It doesn’t take many cycles of watching the nightly news to realize that there will never be a shortage of unspeakable tragedies. As soon as you hear about some horrible personal or global event that sends chills down your spine, along comes another, giving you barely a moment to catch your breath.
Unbelievably, each successive wave of bad news just gets worse and worse, yet as we become hardened to the bad news experienced by others, we just channel surf to escape the burden of our emotions.
It’s hard to deal with an unending flow of examples of how unfair the world can be, but the world became an infinitely better place for all that could afford a television with remote control.
For the ones who couldn’t, it’s just like a final nail in the coffin and further proof of just how unfair the world can be when you can’t even shield yourself from news of the realities gong on around you.
By virtue of your birth place, by virtue of your DNA and by virtue of where you may be standing at the moment, you may never have had a chance in life.
I mentioned Woody Allen yesterday and his eminently quotable line from Annie Hall, a movie that had more than it’s fair share of quotable quotes.
“I feel that life is divided into the horrible and the miserable. That’s the two categories. The horrible are like, I don’t know, terminal cases, you know, and blind people, crippled. I don’t know how they get through life. It’s amazing to me. And the miserable is everyone else. So you should be thankful that you’re miserable, because that’s very lucky, to be miserable.”
Actually, “fairness” had nothing to do with the surfeit of great lines from that movie. There was nothing coincidental about their occurence and nothing was there to pre-ordain their success or failure.
They were all earned.
In that case, life was fair, because there was an appropriate form and quantity of recompense for the uniquely inspired screenplay and movie.
If anything, though, you may argue that the quantity of recompense wasn’t at all fair, because so many more worthwhile actions receive far less financial reward or adulation from the public, like executing a key block that lets a game winning touchdown occur.
No one remembers the guy that sacrificed his well being for the greater glory of someone else who was already standing on a much higher rung of the ladder.
In truth, life isn’t fair in either direction.
Horrible things happen to truly innocents and wonderful things happen to those that may be far from innocent.
We all know the story of Jed Clampett.
By all accounts he was a good, hard working and God fearing man who was an abysmal failure in life. Not very fair, but he was then fortunate enough to blow an oil line while hunting for squirrel or perhaps some after dinner raccoon.
And then you have the likes of Qusay Hussein, son of Saddam, whose only redeeming quality was that he reportedly rarely raped the disabled.
His final moments may have been considered to have been the ultimate in fairness, whereas others would believe that it was unfair that he had escaped the judicial system.
Years ago there was a very popular book, When Bad Things Happen to Good People that sought to explain how that could possibly be the case, in an effort to reaffirm faith among those sensing its impending loss or even questioning the possibility of its very existence.
That book made such a big impact on me that I always cite it, despite the fact that I can’t remember a single argument in the book for maintaining faith when faced with an onslaught of terribly unfair events.
But the title says it all and that’s enough for me.
This afterrnoon I was sitting and staring at my spreadsheet that tracks trades and more specifically option premiums for the current cycle that expires in just 2 days.
If you haven’t downloaded the spreadsheets, you’re missing out on the ability to stare aimlessly at numbers.
I’ve mentioned before that I tend to think of money in terms of a “1964 Color TV” metric. That always puts it into perspective for me. I know that others may prefer the metric that looks at how long would someone have to work in order to buy a loaf of bread, but I’ve always been a 1964 Zenith 25 inch color TV, high radiation emitting, kind of guy.
What really struck me this day was after making some final trades for this cycle, was that the near final tally for the first month of the year was greater than my entire salary for my first real job as a dentist after completing my residency training.
I’m not certain, but it’s very likely that based on 1983 statistics, I may have been in the 1% right out of the gate, although that concept probably didn’t exist back then and certainly wouldn’t have been a position that merited disdain.
Since dentists tend to be “fairly” well paid, even at entry level positions, I think it may be patently unfair that a years’ worth of salary could now be made so quickly by just clicking on a few buttons. over the course of 20 trading days in a month.
For me, everytime I click on the “Submit” button to send a trade order, in my mind, I always see the Google “I’m Feeling Lucky” button.
On the flip side, as I listened to news come out suggesting that Amazon’s new Kindle Fire may prove to be more successful than previously thought, and have watched Amazon’s share price rise by about $12 from where my shares were assigned last Friday, I can’t help but think about the “unfairness” of that situation.
Based on our past experiences we each have a different take on what constutes fairness and unfairness.
Since I feel entitled to make trading profits, it can only be unfair it it works out otherwise.
I used to often think about “unfairness” as it came to earnings, particularly since I never worked a mere fraction as hard as did Szelhamos, not to mention all of the other things that he had to survive throughout his lifetime.
I once had a good friend whose father sold roadside popcorn at college football games. We used to talk about how bizarre life was when obscene amounts of money could be made with relatively little effort. particularly given our backgrounds
At that time I didn’t realize just how little effort you could actually get away with.
As easy as it may be to rationalize the dis-equilobrium in “fairness’ by thinking that it just as easily could have been me getting hit by a drunk driver, the reality is that many are spared the exposure to life’s unfair moments.
We don’t live in a dangerous environment where a stranger may unfairly choose to attack, nor are we without healthcare insrance such that a readily treatable infection would kill us.
Those are examples of unfairness that shouldn’t exist.
You don’t need a lofty philosophical or theologically based treatise to bring home that point.
Sometimes you just know that luck is such a big part of creating an environment that ends up treating you fairly.
I don’t know how a nearly 80 year old Woody Allen would now feel about the two categories of people, now that nearly half of his life has passed since “Annie Hall” bought his words regarding misery to the world.
Laughter can dampen the misery.
“Annie Hall” is said to be a play on “anhedonia” which is a pychaitric disorder that makes the individual unable to experience joy or pleasure. That is possibly the most unfair malady that anyone could ever strike anyone.
As unfair as life may be, even at it’s lowest depths, people can still find the incongruities in life that create humor, even in despair.
So, I will recover from Amazon, that as I began typing away has gone up another few dollars.
What I do know is that at some point, somone holding those shares will be thinking how unfair it was that the opportunity to sell those shares wasn’t taken before the next predictable drop.
Then I will buy them back and life will be fair again.
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