October 10, 2010

The NBA Rules Of Acquisition

The morally bankrupt Ferengi are a fictional race of ultra-capitalistic traders from Star Trek. They have 285 Rules of Acquisition that govern all of their interactions. For example, the first rule is, "Once you have their money, you never give it back", and the twenty-first rule is, "Never place friendship above profit". They must teach this stuff in MBA programs.

The greedy, conniving Ferengi describe the acquisition experience in their "5 Stages of Acquisition":
  1. Infatuation: An unreasoning love or attraction for an object… "I want it."
  2. Justification:  Fabricated moral justification for possessing  object… "I must have it because __________ (eg. I deserve it)."
  3. Appropriation: To take in to one's private domain in exclusion of all others … "It's MINE at last." 
  4. Obsession: A compulsive or irrational preoccupation with things … "My Precious!"
  5. Resale: Coming down from purchase high and selling object… "Make me an offer."
The NBA rules of acquisition are a little different, although the Ferengi five stages of acquisition are probably universal, and must be contended with on a regular basis in a consumer society. The NBA rules help in this regard, and allow me to avoid the temptation to acquire more stuff and needlessly complicate my life.

The NBA Rules Of Acquisition
  1. No possessions shall be replaced until broken.
  2. Broken possessions shall be repaired (DIY whenever possible).
  3. If item can not be repaired, is it really necessary to replace it?
  4. If item is deemed necessary, item can be replaced.
  5. Purchase used item, if available. Is there a free alternative?
  6. Replace item only after an appropriate waiting period (to see if item is really required).
Using the above rules I maximize on the resources I consume, and lower my footprint. I avoid endless upgrades and storage or disposal of unused items. Limiting the turnover of a vast array of consumer items keeps my living space manageable, and my life uncomplicated. As if that is not enough, following these rules helps me save money.

The rules also help me to honour the sacredness of all that comes from our bountiful earth. This pretty much includes everything.

So I honour my toaster oven with the paper clip for a handle. I honour my still-working microwave oven that is several decades old (turn it on, and run). I honour my 23 year old bicycle, my old iBook G4 (on its 2nd hard drive), my first-generation iPod, and the 16 year old truck I sometimes drive.

The NBA Rules Of Acquisition help me to limit my impact on the environment while teaching me to be thankful for the things I have. I am more appreciative of my stuff because there is less of it. An uncomplicated life with less increases clarity, and allows me to focus on the important stuff - which is not stuff.

Someone should tell the Ferengi (and MBAs) that.

"The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched - they must be felt with the heart."  - Helen Keller

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