Skin in the Game: Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Skin in the Game: Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Author:Nassim Nicholas Taleb [Taleb, Nassim Nicholas]
Language: eng
Format: epub, mobi, azw3, pdf
ISBN: 9780241247488
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Published: 2018-02-20T00:00:00+00:00


The reason regular people are not as acrimonious as the “intellectuals” and bureaucrats is because envy does not travel long distance or cross many social classes. Envy does not originate with the impoverished, concerned with the betterment of their condition, but with the clerical class. Simply, it looks like it was the university professors (who have “arrived”) and people who have permanent stability of income, in the form of tenure, governmental or academic, who bought heavily into Piketty’s argument. From conversations, I became convinced that people who counterfactual upwards (i.e., compare themselves to those richer) want to actively dispossess the rich. As with all communist movements, it is often the bourgeois or clerical classes who are the early adopters of revolutionary theories. So class envy doesn’t originate from a truck driver in South Alabama, but from a New York or Washington, D.C., Ivy League–educated IYI (say Paul Krugman or Joseph Stiglitz) with a sense of entitlement, upset some “less smart” persons are much richer.

Aristotle, in his Rhetoric, postulated that envy is something you are more likely to encounter in your own kin: lower classes are more likely to experience envy toward their cousins or the middle class than toward the very rich. And the expression Nobody is a prophet in his own land, making envy a geographical thing (mistakenly thought to originate with Jesus), originates from that passage in the Rhetoric. Aristotle himself was building on Hesiod: cobbler envies cobbler, carpenter envies carpenter. Later, Jean de La Bruyère wrote that jealousy is to be found within the same art, talent, and condition.fn10

So I doubt Piketty bothered to ask blue-collar Frenchmen what they want, as Michelle Lamont did (as we saw earlier in the chapter). I am certain that they would ask for better beer, a new dishwasher, or faster trains for their commute, not to bring down some rich businessman invisible to them. But, again, people can frame questions and portray enrichment as theft, as was done before the French Revolution, in which case the blue-collar class would ask, once again, for heads to roll.fn11


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