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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy
Old 10-12-2005, 08:31 AM   #41
 
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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy

One more thing, and I will be quiet. George Vaillant discusses these kinds of questions in depth, and at-length in his book "Aging Well." I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the present thread, and also to those who are generally interested in aging and retirement. IMHO, the book is nothing short of profound.

Vaillant, who is a Harvard MD and Harvard Med prof, was principal investigator of the three great longitudinal studies of aging (one concerned the lives of Harvard men of the class of 192x, another concerned the lives of inner-city Boston white guys of roughly the same vintage, and the third concerned the lives of high-IQ women born in San Francisco around 1900 (the so-called Terman study group)).

He isolates and discusses a number of factors that evidently lead to a good life over the long haul, and a number of factors that seem to have no bearing even though they are popularly thought to.

Great book -- not about vitamin pills and pushups, as the title might suggest.

HH
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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy
Old 10-12-2005, 09:23 AM   #42
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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy

Quote:
Originally Posted by ProfHaroldHill
But here's the thing -- why does one person have self discipline, and another not? Why does one person learn, and another not? It could be that the answer lies in native ability, or in the circumstances of upbringing, or, of course, in some combination. What else could it be? The point is that both of these are out of our control. Substitute the word "tall" for the concept of success. I believe that a lot of the self-congratulatory attitude of "the successful" is completely inappropriate, as would be a self-congratulatory attitude of the tall.

HH
This is exactly my position. I know it is a bit irritating to bring up old threads, but we had a thread about declining class mobility in the United States that touched on many of these issues. http://early-retirement.org/forums/i...p?topic=2862.0

Statements like "bad choices" "lack of discipline" and "lazy" don't help solve society problems and may even persuade me to become a soldier in the class war. I am worried that we have become a country of winners and losers. And don't feel bad for the losers, it's all their own fault. Paying less taxes and putting more money in the winner's pockets is what our country seems to value. This is not the kind of country I want to live in.

Does telling a smoker he lacks motivation or is weak willed help the smoker quit? No, it gets the smoker pissed off at the self righteous prick who tells him he is one of the losers.

I think we can be forward looking. Raise minimum wage. Make it worth keeping a job. Make schools accountable. Intervene early in abusive homes. Treat mental illness. Etc.
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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy
Old 10-12-2005, 09:53 AM   #43
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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy

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Originally Posted by Martha
Does telling a smoker he lacks motivation or is weak willed help the smoker quit?* No, it gets the smoker pissed off at the self righteous prick who tells him he is one of the losers.
Not too many many posts have me laughing but that one did.

I had tried everything to help my father stop smoking including showing him how much he would have in the bank if he had saved his smoking money for the past 20 years. I even tried wrapping up his cigarettes in many layers of aluminum foil and having him spend time unwrapping every time he wanted a cigarette and wrapping it back the way it was after he took one out. That lasted one day with him.

Finally, after many years of breathing his second-hand smoke at home and in the car, I got so disgusted with him, I told him if his cigarettes had fists, they would beat him in a fight any day of the week. I told him every time he lit up, the cigarettes won and he lost. I told him I was embarrassed to be around him when he had a cigarette in his mouth. In so many words, I did tell him he was weaker than his cigarettes.

The day after that one-sided rant, he left his half-smoked pack in his desk and never touched them again.
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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy
Old 10-12-2005, 10:24 AM   #44
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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy

To whom it may concern:

I’ll try to keep it brief. How language works oftentimes: When you call someone ‘stupid,’ you actually make this reality happen. Say you have two children playing Monopoly. Say child A calls child B stupid. Child B hears this new element added to the local play environment. He starts to wonder why Child A said that. His emotions roil up too, agitating him. In the case of the heart, the feeling in B--caused by A saying ‘stupid’---can be so distracting that he can’t focus totally on the game. Instead of focusing 100% mentally on playing and winning Monopoly, he now has a new element of distraction put there by A. He may only use 50% of his mental capacity to play the game as he worries and frets about this new element. Child A makes child B stupid. Life for child A becomes a partial self-fulfilling prophecy. Monopoly life for child B is just tougher. He goes back to first base.

Life in the real world is much more complicated than this simple example, especially among adults who have developed psychological defense mechanisms and layers of sophisticated coping mechanisms. Mothers teach their children not to swear or rile people up for very good reasons. Adding these agitating elements to life just makes life worse. Calmness, ‘coolness under fire,’ usually means in essence that better decisions are made. By agitating poor people, making them worry excessively about where their next meal is coming from or that they are lesser human beings, makes matters worse, just as increased worry about social security or healthcare or one’s pension or foreign warmongering makes one more agitated and less able to think correctly about that situation. Carl Rove knows how self-fulfilling tautologies work too. He learned it from Machiavelli.

Mothers and women for the part know intuitively how to create a better environment for their families and children. They are, for the most part, if you exclude their toiletmongering and shopping obsessions, the better half of the human race. (But don’t tell anyone I said that!)

--Greg
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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy
Old 10-12-2005, 10:35 AM   #45
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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy

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Originally Posted by retire@40
Not too many many posts have me laughing but that one did.

I had tried everything to help my father stop smoking including showing him how much he would have in the bank if he had saved his smoking money for the past 20 years. I even tried wrapping up his cigarettes in many layers of aluminum foil and having him spend time unwrapping every time he wanted a cigarette and wrapping it back the way it was after he took one out. That lasted one day with him.

Finally, after many years of breathing his second-hand smoke at home and in the car, I got so disgusted with him, I told him if his cigarettes had fists, they would beat him in a fight any day of the week. I told him every time he lit up, the cigarettes won and he lost. I told him I was embarrassed to be around him when he had a cigarette in his mouth. In so many words, I did tell him he was weaker than his cigarettes.

The day after that one-sided rant, he left his half-smoked pack in his desk and never touched them again.
Tough love may in fact work when there is love.
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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy
Old 10-12-2005, 10:43 AM   #46
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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy

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Originally Posted by brewer12345
You mention immigrants who become wildly successful. Sure, this happens, but what percentage of immigrants becomes wldly successful compared to white, native-born, college educated males who come from an upper middle class background?
You are probably correct in your inference that white, native-born, college educated males who come from an upper middle class background are more successful than immigrants. I'm defining success in the limited terms of income. For the population as a whole, it is interesting to note that foreign born, naturalized US citizens have a higher income (~$47,000) than native born US citizens (~$46000). http://www.census.gov/prod/2005pubs/p60-229.pdf

These new immigrants are doing something to make more money than the rest of us, on average.

To be fair with my data, those immigrants choosing to naturalize and obtain citizenship are probably well motivated and more educated than the immigrant population overall. Therefore, I may have presented a sample (foreign born, naturalized US citizens) that is self-selected and non-random in nature.

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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy
Old 10-12-2005, 10:51 AM   #47
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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy

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Originally Posted by justin
You are probably correct in your inference that white, native-born, college educated males who come from an upper middle class background are more successful than immigrants.* I'm defining success in the limited terms of income.* For the population as a whole, it is interesting to note that foreign born, naturalized US citizens have a higher income (~$47,000) than native born US citizens (~$46000).* http://www.census.gov/prod/2005pubs/p60-229.pdf

These new immigrants are doing something to make more money than the rest of us, on average.*

To be fair with my data, those immigrants choosing to naturalize and obtain citizenship are probably well motivated and more educated than the immigrant population overall.* Therefore, I may have presented a sample (foreign born, naturalized US citizens) that is self-selected and non-random in nature.*

I'll go you one better: these people are likely the absolute cream of the crop and significantly better educated/productive than the average Merkin.
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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy
Old 10-12-2005, 11:01 AM   #48
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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy

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I'll go you one better: these people are likely the absolute cream of the crop and significantly better educated/productive than the average Merkin.
I'll agree to this: The top 50% of the foreign born, naturalized US citizens are much better educated than the bottom half.

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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy
Old 10-12-2005, 02:09 PM   #49
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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy

I think we all probably find more satisfaction in our own successes if we view them as due to our own merits -- rather than to the luck of the draw. Hitting our own home run feels so much better than comming into the game as a pinch runner, put on third base, and jogging in when the next batter slugs it out of the park.

It's even easier to believe in our own merits when we see people who were born to equivalent or better situations than ourselves, and who did not achieve as much. There is no shortage of losers born into every class. It's not hard to find the anecdotal evidence that you have achieved more than people who started out equal or ahead of you.

And then we can couple the desire to believe in ourselves and the evidence of affluent losers with more anecdotal evidence of people born in ignorance and poverty but find a way to climb out and succeed. There are winners born into every class too.

But the statistics tell a different story. US Bureau of Labor Statistics show that upward mobility is not really very common. Most people end up at approximately the same economic rank as their parents. There are notable exceptions, but it is not common.

If you are born into a rich and powerful family, you can make more mistakes than your poorer peers and still succeed. If you are rich and powerful enough you can get away with snorting cocaine as a youth, avoiding the draft, driving drunk, and performing poorly in school and still become the President of the United States. Any one of these mistakes could crush the opportunities of a typical ghetto born child. There are paths that will lead to success for the ghetto child, but that child is less likely to be exposed to those options, less likely to see role models that have achieved success, suffers greater set-backs if they make a mistake along the road, . . . It is even more of an uphill struggle for the child born into third world poverty, speaking a language of little world-wide importance.

As much as I feel a sense of satisfaction from my own accomplishments, I also recognize how lucky I am. I was born in the richest, most influention country in the world. I was born into a white, middle-class family. I was born with a well-above-average IQ, without physical or learning disabilities. I was born in a stable, loving family environment. My parents (although only high school educated themselves) valued advanced education and instilled in me those values. They also were frugal people who taught me the importance of saving through example. I encountered and got to work with several brilliant and accomplished people in my career field. . . When you consider the entire US or World population, a very small percentage of people had these advantages. I've been very lucky. I cannot claim credit for any of those advantages.

Even with all those advantages, I feel like I had to work at success. I made mistakes that set me back on more than one occasion. If I had had fewer advantages or been saddled with a significant disadvantage in any of the above areas, who knows if I would have been able to accomplish as much. Statistically, we know the answer is that I would not.
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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy
Old 10-12-2005, 03:21 PM   #50
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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy

I recall at one of my earlier high school class reunions, I was voted the most successful (don't know how this was determined it was
just announced) person in my class (1962). However, the honor
was tarnished a bit when they followed that up by announcing that
most of the class was quite surprised by it

JG
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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy
Old 10-12-2005, 03:40 PM   #51
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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy

Just makes it a little sweeter...
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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy
Old 10-15-2005, 12:20 PM   #52
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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy

Quote:
Originally Posted by ((^+^)) SG
. . . Even with all those advantages, I feel like I had to work at success.* I made mistakes that set me back on more than one occasion.* If I had had fewer advantages or been saddled with a significant disadvantage in any of the above areas, who knows if I would have been able to accomplish as much.* Statistically, we know the answer is that I would not.*
Everything said here is true - but I nonetheless fail to see the point. Some people are luckier than others and many of the lucky take their luck for granted. My life would have been different if I were born in the Sudan instead of being born to a middle class family in the States. My life also would have been different if I had been born as a Walton, or a Forbes, or . . . So what?

The problem with saying that "everything is just a matter of luck" is that it lifts the onus of responsibility for ones self and transfers it somewhere else - most likely to society via some social program. When society stops expecting people to support themselves, or make better lives for themselves and their families, guess what happens? They don't!

It is simply not possible, nor desirable for a number of practical reasons, to have everyone start out at exactly the same place. Regardless of the well intentioned efforts of Socialists everywhere, some people will simply be more lucky than others. Those are the breaks. You can set up a society that frees people to make the most out of their individual situation or you can try to impose an "equality" on "everyone". History has taught over and over again that the greatest good to the greatest number is achieved by individuals who are free to pursue their own self interest and reap the rewards of their efforts. Tamper with that formula at your own peril.

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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy
Old 10-15-2005, 02:15 PM   #53
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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy

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Originally Posted by . . . Yrs to Go
Everything said here is true - but I nonetheless fail to see the point.* Some people are luckier than others and many of the lucky take their luck for granted.* My life would have been different if . . .* *
I guess that is the point. Several earlier posts seemed to be blaming the victim -- claiming their lack of success was only a matter of a lack of self-discipline.

Quote:
Originally Posted by . . . Yrs to Go
The problem with saying that "everything is just a matter of luck" . . .
*
I didn't see any posts that said that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by . . . Yrs to Go
It is simply not possible, nor desirable for a number of practical reasons, to have everyone start out at exactly the same place.
* I didn't see any posts that suggested that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by . . . Yrs to Go
Regardless of the well intentioned efforts of Socialists everywhere, some people will simply be more lucky than others.* Those are the breaks.* You can set up a society that frees people to make the most out of their individual situation or you can try to impose an "equality" on "everyone".* History has taught over and over again that the greatest good to the greatest number is achieved by individuals who are free to pursue their own self interest and reap the rewards of their efforts.* Tamper with that formula at your own peril.*
Now it is me that fails to see the point.
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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy
Old 10-15-2005, 02:52 PM   #54
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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy

Quote:
Originally Posted by ((^+^)) SG
I didn't see any posts that said that.
No?


Quote:
Originally Posted by brewer12345
I don't disagree that personal choices affect the outcomes in one's life.* Having said that, I believe that the effect of personal choices is massively outweighed by the range of choice a particular individual is confrinted with.*

Certainly you and I can interpret things differently, but "massively outweighed" here clearly implies that "luck" is more important than choice.


Quote:
Originally Posted by ProfHaroldHill
* But here's the thing -- why does one person have self discipline, and another not?* Why does one person learn, and another not?* It could be that the answer lies in native ability, or in the circumstances of upbringing, or, of course, in some combination.* What else could it be?* The point is that both of these are out of our control.* Substitute the word "tall" for the concept of success.* I believe that a lot of the self-congratulatory attitude of "the successful" is completely inappropriate, as would be a self-congratulatory attitude of the tall.

Not much to interpret here!


Quote:
Originally Posted by ((^+^)) SG
I didn't see any posts that suggested that.

No?* Certainly a desire to "level the playing field" is implied here:


Quote:
Originally Posted by Martha
Statements like "bad choices"* "lack of discipline" and "lazy" don't help solve society problems and may even persuade me to become a soldier in the class war.* I am worried that we have become a country of winners and losers. And don't feel bad for the losers, it's all their own fault.* Paying less taxes and putting more money in the winner's pockets is what our country seems to value.* This is not the kind of country I want to live in.*

Quote:
Originally Posted by ((^+^)) SG
I guess that is the point.* Several earlier posts seemed to be blaming the victim -- claiming their lack of success was only a matter of a lack of self-discipline.

Now it is me that fails to see the point.* *
In case you missed my point:

Being poor or "unsuccessful" does not make you a victim!*

No one benefits when people are told they are justified in blaming someone, or something, else for their problems (e.g. that they are victims).* Furthermore, society is better served when people are expected to make a positive contribution to their own lives.

Because the idea of a "level playing field" is impractical, and ultimately counterproductive, all the hand wringing about the influence of "luck" in peoples lives is pointless.*

Life isn't fair - deal with it.
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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy
Old 10-15-2005, 03:37 PM   #55
 
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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy

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Originally Posted by . . . Yrs to Go
You can set up a society that frees people to make the most out of their individual situation or you can try to impose an "equality" on "everyone".* History has taught over and over again that the greatest good to the greatest number is achieved by individuals who are free to pursue their own self interest and reap the rewards of their efforts.* Tamper with that formula at your own peril.*

My dogma detector just went off . . .

HH
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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy
Old 10-15-2005, 06:08 PM   #56
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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy

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My dogma detector just went off . . .

HH

dogma: a point of view or tenet put forth as authoritative without adequate grounds (Webster's 9th)


Now which position do you think is more fitting of that description?

1)* My position that history has shown capitalism brings the greatest good to the greatest number

Or

2)* Your position that one can:

Quote:
Originally Posted by ProfHaroldHill
Substitute the word "tall" for the concept of success.* I believe that a lot of the self-congratulatory attitude of "the successful" is completely inappropriate, as would be a self-congratulatory attitude of the tall.
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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy
Old 10-15-2005, 06:43 PM   #57
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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy

Yrs to go:

I don't feel like you are discussing the same issues others are raising. Instead, you have consistently misinterpreted what others post, then argue against that misinterpretation. You seem to have missed the points of most of the posts and to be angry about something. Sorry if I contributed to your discomfort.
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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy
Old 10-15-2005, 06:46 PM   #58
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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy

Yes, life isn't fair and I deal with that on a regular basis. I say let us try to make it more fair. That is what civilization is all about.

I also do not necessarily buy that our system is the best. We still lag in a number of quality of life factors, and our lifespan does not lead the world. Research is showing class mobility is stagnating and is lagging behind Scandinavia and European countries.




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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy
Old 10-15-2005, 07:15 PM   #59
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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy

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Originally Posted by Martha
Yes, life isn't fair and I deal with that on a regular basis.* I say let us try to make it more fair.* *That is what civilization is all about.*
I agree that "life is not fair". However, no one is going to fix it.
That's just the way it is.

JG
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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy
Old 10-15-2005, 07:23 PM   #60
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Re: ER - the Rational Response to a world going crazy

Quote:
Originally Posted by . . . Yrs to Go

dogma: a point of view or tenet put forth as authoritative without adequate grounds (Webster's 9th)


Now which position do you think is more fitting of that description?

1)* My position that history has shown capitalism brings the greatest good to the greatest number

Or

2)* Your position that one can:
Old joke:

My karma ran over your dogma.

JG
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