Conversation 5 – Arguments OV

The two sources I am using for this week’s conversation are “The Paradox of Choice” Ted Talk by Barry Schwartz and the New York Times article “You Try To Live On 500K In This Town” by Allen Salkin. In the Ted Talk, we see Schwartz discuss the positives and negatives of having a multitude of choices in our everyday lives. Schwartz’s premises throughout the video consist of the number of choices we have in our everyday lives, such as the endless options of salad dressings in one grocery store. His other premises explain how when you go to your doctor, you are given choices rather than guidance. He also explains how we get to invent and reinvent our identities on a daily basis, rather than inherit it. These choices at times can be beneficial, but can also lead people astray. Lots of people require guidance and it can be difficult to manage daily tasks without it. Schwartz concludes his argument by posing two negative effects on choices: 1. It produces paralysis rather than liberation- In that, there are so many options to choose from, people find it hard to choose at all. 2. If we manage to overcome paralysis and make a choice, we end up less satisfied with the result of the choice than we would be if we had fewer options to choose from. 

The Ted talk correlates to the New York Times article regarding the fact that all of these options to choose from can be extremely overwhelming in a world where everything is dictated by the amount of money you make. If you make 500k for example, and you want to have a kid, you have to consider the cost of education, babysitting, tutoring, food, extracurricular activities, vacations, and the list goes on. The choices are overwhelming and inherently endless. The premises Salkin used throughout the article consist of breakdowns for certain living expenses, ranging from necessary to unnecessary depending on the choices you make for your family. 

The article’s conclusion is from Candace Bushnell, the author of “Sex and the City” who explains that “If you are in a culture where spending a lot of money is a sign of success, it’s like the same thing that goes back to high school peer pressure. It’s about fitting in.” The conclusion does not come from the author of the article, who is merely giving evidence as to why it is difficult to live on a 500K salary. 

Money does not guarantee happiness, the less money you have, the fewer choices you will be given in life. People are paralyzed by choice on a daily basis, whether they are trying to start a family or navigate life as a college student. Your money dictates the amount of choice you are able to make, which limits your freedom.  When you are constantly controlled by whether or not you will be able to succeed in life based on your annual income, it sets you far apart from those who have the means. A 500K salary will barely cover the expenses needed for a couple who have two children.

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