We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
My attention was drawn to this article recently, though it is several years old. An intriguing method of balancing desires and scarce resources. I am reminded of my youth and music, playing a record I enjoyed over and over again until, at some point, I just didn't want to listen to that great song or album anymore.
I doubt I would have employed Ayn Rand's rationale if asked to choose my toys when I was young. Delayed gratification isn't something most of us understand until later in life. Today, however, I take a very different view about how I employ things I enjoy. I realize my enjoyment can wear thin quickly, so I tend to not 'overplay the record'.
Fifty years ago, psychologists played a cunning trick on a bunch of American four-year-olds. They were given a marshmallow and told that if they waited for 20 minutes before eating it, they could have another one. Most cracked within seconds, but about one in three held out and – with suitably smug expressions, no doubt – got two sickly confections when the experimenter came back into the room. Their careers have been tracked to the present day, and the goody two-shoes among them (I am sure I would have scoffed the sweet at once) seemed to be healthier, to do better at school, and to have more controlled and perhaps happier lives than those who gave in.
Austrian Economics is deeply concerned with 'time-preference' and its impact on the market, because choosing between immediate and delayed pleasures are part of what drive the market. This explains, to some degree, the general opposition to Keynesian stimuli.
Unless there was a fire nearby and a stick handy I cannot imagine, even as a child, being unable to leave a marshmallow uneaten for 20 minutes (or forever). The idea of getting an additional marshmallow would have been precious little incentive.
Chocolate would have been another matter entirely.
I was watching this old film on capitalism on Youtube. What struck me was the professor illustrating the profit motive with student studying. They ultimately study after dinner rather than some more pleasurable pursuit because they expect it will improve their prospects and they'll be able to trade it at a profit later.
Of course, these days, students study much less. Perhaps due to easier grading, but, but also, because they've been taught the evils of the profit motive, even in education. In fact, outside STEM students, the whole idea of using their education to improve a student's capital which they can exchange for much more later, for a profit, seems antithesis of the Academy's culture.
Unfortunately, after four to six years in the incubator, all the while piling up debts to support their development, the students graduate with a vague notion they need some financial capital to live off of and repay those debts, but, with little or no human capital increase to exchange for profit above that they could have earned before going into debt.
In the end, few seem to even have an "education for the sake of being educated". Rather they have regrets and lost opportunity.
Can you explain what your comment is referring to?
In fact, time-preference is a critical part of 'breaking the rules'.
Example. You ride a horse and get tired of the time it takes to get from A to B. You have a background in mechanics, so one night, in frustration, you 'break the rules' and design an auto which can reduce time from A to B by 20%. You build this car, and others like it. You start a business and are successful, or you sell the idea and become wealthy.
Success and movement up and down the scale can occur in many scenarios.
Certainly there is a predilection among most to do things a certain way. Many, if not most of us, would simply eat the marshmallow because delayed gratification is...well, delayed. And who wants to wait? Of these many eating the marshmallow, a portion are people who want to delay gratification. Upon seeing others eating the marshmallow, they want to be 'part of a group' and eat theirs, despite their desire to wait and have 2 marshmallows.
Fighting the urge to be part of a group is difficult and sometimes unhealthy, but there are benefits to both choices - it's up to each of us to decide which choices will benefit us most.
"...told that if they waited for 20 minutes ..." the rule;
"... got two sickly confections ..." the reward;
"... and the goody two-shoes among them (I am sure I would have scoffed the sweet at once) seemed to be healthier, to do better at school, and to have more controlled and perhaps happier lives ..." the long-term result.
I agree, progress does not come from doing the same thing over and over. "Don't color outside the lines", "got to think outside the box", both strategies have their place.
No, I don't think you were smart-alecky, I just wasn't sure what you were getting at.
I think the 'rule' as society would perceive it is to grab what you can when you've got it.
The people who rise up in the world are those who break the rules. Relatively few children waited. That is the rule. The few who were willing to defer pleasure benefited the most. That is breaking the rule.
How often have you heard someone who dislikes capitalism (or the free market, or Ayn Rand, or any other surrogate for the general theme thereof) say "it's greed" or "take what's yours and screw the rest"? In fact, that's an inhibitor to success in the system, as the tests show. It may be human nature (the rule), and it's what most of us do or focus on, but it's not the rule if you want to succeed in life.