March 11, 2009

Asking for a favor

Franklin at his printing press. Image courtesy of wikipedia.

The last few weeks at Goat Rope have been spent with Benjamin Franklin. The focus lately has been on his considerable diplomatic skills. You'll also find links and more or less snarky comments about current events below.

Whatever else you can say about Franklin, he had, in most areas of his live anyhow, social intelligence out the wazoo. One example of this in action came early in his career when he obtained the position of clerk of the Pennsylvania General Assembly.

The post was agreeable to Franklin in terms of income, social contacts, and opportunities to drum up printing business. But it was a yearly appointment. One year, a wealthy and influential new member of the assembly made a speech against Franklin's reappointment in favor of another candidate.

Here's how he dealt with the problem:

I therefore did not like the opposition of this new member, who was a gentleman of fortune and education, with talents that were likely to give him, in time, great influence in the House, which, indeed afterwards happen. I did not, however, aim at gaining his favor by paying any servile respect to him, but, after some time took this other method.

The method was very simply to ask the gentleman for a favor:

Having heard that he had in his library a certain very scarce and curious book, I wrote a note to him, expressing my desire of perusing that book, and requesting he would do me the favour of lending it to me for a few days. He sent it immediately, and I return'd it in about a week with another note, expressing strongly my sense of the favour. When we next met in the House, he spoke to me (which he had never done before, and with great civility; and he ever after manifested a readiness to serve me on all occasions, so that we became great friends, and our friendship continued to his death.

Here's the punch line:

This is another instance of the truth of an old maxim I had learned, which says, "He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another, than he whom you yourself have obliged." And it shows how much more profitable it is prudently to remove, than to resent, return, and continue inimical proceedings.

Pretty slick.

HARD TIMES. Here's a good overview of a bad scene from USA Today.

GOVERNMENT-PROVIDED HEALTH CARE? Economist Dean Baker argues here that in a fair fight it would win out over private insurers.

CHICKEN LITTLE, REVISITED. Corporate America is having another hissy fit over the Employee Free Choice Act.


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