Salary and Lifestyle Orthogonal to Status in Life

Sep 24 2014 Published by under Uncategorized

This post is about first-world problems. I am not discussing families of four or more  living on $30K/year. I am not talking about people who didn't finish high school. I am talking about people who've gone to college and chosen to walk the way of science.

There are people, who no matter what their salary is, will save money. They look at income and plan their outcome. They make decisions about what they spend money on. Some of those decisions involve family planning.  There are people who make incredible amounts of money (1% or .1% -ers), who are in debt, over their heads, and living beyond their means. And of course there are people in between.

I once had a student who supported his parents while in college. He was the first in his family to go to school. He ran a snow plow/lawn mowing business and lived at home. His father was a Vietnam vet who was incapacitated. He was still the top of the classes he took with me. I imagine he didn't have much of a party life, and he drove a pretty non-flash car. But he graduated undergrad with no debt. We had a long talk about talking on debt in medical school, and about time budgets. I lost track of him, but I'm sure he's doing good and happy with it (still). I also have peers who are physicians, who are unhappy, who are up to the ears in debt despite earning what seems to me to be an incredible amount of money. I had one say to me "I'd like to quit, but I'm so deep in debt that I can't even think about what giving up this lifestyle would mean". At least she had enough honor not to think about declaring bankruptcy.

The people reading this are, by and large, not living in a third world country, where education is a function of socioeconomic class (although I know the US is not free of these issues). They are not living in a repressive culture where women are forbidden jobs, property, driver's licenses, education. I lived in Indonesia for a while, where, at the time, the educational system is wildly corrupt, and degrees were often a function of how much you can bribe people.

Figure out what you want to do with your life. Figure out what you need to do to be able to do it. If you want to change the system, go do it. I will support you the entire way. But meantime, stop whinging. You're not persuading anyone.



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