Choices good and bad

Following is from a comment posted on Quinnscommentary by BenefitJack.

I thought it deserving of a wider audience.

“Those suffering from envy, entitlement, and victimization are sometimes the same folks who pursued occupations where their employer doesn’t offer health coverage or a pension, or where wages are low – reflecting the demand for their contributions. It is all so unfair!

Those same individuals also tend not to appreciate why there is a difference – that others invested time and resources in education, or long hours of effort, had the tenacity not to give up after each failure, or simply had different capabilities, God given talents. And for others, they simply pursued a different occupation because of the financial rewards it offered.

I can’t hit a baseball like Bo, dunk a basketball like Dr. J, and my golf game is a different four letter word. I can’t sing like John Denver, act like Russell Crowe, nor speak as Madison and Lincoln once did. I’m not the inventor nor the businessman Tom Edison once was.

So, I’m mediocre, and I know it. That never stopped me from slogging my way through 50 years of employment, while concurrently completing higher education – working full time (and overtime) while going to class full time, at night, for 11 years (finishing my last degree at age 60).

I didn’t see many other people as I journeyed along (and as I continue my journey today).

In this country, nothing stops others from taking the same path I did. I volunteered my draft, spent a couple years “wearing the green” during the Vietnam era then leveraged veterans benefits.

I say, choose an occupation that offers rewards that meet your needs – financial or fulfilling. I am envious of those who pursued their dreams – without regard to wages or benefits.

However, you make your choices, and you live with the consequences – good AND bad. So, while I envy those who pursued your dreams, regardless of the rewards, those who love what they do, I wouldn’t trade places with you.

And, I wouldn’t attempt to somehow confiscate what you’ve received/gained from your efforts. Please give my choices the same respect.”

8 comments

  1. The good ole daze. (2009)

    I vividly recall, letters to the editor. Could have been BenefitJack from an alternate dimension.

    The writer said, to paraphrase, he used to gently scorn those who were envious of those like himself who “got ahead”. (I worked hard, studied, sacrificed, saved, lived within my means, etc.)
    Then, the great equalizer… 2007.
    The writer lost his job. Luck of the draw. Some occupations are more recession proof than others. Used up his 401(k) while competing with the twenty percent unemployed at the time. Lost his (underwater) house.
    He now has a new respect for those “47 percent” living paycheck to paycheck. And a little less hubris.

    That was then. This is now. For all I know, he may have found an equal or better job in the recovery and be well on the way to a comfortable retirement. I hope so. But I doubt he will ever forget the lessons learned in 2009.

    And, the “envy, entitlement, and victimization”, may be overrated. Many of us are not. It is what it is. In material possessions or quality of life, I have what most of my family and friends have, and I am content, if not thrilled.

    Andrew Biggs said, among other things, that the poorest workers, with no savings, will do well in retirement. They are accustomed to living on very little, just like many of their family and friends, and Social Security for those people replaces a much higher percentage of Final Average Salary than the average.

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  2. For what it is worth, wanted to confirm that I didn’t accomplish much by myself. I had a lot of help and inspiritation from others. .

    Yes, I picked myself up off the deck after flunking out of college (wasted an academic scholarship trying to be an engineer). There was an obviouos lack of commitment as a student. Stepped back in by serving in the military. And, one of my other great regrets is that I wish I had been a better soldier. Today’s military is so much better, so much more professional than I was.

    Yes, my first marraige failed as we grew apart. But, I benefitted beyond calculation from my supportive family even though my dad died when I was 17. I was the middle of five children – learning by example from siblings both older and younger. Growing up, I was surrounded in love, I had 6 uncles and 6 aunts, 21 first counsins.

    Today, my immediate family, wife and two (now adult) children, are all one could hope for. I tried my best to ensure my children enjoyed their childhood as much as I did mine. I still believe I had the best childhood of anyone I have ever met.

    Finally, as they used to say in my pre-retirement planning seminar, “Without good health, nothing else much matters.” I’ve been blessed with relatively good health – with just a few exceptions for sports injuries and two infections that required hospitalization. A newfound quote from Charles Caleb Colton is gaining as one of my favorites: “It is only when the rich are sick that they fully feel the impotence of wealth”.

    So, be happy, enjoy your “wealth” – whether that is faith in God, a career that you enjoy such that it isn’t work, good health, financial accumulations, love of family, and/or other pursuits …

    As Ben Franklin once said: “The Constitution only guarantees the American people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself.”

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    1. Choices…
      I disagree? Sort of.

      Look at a typical company organization chart. A pyramid. One guy at the top, two or three division heads, half a dozen supervisors, and a dozen, or a gross (pun intended) or a thousand lower level employees.
      Those lower level employees may be entry level or unskilled, high school educated workers, but they are necessary, indispensable. Without them the leader has no one to lead. Those positions will always be there. The people filling the positions may, some of them, work hard, study, and promote one or two levels, or more, but most will not. It’s math. Its logic.

      This is America…

      “Anyone can grow up to be president”

      or CEO.

      But everyone can’t. Those lower positions must be filled. Luckily, a lot of people are happy/satisfied/resigned, to fill those positions. In my family, my Dad and four of my siblings retired on nothing but Social Security*. Three of those at least had paid-off homes. There is nothing ‘wrong’ with these people. Good, honest, hard working, G-d fearing people. They are in positions which must be filled.

      And the CEOs and the Presidents have an absolute obligation to ensure those people (those ‘positions’) can survive. Prosper. Reproduce. If for no other reason, for enlightened self interest.

      “America is a society, not an “economy”.

      If you worked hard, sacrificed, saved, and succeeded, great! But I will put my Dad, who raised nine kids on a low level factory worker salary, up against any man.

      Life is funny. Dad wanted to, and had a chance, to work at Caterpillar, in Peoria Illinois. A good paying union job at the time. And he did not want kids. Mom said we will have kids and we will not raise them in the city.

      Thanks Mom, and Dad. Rest in peace.

      *and Medicare

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  3. I couldn’t agree more. Instead of driving a nicer car, remodeling the kitchen, or taking a more expensive or 2nd vacation – I funded my 401k. (which was started after a 5+ year stint in the navy after college). Now I have the benefit of a significant retirement account. This is due to making conscious decisions and considering the trade-offs along the way.

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    1. Tom Murin

      Please don’t take this wrong. As I said above, good for you!

      But.

      For some people there is no choice between a vacation and a 401(k). There is sometimes a choice between rent and food. 47 percent of Americans can’t be wrong.

      There but for the grace of God, go I.

      The math is indisputable. A certain percentage of the population will be stuck on the ground floor, by choice or by chance.

      “I got ahead because I worked hard.”

      Should be:

      “I got ahead because I worked hard… and I was lucky .”

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      1. There is uncertainty for sure. My parents divorced when I was 5 or 6. My mother was a single mom with 4 kids, and we were on welfare for a short period of time. My father died when he was in his 30’s and my mother died at 44 from cancer while I was in college. I’m sure that doesn’t qualify as being very “lucky.” I know that I worked for what I have.

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