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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Growing Older: That's the impression that I get

I am getting older and more conservative. I'm still left of center, believe that government is a solution and not a problem, and that a country is measured by how it treats its most marginal citizens. However, I would no longer vote for Dennis Kucinich for president nor think that socialism is just misunderstood.

I used to think that my MBA classmates who went to work for investment banks sold their souls. Now, I have a price tag for how much I would sell my soul to a bank. Hey, unless we're a fireman, astronaut, or vampire slayer, we all sold out at one point. None of us grew up wanting to be a consultant, product development manager, or get really good at Excel.

Yesterday, I listened to NPR talk sinisterly about how Goldman Sachs made $3.4 billion in profits last quarter. My reaction was not indignant anti-capitalist rage about how a 75% corporate tax sounded good right now but rather a patronizing, duh, Goldman made money on high lending and transactions spreads and the fact that three of their competitors went up in smoke.

When I think about the argument for legalizing marijuana, I now think about the potential tax revenue and if it would reduce or increase the price of an ounce. I no longer think about how it would be cool if someone could order a bong at a beer garden.

When young bloggers talk about how it is important for corporate America to value their opinion, I comment with a calculation of the Net Present Value of their opinion. And their NPV isn't high enough for corporate America to care yet.

My MBA program didn't change my social leanings at the time. I enjoyed telling my classmates that the pharmaceutical industry should be nationalized and they enjoyed speculating when I would completely join the dark side and try to work at a hedge fund. However, the MBA has accelerated my shift as I read the popular business books for fun and look at the news from a "what's the ROI perspective". Working in health insurance has hardened me. Not because insurance in an evil industry but because everyone likes to say that it's an evil industry. Although if I stayed in social work, I would probably be really cynical.

I also know that it's not just me who's changing while aging. A recent lunch with colleagues my own age included an animated discussion about life insurance options and on-line will creation sites. We no longer rate the attractiveness of our co-workers. Well, just not as much time.

Now, this is not a bad thing. There is some preservation involved, such as not climbing that mountain with a potentially bad hamstring. I've made transitions in the past, such as cutting my shoulder length hair at the beginning of senior year in college. I knew that a post-college transition was coming and it was a way to prepare for it.

I still insist that when I turn 40, I'm going to grow my hair down to my shoulders again or find some other mid-life crisis endeavor. But in the meantime, I am going to follow up with my colleague and get that on-line will website.

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