No one is self made. Everyone owes it to breaks from those around them. Get over yourself. Your life isn't the only hard or misunderstood one.
Give more breaks than you get. No one is a stranger or enemy. Treat everyone as your friend and they'll become one. Treat someone like an adversary and they'll become one too.
If you don't take the time to learn someone's story you have no right to an opinion other than wishing them well.
Keeping kindness, goodness, and sharing opportunity is the bedrock of a world I want to live in.
Keeping kindness, goodness, and sharing a growing thing is a world I want to work on. We're dealing with our own stuff, together. Not everyone will get, or do this. I have my choice.
Remember how connected we are. How I treat others is how I truly do end up treating myself or being treated. Things aren't black and white, but the greys can lighten or darken based on me. The drop is in the ocean, and the ocean is in the drop.
Our universal responsibility for and towards each other. When we can see that we are owed nothing and owe our respect and contribution to the world in exchange for becoming better every day, we begin to realize what life is really about.
It's your job to understand yourself first, enough to keep moving, inward, onward and upward. Through your understanding of yourself, you'll be able to connect to others deeply and in a meaningful way. As much as this may terrify some, it will involve learning to use your heart and gut as much as your mind.
Our responsibility for our society, and our society towards us. We get the responsibility we deserve and demand/contribute to in our actions.
And second I wish the author wouldn't try to ram his point about tax down. He's looking back at his life and saying taxes gave me a leg up and ignoring the places where low taxes and regulation did the same (the private school, AOL).
Nobody who is libertarian argues that there should be charity or we shouldn't care for our fellow person (well nearly nobody, I'm sure their are some mean spirited people out there). The point is how efficient we do it.
He's looking down the one path that happened to him but what if instead of having a military when he was young there was just lower taxes and better support for mothers would society be better off? What if instead of Pell grants there was better primary schools? What if we gave Bill Gates more money to try and make the world a better place? What if lower taxes made food cheaper so that he wouldn't have to be fed through the schools lunch program?
I disagree. More often than not when libertarians come around on HN the "it isn't efficient" argument seems more like a proxy for "we shouldn't do this" without sounding heartless.
It's also based on a bit of blind faith that, failing any requirement to help their fellow person, people will do it on their own, at rates high enough that the people who need help will be helped. This bit of blind faith simply doesn't jive with observable reality around the world.
Most of the time I see the argument made "government is inefficient, we should leave social assistance to charities" is made knowing full well that such a scheme will never work, and that the unfortunate/needy will simply be left in the cold. It's intellectually dishonest and a cheap ploy to avoid saying "well, let them die".
The entire stance - or at least, the stance in the way it seems to be most commonly expressed - is fundamentally mean-spirited, made all the more galling by the disingenuous reframing.
Maybe you should look at the stats on charitable giving and come back to this discussion. For a prominent example, Romney gave 4 million to charity last year. Meanwhile, Joe Biden gave less than half of what I did, while making 1/8 of what he did. < 4k if I remember correctly. If you insist I'll look it up but I'm just on mobile.
I know this is anecdotal, but the stats across the board show huge discrepancies. Liberals want to force everyone to be taxed more, conservatives actually give their money to help people.
> Liberals want to force everyone to be taxed more, conservatives actually give their money to help people.
Just going to leave this here
I'd love to see your evidence of liberals giving more to charity. And if you have evidence of them not wanting higher taxes that'd be great news.
I am a liberal-minded person. I don't want taxes any more than I want gas in my car's tank, but neither can be avoided under the present system. I would consider supporting a way to maintain civilization in a fair and equitable way (rough definition of liberal) that doesn't need taxes, should someone propose such a thing.
If you want to use a different definition of liberal and call yourself liberal but actually favor less taxes and less government I guess you can do that, but you would be the one using an ill-defined term.
FWIW, A small bit of stats on conservative vs. liberal giving - http://geekpolitics.com/heres-why-christians-dont-want-gover...
Government programs like welfare and public schools are much more effective at helping the poor than "charity." If you think they're run badly, you must know a lot about the inner workings of these programs, and I suggest applying for a job with the government and fix them up.
This is such a huge straw man it may in fact spontaneously combust.
Your post is so full of mindless rhetoric, blatant exaggeration, and outright falsehood that I feel stupid for having responded to it.
If you would like to have a conversation about very important issues re: taxation, the duty of the individual (or lack thereof), and other such issues that are pertinent in our time, I would be glad to do so as soon as you are willing to talk without sounding like a raging manifesto.
> It's intellectually dishonest and a cheap ploy to avoid saying "well, let them die".
Claiming libertarians are against welfare because they secretly enjoy watching poor people die is intellectually dishonest. If you can't see the irony in this..
If your interpretation were correct, then it would still be wrong. Libertarians don't believe in 'not doing anything' -- which is clearly a disingenuous reframing of the libertarian position. Any one who knew the least bit about libertarianism would know that voluntary charity is absolutely ideal.
The world fights over personal interpretations far more than over politics or religions. It's so much insecurity wrapped in ego obsessed with worshiping doubt so blindly to convert everyone to feed their own self-doubts instead of what might be possible.
Edit: I don't mean to sound like I'm attacking you, just genuinely curious about your first principles.
There's no doubt that this is an issue, but does it justify forcing people to donate? I like donating to entrepreneurs in poor countries to enable them to create a sustainable living. Why should anyone force me to give to a hospital rather than a cause that I see more fit? I just believe that finding voluntary solutions are better than coercive ones. That said, if I had a button to shutdown all welfare services to the poor - I wouldn't use it. That's not my idea of practical.
In this case, they believe that the federal government should be involved in defense and aiding interstate commerce (without abusing the terminology as has been done by Congress), and leave everything else, as the 10th amendment states, up to the state.
So to answer your question, I don't think an ideologically consistent libertarian would support government for any goods or service.
With that said, I think social safety nets are absolutely critical - and that voluntary solutions exist to the problems we face. The threat of force is never a tool in creating sustainable value.
A) Why is "threat of force" an axiom? What's wrong with force? You just don't like to be forced? I don't like having to work for a living. Maybe I can center a philosophy around that. Rather, balance the downsides of force against other values. Except then it's more complicated.
B) Who is the priesthood of deciding what's considered "force"? Who elected them? Extreme libertarians seem to agree that I can use force against a terrorist to get information to diffuse a bomb, because the terrorist used force first. But I really, really don't like it when someone doesn't have insurance and then they need emergency care. Why is choosing not to have insurance, and thereby, with some probability making me miserable not an initiation of force? It's not the same magnitude as a bomb, sure, but why do you get to draw the line between "force" and "not-force" instead of me?
This being the internet, I expect to have convinced no one, but at least you'll know libertarianism is arbitrary even if you won't admit it. And if I sound bitter, it's because libertarianism is specifically a "smart-person disease" and I wish that "smart-people diseases" wouldn't exist.
a) To a libertarian, force is bad for the same reasons rape and slavery is bad. It violates the preference of individuals by means of agression.
With that said, what principle do you hold that says rape or slavery is bad? Do you believe those principles are idealistic or unreasonable? Would you be willing to compromise those principles for 'the greater good' or some other abstract notion?
b) Who decides what's considered force? Typically the individuals involved. How do you decide if you're being raped? Do you call your congressman and ask if forceful sex is legal? If rape were legal, would rape cease to exist? If rape were socially acceptable, would it still be rape? Most libertarians would say yes because the ethics of action is not relative to legality.
If someone chose not to have insurance, they don't have the right to force you to pay their bill. You can just let them die. Like we're letting people of other poor countries die this second.
Now, I won't pretend that I have a formula for deducing whether an action is agressive -- but that doesn't make it less real. So why do you see libertarianism as a disease? Do you have a more consistent philosophy? Is there a specific idea that libertarians hold that is offensive?
The problem is that even if all the stakeholders agree to a given sociopolitical system that agreement lasts for only one generation. The second and future generations consist of people who didn't explicitly sign up for your system, and there are only three options for them. If they have both somewhere to go to and the resources to get there, they can leave, but neither of those are necessarily under your group's control and thus that may not be a viable option. They can stay and submit to The Way You Do Things, which they may not fully agree with no matter how perfect you think that way happens to be. Or they can stay and try to change The Way You Do Things, which is not likely to be successful if The Way You Do Things works well enough for most people.
So the second option is by far the most likely -- and it's not an option those people ever explicitly agreed to. This is the situation most libertarians (and Marxists) face today, but this is not a situation that gets fixed by discarding the concept of the state. Either being born into a society that has rules you didn't explicitly agree to and that only gives you a "take it or leave it," non-negotiable implicit contract for citizenship is coercive, or it isn't.
I happen to think people are more generous when they are free to be successful and they aren't bled to death.
Even with the high taxes in the US, I read that charitable contributions are up around $300 billion.
And private charity has some incentives that are absent in government charity. People are actually more careful with their own money. And when the results are obviously bad, they change what they are doing.
The federal government has let many bad things happen for decades before addressing them. The disastrous public housing projects. Welfare that destroys the work ethic. It eventually changed course on these things, but not without much political wrangling. A private donor would move to change it after seeing the evidence.
Worse still is the total lack of gratitude and sense of entitlement that many recipients of public money seem to have. I feel most people when receiving a gift from a private donor would say please and thank you. And if the private donor could not continue to give for some reason, they'd say thank you just the same, not harass them.
At the core of it is that your entire position is based around supposition - notice the generous use of "I feel that... would...", "I happen to think", and pointing out a lot of theories - that people would spend private charity differently than government charity, that welfare destroys the work ethic, that public housing would not have been implemented if the money was in private charitable hands, that people who receive public money are ingrates, etc.
Where is the empiricism that we hackers pride ourselves in? Your entire position is based on your personal behavioral model of how people think, that isn't verified against copious observations from around the world. This is, I think, a long-winded way of saying "citation desperately needed" and drawing big bold underlines beneath it.
Have you actually talked to a substantial number of welfare recipients to know that they generally do feel a "total lack of gratitude and sense of entitlement"? Or, pardon the bluntness, is that entirely a personal assumption?
The problem is thus precisely as you described it: this is an area endemically (and perhaps fundamentally) lacking empiricism, and arguably one where you can't practically have empiricism. I don't think it's a stretch to argue that most policy positions are supported on blind faith, emotion, and pseudo-science.
A good example of this, to hopefully gain some common ground with you and move away from an emotionally charged discussion on welfare, is patents. There is really absolutely no proof that patents "encourage innovation". It's not even clear how to measure that. There may be tons of studies done, but they are useless as we have no baseline to compare to. We don't know what's not being invented because of patents. Had patents come about naturally as common agreements between corporations, then it really wouldn't be my business to opine, but since instead it is a government policy, supported through my own tax dollars, courts, and "implict agreement" to not break said patents under penalty of law, it is very much justified that I should demand they go away without myself needing to prove much of anything -- on the contrary it is those wishing to continue the patent system that need to offer proofs.
Those advocating the use of force to solve a problem, on the other hand, completely own the results. Just as I would if I decided to force my neighbor to do something if were given the authority to do as I saw fit.
I say "I feel" or "I think" to qualify what my guesses about what people will do because I don't arrogantly assume that I know better than they do how to run their own lives or allocate their scarce resources.
Most people do a fine job without me forcing my views upon them. And would do even better without massive funds being diverted to people that clearly mismanagement many, many things.
The federal government subsidizes Chicago's public schools to the tune of $1 billion. You think private charity would be so generous to a district that's 90% black or Hispanic? You're out of your mind if you do. Whites fought, violently, for 100 years, to keep blacks from integrating into society. When the courts desegregated the cities, whites fled to the suburbs to avoid having to integrate, leaving the urban decay that is a major target of welfare today.
The history of race in this country is an unavoidable prong of the welfare debate, and it really undermines high-minded notions of how great a system of charity could be.
There are also "white people" that have ended slavery (something done by every race since the beginning of time), fought for other races giving them full rights, helped integrate those races into their society, made programs that removed barriers to schools and jobs while discriminating against their own kind, and funded integration to the tune of 100s of billions dollars a year (and now a trillion dollars / year).
…Something that no other race has done in the history of the world.
> whites fled to the suburbs to avoid having to integrate
No, that's only part of it, the human part (that likes unity of race, culture and behavior). They also fled because they were scared that crime and violence would follow.
Your blame of the dysfunctions of the black community is seriously misplaced. White people are not responsible for the care of black people anymore than I'm responsible for you having a life. Until you figure this out and stop the blame game, that dysfunction will likely continue.
The marginalization of blacks in the U.S. is not some academic issue that happened in the long-forgotten past and involved long-forgotten people. At the time my grandfather was starting his medical practice, which would sew the seeds for the prosperity of his family in my own time, blacks in the United States were systematically oppressed, prevented from participating in society or getting an education. This all happened in essentially modern times. George Wallace made his stand to resist integration 16 years after the transistor was invented at Bell Labs, and 5 years after the first integrated circuit was demonstrated at Texas Instruments. It was not that long ago even on the technological time scale, and a blink of an eye on the sociological time scale.
The idea that white people come from old money that gets passed down from generation to generation is not based in reality. Many whites came here from the peasant class, and stayed this way for centuries. And most still are in this class one way or another.
> We have inherited their sins as well.
Sure, if you ignore every single positive thing white people have done; and if you assume that white people have some type of an agenda to actively discriminate against non-whites (at a greater degree than non-whites do against whites).
But what it really seems like you are saying is that white people in America should feel ashamed and guilty for being white.
That's a personal choice you made for yourself. Don't make it for me.
No, that's not what he's saying, at all. Nowhere has "old money" or "guilt" entered the equation and that you are feeling very defensive does not give you license to put words into his mouth. rayiner (who I often disagree with, but I have to applaud him for this) is saying that people with privilege have responsibilities as well as benefits. You have, and I'm going to use a technical term, a metric fuckton of privilege being born white and male in the United States.
He is saying that you have a responsibility to society to be better with it than to say "fuck you, I've got mine."
As a citizen of the USA I agree that I have a responsibility to my country and society. I just don't agree that you get to decide for me what that responsibility is.
> You have, and I'm going to use a technical term, a metric fuckton of privilege being born white and male in the United States.
Please, be specific about my situation and what you have decided my skin color owes, just don't use nebulous politically-correct terms such as white-privlege ... unless you are trying to end the conversation.
Society does. That's why it's there. You don't define the social contract. That mindset is what leads to "fuck you, I've got mine."
> Please, be specific about my situation and what you have decided my skin color owes, just don't use nebulous politically-correct terms such as white-privlege ... unless you are trying to end the conversation.
You're joking, right? "White privilege" isn't a term of political correctness. It's a sociological construct that's used to frame and discuss relative advantage given majority or otherwise preferential traits (such as, in the United States, being any or all of white, male, heterosexual, and Christian).
Using the common constructs of the topic isn't "ending the conversation", it's being specific. I'm not going to fall prey to the commonly-used tactic of enumerating exactly why privilege is what it is so that you can attempt to bury the overall point beneath the details on which you think you can nullify the entire academically settled topic. You are welcome to educate yourself on the topic if you so choose.
You won't, but you are welcome to.
Of course, it is fictional. And if they can get you to submit to the fiction, they are only too happy to tell you how it obligates you to serve their pet projects.
I can't upvote this enough, and this in particular reminds me of a Salon article from not that long ago. The rhetoric is a bit much, but the core thrust of the article is sound.
But of the roughly half of the country that wanted to end slavery, about 0.0001% of them actually thought both races were equal. The notion was considered absurd.
Even the "good" ones that thought that possibly, in theory, there could be equality, that was ruined by a century of forced ignorance and illiteracy.
His bigger point -- that there are things a Gov't must do because private charity never could/would, is pretty hard to refute I'd say.
> White people are not responsible for the care of black people anymore than I'm responsible for you having a life.
Read about most of the Black Laws in the northern states. In many states it was ILLEGAL for blacks to move into the state and take up residence -- born free, former slaves, doesn't matter.
A black man couldn't serve on a jury. Worse: A black man couldn't appear as a witness against a white man in open court. So white men could bring any crime they chose against a black man so long as there were no white witnesses.
White people were 100% responsible for the ghetto-fication of the black community because that was the only place black people felt safe.
All sorts of immigrant communities -- even catholics who were largely despised in the antebellum period (gradually getting better after) -- were able to fully integrate themselves into the American fabric and prosper. But not African immigrants. Why do you suppose that is?
You act like slavery was the injustice and, hey, white people freed the slaves. No way dude. It goes far, far past that.
Emancipation was only supported by a majority when the case was made that slaves were being used to build fortification and power the Rebel war machine. Among the majority of Unionists that supported emancipation, most considered it a tactic. Some a strategy. Very few an objective.
We -- caucasians -- built a layer cake of misfortune and discrimination. The fact that it's been 150 years since emancipation is meaningless. We absolutely have a responsibility to right this wrong and it is taking a long, long time.
And no, this doesn't apply to EVERY person of color. Many have achieved great upward mobility. Yes, we have a black President. To them, the idea that we need to provide charity to them is maybe insulting, perhaps indicating that we believe they've been prosperous only because of that charity.
But that doesn't change the burden to continue unwinding the twisted wrong of generations of discrimination.
So you mean it's precisely that.
However, I can speak from first-hand knowledge about poor white people from Appalachia (unfortunately). There's substantial federal subsidy there as well, and a lot of it serves to "enable" dysfunction, rather than fix it.
I'd be fine with much smaller flows of money going in if they were tied to demands to actually fix the underlying issues. Building useful (physical or human) infrastructure, fine. Subsidizing loss-making operations temporarily, fine. Removing any pressures to improve, not fine. Which is essentially the same problem with government and NGO charity in places I've seen (Middle East/Central Asia/North Africa), vs. "private" (generally, faith-based, or returning diaspora, but hyper-focused issue based like Gates too) charity.
Absolutely. This is the just world fallacy:
Is this sarcasm or do you truly believe this? I hope not but if so, perhaps you should read this, where the particular criticism I'm concerned with is the irresponsibly zealous research funding on a malaria cure with the consequence of alienating other important fields of research that are just as important. Ironically enough this is exactly the sort of thing government funding is so notorious of, namely, ignorance or ulterior motives that lead to a less efficient budget that could have been employed is so much better ways.
However, that is only one wealthy man, not enough data for a solid argument, but even on a purely rational basis, I would very much, rather the money was in a place where the general population had, at least in theory, some say on where it is to be spent. To me it seems that by going from public to private funding one is exchanging inefficiencies. The inevitable economic inefficiencies of bureaucracy for new inefficiencies in the way the money is allocated from the perspective of what benefits the citizens of the nation.
I completely disagree with you. I don't want the general population to have a say where Bill Gates' money goes. I want money to be in the hands of thousands of different-thinking individuals who can try to find an opportunity that the rest of us don't know about.
Furthermore, millions of others avail themselves of the same benefits without anything close to this result. He seems to imply that without the help of "the taxpayers" he would never have made it, but honestly both he and his mother sound like the sorts of people who would have "found a way"
Correlation != causation.
People fundamentally underestimate the complexity of the world and due to a variety of psychological factors grossly over attribute successful outcomes to personal attributes.
Give some more of your hard work bullshit to people without legs.
Oh yeah, you don't, because your ability to see complexity only extends to the edge of your own ego.
Exactly! I pay a lot of taxes too and do not mind. How could I be stingy on welfare, public healthcare, education, etc, anything that can help others.
(no sarcasm, I mean it)
I find it deeply ironic that David Koch lives in Manhattan, with its high state and city taxes, as well as extensive welfare spending. It's almost as if paying taxes buys you access to civilization, which makes living in a place desirable.
A grossly generalised point of view:
* Low class group don't pay taxes
* Middle class group do pay taxes
* High class group might not pay taxes
The middle class group usually bear the burden of the development of the country. The taxes that does reach the government is cut by a large extent by high income corrupt politicians, who obviously, don't pay taxes.
Bottom line, the ROI for a middle class person in India to pay taxes is not high as you thought it would be. Hopefully, this changes.
I do not think the fact that rich people cluster in cities commends high rates of taxation in cities when so many citizens of them suffer poorer housing, worse schools, worse crime and general higher cost of living in addition to not having the benefits of living in a more spacious, green area.
1. Citizens perceive waste and thus push for lower taxes, yet there is no guarantee the "wasteful" programs are reduced, and thus often it is the important programs that are hurt.
2. Lack of funding in important programs is used to convince citizens that higher taxes are needed, but there is often no guarantee that the higher taxes will be used for those programs.
Notice, for example, that there are certain "blessed" government programs that there seems to always be money for. Yet it is always the roads or education that will suffer catastrophically if taxes aren't increased.
We needn't labor the point of why other people don't find it evil - that's irrelevant to this discussion. The important part of my argument is that, short of going to jail, there's no option for me not to subsidize something I find morally reprehensible.
Failing to let individuals make that sort of decision dehumanizes them. I'm sick to my stomach every time I think of it.
That's something you choose to believe. You could just as easily choose to believe that your money goes to support all the programs you favor and the money that goes to those things you hate comes from people who support those programs. Money is fungible and government is not alacarte so you have to realize every program that exists has supporters who pay taxes and want those things to exist and they feed from a common pool.
It's just silly to torture yourself over the idea that some of your money goes to a program you don't support. If it were actually possible to track every dollar you gave, you'd find it's not evenly distributed across every government program, so you may as well believe you're paying for the programs you do support because it's just as true. I support abortion, you may as well consider that my money that's paying for that.
Unlike your ancient ancestors, you are free to emigrate to a country that is more in line with your values.
I find suburban zoning laws to be morally reprehensible. They create isolating, ugly, and car-dependent wastelands. If you go really deep, you could even say members of our military have died defending this way of life. Even though I live in NYC, I'm sure that some of my tax dollars end up enforcing those laws. Would not paying my taxes change any of this? No. This is not an with taxes, it's an issue with the law.
I did not want to make this too political, but of course I object to the parts that I perceive as waste such as:
Financing two useless and expensive wars, bailing out banks that should have been allowed to fail, the "war" on drugs and other questionable law enforcement initiatives, much of the NSA and CIA spending, etc, etc.
But Californians really enjoy paying taxes so they keep on going up. Maybe if we put enough money into the broken system some good will eventually come out of it.
If the United States had taxes as high as Denmark, then Elon Musk wouldn't have had the money left over from Paypal to start Space X. When you watch the rockets fly to Mars, thank whatever god you believe in for low American taxes.
I appreciate the sentiment behind some of these comments, but fuck all these straw men and apologists maintaining a smoke screen for poorly run institutions (cough Sacramento cough). And no, I'm not evil, selfish, greedy, or ignorant if I want lower taxes. I am making a rational judgment based on what I believe will make the best society to live in.
If the United States had taxes as high as Denmark, there
would be no Elon Musk.
And that's only one entrepreneur's story. That same scenario is repeated thousands of times around the country. Taxes are sand in the gears of an entrepreneurial economy.
Scalzi is right to consider how he arrived at his current position. However, the tacit assumption that everyone in his position enjoyed the advantages he did is false and pernicious. Many people work much harder and sacrifice much more than the story portrays. I don't begrudge Scalzi in the slightest. My concern is that people will think his experience is typical.
Hard work is a big part of it, luck is a big part of it, and being in the right place at the right time is a big part of it. People that work smart, hard, and efficiently are not common but those that do, or at least occasionally approximate it, generally do well over the long term no matter how their "luck" plays out.
As a corollary I think it also speaks to the importance of keeping moving, be it inward, onward, and upward in life.
Where would you be if you were born in Somalia to average Somali parents? How much hard work would it take to bring your average per-capita income of what, two hundred bucks a year up to something we Americans would call success? I'm not saying it couldn't be done, just god damn, you'd have to be an incredible human to pull it off.
I mean, the majority of the humans in the world live in places where our average yearly per-capita of forty-eight grand or so a year would be a staggeringly large income; I think your average per-capita worldwide is well under ten grand a year. Just being born in the wealthy parts of the world means you are very lucky, and that you've cleared an enormous hurdle.
Race and gender. And height. I mean, sure, here in America, Women do make it sometimes. In my field, at least, they are at an obvious disadvantage, but it's something they can overcome if they are smart, lucky and hard working. But if she was born in Iran? Overcoming that birth handicap would be incredibly difficult. I'm not going to say impossible, but you'd need to be truly incredible, one out of a million, to get as far as I have as a mediocre, maybe one in fifty, if that, white guy born in the US to poor-ish but educated parents.
And what if you are born stupid? That's luck, too. I mean, sure, it's a mixture of genetic and environmental factors, but hell, you don't have much control over the environmental factors until you are mostly grown, so either way (environment or genetics) a lot has to do with the luck of choosing the correct parents (either as genetic materiel donors, or as keepers of your environment.)
Sure, there are some things you can do after 18 to move the needle in either direction, I'm sure, but man, you are really behind the kid who got lucky.
As a good friend (who is vastly more intelligent than I am, but maybe 6 inches shorter) said:
Me: "I don't believe in luck."
Him: "that's because you are lucky."
And yes, most of the luck was me having the good sense to choose sensible parents. (And vs. this guy, I mostly got lucky in terms of height... I think I could argue that my ability to project confidence was at least partially learned through my own hard work. Part of it was the luck of the parents; my dad did encourage entrepreneurship; I had real sales experience at the age of 12 (low dollar; we grew pumpkins, and I walked them around the mobile home park in a wheelbarrow, knocking on doors "twenty five cents for the little ones, seventy five for the big ones." (I mean, obviously, at 12, he did a lot of the work.) I can claim some credit for expanding on that, but from what I know of his early family life, I got lucky in that area, too, and he got particularly unlucky.)
Confidence is obviously bullshit, but it has a huge impact on your income. But this guy, for that matter, was pretty lucky, too. I mean, the poor bastard had to work for me for a while, which I'm sure is miserable, but a real employer did eventually notice him and he makes reasonable money now. He's lucky for being born here in America, where he can make a decent living because, well, he's brilliant, rather than some desert or jungle where he'd have died an early death for being easy to beat up. I mean, he could have done a lot to generate some fake confidence. It'd probably improve his life a lot. I'm just saying, because of the extra six inches the genetic lottery gave me and not him? I don't have to try nearly as hard, in spite of the fact that he is better qualified, by virtue of his superior intellect, for nearly every job I've had or applied for.)
Now, if you are saying that it is better for a person who is easily discouraged to believe that there is no luck? sure, you are absolutely right. You can't change luck. I mean, it's a little bit like AI, once you figure out how to change something, it's no longer luck. So yes, if your brain, for whatever reason, can't handle the fact that most of your potential was set before you reached the age of majority, yeah, you're better off fooling yourself. Because focusing on the bits that were luck is useless. You've gotta focus on the hard work part, 'cause that's what you can change now.
(Recognizing what you have the potential to be good at is useful... but it's also really hard to do, and it's easy to make expensive mistakes. Figuring out how to work as hard as you are able, though? nearly always pays some dividends. So sure, until you figure out how to work as hard as you are able, that should be your focus.)
 Yes, I actually say things like that. Part of the practice for that confidence thing. You know, pretending to be white, and all that. It's kinda ridiculous, sure, but eh, you can pay me to look a little bit silly.
The thing is, you need a certain, I don't know the Chinese for it, but the translation is "Good face" to do well. There is this whole set of social rules you need to follow- this whole set of, well, this identity you need to assume to do business... or really, even to get someone else to hire you to write code. I call assuming the required mask in technical/business situations "pretending to be white" - because the most accessible and understandable 'good face,' for me, at least, is the "Real American" face. It's seeped into the rest of my life by now, too, which I find hilarious. I'm not the sort who can switch masks on the drop of a hat. It takes years, for me... So this bleed over into the rest of my life feels honest, authentic. I really am, in a small way, becoming a "Real American." I genuinely enjoy Johnny Cash now, though the country they play on the radio, well, that can still only be enjoyed ironically.
"I often hear many people(mostly teens) claiming that they are independent and they can live life as they wish. They say they don't care about society. They wrongly perceive society as something evil that is stopping them to live the life they want. They forget that in society we are neither independent or dependent, but interdependent. It is next to impossible to live completely independently."
At some point, the public bureaucracy needs to stop draining the blood out of the private economy and learn to do more with less. Or, in the case of US schools, do more with more.
As your own numbers show, European governments have succeeded in organising education much more efficiently than your government. This is a counterexample to your general assertion.
If we want to emulate Europe, and in some ways we do, we should reduce the size of our schools (e.g. France), end a lot of our special programs for challenged children and replace them with a high level of personal attention with the goal of integrating the child (Finland), and develop integration programs and job tracks for immigrants and tightly enforce participation (Germany.)
One of the boldest and most European proposals is to eliminate much of the Department of Education, which does not successfully regulate curricula and implements one expensive program after another without progress. European countries have ministries and departments to oversee education, but since the countries are smaller, the departments are closer to the size of some of our state programs. Eliminating or reducing the DoE to one or two small, specialized, service- and research-oriented departments might possibly reduce expenses while increasing the quality of education in the country at the same time.
In short, I think you will want to support fewer education layers, programs and departments, and smaller schools and budgets, if you want public education in the United States to be more European.
Edit: I would like to add that private schools are very diverse and their students accomplish many remarkable things. In addition to meeting needs that standardized schools cannot, and being run better as small, atomic organizations usually are, private schools and universities drive innovation in education and are the places today from which tomorrow's public best practices will be derived. In most European countries, there are many private schools, so that is another thing you will want to emulate in the European model.
This is sadly an incredibly common conflation.
My parents have a vaguely similar view. My dad lived for a few years when he was a kid from social-security disability payments that his father received; and he went to college on a CalGrants scholarship, which at the time covered you almost fully if you had good high-school grades and were attending in-state. He would've been in quite difficult circumstances if those programs didn't exist, and would've had to hope for charity, which tends to be much less reliable and less uniformly available (e.g. churches tend to help their own members first) . So now that he's an upper-middle-class engineer, he doesn't have a problem paying taxes that support those kinds of things.
 This is actually an argument F.A. Hayek makes for why there should be a minimal state safety net, even though most of Hayek's writing is anti-socialist and pro-free-market. He argues that, otherwise, people have to rely on more cliquish safety nets (extended-family clans, churches, etc.), which produces a tribalist rather than individualist society. So, perhaps counterintuitively, a little bit of collectivism at the top level (safety net for everyone) produces more individualism throughout society (people don't feel the need to cling to these tribalist groups for safety). He supported taxation to pay for education for similar reasons, though he argued for provision of the education to be market-based (via school vouchers).
On the point of luck, yes there is a whole lot of lucky circumstance which you have no control over that puts in you in a lucky position. But I believe you pass a point in your life where it goes from being purely lucky to being just plain prepared. If Scalzi didn't work at his craft or his networking, the opportunities that availed themselves to him probably would not have happened.
I think a lot about where I am and where I'm going. There's lots of things I do now that don't have immediate payoff. Rather, I think of everything as just training for something else down the road. So I try to get good (or at least passably decent) at a breadth of things and specialize in a few. Hopefully then when luck swings my way I'm prepared to go after that small window of opportunity with full force.
I'm also a big fan of paying it forward, like Scalzi. Not everything is money---often it's just time. Giving someone honest feedback, lending them a hand, or supporting their efforts is all good karma. When you help others in a way you help yourself: growing your community of interest, raising the overall standard of living, moving groups of people forward.
Man has progressed to the point of rivalry with God. Man talks to God and brags about his accomplishments. God agrees that Man has accomplished a lot.
God reminds Man that God made him from dirt. Man says "Oh, we mastered that long ago." God says he'd like to see that.
Man smiles, and reaches down for a handful of dirt.
God says "Ah, no, you go get your own dirt."
There was one who was outstanding. He got laid off in a budget cutback because he was junior. Everyone agreed it was a shame, but no one did anything about it. That's what taught me what those people were about.
I've been helped by a great many people. Public school teachers aren't in my particular set.
First off the man deserved all the success he achieved but seriously, he had a solid education, high self-esteem, he was summarily effectual, he showed up to work and was industrious. (80% of success is just showing up- Woody Allen)
If higher taxes assisted him then why is the United States faltering and our educational system becoming such a joke? I mean to say are we not paying enough taxes? If so how high should they be?
I pay federal income tax, SSI taxes, state tax, sales taxes, property tax, garbage fees, gas taxes, utility taxes, I pay car registration fees, and probably a bunch of fees I am missing.
My fed tax rate is 21.7%, my California tax rate is 9.55%, sales sax 8.75% I believe, but with all of the above I easy pay 40% of my income.
Keep in mind that in the US, much school funding comes from property taxes, and is highly tied to the specific location of the school. Thus, affluent areas "magically" have better schools, and poorer areas have worse schools.
If she had not been so active in putting him in the right places at the beginning, his life would have been vastly different.
But I can't place where he advocates higher taxes or the misuse of tax money.
The key takeaways, at least for me, were:
Your parents play a huge part in establishing a primary path through life for you. His mother worked hard and did what was necessary to give him a chance to concentrate on learning, to appreciate books, and to give him opportunities to grow and explore his world.
Your integrity, earned respect, and power of networks and relationships can't be emphasized enough. At almost every critical junction in his life, it was a personal relationship or the recommendation of people who had respect for his abilities and skills that opened a door and led to better opportunities. That says a lot, not just about the impression he's made on others (purposely or not), but on the confidence his friends, peers, and acquaintances had in him. That was no easy feat, tho some people can do it without effort. It is interesting that he remembers so many names, all the way back to teachers in elementary school. I may not have the best criteria for "great people" but to me, someone who makes the effort to remember key people in their lives for decades is in turn worth remembering.
Grab opportunities. Put in the work. I know this should be a given, but I know it can still be daunting. He took jobs he had no experience in and he moved to better opportunities as he saw fit. Passion can manifest in a kind of restlessness, and properly tapped, can mean the difference between mediocrity and absolute fulfillment.
Lastly, the most important part I think is the acknowledgment that you don't get to be where you are alone. Yes, one has to have that rare combination of drive, talent, intelligence, charisma, and everything else that makes up a certain formula for success, but "luck" can also be the result of stirring the pot just right. Being at the right place at the right time can also be attributed to having enough people recognize all the memorable and remarkable qualities one has that will make them remember to recommend you for a position or even just to point you out as an authority on a particular subject. The people around you are just as important to success.
Admittedly, it often comes down to hard work and preparation in the daily struggle, but that day where you needed to guess a few test answers and got them right, or you posted a job offer to a company you didn't think would notice you and happened to catch a random recruiters eye, or you happened to perform well on the exact day your boss wanted to promote somebody to an empty senior position they wanted filling.
Life is a series of hard work, intermingled with sprinkles of luck, sometimes good, sometimes bad.
True, having the IQ at a young age to go to a private school on a scholarship is fortunate and not the kind of advantage most people have, but I'm sure it still wasn't easy at some points, the author simply had the ability of self preservation to survive their trials.
Anyone who has the test scores to get into the University of Chicago is very likely in the top 1-2% of IQ's. It's hard to say that everything doesn't ultimately stem from that initial stroke of luck.
Just after the end of the 90's boom, I was taking care of the storage of my [insert name of any large luxury item] and on the other side of the counter was a guy about my age and disposition who said, "hey what do you do for a living?" I gave him a minimal description and he soon responded with "Wow that's nice, my (tech-related) business went bust and now I work here behind the counter and live upstairs, trying to get back on my feet."
There wasn't the remotest possibility that there was a thousand-fold gap between us in any entrepreneurially-related skill category yet Lady Luck had placed us on opposite side of the service counter that day.
Always be humble. Life is not wholly deterministic.
But these people don't view the cranky old miser in It's a Wonderful Life as a glorious capitalist hero, or George as a socialist. I know these people agree with giving to those they know in need, but when it's broader assistance, like through government, and those being helped aren't friends, they lose interest.
We need to get The Right to have empathy for strangers.
> I think, sometimes, like, arguing with libertarians can be really frustrating because, I think, it can be, um..., I think it can be intellectually lazy. And I think it can be convenient, and, in the same way that, um, you know when everything is going right it's easy to attribute it to your own success and when things are going wrong, it's because you got fucked or because you were unlucky etc., like, I think sometimes, like, the libertarian point of view can be, um..., can be rooted in a limited set of circumstances where you give yourself a little more credit than, um.., than you want, or than you are due, probably.
I recommend watching the entire Chris Sacca Pando Monthly Fireside chat.
It is extremely awesome.
Just a teaser of what you'll see: $12 million is gained and lost, bankruptcy makes an appearance, the dot com crash crushes everybody, the rise of Google, playing with $4 billion in cash at FCC poker, running a billion dollar hedge fund, being a ski bum whilst simultaneously graduating near the top of his class at law school, then going on to live in poverty and working his ass off just to stay in the game and getting really, really, really fucking lucky :)
Yes, that awesome.
Entire talk here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iqUG2_cmZ6I
Both the above article, and Chris Sacca are actually referring the the just world fallacy, a derivative of the fundamental attirbution effect, which in combination with cognitive dissonance, allows people to do the following:
> As a simple example, consider a situation where a driver, Alice, is about to pass through an intersection. Her light turns green, and so she begins moving forward when an ambulance blows through the red-light with sirens blaring and lights flashing, and cuts her off. Despite knowing that there is a good reason for the driver's behaviour, she is likely to form a negative opinion of the driver, e.g. "what an inconsiderate driver!".
You will not believe how many things in life are, ironically enough, a derivative of the fundamental attribution error (e.g. republicans/conservatives/religion/start-up conferences - so many others).
And another video on what entrepreneurship feels like: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t3NC_w9AOSA
A lot of people here are bitter because they failed or because they know that they'll eventually fail. This place is a hive of socialists who do not have what it takes for to create future wealth.
It's very ironic to see them using hardware and software made by Intel / Google / Apple / etc. to spread their poisonous words.
Don't forget what made your country great (I'm not american and I'm not in the U.S.) and which kind of men you owe the technological world you live into (including, but not limited to, computers, space rockets, medecine).
And please: stop to try to create things and stop being negative with those who do. Go find a job as a state servant and, please, leave enough oxygen to those trying hard to create future wealth.