that new pond.  Runoff from the catchment would erode the bare dirt around the pond and the sides of the pond itself, carrying sediment into the bottom of the pond.  He told me that there would be as much as 2 to 4 feet of sediment deposited in the bottom of that pond in the first 6 months or so.

He said, “You paid good money to get that dirt out of that hole, why would you let the rain put it back in there?”

He told me to roll out and spread hay, not straw, on all the bare dirt at the pond site.  He told me to spread that hay out in that empty pond right down the sides all the way to the bottom.   The hay will prevent erosion, catch runoff and sediment, add carbon to that cruddy subsoil we brought to the top during excavation, and lay down seed as well.

This will result in the pond holding THOUSANDS of gallons more than the same pond would if we allowed the erosion while it filled.

This is true meritocracy.  Some folks sit on their ass and watch the pond fill.  We went to work.

My wife and I sought out information about ponds, consulted an expert, then proceeded to spread 6,000 pounds of hay with pitchforks to protect our investment.

Someday, during a horrible drought our pond may still have water in it when the neighbors does not, because they let their pond silt in.  Our pond will hold morehigher quality water every single day as a result of this simple but hard work we did.

All ponds silt in.  Our pond will last years and years longer because we prevented that initial silt from coming in.

We’ll also keep trees away from the pond to prevent leaf accumulation that shortens the pond life.  We will also surround the pond with a hot wire to keep the livestock out of the pond, thereby lengthening it’s life.

This hard work and foresight will pay it’s own benefits as we work in accordance to reality.  There is no need to have an imperfect man judge our merit in pond maintenance, reality will do this for us.

When that drought comes and the neighbors’ ponds are empty, we’ll know, but they won’t.  In fact, some of them saw us throwing hay with pitchforks out there, they don’t see the merit in it.  They won’t see the merit in it when their pond is dry and ours isn’t.

Men aren’t the arbiter of merit.  They can’t be.  GNON is.

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