To prevent influence from lobby groups, should politicians be required to finance their own campaigns?

  • No. If politicians had to completely self-finance, then only the affluent would be able to afford running for office. Our Constitution does not say “Of the Wealthy, For the Wealthy, and By the Wealthy.” It would prevent politicians who learn governance at the local level to move to state, or from state to federal.

The best way to keep lobbying out of politics would be fully or nearly-fully publicly financed elections. While it would seem expensive as a cost of government, it could potentially save government tens, even hundreds of billions of dollars a year in overpaid appropriations and tax cuts targeted to the rich at the expense of everybody else. In business speak, it would be an excellent ROI.

This would not mean that lobbyists would be gone. They would just have to use a different currency: votes. From AARP and AAA all the way to the (currently fictional) Zoloft Users of America, they could get politicians to listen to them by the strength of their voting blocs.

It’d be nice if we could shorten our election season too. The rest of the world looks at our elections, concludes we’ve used too much Viagra for erectile dysfunction because our elections last longer than four months, and shakes their collective heads in relief that they keep it to two months tops. If they get weary just looking at us, how much more wearying is it for our potential electorate that is us? The answer: a lot. If I keep talking about this I’ll start to sound like John Oliver so I will stop now.

  • Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes expressed it best – the cure to bad speech is more good speech (I think those were his exact words but my memory is a bit. What was I saying again?

The American national government was designed to pit interest group against interest group and from those clashing of interests it was believed that the best policy would emerge – Federalist 10 (Madison called them factions rather than interest groups but they are the same thing).

One cannot prevent influence from lobbying groups without freezing out the voices of the American people. What should be done is for the concerned individuals to band together and form their own interest group – or actively support an already existing interest group that mirrors their beliefs. And then let the system work as it is supposed to rather than trying to fix something that only seems broken to the uninformed.

  • We live in an age of instant communication, yet campaigns, especially for POTUS, are ever more expensive. If we wanted politicians who are beholden to “lobby groups”, divine right would rule the land again. Democrats want more influence from lobby groups, not less. If politicians were required to finance their own campaigns, only wealthy clowns would run for office and our affairs would be the private machinations of Kings and Queens.
  • I much prefer the Wisconsin model, where the governor’s political efforts are funded entirely by a pair of billionaire brothers, meaning the governor can devote himself full-time to doing what they tell him to do, instead of wasting time dialing for dollars, or listening to what the people want him to do.
    Much more time efficient

Is Communism still relevant to the world today?


I would say it’s more relevant than ever. Perhaps not as a full-ideology. I think the problem is that many people view it as a political ideology in itself and discredit the entire work and movement whilst not fully analyzing what aspects of The Communist Manifesto could be useful for our future. I think mainly this is due to how communism was implemented in the past and global perceptions of communist regimes.

As a political ideology I don’t see it as relevant to the twentieth century, perhaps not even the twenty-first century but I do see it being relevant in the future. I see it as becoming increasingly relevant as the next century progresses. The problem I see with communism in today’s world is that we have not progressed to a point where we can solve the problems of communism.

However, I can foresee that in the future, technological advancement and digitization of physical markets and globalization could lead to a communist-type world. If I were to describe what the future would be like in one or two centuries I would say leave capitalism at the door. We would be living in a totally different world just like we are now living in a totally different world to one that existed two centuries before us.

Indeed, communism is still relevant in the twentieth century by principal. Socialist ideals such as the welfare-state are partly inspired by Marxist principles but in a form that mixes it in with capitalism. Capitalism has increasingly leaned towards socialism during the twentieth century – it is branded neoliberal capitalism. In the next century we could see a new brand of capitalism (post-capitalism) that is ever more progressive and ecological as our current form of capitalism becomes unsustainable.

I could be entirely wrong and there might be a completely new concept of political ideology in the future that is either capitalist or communist in nature. Personally, I’m more biased to the Marxist side.


As far as communism is concerned, outside the four existing socialist countries China, Vietnam, Cuba and North Korea, India holds an important position. The disintegration of the Soviet Regime and the downfall of Marxism in some of the actually existing socialist regimes in Eastern Europe, communism in general suffered a crushing blow. However, communism had strong roots in Kerala and West Bengal, the two of India’s most literate states. Probably, the pursuits of the people of these states matched the Leftist ideologies. But the total collapse of the Leftist government, especially in West Bengal where the Leftist government has ruled for more than three decades and also in Kerala, in the last election, indicates the loss of public support for the communist government even in these states. The undisputed win of the ruling Congress party has pushed the communist entities into parliament minority and has created a further crisis for communism in India. According to Prakash Karat, General Secretary of the Communist Party of India- Marxist (CPI-M), the main communist faction, “This necessitates action and rethinking”. However, in the present perspective, this also raises a question, “Whether communism is at all relevant in the current Indian political scenario”.

If we analyze the methods of ruling of the last Communist regime, it will be evident that India’s romance with communism has reached an end. For example, during the thirty plus years of regime of the Leftist government in West Bengal, there was not a single attempt of large-scale industrialization especially when the “poster boy” of the Left, Jyoti Basu, was the esteemed Chief Minister. When Buddhadeb Bhattacharya came to power, his drastic attempts of taking lands from the peasants for the purpose of industrialization created a lot of outrage among the elite and the literate classes of West Bengal along with the poor peasants who were being directly affected. This coupled with the inefficient governance created a major setback in gaining the support of the masses.

India is the land of Ramkrishna Paramahansa, Swami Vivekananda and Aurobindo Ghosh and undoubtedly one of the largest spiritually oriented nations. The Leftist government’s principle of atheism only further alienated the common masses. In a nutshell, the Leftist government so far has been a total failure to synchronize with the socio-economic trend of the majority. From a bigger perspective, the Leftist government always opposed privatization and land reforms were on the top of their priority list. As pointedly asked by Surjit Bhalla, the financial wizard and anchor of the NDTV talk show, Tough Talk, “In this day and age why do you still celebrate the 90th Anniversary of the October Revolution? How many democratic parties have a bust of Stalin in their headquarters?”

India has made significant economic growth under the Manmohan Singh’s government and has been able to secure a key position in the global scenario which would otherwise have been doubtful under the rule of a Leftist government with their anachronistic ideologies. Liberalization, privatization and reforms in the public sector are the ideas of the day. Victor Hugo once said that no force could stop an idea whose time has come. Gone are the times of the antique Leftist ideas, the days of still looking at the world through a Cold War lens. Karl Marx, Joseph Stalin and Vladimir Lenin are but pale shadows now. Che Guevara has been reduced from a martyr to a popular T-shirt print, for the youngsters of this generation. An advocator of Hindu fundamentalism, even the BJP is gearing up to emerge as a more moderate political party. It is evident that Communism in India has outlived its time.


Communism is extremely relevant in modern times as well as in postmodern times and times to come .

This is why –

  • Capitalism is inherently unfair and requires selfishness to survive by having one class exploit another.
  • In poor countries, socialism has improved health and social indicators better than capitalist regimes.
  • In the developed world, countries with strong socialist forces have better health conditions than those countries lacking or with weak socialist forces.
  • Socialist countries have generally given better health services than capitalist countries. They generally have a lower infant mortality rate, higher life expectancy, higher number of physician, and higher daily per capita calorie supply and consumption, higher adult literacy rate, enrollment in secondary education and enrollment in higher education.


One point, there has never been a communist government but socialists aiming to become communist societies. Having said that, we should look to the West today when over the last 30+ years, wages stagnant, dwindling middle class, erosion of working conditions and security, community assets being sold off, and decreasing services. The Western governments have “sold off the family silver” to keep the economy going for the 1% but there will be a tipping point with debt and no “real” economic activity to support the economy. The US economy is mostly economic sleight of hand and a Ponzi scheme of financial products and share dealings. If the $US was not the reserved currency then they crumbled long ago. I believe, in the 50s the US was a quarter of all economic activity in the world.

Contrast that with China. They may not be what the purists call communist but their future looks brighter and more robust than the West especially the US. Ask this question again in 10 years. Since 2008 the average income of the Chinese has tripled. At the same time the average income in the US has stayed the same. There is still a while to go for the average income to be equal to the US but on PPP they are already there.


Yes. When production ability reach some level, society is better to have some communism element to release the social stress. During Great Depression of last century, America introduced Social Security program by Roosevelt’s New Deal. Social Security program contain communism distribution principle of “to each according his need”.

America since then introduced more and more entitlement programs that contain such a communist principle under the Human Right slogan. This communist distribution principle is not compatible with capitalist system. Such as Obama Care that is within the distribution principle of “to each according to his need”, cannot bear the burden of interest groups who will make profit within the Health Care system.

Government’s entitlements programs are so sweet, that every candidate promise them in order to get more ballets. As a result, too much of communism in America that exceeded American production ability. The results is the decade long double deficits, meaning American consume more than they produced.

Europe and America are all too much of communism in their government program under the political correct language of Rights.


Communism is definitely still relevant in our world.

Communists supported women’s suffrage and equality; their right to vote, their right to work, their right to divorce, their right to own property, their right to exist in society as equals with men. That illustrates just one tiny corner of Communism.

The Communist analysis of markets and the relation between capital and labor, the rights of labor, the 40 hour week, environmental protection, opposition to child labor laws, and many such principles which the prosperous industrial nations practice, have their origins in Communism.

Sadly, the atrocities of totalitarian states under the guise of Communism rightfully discredit Communism.

  • If you are suggesting the establishment of a system of society based upon the common ownership and democratic control of the means and instruments for producing and distributing wealth by and in the interest of the whole community, a global moneyless , classless, stateless, wage less society where production is for use not profit and there is free access to all goods and services, to right the ills of present day Capitalist society then yes it has more than a point but sadly as long as the overwhelming majority are willing to allow Capitalism to continue there is nothing one can do.

How do I become relevant?


Relevance is all about perspective. You become relevant by being effective in a situation. A hammer is relevant when building things but is not so useful when trying to cook dinner 😉 as a random example. You have something that others don’t have, whether it’s kindness, ability to stand up for yourself, ability to fight, ability to analyze a situation, ability to encourage others, you have something that others do not have. It’s important for you to realize what this something is, and find out what you can do with it, and how it can help others. If you know what that something is but are stumped on how it’s useful, please reply back to this and I’ll be happy to give you some ideas on where it can be used 🙂 You are relevant, no person does not have something that does not benefit others in some way shape or form, even if it is not properly cared for. In my father’s words, we are all tools, and sometimes we get misused, and tossed to the side because they couldn’t find a use for us. This doesn’t mean we’re not an incredible instrument that could accomplish great things – we just need to get cleaned off, and put/used somewhere that’s effective for what we were designed to do. You are relevant, we just need to find out where that relevance shines.


By not worrying about the opinion of others who may say you are not relevant.

If you come to the conclusion you are not relevant based on the existing results of your efforts to date, then you simply have to re-examine what you are doing and do something different.

The beautiful thing that you have which is so important is the free will to change and be better if you want. Choose something else and relevancy will take care of itself. If you have the guts and determination to change, you’ll be fine. If you don’t have the courage to change, then you’ll ask the same question in a year.

I hope you choose free will and change


There has never been a better time to be irrelevant! Do you know who the President of the United States of America is? Hell, I am about ready to start reading Shelby Foote’s many-volume history of the Civil War. And if he’s still there when I finish, I’ll reread the works of P.G. Wodehouse.

But if you really want full engagement with the world as it is…

There comes a time in almost all our lives when we face the fact that we cannot do the drinking and socializing of a college student and hold down a real-world job. The earlier you have to be at work, the younger you are when you come to terms with it.

Your explanation reminded me of a line in “The Great Gatsby,” when Nick suddenly remembers it’s his 30th birthday: “Thirty — the promise of a decade of loneliness, a thinning list of single men to know, a thinning brief-case of enthusiasm, thinning hair.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald was writing about the world of the 1920s turned topsy-turvy by the telephone, automobile and other inventions. Our time of hyper-communication produces the same queasy sense of shifting relevance. We make normal adjustments as details of our lives change and, wham, we find ourselves outside of our accustomed bandwidth but not tuned in to another one. We can’t message buds throughout the day. We have to be contributing to and monitoring a different information stream throughout the day. And most of our friends are in the same position. So there is a very real disorienting process at work. And people’s romantic lives change, often becoming family lives. When your friends’ TVs are set to “Barney,” things have really changed.

The economy and workplace changes are relevance traps. The pace of automation and artificial intelligence development continues to pick up. We are entering the age of the robots at full speed. We all know it means continuing job loss.

See if you can determine what your relevance anxieties center on. If your friends are transitioning to family men and women, transition to visiting often enough to keep in touch and not babysit, unless you’d like to. Otherwise, go to church (Episcopal churches have a coffee hour, more like half-hour, after their main service.) Go to a neighborhood bar — sports bars are good. There are still a few bookstores. Find out when they have readings and go to some of those. If you live near a college or university, cruise their web sites for info about upcoming lectures and other events. Etc. You will meet a lot of people if you set out to, and you will make a few friends.

If your relevancy concerns are about your job, don’t just keep going to work and hope everything will work out. Go online and do serious research on your industry or commercial sector, technological developments, how jobs will change. Then you can come up with a strategy.

If you don’t want to cycle out of the youth culture, give it a little more time. You will. If you want to embrace irrelevance, start reading Wodehouse’s Wooster and Jeeves stories and his Blanding’s stuff. “My Man Jeeves” and “The Inimitable Jeeves” for starters.

How does one overcome identity crisis?

  1. This question is about a common event and is responsible for marriages splintering, with each seeking for new excitement during mid-life crisis over ‘identity crisis!’! As a longtime listener of those inflicted with these ‘disease,’ have chosen to define it from a cultural standpoint. Mid-life crisis and identity crisis is experienced by men between the ages of 40 and 60. Women who have experienced menopause have, by then, usually dealt with it.

Couples, who over a lifetime have shared identical ideological and religious goals from the outset, their succeeding years gradually develop to become significant differences. Nothing can help to get you safely through this identify crisis except, better and ‘special wheels,’ of self-understanding! The ‘crisis’ is used to justify bad behavior!

As a child in Junior School, mother always pointed to the Temple. “Always worship this Temple in your heart – that is where God lives!” Following the successes of a successful a marriage and professional career, there was, unexpectedly, a strong dissatisfaction with all the achievements of life. Feelings of being on ‘top of the world’ with achievements, see-sawed with an inexplicable emptiness. Persistent chasing after the ‘forever’ passions seemed suddenly ‘short-term in satisfaction.’

Perplexed and internally confused, Hindu scriptures gave the understanding of the meaning and goal of life. Although Purusharthas (dharma) consider artha an important part of a successful life, Kama or want looked for more wealth! It is also called artha, and its importance is meaningful. ‘Success’ in education, family life, wealth and fame are important during the first half of life – they are all about ‘wealth or artha.’

In the second half of life, with the necessary source of safety measures, stability, unexpectedness and the impulse of control, the ego is by now disciplined and structured, to avoid disarray in real life. It is by the disciplined ego structure to be success a in the first half of life.

The second half of life manifests as an existential midlife crisis. The crisis comes with a deeper and obscure unexplained anxiety made worse by the appearance of unintended happenings.

A visit to the Temple of the ‘elders’ is where answers are found. We are told: “Pursue success” along a ‘new’ path: into your own identity! All the Upanishads are notabout the Higher Being. It is about: ‘Who, what am I? What exactly is my distinctiveness?”

“If this ‘distinctiveness’ is the ‘soul,’ what exactly does it want from me? Why have I become distanced from who I was, during the first half of my life?” The second half of life should be spent disentangling from the first half of life and unraveling the deeper mystery of our authentic identity and our relationship with this transient world.


What is the nature of the “crisis”? Do you think you do not know who you are? Do you not like who you think you are? These are two very different issues, so the ways one might deal with them are potentially quite different.

In either case, I encourage you to look at this moment as an opportunity to become who you want to be. Every reflective person has times when they ask, “Who am I?” It is not a sign of psychological problems to ask that question!  Consider doing a “gap analysis” to take advantage of this opportunity.

I find it most useful to think about identity in terms of qualities of character: honesty, integrity, respect for self, respect for others, industriousness, conscientiousness, reliability, resourcefulness, compassion, generosity, self-reliance, etc. This is a list of terms that you must define for yourself; the words mean different things to different people. A useful way to do this can be to answer the question, “What does it look like when I’m being X (reliable, honest, and generous)?” That answer becomes your definition of the term. With that list and the meanings, you have a framework to assess who you are today (based on how you think and what you do) and who you hope to be in the future.

Start by writing down a brief statement (a phrase or sentence) you think is accurate about how you think and behave now with regard to a particular quality that matters to you, such as kindness or honesty. The goal here is not to judge how you think and act today, but rather just to recognize who you are now (for the most part). Notice that this is about who you actually are, not how you prefer to think of yourself.

The next step is to imagine what you want to be like in, say, two years. Which of those character qualities would you want to be different (and why)? Be kind to yourself, realistic, and guided by your best motives as you identify ways you want to evolve.

Analyze the gap between who you are today and who you want to be in two years. Identify actions you can take that will move you toward your goal on a particular quality. To give yourself a positive start, identify something you can do within a week of finishing your gap analysis that will move you even a small step closer to being the person you want to become… and then do it!

I have found this to be the most effective way to “deal with” situations like recognizing that you are questioning your identity.


What you are going through is completely normal. Adolescence is a period of huge norming and storming. There is a theory by James Marcia on identity development which you may want to go through. An excerpt about the four identity status that form part of a sequential process:

The four identity statuses he distinguished were: foreclosure, identity diffusion, moratorium, and identity achievement.

Foreclosure. “The foreclosure status is when a commitment is made without exploring alternatives. Often these commitments are based on parental ideas and beliefs that are accepted without question”. As Marcia himself put it, “the individual about to become a Methodist, Republican farmer like his Methodist, Republican farmer father, with little or no thought in the matter, certainly cannot be said to have “achieved” an identity, in spite of his commitment”.

Adolescents may foreclose on the handed-down identity willingly or under pressure. The case of “negative-identity” occurs when adolescents adopt an identity in direct opposition to a prescribed identity. Marcia saw the evidence for the endorsement of authoritarian values by foreclosures as fully commensurate with a view of them as becoming the alter egos of their parents.

Marcia stressed that once an identity crisis has been experienced, returning to the foreclosure status was no longer a possibility.

Identity diffusion. Adolescents unable to face the necessity of identity development avoid exploring or making commitments by remaining in an amorphous state of identity diffusion, something which may produce social isolation. The least complex and mature of the four identity statuses, Identity Diffusion is the mark of those who have neither explored nor made commitments across life-defining areas. They may or may not have experienced an identity crisis, with some reporting having little interest in such matters and others reporting repeated indecision.

Marcia suggested that those with identity diffusion “do not experience much anxiety because there is little in which they are invested. As they begin to care more…they move to the moratorium status, or they become so disturbed that they are diagnosed with issues, or may end up adopting a negative and self-destructive identity-role.

Moratorium. Identity moratorium is the status of individuals who are in the midst of a crisis, whose commitments are either absent or are only vaguely defined, but who are actively exploring alternatives. Marcia notes that “moratoriums…report experiencing more anxiety than do is in any other status…The world for them is not, currently, a highly predictable place; they are vitally engaged in a struggle to make it so”.
Despite such anxiety, the postmodern trend has been for more people to spend more time in the status, a phenomenon Gail Sheehy termed Provisional Adulthood.

Identity achievement once a crisis has been experienced and worked through, Marcia considered, “a likely progression would be from diffusion through moratorium to identity achievement”. The latter is thus the status of individuals who have typically experienced a crisis, undergone identity explorations and made commitments. Marcia found some evidence to support his “theoretical description of is who have achieved an identity as having developed an internal, as opposed to external, locus of self-definition”.

As you can see from this excerpt, you fall in the moratorium status. The only way to resolve this state is to work through it. You can do the following:

– keep exploring
– don’t feel that the ‘true self’ will be betrayed if you do certain things that you do not typically do – the true self is yet forming, and exploring will give you a chance to explore and either put things on your list or cut them off your list
– do things you like and which make you feel good (e.g., dance) – this is only to release stress, do not evaluate yourself on the stress-buster activities that you do.
– tell yourself this is normal. Keep telling yourself that adolescents all over the world feel this way – may be talk to a few close friends about how they are managing it.
– keep away from intoxicants. This is an age when a lot of young people are pushed into drugs in the lieu of exploring some nirvana state. It’s misleading and your vulnerability is only used by people to sell their stuff. Social drinking is okay but beyond that, use sports or movements like dance in order to feel better.
– talk to someone. Approach a good counselor/life coach or a tale counseling helpline. If you are Indian, you can call this psychosocial helping I mention.

Don’t worry too much! This will pass!


First, be sure that you are actually having one. Not to doubt your self-assessment skills, just verify that your identity and the problems you are facing aren’t the same. You may be tackling too many things at one time, and feel uncertain about yourself due to lack of control rather than an identity crisis. If that’s why, then I suggest Warren Buffet’s two-list strategy for simplifying your life.

Still reading?
Dealing with an Identity Crisis:
Identity is shaped by how we currently view ourselvescompared to our past, future and the people around us. Your identity is composed, then, of three facets: past (where you’ve been), present (where you are), and future (where you want to be). If you know at least one of those three, you are off to a good start.
Unless you’ve had a concussion recently, I assume you know your past.
Can you answer the following questions?

  • What do I do for fun?
  • Who/What inspires me?
  • What do I pride myself on? /What am I good at?

If you can, then you have a present sense of self, which is two facets down and one to go.
I can’t help you with your future. That’s for you to decide. I can only hope you have a plan, and if you don’t then I hope you have dreams. There are a number of great TED talks about passion and motivation. I suggest watching a few.
Such as Adam Leipzig‘s “How to know your life purpose in 5 min”
And my favorite: Larry Smith’s “Why you will fail to have a great career

Bottom line: Focus on what’s important to you in the meantime. Your identity is there, just hiding… It will reveal itself in due time.


Personally I believe that our personalities are dynamic and ever changing. To try and look for a static you is mistake. Other than that there are a few things that must be kept in mind: you are not what you do -that’s your work, you are not where you were born- that’s your nationality, you are what you think of yourself- that is your identity.

It is easy to attribute your identity to your work or nationality and other things that can be told in a word or two but your real identity lies in your likes, dislikes, decisions, how you came to take those decisions, expectations, things that inspire you, et cetera. Those are the things that make you who you are. That is where your identity lies. To overcome your identity crisis you’ll have to let go of descriptors and try and understand who you are as a person- what it is that makes you tick. If you ever know who you are then you’ll never have such doubts.

Another reminder for the first point: our personalities are dynamic. So along the way if you realize that you are not the same person that you used to be, say, five years ago then don’t fight with it- accept it as who you are? In time things happen to us and we do things and every once in a while we go through change. Your personality is what you are at this moment not who you have been the whole of your life. Remember nobody remains the same. Everyone changes and only those who accept it can be free.

Identity Crisis (New Edition)

New York Times best-selling author Brad Meltzer (The President’s Shadow, House of Secrets) delivers a look into the all-too-human lives of superheroes when the spouse of a member of the Justice League of America is brutally murdered.

What exactly is a midlife crisis? And how common are they?

  1. A crisis is when a person suffers from a lack or a loss of coping skills. That’s sorta like the clinical definition. Basically it means that their difficulties exceeds their ability to handle or manage their life. You’ve heard the phrase “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”? A crisis is an overdose of lemonade.

Childhood issues can set a person up for a crisis, as our basic coping skills are built during childhood and early adulthood. If you don’t learn many coping skills or you learn to overuse just one or two, you can get into trouble.

Lots of things can cause a crisis. However, midlife sort has a lot of little traps built into it.

There is the basic one… that getting old is scary… or rather, not being YOUNG anymore is scary… You are not as strong and resilient as you once were… you can’t fall asleep or stay asleep as well… you aren’t nearly as pretty as you used to be…

Not to mention that a man’s first adventure with erectile dysfunction can scare the hell out him. His hammer has turned into jello… Ever tried to pound in a nail with a jello hammer?

And that evil gnome who sneaks into his room at night, plucks hair from his head and plants it in his nose and ears. That bastard is scary!

Aside from fear of aging, you have other midlife issues as well. Financial worries can pile up, and between kids, a mortgage, two car payments and all the other stuff, it can feel like you’ve painted yourself into a corner.

You also have all those dreams and hope of youth and young adulthood. Dreams of becoming president or an astronaut or the board of directors of GE… gone out the window.

You go through young adulthood trying to prove that you are different and special. You get an education and prove that you’re smart, you get a job and prove that your capable, you get a spouse to prove that you’re desirable, you get a house and prove that you’re dependable.

You get to midlife and realize that you are not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You did the same thing everyone does. You just isn’t that special. Sorry, Charlie.

Also at midlife, passion ebbs. Your hormones change… guys have less testosterone… women have less estrogen… and what is left is burnt out and used up by work stress and family stress. And even if you wouldn’t rather just fall asleep, there’s a good chance that your spouse does.

And at midlife, nothing is NEW anymore. You’ve seen just about everything, heard every story, and explored all the frontiers.

It’s a time of disillusionment. It’s a time of change.

And some people don’t have the coping skills to manage all this change. They can’t gracefully accept aging so vanity and preening begins. They can’t gracefully accept the financial responsibility so they buy sports cars and gold chains. They can’t gracefully accept the loss of their dreams of youth so they decide to take up hang gliding and mountain climbing.

They can’t accept the loss of their sexual virility and passion, so they take up with the hot young thing in the office down the hall.

Notice one thing about THEIR crisis. It’s about them.

It isn’t about you.”

2. According to Elliott Jaques, the psychologist who studied and named the phenomenon as part of his research into the nature of cognitive capability, the midlife crisis occurs in certain people as a result of natural growth in brainpower over time. When their capabilities mature to the point where they begin to manifest a higher-complexity cognitive style, all their old decisions come into question. They lose their identity.

Most adults process information one chunk at a time, and make well-practiced decisions. Jacques called this Declarative processing, because the cognitive style resembles a simple declarative sentence. “Since THIS, then THAT.” People build their entire lives around their particular set of THISs and THAT’s. It is epitomized by the kind of slogans you see on bumper stickers and rally signs.

What Jaques noticed is that this level of cognition gave way after a while to a higher level, where the person appears to consider multiple chunks of information and balance them all when making a decision. He labeled this Cumulative processing, since it is not one factor, but an accumulation of factors which feed the decision: “Since THIS + THIS + THIS + The Other Thing, then THAT (until something changes).”

For a large number of people this is the largest cognitive leap they will make in their adult life. And once it happens it does not regress. Every bedrock principle on which the person has built their life has suddenly been revealed as foundation of shifting sand. This leads to an intolerable situation. The life they have built via one cognitive process is not indicative of the choices they would make with this new process, and the evidence of their previous “mistakes” is staring them in the face at every turn. They can enter a profound depression. They feel imprisoned by their own hand.

Women undergo these same advances of cognitive capacity, but historically, in America at least, their decision-making power has been acutely curtailed in comparison with men’s’, and their identity consequently is not as tied up in it. Women have also had a lower ability to express themselves economically and socially so their internal struggles remain internal. This is why the mid-life crisis has been portrayed in the media as a “guy thing”.

  • For many people this kind of cognitive style shift happens much more frequently. The greater a person’s cognitive capacity, the more frequently they will undergo these transitions, from Declarative to Cumulative, followed by Serial processing (since THESE then THAT which leads to the NEXT and the NEXT) requiring chained logic, followed by Parallel processing (THIS CHAIN will accomplish this PARTIAL RESULT, and this OTHER CHAIN is required for a COMPLETE RESULT) requiring keeping multiple logical paths alive and in relationship to attain a final decision. These 4 cognitive styles then iterate again over a higher order of information complexity. Jaques identified at least 5 orders of information complexity, each chunk of which is made up of organized lower-order data.

Those people who have experienced several of these transitions may not even notice them anymore, and forget what it is like to have your brain expanded for the first time. They are in the minority, however. Jaques estimated that 80% of everybody lived through one transition in their life, and it had a profound effect upon them. These people tend not to be the ones writing screenplays or sitcoms or blog articles, so the low-information-capacity person is an easy mark.

  • To specifically address the question of evolution, the midlife crisis does not solve any particular problem – it is itself not adaptive. It is the side effect of the cognitive machinery which humans have evolved and inherited, and that machinery is extremely adaptive.

3. As far as I can tell, there are two types of midlife crises that are actually treated with any amount of contempt:

The Hedonistic Mid-Life Crisis

A mid-life crisis in itself isn’t necessarily bad, but a common reaction to the crisis itself is to spend tons of cash on stuff. Not necessarily tangible stuff, but nevertheless the spending is all about feeling good. It’s commonly a boatload of spending on things younger people associate with happiness and success, like a corvette or a motorcycle.

Onlookers treat this with contempt because it’s seen as immature. Presumably, the person in question has outgrown all the petty nonsense of adolescence and yet here he is buying a motorcycle that clearly doesn’t suit him. But he insists on it because of his crisis. Maybe there’s an element of jealousy (“I wish I could be dating a young woman, riding on a yacht, etc…”) but my impression is that it’s more contempt with the slide backwards into youthful immaturity.

The Existential Mid-Life Crisis

I’ve seen some people experience a mid-life crisis which resulted in deep, introspective self-evaluation. The person in question isn’t doing stupid stuff like drag racing for the first time at 53, but he’s acting and talking like someone else got into him. He’s questioning his life decisions, goals, and outcomes; sometimes he’ll question his relationships, up to and including the important ones (wife, close friends, etc…)

This is disconcerting for people who love him, but it’s also frustrating for people who don’t want to deal with this solipsistic guy all the time. More troublingly, it can put a huge strain on the marriage when the wife suddenly has to have this self-evaluative debate with her husband just because he’s suddenly freaking out about the reality of aging and growing old. It’s not a big deal to say “I do” when you’re a guy in your late 20s. What the hell do you know about “till death”? You might die in a few weeks from alcohol poisoning, if the past 10 years have been any indication. But they’re not, and you slow down, and then at around 50ish you really notice it and then suddenly it’s “holy shit, I’m half a century into this life and there’s I chance I’ll be here another half century. Are these the people I want to be with for the next 50 years?”

  • I not-so-frequently encounter people in the second group, but those are probably the more problematic ones. The questions you ask yourself in that sort of crisis are the sort of questions that hurt just to hear, let alone answer. Meanwhile, the first crisis is damaging, perhaps, but mostly it’s the financials that take a hit. And maybe the man makes an ass of himself trying to pull off an all-leather wardrobe to fit in with his brand new Harley.

Jim Conway writes for all men who face midlife and have thought about walking away from family, work, church . . . all responsibilities, and never coming back. Of his own midlife crisis he says, “I feel like a vending machine. Someone pushes a button, and out comes an article. The family pushes buttons and out comes dollars. The community pushes other buttons. 

Why are lazy employees rewarded and hardworking ones not?

  1. They are smarter than you.

If the lazy person does not cheat, or cut corners and works faster than you and the quality of the work is the same, then you should not be rewarded for working hard aka working longer hours and appearing busy.

If Lazy Employee does 10 units of production within one working day and hard worker stays after work to do 12, in pure units of production the harder worker wins.

However, if the lazy worker does those 10 units only with 50% of the working day and slacks off and the harder worker takes the full day to do all 10, we have ourselves a big problem.

It means the lazy worker can be paid 2x to do your job as well. You are useless. Why should the lazy employee produce more? From their point of view, you are the lazy worker for being slow and thinking slow = quality. They just have a better way of doing the work than you do, and why should they train you if they get no rewards?

However, these types of workers are rare, because pay for performance does not exist equally. Most workplaces pay up to 25% bonuses for 2x 3x or 4x more work produced than the normal worker. Therefore, the lazy employee does not feel they should give the company that performance for the increase in pay, it is not reasonable. The employee expects 2x the pay for 2x the work, it makes sense. They are technically doing the work of two people and should be paid so, but most companies are cheap.

Hope that makes sense, lazy employees are just smarter than you, just like Sports and Olympics, there are people who are simply stronger, faster, and smarter than you.

Either due to training, genetics, or a mix of the two. That is the reality of life, some people have to work harder than others.

2. Lazy employees may be quite a generic term here. I will read it to mean employees who know how to work the system.

However, to simply say employees get rewarded because they know how to work the system is only partially true. Sure there are many of these types of employees around and we have all been very frustrated when working alongside them. They let you carry the load and then step forward when the credit is being attributed and take their undeserving share.

Only part of this is down to their knowledge of the system.

The other part of the equation is that their ‘working of the system’ is often tolerated and sometimes even encouraged (though, this may not be the intended outcome). Management carries a significant part of the blame for this happening.

There could be 2 perspectives:

  • The seemingly lazy employees might actually be more efficient than their peers and might give a perception that they are not working as hard as the others but the fact of the matter is that they might be more capable and working smarter.
  • In an environment that encourages nepotism, these employees might be spending more time networking with their seniors and might be building a perception that they are working very hard.

3. Lazy and Hard Working are value judgments. In the workplace, it is likely not your role to assess these qualities, unless you are the boss.

It may be possible that the supposed “lazy” ones work smarter/faster, rather than the “hard working” ones.

If all are being paid, and no one receives RECOGNITION, then no one is specifically being “rewarded”.

  • Lazy people who are rewarded are usually good at hacking the system.

They know what is rewarded and what is not. And they put all of their effort – dearth as it may be – into maximizing the output that is measured and rewarded.

They figure out how to make themselves the person who is given credit for a production that is much bigger than themselves.

Laziness is not a virtue, however.

Those who combine hard work with an understanding of the system read the greatest rewards.

4. There’s the strange phenomenon of the work place where relationships sometimes matter more than the work you put in.

In other words, making good friends with the boss could have said boss throw the heavy work onto others while you’re given preferential treatment. The end result of course is the ability to further your relationship with said boss.

Meanwhile, the other lackeys are busy busting ass to the breaking point, but given the lesser attention of the boss, in the latter’s eyes you’re the teacher’s pet, the pick of the litter, which by virtue makes you prime candidate for promotions or a raise.

Now, as for the “why”, it’s simply because management fails to properly keep all staff equally accountable. But to be fair, that is hard, especially with larger teams, complicated projects, and office politics to navigate. You can try to be a star leader among your department’s team, but the backstabbing managers in other teams and your own team members’ ambitions or conflicts with each other could negate your efforts. Not to say it isn’t worth it, but such an environment only means that rewarding laziness and blame games is basically how things operate at the consent of the upper management level.