Thursday, February 2, 2012

Helpless

Via John Hinderaker at Power Line, Eric Falkenstein responds to Charles Murray's new book. Upper middle class unwillingness to affirm the value of their own practices condemns those who would profit the most from adopting them.
.... Murray argues the well-off should set a better example by not apologizing for their squareness, but rather, by advocating their lifestyle and scorning those who fail to live up to it—we need more of what is usually called "blaming the victim." Murray singles out the modern welfare state as the key instigator for our moral squalor, but I rather think our lack of faith in bourgeois values in general was the first mover here. Surely enlarging the dole increases the size of its patronage pool, but I still think policy is more symptomatic than causal. ....

Currently there exists a dominant coalition of the lumpen-proletariat and their patronizing, indulgent, but highly status-oriented advocates who aspire to lead the new reverse dominance hierarchy. ....

.... Currently, they simply hear about how great it is to be a victim, how noble it is to be poor, powerless, or discriminated; to be wronged is the ultimate in righteousness. This simply isn't true and the poor know it. Suffering does have meaning when it cannot be controlled, and in such times a stoic attitude is truly heroic, often taken out of a higher duty to one's neighbors and family. But simply suffering low status because one does not have a job, stopped paying their mortgage, is in jail, or did not learn a trade, is usually the result of simple sloth and shortsightedness, and all their friends and family know it.

Alas, successful people are ashamed to assert they have better genetics, values, and habits—even though they quietly believe it to be true—and so are content to let the media and intellectuals push the delusional idea that success is like when Paris Hilton had sex on a digital camera and built a career out of it: luck, connections, and chutzpah, but no discipline, ingenuity, and perseverance. With such examples it becomes defensible to suggest most of the rich are like that—mere lucky hacks in the game of life. The flip side is that those who are unsuccessful are suffering for no fault of their own. ....

The kind of change Murray is talking about will not happen until productive, successful people again feel pride in their distinguishing learned characteristics, including the willingness to shame people who do not have them. Consider that at the height of America's growth, the most popular form of fiction lionized were Horatio Alger stories, which lionized initiative and material prosperity. ....
The image was used in the Power Line post.

The New Class: Profiting From Decline | Power Line