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2012 September 27 Thursday
More Money And Higher Rank Mean Less Stress On Job

Those who make more are less stressed on the job.

Presumably because they are not as stressed about pay, the highest concentration of workers who said that nothing stressed them out on the job, 37%, were those making $100,000 or more.

Higher level leaders are less stressed.

A group of researchers from Stanford University and Harvard University found that higher-level leaders had less stress than non-leaders or lower-level leaders, upending a common perception that decision-makers experience more anxiety.

This all reminds me of my previous post: Why People Deny The Advantages Of More Money.

Other research I've read found that people who have more control of their work environment and responsibilities are less stressed. I've said before rise up, excel, advance. Really, being a lower level peon is no good. Become a highly ranked manager or a highly ranked technical professional. Heck, just be the top guy on an oil derrick. Or at least work in something where you can't get interrupted by emergency problems and sudden customer demands. Hard work properly pursued is the path to a lower stress and higher income life.

Your choices are up or down. You aren't going to stay still.

By Randall Parker    2012 September 27 10:12 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (11)
2012 September 22 Saturday
Why People Deny The Advantages Of More Money

In the comments section of the Half Sigma post about Marc Andreesen (Netscape founder) about the vanishing middle class which I previously linked The Legendary Linda makes a pretty accurate claim about why people deny wanting money.

To not want money is irrational because virtually everything a human could want (status, luxury, sex, food, beauty, health, love, knowledge, power, intellectual stimulation, children, convenience, happiness, time) is for sale if you have enough money and you know where to shop. To not want money implies either that one don't want anything or that one is not intelligent enough to figure out how money would get them what they want.

Most likely people say they don't want money because they don't have any, and so to admit that they want something they were unable to get makes them look like a loser. People would rather create entire subcultures eschewing material success than admit they are losers (as predicted by Half Sigma's Loser theory)

It makes sense to try to dampen one's desire for the unattainable. On the other hand, the dampening down can go way too far. You can fail to get up one or two attainable ladder steps because you know you can't make it up 10 ladder steps. The benefits of moderately higher status and money are foregone because one has too great a need to deny the advantages of more money.

My own take on the utility of money: The cost of not having lots of money is going to rise as early stage rejuvenation therapies first hit the market. You'll likely have to travel to get them because the US Food and Drug Administration has created such high barriers for the introduction of stem cell therapies.

By Randall Parker    2012 September 22 08:01 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (23)
2012 February 27 Monday
Ostentatious Displays Of Wealth Immoral?

Chuck Rudd of Gucci Little Piggy wants to know why some Alt Right writers are finding common ground with lefties over the undesirability of ostentatious displays of wealth.

At Gawker, Hamilton Nolan, who I’ve cracked on before, has a post conflating displays of wealth with immorality (h/t Mupetblast). What’s increasingly clear to me is that there are some among the alt-right who would agree with Nolan’s argument, and I’m interested in understanding why the line separating the alt-right and the left is becoming more and more blurry

In the comments of his post I explain why I see ostentatious displays of wealth as unhealthy for society.

Since people feel better or worse more due to their relative standing than their absolute standing I think ostentatious displays of wealth just make a small number of people happier at the expense of making a much larger number of people much less happy.

The ostentatious displays of wealth have multiple harmful effects:

- The resentment engendered toward the more productive lead to support of policies that work against market forces.

- The resentment makes people angrier.

- The resentment reduces the sense of common interest and common purpose.

Our problem is that communications and computer technology advances have made ostentatious displays of wealth more visible even as the amount of ostentation has increased due to rising inequality.

So I think it is rational to criticize ostentatious displays. The rich already have many status advantages. Really, they don’t need to grab every status advantage available to them.

We need a society of high trust and a widespread feeling of common ground and shared interests. Ostentatious displays of wealth among an elite whose wealth has been growing for decades far faster than the overall amounts to rubbing salt into a wound. I morally disapprove of ostentation on the part of the upper classes. It is unnecessary cruelty.

Update: More expensive cars in a neighborhood reduce income satisfaction. If the wealthy hid their wealth people would be less dissatisfied by how much money they make.

By Randall Parker    2012 February 27 09:10 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (22)
2012 January 09 Monday
Imagine Your Father As A Street Bum

An article about some serial killer who is stabbing street people in Orange County California has a rather poingnant comment from a woman whose father became a street person after his wife dumped him.

Paulus Cornelius “Dutch” Smit, 57, was described as “kind” and “sunny,” an “honest and sincere soul” who “seemed excited to be alive.” His bloody corpse was found at the bottom of a library stairwell in Yorba Linda, CA, on December 30. He reportedly had visited the library “almost daily” for a year, which a newspaper account noted was “a rarity for the homeless in the area.” Smit had spent time in Juvenile Hall during his teens for theft. Smit’s daughter Julia recalls that after her mother left him, he preferred living full-time on the streets to working a full-time job and found more “nobility” in referring to himself as a “wanderer” rather than a transient. Julia said it wasn’t until her teens that she accepted her father was what many people would call a bum: “Then I’d see him digging through Dumpsters and say, ‘That’s my father! That’s Papa!’” As with McGillivray, a small candleit memorial has been constructed at Smit’s murder scene.

Imagine being that daughter and seeing your dad digging thru dumpsters. He made life harder on her. Did he know that? Did he care?

So how many people become street people because they just give up on a normal life? Some are alcoholics, other schizophrenics. Okay, I can understand damaged brains and addictions turning people into street bums. But how many choose it? Why? Low motivation? It seems a hard life. I like a soft bed, nice chair, warm shower, and stocked kitchen.

The status fall: What do street people think of status? Who do they compare themselves to?

By Randall Parker    2012 January 09 09:35 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (21)
2011 October 06 Thursday
Status Hierarchies And Trust

The higher your status the more you can count on good treatment from those below you.

COLUMBUS, Ohio – When you start a new job, your boss may be more likely to trust you than you are to trust him or her, a new study suggests.

The reason has to with the role that social status plays in relationships.

In three separate experiments, researchers found that high-status people tended to trust people more in initial encounters than did people with lower status. One experiment showed why: high-status people rated others as more benevolent, which led them to trust more.

These findings indicate that having high status fundamentally alters our expectations of others’ motives toward us, said Robert Lount, lead author of the study and assistant professor of management and human resources at Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business.

People with more power are more able to hand our rewards and punishments. So they can expect better treatment.

This is another reason to raise your game and get ahead and move up. Don't trust your boss? Move up and then people will become fawning and solicitous.

By Randall Parker    2011 October 06 07:33 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (4)
2011 June 16 Thursday
Anarchist Dog Walker Collectives

Serving professionals in Washington DC but doing so with worker collectives. Lots of punk band members find a way to make a living without compromising in the patriarchy. If they manage to make some hit songs they'll manage to move way up in the dominance hierarchy while pretending not to. How cool is that? In the mean time its pugs, beagles, and terriers, who all have pack hierarchy rules programmed into their genes.

By Randall Parker    2011 June 16 09:06 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2010 April 11 Sunday
Bulies Aim For Status And Affection

Does this model also explain the behavior of nation-states?

Bullying is common in classrooms around the world: About 15 percent of children are victimized, leading to depression, anxiety, loneliness, and other negative outcomes. What's driving bullies to behave the way they do? According to a new large-scale Dutch study, most bullies are motivated by the pursuit of status and affection.

The longitudinal study was conducted by researchers at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. It appears in the March/April 2010 issue of the journal Child Development.

In their work, the researchers questioned almost 500 elementary-school children ages 9 to 12. Based on their findings, they conclude that bullies generally choose to gain status by dominating their victims. But at the same time, they try to reduce the chances that they'll end up on the outs with other classmates by choosing as victims children who are weak and not well-liked by others. In short, even bullies care a lot about others' affection and don't want to lose it.

Gender also plays a role. For example, the study finds that at this age, bullies only care about not losing affection from classmates of their own gender. So when boys bully boys, it doesn't matter whether girls approve or disapprove. The same holds for girls. Moreover, boys will bully only those girls that aren't well liked by other boys, regardless of what girls think about it, and girls will do the same in their bullying of boys.

"To understand the complex nature of acceptance and rejection, it's necessary to distinguish the gender of the bully, the gender of the target, and the gender of the classmates who accept and reject bullies and victims," according to René Veenstra, professor of sociology at the University of Groningen, who led the study.

Which foreign policies aim at raising status? Which policies aim and increasing affection? I'm thinking that foreign aid to really poor countries has as one of its aims to make the recipients like the donors. I doubt it delivers that benefit. Most likely the recipients feel resentment and a feeling of powerlessness. Some lose respect for the donors for being such gullible fools.

The French liked the United States was weak and needed France's help against the British. But once the US became strong enough to help the French then the French took to feeling resentment and looked for ways to look down on the US and feel superior to it. US help made the French feel lower in status.

By Randall Parker    2010 April 11 01:54 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (1)
2008 August 21 Thursday
If You Do Not Know How Many Houses Obama Owns

you are out of touch with the struggles of most Americans.

CHESTER, Virginia (Reuters) - Democrat Barack Obama attacked Republican John McCain on Thursday for not knowing how many houses he owns and said it proves his presidential rival is out of touch with the economic struggles of most Americans.

Am I really supposed to follow this election and blog on what Barack Obama and John McCain say as it if they are making serious utterances on weighty matters? Should I read up on what the "house flap" is about that I see on the front of Google News? (and Google News needs a feature for excluding any stories that mention certain politicians) I read that first paragraph on that Reuters story and couldn't read the whole thing.

I do not know how many houses Barack owns. I also do not know how many houses Cindy McCain owns. But unless she likes to keep almost all her money in negotiable securities she probably owns more houses than Barack.

But since I do not know the answers to these weighty matters I am out of touch with the economic struggles of most Americans. Geez, I unfortunately do not feel out of touch.

My ambition: To become so rich and well insulated from what is going on around me that I can really be out of touch with the economic struggles of most Americans, Brazilians. Chinese, Japanese, Germans, Rumanians, Bolivians, absolutely all Nigerians, definitely almost all Georgians (though I hear they are very hospitable and friendly), and emphatically any Iraqis and Afghanis in Iraq or Afghanistan. If I'm leaving out anyone I do not mean to insult.

Update: Glancing at yet another article excerpt on the front of Google News now makes me think that the "that he owns" refers to McCain's houses, not Obama's. Reuters expects me to really be on top of this incredibly important story. McCain doesn't know how many houses he owns. This is an important crisis or turning point in the campaign. I see it now. Maybe it means that Cindy goes out and compulsively buys homes while John campaigns.

Update: So I went to Daniel Larison's blog hoping maybe he'd be writing about Georgian Orthodox Christianity as distinct from the Russian Orthodox flavor. But no. More McCain and Obama. I can't escape them. They are everywhere. But Daniel makes some good points. In a nutshell: McCain compensates for being rich by knowing less. Yup. We aren't an intellectually serious country. George W. Bush demonstrates the electoral value of a lack of curiosity in America.

Tagging Obama as aloof was not entirely new in February, but my commenters at the time thought I was off the mark.  Politico apparently made the same claim in a December ‘07 article.  However, I think the aloofness goes hand in hand with the wonkishness and expertise, so that while it is electorally a problem it is a signal of other desirable qualities.  It’s just not often the case that someone with this combination prevails in a popular election.  Most of McCain’s critics probably think that it deals him a serious blow to describe McCain as a visceral, emotionally-driven person, but I think those of us who are against McCain (regardless of whether we are for Obama) make a mistake if we treat this as an electoral weakness, just as we are missing something when we emphasize how little McCain knows about any policy questions.  They are the sources of his strength as a candidate, and I suspect that they are part of the explanation for why he continues to run far ahead of the generic GOP candidate.     

I'm trying to compare McCain and Obama the way Roissy might do it. On the one hand Obama is younger and supposedly therefore more virile. But he's too skinny to be all that virile and he has big ears. But McCain is old with a lopsided face. Who comes out ahead? At least McCain was a pilot which is a virile alpha male occupation. McCain has more money but he married it.

McCain's tax returns showed a total income of $405,409 in 2007. According to her 2006 tax returns, Cindy McCain had a total income of $6 million. Her wealth is estimated by some at $100 million, based on her late father's Arizona beer distributorship. She has not released her 2007 returns, which she files separately from her husband.

Obama and his wife, Michelle, reported making $4.2 million in 2007.

Obama made his money off of a book. Sorry, that's not an alpha male way to make a lot of money. Besides, he's got a feminist wife with a resentful attitude. I figure McCain wins points for not knowing how many houses he owns. You aren't supposed to spend all your time counting your stuff.

By Randall Parker    2008 August 21 08:01 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (13)
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