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Entrepreneurship is like one of those carnival games where you throw darts or something.

Middle class kids can afford one throw. Most miss. A few hit the target and get a small prize. A very few hit the center bullseye and get a bigger prize. Rags to riches! The American Dream lives on.

Rich kids can afford many throws. If they want to, they can try over and over and over again until they hit something and feel good about themselves. Some keep going until they hit the center bullseye, then they give speeches or write blog posts about "meritocracy" and the salutary effects of hard work.

Poor kids aren't visiting the carnival. They're the ones working it.




Life isn't fair. We're all born into different means and of course more money allows for more optionality. The "poor kids" have to work harder to save up their money to get their chance, but that's completely possible and is the majority of those who start companies.

This article is the typical BS that assumes "entrepreneurs" only do SV startups or want a big exit. The actual reality is that there are millions of small businesses out there, full of hard working entrepreneurs who saved and sacrificed, and are perfectly happy growing modestly and providing for their family. That's the prize that many chase, and many do end up winning.


> Life isn't fair

The whole point of human culture is to transcend the raw reality the universe hands us. Not just by inventing math and microchips, but also by inventing ways to reduce randomness and unfairness, be it the randomness and unfairness of weather, birth, disease, or human nature. Especially human nature. Culture invented morality and laws and notions of justice. The more advanced the culture, the less your birth circumstances matter for political power, social station, or economic opportunity.

But culture can also succumb to that base human nature which it was supposed to help us transcend. When a culture decides that self-interest is the fundamental reality of human nature, that the best thing to do is yield to rather than counter this nature, such a culture becomes a self-fulfilling prophet, and we all end up prisoner's of the dilemma.


> Life isn't fair. We're all born into different means and of course more money allows for more optionality. The "poor kids" have to work harder to save up their money to get their chance, but that's completely possible

That's making the mistake of equating the way things are with the way they should be.

While there's a lot of variations in opportunity from ability that should be respected, I don't think "being born well off" deserves the same kind of respect.


What's the mistake? What's the way things should be exactly?

Nature and humanity will always have inequality. Chaos and entropy are normal and inevitable. Even if you stop the world and reset everyone today to the same exact situation, things will change the moment you let them go. So what is this utopian ideal you think is possible?

I'm also assuming you'll be leaving your children with nothing so that they won't get any unfair advantages right or respect right?


As Biggie Smalls once said, Either you're slingin' crack-rock, or you've got a wicked jump-shot


There's a difference between life, and the economic system of capitalism. More than that, if rich people are only willing to fund the ideas of other rich people, eventually society becomes static as does technological progress.

And the article is focusing on the SV startup scene because that's where most of the new economic growth has been focused. The only other big growth areas have all been in energy.


You create value, you get paid. You don't need any rich person to fund you and many who are rich today got there without a dime invested by anyone else.

The article is talking about entrepreneurs, which are people who start businesses. The amount of people starting SV startups is insignificant compared to business owners around the world. You seem to be assuming something about economic growth and some connection to SV, but I see no such statement in the article itself.


> Life isn't fair.

Why not?


Nature isn't fair. Death is the norm for most life. Eat or be eaten. Kill or be killed. The fact you are alive now, and are intelligent ,and have enough resources to contribute to this discussion is already extreme luck. Things are not evenly distributed. There is a natural pattern of fractal distribution in almost every measure of things. Wealth, power, populations, you name it, will concentrate. To reduce the ladder of success to a flat plane is to introduce something unnatural and nature abhors mono cultures. Where nature does allow for a plethora of success is in the discovery of new environments either through disaster or creation. Take the latest bitcoin craze for instance. The block chain is a new environment. Those early enough to get in, and if they stayed in, are now owners of vast fortunes. Unfortunately, we have no way to predict where the next big environment is or where one will appear. While the wealthy will have more ability to dive into those environments, recognizing where they will occur is a skill that can be learned by anyone. Trying to make life fair is to fight nature; you will loose. Ride the waves, don't fight them.


Disparities in fairness create opportunities for one group to advance their short-term interests at the long-term expense of another group.

Unfortunately, education levels in the general population are not yet at a level where the majority of groups are able to routinely identify threats to their long-term interests caused by optimising for short-term gains.


What reasons are there for expecting life to be fair? Where would this hypothetical "fairness" come from?


One of the basic functions of society is to make life fairer than the default. If your neighbour is sick, you help him out, knowing he will return the favour. For both of you, life gets fairer.

You may argue that "fairness" is "unnatural". Then it is also "unnatural" e.g. that people physically stronger than you can't just kill you and take your wife and all your stuff. Would you rather we go back to a completely "natural" system like that? Complete all-out Mad Max-style anarchy? Of course not.


I'm not arguing that we shouldn't work to make things less unfair. I fully support such endeavors. Obviously, it is a difficult task that should be done with great care.

I meant to show that "perfectly fair" is an unobtainable non-sequitur. We need to know what we are up against when we attempt to balance out some of the indifferent harshness of the universe, at least in our little patch of space.

I do find it interesting that you thought my previous comment implied such things. I suppose it did sound a bit like certain shibboleths.


Life could be fair-er. Artificially made so. Hypothetically made so. Do we have to rest on social Darwinism as the organizing principle of society simply because it is natural? Human history is in part a gradual divorce from such naturalism, a gradual mitigation of the base suffering of animals.


Because the universe, which we are born from and live within briefly, is not fair.

A single instant in time which we do not understand led to an unimaginable expansion where the tiniest of fluctuations at the quantum level led to matter randomly collecting and coalescing into stellar clusters of billions of galaxies with trillions of stars with planets, and we know of only one that led to life.

Fairness, a completely human societal concept, has no impact on the reality of our universe and unless you can change that, life will never be fair.


Because life and the rules of the universe are not a human creation. Fairness is a human concept, in which we decide what that means, and it tends to vary decade to decade and culture to culture. Also worth noting, rules are not necessarily fairness (lots of animals in nature have automatic instinctual systems or rules of how they exist, without a consciously thought-out system of defined fairness).

It's a matter of the order of things. Life can't be fair by default because it's not subservient to fairness, it's the other way around. The concept of fairness derives from existence, it doesn't come before it. It takes a great effort to create and sustain large systems of fairness as entropy is constantly acting to undermine our efforts and destroy us (while we simultaneously deal with irrationality, chaos, scarcity, injury, etc etc). On this planet, only humans expend such immense energy attempting to accomplish elaborate systems of fairness, while trying to strive toward even greater fairness (learning from and applying, attempting to improve over time; our charitable systems for example have radically improved over the last few hundred years).

When a dolphin murders a porpoise for fun, or a troop of chimps raids another territory and murders competing chimps, is it fair? Fairness has no role to play, because it's a human concept. Humanity is still subservient to the greater rules and limitations of the universe, which means our best efforts at applying fairness can inherently never be perfect or ideal. Just the fact that we act against an erosion by entropy at all times guarantees that outcome (to say nothing of the inefficiency thrown into the equation by routine imperfect human judgment).


Do you argue that hospitals shouldn't provide emergency treatment to people with heart attacks on the same grounds?

I'm also going to call bullshit on your entropy argument: the accumulations of wealth we see are unnatural, and a product of artificial social choices about policing. Your entire argument is nonsense post-hoc rationalization about what's "natural".

In a natural setting, things would be fairer because we'd have already murdered a bunch of rich people.

In stark contrast to your claims, it's the inequality and present social order that's artificial and unnatural.


Couldn't agree more.

Not to mention other mammals, certainly primates, DO seem to have an innate notion of fairness.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2BYJf2xSONc

Anybody who starts in with the 'natural' order of things argument usually starts off on the wrong foot, in my experience. It's such a loaded word.


I'm confused by your comment. It feels like you're upset about the parent advocating for unfair life, but I think they're merely pointing out what they're observing, not making any moral arguments of what should be.

Are you saying that life is actually fair, and thus the parent is arguing in the wrong direction? Or do you agree with the parent that life is unfair, but think that alternative arguments should be used to argue for it?


I think primates are innately fairer than modern society is, though they're not totally fair. I don't think we even want things to be totally fair (I don't for instance)... Just fairer.

If you poll people, almost everyone thinks things should be more fair -- to the point that some are nearing violence over the issue. I think it's quite unnatural for things to be this unfair, and requires elaborate orchestration to keep it so.

I also don't think the idea was a principled attempt to model the situation -- I think it was a post-hoc justification for why it should be as we see, and not an actual attempt to explain why things as they are. Nobody raises "well, it's just natural" for why we shouldn't try to stop heart attacks (and particularly, I've never heard it for why we shouldn't try to reduce the number of heart attacks, as it was used here about unfairness) -- only things like equality, gay marriage, etc. Which happen to all be things that align with the speakers' beliefs (either for or against; I've heard it both ways).


I think pointing out facts like primate fairness is missing the forest for the trees. [1]

To me the crux of the argument is that the environment of a new lifeform isn't constant. Indeed, it's pretty much guaranteed to be different for every live entity. One beetle may live a happy resourceful life, another one may get hit by an asteroid.

Lifeforms aren't provided equal opportunity by the universe. The default state is one of unfairness. However some intelligent lifeforms like primates, and indeed humans, have taken it upon themselves to artificially move the needle towards more fairness.

I too would like to see more fairness. I also think that things are unfair by default, and I don't consider this as moral justification for social policies that keep it in the natural unfair state or worse. While I don't know @adventured's moral policies of whether unfairness is justified, I have re-read the comment a few times and I still see it as purely a description of the situation with no moral judgement at all.

--

[1] It's possible that we're having trouble here due to semantics. When answering why life isn't fair, both my arguments and seemingly @adventured's entropy argument are talking about life as a sub-phenomenon of existence (which is to say, the widest scope). However if we're talking about life as limited to social structures, then I can see how any talk about natural unfairness can seem absurd.


You're wrong in your broad, abstract argument in a really obvious and shallow way:

It doesn't explain why the predominant strategy of life at all scales is mutualism and synergy between scales and kinds of life.

In no particular order, your "technical" argument fails to explain: eukaryotic structure, multicellular life, the interplay of fungii and roots, forests (which are more than adjacent trees), and really just about anything we see in the natural world. (Ed: I've thought of another 5 or 6 examples if you want to protest those -- mutualism is pretty easy to pick out in nature.)

And that's because you've failed to account for localized regions of stability able to ratchet themselves to greater and geater levels of stability -- and these metastable systems are the model we see on every scale of existence. Life does this as well, which means that we always see stable collaborations outpace competition (and unfairness) on an asymptotic scale. You literally failed to account for how life does work in your argument.

So I still don't believe you're advancing either a genuine observation (ie, it doesn't match fact to say it's unfair in general) or a principled theory (ie, it doesn't actually seem an internally consistent model -- at least, if you believe in physics).

I think you're trying to build a post-hoc justification for the human system being as it is.


I never set out to explain strategies of life, and I'm not sure why you thought otherwise. My argument is much more simpler than that. Like I said, it's about the environment. It doesn't really matter what strategy a beetle or its friends take, if it gets hit by an asteroid it didn't get equal opportunities compared to beetles who didn't, and that's not fair.

I am getting the impression that when you're talking about fairness in life, you're talking about how one lifeform treats another. Am I right? Life as an actor vs. life as a state of existance. When I'm talking about fairness of life, I'm talking about the latter, so I also include all the non-live entities (e.g. asteroids, or sulfuric acid if you want something more common) and how they affect the fairness.

Looking at this whole discussion in summary, I'm increasingly feeling like we don't really disagree on much. As best as I can tell, we both think life is unfair. Perhaps we even agree on the amount of unfairness. It feels more like you're describing the situation as a cup half full, and don't like that I describe it as half empty.


Its almost comical to watch Trump threatening all these wars when at the end of the day social inequality is so bad that effectively there is no one to draft. The typical cannon fodder of yore have been so beat down they would last 15 minutes or less on a battlefield. The only ones healthy enough to serve have parents rich enough to by their way out of a draft. You can't do a ground invasion with just drones manned by chubby kids with joysticks in a bunker. Corporate America has been so ruthlessly effective at pushing through such brutal levels of inequality that its actually become an existential threat to national security.


Is the obesity rate among the under 30 crowd really that high that a draft wouldn’t be feasible? I’m not sure about that stat. Care to back it up?


The effects of poor health in the otherwise-eligible pool recruit pool has been a concern for a few years. As I recall, the health of WWI recruits, especially from the south (mostly due to poor nutrition and parasites), had similar implications for readiness, and this was the spur for a number of public health interventions.

There are other potentially problematic indicators, such as the fact that grip strength in young men has plummeted over the last few decades (avg 18yo male is not as strong as avg 35yo woman was at his age). Grip strength is a good indicator of overall fitness.

https://www.militarytimes.com/news/your-military/2016/09/11/...

https://www.google.de/amp/amp.timeinc.net/time/2938158/youth...


That's because poor people are fat and we have a volunteer military. A draft would solve that problem, by drafting richer healthier people and also by forcing fat poor people to exercise and eat better.


Current state of the world.


Just because it's life.

Even if everyone had the same amount of wealth, there are those that will be born good looking, or tall, or physically fit, or any other thing that would give someone an advantage over others.


we've limited means at the moment to influence our physical characteristics or our intellect or talent at birth, this we have to take as a given I agree. But money for businesses does not fall from the sky. How large the starting gap between poor and rich entrepreneurs is, how the environment looks in which we grow up, how easy we make it for people to perpetuate wealth without effort, that's a matter of choice.


Because some people do better than others and that's OK.


Ha, my 7yr old twins could explain that one to you. It's just not. You have to make the most of the gifts you are given.


> Ha, my 7yr old twins could explain that one to you. It's just not.

That's not an answer to his question.


The answer is: > It's just not.

Because really, "Why isn't life fair?" is not a valid question. "Life" is unique. Why are two unique items not the same? Because unique and same are antonyms.

The 7yr old part is the context for my initial answer from my world view.

No matter how hard we try, it's impossible to make life fair for our twins. We do our best to treat them fairly, but while they are the same age, they are not the same. They are not the same physical size and they have different mental strengths and weaknesses. They are not evenly matched in all/many areas. That can make things feel unfair.

On the other hand, maybe it is fair, we just do not have enough context to do a proper measurement.


Capitalism.


Interesting question.

What makes you think anything should be fair?


> What makes you think anything should be fair?

Because it helps the human race maximize their collective potential. Imagine how many Einsteins we've had over the millennia, there may have been hundreds/thousands of them but they never had the chance to shine because they were born a serf or a slave.

It doesn't have to be 100% fair, but being somewhat egalitarian produces better results for everyone on the economic scale.


>> It doesn't have to be 100% fair, but being somewhat egalitarian produces better results for everyone on the economic scale.

Why did you perceive my question to be anti-egalitarian?

I understand that a more equal society == better collective potential. BUT, our whole species (and life on this planet) is based on inequality. It started right from evolution (other animals got extinct) and it goes on until today because not all genes are equal.

Now this doesn't mean that we shouldn't remove/reduce artificial barriers to equality but we gotta realize that inequality is inherent. What makes humans awesome is that we have a brain and can strive for the collective good.


What is collective good? Is it denying handicapped people a livelihood? Is it ostracizing the mentally ill?

Personally I believe that our striving for advancement is something that's deeper than our daily brain-oriented struggle. Our evolution is being driven at the cellular level, so we don't need to translate that into attempting to personify an egotistical concept of progress.


Does your idea of fairness only apply to monetary issues?

If some good looking but dumb guy is getting too many partners, should the government/society try to level the playing field to allow the smart but socially inept guy to make some more "Einsteins?"


If you solve the monetary issues then those things are within an individuals control to a certain extent and at worse can be mitigated. Ugly people can have plastic surgery or tooth realignment if they can afford it, or the can work out enough to either become good looking or compensate. The socially inept can learn to be more social.

Those are choices for individuals though, not society as a whole. Society doesn't decide the attributes you were born with, but they do decide if your money has any real value.


"This article is the typical BS that assumes "entrepreneurs" only do SV startups or want a big exit." I don't think it assumes that, and I don't think we should just resign to the fact that rich kids get rich.


So ex-bankers are starting your local bakeries and notaries and hair salons? 10s of millions of small businesses and most of them are started by rich guys? It clearly says "in silicon valley" at the end so yes it's limited to the typical example of VCs and exits.

The rich do get richer (up to a point anyway) but what I'm saying is that you don't need to be rich at all to be an entrepreneur, and some of those who start with nothing do go on to become rich as well.


All startups start small, but not all small businesses are startups. Startups are characterized by fast growth cycles and usually are intended to end in getting acquired or sold.

Bakeries and such don't fall under this description, usually.


Entrepreneurs start businesses. A small fraction of those businesses are SV startups, but the vast majority are not - so this article talking about "entrepreneurs" doesn't apply to the vast majority of them, has no sources for what it claims, and is thus rather useless.


Most small businesses fail. They fail because the founder doesn't have enough money to survive the dips and bumps. Being rich gives you an edge in making money, it's pretty cut and dry.


Most fail for lots of reasons, insufficient capital is only one of them. Another large reason is incompetent accounting - i.e. having a poor grasp of their financial situation. This is often confused with insufficient capital.

Besides, anyone can start a business with essentially zero capital. One can mow lawns, do babysitting, maid service, write apps, write a novel, etc. The only capital I invested in my own business startup was buying a computer.

Search Amazon books for "starting a business with no money" for lots of ideas.


I like this metaphor, with one modification:

The "poor kids" working at the carnival get unlimited free throws.

Because that's what it's like in Software right now. There has never been an industry before where the market rate is so high for individual contributors, and the real cost of starting a business are so low.

Software is a Perfect Storm of near-zero overhead and near-infinite execution leverage as compared to pretty much any other type of business.

So sure, you're right that a poor kid working at a Shoe Store can, over the course of his lifetime, open between zero and one shoe stores. But a poor kid who takes his self-taught programming skills and gets a job writing code 40 hours a week can moonlight out several hundred Minimum Viable Products if necessary until something hits big.

So yeah, it's darts. But if you throw lots of them, you'll probably hit something.


> There has never been an industry before where the market rate is so high for individual contributors, and the real cost of starting a business are so low.

Well you still need to pay your rent, your food, etc.


Sounds like you missed the word "moonlighting" in the post you're responding to.

You keep your day job writing software and do your entrepreneuring on nights and weekends. Try things out until one of them is matching your day job's income, then quit and go full time.

That's what I did. And come to think of it, it's yet another factor to throw into that Perfect Storm I mentioned above, because you can't really moonlight out a brick and mortar store while keeping your day job at another one.


Then you agree their isn't any unlimited free throws, but you get a few free throws with a severe handicap.

Glad to see it worked for you despite that handicap !


Microsoft, Facebook, and Google were created by rich kids, who got investment funding because they have wealthy friends. Not randos with laptop.

Apple was a little better.


Right, and letting everybody see some lucky person win once in a while sort of perpetuates the delusion that it could be you, the guy standing on the sidelines.

Ultimately, it's cheaper for whoever owns the tent to let one person win every once in a while then to just let everybody lose.

I may be stretching the analogy but yeah.


I think this analogy has legs; for example, what of the town surrounding the carnival? Does the carnival hold lotteries enthralling the adult villagers who otherwise turn their nose at throwing darts?

If nothing else, bread-and-circuses-made-literal is useful for storytelling.


That is a brilliant analogy. I would add that some kids may naturally have a better arm, so success is not solely correlated with number of tries you can afford.


Some rich people can patent the dart board so no one else can throw darts at it.


And some kids are born with more darts.


> I would add that some kids may naturally have a better arm, so success is not solely correlated with number of tries you can afford.

This is the opposite of what he's saying.


Indeed. The original poster was saying something more akin some kids getting more shots at the target or able to buy more than 1 dart and try to hit the bullseye many times.


Exactly. Some kids might be born with physical gifts, like elite sports athletes. I'm sure no matter how hard an average person tries, they will never be at an NBA-level basketball player.

Some kids might be born with phenomenal musical talent, or incredibly high IQ.

Heck, some kids might be born so they grow up to be extremely attractive and become models or actors.

Being born into a wealthy family isn't the only stroke of luck.


Then why are such a high percentage of entrepreneurs immigrants from poor countries? Sure the rich kids have it easier. But it's not that difficult to live cheaply for awhile to pursue a business if you are motivated.

It might just be cultural. Rich successful people encourage their children to be successful like they were. It could be genetic. Those immigrants I mentioned go through a fairly difficult and selective process to get into the country. They have higher IQs and conscientiousness than average. Factors which are both fairly heritable, and correlate very well with success in life. Meritocracy rewards the most able and driven. But no one said ability and motivation were distributed fairly.


Maybe this comic would help you understand if it is that difficult: http://thewireless.co.nz/articles/the-pencilsword-on-a-plate


I don't deny that wealth gives you advantages. But I think the comic exaggerates it. If you live in a first world country you already are rich by world and historical standards. A minimum wage job will earn you multiple times the income of a person in a poor country. A century ago food used to make up something like 50% of people's income and now even the poorest are fat. There are a nontrivial amount of NEETs that get by doing no work at all.

The comic makes a big deal about education. Yet there's a number of studies that show there is basically zero effect of education and education spending. In a single chart see this: https://www.cato.org/images/testimony/coulson-2-9-11-3.jpg and a nice in depth essay here http://slatestarcodex.com/2016/05/19/teachers-much-more-than...


It's not what you know, it's who you know. No matter how much money are spend on the median education, spending [much] more relative to the median buys the right pedigree and the right circle of friends.


>Then why are such a high percentage of entrepreneurs immigrants from poor countries

Not sure about other immigrants but for me it's probably because life itself has been so challenging that startup life doesn't seem that hard. I have been running my own startup with challenges of getting customers, employees, development done, customer outreach, interns and all that wham-bam with no investors and also trying to keep my family sane for more than an year.

But one thing is for sure, I won't give up till the very end. My bipolar startup has been an year of yo-yos but hopefully tomorrow is a better day


I think you both make important points. Coming from a blue collar family and having started my own business only to go bankrupt, I can say there is a strong culture of avoiding risk in my family and those sort of lessons rub off on you regardless of your intelligence. It makes you less apt to take subsequent risks, or even take the risk in the first place.


One basic reason is that immigrants often find it easier to open a business than interview for jobs. It's hard to answer the question "tell me about yourself" in a culturally relevant way when you are still learning the basics of your new non-native language. Opening a business requires a nominal amount of money in fees and filling out a form. Living off of your savings while trying to impress people who don't seem to be hiring you gets unattractive pretty fast, so if you're gonna work hard, you may as well do it for yourself.


What percentage of those entrepreneur immigrants are already well off?


A really, really high percentage. Being born from a poor country doesn't mean you are poor. Even the most impoverished place has an upper class that lives really well - they form the bulk of your immigrants to the first world.


what percentage of people from poor countries manages to emigrate? any correlation between the traits needed to want to emigrate from your poor country and the traits needed for entrepreneurs? any correlation between being able to emigrate in the first place and general genetic advantage (you are not going to emigrate if you have a disability, are chronically ill, were not lucky enough to go to school and learn to read/write/fill the appropriate forms)?


It's not just about Cost of Living. When you're an immigrant you know very little outside of your own family/community. The options are either be your own boss or be underemployed forever because you can't get hired to match your skill level.

And if you look at the founders of companies that eventually go public (or at least have the revenue that they could do so), they are pretty much all started by people who had connections and access to their own capital early on.

I'm not saying the American dream is dead, but it's never been as great as people make out and it's only getting worse.


> it's not that difficult to live cheaply for awhile to pursue a business if you are motivated.

The immigrants from poor countries may have the relative advantage that living cheaply feels more acceptable to them, and is more socially acceptable in their community.

Most people spend all the money they make. If the average salary in your community is e.g. $1000 a month, then to look "normal", you have to spend approximately $1000 a month. You can cut corners here and there, but if you do it too much, you will suffer social consequences. Either your friends will start seeing you as a "loser", or you will stop participating at some of their more expensive activities. In such situation, most people won't push too far. Maybe it wouldn't even be a good idea to burn your social capital, because if your business fails, you will need a Plan B.

If you are an immigrant from a poor country, your social circle probably mostly consists of people coming from the same place. They won't judge you for not having expensive hobbies; it's "normal" not to have them. They are probably saving the extra money, and so are you. Maybe you only spend $500 a month on yourself, so if you have a brother, you can make a deal like "one of us goes to work for $1000 and pays for both, while the other tries to start a family business". Or parents work hard and live cheaply in order to provide their children a better future. The second generation is much less likely to live like this, because they already made friends in the majority culture, and start doing the expensive things to fit in.

Social pressure is a thing. It is much easier to live the way people around you do. Sure, it's also about conscientiousness; I am not saying it's either-or, just that "conscientious and living in a subculture that encourages saving" is better than "conscientious and living in a subculture that encourages spending" for starting your own business.


> If you are an immigrant from a poor country, your social circle probably mostly consists of people coming from the same place. They won't judge you for not having expensive hobbies; it's "normal" not to have them. They are probably saving the extra money

I think you'll find that this is very cultural. Middle easterners (who aren't of minority religion status) are poor (on average, just like everywhere else), but have the opposite attitude. You won't have money, and there are large social consequences to not spending. So they drive a 20 year old mercedes, for example.

It is a cultural thing. Some places are large enough to have multiple cultures, and both people who save everything they have and people who overspend are a popular thing. Popular in the sense that there's millions of people living like that. India and China are such places.

Even starting a business by itself has cultural stigma associated with it. Starting a business, for instance, may immediately cause people to judge you (because you're "obviously" dodging taxes and therefore "stealing from them", and destined for bankruptcy or prison, is the best explanation I've heard). I've seen this attitude in Western Europe. Better to be an employee. Even better to be a "respectable" money maker like a doctor or lawyer. Starting a company will have social consequences just by itself.

And of course to some extent, you'll find both attitudes everywhere.


"Then why are such a high percentage of entrepreneurs immigrants from poor countries?"

Is this true? I mean, most immigrants to America are from places like Mexico and India and China ... so it makes sense we don't see a lot of 'French immigrant entrepreneurs'.


I think they meant P(entrepreneur | immigrant from poor country) > P(entrepreneur | U.S. citizen), not P(entrepreneur | immigrant from poor country) > P(entrepreneur | immigrant from rich country)


Because they have nothing to lose. When you have nothing to lose, you will take big risks.


Yup, if you want to hit the big time, you have to try, and try, and try again and again and again, and never give up. This is what I'm repeatedly told. Trying again is expensive though.


To extend the metaphor even further, sometimes the ones with the money spend so much winning the prize that they could have simply bought it outright.


this analogy completely breaks-down at the beginning and at the end, as it implies that poor people are somehow running a scam to rip-off the rich! Everyone knows that carnival games are rigged, like casinos.

However, it is true that rich people can afford to take more risks (and therefore stand to gain more) for the same amount of hard-work.


The really interesting cases, to me, are the Jan Koums and J K Rowlings of the world.


I'm just shocked at what this message board has become. All I see now are endless stories and comments on high rent, inequality and politics. Just yesterday tons of people were complaining about how much money a startup was spending on marketing as if development should be the only expense.

Not rich? Work smarter - you probably have a much better perspective on what the masses need / use than a rich person does. Convince a money man to invest in your ideas.

Rent is too high? Consider the chances your SV startup will make you a millionaire are near 0. You may want to live elsewhere.

Don't like your elected officials? Tough shit, 50% of the country does or doesn't.

Your boss or management sucks? Chances are they think you suck too. Find a new job you enjoy and are appreciated. Work culture is like dating and not everybody is compatible.

Nature and the universe aren't fair. Don't expect anything to be given to you.

I just wish this site was about technology and ingenuity, now it just sounds like a bunch of grovelling losers, upset they won't hit a 1M+ active daily users.


> Not rich? Work smarter - you probably have a much better perspective on what the masses need / use than a rich person does. Convince a money man to invest in your ideas.

So how many people have the cognitive abilities or the educational background to 'work smarter"? Looking down from the ivory tower telling the factory worker or the sales assistant to "work smarter" to "get rich" is a nasty mix of ignorance and arrogance. For mosylt people the only option to keep their head above the water is to work harder.

> Rent is too high? Consider the chances your SV startup will make you a millionaire are near 0. You may want to live elsewhere.

Yeah, everyone can move whenever they want. Who cares about family, friends and maybe the job you like. The rent is higher now, so just move where you and people like you belong.

> Don't like your elected officials? Tough shit, 50% of the country does or doesn't.

Bullshit. While there are countries that run some perverted version of democracy, most developed countries are pretty good building governments with way higher approvals.

> Your boss or management sucks? Chances are they think you suck too. Find a new job you enjoy and are appreciated. Work culture is like dating and not everybody is compatible.

Yeah, with a job market like the current one you, the employee, have all the power. /s A LOT of people are happy to have a job and just quitting because their boss is a dick? Not gonna happen because not possible.

> Nature and the universe aren't fair. Don't expect anything to be given to you.

And that's why we give money to the elderly and disabled, make education accessible to everyone, have social welfare, pay doctor's bills for people who cannot afford it and try to counter ghettofication by subsidizing flats in more expensive areas. At least some countries do that, and guess what - those are the ones with the highest living standards for everyone.


They don't call your generation entitled for nothing! Let's add victim to that, "entitled victims" is more descriptive. There are many cases where people need assistance and subsidy, but what most people are complaining about on this board is bullshit. If the way we do things here in the US is so bad, why does everybody still want to migrate here? Surely something is going right.


The board got diluted with a lot more regular folks vs the super early gang of people centered around YC who were all doers/believers in the startup space. The more regular folks you let in, the more of the usual limiting beliefs you'll see echo chambered here. The people who are actually getting shit done, instead of whining about the world not being fair, will just move to a different discussion space.


"Farnsworth, Farrrnsworth! The peasants are in the gardens again, rrrelease the hounds!"


How many throws did Mark Zuckerberg have? Sergey and Larry? Elon Musk? I'm not saying life is fair, but you shouldn't generalize like this.


Zuckerberg went to Harvard and his father is a dentist. He was and is a rich kid.

Larry Page's parents were renown computer scientists in the 70s and 80s. Thus no doubt they were more then middle class. Now Segrey Im not sure, but if you have one founder that is rich then well...

Elon Musk's father was also a computer scientist back in the day.

None of the people you mention grew up middle class ... rather the next level above .. either between middle class or flat out rich.


Are you sure you aren't moving the goal posts of middle class? I would say that dentists and computer scientists still belong perfectly to the middle class.


This comment highlights the victim mindset that seems to be more and more common these days... I've been on Hacker News for 6 or 7 years and it is only the past 2 or 3 that the notion that everything should be "fair" has taken such a deep hold. It is one of the major reasons I am starting to lose faith in this country.

We have a generation of people that thinks every person can be rich, successful or famous... and if they aren't then they are a victim somehow.

Perhaps they are. But the issue I have is that this type of thinking is fundamentally unproductive. The barriers that have been broken have been done so by achieving success despite the odds, and becoming a role model ... not through whining. Equality is only achieved when people obtain power and change things. Power requires being successful and valuable to whatever society exists, not complaining.

EDIT: I guess I take issue with the fact that "life" is being compared to a dart game. It's just not the case. You can reduce it down to "throwing darts" ... but that is a very pessimistic way of viewing the world ... and it's quite sad. I've seen so many "rich kids" who were total nut cases and poor kids who were able to overcome the odds through their character. Reducing the human condition down to the amount of wealth is excessively simplistic. I agree that rich kids might get a few percentage points of help (maybe 5-10%) but if you come from a middle class background you can still become a billionaire and sometimes even if you're dirt poor. What other country let's you do that? yes my screenname is "Stanfordkid"... I came from a very poor family and am not some entitled brat. The fact that that was the first thing people pointed out I think speaks to the way in which people are trying to reduce everything down numbers or labels that are in fact, very complex.


The fact that this comment was written by "stanfordkid" is almost too ironic to believe.

At first, you take aim at the "victim" mindset -- a mis-characterization of the analogy of the OP. However, you then go on to even concede that the perpetuators of this mindset may even hold well-founded "complaints."

Of course people from all backgrounds try to become entrepreneurs, engineers, artists and whatever else. Nevertheless, it's clear that people from some backgrounds face more difficulties than others -- that's all. The fact that merely pointing out this fact gets you slapped with a "victim" label is hilarious. Of course people from all backgrounds should continue to work hard and pursue their goals -- but as a society, we should also strive to lower un-equal barriers where possible.

Your comment is just a mess of generalizations and grand-standing. You're losing faith in this country because you've seen a "victim" mindset emerge in the past two months on hacker news -- a pretty niche website in the American demographic -- even while recognizing that the grievances contributing to this mindset may be legitimate. Forgive me if I don't take your loss of faith seriously. Furthermore, I have to say, if anyone is victim-baiting here, it's clearly yourself.


I just want to point out your user name: Stanfordkid... Ironic? I'll let the readers decide...

I agree with you that "complaining" by itself is unproductive and a waste of time. However, it would be super presumptuous to say that the complainant is not doing "something" about it in meatspace. Not that there is a lot to do, which is to say: Realistically, a few people control the overwhelming majority of monetary resources in the present world.

Should we contemplate that?

I don't. I am content with my status. I can, however, understand others are not. From an objective POV, it is super ridiculous that so few control so much. Does it affect me on a daily basis? Not that I am aware of, so I press on...


Unfortunately, reality contains a lot of victims, and they deserve more help than they get. A realistic mindset is a mindset that is cognizant of victims. And it is untrue that this process -- of becoming aware of our advantages, and the needs of others -- is unproductive. C.f. the ACA, social security, medicare, medicaid, and surely more backstops like these in the future.


Some envision success as improving society so that it is better, more fair, and offers more opportunities to more people.

Some apparently can only envision success as achievement for oneself despite society being what it is.

Clamor for change is inevitably part of societal change.

And anyways, you're right: the nature of fairness or lack thereof is not always about money--but that cuts both ways.


I didn't see OP as whining, just illustrating the reality of the situation.

If you're middle class you should still make that one throw you can afford, and if you're poor you should be taking all the damn fluffy animals and candy you can stuff in your pocket when you finish work without being caught.


All this talk of justice is driving the country straight into the ground!


Fairness and opportunity != justice.


Eh, in some sense, I am an entrepreneur. I am simultaneously quite poor and insanely successful.

Life is complicated.




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