How should Americans live in order to attain a reasonable level of comfort and security? The formula, seemingly forgotten long ago, is simple. Robert Rob spells it out in his Politico article, “Americans Lose Gift for Practical Living”:
Regardless of how bad a school you attend, pay attention and do what your teachers say to do. Get at least a high school education.
Don’t abuse alcohol or drugs. Don’t have a child out of wedlock.
Get a job and perform your duties diligently. Live below your means and put the power of compounding interest to work for your future.
Note this doesn’t include sitting around waiting for someone else to do it for you. It doesn’t include counting on and waiting for government handouts, bailouts, and subsidies. It doesn’t include a home, or a car, or anything else that you haven’t earned.
And yet, as Rob points out, our government seems to be encouraging the continued flouting of these simple guidelines by subsidizing irresponsible behavior — both personal and corporate. As I’ve said before, everything, including responsible behavior, begins at home. Parents should — must — both set the example and teach their kids that this is how you get ahead. That, of course, is precisely the problem. We already have a generation of parents who didn’t learn this themselves and who haven’t taught it to their kids.
Frankly, I don’t know how we break the cycle. I believe education is the key to solving all the world’s ills, from overpopulation to war to economic crises. I don’t know how you convince a school drop-out, a truant, or a gang member prowling the streets that keeping one’s nose to the educational grindstone for twelve years offers a better payoff than the instant gratification of hoops on the playground or drugs on the corner.
Despite what some public figures seem to think, the election of a black president isn’t suddenly, magically, going to motivate minorities, the underprivileged, and the uneducated to rush to their neighborhood schools and become dedicated students. School has always been there, opportunity has always been there, and examples of successful people from all segments of our population have always been there for those who chose to see. Don’t tell me you’ve been discriminated against; don’t tell me I owe you a hand up or a handout; don’t tell me you “can’t.” Don’t expect me to take any responsibility for you or your shortcomings or your bad luck if you won’t first take responsiblity for yourself.