You Got Lucky: A Hard Truth of Economics

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There's a fairly disturbing number of people on this forum who seem to think that because they are making a lot of money, they made it all on their own, and that furthermore, anyone else could just do what they did. This is a social attitude which is incorrect, and which has to end. It contributes greatly to this flawed idea of the poor, in particular those who need government assistance, as "lazy", which in turn leads to people complaining excessively about taxes, and people wishing for flat tax.

So here's a little bit of hard truth for so-called "self-made-men" like Vega, Gorfias, and HarryScull.

You got lucky.

This isn't even calling the idea that you worked your way up from the bottom on your own in question (although that statement is, generally speaking, true in 0% of actual cases). It's simply pointing out that even if you did pull yourself up by your bootstraps, there was a hell of a lot of stuff that was out of your control that helped get you there.

This luck applies to the starting hand: born to poor parents, or abusive parents, or orphaned early on in life, or sent to a failure of a school, or stuck with debt? You're already off to a horrible start, with drastically lower chances of making anything of yourself in life. In some cases, where/how you are born and where you grow up can make it quite literally impossible to live a good, fulfilling life.
However, that's not all. It also applies later in life - you have a skillset that the market wants? Great, you may very well have a job. Have an alternative skillset which is in high supply or low demand? Better hope that you have both the time and money to get more education for a more in-demand profession, or you may be stuck working menial labor for the rest of your life. Managed to impress the boss more than the other guy and get the promotion? Yeah, that may have been your own doing, but a large part of it was also completely out of your hands, seeing as the boss also has personal preferences and aspirations. Manage to work an office job for 20 years? You got really lucky, given the number of companies that fold, or have department-wide layoffs, or or or or...

Behind every self-made man is a series of events that may or may not have had a significant impact on their life. Some of them are inside of your (hypothetical you, that is) control; the majority are not. Someone who did just what you did might not have gotten that job you did, or might not have been able to get that financing you got, or avoid chronic illness like you did, or... See what I'm talking about? You got lucky. Did your own actions play into it at all? Of course they did! There's no doubt about that! But the takeaway from this is not "you can't improve yourself". Never was supposed to be. The takeaway from this is simply that just because someone is in the dirt, doesn't mean that they're lazy. It's that the correlation between hard work and success, while present, is neither exceedingly strong nor universal[1]. You can't just say, "Well, I pulled myself up by my bootstraps, so so can everyone else!" Hell, that's even ignoring that you didn't, and that you were helped all along the way by family, friends, and yes, even the government.

Yeah, it hurts to be informed that you got to where you are largely through luck. But you know what? Denying it simply because it's an uncomfortable truth is a bad idea. It leads to all kinds of real drastic mistakes in reasoning, from the assertion "It worked for me, it'll work for them" and associate trains of thought all the way through to objectivism - "I got mine, why can't those lazy bums get theirs and leave well enough alone?" And reasoning like that doesn't hurt you, but it hurts us. It hurts our society as a whole. And it has got to stop.

[1] Paris Hilton is proof enough of that.

I wouldn't say it's just luck, a lot of hard work has been done to get me where I am.

Just not so much by me.

I've grown up in a stable society with a good healthcare and education system. We have decent public transport, the law is applied fairly well and so on. Any number of people working towards the benefit of my nation have allowed me all the advantages I take for granted.

Because I'm lucky enough to have all that, I don't have to be nearly as lucky in other matters to succeed,

Your whole post can be summed up as "nothing is ever my fault and all of my failures are almost only to blame on the society I am in. Also, there is not really such a thing is talented people, just lucky people".

Why is it so hard to accept that some people just suck balls and can't get anywhere in life and that there are other people who are simply better then them?

Hardcore_gamer:
Your whole post can be summed up as "nothing is ever my fault and all of my failures are almost only to blame on the society I am in. Also, there is not really such a thing is talented people, just lucky people".

That's a false dilemma.

It's not a choice between 'where you stand is where you sit' apathy, or the extremist view that people should be abandoned to their fate and the free market magically takes care of everyone.

It's a little bit like the 'flying aces' from WW2. There where people who flew loads of missions and took down loads of enemy planes, and they where heralded as 'aces'. A few decades later some mathematicians did the numbers and found that the number of these aces (ie. the number of pilots to have a certain amount of successful missions) was the same as you would expect to get through chance. They where just lucky. (source; QI)

Similarly, several studies into people who play the stock market has shown that some 'experts' are actually worse than chance. (source; Quikology, a popular-science book by Richard Wiseman)

Hardcore_gamer:
Your whole post can be summed up as "nothing is ever my fault and all of my failures are almost only to blame on the society I am in. Also, there is not really such a thing is talented people, just lucky people".

...Nooo, but that does happen to be the go-to strawman whenever this argument comes up. Thank you! Now that we've gotten that out of the way, please reread the damn post, pointing out why this interpretation is incredibly wrong, and don't make me explain to you why this is bullshit.

Why is it so hard to accept that some people just suck balls and can't get anywhere in life and that there are other people who are simply better then them?

Because this isn't what I'm saying, and if that was the takeaway from my post, then you suck at reading comprehension.

Hardcore_gamer:
Your whole post can be summed up as "nothing is ever my fault and all of my failures are almost only to blame on the society I am in. Also, there is not really such a thing is talented people, just lucky people".

Huh?Stagnant clearly said that your own efforts DO matter.

Karthak:

Hardcore_gamer:
Your whole post can be summed up as "nothing is ever my fault and all of my failures are almost only to blame on the society I am in. Also, there is not really such a thing is talented people, just lucky people".

Huh?Stagnant clearly said that your own efforts DO matter.

You're letting facts get in the way of dismissing Stagnant as a dirty libral socialist.

I'm open to discussing the truth behind my assumptions and conclusions. I'm not 100% convinced that my logic is right. But I won't be bowing down to pathetic and insulting straw men. Does anyone have an actual argument against this?

thaluikhain:
I wouldn't say it's just luck, a lot of hard work has been done to get me where I am.

Just not so much by me.

I've grown up in a stable society with a good healthcare and education system. We have decent public transport, the law is applied fairly well and so on. Any number of people working towards the benefit of my nation have allowed me all the advantages I take for granted.

Because I'm lucky enough to have all that, I don't have to be nearly as lucky in other matters to succeed,

Bingo. This guy nailed it. When I say "luck", I'm simply implying factors outside of one's own control.

There needn't be any link between considering people lazy or unlucky and what attitude is taken towards taxation. The mere fact that some people have ended up in poor straits through no fault of their own doesn't necessarily create any obligation for people who got lucky to help them.

And since that's usually the actual sentiment at play, with the whole "lazy" thing just being sugar coating of it (be it for the benefit of others or the arguer himself), particularly for those who seek to logically reconcile it with the Christian "love thy neighbour" dogma.

In the end, whether they're "unlucky" or "lazy" only have relevance if you answer the more basic question of whether there's an ethical obligation for the resourceful to help unlucky people in the affirmative. If people don't subscribe to that axiom, then the question is simply irrelevant.

Imperator_DK:

In the end, whether they're "unlucky" or "lazy" only have relevance if you answer the more basic question of whether there's an ethical obligation for the resourceful to help unlucky people in the affirmative. If people don't subscribe to that axiom, then the question is simply irrelevant.

If anything, the French revolution taught me that whether or not there's an ethical obligation for that, there sure seems to be a practical implication that would make such an axiom more desirable than the alternative. When the lower classes get fed up with the shit they get from the upper ones, they start tossing that shit at the hyperdrive.

I mean sure, one could gamble that the shit won't hit the hyperdrive for a generation or two more, so why should I care; but that's just that, a gamble. And I'm a dirty pragmatist, so I prefer slapping people around and telling them to quit being obnoxious now and then over shit flying around all over the place.

Captcha: Virtue of necessity.

Dammit captcha, stop trying to make my points for me! It creeps me out!

There needn't be any link between considering people lazy or unlucky and what attitude is taken towards tax.

Needn't, but seems to be. And I am in full agreement with Stagnant on this one. There is no such thing as a self-made man. If you want to argue there is, please, go somewhere where you are dependant entirely on your own efforts and make it big.

Note that things like driving on a road you didn't build or using a power outlet you're not producing power for yourself immediately disqualifies you, since the effort is no longer entirely your own in that case.

Imperator_DK:
There needn't be any link between considering people lazy or unlucky and what attitude is taken towards taxation. The mere fact that some people have ended up in poor straits through no fault of their own doesn't necessarily create any obligation for people who got lucky to help them.

Yes, but referring to them as "lazy" rather than "unlucky" makes it a lot easier to just dismiss their woes out of hand, then wonder aloud, "Why am I paying for this bum's livelihood?" I'd go so far as to say that it's borderline dehumanization, and it works. Those who consider themselves "self-made-men" or who fail to consider that just because they made it, it doesn't mean that everyone else can tend to be the most vocally outspoken against taxation and welfare, culminating at a peak in Randian Objectivism.

And since that's usually the actual sentiment at play, with the whole "lazy" thing just being sugar coating of it (be it for the benefit of others or the arguer himself), particularly for those who seek to logically reconcile it with the Christian "love thy neighbour" dogma.

It's not just sugar-coating. Most people aren't assholes, and they need a way to justify their largesse to themselves when others go hungry. asserting laziness is an exceedingly simple way to do this.

In the end, whether they're "unlucky" or "lazy" only have relevance if you answer the more basic question of whether there's an ethical obligation for the resourceful to help unlucky people in the affirmative. If people don't subscribe to that axiom, then the question is simply irrelevant.

As Vegosiux said, it's not just about moral obligations. It's also about self-preservation. High levels of inequality tends to lead to rather unstable societies, and more desperate people tend to reach to more desperate means. I personally think that I have a moral obligation to help those who are worse-off than me, but even if I didn't, I still would hold that it would be a smart move to help stabilize society and improve the economy, or hell, even just to get more people with the ability to buy my shit. This is why I refer to people like HarryScull and Gorfias not as immoral, but as short-sighted and arrogant: I can't demonstrate that helping the poor is an objective moral necessity. I can, however, demonstrate that you're waaaay better off doing so for your own damn good.

OK I've had suicidal depression, caused by...
My dad's an alcoholic.
My family is poor. 18K income a year with a family of 4 with a mortgage.

I've had various minor health problems which the NHS has picked up for me, which otherwise would have added up.
I got supremely lucky and got the very last spot in a state school who are ranked 5th in the country. Thank you mum.
I also am at a free college paid for by the Government like most of them, which is one of the best in the country...

I'm fully aware that if some of the help I've had wasn't there it's not the case that I wouldn't be as good off. I'd be fucking dead. I would have killed myself a year or two ago if simply I didn't go to that highschool... not because I didn't get there but the vacuum of support I wouldn't have received.

Quote that: "I'm lucky. I know I'm lucky. If a little less lucky, I'd be fucking dead."

---------------

I also study economics and am adopting a particular brand of economics. It's more 'right-wing' than many Governments in terms of markets but much more left-wing in terms of getting people onto some form of level platform as without the latter you cannot have an efficient former.
Basically let businesses fail, do not let them form above a certain level of market dominance meaning they cannot abnuse their market power.
However while doing this we have a saftey net to catch people who encounter problems and we should support the severe majority of people to try and allow them to live what people now call a normal life... not leaving them to destroy themselves...

Imperator_DK:
There needn't be any link between considering people lazy or unlucky and what attitude is taken towards taxation. The mere fact that some people have ended up in poor straits through no fault of their own doesn't necessarily create any obligation for people who got lucky to help them.

And since that's usually the actual sentiment at play, with the whole "lazy" thing just being sugar coating of it (be it for the benefit of others or the arguer himself), particularly for those who seek to logically reconcile it with the Christian "love thy neighbour" dogma.

In the end, whether they're "unlucky" or "lazy" only have relevance if you answer the more basic question of whether there's an ethical obligation for the resourceful to help unlucky people in the affirmative. If people don't subscribe to that axiom, then the question is simply irrelevant.

Indeed so.

Just like in the same way there is not necessarily any ethical obligation to end being the ownership and exploitation of those unlucky enough to be born slaves, install a democracy for some say in the affairs of state for those unlucky enough to be born serfs, or to prevent someone being gassed for being unlucky enough to be born a Jew in early 20th century Europe.

In other words, saying there is no ethical obligation - whilst theoretically true - is somewhat irrelevant when considering reality. The morality behind the differentiation of haves and have-nots is actually pretty important to most people, if not virtually all. If it were not, the haves would not be "sugar-coating" the unlucky as being lazy in the first place. We don't even need to go into tedious and irrelevant religion-bashing on this. If you take the time to read through pretty much any secular or religious philosophy on the distribution of economic spoils from Plato to Novick, it will have some basis of moral justification.

Comando96:
...
I also study economics and am adopting a particular brand of economics. It's more 'right-wing' than many Governments in terms of markets but much more left-wing in terms of getting people onto some form of level platform as without the latter you cannot have an efficient former.
Basically let businesses fail, do not let them form above a certain level of market dominance meaning they cannot abnuse their market power.
However while doing this we have a saftey net to catch people who encounter problems and we should support the severe majority of people to try and allow them to live what people now call a normal life... not leaving them to destroy themselves...

I've heard it said that the higher turnover of a nation's businesses (the rate of failure of business and the rate of new business opening), the higher growth of that nation tends to be. What would you say about tariffs and protectionism?

theonewhois3:

Comando96:
...
I also study economics and am adopting a particular brand of economics. It's more 'right-wing' than many Governments in terms of markets but much more left-wing in terms of getting people onto some form of level platform as without the latter you cannot have an efficient former.
Basically let businesses fail, do not let them form above a certain level of market dominance meaning they cannot abnuse their market power.
However while doing this we have a saftey net to catch people who encounter problems and we should support the severe majority of people to try and allow them to live what people now call a normal life... not leaving them to destroy themselves...

I've heard it said that the higher turnover of a nation's businesses (the rate of failure of business and the rate of new business opening), the higher growth of that nation tends to be. What would you say about tariffs and protectionism?

I think the question I'd ask here would be "Is growth in and of itself a good thing?" I'm not saying there's a need to go out of your way to stop it or slow it down, but just what are we talking about when talking about it? The statistical, economic indicators? Or the standards of living for the citizens. One does not necessarily translate into the other if there's a thing like a major wealth gap, for exmple.

Vegosiux:
I think the question I'd ask here would be "Is growth in and of itself a good thing?" I'm not saying there's a need to go out of your way to stop it or slow it down, but just what are we talking about when talking about it? The statistical, economic indicators? Or the standards of living for the citizens. One does not necessarily translate into the other if there's a thing like a major wealth gap, for exmple.

You're correct in principle. GDP and such data is infamous for not accounting for income disparity and such, but the number of new starting businesses and early bankruptions (what onewhois wrote about, correct?) is a good indicator of how entrepreneurship is doing.

This is because people generally don't start up huge companies, but small businesses. The big earners who confuse the statistics are mostly absent from that specific set of data.

Vegosiux:

theonewhois3:

Comando96:
...
I also study economics and am adopting a particular brand of economics. It's more 'right-wing' than many Governments in terms of markets but much more left-wing in terms of getting people onto some form of level platform as without the latter you cannot have an efficient former.
Basically let businesses fail, do not let them form above a certain level of market dominance meaning they cannot abnuse their market power.
However while doing this we have a saftey net to catch people who encounter problems and we should support the severe majority of people to try and allow them to live what people now call a normal life... not leaving them to destroy themselves...

I've heard it said that the higher turnover of a nation's businesses (the rate of failure of business and the rate of new business opening), the higher growth of that nation tends to be. What would you say about tariffs and protectionism?

I think the question I'd ask here would be "Is growth in and of itself a good thing?" I'm not saying there's a need to go out of your way to stop it or slow it down, but just what are we talking about when talking about it? The statistical, economic indicators? Or the standards of living for the citizens. One does not necessarily translate into the other if there's a thing like a major wealth gap, for exmple.

I think the better question is what sort of growth is good growth. There's no question that at least a little growth is needed. The worlds population continues to grow and so we need produce more stuff to support more people. Its the way we grow that is flawed. Technological innovation is economic growth. Producing more power off less fuel is economic growth. Cutting down forest to build farm land is growth. Doubling the output, and the input, of a coal power station is growth.

Hardcore_gamer:
Your whole post can be summed up as "nothing is ever my fault and all of my failures are almost only to blame on the society I am in. Also, there is not really such a thing is talented people, just lucky people".

Except he never actually said that. The irony being that every single opinion I've ever seen you express can be summed up in a Fox News soundbite.

Why is it so hard to accept that some people just suck balls and can't get anywhere in life and that there are other people who are simply better then them?

Uh huh. And which category do you imagine you belong in?

There are successful people who did indeed put in the hours and sweat for what they have. Bill Gates when establishing Microsoft seemed to have found a way to survive without sleeping. Lyndon Johnson campaigned for the Senate so hard that the day after the election he had to be hospitalized for exhaustion. But there are a few simple truth that people like you often forget.

The first being that the hours you put in are irrelevant to how much value society places on your skills. I don't know what you do for a living, but I kind of doubt you're working nearly as hard as the mother who has to work three jobs to feed her children. She's never going to get rich from those three jobs. I recently started getting commissions to do voice over work, which can make me a comfortable about of money as I was fortunate to be born with a distinctive voice and I put in the hours to learn how to use it well in front of a microphone. But put me in Kenya, and suddenly my voice isn't going to mean much.

The second is that you're saying you work hard for your money, which implies that other people don't. Which, as I pointed out earlier is just fucking insulting and shows how out of touch you are with reality.

And finally, we all benefit from the commons. Every single one of us. It was a hand-out given to us unconditionally on the day we were born. Everything you have, you only have because of society. If you didn't have access to education to make you literate, infrastructure to move you around, and law enforcement and national defense to protect you while you sleep, you'd have nothing.

You're welcome.

Oh hey, Stagnant is calling out other board members again. What a surprise... And I love how you use the "hypothetical you" later on meanwhile in the beginning of the post, you call out three people.

To me, I believe that a lot of people do get through this world on luck but I also believe that people can make their own lives better and it is not necessarily all luck based. If it wasn't for school loans and scholarships, I would not be going to college. The idea that not everybody can pull themselves up by the bootstraps is true but it is not impossible; it honestly depends on their luck. And just because somebody is lucky doesn't mean they will improve their lives. I know people who are geniuses and have great lives but don't put effort in so that is their fault.

captcha: panic stations

I think I will be heading to those soon...

recruit00:
O The idea that not everybody can pull themselves up by the bootstraps is true but it is not impossible;

Actually, it IS literally impossible.

And it tends to be pretty damn difficult in the figurative sense, too - once you start rolling downhill, stopping can be MIGHT TOUGH without a lot of outside help.

arbane:

recruit00:
O The idea that not everybody can pull themselves up by the bootstraps is true but it is not impossible;

Actually, it IS literally impossible.

And it tends to be pretty damn difficult in the figurative sense, too - once you start rolling downhill, stopping can be MIGHT TOUGH without a lot of outside help.

I do know that it is literally impossible. As for the figurative sense, to me at least, it is possible but very difficult.

theonewhois3:
I've heard it said that the higher turnover of a nation's businesses (the rate of failure of business and the rate of new business opening), the higher growth of that nation tends to be. What would you say about tariffs and protectionism?

Well people have observed that a high failure rate leads to growth and while I think their observation is fair their assessment is not.

I think that often an inefficient market player is all too able to use the economics of scale to bully other, often more efficient competitors out of the market and consolidate their own power.
The sign of businesses failing is not in itself a cause of growth but it shows that those who cannot compete are going out of business. Recessions have all occurred in bubbles, a frequent example the housing markets. Now if a bank was to fail... but other banks have invested in it (what I personally view a collusion) in order to strengthen their rival and themselves then this puts all banks surrounding it at risk and will then result in banks trying to secure themselves financially. This drop in AD knocks on, hits the housing market, which in turn lowers people's believed equity in their houses, which results in lowered spending across the economy and then in this area of lowered spending any weaker businesses fail... they fail hard and they fail all at once.
The sign of a large business failing merely due to the fact it's being out competed shows a healthy economy whereas large companies holding on in the good times and then crashing hard when times aren't good... it compiles the effects and in numerous cases causes a chain reaction.
If Government makes sure it does not do anything at all to prop businesses up then when a business runs into trouble it either makes itself better, or it fails.

Higher failures don't lead to higher growth but more steady and longer term growth. They are not the. They are the conduit.

---------------

Tarrifs and protectionism...
I am assuming between nations.

Well I am not fond of tarrifs but to a small degree they have their purpose. Overall I think they are bad but if you applied them across all countries at the same standard rate in order to not protect but cover costs of Government operating various facilities necessity to the trade to occur then that would be very reasonable... but it isn't.

Protectionism is... no... on an international level you should not fall into this moronic trap. If it's tit for tat in some form of trade war then its a trade war, however you should as a general rule avoid protectionism and instead take steps to make your country and work-force more efficient. In this way you replace artificial protectionism via being a large country and compete on thee basis of being the most efficient and earning your wealth.

Currently tarrifs are used to discriminate against goods from parts of the world which the host nations do not like or who the host nation wants to export a certain type of product and import only a certain type of product making it impossible for the other to compete with the other market. For example we import raw coco beans from Africa and export to them chocolate... couldn't they make it themselves?

Vegosiux:
I think the question I'd ask here would be "Is growth in and of itself a good thing?" I'm not saying there's a need to go out of your way to stop it or slow it down, but just what are we talking about when talking about it? The statistical, economic indicators? Or the standards of living for the citizens. One does not necessarily translate into the other if there's a thing like a major wealth gap, for exmple.

There are two things you mention here.
One is market failure. Money is created but no wealth is. And this is one of the reasons that economies change and banks are reigned the fuck in so we stop seeing numbers going up and living stnadards staying the same.
The second wealth distribution or rather the non-distribution of it, which is very important and I fully believe that in an economy where people have a good starting platform and which then is more flexible, fluid and importantly if it's shit it fails immediately, will produce a better standard of economy. From there on we would be able to reasess wealth disparity as I'd be fucking clueless what else would needed to be done at that point.

Edit:
OP: sorry... someone asked me an economics question and I got carried the fuck away xD

recruit00:
Oh hey, Stagnant is calling out other board members again. What a surprise... And I love how you use the "hypothetical you" later on meanwhile in the beginning of the post, you call out three people.

Yes, and I mean the hypothetical you. I called out those three people because they were the most egregious examples I saw thereof in recent times. HarryScull in particular has been on quite a tear.

To me, I believe that a lot of people do get through this world on luck but I also believe that people can make their own lives better and it is not necessarily all luck based. If it wasn't for school loans and scholarships, I would not be going to college. The idea that not everybody can pull themselves up by the bootstraps is true but it is not impossible; it honestly depends on their luck. And just because somebody is lucky doesn't mean they will improve their lives. I know people who are geniuses and have great lives but don't put effort in so that is their fault.

Hey, look: exactly what I meant! I agree completely! The only disagreement we would have would probably be to what degree luck matters.

Some CHOOSE to have intellect.
Others falter because of their own demons.
Others...simply refuse to give a shit.

My problem are these people who strive on and on about "equality" when all it is is mismatched favoritism in the guise of it, therefore throwing things out of balance and handing opportunity to those who aren't deserving of it through strength, merit, and meritocratic belief.

Arsen:
Some CHOOSE to have intellect.
Others falter because of their own demons.
Others...simply refuse to give a shit.

My problem are these people who strive on and on about "equality" when all it is is mismatched favoritism in the guise of it, therefore throwing things out of balance and handing opportunity to those who aren't deserving of it through strength, merit, and meritocratic belief.

...I really can't make heads or tails of this. Care to elaborate?

Stagnant:
There's a fairly disturbing number of people on this forum who seem to think that because they are making a lot of money, they made it all on their own, and that furthermore, anyone else could just do what they did. This is a social attitude which is incorrect, and which has to end. It contributes greatly to this flawed idea of the poor, in particular those who need government assistance, as "lazy", which in turn leads to people complaining excessively about taxes, and people wishing for flat tax.

So here's a little bit of hard truth for so-called "self-made-men" like Vega, Gorfias, and HarryScull.

You got lucky.

While luck plays to some degree into everything in life, your are wrong that it is the main factor at play.

This isn't even calling the idea that you worked your way up from the bottom on your own in question (although that statement is, generally speaking, true in 0% of actual cases).

Wrong. Apple started in his garage at his parents house.

I certainly started in a house that had a lot of no-name products and second hand stuff because it was what we could afford. My parents didn't pay 1 cent towards my education, I did that on my own (and in fact paid some small rent at home since post-split my mother couldn't afford to keep the house running on her own). I'm now in the $100K+ crowd.

It's simply pointing out that even if you did pull yourself up by your bootstraps, there was a hell of a lot of stuff that was out of your control that helped get you there.

Like what? I applied for the jobs I applied for. I got the schooling I paid for. I was rewarded for my success on the job and that created new opportunities. Someone didn't just walk up and hand me $.

Have an alternative skillset which is in high supply or low demand?

That's not luck, that's the direct result of your choices.

The takeaway from this is simply that just because someone is in the dirt, doesn't mean that they're lazy. It's that the correlation between hard work and success, while present, is neither exceedingly strong nor universal. Paris Hilton is proof enough of that.

Paris Hilton was not "self made" really so it doesn't apply here. However, she did improve herself by marketing herself in a brilliant way.

And you are wrong, your choices and efforts are your path to success. It doesn't mean you are lazy if you don't succeed, but it may mean you don't have the skills or make crappy decisions (or are lazy lol)

Hell, that's even ignoring that you didn't, and that you were helped all along the way by family, friends, and yes, even the government.

Every opportunity I had, others had. Therefore the difference is ME. One of my old bosses from a decade ago now works for me. She was on the hiring committee that hired me to be her boss. She recognized from what I demonstrated as her employee that I was a capable leader who she got on the rise and who is now capable of leading her. It's not luck I got the job, its that my work spoke for itself.

Yeah, it hurts to be informed that you got to where you are largely through luck. But you know what? Denying it simply because it's an uncomfortable truth is a bad idea. It leads to all kinds of real drastic mistakes in reasoning, from the assertion "It worked for me, it'll work for them" and associate trains of thought all the way through to objectivism - "I got mine, why can't those lazy bums get theirs and leave well enough alone?" And reasoning like that doesn't hurt you, but it hurts us. It hurts our society as a whole. And it has got to stop.

Your approach of self victimization leads to people blaming others for their own bad choices. You are simply wrong. Yes, luck is in there, no it isn't why self made people are self made.

arbane:

recruit00:
O The idea that not everybody can pull themselves up by the bootstraps is true but it is not impossible;

Actually, it IS literally impossible.

And it tends to be pretty damn difficult in the figurative sense, too - once you start rolling downhill, stopping can be MIGHT TOUGH without a lot of outside help.

Bull. It's always possible. It just requires you to get that outside help where needed to get yourself on your feet again.

Well the original theorists of the self-made man weren't nearly as simplistic as the version of the "self-made man" given by the OP, which makes the entire OP's argument seem like a bit of straw man.

Wikipedia has a fair definition:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-Made_Men

I dont think that those theorists are in anyway denying that we ARE in societies and ARE caught up in socio-economic causality, but that we can also fight back against the odds. We can, in a certain type of society and in a certain age, make a difference by our own will and hard work. But you have to have the fight in you to take advantage of the those opportunties afforded to you; opportunities, yes, and which no-one is denying, are afforded to you by the society of men. Remember, the self-made man is simply a poor guy, the underdog, who makes a good situation from a bad one. I don't think anyone is suggesting that that happens in a social vacuum, indeed it is most definitely implied that it takes a certain type of free society to make a self-made man possible.

I think you would be hard pressed to find anyone who uses the term "self-made man" who believes that there is no such thing as the nation-state or of communities or of society or that there aren't things made socially (laws, education systems, transport networks, scientific innovation, healthcare, security etc) that benefit us all.

The more advanced, privileged and rich the society the more "lucky" we are.

Who are the straw men of the OP that actually deny this?

I think the OP uses this straw man to present his own overly deterministic account of human success and to rather mean-spiritedly, imo, take a great hot stinking yellow piss on the achievements of those who worked hard to get out of the ghetto, to turn a bad hand good, by suggesting that in essense they "really" did fuck all at all because it was just "luck" after all. That your success is not your own because there is "society", except no-one is denying this and the whole thing just seems like ideological smoke and mirrors and straw men on the OPs part. He has an agenda every bit as dogmatic and partisan as the people he is trying to lampoon.

I am more interested in what works in helping young people get out of the ghetto. Telling them that you simply can't get out and if you do then don't go feeling proud about it because you were just "lucky" seems like rather spiteful tall poppy syndrome. I am gonna have to reference this classic Morrissey song again:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l6g0gDrCUi8

Also, I have this comedy sketch in my head with a dad who takes the OP to heart. His son wins first prize in a national Robert Burns Poetry recitation contest. The kid is flushed with success, but his dad is like:

"Aye, well, but it wisnae your poetry was it? It was Robert Burns wit writ it. And that widnae have been even possible withoot the Scottish language which itself was developed and perfected by generations of Scots in a collective society who themselves widnae have even been a nation without the endeavors of the Celts and Picts, not to mention Northumbrian English and the external threats o the ancient Romans and the Anglo-Saxons and the Danish. So aye, yeh won first prize, but you didnae really, did ye? It was jist luck that you were part o that ancient to modern causal chain, so dinnae be gettin' ahead o yerself yeh wee gobshite. Yeh won fuck all. Now git tae bed."

Regards

Nightspore

Also, any really outstanding position in modern society (With a few exceptions) is also going to be created by exploiting other people. The CEO of a major company isn't making millions of dollars because he personally works hard, though perhaps he does. He's making that money because he's helping the process of tens of thousands of workers being exploited as the surplus value of their labour is extracted.

While I generally agree with the basic premise, there's something that has recently become more commonplace in the R&P threads that is greatly disturbing me:

Stagnant:
So here's a little bit of hard truth for so-called "self-made-men" like Vega, Gorfias, and HarryScull.

I am deeply disturbed that other members are being called out in threads they have not yet participated in. I view it as a personal attack and makes the forum more hostile and less cordial. I personally believe that several longstanding R&P members, some of whom I respected despite disagreeing with their views, have stopped posting in R&P because of this loss in the ability to discuss in a civil matter.

You know who you are. Stop doing it.

Okay, this is going to be a bit of a rant, because I get rather ticked at the "Me, me, me!" thing some people have going on.

Wolverine18:

Wrong. Apple started in his garage at his parents house.

Did he build that garage, or did he use a place created through someone else's efforts?

Yes, that's what I thought too.

I certainly started in a house that had a lot of no-name products and second hand stuff because it was what we could afford. My parents didn't pay 1 cent towards my education, I did that on my own (and in fact paid some small rent at home since post-split my mother couldn't afford to keep the house running on her own). I'm now in the $100K+ crowd.

Again, you did not do any of that "on your own". Other people's efforts were involved.

Like what? I applied for the jobs I applied for. I got the schooling I paid for. I was rewarded for my success on the job and that created new opportunities. Someone didn't just walk up and hand me $.

Did you create those jobs? Did you school yourself? No? Again, you can't argue it was entirely your effort that got you where you are.

That's not luck, that's the direct result of your choices.

Would be, if we all were clairvoyant. I don't know about you, but right now, I don't know what kind of demand for my skillset will be around 10 years from now, nor have I any way of knowing I'm not going to suffer a health issue or a personal tragedy. Just as a note, a rather nasty health issue caused me to fall behind in my stuff several years ago. You know what? Catching up is fucking hard.

Paris Hilton was not "self made" really so it doesn't apply here. However, she did improve herself by marketing herself in a brilliant way.

Yes, that's my bleedin' point in this thread. Nobody is self-made. Also, I take issue with the "improved herself" bit. Did she become "better" by being "better off"? That's the logic that's actually quite insulting. "Being better off than others means I'm better than others." Guess what, no, one doesn't translate into the other.

And you are wrong, your choices and efforts are your path to success. It doesn't mean you are lazy if you don't succeed, but it may mean you don't have the skills or make crappy decisions (or are lazy lol)

One can't choose for a job opening to be created where one would be successful. One can't choose to have been born with a sturdy constitution that would enable them to do heavy lifting. One can't choose not to have been born with naturally frail health. One can't choose to have been born into a non-abusive home, or to have been born in a city and thus have easier physical access to all those things city-folk seem to take for granted.

Doesn't really have to be born rich, but imagine this; I had to work while studying so I could pay the rent and food; classmates who actually lived in the city, didn't. Still going to argue that my opportunities were "the same" as theirs?

Every opportunity I had, others had.

Oh, really? Did they? Care to elaborate on how "others" had the same opportunities as you did? Because, that would kind of carry the need to prove that "others" were in the same place at the same time as you were, they were sick when you were sick, had the same physical and mental capabilities as you and that's...well. Sorry, but that's just a bunch of self-absorbed bullshit.

Therefore the difference is ME.

Problem is, the premise was flawed. Only you had the opportunities you had. Nobody else had exactly the same ones. Sometimes having your job interview scheduled before the next guy as opposed to after the next guy is all it takes. Sometimes it's waking up with a cold, or getting caught in traffic. And sometimes it's bumping into someone's car with yours and making a new social connection through it. The damnest things influence our lives.

One of my old bosses from a decade ago now works for me. She was on the hiring committee that hired me to be her boss. She recognized from what I demonstrated as her employee that I was a capable leader who she got on the rise and who is now capable of leading her. It's not luck I got the job, its that my work spoke for itself.

Good on you, you caught a break. Yes, your work worked for you - but you'll be hard pressed to argue that since it worked for you, it would have worked for everyone. Yes, doing your job well of course opens more options. But it doesn't open them on its own.

Your approach of self victimization leads to people blaming others for their own bad choices. You are simply wrong. Yes, luck is in there, no it isn't why self made people are self made.

*rolls eyes* There is no such thing as a self-made man. If you want to prove otherwise, go somewhere and "work your way from the bottom" up without any outside help. Go ahead, try it, go somewhere with "nothing but the clothes you're wearing" and start from scratch. And by "scratch" I mean a blank slate. No resources at your disposal. No power, no shelter, nothing. Only the bootstrap and the sweat of your brow. Make your own tools. Build your own home. Start from the bottom up, and see how far you get.

Wolverine18:

Bull. It's always possible. It just requires you to get that outside help where needed to get yourself on your feet again.

How's that "pulling yourself up by the bootstraps" though? Oh, right. It isn't.

In conclusion: Okay, you're a big earner. As I said, good on you. Just don't presume you're in that circle because you're somehow "better" than those who aren't. I find this need to actually believe that rather disturbing, even.

The Gentleman:
While I generally agree with the basic premise, there's something that has recently become more commonplace in the R&P threads that is greatly disturbing me:

Stagnant:
So here's a little bit of hard truth for so-called "self-made-men" like Vega, Gorfias, and HarryScull.

I am deeply disturbed that other members are being called out in threads they have not yet participated in. I view it as a personal attack and makes the forum more hostile and less cordial. I personally believe that several longstanding R&P members, some of whom I respected despite disagreeing with their views, have stopped posting in R&P because of this loss in the ability to discuss in a civil matter.

You know who you are. Stop doing it.

To let things slide for the sake of peace and friendship when a person has clearly gone wrong, and refrain from principled argument because he is an old acquaintance, a fellow townsman, a schoolmate, a close friend, a loved one, an old colleague or old subordinate. Or to touch on the matter lightly instead of going into it thoroughly, so as to keep on good terms. The result is that both the organization and the individual are harmed. This is one type of liberalism.

Wolverine18:
While luck plays to some degree into everything in life, your are wrong that it is the main factor at play.

Oh? Really? And if you're born in Kenya, you're just as likely to do well with hard work than if you were, say, born into the Hilton family?

Wrong. Apple started in his garage at his parents house.

Hmm, perhaps I worded that wrong. Effectively 0%. Apple and microsoft are the go-to success stories, but you know what? I'm curious to know how many people in the 70s had the parts for a computer kicking around in their garage. Probably not that many.

I certainly started in a house that had a lot of no-name products and second hand stuff because it was what we could afford. My parents didn't pay 1 cent towards my education, I did that on my own (and in fact paid some small rent at home since post-split my mother couldn't afford to keep the house running on her own). I'm now in the $100K+ crowd.

You paid for your own education? Really? How does that even work? You'd need to be working a full-time job before kindergarten to afford private school, or you'd have had to skip primary school entirely somehow. But this is kind of beside the point - as said, I'm not calling that into question in this thread.

Like what? I applied for the jobs I applied for.

And got in over the other people largely in part due to the highly subjective whims of the people evaluating the applications. Yeah, maybe your application was really impressive, but even then, you got lucky that the other people involved didn't have even more impressive resumes.

I got the schooling I paid for.

You went to primary school, a system already long available and out of your control, for quite a few years. Or do you want to tell me you didn't?

I was rewarded for my success on the job and that created new opportunities. Someone didn't just walk up and hand me $.

And all of your successes were entirely attributable to your own skills? Hell, maybe I can give you this one

Have an alternative skillset which is in high supply or low demand?

That's not luck, that's the direct result of your choices.

You know what is luck? Going into, say, Teaching, and then while you're still studying, learning that the government has slashed the number of teachers, and that the number of highly experienced teachers out of work means that you may very well never get a job in your field. Going into IT, and then figuring out a year later that everyone is going into IT, and the field is completely overvalued. And you want to claim that the supply and demand of the market is within our control? The result of our choices? The costs for reeducation and extended qualification is extremely expensive, and if your entire field suddenly goes out of style (say, some sentient AI makes programmers completely irrelevant), and you don't have the dosh to look into other fields, then you're fucked, and there is nothing you can do about it.

Paris Hilton was not "self made" really so it doesn't apply here. However, she did improve herself by marketing herself in a brilliant way.

She was given almost everything in life. She belongs to the field of celebrities who are "famous for being famous". The only reason she was able to market herself at all? Daddy's money. And the point here is that success and effort is not necessarily related. As Vornoff pointed out, the mother working 3 jobs to care for her kids is probably working at least twice as hard as you are, but will never escape poverty that way.

And you are wrong, your choices and efforts are your path to success. It doesn't mean you are lazy if you don't succeed, but it may mean you don't have the skills or make crappy decisions (or are lazy lol)

Or, and here's the big one, you get screwed by bad luck. I don't see why this is so hard to understand. If I work my ass off in a company, then that company goes bankrupt because economy is in the shitter, it was neither my skills nor my decisions that made me lose my job (and ensured that I would have trouble finding a new one, especially seeing as I'm jobless at the same time as hundreds of people with my same skillset). It was completely out of my control.

Every opportunity I had, others had. Therefore the difference is ME.

No.

Nonono.

This is where you went wrong. In fact, this is so fucking balls-to-the-walls wrong that I really don't know how otherwise intelligent people ascribe to this line of thinking. Not everyone had the same opportunity you had, be it by location, genetics, personality, upbringing, or a heap of other factors completely outside of your control. The other guy who came in for a job interview? He would've kicked your ass in it, but his shitty car wouldn't start, and he couldn't afford a new one. That competitor of yours who would've been the shoe-in for the promotion, even ahead of you? Got mugged and raped, and subsequently became an alcoholic. Yeah, no shit, your work spoke for itself. And all the power to you. It's not all up to chance. But to assert that everyone had the same opportunities you did is complete bollocks. That's, you know, kind of the point of the thread.

Your approach of self victimization leads to people blaming others for their own bad choices.

Yes, I'm well-aware of this problem. The key thing to remember is that, despite your luck, if you don't work for it, you're never going to get your situation un-fucked.

You are simply wrong. Yes, luck is in there, no it isn't why self made people are self made.

I never said that. I simply said that it plays a major role. There's a difference.

Overhead:
To let things slide for the sake of peace and friendship when a person has clearly gone wrong, and refrain from principled argument because he is an old acquaintance, a fellow townsman, a schoolmate, a close friend, a loved one, an old colleague or old subordinate. Or to touch on the matter lightly instead of going into it thoroughly, so as to keep on good terms. The result is that both the organization and the individual are harmed. This is one type of liberalism.

No, this isn't "being nice to your friends even when they fuck up." This is trying to maintain a forum for relatively serious discussions in a way that people aren't attacked personally. This isn't an organization, it's a place where a bunch of us gather and chat about religion and politics.

If you want to publicly chastise a person for their views or methods, you do it in the thread that they committed the offense and, if it is bad enough, you report it. You don't call them out in a thread they have nothing to do with and you don't hide behind some bullshit claiming it's a "principled argument." If they have a position, it is almost statistically impossible that they are the only one with that position, so attack the position without naming people. It's not that fucking hard.

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