The Altucher Chronicles

Like I said, that column by Mr. Altucher in the FT made a number of strange claims.

So I wrote a letter to the Editor of the FT about one of them, cc’ing Mr. Altucher’s email as given at the bottom of his column. Mr. Altucher replied.

Hilarity ensued.

For the purposes of this discussion, I’m in italics. Mr. Altucher is in bold.

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Sir,

In what I presume to be the FT‘s humour column, Mr. Altucher writes,

“First, and foremost, (college is) too expensive. To send a kid to college you need from $200,000 to $400,000. That’s insane. There’s no way the incremental advantage they get from having a diploma will ever pay back that amount.”

In 2002, the US Census Bureau reported the following:

“As shown in Figure 3, for full-time, year-round workers, the 40-year synthetic earnings estimates are about $1.0 million (in 1999 dollars) for high school dropouts, while completing high school would increase earnings by another quarter-million dollars (to $1.2 million). People who attended some college (but did not earn a degree) might expect work-life earnings of about $1.5 million, and slightly more for people with associates degrees ($1.6 million). Over a work-life, individuals who have a bachelor’s degree would earn on average $2.1 million — about one third more than workers who did not finish college, and nearly twice as much as workers with only a high school diploma. A master’s degree holder tops a bachelor’s degree holder at $2.5 million. Doctoral ($3.4 million) and professional degree holders ($4.4 million) do even better.”

So we see a BA holder gets an incremental advantage of $900,000, for a ROI of at least 125%. Would Mr. Altucher’s clients were so lucky.

Sincerely,

Hal O’Brien

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Those stats mean nothing. Its what a self-initiating proactive person can do instead of college (as opposed to what the avg person can potentially do) that I’m interested in.

Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

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Ah. And all your children are from Lake Wobegon, and thus, above average?

Interesting. This might be a nice one for Mr. Taleb. Someone who insists that black swans are the norm (and not rare).

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I’m only saying if someone is proactive they can find better things to do than waste their parents’ money. I’m not saying my kids are special. No need to get personal.

Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

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Sir,

The entire premise of your column was that this is what you personally are doing with your children. I quote:

“What I said was that I had no intention of sending my kids to college. I was dead serious.”

…and that the remainder of your column were your reasons for this.

If this is not what you meant (and merely what you wrote)… well, you need to brush up on your skills.

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Just because I have “no injtention” doesn’t mean that’s what will happen.

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Then, congratulations! I am laughing; Your name is the successor to Martin Lukes as the new FT humour columnist; and I claim my five pounds!

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Updates if events warrant.

Did I mention that he kept writing to me directly, and that I kept cc’ing the Editor? No? Might be interesting.