That's what my generation believed. And my parents' generation. And their parents....read some literature from 100 years ago, for example by the Fabians or other socialist writers. This little blasted thing called human nature always seems to screw things up....
Regarding the main point of the OP, I have a counterexample. I have a friend whose career has never taken off, who usually gets fired after a few months, and has never acquired any useful skills beyond blustering self-confidence. Why ? His father is a multi-millionaire who has arranged every job he's had, and bailed him out of every financial difficulty. He's never had to work a day in his life and has absolutely no ambition or drive.
That's not saying all rich kids suffer from what you might call the George W. Bush syndrome - but taking away the need to make money can also make people over-confident and lazy.
On my good days, I think your generation did a pretty good job. And your parents too. The amount of authority that has been overthrown in the last 100 years is pretty staggering. And I think we'll do a good job too.
The world is a mess. I widely despise our cultural practices. But I also see that there are armies of brilliant, good people working in the background to turn all of it around.
If you're talking total overthrow, then of course... tyranny will always remain. But I think overthrow for the better is a constant, largely monotonic process. And regression (for example, our collective environmental destruction) usually happens because the system is funtional, but unstable... people are living sustainably while living above a massive reservoir of free energy is not actually sustainable, because it's politically unstable.
So, while the system might get temporarily less functional (releasing greenhouse gasses), it is getting more stable (burning fossil fuels which are destabilizing materials).
Which is to say, I think we are overthrowing these arbitrary destructive structures.
That doesn't mean it will never happen. The world is changing rapidly, it stands to reason that even more big changes could happen.
I think "human nature" is a bit of a red herring. We don't currently have any scientific way to separate how much of how people behave is social/environment programming and how much is "human nature".
Rapidly compared to what ? 1900-1960 arguably saw more significant cultural, technological and political change than 1960-2010. The internet and mobile phone are about the only significant technological breakthroughs in my lifetime - in fact even they happened before my lifetime, but were not commonplace yet.
> I think "human nature" is a bit of a red herring. We don't currently have any scientific way to separate how much of how people behave is social/environment programming and how much is "human nature".
Well, we do have millenia of recorded history. Social mores may change, human nature less so.
I don't know if you've noticed but these two are having some very large impact in the world right now. Dictators of 30 and 40 years are being cast off.
>Well, we do have millenia of recorded history. Social mores may change, human nature less so.
I think that's a pretty skewed view of history. Another way to see it might be that we used to mostly have largely anarchistic/socialist societies that were overrun by a few greedy people and we've spent the rest of our history taking back our freedoms from the elite few of our day.
Now you could say that even if we ever managed to get to a utopia state more greedy people will just show up but I would counter argue that e.g. Alexander the great wouldn't have gotten off the ground if people could have just sent a twitter to warn everyone else what he was up to.
Unfortunately, revolutions are nothing new. Bigger revolutions happened in the past quite impactfully without such technologies. These technologies perhaps add benefit in the arms race to better organize against government's controls for infrastructure, institutions, and society.
>> I think that's a pretty skewed view of history. Another way to see it might be that we used to mostly have largely anarchistic/socialist societies that were overrun by a few greedy people and we've spent the rest of our history taking back our freedoms from the elite few of our day.
Now you could say that even if we ever managed to get to a utopia state more greedy people will just show up but I would counter argue that e.g. Alexander the great wouldn't have gotten off the ground if people could have just sent a twitter to warn everyone else what he was up to.
The same technology that people use for freedom, powers that be can use for more nefarious purposes. Technology in of itself is amoral and neutral. It's rather about who uses it more effectively. Today, the general populace perhaps has an advantage in that they're maybe more savvy than governments. Not necessarily will be the case all the time though. And besides that, it depends on whether people would love what Alexander stood for and would actually prefer to follow him. Look at what happened in Germany. Nobody better cite Godwin's Law here. Mein Kampf is seriously a great example of how a single idea, communication, or piece of media can rally the people to a cause that people in hindsight realized was incorrect. Technology can likewise be played by both sides.
3 major drivers of the European revolutions of the 1840s (the longest period of sustained, international revolutions in history) were newspapers, trains and telegraphs. Like today's internet, they were loosely controlled by the state. Information could pass from capital to capital within hours, sometimes within minutes.
The key dynamic is not the medium of transmission; it is whether the state has yet managed to control it.
I'm sure the Jacobins had a totally cool Facebook page.
> Now you could say that even if we ever managed to get to a utopia state more greedy people will just show up but I would counter argue that e.g. Alexander the great wouldn't have gotten off the ground if people could have just sent a twitter to warn everyone else what he was up to.
That has to be the funniest thing I've read all day. If only poor King Darius III had a Twitter account.
So you think that if the whole world would have been aware of what was happening they would have just sat back and watched? I think they would have all banded together to fight him at once rather than be picked off one at a time.
For example, from 1902 - 1960 we went from the Kitty Hawk to the jet passenger plane. From 1960 we went from the jet plane to .... ? We're still flying around in planes developed in the late 1960s/early 1970s. Sure, maybe they have better navigation systems, they might be safer and so on, but these are refinements rather than revolutionary changes.
In any case the standards of technology are always the thing that's changing the fastest. In the early 20th century, it was transport and chemistry. Today it's computing and biotechnology.
I mean, it's 60 years. Imagine yourself transported to 2070 only to find people still using Twitter from their Android phones.
That's not really true. The problem is that the "blank slate" view had a complete victory in the political class but the research hasn't been backing it up.
Larry Summers and James Watson were both run out of their jobs for publicly asking the wrong questions.
With that background "libertarian socialism driven by a scientific approach" sounds like a bit of a lie.
Nope. There's been lots of good research in the last several decades. We are not "blank slates", behavior is largely genetic ("human nature"):
I wouldn't want to live in a society where rich kids don't have an advantage, because that's a society with either debased rich people or no rich people.
No one is talking about that. We're simply talking about meritocracy, which has been the path of progress since the Enlightenment.
It in no way debases the rich if Johnny can't get into a top university because his Daddy can't buy his way in.
One thing I've noticed, anecdotally: kids who grew up in Manhattan have parents or know parents who were investment bankers, corporate lawyers, etc. This gives them a leg up in getting into those professions over kids whose parents were in more common occupations, if only because they know more about those industries. It has nothing to do with their attitude. I'm guessing that it's no coincidence that lots of successful actors and musicians have successful actor parents, too: Charlie Sheen, anyone?
Let's assume the two kids are just as driven as each other, with the rich kids having more opportunities. I do not believe that the rich kid will always have the social skills, technical skills, brains, passion, or dedication to take advantage of those opportunities. The rich kid may be a very mediocre person by merit, but because the regular kid doesn't have access to these opportunities, our society will select the rich kid for this opportunity because he looks good on paper and for lack of other merited kids to pick from. So yes, the rich kid will be ahead PURELY because he had exclusive access to an opportunity or because society wanted to pick a better resume, but NOT because the rich kid has a better skill set or is more well adjusted than the regular kid based on their wealth backgrounds. This disproves the OP's point.
Consider that a rich kid's parents will likely spend hundreds of thousands of dollars (if not more) on their child's education, on everything from the best preschools to a top prep school to an Ivy League university. Do you really think those schools offer nothing in exchange for all that money, aside from some better social connections and big names on someone's resume?
It's very, very difficult to reduce the impact of a lifetime of educational and social advantages down to something like "different/better personality skill set," and I think in doing so you are woefully underestimating what kind of benefits those advantages bring.
I don't understand 'anarcho communism' -- wouldn't that be the overthrow of government to establish communism? How is it different than regular communism?
As for anarcho-communism, it distinguishes communism involving a strong central authority from communism involving no or decentralized authority.
(PROTIP: usually "traveling the world surfing" is only possible if you are independently wealthy or willing to live like a hobo).
I do find it interesting that someone named johngalt would be impressed by someone living the benefits of unearned wealth. Perhaps you should have adopted a more appropriate username. Were philiprearden and jamestaggart taken?
Do I find the idea of traveling the world and surfing interesting? Yes I do. Would I consider that adequate job experience? Not at all.
Remove the chip from your shoulder. Someone who wasn't you was able to do something fun. Don't be jealous of that.
Oh, come on. You're just spliting hairs. I'm not jealous of it, but in no way is it earned.
I thought they weren't allowed to have toddlers in the first place.
That said, I don't think this factor is an issue for just about anyone who graduated from an Ivy-League or comparable college. In my experience at front-office corporate jobs, someone unable to present themselves reasonably at a client meeting, even at 20 or 21 (we had college interns) would simply never have been hired, but I don't remember it ever actually being a problem.
I went out-of-state, then moved back to live at home (HN helped keep me in a wider loop). Relatively unambitious fellow students were the most demotivating part of this.
However, were I do to the same in an area with fewer educational institutions per sq. mile, I may not have had that experience.
The key here is attitude. While your upbringing influences that, you can always make a choice to be the relaxed rich kid. Even if your parents' income says differently.
From that point on you're never asked for ID. The bartender can tell from your walk, your gaze and your speech that you have it, just like before they could tell that you didn't.
A good friend of mine had his nascent teaching career destroyed when he some confident-looking 20 year old chick dropped a 6 pack of Bud Light on the counter of the store he managed part-time. He didn't bother asking for ID (which he was typically pretty strict about) and was led out in cuffs.
He received a conditional dismissal after 3 years of probation, but explaining a 3+ year career gap ("So, why did you quit teaching after 6 months to fix cars?") takes you off the fast track.
She probably thought I must be 21 because who would throw down proof they weren't 21 in order to get into a 21+ show.
Before that, I worked customer service at a grocery store for a while too, and it got to the point that I could tell who stole something in order to return it by just how they were standing in line waiting, and even if that didn't help, their first few words would give it away. Of course, that didn't mean I couldn't help them. My boss actually was really upset when I told one person to never come back... go figure.
However I think there often is something different in the attitudes of people with rich and poor upbringings. But from the article the kid whose parents earn $125,000 and who was bright and went to a top tier school will likely have all the doors open to him and the self confidence to take advantage of it. Any attitude difference above that level of income is mostly accounted for by individual personality and intelligence. Someone however who was born to a working class family and grew up surrounded by people in blue collar jobs might not have the confidence or social network to climb as high. Or at least the path is noticeably steeper.
And on a personal note, I disagree with the comment
"He has the right air about him, and the same freedom from anxiety and free-flowing creative energy of a college student because, for him, college (i.e. the time of life in which most middle-class peoples’ lives peak) never ended."
At university things were just starting to get really fun. I'm mid thirties now and looking forward to the fun that's around the corner. Not only is the glass half full, but it's champagne and the cute waitress is coming round with refills.
As a college student I often worry that my life will become more boring after I graduate. What's your secret?
I wholeheartedly agree with your last comment. University student == immature anxiety. Being careless does not equal fun, creativity, reward and, most of all, challenge. It's a popular culture stereotype i 've come to hate vehemently.
Anyway from what the original poster describes I think someone in this particular middle class guys position would find working for a web technology company much more rewarding and fulfilling. Corporate structure tends to be less top down and more open and inclusive. For anyone in this position who is thinking of moving jobs perhaps they'd like to refactor their résumé using my new app:
Invites will be sent out soon.
Apologies, I really didn't want to come across as being spammy.
I notice no one is commenting on this part. Namely, that for children of financial privilege, the risk/reward ratio for a career is markedly skewed compared to their middle class peers.
It's really bad with jobs that expect you to "pay your dues" at the beginning, yet still socialize with co-workers at restaurants after work. People from a more modest background are seen as anti-social when they really just have a cash flow problem.
There's a negative feedback loop.
Financial security and social familiarization aren't the only sources of confidence. Understanding of skills' value, faith in the ability to learn new skills, curiousity about what others find valuable and willingness to provide it -- no one who has these has much deep anxiety about pleasing the boss. If the boss likes them, great! If not, they're happy to move somewhere that appreciates what they add. Confidence is out there for anyone willing to learn and work.
You can't learn that kind of confidence. You have to truly believe you will be just fine.
No, you end up working a crappy part time job at a call center with no benefits and no future, desperately trying to convince yourself that you're still middle class because you work a telephone instead of a mop.
There is nothing wrong with working a mop. Median Janitor salary is $25k, if you and your wife are both janitors, you have a $50k/yr household. You can pay the bills and give your family a middle class lifestyle. Probably still better than the life you were raised in.
Conversely a child of wealth that loses it all will have a significantly more difficult time giving his children the same life that he had. Someone who has a lot also has more to lose.
That said, I would rate it as highly unlikely that a truly wealthy individual could end up falling into the middle class through anything short of titanic ineptitude.
I've found a lot of people, especially in the upper- and upper-middle classes, often deny the importance of social capital, but I find it to be very important.
Someone from wealth can lose all of their money, and still have the social capital necessary the maintain their class status.
My father worked in a factory, as a member of a union, and I grew up not having the first clue about how the market or business works.
In technical fields, those who grow up in the middle class probably know someone with intricate technical knowledge, and who is a master of their art, even if it is a mechanic, electrician or HVAC repairman, and have picked up at least the feel of the technical jargon from them.
Slightly related, on This American Life over the week-end, they interviewed several people who work in finance at some of the firms who were bailed out by TARP, and they all swore that they had their high-paying job because of their superior talent, and deserved to get payed their tax-payer inflated salaries because they were smarter than most other people. They all complained that Pres. Obama was a meanie to big businesses, trying to tell them what to do and all, and should just leave them alone.
That said what percentage of entrepreneurs, successful or not come from rich backgrounds? This article's ideas would apply two fold to the startup arena where you cannot get anywhere simply by running on the hamster wheel.
Filing for bankruptcy is a long-standing tradition
for NBA players, 60% of whom, according to the Toronto
Star, are broke five years after they retire.
But many more smaller figures of the Robber Baron age
made immense fortunes, took no care of them, were not
of a generous or philanthropic nature, handed the money
on as a life belt to their sons who then squandered it,
so much so that their sons returned to the shirtsleeves
in which grandfather had landed in the United States.
(Not driving at any particular point here, just some interesting links of relevance to thinking on income mobility).
One of his clients asked for the code name "962" because that was the year the family had made their fortume. (!)
But as my friend told me, one of the main reasons they were able to keep the money in the family is that the vast majority of it passed to the eldest son, with other children getting only very little. It'd be interesting to know the relative entrepreneurial nature of kids that grow up wealthy, but don't get any real money.
Re sports players going broke, I think that's because they acquire a lifestyle proportionate to their income at an age when they're too young to understand that their lifetime income is front-loaded. For the first 5 or 10 years of their career, they only move up in value and income; they're not fully aware that they're going to fall off an income cliff, and they ought to be spending no more than 10 to 20% of what they earn on consumption.
The NBA thing makes perfect sense to me. I see a lot of (god I hate the term but it has the meaning I want to convey) "Nouveau Riche" here in NZ who just blow it on the stupidest stuff. All that really shows is that there are two aspects to having money 1. Having the ability and freedom to make consumption decisions that were not available to you when you didn't have money. 2. the flipside of that is knowing how to keep it.
I think there's a lot of education and responsibility that comes with being wealthy and a lot of people who have been raised without money don't have the requisite knowledge and financial management skills to keep the new found fortune that they never expected to make that they suddenly find themselves in possession of.
TL;DR not only are the rich richer than us, they're better at being rich than we are - because they're already rich.
(children from poorer backgrounds are less likely to go into good universities or study high-earning subjects, but if they do then they'll earn as much as their better off peers)
I'd be interested to see the results for 10 years after graduating!
Certainly it's possible that in some careers that there is a divide, but due to the the careers not being common that it doesn't show up in the stats. But there's no evidence this is the case.
20 years later I find myself moved up to a pretty good on that big pond mainly because of good opportunities in the tech industry but I would strongly agree with the author that a lot of that success was achieved through the Mojo that a complete lack of fear of failure gives you.
Outside of the software industry, which is a tiny (~1%) portion of the economy, what has changed since 1995? Suppose you're an investment banker, and you hate your boss, as most investment bankers do. Want to start your own investment bank? How? You need to have connections to upper management at lots and lots of companies, so you can arrange deals. And very few people have that.
Or, suppose you're an accountant. Can you start your own accounting practice? Sure, maybe, it's not a crazy idea. But is it really any different than it was 15 years ago? You still need to get a reputation, build up a client list, market yourself well, etc. Not much has really changed.
Or, even, suppose that you're in another, non-software tech industry, like pharmaceuticals. That's way harder than it was 15 years ago, because of tighter FDA regulation. Just try getting a drug to market with less than $100,000,000 in capital, and very few people can raise that kind of capital.
If you want to avoid social logjams, all you need is one domain where people aren't judged by their origins, and the people who want to get ahead will find it. History is full of examples of that. The world of startups is certainly a large and conspicuous enough target.
"For the individual, I can offer no personal solution to this deep sociological problem. As far as I know, there’s none. I would advise those who are sufficiently talented to work in technology, which tends to be more meritocratic than other industries, and to avoid old-style business. Beyond that, I know of no solution."
ie, this is true for everyone outside of technology, not just the ambitious.
You might say ambitious people wouldn't be subject to those restraints, but if we could do away with cognitive tendencies we wouldn't be dealing with these class barriers anyway.
Hell, even IN the tech industry... I'm extremely interested in VLSI, and I'm told most commercial available processing units cost in excess of $1,000,000,000 just to reach the first actual chip!
That investment shop will have every banker arguing that they deserve a gigantic compensation package. Add's a lot of overhead that you won't have starting out.
Like most professional services the web has revolutionized accounting. You can now trivially have your accounting done anywhere in the world. How about you start your own shop by hiring and managing overseas workers? Or how about a cadre of accountants based in a low cost area of the US? Since 1995 other industries have been transformed by technology MORE than the tech sector. Netflix/iPod/Kindle anyone?
You've got me on pharmaceuticals, but it seems that regulation is the key here. I doubt communism would help with that.
That's actually the one action where a non-compete is universally and trivially enforceable in all 50 states. As I understand it, IANAL. Additionally, it's unethical if you believe in that sort of thing. So, bad idea.
Not sure what communism has to do with anything. At all.
"Not sure what communism has to do with anything. At all."
The article? Specifically mentioned communism as the solution to these problems? If you're pointing to regulation as a barrier to entry then what the article recommends wouldn't help.
EDIT: Excuse me it advocates the universal solidarity of social justice to promote the overthrow of capitalism in the name of socialism whew, good thing I caught that. Someone could have confused socialism with communism.
It's such a good deal that while you see bankers jumping from one big bank to another to improve their deal, you rarely see them starting a new bank.
Sadly, this is not a hypothetical. I belong to a yacht club with more than 25-30 y/o living this exact dream.
People will like or dislike you for a number of reasons/bias. I once had a high dollar investment customer that would only deal with me because of my attitude. Others that refused to deal with me because of my attitude. Trying to say that there is one "right" way to act and it only comes with money just isn't accurate. One of the first things you realize with banking is how varied or even normal rich people are.
There is no one shibboleth used to filter out the people that don't belong. Judgementally approaching them, and acting like they are all elitist exclusionary cronies will make them happily oblige your fantasy.
A few months ago, a friend of mine who's a lawyer with 5 years experience told me that where he went to school for undergrad is still one of the most important things on his resume. Blew my mind.
Other tech industries that are more capital intensive (bio, mechanical) are a lot harder to just start a business in, and for softer skills there's no way to quantify you to begin with so connections matter a lot for the first few jobs. Anyone could learn to program and start a web business, of course, but the barriers aren't quite so low in other industries yet.
It wasn't whiny at all.
"The socially outgoing and confident worker will always outperform his socially awkward counterpart of equal intelligence. It doesn't matter that he came from a wealthy family, what matters is he has MORE skills."
This was the author's point.
"Middle-class kids generally fuck up their first few years of the career game in one of two ways." - really??
I mean I can point you to any number of academic studies confirming this, e.g. Hart & Risley's Meaningful Differences book.
Or just go to any elite private university and compare the kids who are there during summer session with the kids who are there during the rest of the year. The only real difference is SES, as you can't apply financial aid to summer session classes, and you also can't be there if you need a job over the summer. And yet the kids are completely different than the ones who are there during the regular school year.
"In her book “Unequal Childhoods,” published in 2003, Lareau described the costs and benefits of each approach and concluded that the natural-growth method had many advantages. Concerted cultivation, she wrote, “places intense labor demands on busy parents. ... Middle-class children argue with their parents, complain about their parents’ incompetence and disparage parents’ decisions.” Working-class and poor children, by contrast, “learn how to be members of informal peer groups. They learn how to manage their own time. They learn how to strategize.” But outside the family unit, Lareau wrote, the advantages of “natural growth” disappear. In public life, the qualities that middle-class children develop are consistently valued over the ones that poor and working-class children develop. Middle-class children become used to adults taking their concerns seriously, and so they grow up with a sense of entitlement, which gives them a confidence, in the classroom and elsewhere, that less-wealthy children lack. The cultural differences translate into a distinct advantage for middle-class children in school, on standardized achievement tests and, later in life, in the workplace.
...The disadvantages that poverty imposes on children aren’t primarily about material goods. True, every poor child would benefit from having more books in his home and more nutritious food to eat (and money certainly makes it easier to carry out a program of concerted cultivation). But the real advantages that middle-class children gain come from more elusive processes: the language that their parents use, the attitudes toward life that they convey. However you measure child-rearing, middle-class parents tend to do it differently than poor parents — and the path they follow in turn tends to give their children an array of advantages. As Lareau points out, kids from poor families might be nicer, they might be happier, they might be more polite — but in countless ways, the manner in which they are raised puts them at a disadvantage in the measures that count in contemporary American society.
What would it take to overcome these disadvantages? Does poverty itself need to be eradicated, or can its effects on children somehow be counteracted? Can the culture of child-rearing be changed in poor neighborhoods, and if so, is that a project that government or community organizations have the ability, or the right, to take on? Is it enough simply to educate poor children in the same way that middle-class children are educated? And can any school, on its own, really provide an education to poor minority students that would allow them to achieve the same results as middle-class students?"
As for work ethic, how are you defining work? Time on task? Emotional labor? Social loafing? Intrinsic motivation? Extrinsic motivation? Protestant Work Ethic? Locus of control? Prosocial behaviors?
There are at least a dozen different academic disciplines that study issues related to work ethic, so the question of how work ethic correlates with SES isn't really answerable as it currently stands.
Not that summer session is always the best course of action. An internship will go a lot further toward most careers than a few extra classes.
Not really, if anything it takes less drive. It's vastly easier to take classes over the summer (when classes are usually easier), and then do your internships in fall or spring when there's no competition. The only reason not everyone does this is that it wouldn't be financially viable.
Summer usually wasn't viable because class selection is limited. For example, Quantum Mechanics 1 is fall semester, Quantum Mechanics 2 is spring semester, and you need both to graduate.
Not really. The summer session at most state schools is like the summer sessions in public high schools. Mostly people who failed a class or couldn't register for the one they needed
You'd need to know or track 1000+ of those individuals to find statistical significant in a phenomenon that's probably a few percentage points in size. It makes the article very hard to disagree with in a concrete way (since I doubt any of us know that many trust funders) but I doubt the OP really has that level of data either.
This is just a long anecdotal gripe based on a few data points.
Anyone know the actual formula for statistical significance, and able to work out how big a sample needs to be for, say, a population of 100k?
confidence = (signal/noise)*sqrt(sample size)
I couldn't find a great intro link, but you might find something useful here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statistical_hypothesis_testing
There's huge noise in terms of the lifetime income / career success earned by any sample population regardless of background and the phenomena we'd be looking for is probably on the order of a single-digit difference.
You'd need something like a twins study to ever really know if this was true.
Do rich kids really outperform at work because of how they behave / think? Or do their parents have better connections? Or do they just have more money to afford better colleges? The OP has no evidence that the perceived better results are actually because of the reasons he cites, or other phenomena.
If point of the post is just "rich kids have more resources so they do better at life than poor kids", well, that's kind of uninteresting and obvious. If it's "rich kids are treated different" or "rich kids act different at work" then that needs to be substantiated.
If you're studying a phenomena with less than 5% impact, you need 1000+ data points to reach 95% significance.
[Fixed link, deleted my incorrect comment.]
I could be making a mistake somewhere.
I think you missed the point of the article.
"Show me statistics that say rich kids are socially outgoing and more confident than middle class kids."
Having good connection is a necessary (but not sufficient) condition to identifying customer pain points, finding VC money, doing sales, etc.
The article isn't about entrepreneurs, which are an entirely different type of person that makes different kinds of mistakes. An entrepreneur isn't afraid of making mistakes, regardless of his place in the social order. That's why he's starting a company instead of working for a bank.
The example given in the article was: "two analysts at a prestigious financial firm". A "prestigious financial firm" is not a startup, and while networking is important, it isn't the same networking/hustle that a entrepreneur engages in.
I am speaking here merely from an anecdotal and firsthand perspective, but all it takes is one data point to refute the claim that condition A is necessary for outcome B.
The guy is right, when you have everything to lose at the slightest mistake, you don't take chances.
Right, because having a college diploma is equivalent to guaranteed employment.
So could one start a company in US and do international work (teh interwebz) with possible US hires to take care of local business?
I suppose on the other hand you have to consider that rich kids have less motivation to succeed than middle/lower class people, if they already have all the material things they can realistically desire
(the article also didn't site any studies to back up its statistics or claims, so you have to take it at face value)
Rich(er) kids have just as much drive to work on interesting products, find new solutions to problems, etc. And they have the added benefit of not having to worry about making a baseline salary on the side, they can ask their parents to bootstrap them, to find first clients, etc. Sure you can say that there are some who are slacking off on their parents money, but then again there are also middle class/poor kids who don't do anything useful in life.
So true. And if you start acting like a boss, you'll start being treated like one. Of course, this is a tricky business (as Michael mentions), and a lot depends on your role and the company's culture. But with the right approach, a mix of social skills and "knowing your stuff", it's possible. Especially in the field of technology.
On the other hand money is concrete and real. If I had 5 million in the bank my attitude would be 100% different. I wouldn't be considered geeky, I'd be geek-chic and eccentric. I wouldn't have most of the anxities I have now because I know money can buy me almost everything I need.
Sorry, but large sums of money are nowhere comparable to less tangible gifts like height or looks. One buys me a home the other maybe gets me an occasional second glance.
I'll also toss in that thinking of yourself as a social peer with your bosses is a huge benefit. The book "Outliers" explores this. Well-off kids are raised to be assertive and have a sense of entitlement. They just do better in life. They can defend these attitudes by saying "I come from a well off family, just as wealthy as you. I went to the same school as you and your kids and my parents know the same people. I was taught to get my way and that my parents will protect me with their riches."
Lately, coincidentally, I have a lot in common with my current bosses. The social parts take care of themselves and its a huge benefit without me putting in a lot of effort. I don't feel the divide between them and me as much as at my previous jobs. I have a small amount of savings that can help me get by if I get fired or laid off. If this is how rich kids feel at age 23 when entering the workforce then they have a HUGE advantage.
The big difference he, or she, knows exactly how long he has to stay in the at entry-level analyst position. While most people are promoted when someone in management feels it's the right time, the rich kid knows when to ask; not when a position opens up, not when they are asked, not when they feel they've learned enough, but when they are ready to make the leap.
One of these rich kids is a friend of mine. He's been hired and fired from more jobs than I care to remember. While my biggest concern is making the mortgage each month his is making enough to put in his daughters trust fund. Rent, food, and even vacation are expenses he's not worried about.
He paid his dues by doing his stint in different banks and now he's a family financial planner. He built his Rolodex up by being a performer; something that is impossible to do any other way.
It's pretty much a cliche among rich people these days. By starting at the bottom they gain pride, confidence, and bragging rights. I remember this one rich girl whose dad was close friends with the CEO and who got a very highly coveted and prestigious position in the company.
She would repeat over and over again (I probably heard it 20 times) how when she applied for the job she hid her identity, because she wanted to earn the job on merit.
Naturally, her extraordinary sense of entitlement and being protected gave her tremendous psychological advantage over competitors and she beat them out.
It's just not cool anymore to be given something, it's much cooler to prove you're better than the poor kids by playing their own game far better than they can do.
Of course what these people choose to ignore is that the poor kids are living paycheck to paycheck, can barely afford to buy new shoes, have to clip coupons, are constantly looking at homeless people and realizing that could be them tomorrow, etc.
The rich kids are just oblivious to the fact that rent, food, clothing cost anything at all. They are oblivious to the fact that getting fired in a bad economy can lead to homelessness.
The implication of this article is that the odds were stacked in their favour not necessarily just through explicit intentions of the higher ups, but through the difference in their inherent attitude.
I for one am blending a bit of both. From a lower-middle class background and being content to be less than average at my job. For some reason it isn't working out as well as I hoped :P
so, did you just take poli-sci to learn buzzwords and impress dumb chicks? I'm guessing you failed to comprehend any of the material. Before you call a fortune 500 company a "brutal authority" you might want to READ A FUCKING BOOK.
People here are smart, if you show them cohesive analysis and can avoid emotionally loaded words, they respond to it. The Western commerce structures have produced more wealth than anything else in history... almost everything you interact with on a daily basis is a result of coordinated effort of these structures.
People don't even realize because they're surrounded in wealth - they don't viscerally understand how it got there, and how it wouldn't be there if it wasn't for the structures we've got.
For instance, in Soviet Russia the soda vending machines wouldn't give you a can or bottle (what a waste!), so instead there was a communal cup that filled with soda, you drank from the cup that everyone else did, and then there was a bucket of stale water you dipped the cup in afterwards to clean it for the next person.
Needless to say, this promoted all sorts of germs and unsanitary nastiness and lots of educated people forbade their kids from drinking the soda from the communal cup, whereas less educated people passed their germs around and got more sick, and had lower health and lower life expectancy.
But people don't read history, so they don't know about stuff like that. They just assume that soda companies are... what's the author call it, brutal authoritarian something? You're right, people don't study history. So we've got to be patient and work with them and educate them a little bit as to how things really are.
It's kind of a thankless job, but I think civility is the only way to do it.
Fox News should be insulted and ridiculed, and so should similarly formatted ignorance from the left. There is no reason why simple fact checking and logical coherence shouldn't be the cultural standard in the age of wikipedia at our fingertips.
The costs of this material wealth have not been measured fully. Typically fields like economics only look at financial matters to determine that we are better off. The 'we' part changes depending on context. Are people in the Nigerian deltas better off? Every two years or so they experience a Gulf of Mexico BP level oil spill. Acidity levels in the ocean are increasing and then there is global warming.
In some countries life is good (generally speaking) but this good life does come, at least partially, at the expense of others. From my perspective there is a serious problem with capitalism and Western commerce structures. The problems seem to be getting worse.
It is inarguable that all these things have occurred. The point I hope to politely contest is that this is a function of Western commerce structures to a greater degree than other commerce structures.
The reason is that the Soviet Union had ecological catastrophe on a scale far beyond anything observed in the West:
Basically, for every Three Mile Island class event in the West, you had a Chernobyl (or more than one) under the communist regimes.
Put another way -- there's no question that large corporations will pollute if they can get away with it, which is why some form of externality regulation is necessary. But large governments will also pollute if they can get away with it, and in the absence of independent power structures formed by individuals (= capitalism/markets), there is only politics -- and governments outside the West have tended to be less answerable to their people.
Thus, a non-Western commerce structure which produced less material wealth (namely communism) also produced "high levels of pollution" and "environmental damage in poor countries". Communists also certainly propped up corrupt regimes in return for access to resources at cheap cost (e.g. the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was in part driven by their desire to get to the Gulf).
I'm not trying to split hairs here by any means, just saying that the "overthrow of capitalism" which the original post advocates will not solve the very real problems you identify, and the historical record indicates that it may in fact exacerbate them. Now, there might be a third solution which is not communism or capitalism that does not result in the problems you describe, but (IMO) it's unlikely to simply be an intermediate between the two.
 I found the following article by Steven Johnson interesting, on how open source doesn't fit into the market-oriented frame of capitalism nor the command-and-control frame of socialism/communism:
I think the paradox he observes is that people are motivated by socioeconomic status, and that open source contributors are more interested in the "socio" (= props from other programmers) than the "economic" part of that equation. Given that the "economic" part dominated thought in the 20th century, even to the extent that people actually used it as a proxy for (rather than correlate of!) social class, it might be profitable to think more in terms of the "socio" end of things should one want to start improving society.
 I hesitate to use the term "game mechanics" in such a discussion, but this kind of thing makes recycling fun, and takes it out of the market frame:
The problem as I see it comes from trading with countries without high levels of worker safety standards and environmental standards. Also from not accounting for negative externalities. A tax on carbon would be useful. Things like that.
A man said many years ago that the love of money was the source of all evil and this, I think, is the crux with the problem of capitalism. Money is not a great motivator. Newton did not invent calculus to make billions. Leonardo would not have painted better if he had been paid more. I don't the answers to the problem but I do believe there is a huge problem with capitalism and, more specifically, corporatism.
Adam Smith opposed corporations because the externalities weren't accounted for (to use modern parlance). I agree with him on this. There are lots of examples of corporations acting in a brutally authoritarian way and the comment by nazgulnarsil seems to imply that by reading history one comes away with a view opposite to:
" fortune 500 company a "brutal authority" "
Again, I don't know the solution but there is a problem and plenty of examples of Fortune 500 companies acting with brutal authority.
EDIT: I'm not implying in any way that the Soviet Union was a model or that it ought to be emulated. I don't suggest communism as practiced by the Warsaw Pact nations was better than capitalism.
However, your other points: nobody is motivated by money. They want the 'wealth' it is convertable too. And wealth is all valuable things: medicine, automobiles, green energy, free range chicken, homes, etc.
'Wealth of Nations' Adam Smith? I don't recall him being that specific. The wealth of nations was largely an accounting of the wealth of Britain and his inquiry into the cause of it (capital, specialized labour, deregulation).
Actually I think I have a solution. If libertopia was better -- no skilled labour would move (or stay) in slavtopia. The few viable industries (diamond mining, oil & gas, lumber, etc) would expire as Libertopia naturally developed alternatives (like it already has: synthetics, electric cars, composite woods).
The transition period is messy though.
I would take it a step further and say that it was inferior in almost every way. There are individuals and organizations that behave with "brutal authority" in every society, but when it is the government and they have absolute (unchecked) power, then it is far worse.
Jumping from people with less economical stability who don't advance because they "spend the bulk of their time trying not to offend" and "don't offer suggestions when in meetings" to brutal authority of bigoted conservatism is a stretch.
In my book, people who act natural, take initiative and get things done deserve to advance. People who are withdrawn and only interested in keeping their jobs don't. And on the other hand smack-average performers don't get noticed and advanced, while silent and shy types, if they're doing a stellar job, do.
Maybe it's specific to the technology field, but I never noticed that one's financial wealth, or lack of it, influenced their carrer path.
Yes, the author wrote, "I would advise those who are sufficiently talented to work in technology, which tends to be more meritocratic than other industries, and to avoid old-style business. Beyond that, I know of no solution."
Though I think techies from wealthier families still have an advantage in terms of salary bargaining, and choosing what teams they work with. (Being able to walk away is a serious advantage. Simply wait for great deals to come along, then push in with whatever strength you have... bailing if you realize it's not a good deal after all.) Not to mention more leisure time learning tech from various angles, and safety nets.
For what it's worth, I initially dismissed your comment as a troll, but was motivated enough by your replies to click through to your profile and read some of your own blog, and was surprised to find that you are actually an intelligent and interesting person.
See how just one carelessly worded rant can tarnish a first impression? Give the blogger the benefit of the doubt -- he sounds young, but not stupid.
If you're so much cleverer than this chap, why have you not felt it necessary to accompany your ad-hominem attacks with at least a basic level of elucidation?
To the chap in question: insightful views clearly stated. I applaud your goals and I hope we can make it happen.
As I said, insults are not ad hominem in and of themselves.
Not ad hominem, not trying to refute the argument, but still an insult.
"He's an asshole, and his argument is crap."
Not ad hominem, refuting the argument by mere assertion, and an insult.
"He's an asshole, so his argument can't be taken seriously."
Ad hominem - implying that some characteristic of the person makes his argument flawed; and an insult.
"He just wants what's best for his daughter, so his argument can't be taken seriously."
Ad hominem (implying bias); but not an insult.
While I can, in fact, guess why he concluded that, I am merely guessing because his reasoning was not explained very well.
I really hope that I'm wrong in believing that about half of his problems are with the use of political labels. The very meaning of all political labels is contested: people abuse them constantly for their own purposes, so they do not carry the same meaning for all people. For example, "socialism" can be anything from an oppressive government that ruthlessly punishes success to neighbors banding together to help each other out in times of trouble. Or it can be used as a simple insult.
The problem isn't that these words have no meaning, the problem is that people are fighting over what these words should mean. As Lewis Carroll put it, 'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master -- that's all.'
That said, this is almost too obvious to point out, but it happens to be true that the Soviet Union and Communist China (and Vietnam, Cambodia, etcetera) murdered 100 million+ in the name of "building socialism", and it is quite possible that the original poster knows people from those countries who lost loved ones to socialism/communism.
Seen in this light, I'm not saying that OP's phrasing was the way to go, but it's understandable that there are people frustrated by this all too common style of ignorance. It's not idealistic to actually support socialism in 2011, it's simply ignorant.
At the risk of reductio ad Hitlerum, certainly an offhand comment in favor of "rational, libertarian Nazism" would have dominated response to the essay, yet we find it acceptable for educated people to make offhand complimentary references to a polar opposite ideology that actually killed many more people.
 Or in this case, direct rather than offhand
The usual claims against communism don't apply, as libertarian socialists historically opposed both communism and capitalism. (In the senses you mean.)
However, the post said "I believe my generation will overthrow the arbitrary and brutal authority of corporate capitalism and bigoted conservatism in favor of rationalistic, libertarian socialism driven by a scientific approach and a concern for universal social justice".
That sounds more like Pol Pot and Lenin than your standard EU bureaucrat. The latter usually pays at least lip service to capitalism and markets even if they often have a conflicted relationship with them.
Also, the thing is that we tend to take people at face value in most other areas. If someone calls for takeover by Hamas or Islamic Jihad or the KKK or the American Nazi Party or what have you, we usually do not go into detail to try to figure out exactly what splinter faction they belong to, or whether they represent "true Islamism" or "true Nazism", because we know that ideologies coming from that direction are a dead end and have killed millions of people.
Similarly, if someone calls for the overthrow of capitalism, it's incumbent upon them to explain that they don't really mean "overthrow" for real, but something more like Sweden [complete with multinational corporations like Ikea].
Postscript: For what it's worth, 90% of Indians and 93% of Chinese believe that trade and business ties are good for the country. These are still large, poor countries -- yet they are actually considerably more favorably inclined towards capitalism than wealthy countries like the US (now at only 66% favorable!)
In toting up that grim number I'd include the following, in which political Islam of one stripe or another was certainly a motivating force:
1. The Bangladesh Massacre, targeted disproportionately at Hindus. More than 3 million dead.
2. The Iran/Iraq War. Iraq started it but Saddam's avowed intention, to the extent it can be trusted, was to stop Khomeini from fomenting Islamic revolution in Iraq. Massive atrocities on both sides, 1.3 million dead.
3. The Algerian Civil War. 150-200 thousand dead.
4. The Janjaweed perpetrators of the Sudanese Genocide. At least 330 thousand dead.
The killers/combatants here were influenced by numerous factors, but even if you assign only fractional "credit", I think it is indeed accurate to ascribe millions of deaths to political Islam. Moreover (and this is I think the point you were driving at), I think it's fair to say that Al-Qaeda has genocidal intent even if not capabilities.
Stalinism is just one branch of communism and it is such an obvious failure that generalizing it and making it the one and only true communism just shows your ignorance about what socialism is and isn't.
So one branch of communism, one that favours a dictatorship and favours state-owned property instead of public-property (which anarchism and other branches of communism favour), has killed millions.
It is idealistic to support socialism, it's ignorant to support Stalinism or Maoism or whatever dictatorship-favouring branch of communism you want to refer to. Generalizing that garbage is worse than ignorant.
those brutal psychopaths happen to be the most effective form of peacefully organizing humans to provide stuff others want in voluntary trade ever created. There's a reason we see thousands of years of conquest, then the innovation that allows large safe investment in wealth generating ventures and a subsequent explosion in global standards of living and the decline of conquest. you might want to try reading a book as well.
But who am I kidding? the historical illiteracy of the post cold war era is all but absolute at this point. Rah Rah democracy.
I liked this article, but my experiences have been different. From what I've seen, it seems like broad career choice is also incredibly significant; and that's something rich kids often get wrong (from the perspective of an entrepreneur). They want to have happy lives in prestigious jobs, and there lies the problem. They want stability instead of the ability to change something.
Now I'm studying abroad, and have met up with a bunch of rich kids. They all want to party. Sure, if I get a job with them it's possible they'll do better than me. So I won't get a job with them.
Let's look at the top entrepreneurs right now. Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg. All of them were well-to-do but weren't rich. But that didn't matter for them at the time. Because their ambition was far more powerful than their income.
Gates already had a million dollar trust fund.
Of course, none of the three were exactly poor, and all grew up with programming backgrounds. We'll see who takes charge these next 20 years.
Going to school somewhere like that is one of the experiences that develops precisely the attitude the blogger is talking about.
'Linchpin' by Seth Godin defends this thesis that the job market has changed and that opportunities are given to (or taken by) the one that don't follow the rules.
The beginning of the article is nice, but the end nearly fall in fatalism. Saying that a sociological and behavioral issue is unsurmountable if you're not in the right dispositions first is just incredibly wrong. The world is changed by people doing things everyday even if the stars are never aligned; waiting a scientific approach to the world is very, very useless and a bit frightening too.
Or we could act like winners. Turn the tables and determine where life is unfair in your favor and play that game, or at least push the game closer to that direction. Rich kids are pushed into certain roles/behaviors as well. There are risks that they fear that you do not.
I find the author built a prison for himself by attacking the problem through an avenue he has no control over.
Poor family drives 5-year old to doctor's visit. Mom: "Remember honey, be respectful and do as the doctor says. And be quiet or there will be trouble."
From an actual study.
You cannot change your social background, but you can choose to recognize and transcend fear. You can treat everybody respectfully as a social equal regardless of your background.
Insight a rich kid can never have being merely one of dozens that shot into my fatigued head.
If you're rich, it's like the OP said -- you get into finance because you have casual confidence and connections. You probably already know your boss or some of his colleagues socially, or your dad belongs to the same yacht club. And your boss likes you because you're just like him.
If you're middle class, though, you aren't hungry because you were actually pretty comfortable growing up, and you don't have the connections because your dad is an accountant at a mid-sized manufacturing company and doesn't have a yacht. So you're screwed.
To address some of those critiques, last night I wrote a follow up to this essay here: http://michaelochurch.wordpress.com/2011/03/08/follow-up-on-... .
Beyond the mentally and physically unable (which is a very low percentage), poverty is a result of poor life choices. This is what freedom gives us: the ability to succeed or fall flat on our ass due to our own choices, which is why we will always have poverty in our current system.
Oh, how I want to see you tell that to a 15 year old born in a ghetto.
The truth hurts sometime. If we continue to ignore it, nothing will ever change.
You should check out a third world country. I live in one and I can tell you for a fact that this is not true.
If you wake up thinking what you're going to eat today and where you'll sleep tonight, then there aren't many choices to be made.
I see 8 y/o kids begging for money on the streets every day. They will never be able to make a choice.
I should have said: poverty in the US. Poverty in third world countries is a result of the poor choices of the government.
This is an overgeneralization. All of us make choices based on our perception of the world. It matters very much whether, like me, you were raised by educated people, being told "you can do anything," being read to and told to practice music and sent to church and given responsible role models and generally expected to achieve, or whether you had a single mom who was always drunk, didn't care if you skipped school or stayed out all night, and basically expected you to end up in jail like your father, whom you never knew.
It also matters whether you grow up in a place where you're told a person can bootstrap their way to wealth or one where you have to pay bribes at every turn.
All of us make bad choices. I don't exercise, even though I know I should. The guy down the street doesn't stop drinking before work, even though he knows he should. Both of us are slightly underperforming our expectations. But where did we get those expectations?
We are responsible for what we do, but it's wrong to pretend that everyone starts on even footing.
Then the parents made poor life choices and passed these bad habits onto their kids. No matter how good our schools are, if someone's home life is like you describe, with a father in prison or an uncaring mother, it's going to be that much more difficult to succeed in life. How do you prevent this? Even with all the money and education in the world, people will still make bad decisions.
"All of us make bad choices. I don't exercise, even though I know I should. The guy down the street doesn't stop drinking before work, even though he knows he should. Both of us are slightly underperforming our expectations. But where did we get those expectations?"
Being overweight means you are unhealthy and you also probably don't feel that great during the day (I'm a programmer, I've been there). Drinking before work means you will be impaired during your job (and possibly the drive over) and you could also get fired. Your expectations in these situations should come from the adverse effects of continuing this behavior.
"We are responsible for what we do, but it's wrong to pretend that everyone starts on even footing."
will always be poverty, unless we live in a completely controlled society that dictates all of our daily decisions.
We don't all start on the same footing, but we all have a chance to move up from our current one.
I was just picturing walking up to a drunk on the street and saying "the difference between me and you is that you made poor life choices and I made good ones." That would be overlooking so many factors in what made us who we are, right back to the vocabulary we heard around us from the day we were born.
Black ppl can be racist, and many are.
Capitalism without democratic control, combined with modern technology to silence any opposition (like the one employed by US in Iraq) can mean that smart, poor ppl cannot compete with not so smart, rich ppl.