Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Post No. 183a: Article of Interest: How Modern Preppies Got the Style, But Forgot the Values

The following is taken from an article in the August 13 and 20, 2012 issue of Newsweek Magazine. It was written by Susan Cheever.

"American aristocrats were raised to ski hard and tie a mean Royal Coachman, but they were also often raised in a tradition of service - noblesse oblige it was called - that led them to give away lots of their money and to behave in ways that helped those who had less. John D. Rockefeller famously spent more time at the end of his life giving away money than earning it. It wasn't because he was so rich. At the beginning of his life, he gave away 10 percent of the $200 a year he earned as an Ohio bookkeeper's assistant."

To read the entire article, click here.


  1. At one time, we admired the rich as well as envied them. That has changed somewhat into hating "their" rich while idolizing "our" rich.

    I am a fan of movies made during the Depression. What often fascinates me is that more often than not the subjects of the films were not suffering from the Depression but were living quite lavishly. And the story only extremely rarely that the protagonist getting his/her comeuppance. But someone often did:The patriarch of the wealthy family, more often than not.

  2. We see the extent of the wealth more now Douglas through magazines, television, etc. Additionally, with a larger middle class, more people consider upper class wealth to potentially be within their grasp, perhaps more so than generations before.

    We also suspect that there is more "glamour" associated with wealth today, somewhat due to the evolution of advertising and marketing and the technological tools which disseminate images wider.

  3. Not lately, I don't think. It seems to me that American society is becoming more class conscious and equating wealth and income with class status. And, in addition, resentful of those who have more. Ironically, it was the desire to have more (nicer cars, more "toys", and a bigger house) that led to the Great Recession.

  4. We would agree that having an economy based significantly on non-essentials and focused on the good life was part of what led to the Great Recession. However, we would submit that there are at least 27 equally, if not more, significant factors. Overall, if we had to identify one single factor, it would be our socio-economic/governance model. Many complex, divergent interests are pursued by many with little coordination, planning, collaboration, or thinking about the future consequences. Sometimes it works to our extreme benefit, sometimes it does so to our extreme detriment, and most times it is somewhere in the middle.

    What we have to learn as citizens is to appreciate the cyclical / flexible nature of our governance model, and stop deluding ourselves that there will be a permanent upward climb. That's nonsensical and for our politicians to suggest otherwise is deceptive and intellectually dishonest. When a society chooses or invests in its governance model, it should be prepared to deal with both the good and the bad.

  5. Yes, more should be taught about how the system works and why it works well. It seems we are being pulled apart by those who cannot see any good in it and those who do not see its flaws. As I went through life, I looked at other governance models and came to the conclusion that the good outweighed the flaws in ours and that made it better than others. Although I retain a fondness for the parliamentary form of governance, i would retain the economic we use (and too often disdain).

  6. While this comment is not aimed at the current topic, I do want to say that I am quite interested in your "It's Your Turn" forums and curious as to what the reception has been, so far, amongst college students. I'm not so interested in 'success' rates but more so in what are our young adults are thinking and saying and doing - their response.

    I am a single mother of three, two of which are in your aimed target group. While I believe both of my two older children to be intelligent, well-grounded individuals, I am realizing that I might have done them a dis-service in raising them to expect (believe they deserve) an upwardly mobile lifestyle. They have little experience with thinking actions through to their inevitable consequences.

    As a parent, of course, we want our children to not make the same mistakes as we did. However, making mistakes allows for some of the best experiential learning. I am not certain, however, that my children are learning from their mistakes. If anything, they seem to be shifting the responsibility of their choices to other people / circumstances and viewing themselves to be the victims of unfair judgment.

    I wish these two would have been exposed to your forums while they were juniors or seniors in high school - these are those critical decision making years because how they perform in high school, the choices they make in all arenas of life affect the path they choose to pursue through their young adult years (colleges, careers, education, relationships and so forth ....). Giving them a life full of instant gratification, or, at the least, attempting to give them everything they wanted and every 'good' opportunity I could think of without meaningful intent is a choice I regret. Hindsight is etc. etc. I wish I had created a better environment for them to fail and learn from their mistakes within a safe environment rather than try to buffer them from every failure or disappointment.

    I could say more on this, but I think I shall stop here. I do believe in the power to re-invent yourself at any point of your life and have not lost hope for them by any means. But I do wish they could learn the hard lessons a little earlier in life and develop a deeper and more meaningful knowledge of themselves and the world in which they choose to live.


    ps. Thank you for your kind words at Soubriquet's blog Grit in the Gears :)

  7. Red Dirt Girl:

    Thanks for paying us a visit. We have neither forgotten you, nor are we ignoring you. You raised so many points to which we would like to respond that we need to think through how to do so in some meaningful way. We'll be sure to get back to you.

  8. RE: My overly long comment on your blog, - please take your time. I did not
    intend initially to unwind so many questions - it sort of happened as I
    was thinking and writing at the same time i.e. one thought led to a
    question which led to another thought and so on ... thank you for your time and
    interest. xxx

  9. Please do not consider your comment to be too long. It was not, and we frequently receive comments far longer and containing less substance. :)

    We just picked up the printout of your earlier comment to address it, after having posted a new post earlier this afternoon.

  10. Red Dirt Girl:

    Thanks for bearing with us in responding to your comment. We provided a separate response about our "It's Your Turn" forums on your blog.

    You indicated that you felt that you may have done your children a disservice by "raising them to expect (believe they deserve) an upwardly mobile lifestyle."

    We had to think about this one for quite some time because we have written on numerous occasions that (1) those factions who expected our economy to continually grow in an upward direction in excess of 4-6% per year, and (2) those factions who are surprised that we are no longer No. 1 in a number of areas, had unrealistic expectations. Obviously, we viewed the issue in macro-economic terms.

    Quite frankly, we never thought about this issue on a personal or family level. All parents try to do the best that they can for their kids, and prepare them for the outside world. However, we are not sure if we really ever prepare them for the roller-coaster nature of the economy. But then again, parents arguably had not reason to think that the economy would tank to this extent, based on its behavior since World War II.

    Apart from economics, quite frankly we were surprised, once we entered the blogosphere almost 5 years ago, the level of anger and nastiness reflected in the posts of many of our citizens, even before the economy reached its worse level. A woman who grew up in the town where the Institute is currently located, and who has achieved high levels of success in the business world, recently remarked that she felt that her parents had sheltered her too much from the nastiness and negativity in the world while she was growing up. We know that we were surprised at this type of citizen anger.

    That being said, if one's children are reasonably well-adjusted, can avoid a life of negativity, and manage to support themselves reasonably comfortably, we guess that you've done an admirable job. After all, there is no manual, and no one but Carnac the Magnificent can foresee the future.

    Where we think our forums will help is having kids to think about issues ahead of time, and come up with some tentative positions to be adapted as necessary when they encounter difficulties. Through critical thinking "practice," they can avoid thinking about difficult and complex societal and personal issues for the "first time" when they encounter them. At least they will be able to say, "I thought about this beforehand, and realized that...." Furthermore, they will at least consider worlds different than the worlds in which they regularly operate, and appreciate that, “There are more than 2 or 3 ways to view any issue; there are at least 27.™”

  11. Thank you for your thoughtful response. This was my response to you at RDG:

    Hi Inspector!

    Please don't feel any pressure to answer my queries
    ....I think it is more a discussion I'm wishing to have with you
    because it seems that the concept of "It's Your Turn" and speaking to
    young adults are where your passions lie. I certainly understand the
    responsibilities of family, and you are to be commended. Eventually you
    and I will catch up to one another :) My main blog is 'Through the
    Garden Gate'.
    I definitely like the 'multiple point of view' for addressing difficulties and look forward to reading more of your thoughts on that particular topic. Perhaps you've blogged about this and can direct me to those posts. Thank you again! xxx


"There Are More Than 2 Or 3 Ways To View Any Issue; There Are At Least 27"™

"Experience Isn't Expensive; It's Priceless"™

"Common Sense Should be a Way of Life"™