His Majesty, Cnut the Great, King of England and Denmark and of the Norwegians and some of the Swedes is best known now for ordering the tides to roll back. His heirs in that sort of thing seem to include too many of today’s educators and social scientists, folk who share Cnut’s politicized outlook, though not necessarily his exceptional ability at his job. American society is paying the increasing bill for that.
A recent article is titled: “Competition Is Cruel, And America Needs A Whole Lot More Of It.” The writer deals with the contradictory behavior presented for example, high school students in public schools. Student self-esteem is a primary value among educators; they do all in their power to impose equality and prevent feeling inferior. “Everybody gets a trophy,” as the article points out. Still, this classroom piety vanishes upon arrival at the school’s football or basketball program, where winning and losing are all. The same psychotic drivel permeates competitive figure skating, where local competitions and even some national events automatically award a first place title to the sole entrant in an event lacking other contestants, but refuses to extend the policy to the sport;s national championships. Politicized thinking seems always full of contradictions.
This reflects the politician’s interest in dealing with appearances more than with reality. Those wishing to please the politicians must then do the same; when they must deal with real things, the contradictions are evident and since that is the only means for dealing with them, usually ignored. The fable of the Emperor’s New Clothes is a primary illustration of this political history.
Competition is cruel; it leaves few winners and many losers. But a free, competitive market built American wealth. Had the politicians kept their hands off, America would likely be wealthier than it is. And over time, those ‘losers’ benefit too.
Humans, like bears, dogs, birds, fish and even bacteria, are lazy by nature; we avoid expending energy unnecessarily. We are made that way; our cosmos penalizes waste in general and waste of energy particularly. Energy is gathered at a price, as the Second Law of Thermodynamics clarifies. Economists look at it by contrasting the infinity of human wants with the real scarcity of necessary resources. Religious folk recall: “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread.” It all adds up to one precept for all of life: Work or Die. A tough sentence for a naturally lazy critter!
But for maximum prosperity in such circumstances, all must be motivated to do their best and to maximize their talents so that all can receive the maximum benefit. Discouraging superior attainments to save the feelings of less gifted people or pretending that inferior attainments are the standard, simply penalizes society by reducing its productivity. Teaching mediocrity as a standard is the sum of the policy and the reward of prevailing mediocrity in society, is poverty.
Entitlement is the other face of self-esteem that is granted, not earned. The entitled, take what they see as their due; they aren’t motivated to exert for a share of Nature’s scarce rewards. “In the sweat of someone else’s face shall I eat bread” is their mantra, encouraged by Left-wing politicians. They happily join in urging government to confiscate the production of the producers for their benefit and never understand when those producers stop producing.
Almost half of Americans live in households that receive some government welfare taken from producers today. In 11 states, private sector workers are outnumbered by those dependent upon the government. That seems far too many eggs traveling in one basket; the writer of the cited Forbes article calls them “Death Spiral States.” Expanding from there, unless Americans can return to their earlier hard-working,, competitive approach to life, America may well be a Death Spiral country. The sellers of unearned ‘equality’ and self-esteem as entitlements are selling economic poison. We need tar and feathers and a rail upon which to run them out of town. Failing that, reality will do the job… on all of us.