What is the most unfair advantage a person can have?

Being born to the right parents.

This single coincidence tends to make more of a difference to a persons’ life than any other factor, including whatever efforts the person himself makes to try to improve his lot.

Who your parents happen to be has a tremendous impact on a huge range of things that shape just about everything in your life to a huge degree.

  • It determines if you’re born in Sweden or in Somalia
  • The genes they gave you determines whether you’ll be tall, intelligent and handsome or short, stupid and ugly.
  • The genes also play a big role in whether or not you’ll be healthy, whether or not you’re likely to get a long list of diseases.
  • If your parents are kind, compassionate and nurturing your start in life will be very different from if they’re cold, inconsiderate or abusive.
  • The hobbies and interests they have in many cases have a lifelong influence on your own hobbies and interests.
  • Their wealth and their income determines what material standard of living you’ll have for the first 20 – 25 years of your life, and in fact often for your entire life. (in most cases lazy sons of multimillionaires end up better off than hardworking daughters of slum-dwellers)
  • They more or less entirely decide who is important in your life for your first 5 years. Such early formative relationships are very important for a child’s development.
  • They determine what quality education you’ll get, this depends on their wealth, where they happen to live, and their priorities. You as a young child have low influence on all of this.

I’m not at all saying that it’s hopeless to get ahead in life if you had a bad start. What I’m saying is that having the right parents means getting to play life on “easy” mode, while having the wrong parents makes everything a whole lot more difficult.


Year One – retrospective

A year is just the right length. Long enough for meaningful change. Long enough for progress. Long enough to accomplish something meaningful.

A year, therefore was the initial length of time I gave myself to change my lifestyle and improve my health. I made this decision on august 5th 2012, one year ago today.

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Special Treatment

Affirmative action, also known as positive discrimination, is the
act of deliberately giving preferential treatment to some
marginalized group. For example, women could be given additional
points when applying for engineering-school, or someone who is
disabled could be given preference when applying for a job.

When such positive discrimination happens, you always hear
complaints. Complaints that it’s not “fair”. Complaints that “she
got the job just because she’s a woman”, or “he got into that
university just because he’s in a wheelchair.” Nobody should get
“special treatment”, they say. For a fair world, everyone should be
treated the same, they say.

The people complaining are invariably privileged. Educated,
healthy and wealthy and conveniently forget that they themselves
got special treatment in a multitude of small and big ways,
starting before they where even born.

They grew up in the womb of a mother who was well-fed and had
adequate access to good-quality medical care. Then they were born
in a modern hospital with the best doctors, medicines and machinery

A few days later they came home – to a house where the roof does
not leak, where there is adequate heating in winter, and cooling in
summer. Where fresh healthy water runs freely. Where the beds are
soft and the neighbourhood safe. Where books and toys are
plentiful. Where smart, healthy and intelligent parents do their
very best, using their considerable resources to give the best
possible start in a new life. Where there’s plenty of varied,
healthy and safe food on the table several times each and every

All this before they even utter their first word.

You don’t get to pick your parents. Your time or place of birth.
Your gender or your genes. It’s a lottery. It infuriates me how
many have themselves had the luck of picking a winning-number, but
have no compassion for those who didn’t.

Hard work influences outcomes. A tiny bit. If you study hard and
work diligently, you may succeed in doing somewhat better than the
average person of comparable luck.

But the lottery-part dominates.

Even the laziest, stupidest, unkindest, do-nothing son of a
millionaire in most cases end up financially much better off that
the most hard-working girl born in the slum. Even the laziest
stupidest Norwegian has a standard of living that is higher than
90% of humanity.

We tell people, “if you work hard, you’ll make it”, and sometimes
that’s true. But we seldom tell them the depressing truth: If you
are going to do well, or suffer horribly in life, is mostly
determined by luck.

What philosophical principle makes “special” treatment due to
having won the birth-lottery fair, but “special” treatment by the
government in an attempt to compensate slightly for the grossly
slanted playing-field unfair ?