The Conversation

Hypothetical work ethic versus real elbow grease

In response to Your Votes to Lose:

I really don't mean to rain on your parade, Jedediah, but I'm not sure how much I'm willing to read into a poll about willingness to work, after winning a fortune in the lottery.  That's an awfully far-fetched hypothetical.  It's also a question that we're all culturally programmed to answer in the affirmative.  "Why, of course I'd keep working if I woke up tomorrow and had $10 million in the bank!  I'm not going to be one of those lazy rich One Percenter layabouts on permanent vacation!  Why, I'd probably donate most of that loot to charity, pay off my family's debts, maybe set up a college fund."

In fact, I'd say the "keep working if I won the lottery question" is probably more indicative of class-war revulsion for the Idle Rich than an elbow-grease work ethic.  That's why it's getting stronger, even in Obama's dead-parrot economy, where a lot of the younger poll respondents can't find a job anyway.  That's also why young people answer in the affirmative more than the older cohort.  It's more socially acceptable for a person who already worked their butt off for decades to say they'd take the $10 mil and retire early.

I happen to have worked for the lottery in the early Nineties.  I can tell you that not many of the big winners at that time kept working at their lousy day jobs, not for long.  People who genuinely loved their work were more likely to stick with it.  Some of the early lottery winners in my state of Florida were already retirees, or independently well-off.  I don't know if those observations would hold true today, but in any event, the population of multi-million-dollar lottery winners is too small to draw any meaningful statistical conclusions from.

Leaving the lottery aside, I'm deeply worried about the work ethic of the young, but I think a healthy proportion of them do indeed love their freedoms as you say, and they're truly not afraid of hard work.  I'd be more inclined to cite the gallant efforts of our young military veterans for proof of that, rather than a poll about hypothetical lottery winnings. 

The problem is that many Americans - especially young people, and young minorities - are being deliberately programmed with messages of despair.  They're told working hard doesn't matter, they're suckers for trying, and if they do succeed, they'll become greedy Enemies of the People.  They're told the playing field is hopelessly rigged against them.  They have been made to believe they simply cannot be trusted with important decisions about investment, health care, terms of employment, and everything else the Left thinks government should handle. 

And you're absolutely right about the urgency of telling kids that's all a pile of crap, shoveled by people who want to milk them for votes.  We shouldn't lose them.  Ever.  Neither America, nor the conservative movement, can afford such a loss.


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