Success and Luck

Success and Luck

Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy

Book - 2016
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From New York Times bestselling author and economics columnist Robert Frank, a compelling book that explains why the rich underestimate the importance of luck in their success, why that hurts everyone, and what we can do about it

How important is luck in economic success? No question more reliably divides conservatives from liberals. As conservatives correctly observe, people who amass great fortunes are almost always talented and hardworking. But liberals are also correct to note that countless others have those same qualities yet never earn much. In recent years, social scientists have discovered that chance plays a much larger role in important life outcomes than most people imagine. In Success and Luck , bestselling author and New York Times economics columnist Robert Frank explores the surprising implications of those findings to show why the rich underestimate the importance of luck in success--and why that hurts everyone, even the wealthy.

Frank describes how, in a world increasingly dominated by winner-take-all markets, chance opportunities and trivial initial advantages often translate into much larger ones--and enormous income differences--over time; how false beliefs about luck persist, despite compelling evidence against them; and how myths about personal success and luck shape individual and political choices in harmful ways.

But, Frank argues, we could decrease the inequality driven by sheer luck by adopting simple, unintrusive policies that would free up trillions of dollars each year--more than enough to fix our crumbling infrastructure, expand healthcare coverage, fight global warming, and reduce poverty, all without requiring painful sacrifices from anyone. If this sounds implausible, you'll be surprised to discover that the solution requires only a few, noncontroversial steps.

Compellingly readable, Success and Luck shows how a more accurate understanding of the role of chance in life could lead to better, richer, and fairer economies and societies.

Publisher: Princeton : Princeton University Press, [2016]
Copyright Date: ©2016
ISBN: 9780691167404
Branch Call Number: 650.1 Fra
Characteristics: xx, 187 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm

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NFreaderNWPL Oct 25, 2017

A low-key alternative to heavier tomes like Piketty's "Capital in the 21st Century." Frank is primarily concerned with the role of luck in creating "winner take all" markets. His unique policy proposal is a progressive consumption tax, which, he argues, would target wasteful, inflationary spending on "positional goods": things whose value comes from their relative scarcity, like high-end sports cars and luxury homes. According to Frank, revenue from the tax could be used to improve the environment everyone is born into, thus reducing the undesirable aspects of luck. Positional goods would remain a reality, but the struggle for relative advantage would no longer distort the price of necessities like housing for everyone else.

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StarGladiator
Sep 24, 2016

Author makes some very good points where the luck factor comes in, but then acts as a mediocre economist supporting the status quo elsewhere: believes markets are quite competitive and meritocratic in developed countries [My God, man! Have you not read the current news for the past 10 years - - they are thoroughly rigged, and the banks own all the financial exchanges and clearinghouses so what would one expect?????] and furthermore, on p. 54 proclaims: // . . growth in inequality does not appear to have resulted from growing market imperfections or from increased outsourcing to lower-paid workers in developing countries. \\
Izzatso??????
In 1984-85, GE and others began massive offshoring of scientist, R&D tech, engineering and programming jobs, finally covered in a congressional review in 2003 [Globalization of White-Collar Jobs] and forecasting for hundreds of billions worth of more jobs over the next 15 years?!?!?
Sorry, not only does author not make case, he's not even on the gameboard - - truly submediocre!
Mentions the luck factor with Microsoft's Bill Gates, suggesting his // deep mastery of code \\ due to early access to computing at his private school - - some programmers at the early years of Micro$oft might heartily disgree with that assessment, bubba! [Super programmers abound, but Gates was never one of them!]
Also, Prof. Frank neglects to mention several important factors like: (1) Gates' mother sat on several boards with the IBM CEO, hence his focus on her son; (2) Gates' uncle was VP at First Insterstate, hence Gates' first financing of his corporation; and, (3) Micro$oft would eventually settle out of court to the owners to the rights of the original CP/M [later called Dr. DOS] to the tune of around $1 billion.
Good points on luck overall, though.

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