Author Topic: Success even after self-destruction: A criticism  (Read 31799 times)

Michael792

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Re: Success even after self-destruction: A criticism
« Reply #50 on: June 08, 2015, 04:34:52 PM »

Alright, I haven't read the rest of the conversation. I just want to post my own thoughts on this.

I always skip comments that start with sentences like this. Why should I read your thoughts if you weren't wiling to do likewise?

Well, I'm currently preparing to move out of the country in three days and didn't have a massive amount of time. I have more now. I'm just waiting for movers to come grab my gear today. Yesterday I was in the middle of attempting to clear post and run a bunch of stuff because the two brigades can't get their heads out of their asses. As for the next guy that says I'm racist, I'm not. I'm going to tell you my experiences, and when people are talking about "whites are privileged" I'm going to have to reference skin color. I don't give a fuck about your skin color. Every person can do whatever they want, and all bad situations can be either turned to good or moved out of. It's never easy, but it can happen. Also, I didn't fabricate anything. I gain nothing by lying on the internet or in real life. The college thing and my dad's story shocked the hell out of me when I heard them, but if you want to believe I'm lying about it then go ahead.
I write over at www.risingascendant.com

CanuckExpat

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Re: Success even after self-destruction: A criticism
« Reply #51 on: June 08, 2015, 05:09:42 PM »
It's nice to the see the original case study person chime in. It's also nice that this hasn't degenerated into three pages of arguing about privilege and race (yet). To the OP's point, here is a nicely written article that raises the concern you had: The Privilege Of Pursuing Financial Independence

It's a big Internet out there, and you can find many opinions. Or perhaps in this case, lack of opinion.
I saw the original case study as simply an anecdote of what happened in one person's situation, not as a treatise on society as a whole.

Society has bigger problems, everyone (mostly) agrees. They aren't easy to solve.
Either way, good for the people who turn their life into something awesome.

Thanks OP for raising a point that might have been missed otherwise.
« Last Edit: June 10, 2015, 06:28:58 AM by FrugalToque »
Was targetting Freedom35
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Cathy

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Re: Success even after self-destruction: A criticism
« Reply #52 on: June 08, 2015, 09:47:09 PM »
Somebody I knew once accused me of causing him to lose his personal voice, because after six months of dealing with me (in text), he had adopted all of my writing quirks and sounded identical to me. It's a real phenomenon. That said, I didn't think the letter sounded identical to MMM. It's easy to identify various differences.
« Last Edit: June 08, 2015, 09:49:31 PM by Cathy »
This post contains only general information on the issues raised by this topic. This post does not provide help tailored to your specific situation. There are many facts that could be relevant to your specific situation and I am not in possession of those facts. If you need help tailored to your specific situation, you should retain an appropriate professional and not rely on this post.

windawake

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Re: Success even after self-destruction: A criticism
« Reply #53 on: June 08, 2015, 09:57:05 PM »
Thanks to CanuckExpat for the link. I've added to my reading list for tomorrow. I appreciate all the discussion here, except Michael's input and stories and talking about how it's harder to be white than not. Um, no. If I even try to respond I'll get real pissed.

Anyways, I just think it's worthwhile to keep a compassionate orientation especially on this blog where we do sometimes like to ridicule people for their terrible decisions. It's a delicate balance of poking fun at people who should know better vs. judging decisions that someone made to the best of their ability.
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Mr Dumpster Stache

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Re: Success even after self-destruction: A criticism
« Reply #54 on: June 08, 2015, 11:19:09 PM »
What is this supposed "white privilege" and where can I get some? I swear to god, if I never hear the word "privilege" again I will be the happiest random person on the internet...

Anyway, Ethan, thank you so much for sharing your story! It was a kick in the mental pants that I needed! I had been comfortable telling myself that since I am not one of these 200k a year engineer folks that there was no point in trying for ER and I should just cut back on the old spending and watch everybody else have fun. You've inspired me to take another look at the numbers and see if I can't come up with some sort of plan.

And for what it's worth I thought this last post was the most "MMM sounding" we've had in a long time. It reminded me of when I was busting through the archives at four blogs per day!

MDM

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Re: Success even after self-destruction: A criticism
« Reply #55 on: June 08, 2015, 11:49:40 PM »
Both sides in the privilege wars like to set up straw men and then obliterate them.

Of course not every _____ thinks _____, although it sure makes it easier to argue one's own feelings when allowed to fill in the blanks and remove the word "not".

It's harder when one has to acknowledge that there is some validity to an opposing viewpoint.

And the really interesting discussions are "so what do we do as a consequence of agreeing that ______?"

EscapeVelocity2020

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Re: Success even after self-destruction: A criticism
« Reply #56 on: June 09, 2015, 07:28:43 AM »
If nothing else, this thread has been a ripping read with hints of conspiracy, privilege, and some flaring of emotions.  What's not to like :) 

But honestly, I apologize, actualethan, if I called your claims into question unnecessarily.  You just have to see how it looks 'on the other side of the screen'.  You were basically the perfect storm of disadvantages (other than race and skin color - maybe you can work on that :)  But your story was one of those broadly appealing tales (didn't finish college but had student loans, self destructive behaviors, maxed out credit cards, a felony record...).  Pretty much covers everything and then some...  But then you work your way up, kicking and scratching, 'which is shockingly easy', arriving at a $60k/yr salary.  Cue the Rocky music, you are married, new house and car loan - then you find MMM and will also retire early.  As you say:  "If a college dropout former drug addict ex-convict with a mountain of bad debt who did not even start seriously working until he was 35 years old can destroy his debts and be on track to retire early after 15 years, or possibly sooner, then ANYONE CAN DO IT, regardless of the obstacles."

I don't disagree that financial independence is possible for anyone, but it's not necessarily 'shockingly easy' (unless you are one of those six-figure engineers that lands a job out of college.  Us pampered white guys should be capable of FI in 10 years or less without breaking a sweat.  But that was not the message MMM wants to be known for, and your story conveniently makes ER broadly applicable).

The only thing I would like to add is, as some folks have touched on, one of the best things people with solid foundations can do is vouch for people who have felony records or substance abuse in their background.  Houston is chock-full of people that need an opportunity to get their foot in the door, and it is shockingly hard to compete for entry-level jobs when you have to check-off that you are a convicted felon, no matter how awesome and badass a worker you are.   
Transitioning to FIRE'd albeit somewhat cautiously...

actualethan

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Re: Success even after self-destruction: A criticism
« Reply #57 on: June 09, 2015, 08:28:56 AM »
If nothing else, this thread has been a ripping read with hints of conspiracy, privilege, and some flaring of emotions.  What's not to like :) 

But honestly, I apologize, actualethan, if I called your claims into question unnecessarily.  You just have to see how it looks 'on the other side of the screen'.  You were basically the perfect storm of disadvantages (other than race and skin color - maybe you can work on that :)  But your story was one of those broadly appealing tales (didn't finish college but had student loans, self destructive behaviors, maxed out credit cards, a felony record...).  Pretty much covers everything and then some...  But then you work your way up, kicking and scratching, 'which is shockingly easy', arriving at a $60k/yr salary.  Cue the Rocky music, you are married, new house and car loan - then you find MMM and will also retire early.  As you say:  "If a college dropout former drug addict ex-convict with a mountain of bad debt who did not even start seriously working until he was 35 years old can destroy his debts and be on track to retire early after 15 years, or possibly sooner, then ANYONE CAN DO IT, regardless of the obstacles."

I don't disagree that financial independence is possible for anyone, but it's not necessarily 'shockingly easy' (unless you are one of those six-figure engineers that lands a job out of college.  Us pampered white guys should be capable of FI in 10 years or less without breaking a sweat.  But that was not the message MMM wants to be known for, and your story conveniently makes ER broadly applicable).

The only thing I would like to add is, as some folks have touched on, one of the best things people with solid foundations can do is vouch for people who have felony records or substance abuse in their background.  Houston is chock-full of people that need an opportunity to get their foot in the door, and it is shockingly hard to compete for entry-level jobs when you have to check-off that you are a convicted felon, no matter how awesome and badass a worker you are.

You make an excellent point here.  The use of the words "shockingly easy" was not only subjectively inaccurate, but actually serves more to undermine my overall point than augment it.  I would have been better served to say "surprisingly attainable."

I have always seen the MMM blog as not so much focused on hoarding wealth or retiring early, but rather improving one's quality of life.  I think this is why his topics are so far ranging; he touches not only on finances but also physical fitness, nutrition, home improvement, etc.  From this I draw an implied message that the ONLY competition in life is competition with one's self.  If I were forced to measure my success against others on this forum, for example, I suspect I would be near the bottom in terms of financial success.  $60k is, in this crowd, likely nothing special.  So for me, when I say (perhaps erroneously) that success is "shockingly easy," what I really mean is that doing better than the you of yesterday is actually not as hard as it might seem.  Whether that means saving a little more, spending a little less, eating a little better, lifting a little more or wasting a little less time, they are all battles that can be won by just about anyone.  And forward progress can be very intoxicating :)

matchewed

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Re: Success even after self-destruction: A criticism
« Reply #58 on: June 09, 2015, 08:30:54 AM »
If nothing else, this thread has been a ripping read with hints of conspiracy, privilege, and some flaring of emotions.  What's not to like :) 

But honestly, I apologize, actualethan, if I called your claims into question unnecessarily.  You just have to see how it looks 'on the other side of the screen'.  You were basically the perfect storm of disadvantages (other than race and skin color - maybe you can work on that :)  But your story was one of those broadly appealing tales (didn't finish college but had student loans, self destructive behaviors, maxed out credit cards, a felony record...).  Pretty much covers everything and then some...  But then you work your way up, kicking and scratching, 'which is shockingly easy', arriving at a $60k/yr salary.  Cue the Rocky music, you are married, new house and car loan - then you find MMM and will also retire early.  As you say:  "If a college dropout former drug addict ex-convict with a mountain of bad debt who did not even start seriously working until he was 35 years old can destroy his debts and be on track to retire early after 15 years, or possibly sooner, then ANYONE CAN DO IT, regardless of the obstacles."

I don't disagree that financial independence is possible for anyone, but it's not necessarily 'shockingly easy' (unless you are one of those six-figure engineers that lands a job out of college.  Us pampered white guys should be capable of FI in 10 years or less without breaking a sweat.  But that was not the message MMM wants to be known for, and your story conveniently makes ER broadly applicable).

The only thing I would like to add is, as some folks have touched on, one of the best things people with solid foundations can do is vouch for people who have felony records or substance abuse in their background.  Houston is chock-full of people that need an opportunity to get their foot in the door, and it is shockingly hard to compete for entry-level jobs when you have to check-off that you are a convicted felon, no matter how awesome and badass a worker you are.

You make an excellent point here.  The use of the words "shockingly easy" was not only subjectively inaccurate, but actually serves more to undermine my overall point than augment it.  I would have been better served to say "surprisingly attainable."

I have always seen the MMM blog as not so much focused on hoarding wealth or retiring early, but rather improving one's quality of life.  I think this is why his topics are so far ranging; he touches not only on finances but also physical fitness, nutrition, home improvement, etc.  From this I draw an implied message that the ONLY competition in life is competition with one's self.  If I were forced to measure my success against others on this forum, for example, I suspect I would be near the bottom in terms of financial success.  $60k is, in this crowd, likely nothing special.  So for me, when I say (perhaps erroneously) that success is "shockingly easy," what I really mean is that doing better than the you of yesterday is actually not as hard as it might seem.  Whether that means saving a little more, spending a little less, eating a little better, lifting a little more or wasting a little less time, they are all battles that can be won by just about anyone.  And forward progress can be very intoxicating :)

You're supposed to drop the mic after that.

windawake

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Re: Success even after self-destruction: A criticism
« Reply #59 on: June 09, 2015, 12:01:22 PM »
It's infuriating when white men say, heh heh where's this white privilege and how can I get some? The fact that you are unaware of it is indicative of the fact that you have it. Do you fear walking your safe neighborhood at night because someone might assault you based solely on your gender? Are you targeted by police disproportionately because of your skin color? No. You have so many benefits that many others do not have. You're more likely to be hired and paid better, more likely to be accepted to college, and others. Just stop with that attitude.

Privilege doesn't mean you're bad or that you didn't work hard for what you have. It just means that a person with similar qualifications would have to work much harder if they were of a minority group.
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Mr Dumpster Stache

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Re: Success even after self-destruction: A criticism
« Reply #60 on: June 09, 2015, 12:23:04 PM »
It's infuriating when white men say,

I infuriate you, you infuriate me, I guess we're even? ;)

MDM

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Re: Success even after self-destruction: A criticism
« Reply #61 on: June 09, 2015, 12:40:56 PM »
It's infuriating when white men say,
I infuriate you, you infuriate me, I guess we're even? ;)

Either of you care to write a serious example of when the other's viewpoint would be accurate?

dramaman

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Re: Success even after self-destruction: A criticism
« Reply #62 on: June 09, 2015, 01:13:30 PM »
I haven't had a chance to thoroughly read the whole thread of comments, but I did skim them. My apologies if someone else brought this up, but one thing that jumped out at me reading the post and the MMM's claim that it proved that Mustachianism works no matter what was that this was a single anecdote with a heavy dose survivor bias. In the relatively brief narrative we see a person who climbed out of a hole and then later got on the Mustachian bandwagon. That in and of itself is definitely praiseworthy and evidence that success is possible, but it doesn't really prove MMM's assertion that Mustachiansim cannot be defeated. Even if one removes the question of privilege, I find it difficult to accept that the same pluck and resolve will necessarily be rewarded with the same outcome and that every outcome will be met with success. Thus the narrative makes for great personal testimony, but not much else.

sol

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Re: Success even after self-destruction: A criticism
« Reply #63 on: June 09, 2015, 02:10:57 PM »
It's infuriating when white men say, heh heh where's this white privilege and how can I get some? The fact that you are unaware of it is indicative of the fact that you have it. Do you fear walking your safe neighborhood at night because someone might assault you based solely on your gender? Are you targeted by police disproportionately because of your skin color? No. You have so many benefits that many others do not have. You're more likely to be hired and paid better, more likely to be accepted to college, and others. Just stop with that attitude.

While I appreciate windawake's attempts to highlight inequality in the world, I think her specific examples here are probably not the best ones available.

I fear walking in lots of neighborhoods at night.  Sometimes because of my gender (men are disproportionately the victims of physical violence) and sometime because of my skin color (I have only been beaten to a bloody pulp once in my life, and it was because I was a white kid in a black space).  Yes, violence against women is a terrible problem and a blight on our civilization.  It's just less prevalent than violence against men. 

Everyone fears walking in a bad neighborhood at night.  Don't confuse rational evaluation of a safety hazard with targeted race or gender discrimination.

I agree with the assessment of police bias.  I've never encountered a police officer who wanted to harm me, as long as I was polite and compliant.  Some of my less polite and less compliant friends, of all skin colors, have been less "fortunate" in their police encounters.  I'm sure there are some cops who are inadvertently racist, but I'm also pretty sure that ALL cops are deliberately aggressive with people who have bad attitudes.  I'm not discounting race as a factor in police treatment, I just don't think it's number one on the list of determinative factors.

I also agree that as a white male I am more likely to be hired for most jobs.  Not my particular job, not even my category of job, but across the economy I think white people and male people both receive some degree of subconscious preferential treatment in hiring decision.  Some jobs are harder for men to get (primary schoolteachers, for example) and some jobs are harder for white people to get (explicit racial minority hiring quotas still exist in some places) but on the whole employment bias favors men, because hiring managers of both genders still perceive men as more qualified than equivalent female candidates.  You can hardly fault the applicants for this, though.

I disagree that men are more likely to be accepted to college.  Women make up the majority of college applicants, a larger majority of college students, and an even larger majority of college graduates.  For the past 20 years male students have faced an increasingly uphill battle in accessing quality education.  I suggest avoiding this example if you're trying to highlight bias against women, because this is one area where bias works in their favor.
« Last Edit: June 09, 2015, 02:13:36 PM by sol »

MMM

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Re: Success even after self-destruction: A criticism
« Reply #64 on: June 09, 2015, 02:11:53 PM »
This thread has been great. Thank you, Actual Ethan, for joining and clearing things up.

To the people who thought I was making this up: I am insulted by your allegations! I don't lie on the blog - if you look at the other fictional tales/characters I've used, you will see I always labeled them as such.

As for the similar writing style: you are right, the man does bust some fine sentences, which is of course why I found his stuff to be worth sharing. It was survivorship bias - I get hundreds of reader stories, but most aren't entertaining like this story was so they tend to go into the "maybe share this great story later" folder.

 He practices "Outrageous optimism", and when you do that in your real life, it leaks out into your writing.

Privilege, as I always say, is real but it doesn't matter for the mission of this blog. It is specifically targeted at high-earners, whether privileged or not, as a part of a mission to slow the pace at which they (we) destroy the Earth, and get us interested in something else besides consumption. The principles apply just as well or better with real hardship, but I don't often write from that perspective because there is still plenty of work left to do on Mission #1.

brooklynguy

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Re: Success even after self-destruction: A criticism
« Reply #65 on: June 09, 2015, 02:21:45 PM »
Crikey, the conspiracy runs deeper than we thought!  Now they've concocted an MMM impersonator to weigh in on this thread in a feeble attempt to buttress the nonexistence of a conspiracy!  :)

windawake

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Re: Success even after self-destruction: A criticism
« Reply #66 on: June 09, 2015, 03:03:56 PM »
It's infuriating when white men say, heh heh where's this white privilege and how can I get some? The fact that you are unaware of it is indicative of the fact that you have it. Do you fear walking your safe neighborhood at night because someone might assault you based solely on your gender? Are you targeted by police disproportionately because of your skin color? No. You have so many benefits that many others do not have. You're more likely to be hired and paid better, more likely to be accepted to college, and others. Just stop with that attitude.

While I appreciate windawake's attempts to highlight inequality in the world, I think her specific examples here are probably not the best ones available.

I fear walking in lots of neighborhoods at night.  Sometimes because of my gender (men are disproportionately the victims of physical violence) and sometime because of my skin color (I have only been beaten to a bloody pulp once in my life, and it was because I was a white kid in a black space).  Yes, violence against women is a terrible problem and a blight on our civilization.  It's just less prevalent than violence against men. 

Everyone fears walking in a bad neighborhood at night.  Don't confuse rational evaluation of a safety hazard with targeted race or gender discrimination.

I agree with the assessment of police bias.  I've never encountered a police officer who wanted to harm me, as long as I was polite and compliant.  Some of my less polite and less compliant friends, of all skin colors, have been less "fortunate" in their police encounters.  I'm sure there are some cops who are inadvertently racist, but I'm also pretty sure that ALL cops are deliberately aggressive with people who have bad attitudes.  I'm not discounting race as a factor in police treatment, I just don't think it's number one on the list of determinative factors.

I also agree that as a white male I am more likely to be hired for most jobs.  Not my particular job, not even my category of job, but across the economy I think white people and male people both receive some degree of subconscious preferential treatment in hiring decision.  Some jobs are harder for men to get (primary schoolteachers, for example) and some jobs are harder for white people to get (explicit racial minority hiring quotas still exist in some places) but on the whole employment bias favors men, because hiring managers of both genders still perceive men as more qualified than equivalent female candidates.  You can hardly fault the applicants for this, though.

I disagree that men are more likely to be accepted to college.  Women make up the majority of college applicants, a larger majority of college students, and an even larger majority of college graduates.  For the past 20 years male students have faced an increasingly uphill battle in accessing quality education.  I suggest avoiding this example if you're trying to highlight bias against women, because this is one area where bias works in their favor.

Hey sol,

Yeah I kinda pulled those examples out of my ass because I'm too busy today to look up stats.

I would argue that the fear most women and LGBT people have walking at night is different and more pervasive than what men may experience. Anytime I'm walking home, even in my safe neighborhood, I clutch my keys in my fist so they jut out like I'm Wolverine. Sure, all people experience fear and danger in certain situations. In this particular case, it's about fear when there shouldn't be fear because of one's gender or sexual orientation.
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TheBuddha

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Re: Success even after self-destruction: A criticism
« Reply #67 on: June 09, 2015, 03:17:33 PM »
Do other areas of the world have the same types of discussions? Are people wringing their hands in Africa about black privilege? The Chinese about Chinese privilege? Serious question.

Debt-free as of 9/11/15. Paid off $50k in 3.5 years.

matchewed

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Re: Success even after self-destruction: A criticism
« Reply #68 on: June 09, 2015, 03:32:02 PM »
Do other areas of the world have the same types of discussions? Are people wringing their hands in Africa about black privilege? The Chinese about Chinese privilege? Serious question.

Well frankly in Africa is a huge place, attempting to paint it in one way is kind of stupid, they suffer from different socioeconomic cultural concerns depending on the country/region but I imagine a similar concept happens in many places. I'm quite certain white privilege exists in South Africa. If the overall concept of privilege can be described as having an advantage socioeconomically due to... reasons, then yes it can be said it exists elsewhere, whether that is being discussed is a different matter. I imagine you'd have to immerse yourself a bit more in those cultures in order to answer that.

Quick google check though shows that Singapore has problems with privilege.

So yes probably other places have these discussions too. I think what's more important is to still focus on the self and improve your situation no matter where you are on the start line.

lhamo

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Re: Success even after self-destruction: A criticism
« Reply #69 on: June 09, 2015, 03:47:22 PM »
Do other areas of the world have the same types of discussions? Are people wringing their hands in Africa about black privilege? The Chinese about Chinese privilege? Serious question.

White people in Asia in many cases are swimming in a bigger pool of privilege than locals.

Mainstream, urban, well-off ethnic Han Chinese certainly have more privilege than their poor, migrant or minority counterparts in China.  For the last several years it has often been difficult if not impossible for ethnic minorities from Xinjiang and Tibetan areas of China to rent hotel rooms in large cities, for example (fear that they are terrorists or going to light themselves on fire in the lobby...).  Discrimination against ethnic minorities is very real here. 
Wherever you go, there you are

sol

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Re: Success even after self-destruction: A criticism
« Reply #70 on: June 09, 2015, 03:59:00 PM »
Do other areas of the world have the same types of discussions? Are people wringing their hands in Africa about black privilege? The Chinese about Chinese privilege? Serious question.

Yes.  Africa is the most racist place I've ever been.


EscapeVelocity2020

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Re: Success even after self-destruction: A criticism
« Reply #71 on: June 09, 2015, 04:26:34 PM »
Do other areas of the world have the same types of discussions? Are people wringing their hands in Africa about black privilege? The Chinese about Chinese privilege? Serious question.

I'd guess, from limited experience, that every culture and nation has its own ideas about 'privilege' and perception of social injustice.  For instance, in the U.A.E., an American would perceive there to be an issue in how locals treat immigrant labor (construction workers, gardeners, nannys, etc.), but it is not perceived as an 'issue' by the locals.   On the flip side, Norway is very egalitarian, but perceptions of social and moral injustices dominate their headlines.  I'm sure China and countries in Africa have their 'quirks', but I haven't spent as much time there to get to know the cultures.

So I guess, as a quick answer, 'yes', most nations also have their versions of 'privilege', but some are more and some are less concerned or progressive about dealing with it. 

As to relevance to MMM, you'd definitely be screwed trying to implement FIRE starting as a Pakastani taxi driver who moved to the U.A.E. because it afforded a better life for his family back home, and certainly have an easier time if you are born in Norway.  Kinda depressing, but it's worth being aware of, just in case you are ever feeling like busting out your own 'FIRE is too hard' pity party :)
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ender

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Re: Success even after self-destruction: A criticism
« Reply #72 on: June 09, 2015, 05:07:42 PM »
MMM is quick to point out that the Medium article is very complainypants, but that really rubs me the wrong way. I think the Medium article touches on (briefly) a very important, very relevant criticism of the MMM philosophy, which is that all of us who retire early or are on track to are RIDICULOUSLY PRIVILEGED.

I don't know why people don't believe there is some level of privilege/luck involved to early retiring. I fully admit that I have been incredibly blessed, first by my parents being competent/present, having a nuclear family growing up, having parents who parent me and actually attempt to raise me, and being intelligent.

Any of us here are capable of a basic level of self control with money that the majority of the population doesn't have (privilege? learned character quality? all a matter of perspective) and in general we have decent incomes/careers.

Most here as individuals make more than the median income of $51k/year.

It's not badass to save 40% of your income if you make 100k a year. It's badass if you save 40% of your income if you make $30k/year and support a family. That latter category is the one which is missing the "privilege" that the former has.

MMM's audience has never been the latter category, though, it's people who make that 100k a year and manage to save -5% a year.

SwordGuy

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Re: Success even after self-destruction: A criticism
« Reply #73 on: June 09, 2015, 05:54:46 PM »
... just to see my tax dollars go to droning people in Syria or giving bombs and guns to warlords in Africa...basically 99% of what our taxes are spent on I disagree with outright or have major qualms with the implementation of it. ...

The problem with rants is that grammatical precision is often lost and therefore one's meaning is often unclear.

First of all, 99% of our tax money does NOT go to bombing people in Syria and guns to warlords in Africa (or anywhere else, or even preparing to do so 'just in case').   That is a matter of pure fact that a few minutes of actual research could prove to any reasonably open mind.

Social services and military defense comprise the overwhelming bulk of our federal expenditures.  Education and social services comprise the bulk of our state and local tax expenditures.

If you're complaint is that the government wastes a lot of money in meeting those needs, you would be right.

I would ask you what you have personally done about it in a get-off-your-ass and do the work sort of way.  Have you volunteered to be on any city, county or state commissions or boards of trustees?   There are  host of such positions available and in need of volunteers to do them.  They are a real way in which a regular citizen can have a much bigger voice in their government than you would ever believe.    Your local government website probably has a listing of them.

For example, I've served on an advisory committee to the mass transit authority in my city.  We regular citizens advised the transit authority and the city government as to what its priorities should be in the mass transit realm and our recommendations were largely followed.

As another example, I served on the board of directors for my county's department of mental health.   This was more than an advisory position.  All departmental employees were county employees except for the head of the agency.  The head of the agency worked at the pleasure of the board of directors.   In other words, if the head of the agency doesn't do what the board of directors thinks should be done, that person could be out of a job pronto.   Let me tell you, that sort of arrangement provides proper motivation to listen to the regular citizens on the board.

And how did I get on said committees or boards?   I showed up at their meetings, listened and took notes.   I filled out the application and sent it in.  No one knew who I was ahead of time, I'm not part of the old boy's club, etc.   

No plan will work for all people in all circumstances.   To think otherwise is to be foolish in the extreme.  MMM gives useful, pragmatic, workable advice that will help darn near anyone improve their situation.  Will everyone end up FI at age 35?  No.  Will everyone end up FI at age 45?  No.   Will everyone end up better off by following his advice?  No.  But damn near everyone will.  And you can take that to the bank.

So, instead of revving up the whining engine about those it won't help, why don't we focus on getting those that will be helped this kind of good advice and expect them to follow it?   They are bound to end up better off than simply listening to you whine excuses for them.   

Then, with those who can help themselves no longer needing as much help to get ahead, we can focus our resources on helping those for which MMM's advice truly won't help.   That would be people with something more serious than a severe case of whiner's brain.
 

Roses

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Re: Success even after self-destruction: A criticism
« Reply #74 on: June 10, 2015, 02:24:59 AM »
This thread has been great. Thank you, Actual Ethan, for joining and clearing things up.

To the people who thought I was making this up: I am insulted by your allegations! I don't lie on the blog - if you look at the other fictional tales/characters I've used, you will see I always labeled them as such.

As for the similar writing style: you are right, the man does bust some fine sentences, which is of course why I found his stuff to be worth sharing. It was survivorship bias - I get hundreds of reader stories, but most aren't entertaining like this story was so they tend to go into the "maybe share this great story later" folder.

 He practices "Outrageous optimism", and when you do that in your real life, it leaks out into your writing.

Privilege, as I always say, is real but it doesn't matter for the mission of this blog. It is specifically targeted at high-earners, whether privileged or not, as a part of a mission to slow the pace at which they (we) destroy the Earth, and get us interested in something else besides consumption. The principles apply just as well or better with real hardship, but I don't often write from that perspective because there is still plenty of work left to do on Mission #1.

Well, hats off to Ethan!  I have a little experience trying to emulate particular writing styles in book editing, for flow, and it's damn hard to do!  He could make some use of that skill.

And, BTW, I met MMM once and he didn't seem much like a bot.  Unless they're making them beer-fueled these days :)

Roses

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Re: Success even after self-destruction: A criticism
« Reply #75 on: June 10, 2015, 02:43:24 AM »
It's infuriating when white men say, heh heh where's this white privilege and how can I get some? The fact that you are unaware of it is indicative of the fact that you have it. Do you fear walking your safe neighborhood at night because someone might assault you based solely on your gender? Are you targeted by police disproportionately because of your skin color? No. You have so many benefits that many others do not have. You're more likely to be hired and paid better, more likely to be accepted to college, and others. Just stop with that attitude.

While I appreciate windawake's attempts to highlight inequality in the world, I think her specific examples here are probably not the best ones available.

I fear walking in lots of neighborhoods at night.  Sometimes because of my gender (men are disproportionately the victims of physical violence) and sometime because of my skin color (I have only been beaten to a bloody pulp once in my life, and it was because I was a white kid in a black space).  Yes, violence against women is a terrible problem and a blight on our civilization.  It's just less prevalent than violence against men. 

I've heard this before from the men's right's people.  But isn't that statistic higher because men get into certain situations more than women?  I mean like fighting with each other.  And also, because a lot of that violence happens in prison and there are more men locked up than women?  I'm actually asking because I'm not sure and curious about it.

I agree with the assessment of police bias.  I've never encountered a police officer who wanted to harm me, as long as I was polite and compliant.  Some of my less polite and less compliant friends, of all skin colors, have been less "fortunate" in their police encounters.  I'm sure there are some cops who are inadvertently racist, but I'm also pretty sure that ALL cops are deliberately aggressive with people who have bad attitudes.  I'm not discounting race as a factor in police treatment, I just don't think it's number one on the list of determinative factors.
A friend and I jumped a turnstyle at an NYC subway once just because we were in a hurry.  A cop saw us and made us go back and miss our train, but that was it.  I couldn't help thinking if we hadn't been white (male/female) the response would have been different.  Here in Seattle we've had so many cases of profiling lately.  It's come out that certain cops in particular have a record of this (one was suspended in the case against the black man who used a golf club as a cane - maybe you've heard of that case?)

I also agree that as a white male I am more likely to be hired for most jobs.  Not my particular job, not even my category of job, but across the economy I think white people and male people both receive some degree of subconscious preferential treatment in hiring decision.  Some jobs are harder for men to get (primary schoolteachers, for example) and some jobs are harder for white people to get (explicit racial minority hiring quotas still exist in some places) but on the whole employment bias favors men, because hiring managers of both genders still perceive men as more qualified than equivalent female candidates.  You can hardly fault the applicants for this, though.
Totally agree that some jobs are more likely to hire one men and others women (but mostly men).  However, the primary school teacher example may not be right.  Because there aren't many male teachers schools actually want more.  I taught in Seattle schools briefly and they were always saying they wished they had more male teachers.  Same with child therapists and social workers.  Those are currently female-dominated fields so any man walking in the door gets put at the top of the list.  BTW, most principals, superintendents and district administrators are male even though most teachers are female (and in theory they draw from the educator pool for those jobs).  I would say there are jobs where more women are hired than men but they don't tend to be the high level jobs.

dramaman

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Re: Success even after self-destruction: A criticism
« Reply #76 on: June 10, 2015, 07:02:41 AM »
If you're complaint is that the government wastes a lot of money in meeting those needs, you would be right.

I would ask you what you have personally done about it in a get-off-your-ass and do the work sort of way.  Have you volunteered to be on any city, county or state commissions or boards of trustees?   There are  host of such positions available and in need of volunteers to do them.  They are a real way in which a regular citizen can have a much bigger voice in their government than you would ever believe.    Your local government website probably has a listing of them.

For example, I've served on an advisory committee to the mass transit authority in my city.  We regular citizens advised the transit authority and the city government as to what its priorities should be in the mass transit realm and our recommendations were largely followed.

As another example, I served on the board of directors for my county's department of mental health.   This was more than an advisory position.  All departmental employees were county employees except for the head of the agency.  The head of the agency worked at the pleasure of the board of directors.   In other words, if the head of the agency doesn't do what the board of directors thinks should be done, that person could be out of a job pronto.   Let me tell you, that sort of arrangement provides proper motivation to listen to the regular citizens on the board.

And how did I get on said committees or boards?   I showed up at their meetings, listened and took notes.   I filled out the application and sent it in.  No one knew who I was ahead of time, I'm not part of the old boy's club, etc.

Thanks for sharing. Unfortunately too many people (myself included) find complaining about the state of things is easier than spending the time and energy figuring how how to get involved and then doing it.

swick

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Re: Success even after self-destruction: A criticism
« Reply #77 on: June 10, 2015, 08:07:54 AM »
If you're complaint is that the government wastes a lot of money in meeting those needs, you would be right.

I would ask you what you have personally done about it in a get-off-your-ass and do the work sort of way.  Have you volunteered to be on any city, county or state commissions or boards of trustees?   There are  host of such positions available and in need of volunteers to do them.  They are a real way in which a regular citizen can have a much bigger voice in their government than you would ever believe.    Your local government website probably has a listing of them.

For example, I've served on an advisory committee to the mass transit authority in my city.  We regular citizens advised the transit authority and the city government as to what its priorities should be in the mass transit realm and our recommendations were largely followed.

As another example, I served on the board of directors for my county's department of mental health.   This was more than an advisory position.  All departmental employees were county employees except for the head of the agency.  The head of the agency worked at the pleasure of the board of directors.   In other words, if the head of the agency doesn't do what the board of directors thinks should be done, that person could be out of a job pronto.   Let me tell you, that sort of arrangement provides proper motivation to listen to the regular citizens on the board.

And how did I get on said committees or boards?   I showed up at their meetings, listened and took notes.   I filled out the application and sent it in.  No one knew who I was ahead of time, I'm not part of the old boy's club, etc.

Thanks for sharing. Unfortunately too many people (myself included) find complaining about the state of things is easier than spending the time and energy figuring how how to get involved and then doing it.
Thus, as these threads eventually do, it circles back to the main point of the mustache philosophy - building a position of strength. You can get caught up in the details, mired in minutia, pick apart individual posts and argument for entertainment sake...

...but if you have read enough of MMM's posts and spend time giving and receiving in the community, you come to realize that  irregardless of the buzz words you use, the whole thing comes down to building up and approaching life from a position of strength - whatever that may be for you. Identifying what is important to you and optimizing your life to make it the best it can possibly be.

There are many different ways to do this: increasing income, building social networks, gaining skills, limiting your impact on the earth, GETTING INVOLVED in social issues or working to right injustices. These are things ANYONE can do. Not everyone call do all of them, but everyone can do something.

THAT, ladies and gents is the take home message. Sure we can all sit behind out computers and complain, debate and dissect the different ways of doing it, but ACTION speaks louder then any words on a screen.

tooqk4u22

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Re: Success even after self-destruction: A criticism
« Reply #78 on: June 10, 2015, 12:02:33 PM »
While I feel bad for the underprivaleged, I have a couple questions for the OP. How many privaleged white males are in america? Maybe 200,000,000; I'm not really sure but I think that's kind of close. Ok, now, how many early retirees? Rough guess, depending on your definition, maybe 1,000-20,000. I think the greater point of the article, and the point I'm trying to make, is people need to stop making excuses and start making shit happen.

There are 320?? million people in the US, so assuming half are men, that is 160 million. 65% are white, which is around 100 million. So you're off by about 100 million. And, of course that assumes that 100% of white males are "privileged".

As to 1,000 - 20,000 early retirees? Maybe there are...in one medium sized city.

The numbers, which were all guesswork, are largely irrelevant. The greater point is we all need to make the most of whatever opportunities we have. Privaleged or or not.

However, if you think there are 20k early retirees in a medium sized city, you are mistaken. There might be 20K early retiree candidates in this entire movement. Or 200k if you are crazy optimistic. But the numbers are largely irrelevant and purely speculative.

Either way, it doesnkt change the argument. Stay positive. Do the best with what you have. Try to create more. Don't make excuses.


Population (319mil) x 49% male x 63% white x 63% between 18 and 65 (i.e. eligible for ER) = apprxoximately 62mil population set.

Approximately 18% of population has net worth of $500k+ (typically bottom end of FIRE but is somewhat false as it includes home equity) so that means that there are potentially 11MM FIREd white guys.

A higher standard, 5% of population has $1mil+ (also including home equity) translating to 3.1MM potentially FIREd white guys.

Even more realistic is that probably less than 5% of the the $1mil people are MMM/FIRE oriented then that leaves 155,000 potentially more realistically FIREd white guys.

tooqk4u22

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Re: Success even after self-destruction: A criticism
« Reply #79 on: June 10, 2015, 01:29:09 PM »
And re:  your comic lesson -- one of my best friends when I was growing up was actually the "Paula" to my "Richard."  She grew up in a shack with her unemployed dad.  No running water.  She had a really hard time, and we tried to help her/them as much as we could.   My mom still hires her dad (now in his 60s) to mow her lawn.   But she made it out of poverty.  It does happen.  Maybe not always or even not often, but it happens.  And part of that happening is because people like MMM and many of us on these forums are sharing our knowledge about how to make financial and other choices that will set a person up for success rather than failure.  Choices like not buying your dream car, but instead buying one that will get you from point A to point B for the next 5 years or so at a reasonably monthly cost.  Choices like waiting until you have generated a bit of side income to splurge on those high end speakers, and then finding ways to bring the price down (buying used, buying floor models, etc).  CHoices like working your way through school or learning how to apply (successfully) for scholarships and grants. 

And maybe, just maybe, these "challenges" provided the motivation and work ethic to pull herself up.....some people want a crutch for their burdens, others use it as a lever to pry open the doors of opportunity.

Privilege does make opening the door easier though, and in some cases the door is wide open, I see it all the time with the hiring of clients kids and whatnot....but once you are in willingness to learn and work hard trump privilege the rest of the way....at the end of the day an employer only cares about productivity/bottom line...they don't care where you come from.....you still have to make it once you are in the door.

MoneyCat

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Re: Success even after self-destruction: A criticism
« Reply #80 on: June 10, 2015, 02:12:15 PM »
I can see both sides of the argument here.  First of all, the majority of MMM's readership are people making $100k or more per year.  If you are making $100k or more (like my family), then it's insanely easy to FIRE.  All it takes is living like someone making $30k or less per year and slumming it.  The average person makes nowhere near $100k per year and it's not because they are worthless.  It's because there are very few $100k jobs and most of those are possessed by the children of other people who made $100k.  That's just how reality works.

On the other hand, if you are dealt a shitty hand, you still have to play it and that's where "complainypants" stuff comes into play.  I was born into poverty and for a long time I used that as an excuse not to improve my life.  Eventually, I decided that I didn't want my life to be shitty anymore, so I kissed a lot of ass and worked really hard (mostly in that order) to get where I am today in life.  I am extremely privileged to have been born with above average intelligence and an aptitude for a few marketable skills.  Not everybody has my talents and intelligence, but you still have to do what is necessary with what you have.  And that's this discussion in a nutshell.

Mika M

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Re: Success even after self-destruction: A criticism
« Reply #81 on: June 10, 2015, 02:59:40 PM »
I've gotta say this guy Ethan's story has been among my favorite posts so far. I found it pretty invigorating to read, and very encouraging as a late starter to Mustachianism myself. (Although I didn't eff up quite as colossally as he did; I was a terribly spoiled, clueless, and drifting failure-to-launcher until the age of 25 when I finally forced myself outta the parents' nest by joining the Army, and even then didn't start getting into a serious rate of savings for another ten years.)

I was never quite in as much debt as he was, which had a lot to do with luck and privilege, but I had a terrible mindless-shopping-for-fun habit which made saving for any big ticket item I would've liked (such as adventure vacations, home upgrades, and last but not least the dream of financial freedom) exceedingly difficult and seemingly impossible even with a large salary... that is until I discovered this blog and a whole new world of self-made possibilities was unveiled to me.

So Ethan's story is brilliant for folks like me who are swimming in a world of wealth and privilege and simply need to pull our heads out of our a$$#s and learn how to work toward financial freedom instead of away from it.

But I think even many less lucky folks can take a lesson from it too - that even if your starting point is far behind a more privileged starting line, there's a good chance that there is still plenty you can do to improve your own situation.
Lazy Frugal

dsmexpat

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Re: Success even after self-destruction: A criticism
« Reply #82 on: June 10, 2015, 03:50:49 PM »
Why should I read your thoughts if you weren't wiling to do likewise?

Because they were entertainingly racist? And the anecdotes were obviously fabricated?  And some people just need to be shouted down?
Nah man it's totally likely that a black guy walked into the financial aid office and demanded $22k in unmarked bills and they just gave it to him, no questions asked, because that's what life is like for black Americans. Why doubt that?

intellectsucks

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Re: Success even after self-destruction: A criticism
« Reply #83 on: June 10, 2015, 09:02:19 PM »
The “privilege” debate always rubs me the wrong way.

It is disrespectful to the supposed recipient of the privilege.  It implies that their hard work, positive attitude and good choices meant nothing and the only reason they achieved what they did is because of who they are.  Think of this scenario, Michael Jordan (now retired for how long?) plays a high ranked but mostly unknown semi pro basketball player in a one on one match.  No matter how much he trains and practices to get back in shape, everyone will say “of course he won, he’s Michael Jordan”.  Hard work+positive attitude=better than luck.  Hard work+positive attitude+luck=life is a breeze.

It is disrespectful to the people who aren’t recipients of the privilege.  It implies that only a select few of non-white males can achieve success.  So black people can’t be successful through hard work and smart living?  Women can’t?  Hispanics?  How do you explain people like Ben Carson?  Colin Powell?  Thomas Sowell?  Fucking Frederick Douglas started out his life as PROPERTY!!!  There is no situation that makes success more difficult than that.

It encourages people to accept bad situations, rather than work to change them.  If you can’t succeed with “privilege”, then why try?  What’s the point of improving your situation if the system is rigged against you?  Accepting your bad situation traps you in poverty and struggle much more than “privilege” ever will.

It doesn’t represent the reality of the problem or the world.  I don’t believe that Michael792’s story happened as he described it, but there are a lot of resources that are only available to non-white males, such as scholarships and financial aid.  Women are now attending and graduating college more than men are, as well as preferred for a variety of growing sectors: nursing, physicians assistants, nurses assistants, childcare, etc.  Minorities are given preferential hiring in almost every government job and contract, some of the most stable and lucrative jobs around.  Minority communities also tend to be more closely knit than white communities, offering opportunities for networking and support.  Minority communities are also more often the target of non-profit support.  

Do these things offset the problems faced by minority communities?  Clearly not.  However, perhaps the debate should be about how we encourage people to embrace better choices and take advantage of every opportunity, rather than how people only succeed if the system has labeled them a preferred class.  MMM is clearly on the right side of this debate.  As MMM and the rest of us get more and more people on board, creating their own success and not worrying about “privilege”, their success will give their families access to “privilege” and work towards eliminating any “privilege”.


cerebus

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Re: Success even after self-destruction: A criticism
« Reply #84 on: June 11, 2015, 04:11:31 AM »
Personally, I cannot see any reason why an early retiree with a $25k annual budget should be arsed to fabricate correspondence to bump up his readership. So either Pete is a total fake, or I'll just continue assuming that he's legit and ignore authorial tone.

The original article IS entitled and whiny. He deserves to be slapped on the face for having the gall to post it. I'm sitting here at the age of 37 with really no tangible assets and I have made a plan to retire before 50, and if it goes well before that. If it doesn't go to plan, I'll retire later - maybe 55, maybe 60. Who knows, right? Point is, it's not rocket science. The only variable is what percentage of income you can manage to live on, which determines your endpoint.

If you don't WANT to retire early because you want a nice car and a commute from the suburbs and your daily Starbucks, don't blame MMM for misleading you. And for goodness sake, a newly minted 22 year old college grad with $25k of student loans and a $33k starting salary isn't going to stay that way for very long if they have some ambition and the ability to cut down on expenses to repay the loan. They've still got 40 years of working life ahead of them in which to raise their income, repay their debts, and make a plan to FIRE. To me it just sounds like the writer of the article is quite content scraping by till 65.

grantmeaname

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Re: Success even after self-destruction: A criticism
« Reply #85 on: June 11, 2015, 06:22:55 AM »
As to relevance to MMM, you'd definitely be screwed trying to implement FIRE starting as a Pakastani taxi driver who moved to the U.A.E. because it afforded a better life for his family back home, and certainly have an easier time if you are born in Norway.  Kinda depressing, but it's worth being aware of, just in case you are ever feeling like busting out your own 'FIRE is too hard' pity party :)
But here's the important point: if I am a Pakistani taxi driver in the UAE, I can't become a Norwegian by wishing. An American observer can look at the Pakistani and the Norwegian and say "gal #2 has a much easier path than guy #1", and they're right, but that's not really actionable advice for guy #1.

One half of this argument is sociology - whether privilege is real, and how we should treat or think about others. To me the concept of privilege is important here, and the idea of compassion even more so. But the other half of this is how we should conduct our lives. No matter how much privilege you've got, whether it's a whole lot or none, the way up is hard work and acknowledging you suck (even if you're a Pakistani taxi driver in the UAE, or worse). Hard work and saving your pennies is all that can ever get you to riches, and wishing you were Norwegian, or taller, or white, or straight does no good. Treat others compassionately, especially if they know more struggle than you do, but be a hardass on your expectations to yourself and treat your background as outside of your locus of control. Minimizing your attention to things outside the circle of control is a productive habit when it comes to achieving FIRE, but the other side of the coin may disregarding privilege when thinking about others.

EscapeVelocity2020

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Re: Success even after self-destruction: A criticism
« Reply #86 on: June 11, 2015, 07:10:43 AM »
Minimizing your attention to things outside the circle of control is a productive habit when it comes to achieving FIRE, but the other side of the coin may disregarding privilege when thinking about others.
I am sympathetic with many of the ideas you linked to, they generally work well if you an American, but the conclusion to 'disregard privilege when thinking about others' has become a sore spot for Mustachianism.  Basically, it puts YOU as the only important thing in this world and OTHERS that might need some of that excess you gained (perhaps through privilege, even if you're not aware of it) as 'outside your control'.

If we don't fully acknowledge that privilege exists, and that hard work isn't going to compensate for that in many cases, then you are ignoring the issue.  How does that help anyone?

As to what to do about it?  Well, being grateful that you are closing in on FI in your youth and have a job that is easier and pays better than many is a start.  From there, maybe you work past ER (at something that you enjoy, or using FI to downshift to a lower paid job that helps others more) and or/give to charity...  But this flies in the face of being able to claim that you retired in your 30's (or 20's), so nobody around here wants to hear that.
Transitioning to FIRE'd albeit somewhat cautiously...

matchewed

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Re: Success even after self-destruction: A criticism
« Reply #87 on: June 11, 2015, 07:14:48 AM »
Minimizing your attention to things outside the circle of control is a productive habit when it comes to achieving FIRE, but the other side of the coin may disregarding privilege when thinking about others.
I am sympathetic with many of the ideas you linked to, they generally work well if you an American, but the conclusion to 'disregard privilege when thinking about others' has become a sore spot for Mustachianism.  Basically, it puts YOU as the only important thing in this world and OTHERS that might need some of that excess you gained (perhaps through privilege, even if you're not aware of it) as 'outside your control'.

If we don't fully acknowledge that privilege exists, and that hard work isn't going to compensate for that in many cases, then you are ignoring the issue.  How does that help anyone?

As to what to do about it?  Well, being grateful that you are closing in on FI in your youth and have a job that is easier and pays better than many is a start.  From there, maybe you work past ER (at something that you enjoy, or using FI to downshift to a lower paid job that helps others more) and or/give to charity...  But this flies in the face of being able to claim that you retired in your 30's (or 20's), so nobody around here wants to hear that.

I think that's part of the disconnect. FIRE != doing nothing charitable or not working forever. You can still do those things in order to be beneficial to others around you who may not have had the same opportunities that you have while still succeeding in your own goals.

grantmeaname

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Re: Success even after self-destruction: A criticism
« Reply #88 on: June 11, 2015, 07:29:28 AM »
I am sympathetic with many of the ideas you linked to, they generally work well if you an American,
I think the point of the ideas is that they generally work well whether or not you're an American. Could you elaborate on why they won't work for me when I move to the UK in two months so I can totally reinvent my life plan?
Quote
but the conclusion to 'disregard privilege when thinking about others' has become a sore spot for Mustachianism.  Basically, it puts YOU as the only important thing in this world and OTHERS that might need some of that excess you gained (perhaps through privilege, even if you're not aware of it) as 'outside your control'.

If we don't fully acknowledge that privilege exists, and that hard work isn't going to compensate for that in many cases, then you are ignoring the issue.  How does that help anyone?
I may not have written that clearly. I wasn't trying to say "and you should also ignore privilege when thinking of others", I was trying to say "the internal locus of control is a productive mindset but can lead to an unfortunate blind spot that we should all make sure to watch out for."

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As to what to do about it?  Well, being grateful that you are closing in on FI in your youth and have a job that is easier and pays better than many is a start.  From there, maybe you work past ER (at something that you enjoy, or using FI to downshift to a lower paid job that helps others more) and or/give to charity...  But this flies in the face of being able to claim that you retired in your 30's (or 20's), so nobody around here wants to hear that.
That's not a very charitable view of the mustachians to hold after spending a year and a half here and contributing hundreds of posts of discussion. From the blog's early days, to the forum's early days, to discussions ongoing today, getting rich by standing on the heads of others just isn't what it's about. If you're not happy with the amount of attention paid to the topic, don't knock the community. Start a thread!
« Last Edit: June 11, 2015, 07:39:19 AM by grantmeaname »

MLKnits

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Re: Success even after self-destruction: A criticism
« Reply #89 on: June 11, 2015, 09:45:53 AM »
It's infuriating when white men say, heh heh where's this white privilege and how can I get some? The fact that you are unaware of it is indicative of the fact that you have it. Do you fear walking your safe neighborhood at night because someone might assault you based solely on your gender? Are you targeted by police disproportionately because of your skin color? No. You have so many benefits that many others do not have. You're more likely to be hired and paid better, more likely to be accepted to college, and others. Just stop with that attitude.

Privilege doesn't mean you're bad or that you didn't work hard for what you have. It just means that a person with similar qualifications would have to work much harder if they were of a minority group.

There's a reason one of the introductory terms is "the invisible knapsack." It's easy to see from the outside, and very hard to see from the inside. Speaking as someone who's benefited enormously from white privilege, from the very obvious (my Virginia-born mother is well-off because her father was well-off because his father was well-off because: slavery) to the very subtle (why did my last employer pay me 20% more than my Indian colleagues with the same basic qualifications? Maybe she just liked me more. ... which is likely because I seemed "more like our kind of people." Ahem).

But it takes paying a lot of attention to see that kind of thing. It would be very easy to say "my family was well-off because they worked hard (because they did), I earned more because I work hard (because I ... sort of do), I was accepted for this apartment because I seem like a good bet (maybe), I don't get followed around stores because I dress well (not hardly), the police have never shot me because I'm not a threat (why are so many unarmed black people "a threat"? Hundreds every year?). That's a very comfortable place to be: it's all because I'm great, and never because I get handouts that aren't clearly identified as handouts.

TheBuddha

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Re: Success even after self-destruction: A criticism
« Reply #90 on: June 11, 2015, 12:15:44 PM »
Oh good Lord. Life isn't fair. You don't get to choose whether you're white, black, tall, handsome, ugly, pretty, fat, thin, smart, dumb, handicapped, or a million other things. Everyone denounces overt racism but that isn't enough for the "tsk tsk" crowd, there's always something to tsk-tsk as long as life isn't 100% completely fair. This whole discussion is the epitome of complainypantsness. Privilege exists everywhere human beings exist, all over the world.

I agree with the people who said, "well what are you doing about it, besides tsk-tsking the rest of us?" because it gets to the heart of the matter. Some people just want to scold other people. It's not about life not being fair, it's about your compulsion to tsk-tsk. If we all woke up tomorrow and privilege was eradicated, the tsk-tskers would embark upon a new campaign. They would say it's not fair that some people are smarter than others, or better-looking, or more athletic. They would try to shame us into genetically-engineering people to be identical.

It's never-ending with these people. They're never going to be satisfied. You can write a blog post extolling a human virtue - hard work - that's been considered a human virtue since time immemorial, and these people will miss the point, ignore your inspirational message, and tsk-tsk you for life not being 100% fair. They're like the ethical equivalent of grammar nazis.
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GuitarStv

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Re: Success even after self-destruction: A criticism
« Reply #91 on: June 11, 2015, 12:19:54 PM »

TRBeck

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Re: Success even after self-destruction: A criticism
« Reply #92 on: June 11, 2015, 01:32:41 PM »
Oh good Lord. Life isn't fair. You don't get to choose whether you're white, black, tall, handsome, ugly, pretty, fat, thin, smart, dumb, handicapped, or a million other things. Everyone denounces overt racism but that isn't enough for the "tsk tsk" crowd, there's always something to tsk-tsk as long as life isn't 100% completely fair. This whole discussion is the epitome of complainypantsness. Privilege exists everywhere human beings exist, all over the world.

I agree with the people who said, "well what are you doing about it, besides tsk-tsking the rest of us?" because it gets to the heart of the matter. Some people just want to scold other people. It's not about life not being fair, it's about your compulsion to tsk-tsk. If we all woke up tomorrow and privilege was eradicated, the tsk-tskers would embark upon a new campaign. They would say it's not fair that some people are smarter than others, or better-looking, or more athletic. They would try to shame us into genetically-engineering people to be identical.

It's never-ending with these people. They're never going to be satisfied. You can write a blog post extolling a human virtue - hard work - that's been considered a human virtue since time immemorial, and these people will miss the point, ignore your inspirational message, and tsk-tsk you for life not being 100% fair. They're like the ethical equivalent of grammar nazis.
Consider changing your username.

NorCal

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Re: Success even after self-destruction: A criticism
« Reply #93 on: June 11, 2015, 01:39:36 PM »
Why do you assume that this person is white and has not been victimized in other ways?

Are you implying that if the person was a minority that they wouldn't be capable of succeeding?

Zamboni

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Re: Success even after self-destruction: A criticism
« Reply #94 on: June 11, 2015, 01:41:06 PM »
^^+1

Not having read the whole thread here (sorry), my gut reaction to reading that blog post was the same as the OP's.

And I loved the cartoon.  So so very true. I get to see the Richards and Paulas of the world right at the halfway point in that cartoon, in the differences at that point are really profound even if they are both at the same exact university. The way the cartoon frame scenes merge at the end is absolutely brilliant.

LiseE

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Re: Success even after self-destruction: A criticism
« Reply #95 on: June 12, 2015, 10:49:01 AM »
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It's never-ending with these people.

They are talking about the tsk-tskers ...

How do you determine privilege anyway?

African American Male - grows up in upper class family, attends and graduates college with honors (parents pay for college)
Caucasian Male - grows up in poverty, struggles to get ahead and pays his way through college with honors.

Who has the privilege in that example?  Both enter the workforce.  The recruiter doesn't know their history.  Who is going to get the job?  Because he was raised in a affluent household, the guy in the first example is wearing an expensive suit and is well put together.  Likewise, the guy in example two doesn't have enough money to buy a proper suit so he's not very well put together.  Who is going to get the job?  Maybe guy #2 is very handsome and well spoken and guy #1 is not .. who is going to get the job? 

I wouldn't care if you were purple or green .. blind or sighted .. If i'm going to be paying you for a job I want the most qualified person. 

Anyway .. I chimed in earlier on this thread ... the entire point of MMM's BLOG post, as with most of his posts,  is about attitude .. about making the best with the circumstances and keeping a productive attitude .. about having a spirit of optimism.  I grew up the youngest of five kids and the best compliment my Dad ever gave me .. I actually learned through my mother, is that he said he never had to worry about me or my future.  I was resourceful and if there was something in life I wanted I set out to get it.  One of my brothers, on the other hand is a total complainypants, and sits around moping about his life .. boo hoo hoo .. not very productive and a constant source of worry for my parents. 

Nobody cares more about you than you .. only you can make it happen ...





windawake

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Re: Success even after self-destruction: A criticism
« Reply #96 on: June 12, 2015, 12:11:58 PM »
It's never-ending with these people. They're never going to be satisfied. You can write a blog post extolling a human virtue - hard work - that's been considered a human virtue since time immemorial, and these people will miss the point, ignore your inspirational message, and tsk-tsk you for life not being 100% fair. They're like the ethical equivalent of grammar nazis.

Okay, come on. There are systematic prejudices that prevent people from getting ahead in such an important and fundamental way that it is wrong to just say "hard work is all it takes." Yes, things are not fair. That is what I am calling out in this post. It's ridiculous to generalize and say that everyone can do it if they try hard enough. That's not true, and was what I found problematic about this post in the first place.


How do you determine privilege anyway?

African American Male - grows up in upper class family, attends and graduates college with honors (parents pay for college)
Caucasian Male - grows up in poverty, struggles to get ahead and pays his way through college with honors.

I don't know about your example above, there are so many factors that we cannot know. What I do know is that evidence has shown that just having a black sounding name can prevent you from getting asked to an interview in the first place, same goes for having a man's name vs. a woman's name. And sure, you can say that you would choose the most qualified person, but many of us have ingrained racism/sexism/classism/ablism and it takes significant work and soul-searching to start to recognize and eradicate it.
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FrugalToque

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Re: Success even after self-destruction: A criticism
« Reply #97 on: June 12, 2015, 01:32:41 PM »
Quote
It's never-ending with these people.
How do you determine privilege anyway?

African American Male - grows up in upper class family, attends and graduates college with honors (parents pay for college)
Caucasian Male - grows up in poverty, struggles to get ahead and pays his way through college with honors.

Who has the privilege in that example?  Both enter the workforce.  The recruiter doesn't know their history.  Who is going to get the job?

This is clear:  the first guy has wealth privilege and the second guy has white privilege.  They both have male privilege.
Which privilege is more important depends on the circumstances.
Are they walking down a street after a crime has been committed?  The white guy will be better off.
Are they standing next to each other at a job interview?  Probably the black guy has the advantage. 
But if his first name is "Jamal" or something obviously non-white, he may not have gotten that interview and a chance to show off his superior suit and ease with the English language.
But once they are both in that interview, they both have the privilege of not wondering if their ability to bear children or the fit of their skirts will be a factor in getting the job.

This is mostly beside the point, which is that everyone is wrong who thinks privilege is either
a) a way to vilify people who rolled lucky on the parental lottery or
b) an excuse for not making the best of your life

Anyway .. I chimed in earlier on this thread ... the entire point of MMM's BLOG post, as with most of his posts,  is about attitude .. about making the best with the circumstances and keeping a productive attitude .. about having a spirit of optimism. 

Yes.  Yes, that is the point.

Toque.

bludreamin

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Re: Success even after self-destruction: A criticism
« Reply #98 on: June 12, 2015, 02:59:30 PM »
^^ this....+1000

Couldn't have said it better myself

LiseE

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Re: Success even after self-destruction: A criticism
« Reply #99 on: June 12, 2015, 03:50:22 PM »
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I don't know about your example above, there are so many factors that we cannot know.

Exactly .. there are so many factors .. factors meaning everybody has some handicap in life .. yes some are fortunate to have the entire package and they sail through life without any hardship.  Things are handed to them on a silver platter.  But for the majority we have to work with what we have to work with.  Somebody is born with white privilege and a slow metabolism so they are white (yeah!) and fat (boo) .. they can whine about it .. let it hold them back in life or go to the gym and work out.

You make the choices. 

I was really inspired by this last MMM blog post.  I'm sure the majority of people who were dealt Ethan's cards would have folded and not even bothered to ante up. 

"The best way to deal with any bad situation is to believe in yourself and have confidence that things will get better." - Yogi Berra