Brad Wardell's views about technology, politics, religion, world affairs, and all sorts of politically incorrect topics.
Why I think anyone can make it
Published on July 3, 2004 By Draginol In Business

Sometimes in my writings I probably come across as unsympathetic to the "less fortunate". That is probably true to a certain extent. Mainly, I'm a crummy writer so I tend to write my opinions in ways that grate. But also it's because I grew up poor -- for an American. I lived amongst other poor people and know from first hand experience what kinds of things makes a person poor and what kinds of things can make someone wealthy.

Of course, bear in mind, in the United States, most people who say they are poor are probably not really very poor, even by American standards. Of course, even the poorest Americans are still well off by the standards of most of the world.

Let me tell you a little bit about myself.  I just turned 33. Still reasonably young. Generation X. I've got 2 little ones now. So the story I'm about to tell shouldn't come across as one of those old timers who tells about how things were in the old days.  I graduated from college in 1994. Only 10 years ago.

When I was 4 my parents got divorced and my mom and I moved to Michigan. I was a child who grew up in a single parent household whose mom worked for minimum wage while we lived in a small apartment trying to make ends meet. We lived amongst other poor people. Most of the people who I met who were poor were just losers. I realize that won't win me any compassion awards with the politically correct crowd, but the older I get, the more obvious it becomes that some people are losers. These are people who were too foolish or stupid to live responsibly.  The woman who lived next door paid me 10 cents per bag (when I was 6 years old) to take her garbage out to the dumpster.  Her money came from welfare. In the entire time we lived there, she never got a job. She had 3 kids, each from a different man. She had money for cigarettes though. Money for booze.  But couldn't get a job. I'm sure she would be the first to complain that "the rich" don't pay enough in taxes. Across the hall was a druggie. Usually jobless too.

The apartment complex was full of two types of people -- people on their way up and people who just couldn't get their act together. For the most part, the latter group were people who just didn't want to work, or decided that life was unfair and wouldn't do anything about it, or were just unbelievably irresponsible and short-sighted in their decision making. That isn't to say that all Americans who are poor are lazy or stupid or irresponsible. I also have met people who suffered from physical or mental problems that limited what they could do. But for the most part, the people who were "poor" would be poor no matter what you did for them (and by poor, I'm talking about people who are in their late 20s or older making less than $15,000 per year in 2003 dollars).

Some people aren't willing to work their way up. Those people want propserity handed to them. They say how it's not fair that other people have it so much easier. Well you know what? Life ain't fair. My mother taught me that.  When life hands you lemons, you make lemonade. I was willing to take this woman's trash to the dumpster (about 100 meters away from the apartment) filled with the most disgusting stuff, in the dead of winter, so that I could make money to save for college, buy Star Wars figures, and baseball cards. At 10 cents per bag. I took the garbage out for our neighbors too so I could earn a couple dollars a week doing this.  Big money to a 6 year old in 1977.

When I was 14, I got my first hourly job. My summer job was to paint, by myself, a giant chain link fence that surrounded a 5 acre property. In the dead of summer with temperatures in the high  90s, low 100s. But I did it and I got paid minimum wage.  I could describe in detail how unpleasant this job was. The fence itself was overgrown with thorny vines which I had to first remove before I could paint. And did I mention how hot it was?

When I was 15, I worked in a garage cleaning the crap out (sometimes literally) and helping the guys fix the "shovels" and other things that came in (it was a garage for escavation equipment). I worked these crappy jobs because I didn't have a car. So I could only work at places I could either walk to or get a ride to.  These jobs weren't pleasant but you have to do what you have to do. Life ain't fair.

I took some of the money I saved in those 2 years and bought a Chevette for $1,500. Crappy car. Rich kids at school whose parents bought them cars made fun of it.  But with that car I was able to get a nicer job at the mall. Still working minimum wage, it was at least air conditioned and eventually I got raises to making a little bit more. And I learned new skills. The mall job required I wear a shirt and tie. I had to interact with customers, improve my communication skills, and learn to present myself better.

When I was 18, I was able to use my 2 summers working at the mall book store (as "experience" that showed I was responsible enough to be reliable) to get a job at the bank. My first job there was driving a van from bank to bank to pick up the deposited checks to take it to the district bank which gave the checks to the proof machine operators.  It was a highly unpleasant job and mindnumbingly boring. But it paid much better ($6 per hour in 1988 was not too bad). And it helped ensure I could afford college.  I went to Western Michigan University. I was accepted at the University of Michigan but I couldn't afford to go there. So I went to WMU.

When I was 19 and 20 I got "promoted" to being a proof machine operator.  When you get a canceled check back in the mail, you'll notice at the bottom of it is a computerized number that takes your chicken scrawl amount you wrote and makes it into something that the computer scanner can read. Back in 1990, that meant some poor schmoe (like me) had to actually look at your check, make out what you wrote, and type the number and account information onto a keypad and run your check through the proof machine.  I did that for 40 hours per week. I still have occasional flashbacks to that as it was incredibly repetitive. 

But partially because of that job, I also became incredibly fast at typing. My typing speed got up to 100 words per minute by that point (still not at the 120wpm it is today).  This acquired skill would do me well in the future.

But despite working at the bank, and working all those jobs and having saved money all my life, I couldn't get much aid for college. Why? Because my mom had lived responsiblily and hadn't piled on huge debts.  I had a scholarship thanks to my high ACT scores but it wasn't nearly enough.  So I started a company selling computers to the faculty.  I knew how to get computer parts wholesale and could then undercut the local computer store.  I called the company "Stardock Systems".

In 1992, OS/2 came out and I felt I could get a competitive advantage by pre-loading OS/2 onto the computers I sold. I became quite familiar with OS/2.  In early 1993, I thought there would be demand for an OS/2 video game.  The only problem was that I didn't know how to program.  So I bought a book called "Teach yourself C in 21 days" and a book called "OS/2 Presentation Manager Programming".  With those two books I learned how to program and wrote Galactic Civilizations.  Anyone who ever played the game and also knows programming can verify that only the techniques in OS/2 PM programming are in that game.  What that meant is that all the "graphics" were merely iconic windows, not real images because OS/2 PM programming didn't include chapters on how to do graphics programming and I couldn't afford any more books.

Even still, my plan, once I graduated, was to go work at some cool company. I sent my resume to Texas Instruments and tons of other big companies. No response.  I later learned from a friend who worked at Ratheon at the time that these big companies won't look at resumes from minor colleges like WMU.  He got in because he went to (wait for it) the University of Michigan, the school I was accepted at but couldn't afford (my friend's parents paid his way through and drove a firebird).

So while failing to get a job, the little game I made did really well. Except that I didn't get paid any royalties. Our publisher ripped us off and because I was poor and couldn't afford a lawyer, I was screwed. If you bought a copy of Galactic Civilizations for OS/2, that's cool but I never got a penny of it.  But the game was such a success that I was able to use the good publicity to build Stardock up with other products while I waited to see if I could get a job anywhere. 

Because I worked 3 jobs during college my gradepoint was only 2.6 so I was at a competitive disadavantage. But that time allowed me to keep working on Stardock stuff which led to Star Emperor (a GalCiv derivative I wrote for IBM) and Object Desktop for OS/2 which I teamed up with a fellow OS/2 fanatic Kurt Westerfeld to bring to market.

And the rest is history. By 24 I was a millionaire. And during the stock bubble, my company's valuation was ridiculously high (wish I could just stick with that number ) which fortunately coincided with my 10 year class reunion!

So what's the excuse of able bodied people who are poor? I'm not particularly intelligent. I don't enjoy working any more than anyone else (just ask my mom).  But I did what I had to do.  And now I pay 6 figures in income taxes of which a large percentage of it goes to other people.  If I can make it, why can't others? If you are able bodied, what's stopping you?

I think Americans are very generous people.  As a nation, we spend more on programs to help the poor and downtrodden than any other nation.  We provide more aid to the poor of the world than any other country. 

If you find yourself thinking that other people are "just lucky" or that you are constantly being singled out by the boss or some other authority figure or that life isn't fair, then you need toughen up and quit looking for scapegoats. Look inside. In the United States, hard work, more than intelligence, more than inherited wealth, will win the day in the long run. You may not become a millionaire. But you won't be poor. And by poor, I mean real poor, not "I can barely afford a new DVD player" poor (hint: if you have a DVD player, you're not poor but if you think you are, consider the choices you made to buy a DVD player in the first place rather than how you might have used it otherwise -- my mom and I didn't even have cable TV until I was in highschool and no VCR until college and this is the 90s we're talking!).

Our country is rich in opportunity for those willing to work for it. Often that work is mindnumbingly crappy but opportunity lurks for those who are persistent.  Don't let pride be your downfall. I got my start taking out garbage for welfare mothers and worked my way up to painting fences in the blistering heat and so on today. If I can make it, anyone can.

 


 

Epilogue: I've gotten a lot of comments pointing out that I did have the advantage of having a mother who instilled her values into me. That is true.  I had my share of advantages. My dad helped steer me into computers, for instance, by giving me a Commodore 64 for Christmas. And my mom was adament about the value of learning skills and planning for the future.  But that's really the point isn't it? That people can succeed by having these kinds of values. A parent giving me a computer instead of a game machine or a parent that taught me that there is no such thing as a job that is "beneath" you are the kinds of things parents can do for their own children that can make a big difference. Too many people who fail in life are people who think they have no control over their own destiny. How often have you heard some welfare recipient say they won't "flip burgers" because they feel those jobs are demeaning? Or the person who spends their money on frivelous things instead of things that can lead to a better future?  Becoming "successful" doesn't happen overnight. It's the result of a series of decisions and actions that lead to a better life.  Too many people want success handed to them or look to blame others for their misfortuntes. As soon as you give over your destiny to someone else in the form of blame, you're doomed. 


Comments (Page 4)
on Oct 03, 2004
I agree that hard work is an important ingredient in success; I've worked since I was 15 and now I'm in a comfortable financial situation as a result of my hard work and good decisions. I also believe that there are many poor people out there who work hard but never get ahead. As a result, I've never begrudged having some of my hard-earned dollars go to the welfare system, even knowing full well that there are many freeloaders in the system. In some of the posts in this thread, there seems to be an underlying assumption that there is a viable and palatable alternative to the welfare state. If so, I'd like to hear some solutions instead of arguing about what percentage of poor people are lazy. Even the laziest person needs to eat and eventually most people (lazy or otherwise) will do almost anything to stay alive. While having a bunch of lazy people on the welfare roles isn't ideal, it's a lot better than having them in my house with a gun to my head. Part of my personal success (and Brad's too) is due to the fact that our society makes it possible. If we simply ignore the disparity in incomes between the poor and the middle class, eventually it will reach a boiling point, and the protections that society affords us will fall by the wayside. And, some folks may accuse me of fear-mongering, but I don't want to be the example that proves them wrong.
on Oct 05, 2004
Ah, the American dream ... work hard, and one day the world will be your oyster. No doubt it happens on occasion, as apparently in your case, Draginol. Perhaps you're even right - although I suspect it is stretching the argument beyond the bounds of reason - when you say that ANYONE can do it. However, not EVERYONE can do it. I think this is an important difference. It is simply not true that those who work hard become successful as a matter of course. Indeed, this CANNOT happen as a matter of course. The Western system (free market, enterprise, capitalist - call it what you will) is unable to sustain such success in more than a small minority of its inhabitants. Rather, it relies upon a large underclass to prop the whole edifice up.

What really mystifies me, Draginol, is this - you say you grew up poor, and you are now rich. Life is peachy. Yet there is a thread of irritation running through many of your blogs that suggests you bear deep resentment towards those who have not succeeded as you have. What is wrong in your paradise? Surely not a pang of conscience?
on Oct 05, 2004

.  The reason I am not terribly sympathetic to some "poor" people is because I witnessed first hand what makes them poor -- their own poor decisions, lack of motivation, and lack of personal responsibility.

The "underclass" does not prop up anything. I don't know where you get your crackpot theories.  Capitalism lifts all boats with its rising tide.  We all - even the poor - live far better today than a century ago.  The beauty of capitalism is that it is a system in which everyone benefits through people trying to help themselves and their families.  My success, for instance, has helped others around me as we create jobs and new opportunities for others.  Your ability to write your socialistic tripe right now is only because of the success I and others have achieved. It isn't due to some mythical "underclass" of downtrodden.

You say that not everyone can succeed through hard work.  Sure, not "everyone" in the statistical sense but I believe nearly everyone who is of sound mind and body can succeed if they simply work hard and stick to their goals.

on Oct 05, 2004
And you confirm one of MY beliefs, Draginol - that personal invective is more often than not the first sign of a redundant argument. Signing off in consequence.
on Oct 05, 2004
Furry Canary, did you actually read Brad's article, or did you just take a bunch of stuff out of context and make your own assumptions? 
on Dec 25, 2004

People over-value material wealth and material success.  But at the same time, people also assign "nobility" to many of the poor when none is deserved.

on Dec 25, 2004
Great post Brad...thanks for sharing.
Your mom must be mighty proud of you! It is truly a pleasure to have someone like yourself as part of (creator) this community.
on Jun 21, 2005
1. Can all people be as rich as Brad? Economically impossible I think. So it's survival of the fittest. Let's take Bill Gates, he's very fit in the capitalistic system. How did Bill Gates get there? Hard word and luck. Actually there's probably more luck involved than hard work, because if Bill were born in Somalia, he'd be dead by now. So there's always 1 who is the most fit, then the next, and so on...right up to the poorest of poor. Now if Bill Gates said :"All the people less fit than myself are lazier", a huge protest would erupt, because he would call almost everyone lazy. So he'd have to chose his target very well : people living off welfare. Everyone could surely in one way or another agree that those people are lazy ( after all, they are taking our money, for which we have to work and they don't ). Actually Bill can't possibly know that these people are lazy, just as Brad cannot know this. The fact that you started out taking trash to the container doesn't mean anything Brad, I mean, you are rich now, and you couldn't get any job when you were still starting as a poor youngster, so obviously something had to come inbetween. It's true that you have to create opportunities to be lucky, and you have to do that with smarts, but really, was there a great plan of you to become rich? No? Then I guess you have been lucky to make the correct choices. Do you think other choices would have worked out as well? Do you think Bill Gates would be as wealthy as he is today, if PCDOS wasn't chosen as operating system? It's true that you ( and Bill ) earned your money fair and square, but it's something totally different to call people who haven't made it lazy.
My dad was probably even poorer than you, he was the oldest of 9, and had to collect coal that fell from a train to heat their house. He also worked very very hard and paid his way through college and became a wealthy doctor, but he was also lucky in several ways. He had chosen a speciality which was very much required, but not because he had a plan, but because his father dies of lung-cancer. If he had made a different choice, he would just have been upper middle-class, not lower upper-class. Would that have made him more lazy than people in the upper class? His brothers, who were not as smart, are also doing reasonably well right now, but are nowhere near his league. Are they lazier? Some of them have 2 jobs.
Because that's basically what you are saying : "The lazier, the poorer". I think this statement doesn't hold a single bit of truth.

2. Why does the market have to be free? Why can't the people be free? Give everyone a small fixed sum of money regardless whether they work or not ( no bureaucracy, fraud, calling people who get it lazy... ) , and if people want to earn more and live richer, by all means, be my guest.
on Jun 21, 2005
I was having some much fun thinking about this. Let's try it from some other angles.

1. Was it ok for people to call you or your mother lazy when you were still poor? Of course not, because you weren't. So what's the difference with what you are doing now Brad?

2. Brad :"Why don't more people make it, like me?" Me : "How do you know they're not making it Brad?" Brad :"Well I don't really, but there are some many poor people." Me :"Well, there you go, the fact that not everyone can be as wealthy as you combined with the fact that life is unfair, makes for a lot of poor people. Free market dictates that a lot of people have to pay one person, so that that person can have a net benefit, and be a lot more wealthy than the people who paid him."
on Jun 21, 2005

Well KristofU:

1) "Can all people be rich?"  Of course not since, by defnition, we define "rich" as being relatively more wealthy than the mean.  The poorest of Americans are still "rich" compared to the average person on Earth today as well as being "rich" compared to the way the "rich" lived 100 years ago.

Moreover, making the "right" choices has little to do with "luck".  Working hard is not luck.  I made plenty of very "unlucky" professional decisions such as staying in the OS/2 market.  In fact, our company nearly went out of business in 1997 because of the fall of OS/2.  So the company was essentially started twice -- once in 1993 and again in 1998.

You imply that Bill Gates would somehow be poor if it weren't for the way things went with PC DOS. That's ridiculous.  You seem to assume that there are only two states: Being rich and being poor.  I sincerely doubt that there's any scenario where Bill Gates would have ended up homeless regardless of how many professional mistakes he made.

It is interesting that you use the word "luck" to describe people making smart choices.  You claim your dad was "lucky" that he happened to choose being a doctor.  That's not luck, he made a conscious choice to study medicine rather than saying, quitting school at 17 to steal cars.

2) Why does the market have to be free?  The market doesn't "have" to be anything.  But a free market seems to me to be the free-est system on earth that we know of.  It allows milliosn of consumers to choose things they like and don't like.  Those who have skills in demand -- skills that benefit society that are also scarce -- end up "rich".  Those who have no skills or choose not to use their skills end up poor.

Also, I never say that lazy people are poor. There are plenty of examples of lazy people who succeed.  However, generally speaking, a very poor person (i.e. really poor and not what some people around here seem to think of as "poor") is probably pretty lazy. That's not politically correct but it's been my first-hand experience over the years.

3) I have generally attempted to make it clear that people who are chronically poor -- i.e. poor all their lives in the US, are poor because of their own choices.  Often times those choices revolve around being too lazy to work hard and improve themselves.  My mom and I were poor for a time but it didn't take my mom very long to move back into middle class -- through hard work.  If anything, her example demonstrates that even people who get incredibly bad breaks (or have very bad luck) will eventually bounce back if they are industrious.

4) Not being rich doesn't make you poor. Your class envy is pretty noticeable. 

on Jun 22, 2005
Glad you responded, Brad.

>

I never implied that working hard and luck are the same thing. But you still needed some luck to get where you are now. Your original blog entry made it seem that you thought that everyone could make it, like you, if they were able bodied. That I think is not true. My uncle, a businessman, is a good example of someone who works very hard, but always seems to make less than ideal choices. He's rich, but not nearly as rich as he could have been, if all his strategic decisions had panned out. At the time, when he made them though, they seemed like real opportunities.
But since you are actually saying that the able bodied, chronically, very poor are in that position because of they are lazy, that's something different.

>

It just depends on what you think is poor. Since you now, more or less defined that as being very and chronically poor, indeed this statement, that I never actually uttered, is not true ( well it actually depends on the definition of rich but let's not get carried away even more ).
Maybe I used the terms rich and poor without nuance to drive home a point, so that "my" poor was, in your view, very remote to "your" poor.

>

I said he was lucky to choose a specialization ( lungs and allergies, in non-medical terms ) that was very much in demand in the region where he started his practice. But he did not choose that speciality conciously. Since his dad had lung cancer, he was interested in the disease, and he wasn't too keen on performing surgery, something a pneumologist does need to perform.
But again, that's besides the point now, since you do not mean that poorer equals lazier. Although I really came away with that idea after reading the original blog entry.

>

While this is very true, there is also a philosophical implication : if everyone tried to do as your mother, and gave 200%, there would still be a lot of losers, people whose 200% was actually 150% compared to another. Mind you, I said this was philosophical, so it's no excuse for being poor.
Note : I do not think that being poor is bad. If someone is content being poor, in whatever definition or manner, all the better for him. But, like you, I dislike the very poor who complain that someone else is to blame for their poverty.

So it's actually : We don't like the chronically, very poor people, who complain all the time about it, but never seem to get a job.
I think a lot of confusion has arisen from the fact that you told your story, in combination with the statement above, that caused a lot of confusion. There is a connection, you worked hard and became richer than the people you grew up with, who were poor and complaining all the time. But at the same time, a lot of readers, including me, assumed you had a greater sociological hypothesis that involved a linear correlation between poverty and laziness.
on Jun 22, 2005
Somehow messed up the quotes. Again.

Glad you responded, Brad.

"Moreover, making the "right" choices has little to do with "luck". Working hard is not luck"

I never implied that working hard and luck are the same thing. But you still needed some luck to get where you are now. Your original blog entry made it seem that you thought that everyone could make it, like you, if they were able bodied. That I think is not true. My uncle, a businessman, is a good example of someone who works very hard, but always seems to make less than ideal choices. He's rich, but not nearly as rich as he could have been, if all his strategic decisions had panned out. At the time, when he made them though, they seemed like real opportunities.
But since you are actually saying that the able bodied, chronically, very poor are in that position because of they are lazy, that's something different.

"Not being rich doesn't make you poor. Your class envy is pretty noticeable"

It just depends on what you think is poor. Since you now, more or less defined that as being very and chronically poor, indeed this statement, that I never actually uttered, is not true ( well it actually depends on the definition of rich but let's not get carried away even more ).
Maybe I used the terms rich and poor without nuance to drive home a point, so that "my" poor was, in your view, very remote to "your" poor.

"You claim your dad was "lucky" that he happened to choose being a doctor. That's not luck, he made a conscious choice to study medicine rather than saying, quitting school at 17 to steal cars."

I said he was lucky to choose a specialization ( lungs and allergies, in non-medical terms ) that was very much in demand in the region where he started his practice. But he did not choose that speciality conciously. Since his dad had lung cancer, he was interested in the disease, and he wasn't too keen on performing surgery, something a pneumologist does need to perform.
But again, that's besides the point now, since you do not mean that poorer equals lazier. Although I really came away with that idea after reading the original blog entry.

"If anything, her example demonstrates that even people who get incredibly bad breaks (or have very bad luck) will eventually bounce back if they are industrious."

While this is very true, there is also a philosophical implication : if everyone tried to do as your mother, and gave 200%, there would still be a lot of losers, people whose 200% was actually 150% compared to another. Mind you, I said this was philosophical, so it's no excuse for being poor.
Note : I do not think that being poor is bad. If someone is content being poor, in whatever definition or manner, all the better for him. But, like you, I dislike the very poor who complain that someone else is to blame for their poverty.

So it's actually : We don't like the chronically, very poor people, who complain all the time about it, but never seem to get a job.
I think a lot of confusion has arisen from the fact that you told your story, in combination with the statement above, that caused a lot of confusion. There is a connection, you worked hard and became richer than the people you grew up with, who were poor and complaining all the time. But at the same time, a lot of readers, including me, assumed you had a greater sociological hypothesis that involved a linear correlation between poverty and laziness.
on Jun 22, 2005
Brad,

I think it is clear that the difference between you and others who grew up poor (or even somewhat richer) is that your mother taught you all the right things. I would say that she has been very very successful with what she was doing, arguably more successful than you did later.

I don't know what made your mother become so good at her job (being a mother), whether it was "built-in" or whether she picked it up or what it was based on, but it seems obvious to me that she is just what you needed.

The question is not why you could do so well while others refused to do the jobs you did at the beginning, because we know the answer for that. The question is why did other mothers fail to convey the same message your mother taught you.

Your neighbour of these times, the woman with three children of three different men, she who smoked and had money to pay others to bring away her garbage. She did not do her job as a mother as well as she could have and her three children probably didn't do very well at all. At the very least she should have taught them that you cannot have what you cannot afford and that work is the way to afford more than you need (the welfare system provides what you need, but you don't need cigarettes).

But then I know that you know how much you owe to your mother.

My point is just that your readers do too, and that we thus have the answer to the question.
on Jun 22, 2005
"Why does the market have to be free? The market doesn't "have" to be anything. But a free market seems to me to be the free-est system on earth that we know of. It allows milliosn of consumers to choose things they like and don't like. Those who have skills in demand -- skills that benefit society that are also scarce -- end up "rich". Those who have no skills or choose not to use their skills end up poor."

This topic was meant to be more philosophic than anything.

Indeed, a truly free market is a good system to build up a society. But to me, it's nothing more than a step to another type of system.
All successful societies did not start from a free market. I doubt if education would have been as good as it is today ( at least in my country ) if it were not for King Charles, who had this idea about founding schools to educate his people. ( even though it lasted several hundreds of years before it became truly democratic ). To have a free market, you need a foundation. I know that the free market wasn't only conceived, but also just evolved from doing business in general. But in this day and age, there are organisations, like the WTO and IMF, who actually think about keeping the market free. So, if the free market is such a good system, why do developing countries suffer from it? Because the current free market is actually what the WTO makes of it : you open your borders, you get aid. Consequence : local farmers cannot sell their products because they are more expensive than the imported ones.
So today, the free market isn't just an evolution from past social and ecomical customs, it is actually something called free market, but somehow, also very controlled. In a way, you are also rich because you live in a Western nation that is much more in control, through international organisations and international unions, combined with big business and military power ( very important I think, because there can never be a truly free market as long as countries have a vast array of military options ) , of how the world should function, than, let's say, Sierra Leone or the Central African Republic.
Why is the fuel price in the USA 1/4 of the European price? Why are the Europeans trying to stop Chinese imports? Why are there still developing countries, whose soil contains the most precious minerals, that are very poor?
Free market?

What I am trying to say is that, although I think a free market is a good system, I do not think that :

1. What we have today is a given fact and cannot be changed.
2. It currently is good for everyone.
3. Our market is truly free.

What I was trying to say was that in order to evolve to the next step, all people should have certain basic rights : food, water and housing. Give everybody at least that, in some way or another, and build a free market on top of that. I do admit that the free market, as we have today, is necessary, as a foundation to evolve to that next step. There would be no more reason to complain for anyone : you get your basic needs, if that's all you need, fine, if not, get a job.
It's no more or less a system than the one we have today, it's just slightly different. Instead of trying to gauge who needs or is entitled to what, everyone gets the same basic stuff.




on Jun 22, 2005

KristofU: Thanks for your response.

The first thing to remember is that we have to be very careful in how we qualify "the poor".  There will always be poor because what constitutes being poor is statistically derived -- being in the bottom 10%tile of income generation in a given society.

In the United States, the free market tends to result in the bottom 10%tile of people being classified as "poor" and tending to be generally unwilling or unable to work hard.

To use an analogy:

If we have 100 people (randomly selected from society) running the fifty-meter dash, you will have the fastest runners (top 10% of them) who run very fast mostly because they happen to be naturally quite fast and are really pushing themselves. And the 10 who come in last are either physically unable to run very fast or just don't plain want to even try.  Part of this discussion is what is wrong  (if anything) with those slowest 10 people.

Based on what I've seen, if you grab 100 people at random from American society and split off the 5 wealthiest and 5 poorest from the group and look at what seperates them, I believe you'd find that the majority of the wealthiest got there by working very hard and that the majority of the poorest are that way because they choose not to work.  There will probably be 1 or 2 of the wealthiest who are wealthy because of blind luck or being born into the right family and you will have 1 or 2 of the poorest who are poor because of legitimate physical or mental handicaps.  But that doesn't discount the people who work really hard and succeed or the ones who choose to sit around and do nothing.

 

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