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.
We posted on The Art of Choosing a little while ago. It got me to thinking about one of my favorite topics, the choices of life goals.
There tends to be a political assumption that everybody is most motivated by material and financial goals, but it just is not true for many people unless they are in dire straights. Sad to say, many are these days.
However, in normal times, normal people choose their goals, and construct their plans to achieve them for all sorts of reasons: religious, following a passion, "life style" reasons, security, wanting to "make a difference," following a calling, etc. So, while most people could always use more money, that cannot be assumed to be what most people base their choices on. Just ask a toll-collector on the Mass Pike, or a Mass. State Representative why he/she picked the job.
... one reason that people differ in their incomes is that some people care more about having a high income than others. To put it in geekspeak, preferences over pecuniary goods (say, consumption) and nonpecuniary goods (say, leisure) are heterogeneous.
The heterogeneity is the point. We make compromises, don't we, between our practical goals and our emotional goals in the endless pursuit of life satisfaction? However, most people do not have a career-related passion, in which case money and material often become our culture's default choice. I am fortunate in having a spouse with two absorbing passions: doing deals and playing sports. The former frees me up to pursue my less-lucrative academic work and charitable interests, and the latter keeps him out of trouble (except for orthopedic trouble).
Years ago, I had the opportunity to double my income and get a position of high responsibility in an organization that I was unfamiliar with. I took it - the money was too good, and it was an opportunity to make a name for myself.
Three years later, I was let go. It wasn't from lack of performance, it was primarily due to several management changes which left me the odd man out. But the changes in management were directly related to the different culture of the organization, and this is precisely what I should have been focusing on when I made the decision to make the move. In my preparation to take the job, I'd made calls to people who were familiar with the company, one person telling me "they are like the movie 'The Firm', so be careful."
Since that experience, I have turned down two jobs which would have paid better or offered more opportunity, mainly because they were with companies I was unfamiliar with. I learned, very painfully, that money isn't everything and there is a need to focus on what makes me happy and comfortable.
I opt for positions which don't require five days in the office. Commuting is tiresome and time consuming. I like being able to work from home.
http://city-journal.com/2011/21_4_meritocracy.html --an essay getting some deserved attention here and there. Instapundit just linked it as 'who killed horatio alger?'. No big surprises in it --just well-presented validations of the felt atmosphere. It's pretty long --so i pulled a particularly good passage out the middle:
The housing bubble and the 2008 financial crisis played a major role in the moral delegitimization of markets. When new developments in Florida and Arizona, built under the pressure of astronomically high real-estate prices, sit empty, people start questioning the efficiency of market prices. When the difference between a comfortable retirement and an indigent one is determined not by hard work or by a frugal lifestyle but by lucky timing in buying or selling your house, people start questioning the fairness of the market system. The fact that the real-estate bubble was the second large bubble to pop in less than a decade further undermined trust in markets as a good indicator of where to invest resources.
But nothing upsets people like the perception that the rules don’t apply equally to everybody. When my children were small, they sometimes tried to play Monopoly. These attempts inevitably degenerated into arguments. My daughter, who is two years younger than my son, would claim that my son was cheating. My son, with the official instructions in hand, would protest his innocence. And he was right: he never invented any rule. Nevertheless, my daughter was right, too: my son was engaging in selective recollection of the rules, counting on my daughter’s ignorance and bringing up only the rules that were in his favor. Despite her youth, my daughter understood that something wasn’t fair, so she employed the only response she had available: giving up.
Her frustration was similar to what many people felt after the 2008 bailouts of the financial system. The system was certainly at risk, and some government intervention was just as certainly necessary. Yet it was false to say, as Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury secretary Henry Paulson did repeatedly, that the choice was between the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) as it was proposed and the financial abyss: there were feasible—and, in fact, superior—alternatives. It didn’t escape most Americans that TARP was the largest welfare program for corporations and their investors ever created in human history. That some of the crumbs went to autoworkers’ unions didn’t improve things; in fact, it made them worse, showing that the redistribution was not an accident but a premeditated pillage of defenseless taxpayers by powerful lobbies. TARP wasn’t just the triumph of Wall Street over Main Street; it was the triumph of K Street over the rest of America.
The way the bailout was conducted damaged Americans’ faith in their financial system, in their government, and in the market economy. A BBB/Gallup poll conducted in April 2008, a few months before TARP was passed, indicated that 42 percent of Americans trusted financial institutions and that 53 percent trusted U.S. companies. In a similar survey performed in December 2008 by the Chicago Booth/Kellogg School Financial Trust Index, which I direct, these figures dropped to 34 percent and 12 percent, respectively. Moreover, 80 percent of respondents felt less confident about investing in financial markets because of the bailout. Their altered feelings weren’t the consequence of any ideological bias against government involvement; on the contrary, a majority of respondents believed that the government should regulate financial markets. They objected, rather, to the specifics of what the government was doing. One reason they objected was their perception that lobbying interests had influenced the intervention: 50 percent of respondents, for instance, thought that Paulson had acted in the interest of Goldman Sachs, not the United States.
...and of course, vice and human nature is the light, happy, hopeful interpretation of events --the one you can have if you don't look too deeply into the mechanics and cast of characters.
Hmmmm, that's Very Interesting, Buddy. I think of the housing bubble as exacerbated (or, caused, perhaps?) by "too much" Gov't intervention in the markets. (maybe I should take "too much" out - ANY intervention skews the results...)
BUT, to the main topic - my objective is to live a balanced life- work-play-good deeds. I have a job as a middling manager that allows me to go home on time every evening - so I am dependable for my family. Church with the family and a little socializing on my own with my Quilt Guild.
Probably boring for some, but I was brought up on Louisa May Alcott's "Under the Lilacs". (Although Louisa herself didn't live anything like the life she portrayed in her books....)
If I am blessed, I will have enough money to make it through my funeral. What more could I ask?