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TLStockPicks (95.46)

Happyness of the Unedjikated



June 17, 2008 – Comments (20)

RutledgeAvenue just posted in his CAPS blog a short book review of The Pursuit of Happyness, which I never read, though I must say was a very entertaining movie.  (In short, it's the story of Chris Gardner, a self-made millionaire despite having no college education and having lived on the streets with his son while going through a wall street firm's stock brokerage training program which paid very little.)

I was a bit perturbed to see that CAPS player joeykid13 responded to the review with the following:

"I think in many respects, education limits a persons unique and intuitive ability to create freely, without prejudice or predisposition to the ideas of other people.  Dave Thomas (Wendy"s) and Harland Sanders (KFC) are two examples, who are my personal heros.  Dave had a fourth grade education, and actually got his GED from Coral Springs HS, sometime in the 90's I think.  Harland, was all heart.  I saw an interview with his daughter where she affectionately said, (*indirect quote)  "Mother always had to watch Daddy's check book to make sure there was enough money at the end of the year to pay the taxes."  One one single day, Harland gave out 900 college scholarships...just one example of his supreme generosity.  It is no surprise that Dave was, of course...the understudy of the Colonel.  The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, being just one example of his supreme legacy.  Nobody is gonna remember the CEO's of today when they die, but Dave Thomas and Harland Sanders will live forever."

Joeykid13, I'm sorry, but I think you suffer from a lack of understanding of cause and effect.  I wouldn't be as strongly opposed to your comment if you did not believe something so dangerous as "education limits a person."  It is not that education prevents one from creating freely, but rather, one who makes the decision to go out and "create" at an early age does so at the expense of education--and every once in a while, one of them will get lucky and succeed and have a riveting story of how they overcame the odds.  But there is nothing inherent in education that prevents one from using his creativity; rather, it can provide the knowledge for a creative mind to expand on the wheel rather than having to reinvent it first.  For all the people who have dropped out of school, you note a couple who ended up being successful (and ignore the tremendous amount of luck involved), as if dropping out was the path to success.  Yet, you ignore the masses of grade-school dropouts who are broke, struggling, and wishing they had finished school.  And you definitely ignore all the people who DID get a proper education and succeeded.  (And people will more easily remember Ronald McDonald than they will Colonel Sanders, and McDonalds is a CLOWN.  Don't get success confused with branding.) 

I will say that there are certain people who only need structured education to a certain degree before being ready to make an immediate impact (Bill Gates, for example).  But they are few and far between.  As for the Colonel and Dave Thomas, it sure seems to me that either could have found the same success if they were educated... and maybe even sooner.  The Colonel was like 65 before starting KFC... that many years of life surely "prejudice[s] or predisposition[s] [one] to the ideas of other people." 

The most dangerous result of structured education is that it allows one to take a safe route, which increases the opportunity cost of entrepreneurship.  The real entrepreneurs, however, will never allow opportunity cost to hinder their passion.

20 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On June 17, 2008 at 11:16 AM, LordZ wrote:

I saw the movie, with that bogus actor ??? I forget his name but he seems to be in too many movies and he isnt that good of an actor.

As to the movie I didnt get as too how this guy was sucessful, actually I did and if it really happened like the movie, well I guess its breaking the rules and relying upon the human element to get where you need to be.

Chris got a street education and i'm sure he benefited from the brokerage tutilage and mentoring.

Good for Chris.


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#2) On June 17, 2008 at 11:23 AM, FleaBagger (27.47) wrote:

That's a very good post. Even though I am one person who fails to see the value of a college degree in my own life as a writer (having dropped out of college after two years), I heartily agree that the more educated a person is, the more likely he is to be successful and happy.

Education comes in many different ways, and if you're going to try to become employed by someone else, having education that your prospective employer can put his finger on is very useful. If you can and will start businesses until you have one that succeeds, you should have an education conducive to that, whatever that education may be.

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#3) On June 17, 2008 at 11:32 AM, FleaBagger (27.47) wrote:

Z - What did breaking the rules have to do with anything?

And Will Smith is better than most actors in the movies today.

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#4) On June 17, 2008 at 12:03 PM, joeykid13 wrote:











I offer up these ten examples of non college educated Americans.  Show me ten from your list who can meet or exceed the collective gravitas of mine, and I will politely acquiesce.


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#5) On June 17, 2008 at 1:22 PM, Hoglum (56.14) wrote:

Just for fun, here's a few PhD's.  These people are all fairly successful.  This isn't even looking at Master's & Bachelor's types & it's also not digging too deep. 

Shannon Walker

Robert Satcher

James Harris Simons

John Snow

Frank Zappa (why not?  I know we'll not be finding too many famous rock stars in this category)

Steven Hawkins

Frank Etscorn

Condoleeza Rice

Martin Luther King, JR.

Woodrow Wilson.

There have been 42 separate US presidents.  34 have been college educated.  Only one president without a degree, Harry Truman, was in office beyond the 1800's.  Does anyone out there think we'll have many more presidents without a college degree?

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#6) On June 17, 2008 at 1:36 PM, joeykid13 wrote:

There is a HUGE difference between "Education", and "Institutional Education".  Funny we use the same word to describe college and a mental hospital.  Abie became an outstanding lawyer...without the benefit of one of your beloved "Institutions".  If you would like to explore this issue further, I highly recommend, "The Collective Works, of St. John of the Cross".  Thank you for your list Hoglum...I nearly fell off of my chair laughing.

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#7) On June 17, 2008 at 1:46 PM, chk999 (99.96) wrote:

Education and formal education are not the same thing. One can be highly educated (by reading and studying) with no formal education at all. One of the brightest guys I know has no college degree but reads voraciously and is very knowledgeable in a large variety of subjects.

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#8) On June 17, 2008 at 2:28 PM, TLStockPicks (95.46) wrote:


Your list resorts to olden times when college was an obscene privilege and not a norm. At least one person on your list was well educated by private tutors.  Many on your list knew the importance of education and did not attend college only because of financial constraints.  One was even a teacher at the age of 16.  And with the exception of Truman (who wanted to go to college but couldn't), no president ever held office without a college degree after the turn of the 20th century. 

But I will still make a list, as you requested (and without repeating Hoglum's nominees).  I'm sure you'll find most of these people successful in their own little ways.

Albert Einstein 

Isaac Newton

JP Morgan

Warren Buffett

Alexander G. Bell

John Maynard Keynes

John F Kennedy

Thomas Jefferson

Helen Keller

George W. Bush

(I think my first 9 were strong enough to withstand whatever damage W could do to my list.)

Yes, there is a difference between education and "institutional" or "structured" education. But it's a folly to assume that obtaining institutional education means that you can't obtain other forms of education as well.  Institutional education was not as ready available as it is now, so people like "Abie" couldn't get it, and frankly didn't need it as much as society was not as advanced and people around him did not have the benefits of such education either.  Let's see Abie trying to become a lawyer without a formal education in this day and age.  Not only would his law knowledge be trumped by the average Craigslist legal forum peruser, he would also NOT BE ALLOWED to practice because it is REQUIRED that you obtain a JD from an ABA accredited school.  Cite all the books you want; I'll just point to professions with minimum institutional education requirements.

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#9) On June 17, 2008 at 2:31 PM, TLStockPicks (95.46) wrote:

Whoops: ready=readily.  I sure wish they allowed you to edit your posts on this thing.

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#10) On June 17, 2008 at 6:18 PM, joeykid13 wrote: have clearly made my point.  If it is REQUIRED that one obtains a JD from an ABA accredited school, well then I belive the Supreme Court would find that quite clearly unconstitutional.  "If an American citizen, can show their competency in the law, and their ability to practice therein, then there should be no law, rule, or regulation, restricting said citizen from practicing.  Furthermore, if it is legal for said citizen to reprensent himself under the law, it follows that this ability may be performed, transferred, or administered on behalf of another, without prejudice.  In the annals of the history of jurisprudence, never has there been such an aggregious barrier to justice than this"  (I quote my own dissenting opinion...obviously)

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#11) On June 17, 2008 at 6:46 PM, joeykid13 wrote:

I will give you...




and I will laugh at the other seven...

ALBERT EINSTEIN  Nuclear Power...Good or Evil?  The jury is still out.  Did he ever renounce his German citizenship?

ISAAC NEWTON Gravity...LOL  a four year old could figure that one out...and he is English.

JPMorgan...A con artist and a thief, of Scottish descent.  Muscled the US government into thinking that he was our only hope during the great depression.  Like Mr Potter in "It's a Wonderful Life"...kudos Capra...bought shares for pennies on the dollar, and then bailed himself out...pure EVIL.

WARREN BUFFET  A very personable, nice and rich old man.  Should have spent more time adding life to his years than years to his life.  Took the low road of the great duty, obligation, and responsibility of the charitable endeavor, by handing off to Bill...preferring to make more still.

ALEXANDER G. BELL  Partially responsible for the break up of communication, family, and community.  Single handedly responsible for killing the art of letter writing.

JOHN MAYNARD KEYNES  Architect of the plan for the supreme destruction of the American State.  Father of the Greater Depression.

JOHN F. KENNEDY  Spoiled brat, born with a sense of entitlement.  Only claim to fame...having the upper right quadrant of his skull removed by a travelling projectile resulting in a sudden drop in cerebral spinal fluid pressure, and catastrophic blood loss. 

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#12) On June 17, 2008 at 7:39 PM, joeykid13 wrote:

Hoglum...since I have gone down this road...I will give you...



As for the other will have to present your case.

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#13) On June 17, 2008 at 7:49 PM, TLStockPicks (95.46) wrote:

I don't get how the court would find that unconstitutional... your quote doesn't shed much light either (though I completely disagree that if a person lacking legal education is allowed to represent himself, then he should be able to practice his incompetence on another's behalf).  This debate is about the importance of structured/institutional education. It is irrelevant whether you believe it's right or wrong that such education is required for certain professions.

Sorry, missed that you asked for Americans only.  Seeing that you accepted GWB without dissent, I will nominate Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert (as two other comedians) in place of Newton and Einstein.  If you want more serious figures, take FDR and Hamilton.  There is nothing to be gained by breaking down our opinions of the people on these lists, especially when you have on your own some of the most uninfluential presidents in history.  The fact is everyone named so far has been successful.  Let's focus on the argument.

My point: Structured education is important--almost necessary-- especially in this day and age.  Giving examples of self-made people does not refute this fact, especially because you will never be able to compare what these people could have done if they were able to receive a proper education.  Nowadays, a college education is the bare minimum to get most jobs.  And sure, a dropout can start a company, but when VCs/investors decide whether to provide seed capital, even they will want to know where the CEO went to school.  They will have to rely on a larger amount of luck to make it, with the rare exception who left school only when they had a groundbreaking idea (like Gates).  As everyone in society becomes more educated, it becomes that much more important to level the playing field.

In summary: structured education opens doors.  Sure, you can get in by crawling through the window, but why not use the freggin door if it's there?

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#14) On June 17, 2008 at 8:05 PM, joeykid13 wrote:

50K X 4 or 8 = 200,00 - 400,000 really good reasons.  If you want to be a doctor, it is probably closer to 1M.  I don't value anything that cannot be administered to the least common denominator without prejudice to age, race, religion, or socio-economic circumstances.  When your beloved Educational Institutions become completely free, and available to all...I will reconsider your point.  That will be NEVER.  TL, I respect you, and appreciate this spirited debate but I'm sure you have heard the old saying..."Those who can do, and those who can't teach".  Do you really want your kids educated by losers?

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#15) On June 17, 2008 at 8:08 PM, joeykid13 wrote:

Hoglum, I will also give you Dr. King...he was truly a martyr.

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#16) On June 17, 2008 at 8:17 PM, joeykid13 wrote:

The American President during times of peace should be uninfluential.  The fact that you believe that anyone in any century could become the President without being influential is beyond my comprehension.  Is not Peace what all Americans want, and have always wanted?

I'll give you...


FDR...Socialist who grew the Federal Government to a place where it was never meant to be, and will never return from.  The Father of tax slavery.

Since you are unable to defend any of the candidates on your list, I will rest my case.

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#17) On June 17, 2008 at 8:47 PM, TLStockPicks (95.46) wrote:

So you're saying that structured education will only become important when it's free?  We're talking about importance, not social responsibility. 

Fact: Our society has made structured education important regardless of whether one learns anything.  If you wish to be a doctor, there is no alternative other than attending all those years of school.

Most of the material that the modern self-educating dropout reads in a public library will only be there due to college educated people who came up with those ideas and materials.  The tools they will use to apply their ideas will mostly be inventions of people who were college educated. 

And back to the lists: I can defend each person on my list by naming at least 1 thing that he/she did that still affects us today, and you know you can as well.  Having to "defend" THAT list on a point by point basis is silly: the average highschooler will know exactly what kind of footprint they've all left in history (though I can't say the same about Fillmore). 

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#18) On June 17, 2008 at 9:10 PM, joeykid13 wrote:

LOL, thanks again for your insight.  I am a Socratic learner, so I appreciate very much the rigorous exchange.  TL  I also want to thank you for the heads up...that was first class.  If you hadn't I probably would have been ripped to shreds on your post.  In any case, I enjoyed the challenge.  I have nothing against education or college.  I have a problem with college educated people looking down their noses at the folks who are not.  I just wanted to point out some real winners and success stories to back that point up.  I really do admire Harland and Dave very much, as I have made quite evident.

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#19) On June 17, 2008 at 9:24 PM, TLStockPicks (95.46) wrote:

Duly noted, and the respect is mutual.  I will concede that people who blaze their own paths to success tend to have much more interesting stories than the Harvard -> Wharton MBA -> investment banker -> middlemanagement -> CEO type.  I personally believe it is important to discern intelligence and knowledge: college merely crams knowledge in front of you... it takes intelligence to accept knowledge when it's in front of you and intelligence + creativity to grab knowledge hidden in the universe.  I only hope that I have done/will continue to do both.

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#20) On June 17, 2008 at 9:41 PM, TLStockPicks (95.46) wrote:

Duly noted, and the respect is mutual.  I will concede that people who blaze their own paths to success tend to have much more interesting stories than the Harvard -> Wharton MBA -> investment banker -> middlemanagement -> CEO type.  I personally believe it is important to discern intelligence and knowledge: college merely crams knowledge in front of you... it takes intelligence to accept knowledge when it's in front of you and intelligence + creativity to grab knowledge hidden in the universe.  I only hope that I have done/will continue to do both.

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