Jay Drezner refutes the New York Times!
Last Sunday’s New York Times ran an Ellyn Spragins column on how wealth inequities affect sibling relationships. Her conclusion — it ain’t good: Because you come from the same gene pool and are raised in the same way, it’s much tougher to find a convincing, palatable excuse for why your brother owns his own company, ...
Last Sunday's New York Times ran an Ellyn Spragins column on how wealth inequities affect sibling relationships. Her conclusion -- it ain't good:
Last Sunday’s New York Times ran an Ellyn Spragins column on how wealth inequities affect sibling relationships. Her conclusion — it ain’t good:
Because you come from the same gene pool and are raised in the same way, it’s much tougher to find a convincing, palatable excuse for why your brother owns his own company, a vacation house and four fancy sports cars – and you don’t. Is it because he’s blond? Taller? Or is he smarter and better? “Siblings are about as similar to you as you can get,” said Margaret Clark, a psychology professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. “So when you compare, and you come out behind, it can be painful.”… Usually it’s a less wealthy sibling who chooses to distance himself or herself from a rich sister or brother – or to drop the relationship altogether. “If you seal off that relationship you don’t have to think about the comparison and what it means to your self-esteem,” Dr. Tesser said. One way to do that is to slur a rich sibling in a way that lends you superiority: “The money really changed him,” for example, or “She sacrificed her family life to be successful.”
In my family, this last point is amusing, given that Jay Drezner — my brother — makes far more money than I do, but was also the one who decided to go live in Australia for a few years. Jay read the story and has a lot of things to say about it. Here’s the punchline:
[A]sk yourself the following question. Do you think my brother is jealous of me for the money that I make or am I jealous of my brother for the lifestyle he leads? I suspect (being only one of the parties involved) that the answer to both would be a hesitant “No.” In the career path that he has chosen my brother has been a success. If posed with the option to reverse history and choose my life instead, I believe he would reject it. Similarly, I would not choose the path than Dan has taken. I believe that the reason for this is, while I’m sure I would like more free time and Dan wouldn’t refuse a higher salary, we both made our career and life choices aware of what those choices meant. Eventually, my priorities may change, but given what most people think of my profession, I feel it is appropriate to quote John Milton (Al Pacino’s character from The Devil’s Advocate), “Free will, it is a bitch.”
All I can say is, indeed. [Does this mean you get Connie Neilsen?–ed. Oh, shut up.]
Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School at Tufts University and the author of The Ideas Industry. Twitter: @dandrezner
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