Last week we tried to imagine how Professor Daniel Kahneman, Nobel Prize-winning author of Thinking, Fast and Slow, would react if he saw a couple of hillbillies coming into his store. This week we’ll re-look at that situation, pretending that Kahneman isn’t a Nobel Prize winning professor at all, but a lowly department store clerk.
In 2013 J. D. Vance graduated from Yale Law School, an accomplishment he shared that year with the following fraction of his fellow Americans: 0.00000063.
We’ve talked about several obstacles to success in middle class Ohio for migrants from southeastern Kentucky: they had horrible accents and they tended to dress funny. But the biggest obstacle was the most difficult to overcome: their behavior.
Last week we discussed one of the major hurdles recent immigrants from southeastern Kentucky faced when they tried to assimilate into middle class society in Ohio: they talked like hillbillies.
Although the parallels between my life and that of J.D. Vance, author of Hillbilly Elegy, seem flat-out astonishing, it’s actually the differences that are more interesting.
If Malcolm Gladwell is right that the cultural legacy of the Scots-Irish explains the poor outcomes experienced by people in southeastern Kentucky, how do we explain the exceptional success of these same people in Pittsburgh?
Culture eats strategy for breakfast. – Peter Drucker (supposedly)
You can take the boy out of Kentucky, but you can’t take Kentucky out of the boy. – Mamaw Vance
I just completed a series of posts on Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century, a book that experienced an astonishing publications history – despite being 700 pages long and a hard slog – because it caught the exact tenor of the times. A very different and more accessible book that enjoyed similar popularity, and for the same reason, is J. D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy.
Last week we discussed Fundamental Law of Private Capital #1 – that private capital is the secret weapon that allows some economies to out-compete others. This week we’ll turn to Fundamental Laws #2 and #3.