In my last post I talked about the importance of assumptions. My first assumption is that success is good. We want to be successful in our lives and we favor policies that promote success, for ourselves, for those we care most about, and for the population as a whole. The term “success”, however is a very vague term. Success can be valued in terms of money, fame, professional achievement, impact on the lives of others, personal happiness, etc.
Moreover, the perception of success is highly relative, depending on our own expectations and the expectations of others. For example, most people would say that a baseball player who makes the major leagues and plays at that level for many years is highly successful. However, if this player was touted as the next Willie Mays and he spends his career as a bench player batting .250, many would consider him a disappointment.
When I speak of success in these blogs in terms of political policies, I am primarily referring to economic success. Political decisions in economics help determine the overall wealth of the nation and how this wealth is distributed. Economic success in terms of income and/or net worth is the only practical way to measure the results of economic policies. While some may say that even though a policy is making people poorer, it is also making them happier, I think most people would be happier with a bit more money.
When I speak of success in terms of personal life, I mostly think of self actualization. Self actualization is best described by the marine corps slogan “Be all that you can be!”. This is extremely subjective, but here we are talking about personal decisions. When we talk about improving the lives of others, we need to be more objective so we can measure results. When we talk about our own life, we can use our own definitions.
In my personal opinion, success derives from setting and achieving goals. I will talk about this more next time.