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.
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Monday, January 11. 2016
I imagine this is Bernie's thought process. But if he's in control, he's the entitled minority.
I don't consider my loathing of Dunlap to be particularly unusual or unjustified. I don't know the man, but his behaviors were pretty transparent. It was easy to not like him, as opposed to a Warren Buffett or Bill Gates, who have proven themselves astute and relatively even-handed businessmen (even if you don't necessarily admire their politics).
There are still other reasons why people loathe the successful, and the death of flamboyant glam-rocker David Bowie reminded me of some. Many popular music stars have no problem speaking out against successful business people or businesses - even those in their own industry. I don't know if Bowie ever had anything bad to say about the marketers who helped turned him into a cottage industry, but plenty of his contemporaries certainly had/have very negative things to say about the successful. I have sat through more than one concert (Roger Waters in particular) which did nothing but complain about corporations and greed.
As a younger person, I used to complain about paying $X to go see a band. "The greedy music companies want to soak us." I still paid and saw the band. I never considered that the $X I paid covered a large number of costs which provided jobs to people. Sure the music promoters got wealthy, but these promoters were usually making money on the margins, and managed several events which also lost money. Whatever I ultimately paid for the ticket probably covered the costs for the show, as well as some losses on other shows.
As I aged, I realized even though I paid $X, jobs were created to service my entertainment needs. I also realized my willingness to pay $X meant I believed $X was a fair exchange for my entertainment. I no longer believed some wealthy promoter was ripping me off - I was engaging in a fair trade which left both of us better off. I enjoyed my entertainment and the promoter got paid for his ability to put together a show which thousands may enjoy.
It's that way with most things in life. As a basic clothes kind of guy, I've never felt compelled to pay for clothing just because it had a name on it. I rarely wear Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren, or any designer clothing. If I do, somebody else bought it for me or I got it on sale. I reserve a special place in my heart for Brooks Brothers' suits - the only kind I ever pay more for, but I usually head over to the factory store anyway. So I'm not overpaying for a pair of jeans, or my sneakers, or a sweater. My son is particularly fond of Tod's shoes. He can't afford them, and hoped to be able to on our trip to Italy, so I looked into them. I'm not spending that much on shoes, sorry. I hear they are quite comfortable, and if you want to buy them, good for you. It's just not my thing, but I don't think anyone who wants that kind of shoe is getting ripped off. That's a choice on their part. If they want it, or are successful enough to afford it, God bless them.
The reality is people who loathe the successful feel they are somehow denied something which the wealthy haven't somehow earned. That could be called envy, but I don't think that's exactly all there is to it. Why would we be envious of the wealthy when they don't have access to much more than the average person does? I see a subtle difference between access and affordability. I have access to everything the wealthy have access to, I just don't have the money to afford it. For most of the 'stuff' I can afford, I don't worry too much. For most products in everyday life, I can afford to purchase almost all the same quality goods any billionaire can. If there are goods which are beyond the reach of my wallet, perhaps I save until I can purchase them. I'm not denied access, I'm merely deferring purchase.
There was a time, only a hundred to a hundred and fifty years ago, when being a successful provided certain benefits, and potentially access to goods and services, which nobody else could have access to. It wasn't just an affordability issue, it's simply the way society was structured. The Industrial Revolution brought into being a large group of parvenu which began slowly breaking down artificial barriers. A good example of access which is still limited is the House of Lords. Peerages were at one time hereditary, but new peerages are not. However, not everyone has access to join the House of Lords, and affordability is not the issue.
Some vestiges of this behavior can still be seen in everyday commerce. While seeking to purchase a handbag, Oprah Winfrey was once denied access. Oprah cried 'racism', which certainly is limiting access regardless of affordability. On the other hand, I have experienced a similar situation when walking into a high-end clothing shop as a young professional, wearing jeans and sneakers. While I was not denied access (my ability to pay softened the experience), I was clearly singled out as 'undesirable' until I made my purchases. I have no doubt if I'd walked in 75 years ago, looking as relatively ratty as I did, I'd have been denied entrance to the store entirely.
I have been denied entrance to more than one restaurant based on my dress. I don't have a problem with this, I understand they are looking to maintain a certain level of style, and my ability to pay for a meal is secondary to their desire to maintain an ambiance. If I really want to eat there, I'll dress accordingly.
So access and affordability are two different things. As the articles I've linked to point out, there isn't much that billionaires have access to that I don't, as long as I can afford it. I've flown first class (and yeah, once you've done it, it's tough to go back to economy, but I fly economy most of the time), I've stayed in five-star hotels (hotel points add up - I've never paid for a five star hotel), I use the same OTC medications billionaires use, I eat the same foods, and I could drive the same cars (if I can afford them, but I don't really like BMWs and Mercedes).
Why should I loathe people who are able to afford things I can't? Their ability to afford those things does not impact my life. Their ability to fly first class does not inhibit my ability to fly first class. Wasting time complaining about this, let alone trying to change this through law rather than making oneself better, is the sign of a cluttered mind. I don't begrudge my neighbor his country club membership. Even if I could afford it, I doubt I'd join. I may enjoy the game, but I'm a lousy golfer and my money is better spent than on a country club. I also don't begrudge his kids the cars he purchased for them. He's doing well enough to afford the cars (and the insurance!!), and if that's how he wants to spend his money (they are all smart, friendly, well-adjusted kids), that's his choice. I'm not buying my boys a car any sooner than I'm purchasing Tod's shoes for them.
For me, the idea of loathing success is a complicated concept. It's a luxury for those who are already successful (Bernie Sanders is nothing if not already successful) to be so cynically inclined, it can be a form of envy for those who are not successful, but for me it's just a waste of time. My anger over the success of someone else isn't going to make me more successful. In fact, it inhibits my ability to be successful, though some find it useful.
If the ability to afford expensive things is what gets you angry about the very wealthy, apply perspective. When I was 23 years old, I wanted a PC. I knew I could use it to manage my finances and prepare papers for grad school. I wound up paying $2,500 for something that was essentially a high-powered word processor. But it was good to have - I brought work home with me, I learned how to use spreadsheets and databases, and I wrote all my grad papers on it. That same PC today would have no value, it would be so under-powered, and its high-powered replacement sells for under $700. Essentially, one of the few things which successful people can afford to do is subsidize early stage technology. They overpay for it, and eventually a market develops (or doesn't), and prices fall allowing better technology to be affordable.
Why would I complain about that?
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Loathing the success of others? Maybe it's the flip side of schadenfreude.
Envy. One of the 7 deadly sins.
Sins are now "virtues" and embraced wholeheartedly by the weak minded and soulless.
It is a violation of one of the Ten Commandments. And the only one that involves thought. Envy - coveting your neighbor's property - corrodes the soul and leads to all kinds of evil thoughts and deeds.
Guy in the square in Marrakesh wanted a euro from me to take a pic of the snake charmer. I said to Mrs BD, what an a-hole.
She said, If you want the pic enough, just pay him. It's the market price.
She smarter than me.
I think those who complain about corporations and greed have an agenda or are useful idiots for an agenda that embraces Marxism/socialism/communism. Usually they cannot carry on a conversation about their comments but instead quickly devolve to name calling and citing straw man examples or conflating your views with Hitler, etc. They have listened to and been seduced by the talking points of left wing politicians who sell Marxist principles to voters. They don't really know any more than that. Some know more talking points than others and can argue/shout for a half an hour or more without repeating themselves but still have no real understanding of economic or history. It is simply cheer leading.
I would never have bought a used car if a richer person hadn't bought a new one first
All the people who ever hired me were richer and more successful than me.
In 1977, I was in 8th grade in Houston. Led Zeppelin was on tour, and I had never been to a concert. I wanted to see them. I didn't realize that all the tickets to the Summit (now Joel Osteen's church, go figure) would sell out in minutes. I bought a scalped ticket for $35 (from a dood named Scooter, odd what I remember), a premium given its face value of $10.50. I don't regret that decision at all, it was one of the most amazing experiences of my young life.
There will always be someone smarter/richer/happier than you, and there will always be someone dumber/poorer/more miserable than you. If you dwell on that you will either be unjustly elated or depressed. Work on yourself, and be happy with who you are. For comparison invites disaster.
I've scalped many times, never regretted paying a higher price than face value when I really wanted to go.
But I never got to see Led Zep. I had tickets for Rochester in 1980. But John Bonham had to go and overindulge. Oh well.
Funny that when I've scalped for myself I've always paid more by a fairly large factor. When I scalp tickets I can't use, I rarely get more than face value. I'm just not that good at it, I guess.
I once gave 2 tickets to the Big East final to a homeless man I saw in Penn Station. I hope he made some money off them. Or enjoyed the game.
"There will always be someone smarter/richer/happier than you, and there will always be someone dumber/poorer/more miserable than you."
In a nutshell.
One other category is a relative or close one that wants you to not succeed, for various reasons. I've felt a tinge of it myself and quickly suppressed it.
I think that many successful people that push for marxist ideas simply think there is something special about them and most people don't have that special something, and therefor need help from the special people.
I don't begrudge rock stars and they should charge as much as they can for their shows (like anyone else with something to sell), but I can't help feeling that tickets are over-priced. So, I don't go. Obviously, the sell-out shows prove me wrong.
Everything you said is true. Except, you really don't like BMWs and Mercedez? I'm a beat-up pickup guy myself, but they are true pleasures to drive. Incidentally, you can buy used beamers and benz pretty cheap b/c they lose their status symbol quickly for the people with money to buy them new.
My father always owned a Mercedes from 1975 onward. They are excellent cars, and I loved riding/driving them. Few things impress a girl more than picking her up in a Mercedes.
But when I was dating a woman once, I was driving my dad's car and being extraordinarily careful. She was getting pissed at the care I showed. I told her "this is an expensive car, I have to be careful."
She replied, "When you drive my dad's beat up station wagon, you're not this careful, and that's the ONLY car WE have!"
Message received. It's not how much the car cost, but its relative value to the people using it that matters. It's not like I treated that station wagon like a dragster, but she was right. I didn't treat it the same way and I should've.
All that said, while the BMWs and Mercedes (and Lexus, which my dad owns now) are EXCELLENT cars and very comfortable, I am just not that into the status. It's not so much that I don't enjoy them, but I haven't had a desire to spend so much for something that does the same job as something which costs half as much. I don't live in a car, I'm only in it for short periods of time. Furthermore, they lose value the minute you drive them off the lot, so it's not like it's an investment. I'll get more value from a Brooks Brothers' suit, which I wear infrequently.
No question - great cars. I wasn't making a comment on their quality at all. It's just a matter of personal preference.
When Mercedes starts making pickups, I might have a look at one. Haven't bought a passenger car since '98, and it's my wife's.
We have a banged up Benz station wagon that I paid less for than my '97 Honda or the '98 F-150. I still feel out of place driving it even though it is painfully obvious that it was bought used. And it's starting to spoil me. I used to laugh at people who drove cars with seat warmers, now I laugh at myself.
Indeed, envy is a sin and a sin for a reason. It betrays infantile impulses and thinking. Which, come to think of it, is the thinking and impulse of Marxism. Simplistic, half-a-loaf, zero-sum, us vs. them logic.
But the Bernie Sanders thing is confounding. I was talking with folks at some holiday events and was amazed by the 30 somethings that "love Bernie" ... even here in fly-over country!
I think it is a coalescing of the mush fed these folks in higher education, the politically correct everybody-feel-good ethic of multi-national corporate culture, and the unchallenged (i.e., religiously) selfishness of upper middle-class life. A long way of saying these people don't think ... and don't know how to think.
Bowie was a very savvy businessman once he sobered up. I don't remember him ever saying anything political. His silence and mystery appealed to the alt-rock fans while never offending the mainstream. Meanwhile he was selling Bowie-Bonds to hedge himself against changes in the music industry.
That's always been my view of him, though I wasn't enough of a fan to know for sure. He was definitely a great businessman and terrific at promoting his image(s).
I always appreciated the fact I could enjoy his music without having to expect a preachy sermon of some kind. He was a great artist. His death is a great loss to the world of art and music.
But the fact his coincided with this issue made me think more about the industry he works in. Hard to avoid the leftist ideologues in the music industry.
The announcement yesterday of his death reminded me that he had been making music for so long and yet never sounded dated or dull. His early success certainly allowed him to take his music and his whims where he wished, interesting collaborations that moved from Pat Metheny on one end to Trent Reznor on the other. And I enjoy them both.
He was also a rich man in other ways: a good marriage, children with whom he established good relationships and perhaps a bit of peace at the end. It's all we can really hope for.
You are right about technology.
I bought my first computer in 1988 - an Amstrad 640k "portable". It cost just over US$800 (in 1988 dollars). Depending on where you check, that's roughly US$1600 today. When you think what US$1600 will buy you in computing power today!
Similarly, my parents bought a massive home entertainment console round 1972. You know, AM/FM, colour TV, HiFi/Stereo record player all in a beautiful wood cabinet. It cost about US$2000 or over US$10,000 today.
Imagine the home entertainment system you could put in your house today for that amount.
Many people evidently believe that economics is a zero sum game. If Mitt Romney has 100 million dollars and some person is living on the street with nothing, it's because Mitt took all the money that guy should have. If you have 20 dollars in your pocket that means someone else is out 20 dollars. Rich successful people got where they are on the backs of poor unsuccessful people and that's not fair.
"Many people evidently believe that economics is a zero sum game."
Conservatives, and Republicans, are losing the verbal fight. In fact, I don't think they're even contesting this stupid idea.
I agree. The idea that it's not about how many slices of the pie there are, but how big the pie is, has been lost on the vast majority of the population.
Even so, those who do believe it have crazy ideas about how to grow it. The concept of emergent order is something which is anathema to many. Far too many think that economic growth emanates from the middle - from a central authority.
In other words, the pie makes itself!
"Many people evidently believe that economics is a zero sum game."
In 1915, the median US income was $14,000 in 2015 dollars ($687 in 1915 dollars). Today it's about $48,000. I wonder how that "zero-sum pie" manages to pay three times more people over three times more money 100 years on?
I had envy for the successful, but never dislike or hatred. I am a pretty positive person. I always think about things turning out well and how I will overcome problems in life. I know that I have made choices in life: how hard I worked in school, the major I chose, the career path I took, the person I married, the children I had, the house I bought, etc. that resulted in my standard of living currently.
I would never look at a wealthy person and hate them for what they have achieved. I just look at my own life and wonder how I can change my OWN wealth based on my knowledge and my desires.
I think that is why I am a conservative. Conservatives do not point at others and lay blame, they point inward and wonder what they could've done differently. It's about my personal choices in life...not outside forces...that determine my level of wealth.
I must be old, as my first thoughts about success went back to something bludgeoned into our thick and stupid heads as ten year olds in a British school:
People of Thebes, my countrymen, look on Oedipus. He solved the famous riddle with his brilliance, he rose to power, a man beyond all power. Who could behold his greatness without envy? Now what a black sea of terror has overwhelmed him. Now as we keep our watch and wait the final day, count no man happy till he dies, free of pain at last.
(Oedipus the King, 1678–1684)
I don't have anything scholarly to offer, just Old School lessons learned out on the killing floor, not in a classroom.
I worked as a tradesman all my work life, electrical contractor, and if I wanted something I paid for it with money that I earned giving a customer what he wanted.
There ain't no such thing as a free lunch
Simple as that.