(A few friends and I are reading this book together. Each week we are reading one chapter. On Fridays, I am posting my comments, then giving them the opportunity to add their thoughts as well. If you would like to join us or simply find out more about the book, you can read about it here.)
Chapter 3: "The Pain of Problems"
- In Part One (chapters 2-5) of this book, the author is addressing the pain we see in our lives and its origins. In this chapter, he specifically looks at the problems we face.
- I have not done a thorough historical analysis, but his proposition seems valid: things are changing quicker today than they were in the past, therefore new problems are popping up more often and other problems are changing more quickly. For instance, I think the difference between 1988 and 2013 (25 years) would be much greater than 1246 and 1271(also 25 years, in case you are wondering). Transportation and technology have made the world "smaller," allowing change (including changing problems) to happen much quicker.
- His statement, "Our tendency is to select what we wish to remember and conveniently forget the rest" (page 37) reminded me of something I hear from the older generation. They'll say, "I remember when gas was 59 cents a gallon." I always want to ask, "How much were you paid in that time?" To illustrate my point, I looked up some stats:
1950- Wages: $1.60/hour; Price of Gas: $.18/gallon; therefore: gas 11.25% of hourly wage
2012- Wages: $23.06/hour; Price of Gas $3.60/gallon; therefore: gas 15.61% of hourly wage
My point: gas prices are up, but they aren't up as much as $.59/gallon to $3.69/gallon makes it seem. People remember more going out, but forget about more coming in.
* Couple of notes: I assumed 50 weeks of work at 40 hours a week to determine hourly wage. Link to 1950 facts. Link to 2012 gas price. Link to 2011 average income (couldn't find 2012 because taxes aren't all filed yet.)
- I feel that his list of unprecedented things in Figure 3.1 was a strong argument for the many new and rapidly changing problems we face.
- I don't feel that he did (or could) prove that things are changing exponentially. The mathmatical calculations would require someone really smart like ... ok, someone other than me. Regardless of whether that is true or not, I do not feel that it invalidates his arguments that the problems we are facing are unique.
- In the last couple of sections of the chapter, he points out that when change is not so rapid, we have a "cushion" called margin between us and our limits. However, the rapidly changing world around us has swallowed up and overtaken the margin of many people, damaging many areas of life.
- Much of what he says I think is probably true. I just don't think he can empirically prove it. I know he has to lay a foundation, but I am looking forward to Part Two when he talks more about margin itself.
I've had my say, what say you?
Discussion on Chapter 2
Discussion on Chapter 4