“Luck” …and the Debate

David Frum on the President’s recent foray into figuring out who is responsible for the success of individuals:

President Obama’s stray sentences however point to a bolder conclusion. If it’s not brains or work that account for success, what is it? The answer must be…luck. Not maybe entirely luck, but luck to a great degree. By definition, however, luck is amoral. Nobody can deserve luck, otherwise he wouldn’t be lucky. To the extent success is due to luck, success is undeserved—and to the extend that success is undeserved, the successful have no very strong claim to the proceeds of their success. Whereas [Elizabeth] Warren suggests that the wealthy should be taxed to repay tangible benefits they have personally received, Obama is indicating a possibility that the wealthy should be taxed…because their wealth is to a great extent an accident of fate.

Michael Lewis adds to the debate:

Note: Shout to pragcap.com for the links.

8 thoughts on ““Luck” …and the Debate

  1. Although I disagree with the President’s application, Malcolm Gladwell’s ‘Outliers’ is a an interesting analysis of a similar theory.

  2. Somtimes I think they want to give the poor special dispensation for having avoided the
    the risk and worry that went into a lot of success stories.

  3. Ah, a great speech.  Lewis paints a convincing argument.  And if it all comes down to luck as he says, then make sure you set a stop loss 😀

  4. Taken out of context. Success requires cooperation, hard work, determination, but assistance too. No man is an island. Stop being intellectually lazy. 

  5. What was taken out of context? Obama’s words about success? No, not out of context. I know exactly what he said. Just like many Republicans bought into Bush’s suspending the free market system cause he was their guy, I have seen many Democrats buy into Obama’s remarks about success cause he was their guy.

  6.  Michael, you and your clients are rich and getting richer. I have your book. Why the obsession with el presidente? Silly to believe one dude is really running the circus we call the USA. More trading, less politricktical noise….Markets keep moving. I have gotten richer over the last year. You think I’m worried? False enemies being portrayed in the media daily are a distraction.

  7. I did not say one dude is running anything, but they do have the bully pulpit and current President’s most recent comment was gross. As gross as the Bush example cited. Clearly, Obama is your man, but I don’t care for any of them–right or left.

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