I felt the disturbance in the Liberal Force.

The comments and tweets and remarks about too much attention paid recently to the already powerful. The death and funeral of the president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And, shortly thereafter, to the death and funeral of one of the state’s wealthiest businessmen and its most generous philanthropist.

Yes, there is a benefit to your family owning the state’s largest news enterprise.

And forgive me if my journalist’s sense of skepticism and remove is weakened by the fact that the Huntsman family saved the newspaper I work for — the newspaper that does more than anything else to tell you what’s really going on around here — from almost-certain ruin.

I do think that the remarks made Saturday at the funeral of Jon Huntsman Sr. tell a story worth hearing. The sentiments particularly worth remembering are also found in the commentary from our publisher, published Sunday.

Goodbye, dear friend — Paul Huntsman | The Salt Lake Tribune

The most important passage, I think, is this:

My father never used financial models, didn’t have a team of associates to run sensitivity analysis and financial returns. No, instead he’d do a quick calculation on the back of his business card or napkin. His counterparties knew he was negotiating off a meaningful discount to their price expectations, but his financial offer was never the winning formula. Instead, he made the counterparty his best friend. They couldn’t say no to their best friend. His kindness, charisma and hugs were intoxicating. They couldn’t get enough of him. Many of his contemporaries came back for a second and third transaction. They would rather negotiate with a friend, even if it meant taking a lower price. And those on the wrong side of his opinions knew he wouldn’t get even or hold a grudge. He was quick to forgive, move on and turn an adversary into a friend.

This is important because it sees as ideal, even if it doesn’t always happen in the real world, the belief that people can succeed in life, in business and in other spheres of existence without being a total jerk about it.

You have something I want. I can get it in lots of ways.

I can be your friend, or at least behave in a friendly manner, and get to a place where I get what I want by seeing to it that you get what you want. I tell you — because it makes the deal go down more easily but also because it happens to be true — that there is no other place I can get this and you would be a really great person if you would help me out. I’ll make it worth your while. We all benefit. Nobody is, or feels, cheated or victimized.

It is the idea that making a friend, treating people well, valuing fairness, is not for chumps or suckers. That it really can get you ahead in the world, in a way that you don’t have to be ashamed of afterward.


I can cheat, browbeat, walk away from my deals, my debts, my partners, my lovers, my wives. I can make you feel part of my enterprise only by confiding in you our shared contempt for that guy over there. Before I screw you over and move on to laughing at you with my next partner.

The win-win approach that won the senior Huntsman such success in business and such admiration during his life and at his funeral is the polar opposite of the zero-sum game approach that now finds such favor in the White House, Congress and other spheres of modern life.

That’s the idea that, in order for my side to win, your side must lose. Or the other way around. It’s the belief that such an arrangement is not a choice, but the natural way of the universe.

The current occupant of the White House makes no effort to hide his worship of this philosophy. Whether it is immigration or race relations or trade deals, the world is a pie, and the only way I and my allies can have more is if you and your friends have less.

The most absurd manifestation of this idea is found in the resistance to equal rights for other races, same-sex couples or immigrants. Their gain is not your loss. It’s everyone’s gain. It is also true, though too few people see it, that a society that provides education, health care and a life of dignity for everyone is not foolishly sinking money into a black hole. It is wisely, logically, making life better for everyone.

It seems like that would not be such a difficult concept to grasp. Especially when it was how one of Utah’s richest, and most admired, people got that way.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Tribune staff. George Pyle.

George Pyle, The Tribune’s editorial page editor, allows as how he isn’t always totally objective toward people who have been kind to him. Especially when they didn’t have to. gpyle@sltrib.com