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Since we have all be programed to believe that hard work is rewarded. This diary popped into mind when readings this article

If remote life forms were only to have access to our media to gain a sense of life on Earth, they would not think the hardest jobs on the planet were occupations such as logging, or oil well drilling, or mining, or demining, or hazmat diving. They would assume they must be gigs such as acting, running billion-dollar businesses, and being a prince.
Marina Hyde concludes:
The unthinking way in which claims of hard graft pepper so many immensely privileged people's public verdicts on themselves indicates how stunningly, depressingly out of whack is their perspective on the world, a world they have far more power to change than the truly exhausted ever will.
One of the replies to the article was a choice quote
13thDukeofWybourne Pyeshot

Indeed. Or as JK Galbraith put this prevailing attitude:

"The poor don't work hard enough because they're paid too much, the rich don't work hard enough because they're not paid enough".

How often do we hear this type of reasoning when talk turns to the minimum wage?

We also here the counter claim that if the highest paid are not even better paid they will go and work somewhere else.

How often do we here that nobody is irreplaceable, but somehow the masters of the universe buck this trend?

How often do you hear someone working three jobs just to make end meet, whine about their lot? They do not have that luxury.

I am not denying that if you work hard that you are more likely to succeed than if you you don't; but that success doesn't mean you will be rich in financial terms. In some cases success can mean feeding your children today and hopefully tomorrow as well. In some cases success can be reduced to merely surviving through to the end of the day in some of the world's pleasanter areas.

When talk turns to raising the retirement age this comes from those of us lucky to earn our money whilst sitting on our ass, and not breaking our backs and risking our lives to earn enough success to survive.

Most of us wont tell others how hard we work, however those of us lucky enough to succeed [in our own minds] will tell others how rewarding our work is, and how lucky we are to do what we love.

I would enjoy hearing from some of the excessively fortunate not about their work ethic [which is commoner than they would like to believe] but how the society we all built helped them to succeed.

Earning $0.5 a day or $1 a second is no measure of the amount of hard work carried out during that time. However the minimum wage is how we judge and how we reward the hard work of millions.

Personally I would say that the higher the minimum wage is set, the more we as a nation appreciate and respect hard work. If the highest paid executives feel that this will negatively affect their bonuses, I would remind them that the reality is; nobody is irreplaceable, no matter how loudly they object and pontificate.

Originally posted to LaFeminista on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 02:08 AM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar: Just a thought and as for those (83+ / 0-)

    heralding [Gingrich et al] that children should also work I'll remind them of why we stopped making children work in the first place

    Forms of child labor, including indentured servitude and child slavery, have existed throughout American history. As industrialization moved workers from farms and home workshops into urban areas and factory work, children were often preferred, because factory owners viewed them as more manageable, cheaper, and less likely to strike
    http://www.continuetolearn.uiowa.edu/...

    "Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." Arundhati Roy

    by LaFeminista on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 02:08:33 AM PST

  •  i've said this before (42+ / 0-)

    and i may have to write a full essay on it at some point, but the very concepts of work and income need to change. with evolving technologies there soon won't be enough jobs, even if the economy fully recovers. we need to reconceive the idea that people need to be tied to wages in order to have a living income.

    The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

    by Laurence Lewis on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 02:16:30 AM PST

  •  There are few things I know to be a fact. (27+ / 0-)

    One is that never in my very well compensated career,did I work as hard, or under more stressful conditions,than my Dad did in the coal mines.

    Patrick Colquhoun wrote this back in the 18th C,the current GOP believes it still ...

      Poverty is therefore a most necessary and indispensable ingredient in society, without which nations and communities could not exist in a state of civilization. It is the lot of man. It is the source of wealth, since without poverty, there could be no labour; there could be no riches, no refinement, no comfort, and no benefit to those who may be possessed of wealth.  (Patrick Colquhoun)

    "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

    by tardis10 on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 02:46:29 AM PST

  •  The rich work? (21+ / 0-)

    I know two rich people and both are as lazy as it gets and total right-wing nut jobs. They believe that their money makes them better than the rest of us and we should kiss there back sides. Needless to say they both got a rude awakening when they meet me. I am not noted for my tact when it comes to expressing my opinion of rich idiots

    •  Yes, some of them certainly do. (9+ / 0-)

      As I said below, my dad's heart doctor is certainly "rich" (I'd guess about a million a year).  

      And yes, he works very very very hard.  

      Just as conservatives should not generalize about the poor being "lazy" because they happen to know one or two poor people who appear "lazy" to them, progressives should not generalize about "rich" (how do you define that?) people because they happen to know one or two "rich" people who appear lazy to them.  

      •  i have worked in many different companies (9+ / 0-)

        in many different industries over the years.

        I never met one of those guys whose job I didn't feel I could do just as well.

        I never met one of those guys whom I felt worked harder than I do.

        It's not just one or two.

        Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
        Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights for support in dealing with grief.

        by TrueBlueMajority on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 05:49:24 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  i take that back (16+ / 0-)

          i know one rich person who does work harder than I do.

          he used a large portion of his inherited wealth to found a school for inner city children, and he continues to be the headmaster of the day to day running of it.

          i admire the heck out of him.

          he could have been comfortable for the rest of his life without ever having to work at all, and he chose a more excellent way.

          but he is the exception

          Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
          Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights for support in dealing with grief.

          by TrueBlueMajority on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 05:52:24 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Depends on your skills. (10+ / 0-)

          It's never appropriate to generalize about a whole group of people.  Undoubtedly, there are some CEO's who, when they get there, become "slackers" or who got there simply because they are the owner's kid.  (Just like there are slackers in a lot of different areas.)  But just as undoubtedly, there are CEO's who got there through years of developing their knowledge and skills and yes, hard work.

          To be a successful CEO of a business, generally you need to have good skills in accounting (understanding how decisions, and how outcomes, are reflected in GAAP accounting, financial statements, etc. -- especially after Sarbanes/Oxley); finance (the various ways of financing your business) marketing, management, HR principles, legal principles, all sorts of things.  Plus, you have to have a vision of where you want your company to go AND how to get there (which is what made Steve Jobs so very very successful).  Most businesses are not on "automatic pilot."  

          I've known a number of successful CEO's of much, much smaller companies than Apple, and most of successful ones have to know a lot about all of those areas.  And no, the successful ones don't work physically hard.  But the successful ones I know are almost literally "on the job" all the time  (especially in today's world of instant communication) whether they are in the office or not.

          People see a CEO doing things like just walking around, or talking to people, and think "Anybody can do that job."  Maybe sometimes that is true.  But often, what makes a CEO valuable is his/her knowledge and experience, which plays into making good decisions for a company.  And successful CEO's often are paid for that --- not for physical labor.  

          I do not doubt that there are some who work their way up to being CEO of a company and then slack off.  But I also personally know that many successful CEO's not only have a varied and extensive background and a wide knowledge base, but also work very hard.

          •  To quote you: (6+ / 0-)
            It's never appropriate to generalize about a whole group of people.
            But then:
            To be a successful CEO of a business, generally you need to have good skills...
            I don't really get why you are choosing to defend these CEO's so much.

            I would submit that generalizing about CEO's is not generalizing "about a whole group of people." In fact, I think they are a quite small and measurable part of society. And if these CEO's that you see do work so hard, then why do ~40% of the highest paid ones perform so poorly?

            Just because you have a skill set that revolves around working the circles of wealthy people, certainly does not imply that you worked hard to get there. Or at least harder than a woman who works three jobs. But then the wealthy elite like George Bush would be happy to call her "uniquely American," because they think that if she only worked harder, she could be one of them. Just like these CEO's who you claim to be valuable for their knowledge and experience.

            I don't think the "generalization" that CEO's don't work hard compared to people on the bottom of the food chain is really that far off. Both studies and anecdotal evidence seem to support that.

            •  Can you supply some support for this? (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Sparhawk, VClib, SpamNunn, nextstep
              I don't think the "generalization" that CEO's don't work hard compared to people on the bottom of the food chain is really that far off. Both studies and anecdotal evidence seem to support that.
              A "study" that "supported that" would have to define "work hard" (a really amorphous term) in some way. I'd be interested to see such as study, as well as how that study defined "work hard."  If "work hard" is defined as physical labor only, it's undoubtedly true, because most CEO's don't perform physical labor.  

              And the "bad" generalization is "group A is like this."  Certainly, if you have some basis, you can say "some of of group A is like this." For example, you can certainly say that if you are a teenage single parent, high school dropout, you are far more likely to end up poor than if you wait to have children, graduate from high school, and get a college education.  Studies back that up.  See here and here and here and here.  That's very different from saying, "poor people are high school dropouts who have kids while still teenagers."  And that's very different from saying "girls who have babies at 15 and drop out of high school are poor." Those two generalizations are illegitimate, because the statements are undoubtedly true in some instances, undoubtedly NOT true in others.  

              I only "defend" CEO's from the unfair (and in my view incorrect) assumption that "CEO's don't work hard and anybody can do their job."  Certainly that may be true in some instances.  But certainly it's not true in others.  Determining how many fall into each category would be tricky at best, which is why I really want to see the study you rely on.  

              •  It seems to me that you are willing to defend (5+ / 0-)

                the Status Quo. Some work hard others don't. Sometimes the pay is right, sometimes it isn't. Sometimes, they are skilled, sometimes they aren't. Sometimes this, other times that. Unless we are willing to acknowledge that these people perpetuate their own value by perpetuating their own image of their own value, we will get no where.

                Do just keep defending CEO's from that supposedly  poorly earned image, and see where it gets all of us.

                •  You may have a reading comprehension issue. (5+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Sparhawk, VClib, SpamNunn, VetGrl, Kasoru

                  What I said is that some CEO's are not evil, some CEO's have knowledge and skills and work hard, that most people can make their own lives better through their own choices, that our social safety net should provide opportunities for people who are struggling to make choices to make their own lives better, that our economic system, while certainly not perfect (and certainly one that we can work on) is not "feudalism" where most people are serfs who can do nothing to make their own lives better.  

                  You apparently interpreted that to mean that I'm "defending the status quo."  Your interpretation of my comments is what's off.  And, of course, you did not mention which aspects of the "status quo" you think I am supposedly defending.  

                  The fact that I don't engage in platitudes like "the rich are evil" and "CEO's are lazy and anybody can do their job" does not equate to "defending the status quo."

                  By the way, I'm still waiting for the study you rely on showing that CEO's don't work hard.  Where is that?

          •  maybe yes, maybe no (10+ / 0-)

            I worked as a chief of staff for a few multimillionaire CEOs. They did not work hard, I DID THE HARD WORK. All they did was decide things that I put in front of them. I used to refer to myself as "Radar O'Rielly." In each case, I  walked away from a 6-figure job in disgust at the laziness and stupidity of my bosses. Two of them were "legacy" types, sons or son-in-law of the founders who could not think their way out of a wet Kotex wrapper, but had the alleged pedigree for wealth.

            I've had to cover up adulterous behavior from several of these rich miscreants and once had to get up in the middle of the night to bail out a drunk boss from jail, because his wife would have found out the guy was still in town banging his mistress instead of being on a business trip.

            A generation ago  or more, most people who ran companies grew up in them and made their bona fides in the same company or industry, giving them a distinct taste for the culture in which they earned their pay. Now, it seems that the attitude is that once a captain of industry they can captain any industry. Take a look at what has happened to Ambercrombie and Finch, or JC Penny, where new CEOs, with no experience in the corporate culture of clothing merchandise have driven each company into the ground.

            The crisis of capitalism is a crisis of competent leadership where those making the decisions are so insulated from the consequences of those decisions that there is no feed-back, nor attempt at fixing mistakes. These clowns walk out the door with their golden parachutes leaving a shuttered-up factory and the rank-and-file on the unemployment line.

            "There are many truths of which the full meaning cannot be realized until personal experience has brought it home." John Stuart Mill

            by kuvasz on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 08:53:00 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I agree with the "maybe yes, maybe no." (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Sparhawk, VClib, SpamNunn

              I do not doubt that there are people like those you describe.

              I've also known some CEO's, as I said (none of the huge ones like Apple or Microsoft).  The ones I've known are not the trust fund babies (no, I don't know the Waltons.) And their personalities varied as much as the population.  Most of the ones I've known have worked very had --  for some, in fact, others probably saw their "workaholic" and controlling personalities as a downside.  

              I completely agree that there are a variety.

              What I object to are the generalizations:  CEO's don't work hard, anybody can do their jobs.  That's as false a generalization as "poor people are lazy."  

              Those kinds of illegitimate generalizations do not advance the political dialogue.  

              •  CEOs are often hired for their personal Rolodex (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                VClib

                Most folks are not aware of the things a CEO does. The most important of these, more than either institutional experience or technical expertise, the real talent is knowing people, either customers, vendors, banks, or politicians. The feature I have found most valuable for a CEO  to have is being able to pick up the phone and get useful help to resolve an issue.

                So for most liberals and progressives who bemoan the pay ratio of CEO vs average employee, I have seen first hand the value of a CEO being about to resolve a problem with a phone call to a buddy that fixes an ugly problem. Sometimes that phone call saves an account, sometimes it can save or make millions of dollars.

                When one hires a CEO you are not simple getting his/her brain, you are getting their corporate contact list as well.

                "There are many truths of which the full meaning cannot be realized until personal experience has brought it home." John Stuart Mill

                by kuvasz on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 12:13:06 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  And that is something many people spend (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  VClib

                  years trying to develop.

                  In any kind of business, relationships -- with customers, with suppliers, with those in related businesses, and even with competitors -- is something people spend years working on.  And it's no less work than is doing things like reading financial statements.  

                •  kuvasz - I completely agree (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  coffeetalk

                  Few people here have ever been the CEO of anything more than a small business and have no clue what skills are required. Family businesses are often run by relatives with limited executive ability, but public company CEOs take decades to build the resume needed to assume those jobs. I know I have recruited them as a public company board member.

                  I wonder if we are the last generation to know what the term Rolodex means?

                  "let's talk about that"

                  by VClib on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 11:12:34 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

            •  Sounds like we did the same work (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              kuvasz, splashy, rudewarrior, Tonedevil

              I also walked away form a comfortable position bc all the work I did (constant nightly, weekends, & holidays) for the higher level executives only did one thing, got them promoted. I created the presentation and taught them how the numbers or new ideas would work. I did all the research created the plan, and projected the earnings.  After their promotion my reward was to train the next numbskull how to do his/her job.

              On the extra hours I never/ever saw any executive work the hours we did, not once.

              After several cycles of this, my disgust got the better of me and I left. I am much happier now and that is my reward.

          •  I have another take on CEO's (5+ / 0-)

            and/Presidents of "large" divisions

            Yes, they are supposed to have the skills you speak of (Marketing, Finance, Strategic Planning, HR, Legal, Sales/orders models)
            But they don't.

            Example,
            I tried to teach a VP of Business Development (at a $1.2B division) about how projections convert to orders that convert to revenue, for over a year, he couldn't get it.

            Of course he was pulling in around 250K (base) to be very bad at his job. There are very knowledgeable C-level exec's but those are the exception rather the rule. Oh and this guy, got promoted higher.

            I do agree w/ you that at smaller companies they can't hide their lack of skills for long. So I assume there are much better caliber folks there.

            •  My only quibble (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              VClib, simple serf

              is with this:  "But they don't."

              That's the kind of absolutist statement that is just as wrong as saying "poor people are lazy."  

              What your example shows is that SOME don't.  And as I've said, I have no doubt that's true.  I've known some who are very different, and in another comment I provided some examples of people who did, literally, "work their way up" in companies like Xeorox,  ESPN or McD's.  So obviously, some do.

              •  Immaterial to the Debate (7+ / 0-)

                What you have said might be true, but it is also immaterial to the discussion.  The issue before us is that the average worker is denigrated by the pundits and critics on the right for not working hard while executives are lauded for their hard work, without exception.  You want to quibble that you anecdotally know a few executives who have proven to be less than rotters.  Good for you.  What 's the percentage split?  When we look a the history of what's happened to this nation over the last thirty years, the maldistribution in wealth, earnings and growth in productivity, and the criminality of the executive class during that period, tarring that group as a class seems well earned.  Those executives who met those godhood standards you describe rather than speaking out vigorously against those who have exploited societal rules and plundered the nation's treasure kept silent and therefore became complicit.  Watching evil unfold silently makes you just as evil.  We settled that seventy years ago.

                "Love the Truth, defend the Truth, speak the Truth, and hear the Truth" - Jan Hus, d.1415 CE

                by PrahaPartizan on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 09:39:13 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  I agree (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Tonedevil

                edit my above comment to say

                IMHO "most" don't

      •  My daughter works for rich guys- not Walton (7+ / 0-)

        rich but rich enough for some communication gaps.  She thought she was tuning into a conversation about the new iPhone release until one said "I think I'm better off with the plane I have."  We giggled for days about that.  They work hard, all of them, but live in a world we can't comprehend.  Some days I hate them, I'm envious of their comfort and ease.  Some days I'm glad I'm me.  

        Mostly I don't care if they retain their wealth, as long as everyone in the country is earning a living wage.

        I'm not looking for a love that will lift me up and carry me away. A love that will stroll alongside and make a few amusing comments will suffice.

        by I love OCD on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 07:11:00 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  First of all, I don't think the heart doctor is (6+ / 0-)

        really rich. And he does actually work for a living at something that helps people. Most people are not going to begrudge someone like that. When I think of the really rich I think of the Koch Brothers or Paris Hilton. All of whom INHERITED their millions. And who make more money through investing rather than actually running a business.  And, in the case of the Koch Brothers, are pushing legislation that would hurt people like me.

        Where are all the jobs, Boehner?

        by Dirtandiron on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 09:13:20 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I wouldn't know what gave it away... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      misslegalbeagle
      I am not noted for my tact when it comes to expressing my opinion of rich idiots

      Can I get a Grey Goose on the rocks over here?!

      by G Contractor on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 10:02:12 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  ... (18+ / 0-)
    “The work ethic is not a traditional value. It is a Johnny-come-lately idea. In ancient times, work was considered a disgrace inflicted on those who had failed to amass a nest egg through imperial conquest, profitable marriage, or in forms of organized looting”
        Barbara Ehrenreich

    "If you pour some music on whatever's wrong, it'll sure help out." Levon Helm

    by BOHICA on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 04:45:52 AM PST

  •  Let's Keep in Mind (12+ / 0-)

    there are different paths to wealth; one being inheritance. if you are fortunate enough to inherit your wealth, you certainly don't have to work hard to maintain it-- just have good financial advisers and investments. and oh yeah, what we saw with Rmoney is with the advisers, you can pay 16%-17% tax rate while the rest of us shmucks pay the full rate.

    however, plenty of these people talk like THEY did the hard work to attain their wealth. that's bullcrap.

    regarding the min wage, it's nearly pointless to discuss this, since congress is not going to raise it to where it actually needs to be. $10 bucks and hour is nowhere near high enough, it's not going to lift people out of poverty.

    the problem here is jobs at McD's & other QSR type restaurants for years (prior to the Crash) were entry level jobs for teenagers and people in their early 20's.

    these jobs were never intended to pay people enough to support a family of 3-4-5 people.

    but because of our crappy economy and lack of jobs for millions of people, older people are now working at QSR restaurants. older people are trying to support their families with this type of work.

    "The 1% don't want SOLUTIONS; they've worked very hard the last four decades to get conditions the way they are now".

    by Superpole on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 04:54:04 AM PST

    •  Exactly (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      splashy
      The problem here is jobs at McD's & other QSR type restaurants for years (prior to the Crash) were entry level jobs for teenagers and people in their early 20's.

      these jobs were never intended to pay people enough to support a family of 3-4-5 people

      Unwitting privileged genetic lottery winner and economic engine

      by SpamNunn on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 10:28:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I Mean... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SpamNunn

        of course I want people to be paid a living wage... but McD's is low skilled labor.

        it's just not on par with machinist, welder, etc.

        just because adults are forced into these positions due to our shitty economy does not mean QSR store owners are going to go along with paying low skilled labor $17 bucks an hour.

        "The 1% don't want SOLUTIONS; they've worked very hard the last four decades to get conditions the way they are now".

        by Superpole on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 05:40:59 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  That opinion is not popular here, but it is based (0+ / 0-)

          in reality, both economic and societal.   it would be more honest to simply tax the rich more and just give the money directly to the poor.

          Unwitting privileged genetic lottery winner and economic engine

          by SpamNunn on Sun Nov 17, 2013 at 06:24:58 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  I think you've missed something. (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sparhawk, wintergreen8694, hmi, VClib, SpamNunn

    In a capitalist economy, financial success is only partly about hard work.  It is also about making yourself marketable -- developing a skill or talent that someone else is willing to pay for.   I'll use, for example, a highly compensated doctor, such as my dad's heart doctor, who I'd think makes $1 million a year or maybe more.  

    As for "hard work" -- hard work can mean physical labor, but it does not always mean physical labor.  Taking the doctor for example -- he has spent his life working hard, in terms of long, stressful hours spent on the job.  Medical school is "hard work."  Even today, he spends literally all day in the office seeing patients, and then evenings, often until 8, 9, 10 at night, on a regular basis, making the rounds to see patients who are hospitalized.  It's not physical labor, but it certainly is hard work -- I can only imagine the stress of literally holding the lives of others in your hands, of literally making what can be life or death decisions every day (certainly he has helped to save my dad's life).  

    But what you've missed is that in our economy, unskilled physical labor is not well-rewarded financially, for two reasons: (1) there' less and less of a demand for it; and (2) there's a higher supply of workers who are qualified to do it.  In a capitalist economy, labor is, to SOME extent, a commodity, dependent on notions of supply and demand.  So, if you "work hard" at a position that economically is "unskilled," you are never going to be as well rewarded financially as if you first develop a skill/talent that is in demand and for which others are willing to pay a lot of money, and THEN work hard.  Of course, doctors are so highly paid because (1) it is so difficult to gain the skills necessary to become one, so that few people can -- or are willing -- to put in the years and effort necessary to do it; and (2) there is more demand than there is supply.  

    I fully agree that SOME people are financially well-off solely because of luck -- Paris Hilton did nothing more than be born to the right parents.  But many of those who are financially well-off got there through some luck (being lucky enough to be physically and mentally healthy, for example), but ALSO through that combination of developing a talent/skill in demand and then working hard at it.  Certainly, that's how actors, athletes, and some of those billion dollar CEOs (Steve Jobs, for example) developed their wealth.  You or I may think that certain of them are grossly overpaid.  I have no idea why so many people are want to watch men use a club to hit a little white ball in a hole in the grounds, but a lot of people were willing to pay Tiger Woods.  But you or I -- or government, for that matter -- do not get to put a maximum dollar figure on someone's "worth."  What's Oprah Winfrey "worth"?  We don't get to decide that -- that's driven by people who are willing to pay for advertising and to air her show, which is driving by the number of people willing to spend their time watching her.  

    I completely agree that, even with a very marketable talent/skill and very very "hard work" (whether in the physical sense or not) not everyone is going to be Oprah Winfrey.  Surely some luck played into that.

    But just as surely, the vast majority of people who are willing to do those two things -- develop a marketable, or in demand talent or skill, and work very hard at that -- can significantly better their own lives.  College or higher education is one path, of course, but other combinations of marketable skills and very hard work (as I've said elsewhere, I have a friend who, after graduation from high school, became a plumber and now has a business of his own and after 40 plus years would certainly be considered "well off."  

    I believe that, by making the right choices, most people can make a better life for themselves.  I believe that for most people, the direction of their lives is greatly affected by their choices.  THAT'S what I consider the "American" philosophy -- for most people, your life can be affected by your own choices, rather than decisions others make for you.  

    I also recognize that life is never going to be "fair," and it's always going to be harder for some than for others to take the right path. Surely the average middle class kid in a relatively stable home is going to have an easier time making the right choices -- not become a teen parent, graduate from high school, then get a skill/talent and work hard -- than a kid born to a 15 year old drug using dropout, for example.  That's why our social safety net needs not only to provide support to those who cannot make those choices (disability, for example), but ALSO needs to provide opportunities in terms of education and training for those for whom it is more difficult to make those decisions to better themselves.  

    I support a social safety net that, for those who are in a bad situation at least in part because of bad choices, focuses on helping people get skills and talents, and developing the ability to work hard at those, so as to better themselves.  

    •  Not everyone is gifted my partner (9+ / 0-)

      is a psychiatrist and I'm a specialist in fluid dynamics, yes there are choices but not everyone can benefit by watching TED and marketing themselves.

      Success is not measured in wealth, so of the most successful people I know in their fields are hardly wealthy.

      Capitalism does not exist, what we have is neo-liberalism with a smattering of feudalism. Just look who was bailed out and who profited from the crashes of the past

      "Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." Arundhati Roy

      by LaFeminista on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 05:43:45 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I didn't say everyone has the same gifts (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        hmi, Sparhawk, VClib, SpamNunn

        and certainly it is not "fair" that I was not born a seven foot tall man with a talent for throwing an orange ball through a hoop.  I don't think we can ever make life "fair" in the sense of everyone having the same talents and skills.  

        What I AM saying is that the vast majority of people have the ability to affect their own lives by the choices they make.  That's an economic mode I believe in.  If you make the choice to drop out from high school, you are far more likely to be poor than if you make the choice to graduate and then get a skill like, for example, being a plumber, or an auto mechanic, or an electrician, or any number of other things that can help you be employed.  Even at the college level, your choice of major is going to affect your job prospects and the income level you can seek upon graduation.  Again, it's not a perfect execution of the model, but it's our execution, not the model, where the focus needs to be.  

        Not everyone is going to WANT to do what is necessary to become a heart surgeon and make that big income.  But certainly most of us can affect the direction of our own lives by making their own choices.  

        I do not in any way intend to support bank bailouts, or auto bailouts, or quantitative easing (still going on), or other things that support the rich.  For those things, the blame needs to lie directly with the elected officials who supported (and continue to support) those things.  

        What I am saying is that you can't go from there to some conclusion that bettering yourself is all about luck, and has nothing to do with your own choices.  

        So no, I don't agree that we have, in your words, "feudalism."  Feudalism means that those who are on the lower rungs cannot do anything to better their own situation, and feudalism means that you are relegated to a certain socio-economic situation by birth and that nothing you do -- your own choices -- can better that situation.  Clearly we do not have a perfect situation, and we need to strive to do more to help those in difficult situations make better choices for themeselves and their families, and move forward in their lives.  But as long as we have an economy where most people can, at the very least, affect the direction of their lives by the choices they make, we do not have "feudalism."  

        •  Most of it comes down to, who you know (7+ / 0-)

          for the very top jobs as well as being whom your parents are.

          Real entrepreneurs are very rare.

          "Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." Arundhati Roy

          by LaFeminista on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 06:10:40 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Who you know (5+ / 0-)

            As anyone who ever tried to bust into, say, a stagehand union in NYC or the carpenters or projectionists union in Chicago, there are any number of blue collar jobs that depend almost entirely on who you know or are related to. But it must be comforting to wrap up in the thought that "they" have their way strewn with rose petals and "connections" while "we" are the truly worthy who have to labor mightily to get anywhere at all.

            •  So a person who gets a job as a stagehand or (0+ / 0-)

              a carpenter for a middle class income is the same as a trust fund kid like Paris Hilton?

              Where are all the jobs, Boehner?

              by Dirtandiron on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 09:17:12 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  With regard to connections (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                VClib, Sparhawk

                as opposed to merit, yes. The same way Bill and Hilary used their connections to make sure Chelsea got her string of plum jobs. But to claim this as a class phenomenon is pure imagination. To cite the motto of the Democratic machine that rules Chicago: "We don't want nobody nobody sent."

                •  You've got to be kidding me (0+ / 0-)

                  Someone who actually works a physical job like being a carpenter or stagehand is the same as a trust fund baby like Paris Hilton.(probably paying more taxes than a Hilton) Oh, come on!

                  Where are all the jobs, Boehner?

                  by Dirtandiron on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 09:29:39 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                •  Oh, and I see what you did there; (0+ / 0-)
                  as opposed to merit, yes. The same way Bill and Hilary used their connections to make sure Chelsea got her string of plum jobs. But to claim this as a class phenomenon is pure imagination. To cite the motto of the Democratic machine that rules Chicago: "We don't want nobody nobody sent."
                  Ah yes, Bill and Hillary, references to the corrupt Democratic Chicago machine, reads like something out of Free Republic. But with no Kenya references, I'll give you that. One could just as easily say the same thing about George W. Bush, and Jeb Bush. Was it really coincidence they became successful in politics and that their Dad was President?

                  Where are all the jobs, Boehner?

                  by Dirtandiron on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 09:32:53 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I see what you failed to do, (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    VClib, Sparhawk

                    which was understand the point: all people in all place in all times tend to hire people they know, sons and daughters of people they know, and people with ties to people they know. That's it. This is only revelatory to someone with their head in the sand. Or did you think that the Kennedys, the Gores, the Roosevelts, the Udalls, the Tafts, the Bushes all attained their high positions because of pure inherited merit?
                    Favoritism is favoritism, high or low.

                    •  It's not all irrational either (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      coffeetalk

                      For example, currently I work on / lead an engineering team for a project that Must. Not. Fail.

                      When I consider who to hire, should I hire people who are known competent, or at least friends and business associates of people I would trust to not screw this thing up?

                      Or should I take a chance on an unknown newbie based on a single interview?

                      Put aside what is "fair" for a second. I want to absolutely maximize my probability of a successful outcome for this project. What should I do?

                      (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
                      Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

                      by Sparhawk on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 11:46:23 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

          •  Generalizing, again? (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Sparhawk, SpamNunn, VClib

            Define "entrepreneur."  

            I define it as the couple who started a restaurant as a family business.  I define it as my friend the plumber who started after high school, and built a plumbing business where he now employs 6 or 7 others.  I define it as my friend the contractor who, after graduating from high school, spend his life become successful in building houses and in renovating historical houses.  I define it as another friend who, while he was a mailman, went to law school at night and is now a partner in a successful law firm.  I define it as Al Copeland, who started with a tiny fried chicken place in Arabi, Louisiana and built Popeyes.  I define it as Ronnie Lamarque (irritating as he can be on New Orleans Saints commercials here) who was born into a tiny shotgun house with a zillion kids and who became rich by working from a car salesman to owning car dealerships.  I define it as all kids from really hard backgrounds who see sports as their way to a college education.  

            And even when you are talking about the super rich CEO's, some of the did not get where they ended up just because of family connections.  There are people like Oprah Winfrey, Larry Ellison, Ursula Burns (who was born to a single mother and became Xerox CEO) Howard Schultz (Starbucks), Howard Simmons (Eckert) ; Michael Dell, George Bodenheimer (who worked in the mailroom at ESPN), Ed Whitcare (who started as an engineer at Southwestern Bell), Andrew Taylor (car washer to Enterprise CEO), Jim Skinner (who started as a management trainee in a McD's restaurant and became CEO), even Roger Goodell (who we in New Orleans love to hate). I could go on.  Not every CEO got there because his/her dad founded the company.  Not every CEO got there because of "family connections."  Certainly the connections they built along the way helped -- but that's something (building connections) that any successful business person (including lawyers like me) is supposed to do -- and spends a great deal of time working on.

            Again, I do NOT mean to generalize and say that ALL CEO's got there through education, knowledge, and hard work.  Certainly SOME of them got there because of family.

            My point is that YOU should not be generalizing, either.

          •  That's just not true (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            coffeetalk, Sparhawk

            There is no doubt that it is much easier to be a successful entrepreneur if you have wealthy and connected parents. But the notion that real entrepreneurs are rare is complete nonsense. I see them every day and have for 30 years. The bigger issue is that few people have the skills to be successful entrepreneurs. It takes a special kind of person and starts with someone who is willing to spend 1,000 hours or more of uncompensated time developing their technology and business plan before they even launch the company.  

            "let's talk about that"

            by VClib on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 10:32:43 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Not just "willing" but ABLE (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              a2nite, Tonedevil

              To spend that much time. If they have responsibilities like family, or ill health, or any number of things, and don't meet people that manage to screw them over them maybe they will succeed.

              Luck is a huge factor.



              Women create the entire labor force.
              ---------------------------------------------
              Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. - Charles Darwin

              by splashy on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 12:20:09 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Luck is a huge factor - that's certainly true (0+ / 0-)

                but it always surprises me to see the sacrifices people make in their attempt to start a business. Most are not at all affluent, have stressful full time jobs and family responsibilities. Yet they will find those 1,000 hours because we have created a unique culture that honors the entrepreneur. Thank God we have not yet lost that spirit of reaching for the American Dream, it is one of the few enduring competitive advantages we have.  

                "let's talk about that"

                by VClib on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 02:01:28 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  I have seen many people do that (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Tonedevil

                  But fail. A lot depends on where you are at location wise. A bad location = no success.



                  Women create the entire labor force.
                  ---------------------------------------------
                  Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. - Charles Darwin

                  by splashy on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 08:35:39 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  splashy - my experience has been exclusively (0+ / 0-)

                    in technology startups. It sounds like you are referring to retail startups, maybe including restaurants, an area I know nothing about.

                    "let's talk about that"

                    by VClib on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 10:51:30 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Yes, I can see how you would see it differently (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      VClib

                      Tech startups are definitely a different thing from retail startups where location is imperative.



                      Women create the entire labor force.
                      ---------------------------------------------
                      Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. - Charles Darwin

                      by splashy on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 07:49:01 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

    •  "Hard work" is a bit of a misnomer (6+ / 0-)

      The economy doesn't care how hard you work. Hard work may be tangentially related to being economically successful, but actual economic success is more related to (a) your productivity and (b) whether someone else is capable of doing what you do.

      Sometimes productivity can be strange. Sandra Bullock makes a lot of money because she is a good actress (or at least a sought-after one) and she improves the lives of millions of people at a time (slightly).

      Your doctor helps a lot fewer people, but literally saves their lives and has skills that almost no one else has.

      (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
      Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

      by Sparhawk on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 05:51:56 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  From someone who spent my entire (8+ / 0-)

      career in education, at all levels, I need to add that not everyone has the ability and/or opportunity to develop a marketable skill for today's labor market.

      In the past, manual labor provided work opportunities for people who were not able to run a business, provide skilled labor or become a professional.  Even farming today takes a far higher level of talent and training than in years past.  Many people will never be able to master using a computer, much less program one.

      •  People who are not physically or mentally (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        VClib, a2nite

        capable of learning any marketable skill are a different story.  I've said repeatedly that there needs to be a social safety net.  

        For people with the physical and mental capability to learn a skill or a trade, the focus should be on helping them do just that, and giving them the opportunity to do that -- i.e., helping them to make better choices.  

        There are always going to be people who make bad choices regardless, and their lives will see the consequences.  Those are the people who need to be provided the opportunity to make better choices, to help themselves.  That's no reason to denigrate the notion that most of us can help ourselves -- not become rich necessarily, but make a better life than we might otherwise have --  by the choices we make.

        •  I am by no means denigrating (5+ / 0-)

          the idea that people can help themselves or make better choices.  But I have worked in the trenches, and it is much easier said than done.  People bring many challenges to the table:  unstable homes, poor parenting, lack of ability, poverty, community culture, health problems--you name it.

          •  I agree. I guess my comments are directed to the (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Heart of the Rockies, SpamNunn, VClib

            focus of the assistance.  In my view, the best focus of assistance is helping those people, for whom challenges like that make good choices more difficult, make those better choices.  That needs to go along with temporary financial assistance to make sure they are fed, clothed, etc. while they are given the opportunities, and skills, to make the better choices.  

            In other words, assistance to a 15 year old teenage mother, high school drop out needs to be financial PLUS (perhaps even contingent on) participation in programs that help her get the skills necessary so she can support herself and her child.  Programs that do that are the best, in my view -- better than just financial assistance without those additional things.   That's the kind of model I support most -- although I recognize that implementation is often very difficult.

            I posted in this diary because I take issue with those who seem to say, "It doesn't matter what you do, it's all luck, you all are only serfs ("feudalism" as some say) who can't do anything to make your own lives any better."  

            •  I agree with your focus. I think there (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Dirtandiron, splashy

              are several challenges, shall I say, with the intensive programs you suggest.

              Some years ago the WSJ (if memory serves, which it might not) did a series on intensive intervention programs and their success rate.  One was for people discharged from a NYC hospital after treatment for heart or high blood pressure problems.

              Another was in Cincinnati.  It was sponsored by a former officer of Procter and Gamble and focused on teenage mothers.

              Two problems were evident in both programs:  high cost and the need for long term intervention.  When participation in the program stopped, more often than not, people returned to their old habits.  I suspect this is partly because they are embedded in a family and community that reinforce the bad habit patterns.  I think this is also true for parolees from prison.  They return to what they know and the behavioral problems return as well.

              •  It's very hard to break the habits (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Heart of the Rockies

                Instilled in childhood.

                That's what the religious right depend on, doing that to children so they will be hooked into their way of thinking for the rest of their lives. About 40% of people really are not capable of doing anything much besides what they were taught as children. It's like there's a window when young that closes for them later on.



                Women create the entire labor force.
                ---------------------------------------------
                Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. - Charles Darwin

                by splashy on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 12:40:42 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

    •  It is also about the accident of birth, (9+ / 0-)

      for which Republicans and Third Way Democrats take credit. Born the tenth child in a hut in Haiti, any "I built this" Republican or Democrat--and there are lots of the latter who would not get anywhere. These folks look at the one in 50,000 ghetto children who are successful and say, "see, if the rest would just work hard..." And they think that indicates a meritocracy, that we should design society around that notion...

      Third Way D's are really no different than R's on this score. They believe we live in a meritocracy, that the dominant variable is effort, that they "built" their success, that those who succeed must simply not be trying, that the 47% are lazy, no-tax-paying slobs, etc. The only difference is they are willing to provide some assistance across the population, not simply to their own kind. But they are just as loathe as Republicans to change the rules to see that the wealth is more distributed, diversified, or just in a mixed economy model, or to regulate Wall St. to see that people's savings are not robbed or lost by the greedy folks sitting in the securities and derivatives gambling casino. "Let me put your chips on Enron for you..."

      These are the same folks who here that without Social Security 90% of people enter old age destitute and say: "they failed to plan." Gee, it couldn't be that while they were planning life happened, as Lennon noted, could it? It couldn't be that present reality, as constructed by elites and "pragmatists," makes it damn difficult for most to overcome the unforeseen but highly likely obstacles, such as physical or mental illness, medical bankruptcy,

      Take an honest look at meritocracy. Read Kevin Phillips' On Wealth and Democracy or Chris Hayes' Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy, and see how hard wired, with the emphasis for most on hard, the game is. See how much harder it is for the incredibly wealthy to lose their wealth (i.e., much less "risk" than they claim) and how difficult it is for the poor to acquire wealth. It's pathetic.

      Few people argue that everyone should share equally, that no differential should be paid to acknowledge differences in contribution. The argument instead is that the distribution should be broader. There is a chart that's gone around here that shows the shocking truth of the difference between what people think the the distribution is, what they think it should be, and what it actually is. The difference between someone who believes in real progressive economics and everyone else, Republicans and conserva- and corpora-dems alike, is that the latter stare blankly at those charts. They are impervious to such facts.

      Trust, but verify. - Reagan
      Vote, but Occupy. - commonmass
      The 3rd Way has squandered our Resistance for a pocket full of mumbles, Such are promises All lies and jests; still a kossack's about the horse race And disregards the effects...

      by Words In Action on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 08:29:53 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Well said. (0+ / 0-)

      Unwitting privileged genetic lottery winner and economic engine

      by SpamNunn on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 10:29:21 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Actually, it's more about where you are born (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      a2nite

      Born into at least the upper middle class and you are far more likely to be able to develop talents or whatever, or just coast on your family money.

      Born into poverty and it's only extreme luck and work that will do it, which is a rare combination. It's mostly luck, by either meeting someone that helps you or something that happens to change your life. It just doesn't happen only by yourself.



      Women create the entire labor force.
      ---------------------------------------------
      Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. - Charles Darwin

      by splashy on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 12:16:29 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  i never met a wealthy person in an office job (6+ / 0-)

    whose job seemed difficult to me.

    it always seemed like I could do that work just as easily as they could.  Why did they have to get paid ten or 20 times my salary, or more?

    Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
    Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights for support in dealing with grief.

    by TrueBlueMajority on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 05:47:01 AM PST

  •  In my personal experience... (6+ / 0-)

    hard work is almost always rewarded. It won't make you rich though. To become rich takes hard work coupled with risk, sound judgement, and luck.

    Just my 2 cents.

    I'm not paranoid or anything. Everyone just thinks I am.

    by Jim Riggs on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 06:15:14 AM PST

    •  It also takes native talent and intelligence. (7+ / 0-)

      Not everyone is born with an abundance of these.  This is not to disparage anyone.  It is simply taking a realistic view, which is based on my many years in public education, Head Start to graduate level.

      •  I couldn't agree more. (0+ / 0-)

        I think that some people discover that "native talent" sooner than others and some never do.

        I'm not paranoid or anything. Everyone just thinks I am.

        by Jim Riggs on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 06:57:56 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Some simply don't have it. (4+ / 0-)

          We have to face up to that and decide how we as a society want to meet this challenge.

          •  But most people can, with enough effort, (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Sparhawk, SpamNunn, VClib, Jim Riggs

            learn to do something marketable.  

            It may take more effort by some than by others.  It may take more time for some to discover what they can do.  And not everyone is capable of doing those things that some use to become well off, or even rich.  But the vast majority of people without a physical or mental disability CAN, with enough effort, learn to do something that others will pay them to do.  With enough effort (something that is more difficult for some than others I agree) the vast majority of non-disabled people can learn something marketable that gives them the potential of supporting themselves and making a life for themselves.  It may be that it is more difficult for some, and some may not have the desire, but it is seldom completely impossible.  

            We meet challenges differently with respect to those who "cannot" (physically and mentally disabled); those would "could" if they can learn how (people who need help overcoming challenges so they can make the right choices); and those who "have done" but are temporarily in need of assistance (unemployed because they were laid off, serious illness, etc.).  It's not a "one solution fits all" situation.  

            •  I would like to see a list of those things (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              a2nite, splashy, Tonedevil

              that could make a person with no skills relevant to this economy "marketable."

              If it were easy to come up with something at which one could make oneself easily "marketable," there wouldn't be so many people unemployed.

              What in the world do you do for a living that you have such a narrow view on what life is like for the great majority of people? What can a high school grad with no money do in a dying town with no big industry to support people who use personal service workers?

              For that matter, what do people who already have college degrees and thousands of dollars of debt do when the society they live outsources every kind of job they are qualified to do? Service work? How about people over 50? Nobody is hiring them even WITH special skills and STEM degrees. What can a person who spent a lifetime working in one field suddenly learn to do and get employed doing? Freelance? Piece work? That doesn't pay the bills for most people. And "make the right choices"? Who are you to say what the "right choices" might be?

              Honestly, if you think it is so damn easy for everyone to "market" themselves, let's see a list of things that a person with absolutely no monetary resources, no transportation, and hardly any skills other than operating a computer can do to make a comfortable living.

              And while they are busy learning how to do that thing that will make them "marketable," how are they supposed to pay for training, eat and pay rent?

              "The difference between the right word and the almost-right word is like the difference between lightning and the lightning bug." -- Mark Twain

              by Brooke In Seattle on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 10:31:04 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  my hard work and success (3+ / 0-)

      has been minimally rewarded financially

      and by success, i mean national recognition

      am i better off than a lot of people, absolutely.  am i even close to being safe and comfortable, no

      i think the notion of hard work being rewarded needs to be permanently retired from the arena of financial issues

      hard work leads to other rewards which have nothing to do with finances

      •  Hard work is not what matters, producing something (0+ / 0-)

        that others are willing to pay for matters far more when it comes to financial rewards.

        Some people are highly motivated by recognition or power in government.  Economists have long recognized that people value not just financial rewards.

        The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

        by nextstep on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 12:05:04 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Different people have different talents; everyone (5+ / 0-)

    Things need to be fairer so that everyone has a chance.

    Evil rich people have most of our money, stolen from us from 400 years of slavery & oppression.

    As long as you are the correct kind of bank robber, you're applauded as smart & "hard working".

    Evil is winning because it has the money to buy a media message & to buy our elected officials & to buy us with cartoony jobs that we have to beg for.

    Some rich people aren't evil, but too many are evil (the evil Kochroaches, the Waltons, evil Rmoney) & they want to own everything.

    I don't see the former standing up to the latter.

    nosotros no somos estúpidos

    by a2nite on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 07:02:33 AM PST

    •  Depends what you mean (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sparhawk, SpamNunn, VClib
      Things need to be fairer so that everyone has a chance.
      If you mean "everyone has a chance to be really rich," that's never going to happen.  That's impossible.  Those who, through their own devices, become really rich typically have something fairly unique, even if that's simply a talent (athletes, performers) a vision (like Jobs) or an understanding of how the business and the market works, and how to merge the two successfully (many of the most successful CEO's).  

      If you mean "everyone has a chance to make your own life better," that's far more attainable, and that's what I support.  

      If you mean "everyone has an EQUAL chance" -- as in, it's never harder or easier for some than for others -- that's never going to happen, either, as long as people are born with unique talents, personalities, intelligence, etc.

      •  First, "everyone has a chance to make your (7+ / 0-)

        own life better" is word play, since "better" can and is defined by many as poor people not being emaciated or wearing tatters. If they see poor people who are overweight and have clothes without holes, they assume life is fair and good. And this attitude isn't reserved to Republicans.

        In my experience, people who express the views I believe you have (I admit I could be wrong) tend to think we are minor incremental tweaks away from a reasonable solution, a more just meritocracy, which is why Third Way incrementalism is acceptable if not appropriate to them. They have no appreciation for everything that affects outcomes, the fraudulence of assuming their is a meritocracy at all simply because effort is at least one factor in success.

        I read one kossack who explained how he lost a million dollars, then worked really hard to re-earn over the next four years. "I guess I was lucky," he snidely remarked in one of these conversations over merit. Well, actually, yeah. He was fortunate to have been born with the physical, mental and emotional ability to rebound from that crushing experience and to recoup his losses. Many do not. He was fortunate that he had the social wherewithal (i.e., network; after all, as we know, it's who you know, beginning with those you know at birth, and who they know, and snowballs from there...) to do so. And he had the fortune not to be struck down by illness, his own or a dependent, or some other setback, in the meantime.

        Contrary to what you suggest, evidence shows that it is much, much more likely for people to "lose," regardless of effort, than it is for them to "win," regardless of effort. While it is true that you can't win without trying--unless you are born victorious--trying is actually a much smaller variable in the outcome than those who are successful seem to be able to comprehend, in part because they live in a bubble of success and in part because thinking otherwise is not ego-gratifying.

        I say all of this as someone who is quite privileged and has worked and lived among successful people all his life but never succumbed to the self-serving ideas and attitudes they adopt.

        See my other comment above for more on this.

        This difference of opinion within the Democratic Party really is Ground Zero for everything that ails the party and prevents it from dispensing with the Republicans and their dead, destructive ideas once and for all.

        Trust, but verify. - Reagan
        Vote, but Occupy. - commonmass
        The 3rd Way has squandered our Resistance for a pocket full of mumbles, Such are promises All lies and jests; still a kossack's about the horse race And disregards the effects...

        by Words In Action on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 08:51:01 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  The labor and wage markets work ... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LaFeminista

    much like the 'mojo' rating here at kos. There are those 1%ers with their fancy 'infinity' rating symbols, posting around like they own the place, and there are the rest of society, struggling to eek out a few more 'bars' when, and wherever possible. The minimum mojo rating just doesn't cut it anymore.
    We're out here, sometimes working multiple angles to improve our lot at kos; writing questionable diaries, recommending everything in sight, commenting in auto pilot mode. It's a struggle to survive in the blogosphere. You'd think kos would value our efforts just as much as they value the 1%...not that I'm bitter, or anything.


    If life weren't so damn hard, we’d have no need for fabric softeners. - 16382

    by glb3 on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 07:32:44 AM PST

  •  Quote (6+ / 0-)

    "The poor don't work hard enough because they're paid too much, the rich don't work hard enough because they're not paid enough".

    And here's the corollary to that:

    "The best way to make the poor work harder is to cut their wages.  And the best way to make the rich work harder is to cut their taxes".

    (-7.75,-5.64) If you like your $50 a month "healthcare plan"... you are an idiot!

    by Whirlaway on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 07:59:35 AM PST

  •  Minimum wage question (0+ / 0-)

     If you raise the minimum wage don't you also raise the price of goods and services? I don't know , so I ask.

  •  On another site I frequented, I got baited into (7+ / 0-)

    an argument with a complete fathead conservative. He regularly argued that regular workers shouldn't be paid as much as they were because companies needed to be "competitive." I brought up the fact that then CEOs needed to be paid less so companies could be competitive there, too. Nope. He thought they needed to be paid MORE so that companies could get the best talent. So I argued then that companies should pay more for their workers to get the best talent. Nope. He had no problem with this inconsistent bullshit, but I wound up with a huge headache and high blood pressure.

    This is why I refuse to engage conservatives. They're completely illogical, it doesn't bother them, reality makes no impression on them, and it hurts me. Were I part of the increasingly small "liberal media" in this country, I would not permit cons anywhere near my show just for those reasons.

  •  I have rarely seen someone who works hard (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    VClib, coffeetalk, nextstep

    to educate themselves, to deliver a good days work for a what they are being paid and to advance themselves not be rewarded.  Hard work raises your apparent skill level, as well.  

    I think we should spend less time on trying to raise the minimum wage and more time trying to figure out how to train people who have to work minimum wage jobs to support themselves to be able to do work which warrants a higher wage.  

    "It is but equity...that they who feed, clothe and lodge the whole body of the people, should have such a share of the produce of their own labor as to be themselves tolerably well fed, clothed and lodged."

    -Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, 1776

    Unwitting privileged genetic lottery winner and economic engine

    by SpamNunn on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 10:23:58 AM PST

  •  Doing fine if not 1%; credit where it's due: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OrdinaryIowan

    I'm fortunate to have a good job that pays me well, if not at 1% level, to do work I enjoy that's contributing to society. But let's give credit where it is due: some to me, some to my family, and a lot to the community around me.

    To me: credit for working hard, taking advantage of opportunities, refusing to quit early on when people said I couldn't do well in math/science because i was a girl. (That actually motivated me to do even better; not sure whether "oppositional tendencies" should be considered a gift!) Probably some innate talents that helped, such as good ability to visualize, fast reading speed, but credit for nurturing those goes

    To my parents: Not much money when I was growing up but a house full of library books, high expectations for me, and a fine example as one or the other was getting higher education from the time I was born until I was almost out of high school. Credit for the roof over my head and funding for their educations (and mine) goes

    To the community: The GI bill enabled my parents to buy a little house, and my dad to get his doctorate and teach at a state college. California's wonderful state education system, back in the day, allowed my mother to go first to community college, then to 4-year state college and get her teaching credential, then part-time at night to get her masters, all affordably enough that they could save to send my sister and me to college. Even then, though, I needed financial aid to afford a good school, and after that, a fellowship for my doctorate.

    I owe a lot of people thanks for the opportunities they gave me. I help both parents now (they are 97) and I help my daughter and grandchildren, and I view my taxes, especially those that pay for schools and housing and food on the table and healthcare, as my chance to say thank you to the larger community.

  •  In the marketplace the issue is not how hard you (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gramofsam1, VClib

    work, but your ability to offer and produce something that someone else is willing to pay for in a world where there may be many or few other people making something similar.  Those that decide the price, what to buy and who to buy from make the decision on what is their best alternative.

    When people buy things, what's most important in pricing is how people value what was produced, not the effort that it took to produce it.  If nobody is willing to produce something requiring great effort that people don't value very much, that something is not produced.

    Some people are able to produce things of much greater value than others.

    Sometimes getting the very high pay means building a business to increase the scale of what you do - see Facebook for example.

    Frequently, getting higher pay means doing well in schools that develop skills that people value.  Or developing skills outside of schools.  Getting higher pay frequently means developing a reputation deserving of trust in what you do - frequently the case for highly paid executives.

    The value of what you do is not in the effort, but the value of what you produced.

    The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

    by nextstep on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 11:00:46 AM PST

    •  No, teachers produce something more valuable than (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tonedevil, OrdinaryIowan, rudewarrior

      Investment bankers. They are not paid as well.

      Same with teachers vs pro athlete. Clearly entertainment is more valuable than an educated citizenry. NOPE, this is why we have shit, because evil rich people have robbed us of our money.

      FUCK evil rich people. America is shitty because of evil rich people.

      nosotros no somos estúpidos

      by a2nite on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 11:59:39 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Re-read my comment (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        VClib

        The financial value of something is what people are willing to pay for it, and for it to be available.  Water is essential for life which makes it extremely important to have, however it is so plentiful in the US that the cost per gallon is very low.  

        For the case of investment banking, there are far more people able to be good teachers than successful investment bankers - especially when people are willing to pay up for those with the  best reputations because the best can deliver better financial outcomes for their customers.  If I think using banker X can help me make an additional $20 million, I am quite willing to pay the banker $1 million.

        The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

        by nextstep on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 12:21:46 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Being a good teacher is MORE valuable (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Tonedevil, rudewarrior

          Than an investment banker, PERIOD. Don't care how many teachers or investment bankers there are.

          Value may NOT have anything to do with money.

          No I don't have a reading comprehension problem. WE disagree on what is valuable,PERIOD. LE Bron James is NOT more valuable than my school teacher sister, don't care how much he's paid.

          It is NOT right, fuck the market because money is more important than people. It ain't.

          nosotros no somos estúpidos

          by a2nite on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 12:37:54 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  You are talking about different things (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            VClib

            we all can value whatever we want as an intrinsic matter.  Certainly, I value my children far more than most people do.  Certainly I don't value Tiger Woods nearly as much as the doctor I described above who helped save my dad's life.  Your personal opinion as to the relative value of teachers compared to other professions is certainly legitimate as your own personal opinion.  

            As a financial economic matter -- money -- "value" has a different meaning.  As a financial economic matter, "value" is set by what someone is willng to spend -- how much of my money, that I worked to earn, am I willing to pay for this product, or a service performed by this person. That's what "value" is as an economic matter.  

            It's the same way for jobs.  I may think that my dad's heart doctor is zillions of times more valuable than Oprah Winfrey or Alex Rodriguez or or Matt Lauer or Judge Judy, but that does not set economic value.  Those people unquestionably are more "valuable" in an economic sense because there are people willing to pay them a lot more money -- largely because they can make that much, and more, for the people who are paying them.  

            What does Judge Judy do that justifies $47 million a year?  The answer is simple:  She does something that can generate even more money than that for the people paying her that.  And she does that because of the "market" -- people like you and me.  When people watch her, she becomes more of a money-maker, and people are willing to pay her more.  That's economic "value."  

  •  Good to read your thoughts here again..n/t (0+ / 0-)

    Obey Gravity - It's The Law!

    by LamontCranston on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 02:32:49 PM PST

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