Bryan Caplan  

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How Redistribution Really Work... Marriage and Inequality...

It's time to officially declare Ben Casnocha a Wunderkind. Here is his brilliant post on the simplicity of losing weight, becoming a better writing, becoming a better entrepreneur, and being a good parent. The punchline:

Note that just because something's simple doesn't mean it's easy. Parenting, writing, and entrepreneurship are all really hard. But simple.

From your perspective, what's made out to be complicated that in fact is simple?

Where do I start? Here are simple ways to:

1. Get better grades. Take old exams (same class, same prof) under time pressure.

2. Cope with unpleasant people. Avoid contact and especially conversation. As a rule, you should only argue with your favorite people in the world.

3. Avoid suffering. Anytime you are suffering, ask yourself, "What's in this for me?" If you don't have a good answer, stop doing it. "Strangers will laugh at me" is never a good reason to suffer.

4. Dealing with guilt. Do the right thing.

5. Be happier. Negatively, see #2, #3, and #4. Positively, find a job that you enjoy and become best friends with some of your co-workers. Alternately, get your firm to hire some of your best friends.


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COMMENTS (7 to date)
Scott Scheule writes:

...becoming a better writing...

Looks like you could learn something. Ha!

Bruce G Charlton writes:

Hmmm - not sure about these points.

The crux is that people are paid, mostly, to do difficult and unpleasant things which they wouldn't otherwise do. And people work for half their waking lives for half their lives. Which (added to the constrictions of fomal education, and the problem of illness and injury) makes up a lot of intractable unpleasantness to be endured.

Ben Casnocha writes:

Thanks Bryan for offering your thoughts!

Bill Gardner writes:

"2. Cope with unpleasant people. Avoid contact and especially conversation."

This has two costs. First, you lose the opportunity to find out what is valuable / unique / interesting about them. Second, you lose the opportunity to discover what it is about yourself that leads you to experience them as unpleasant.

Michael Sullivan writes:

Bruce: if we really can be just as happy on a far lower standard of living than people in the US are accustomed to, then the problem is not nearly as intractable as it seems at first glance.

If one makes a good middle class income of 60k and saves half of it for 10 years earning a fairly conservative 4% real return, one could then retire at 14.5k per year by using 4% of capital each year (which should be extendable indefinitely).

So basically, anyone willing to live on the proposed new minimum wage for the rest of their life, but capable of earning in the second quintile of US workers, can provide for themselves by working for 10 years. A lot of people who don't think of themselves as particularly wealthy could cash out today and never work again -- if they were willing to live on 15-20k per year, which still would put them among the richest 20% of people in the world.

That's pretty astounding to me, and it means, at least for those of us in the rich world, the problem is not as intractable as it looks at first glance. It appears that we are making choices --working more hours more years, plus lots of consumption, vs. working only a little bit and having very few luxuries. I suspect that a lot of us are making poor choices. Anybody who makes good money but doesn't really enjoy their job would probably be happier overall if they saved most of their money and retired very early on a small income, or found a way to work very few hours.

Agent00yak writes:

#1 makes it so easy that it feels wrong... some profs are really lazy.

jaim klein writes:

At age 18 things look so simple... Like eating less and exercising. I am willing to declare him a wunderkind when he loses weight.

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