“The charge is often made against the intelligentsia and other members of the anointed that their theories and the policies based on them lack common sense. But the very commonness of common sense makes it unlikely to have any appeal to the anointed. How can they be wiser and nobler than everyone else while agreeing with everyone else?” — Thomas Sowell
“Long ago, I realized that success leaves clues, and that people who produce outstanding results do specific things to create those results.” — Tony Robbins
Not only does success leave clues, failure leaves clues as well. That’s how the average person, using nothing more than common sense, can correctly answer certain questions about success and failure in America. For example, who’s more likely to pay his rent on time: a 19 year old kid wearing a suit or a 19 year old kid who looks like an extra in a rap video? Who’s more likely to be a hard worker for your business? Someone who hasn’t had a steady job in five years or someone who has been working two jobs to save up money? Who is more likely to be financially successful over the next decade? Someone who has been on welfare for the last decade or someone who’d rather starve to death than take welfare?
Too often we focus on the small number of exceptions to the rule instead of acknowledging that the rule is the rule for a reason. Even with the worst President in history ensconced in the White House, anybody can still have a very good life in America, but unless your last name is Kennedy, it’s unlikely that anyone is going to hand it to you on a silver platter. It’s even less likely that you’re going to succeed at life if you….
1) Expect a politician to fix your problems: If there wasn’t a difference between politicians, then politics would be about as controversial as knitting. Still, if you’re expecting a politician to fix problems in your life, then, wow, are you barking up the wrong tree. Politicians don’t care about fixing your problems; they care about fixing their biggest problem, which is making sure that they continue to have access to their cushy jobs in Washington. So, your problems and their problems are not the same. Additionally, the Founding Fathers recognized that most members of Congress in the future would be excitable dimwits that make a lot of bad decisions and so, they deliberately designed our system of government to move very slowly so that we could yell at them until they make slightly less of a mess of things with their dumb decisions. That means even if a politician wants to fix YOUR problems, it could take him decades to get it done. Unless you’re immortal, you don’t have that kind of time to wait and if you are immortal, you’ve probably already figured this out.
2) Demand that the world change to suit you: Do you know how slowly the wheels of time actually turn? Just to give you one example, Republicans won the Civil War in 1865. Republican Dwight Eisenhower forcibly integrated the schools in 1957. Percentage wise, more Republicans than Democrats voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and today, almost 150 years after the end of the Civil War, you still have liberals like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton crying “Selma, Alabama” and “Emmett Till” every time Dominos shows up five minutes late with a pizza. In other words, the world does change and it’s fine to do your part in trying to make it happen, but if you need that to happen in order to be successful, you’re going to be as sad as Barack Obama would be if he went two months without an extravagant vacation.
3) Rely on the government to take care of you: Programs like welfare, food stamps, free lunch, government housing are ultimately harmful to the people that are on them. Not only do those programs barely keep your head above water, they actually incentivize you to stay poor. After all, if you make too much money, you’re out of the program. Furthermore, there’s a stigma attached to those programs that makes successful people less likely to want to be around you. On top of all that, human beings can get used to anything. The longer you remain dependent on the government, the more likely you are to find that meager life of dependency tolerable. If you do feel forced to rely on the government, you should keep the exposure as short and limited as possible, just as if you are getting an X-Ray. Just as getting too much exposure to radiation will make your body sick, becoming dependent on the government will make your spirit sick.
4) Focus on pulling everyone else down instead of raising yourself up: The single greatest moment in the history of the pathetic, whiny Occupy Movement was when hundreds of McDonalds’ applications were dumped on them from the windows of the Chicago Board of Trade building. Not only was it delicious mockery of people who richly deserved it, it was actually good advice. Working at McDonald’s for a month would have been more productive than camping in a park eating catered food. As a matter of fact, if you think bankers and hedge fund managers are outrageously overpaid, it makes even more sense to try to become a banker or hedge fund manager rather than complaining about their salaries. Winners adapt while losers complain and people who spend their lives obsessing over what’s fair and unfair usually turn out to be miserable, while people who have good lives don’t give up until they find a way to achieve.
5) Think of yourself as a victim: The patriarchy isn’t keeping you down. Racism isn’t stopping you from being successful. All those awful straight, gay, men, women, black, white, Hispanics, rich people, poor people, etc., etc. aren’t messing up your life. You are not a victim. In fact, if you think of yourself as a victim, you’re probably worse than the people you think are victimizing you because one of the many unpleasant traits of people who think they’re getting a raw deal is that they tend to feel entitled to treat other people poorly because of their victimhood. Victims also have the awful tendency to wait for someone or something to save them from their victimization. No matter how you look at yourself, in America, there are enormous numbers of people just like you who have made great lives for themselves. It’s not hard to learn from their example if you ever call off your own personal pity party and start paying attention.
None of this is rocket science. In fact, almost everybody reading this has heard similar things from his parents or teachers or at church while growing up. The problem we now have as a society is that there are a lot of people who have figured out that it’s easier and more profitable to pander to people at their worst than it is to encourage them to be their best. Yet, the truth is that even in the age of Obama, you can still have a great life in America if you’re smart, responsible, and work hard. That doesn’t mean it’ll be easy or that there won’t be some big bumps in the road, but the promise of America is still out there for people who want to grab it instead of obsessing over “fairness,” “income inequality,” and how they’re supposedly being “victimized” by society.