Happiness doesn’t come from equality of outcomes… Nor does prosperity

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For years we’ve been hearing stories of schools scrapping dodge-ball, sports leagues eliminating scoring and schools passing students despite their lack of academic achievement. The reason, we’re told, is to protect the self esteem of students who might otherwise be harmed by coming up on the short end of a competitive stick.

Of course none of this is a surprise to anyone who has watched as liberals have transformed the United States economy from a dynamic prosperity creating machine to a middling debt addict where the middle class finds itself on its knees as the government takes care of those at the top and the bottom of the economic spectrum.


Tangentially… I occasionally play the lottery. If the jackpot posted on the sign on the road from downtown flashes over $200 million I’ll consider plunking down a dollar or two for a ticket. Of course I’ve never won but I find it entertaining to wonder for a brief moment what I might do with my windfall.

At the same time I’ve often wondered, if I actually did win the lottery, would I really be happy? Sure, I’d no doubt have lots of fun spending my millions, but would I really be happy? I’m not so sure. That might sound strange, but the history of many lottery winners seems to indicate that lottery money doesn’t bring happiness.

Here’s how these two tangential things are related. Happiness can’t be given to someone. Nor can self esteem. Yes, someone can give you money, and it can ameliorate some problems, but that doesn’t buy happiness. In a similar way, a parent or a school can tell a child they are wonderful, that grades or scores don’t matter… but the kids know better.

Happiness doesn’t come from having, it comes from earning. That’s the fundamental problem liberals don’t understand, whether it’s telling kids there are no winners or losers in sports, or the government giving people money and food stamps and phones and housing vouchers. Liberals focus on outcomes rather than opportunities. They seek a de jure egalitarian society rather than one governed by effort and innovation. It’s not enough for everyone to have the same chance at success based on some test or competition. No, the resulting output, whether it’s bank loans, jobs or college acceptance letters, has to reflect the hue and composition of the larger population or the test is by definition racist or sexist or some other ist. (While such a framework is supposed to apply in boardrooms and law enforcement, for some reason it never seems to apply in the NBA or the NFL…)

Liberals think that if they somehow make everyone equal, everyone will be happy. Once again they’re wrong. The Soviet Union and modern North Korea might be the best examples of “egalitarian” societies in modern history. And in both cases the people were indeed equal… but that equality was / is an equality of poverty, of desperation, of despair.

Just as there’s a difference between “equality” of outcomes and equality of opportunity, there’s a fundamental difference between earning something and being given it. Compare the way tenants of housing projects take care of their homes with the care shown by those who pay mortgages, or compare the level of pride expressed by a kid at winning a bronze medal to that of a kid being issued a participation medal. It’s natural to value something more when it’s earned, rather than when it’s given. Hard work doesn’t guarantee happiness, but it can instill pride, a sense of accomplishment and a sense of having done something of value, all things which are important elements of happiness.

It’s no coincidence then that as the government has become more generous in its gifts to citizens and its regulatory framework – intended to “protect” citizens from the verities of the marketplace – has become a leviathan akin to a straitjacket, the economic dynamo that was once the United States has become has become a lumbering husk of an economy that is kept alive via stratospheric levels of debt? The result is a workforce participation rate at levels not seen since the 1970’s, skyrocketing welfare rolls all while the percentage of people actually paying income taxes has fallen off a cliff.

At the end of the day, liberals claim they seek widespread prosperity and happiness. In reality however, whether it’s a participation trophy or a nanny state that “protects” the citizenry from virtually anything, they accomplish neither. From kids ill equipped to handle failure in life to millions of Americans who have simply stopped bothering to look for work, to the tens of millions who are on government assistance, liberals talk a game of prosperity but never actually realize it. Sadly, they’re not the only ones paying the price for their failures. The entire country is.

But at least we can take solace in the fact that their self esteem won’t be hurt because success isn’t measured by actual results, but only by intentions…

The product of a military family, growing up in Naples, Italy and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and being stationed in Germany for two years while in the Army, Vince spent half of his first quarter century seeing the US from outside of its own borders. That perspective, along with a French wife and two decades as a struggling entrepreneur have only fueled an appreciation for freedom and the fundamental greatness of the gifts our forefathers left us.

13 Responses to “Happiness doesn’t come from equality of outcomes… Nor does prosperity”

  1. 1

    Bill

    Liberals DO seek widespread prosperity (the better to tax you on, my dear), but they think that just by wishing it so makes it so. It ain’t that easy and it doesn’t happen overnight. If they began today, in earnest, those in poverty would have to wait a couple of generations to see their children prosperous. That’s just how it is (when it is to be lasting, that is) and there is no quick fix.

  2. 2

    David

    Vince, you eloquently said it much better than the point Jeb Bush was trying to make last week about “free things”. Everybody likes free. But, someone is always paying for the other to get their free.

    When it comes to learning, there are a couple of school districts here in Colorado thinking about scrapping grades altogether. They’re even entertaining the notion of scrapping all testing (beyond standardized tests). Grades will be replaced by the “plus, checkmark, minus” system. Parents and students in these two districts are all for it.

  3. 3

    John

    When FDR and the liberals took over the failed conservative economy the USA went into a huge economic upswing that continued for decades
    We currently have s poverty rate about 1/2 of what it was before LBJs Great Society passed
    And our poverty level standards have gone up considerably
    Conservatives have pushed us into wars in Vietnam ( the domino effect Hawaii is in danger) and the Mideast/Afganistan neither of which have we been able to end
    And niw the same fellows who cried Wolf! Over Saddams WMD are trying to do it again with Iran a country 4 times as big

  4. 4

    Bill

    @John:

    When FDR and the liberals took over the failed conservative economy the USA went into a huge economic upswing that continued for decades

    I swear, John, you are as stupid as the day is long. The Depression lasted up until 1939, until US industry began gearing up for war and selling war material to the Allies.

    We currently have s poverty rate about 1/2 of what it was before LBJs Great Society passed

    The current poverty rate is about 2% less than it was in 1965. OK, let that soak in through your thick skull for a moment. Get a pencil… you’re going to need it.

    In 1965, the population was about 165,000,000. 17% of that was in poverty. Currently, the population is about 320,000,000. 15% of THAT is in poverty. What do you think, John… “about half”? And all it cost was $17 trillion.

    Conservatives have pushed us into wars in Vietnam

    Unless you feel Kennedy was a conservative, wrong again. Kennedy started our envolvment in Vietnam and Johnson (another “conservative”, I suppose) ramped it up. Nixon, a Republican, ended it after the Democrats made it unwinable.

    Got any more, John? You are on quite a steak.

  5. 6

    James raider

    Good one, Vince. All it requires is a little common sense, a little insight, and a little life experience — none of which seems to reside in the lib. mind or experience.

    And recall that Obama’s talentless whining mind was only capable of voting ‘PRESENT’ during his short term as Senator. . . . the result of a pandering, pampering society. But is he grateful?

  6. 9

    Bill

    @Randy: While I don’t get on here just to agree with everyone, yes, indeed, some of the posts go beyond stupid. It’s as if they assume that whatever they lay down will be believed simply because it is in print (you know… like THEY do). But, I do prefer the difference of opinion. My favorite venue is the Dallas Morning News letters section where it is about 90% liberal. Oh, that IS a circus.

  7. 11

    retire05

    Offset by Conservs like Word and Aqua

    When a hard core liberal agrees with those he calls conservatives, it is time to question the bona fides of the conservatives.

  8. 12

    James Raider

    And happiness is, for at least one guy, . . . telling 7.2 billion people from the UN podium, . . . “I lead the strongest military the world has ever known.”

    Obama’s use of the word “lead” in this line may the biggest lie he’s told in years.

    Narcissus had nothing on this guy.

  9. 13

    bwax

    I think we all realize the government BUYS VOTES with their largess simply to keep themselves in power! It’s that simple and will continue until government handouts are qualified and distributed to those really in need.

    Aid to dependent children (for example) was a license to father children without any responsibility, and we are getting exactly what we should have expected! Welfare moms, absentee fathers and millions of children who expect or demand government support and have no moral compass.

    As long as we continue to pay for failure, we will get failure.

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