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How many of us grownups look back wistfully on the decades of our twenties and wish we had this kind of focus and clarity of purpose?
I must learn economics. I will throw aside everything else to learn it [...] I have spent 20 years on this earth, and only have about 60 years of useful life ahead of me. I have no more time to learn the fallacies which I am to refute. I have no more time to learn what a sick, diseased body looks like; I must learn what health looks like. Both time and my patience are short.

I wish him success. I was going to say I wish him luck, but I suspect luck will have nothing to do with it.


I see you discovered Tom. He is indeed very focused and without a doubt one of the two most knowledgeable proponents of Austrian theory that I know.

He will do quite well in life, as you say, if only I had such clarity at his age.

Posted by Liberty Dog at Monday, June 06, 2005 11:43 PM

Aside from his motivation, he also will need luck.

He could get hit by a car tomorrow, couldn't he? So if he doesn't and if he therefore is still able to pursue his dream, he's lucky!

Hell, he has even had the luck not to be born in Sudan.

So luck and randomness is omnipresent. Which doesn't mean that motivation isn't equally important: a couch potatoe won't achieve anything for example. That's for sure.

Posted by Daldianus at Tuesday, June 07, 2005 12:29 PM


It's kind of sad that you see it as "lucky" that nothing horrible happens. Does that mean that it is also unlucky if nothing good happens? I could go on about reifying the zero - making a "something" out of an absence of something else, a non-existence into an actual thing - but there's a more important point to address.

What you make out of life is all about how you handle the luck you get, good or bad - how you overcome the bad and take full advantage of the good. Tom shows every sign of being aware of that and being willing to apply reason and effort to mold his life the way he wants it to be.

A person like that will, so long as he has a life to make something out of, control his own destiny even if he has the bad luck to be born in Sudan *and* crippled by a car wreck.

Posted by kylben at Tuesday, June 07, 2005 01:20 PM

I recognize myself in those statements, am a careermonster like that myself... must... learn... everything ;)

Posted by Niels at Wednesday, June 08, 2005 05:02 AM

kilby: that's not exactly what I intended to say. What I meant was that of course a lot depends on yourself and your motivation, but not everything. There are things or situations you can't control and therefore can consider yourself lucky if you don't have to deal with them.

And controlling your destiny is a big statement. Your destiny is per se not controllable by yourself. A destiny is cast (if you believe in destiny that is). I agree that you can always try to make the best or the most in your situation. But you can't do everything just because you want to.

That said, and I'm repeating myself now, you're right in that it's up to you to make the most of what's possible in your situation.

Posted by Daldianus at Wednesday, June 08, 2005 12:12 PM


My saying that you control your destiny is another way of saying that I don't believe in destiny. The closest I'll come is Richard Nikoley's formulation that was one of the impetuses (impetii?) for this blog: "That circumstance which we will either have acheived or it means we've destroyed ourselves." (Phrase it individualistically for the purpose of this conversation).

You're final conclusion is right on, even if we quibble over the details.

Posted by kylben at Wednesday, June 08, 2005 01:12 PM

I correct myself from the comment above. Richard's formulation does not apply in an individual sense. It is a collective, or more accuratly, an aggregate formulation that applies to the state of human civilization as a whole. There is no one state of individual acheivement that can even be considered to be a necessary outcome in an either-or way. It's questionable in the aggregate as well, but at least worth exploring.

Posted by kylben at Wednesday, June 08, 2005 01:20 PM

Just a final comment: Destiny, just like 'God', is unprovable. And therefore it's rather useless to discuss.

Because how can you be sure, or prove, that the way you think wasn't meant to be? Or vice-versa?

If you're lazy, that could have been your destiny. If you're passionate, that could have been your destiny.

I don't believe neither in Destiny nor in a Great Plan by a Supreme Being, so this is irrelevant to me.

It's up to everyone to move his own ass, this of course always being limited by the boundaries that Nature has laid upon him. But INSIDE these boundaries, your life is completely in your hands and it entirely depends on you how you make the most of it.

Posted by Daldianus at Thursday, June 09, 2005 07:49 AM

That's what "God helps those who help themselves" has always meant to me. And I learned that from my Missionary Baptist Grandma.

Posted by Old Whig at Tuesday, June 14, 2005 08:57 PM

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