Book Corner


Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy by Robert H. Frank

This was two totally separate books barely hinged together. Part of it is: luck plays a very important role in success. The other part is: what we really need is a progressive consumption tax, to rein in wasteful spending that people only engage in because everyone else is doing it. I finished it, including the appendix that answers FAQ on the progressive consumption tax, and suddenly remembered, “Wait, the title of this is SUCCESS AND LUCK, what happened to that topic again?”
The loose hinge is that when people realize and acknowledge how big a role luck has played in their success, they become more generous and willing to accept more public spending… hence, we can push the progressive consumption tax, which we need for these other reasons. Get it? It’s loose.
I didn’t learn much from the success & luck part – I’ve already read Malcolm Gladwell. One takeaway is how depressing and non-motivating it is to acknowledge the role of luck; so from a mood perspective, we’re best adopting the following attitude: all my PAST success was due to luck, but all my FUTURE success will be due to effort.
I do want to note that the guy has got a wonderful skill at spinning his own attitude, based on this personal information he shared: he was an adoptee, and discovered in adulthood that the family that relinquished him was quite well-to-do, coming from old money. And he is THANKFUL, because if he’d grown up with a trust fund, he wouldn’t have made the effort to achieve any of the things that he ended up doing. That’s really something, being so grateful to have been given up for adoption into circumstances MORE needy than you would have otherwise. Hey, whatever works for you!


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