Why This Conventional Career Advice Can Be Misleading

Mark Skousen

Named one of the "Top 20 Living Economists," Dr. Skousen is a professional economist, investment expert, university professor, and author of more than 25 books.

“A greater result is obtained by producing goods in roundabout ways than by producing them directly.”

— Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk, The Positive Theory of Capital (1889)

I spoke last week in Orlando at the MoneyShow University in front of several hundred students attending college in Florida. One of the speakers urged the students to “above all, pursue your dreams.”

I hear that a lot on campuses and in commencement addresses. “Do what you want to do, not what you have to do,” speakers advise. “Pursue your passion!”

But that’s easier said than done, I told the students in Orlando. It is naïve to think that you can come out of college and immediately pursue your passion in life and in business. Those who do are often disappointed. I know one young man who wanted to be a musical artist and writer. So he decided to give up his well-paying job as a web designer to write music and novels, and now lives at home with his mother.

Achieving your ultimate goals in life, based on what you are passionate about, is a long-term dream that usually cannot be fulfilled right away. Often you have to take on unpleasant jobs on the way toward achieving your ultimate career. Actors often serve tables at restaurants waiting to be discovered.

I wanted to be a financial economist, but it required a lot of hard work, years of education and serving in jobs such as a janitor and a reporter before I ended up in my ideal occupation.

Austrian economists emphasize the concept of “roundaboutness” in producing useful products and achieving economic growth. Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk (1851-1914), the great Austrian economist, wrote an entire book on the subject, called “A Positive Theory of Capital.” He used the example of building a brick house. You could try the direct method — using your hands to loosen the stones from a local hill and create a house. But a better approach would be indirect — to make a hammer and chisel out of iron and then cut and mold the stone to create a better foundation. “The roundabout ways of capital are fruitful but long,” he wrote.

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And so it is in life. If you want to achieve your goals, you have to sacrifice to get there. Only those who pay the price over time are able to achieve their most cherished goals and happiness.

Benjamin Disraeli said it best, “Don’t eat the fruit while the tree is in blossom.”

You Blew It! Do Kennel Clubs Abuse Animals?

Ever since I read a book called “The Dogs of Capitalism,” by Mitchell Jones, I’ve been interested in the topic of for-profit breeding of animals to create pets and even pit bulls as guard dogs. I always considered this form of “intelligent design” from nature as a positive advance — a good combination of man and nature at work.

But now I wonder. I’m reading a fascinating book called “Domesticated,” by Richard Francis, about the breeding of animals, such as dogs, cats, etc. Is such breeding an example of market failure? It is not unlike the abusive cases of caged chickens and milking cows.

Here’s the story from “Domesticated: Evolution in a Man-Made World,” by Richard C. Francis (pp. 48-50):

“The advent of kennel clubs [in the late 19th century] prevented the process of dog evolution. When humans completely assume the role formerly occupied by natural selection, there are often unintended consequences, some of them quite undesirable.

The effect of the kennel club was to massively escalate breeding divergence, by means of competitive dog shows, in which the most extreme examples of a given breed type were selectively rewarded and hence selectively bred.

The champion studs were routinely mated with their own female offspring… Virtually all purebred dogs have a host of genetic ailments, from narcolepsy to skeletal defects. Cancer also is rampant among purebred dogs, occurring at frequencies that in humans would be considered epidemic… This is why purebred dogs have much shorter life spans than outbred dogs (mutts and mongrels) living under the same conditions.

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But genetic diseases are only part of the cost in health for breeds like the bulldog… It starts with breathing problems. The shortened snout causes the soft palate to bunch up in front of the trachea in a way that impedes airflow. …Gum disease is rampant….Often the eyelids cannot close completely, resulting in irritation and infection…

Bulldog woes are far from the worst. Under the auspices of the kennel club, the Cavalier King Charles spaniel recently evolved a brain that is too large for its skull… The effects are variable but often involve excruciating pain and ultimately paralysis and death. You would think dogs with this condition would not be bred but you would be wrong. …This is truly perverse, both evolutionarily and morally.”

I understand that today purebreds are discouraged in favor of mix breeds to create a more positive outcome for dogs. Let’s hope so.


Shark Kevin Harrington to Address FreedomFest

I have good news. Kevin Harrington, one of the original Sharks on the television show Shark Tank, has agreed to address us at FreedomFest, July 13-16, 2016, in Las Vegas.

Kevin Harrington, on the left, is one of the original sharks on Shark Tank and will be a featured speaker at this year’s FreedomFest.

He’s one of the founders of infomercials in the 1980s and is now worth more than $450 million. He and George Foreman, the heavyweight champ and himself a highly successful entrepreneur, will be our one-two punch at this year’s big FreedomFest show. Plus, the event will include a full, three-day investment conference with Alex Green (Oxford Club), Keith Fitz-Gerald (Money Map) and many others. Take advantage of last year’s rate now by going to www.freedomfest.com, or calling 1-855-850-3733.

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In case you missed it, I encourage you to read my Skousen CAFÉ from last week about how the different presidential candidates’ tax plans measure up. I also invite you to comment in the space provided below my commentary.

Good investing, AEIOU,

Mark Skousen


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Dr. Mark Skousen

Named one of the "Top 20 Living Economists," Dr. Skousen is a professional economist, investment expert, university professor, and author of more than 25 books.

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