Well, I’m 66, people my age and one generation younger grew up with certain undeniable truths: hard work, studiousness, seriousness, self-discipline, self-reliance, and patience, those were the values that were rock solid, that had the best chance of leading to a happy, healthy, productive life with the likelihood of an expanding, increasing standard of living. Those were time-honored values, and people would think — and they’ve been time-honored for generations. They have been time-honored since days prior to this country.
Those were active ways of living that led to the best life: seriousness, studiousness, hard work, no cutting corners, no cheating, no pacing yourself, self-discipline, telling yourself “no,” self-reliance, don’t have kids before you get married, respect for authority. That’s what we all grew up with. I’m sure most of you in this audience did as well.
Well, last month, two law professors published an op-ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer calling for a revival of that cultural script that prevailed in the fifties and still does among affluent Americans. Affluent Americans still live by those philosophies: hard work, self-discipline, self-reliance, no cutting corners.
Affluent Americans still live by those values, and they still try to inculcate those values in their kids. Get married before you have children, strive to stay married for their sake. Get the education you need for gainful employment, work hard, avoid idleness, don’t delve into a life of crime. All of these things that were just common-sense ways to grow up, common-sense ways to live.
Anyway, they write an op-ed suggesting that a revival of all of that would be beneficial for our country and everybody. They said, “The weakening of these traditional norms has contributed to today’s low rates of workforce participation, lagging educational levels and widespread opioid abuse, the professors argued.”
They made the point that getting away from these values has led to a raft of people unable to support themselves, single-parent homes, and all of these things which create disadvantage and obstacle after obstacle for people to have to overcome, which could have been avoided with a different set of values.
Well, this op-ed triggered an immediate uproar at the University of Pennsylvania. Remember this op-ed was in the Philadelphia Inquirer. One of the authors of the op-ed, Amy Wax, a woman that teaches at the University of Pennsylvania. The dean of the Pennsylvania law school, a guy named Ted Ruger, published an op-ed in the student newspaper noting the contemporaneous occurrence of the op-ed and a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville.
In other words, those values were attributed to white to white supremacy by the dean of the law school at the University of Pennsylvania. Hard work, self-discipline, self-reliance, don’t have kids ’til you get married, try to stay married, all of those things to pursue were called white supremacy in an op-ed by the dean of the law school. His name is Ted Ruger. He suggested that Amy Wax’s views — she’s one of the authors — were divisive and even noxious.
“Half of Ms. Wax’s law-faculty colleagues signed an open letter denouncing her piece and calling on students to report any ‘bias or stereotype’ they encounter ‘at Penn Law’ (e.g., in Ms. Wax’s classroom). Student and alumni petitions poured forth accusing Ms. Wax of white supremacy, misogyny and homophobia and demanding that she be banned from teaching first-year law classes.”
It is funny in a lot of ways. One, the non-rabbits know that something was different in the fifties. People did things differently, and they produced a better outcome. But they think it was a choice. They think we are different today because people decided to change for some unknown reason. They also think they can maybe change things back, just by saying, “Lets go back to what worked well in the fifties.”
The rabbits know things were different back then. They know things are different today. They think it is a choice, and they are terrified that if somebody points this out, everyone may choose to go back to what worked. Their response is to reflexively rebel at the competitive nature of that past period. Work means nothing, ability doesn’t count, and every turtle who falls behind gets a free pass to the front because it is only fair to those who couldn’t keep up. That it might destroy the motivation of the gazelles in society to leap forward and make things better on average doesn’t matter.
But all of you are different. You know why those returning WWII vets felt the way they did. You know why their choices were preordained from the moment the stock market crashed in 1929, and the moment the Japanese decided a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor was the perfect idea.
You know that when a similar moment arose on September 11th, and George Bush could have K-ified the entire country in a month, poisoned it against leftism, and maybe altered the course of history, he stepped back and condemned us to ever-increasing rabbitry and Apocalypse. Donald Trump he was not.
You also know why the leftists today think the way they do, why the modern times are marked by apathy, and you know what will change it all back. And it is not any egghead pontificating about what worked and what didn’t. This is not logic.
All of this, every bit, is humans, meeting their environment, and adapting their cognitive operating systems on the fly, exactly as evolution has designed them to. Either they adapt to worry about only themselves and the moment, exploit the glut, and avoid all the hardships in the process, or they grow thick-headed, embrace the pain, and do it all with an eye on the far off, distant future, and the future of things far greater than them.
It is funny how ignorant even the most intellectual among our elites appear, simply by not knowing about r/K Selection Theory.