Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Prisoners Of Our Own Choices

We tax all the others and pass the revenue on to you

There have to be consequences for everything we choose to do, right? Otherwise, they wouldn't be choices. There would be no "road less traveled", no results to rue or bring pride.

We have almost complete freedom to make our choices. Quit school or attend; drug or don't drug; pay or steal; work or sloth; persevere or quit. Once having made them, we are usually stuck with the consequences.

To complicate things, there is no guarantee of equality of results for efforts, only equality of opportunity to achieve. That angers some people who believe that effort must be rewarded. No, it may be and it may not be. No guarantees. In outcome-based education it didn't matter if you spelled it "skool" or "school". If you knew what one was and could say the word, you passed. But that's not the real world.

Let's agree on this: Self-esteem doesn't bring achievement; achievement brings self-esteem. The most profound bore is the one who brags about what he is going to do rather than what he has done. Even knowing that, I occasionally succumb. Maybe you do too, but it is fatuous and it distracts us from the business at hand.

One problem is that we are prone to asking those who made prudent decisions to bail out those who made outrageously bad decisions. When winter comes, we ask the ants to bail out the grasshopper. That goes against the notion that there are consequences for bad decisions.

The financial and automotive industry debacles are the self-inflicted products of a nearly endless series of bad choices. SUVs made more money than hybrids, so GM built SUVs even in the face of dramaticlly reduced demand. "Financial products" produced incredible profits that could never be explained or justified with the expectation they would continue to baffle investors forever. Those who invented and manipulated both of those markets were as guilty as Bernie Madoff of stealing others' futures. Now the scams have been exposed as naked greed and investors and bankers alike are failing. We are expected to ignore their enormous profits from before they were exposed as if they hadn't been exposed at all.

Don't fall for it. These thieves took their vacations at St. Moritz, built their political careers, bought their islands and jets and palaces while we weren't looking and now, like Madoff, they want to keep at least some of the loot and be forgiven their roles in the theft. They expect us to be prisoners of our own choices while they are forgiven theirs.

* * * * *

Are you tired of Caroline Kennedy yet? CK is a perennial under-achiever who has lived on her father's legacy her entire life. Yes, she has a few credentials but was an Ivy League education such a stretch goal for her? Nope. Quick, can you name any of her achievements? Me neither. Her self-esteem didn't bring her achievement and her lack of achievement seems to have lowered her self esteem. That's predictable for anyone.

Her "I think I'll start at the top" approach to life led her to think that she could be a senator without ever having a meaningful job beforehand and an ambassador with no meaningful credentials at all. The ambassadorship isn't quite as much of a stretch as lots of those are nothing more than political patronage anyway, but to the Vatican? You really do have to believe there are no consequences for your actions (think abortion, planned parenthood and the like) to think that the Pope might want you at court.

We don't use the term derogative term "socialite" much any more but Wiki has a useful definition:

A socialite is a person who is known to be a part of fashionable high society because of his or her regular participation in social activities and fondness for spending a significant amount of time entertaining and being entertained. Some socialites may choose to use their social skills and connections to promote and raise funds for various charitable or philanthropic activities. Socialites are usually in possession of considerable wealth, whether gained by inheritance or otherwise, that can sustain their steady attendance at social functions.

Go away now, Caroline. Go back to your estates and your pampered self-indulgence and your socialite elitism. You weren't born to lead, you were only born to spend. You've made your choices and now, like us, you are a prisoner of them.

1 comment:

  1. Great post on Caroline Kennedy living off her father's legacy and now wanting a top political office. She should have to demonstrate some significant achievements like George W. did before running for Governor of Texas.