Friday, January 28, 2011

CNBC has an article on college freshman entitled "College Freshmen: Life Sucks":
College freshmen are more miserable than they have been in 25 years.

That's not an opinion: The New York Times is reporting this, based on new survey of more than 200,000 college students.

Why does life suck for these freshman? According to the author of the article:
In a couple of years you'll have to get a real job. And you'll have to pay rent.

Paying rent, especially in New York City, is awful. But what's worse than paying rent is the fact that you won't live in a dorm—surrounded, all hours of the day and night, by attractive members of the opposite sex. (Or, the same-sex: Whatever you're into.)

No one is going to 'force' you to read anything interesting—like philosophy or sociology. You're going to listen to the music you love a lot less. Colors will seem less bright.

But the worst part of all is this: People you know to be complete idiots will make a lot more money than you do.

You will run into them over the years from time to time.

And you'll have to pretend you like them—because that's what adults do.

They'll probably tell you about their 'careers'. If they're married, they'll almost certainly tell you about their husbands or wives. (And heaven help you if they have children.)

If your old college acquaintances are more awful than usual, they'll tell you about the beach house they just bought—and possibly even about their 401K or stock options.

It will make you wonder how you can even bear it.

Yes, as the great 20th Century philosopher Ally Sheedy once observed: "When you grow up, your heart dies."

This is called growing up, but in our youth oriented society, where the self-indulgent rule and the self-sufficient are suckers, it's no wonder these college freshman are so miserable. Maybe if the rewards for being a grown-up were greater and the rewards for acting like a self-indulgent teen well into your 30's were less, we would see fewer miserable college freshman.

Maybe these college freshman and their parents should take a look at Diane West's The Death of the Grown-Up: How America's Arrested Development Is Bringing Down Western Civilization to get some perspective on why they are so unhappy.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

"Feminists are now amongst the most obnoxious bigots."

The Telegraph has a decent debate on gender today entitled "Are men victims of obnoxious feminism?":
Discriminated against, underpaid and worked to the bone. That's the lot of the modern man, an MP claimed yesterday. So is time for men to burn their briefs? Here, he defends himself, while a feminist reveals a surprising view....

Earlier this week I wrote that from cradle to grave, men are getting a raw deal. Men work longer hours, die earlier, but retire later than women. I also noted that while some say we should be less precious about light-hearted banter between the sexes, you can’t have it both ways. If sexism is wrong, the same standards apply to men and women. On the other hand, if you buy into the whole Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus theory of gender difference – with all its pseudo science - you can’t complain about inequalities of outcome that flow both ways from those essentially sexist distinctions.

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Burning other people's money

I am reading a new book by Michael Prell called Underdogma: How America's Enemies Use Our Love for the Underdog to Trash American Power. The title pretty much describes the book which defines Underdogma as "the reflexive belief that those who have less power (underdogs) are good, and that those who have more power (overdogs) are bad."

The book is a fascinating look at why so many people admire the underdog and hate those who achieve or are successful. From a psychological standpoint, the chapter on "Personal Underdogma" really helped to understand the motives behind so many people's desire to tax and take money from the so-called "rich" even if it means that their own wealth will suffer. The chapter describes a very important study conducted by a pair of economists at the Universities of Oxford and Warwick in 2001:
"Are people willing to pay to burn other people's money? The short answer to this question is: yes. Our subjects gave up large amounts of their cash to hurt others in the laboratory. The extent of burning surprised us...Even at a price of 0.25 (meaning that to burn another person's dollar cost me 25 cents), many people wished to destroy other individuals' cash."

--"Are People willing to Pay to Reduce Others' Incomes?" Daniel John Zizzo & Andrew Oswald, July 2, 2001

Author Prell notes that the researchers called this Phenomenon "the dark side of human nature." He calls it Personal Underdogma.

Whatever name is used, it is a problem that needs a solution because as long as jealous citizens and politicians are willing to sabotage success even at expense to themselves, and thus society, losers will prosper and winners will lose. This can't be good for any society.

Update: Cross-posted at the PJ Tatler.


Sunday, January 23, 2011

The New York Times has a fairly decent article on saving for retirement over at CNBC:
What would you do if your financial planner prescribed the following advice? Save and invest diligently for 30 years, then cross your fingers and pray your investments will double over the last decade before you retire.

You might as well go to Las Vegas....

Reaching your goal is highly dependent on the power of compounding — or the snowball effect, where your pile of money grows at a faster clip as more interest (or investment growth) grows on top of more interest....

“What the wise person does is save a large amount of money when they are young,” said William Bernstein, author of "The Investor's Manifesto: Preparing for Prosperity, Armageddon, and Everything in Between" and other investing books. “And if they can do that, when they are older, they can cut back on their equity allocation. When you’ve won the game, you stop playing the game.”

I have noticed that financial experts such as Dave Ramsey, author of The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness, or Suze Orman have cut out some of the talk about sky high returns but not enough. If I hear Orman say one more time that the $1500.00 that a viewer wants to spend on a trip would turn into hundreds of thousands years down the line, I think I'll scream. Seriously, that $1500.00 may not do all that well, given inflation,while the trip may bring lasting pleasure. Saving is a good thing to do, but falsely letting people think that just by saving a few thousand a year, they will be a millionaire someday is often like telling them to head to Vegas.

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