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Greenfield: Why People Fail
Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog ^ | Saturday, January 11, 2014 | Daniel Greenfield

Posted on 01/12/2014 4:47:25 AM PST by Louis Foxwell

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Why People Fail

Posted by Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog

The hysterical responses to Amy "Tiger Mom" Chua's book discussing why some cultures succeed and others fail are revealing. Even though Chua was talking about cultural elements, rather than genetic ones, the accusations of racism are entirely predictable.

Chua's thesis, like most similar arguments, is plausible in some areas and implausible in others. Any explanation that tackles as big a subject as that is bound to have as many hits as misses.

And yet it's undeniable that some cultures succeed where others fail.

The politically correct left has long ago lost the ability to distinguish between culture and race; denouncing everything from criticism of Islam to complaints about gang culture as racist. It treats culture as equivalent to race because it doesn’t believe that people are capable of change.
The left views people as static. Culture is equivalent to race for them, because they don’t believe that people can change. Or that they should change.

The cast of successful cultures in Chua's book is more than racially diverse enough, but it's the idea that people succeed or fail because of their attitude toward life, rather than because of their privilege or lack of privilege that infuriates the left.

Setting aside the details of her positions, Chua's last two books can be boiled down to the simple fact that people who try harder are more likely to succeed and that is not an argument that the left wants aired in the public square. What was once common sense is now dangerously reactionary.

No one succeeds on their own, Elizabeth Warren and Obama insisted. They succeed only through the grace of state institutions. It's not family or culture that matters. It's the support of the state.

But the support of the state isn't enough for individuals or for businesses. Obama lavishly doled out government money to Green Energy companies only to see them fail. With corporate welfare, as with social welfare, the need for government money is a reliable predictor of failure. Those who cannot succeed on their own, will not succeed through the government.

Government money could not compensate for what was inherently wrong with companies like Solyndra, Fisker or A123. It also can't compensate for what is inherently wrong with individuals and communities that are prone to failure, not because of someone else's privilege, but because they have never learned how to try.

The left does not want to deal with the question of why some people succeed and others fail since its entire ideological infrastructure is built around the argument of unequal access. Individuals don't fail, progressives from Obama to Bill de Blasio insist, social institutions fail them.

The New York Times trotted out a young black girl named Dasani living in a dilapidated homeless shelter as its argument that the city had been subdivided between the rich and the poor. Dasani made another appearance at Bill de Blasio's inauguration as a prop for class warfare.

But the city didn't fail a girl whose parents are criminals and junkies and have burned through tens of thousands of dollars. Dasani isn't living on the margins because Mayor Bloomberg or the institutions of the city failed her. On the contrary those institutions have lavished huge amounts of money and resources on her schooling and on every aspect of her life.

If Dasani fails, it's not because the larger society failed her, but because her parents failed her. And the roots of their failure lie in communities where drug use and delinquency have become accepted and commonplace.
The left insists that people are interchangeable. They are not. It insists that their failures and successes belong to the guiding hand of the state. They do not.

Institutional determinism is why the Great Society measures failed. The progressive response to these failures has been to discover new and more abstract forms of racism culminating in white privilege to explain why the lack of access is holding some groups back.

There is an entire academic industry dedicated to turning out proofs of racism to explain failure and yet there are indisputable studies out there documenting things such as the diminished grade levels and higher crime rates for students from single parent homes on a worldwide scale.

While the left pushes harder for its post-family world of powerful institutions, there are reams of data showing how destructive trading the family for the state is. And there is no group of people that embodies that better than African-Americans whose lives have been taken over by the state.

Black families have fallen apart while state intervention in their lives has dramatically increased. It was a bad bargain and its consequences can be seen in the streets of every major city and the lives of little girls like Dasani who are used as props by activists calling for more welfare from a government that can spend millions of dollars, but can’t fix the lack of responsibility of her family members and her community.

And she is not alone.

Welfare not only correlates with social failures, it causes them. And it doesn't just cause them in our own country.

Third World activists complain that Western aid destroys local capabilities and cripples domestic economies while promoting a culture of corruption and violence. The best evidence of that may be in the world's biggest welfare state in the Palestinian Authority where the locals know how to do little except make demands and threaten to kill everyone if they don't get what they want.

The Jordanian and Egyptian Muslim populations within Israeli territory who act this way bear a lot of the blame for their own miserable behavior, but it was their Western patrons clamoring for them to have a state who have crippled their ability to take responsibility for their own lives.

During the election, Mitt Romney was blasted for suggesting that cultural differences were responsible for the successes of Israelis and the failures of their neighbors. But Romney was right and his critics were wrong. Obama's latest peace process bid is already imploding because it's not a state that the Palestinian Authority wants; but an international welfare state.

Institutional determinism promotes learned helplessness. It teaches people that their failures can only be remedied by blaming someone else. And that can never lead to success. Without individual responsibility, all that's left are institutional subsidies for failure and there are only so many companies that can be bailed out and only so many individuals who can live off the welfare state without the entire economy collapsing past the point where it can subsidize them.

Many of the cultures that Chua lists are refugees with no place to return to. That distrust of government may be a powerful antidote to Hillary Clinton's village of the state.

And all of the cultures on the list are family oriented.

A basic difference between Asian-Americans and African-Americans is that the former are most likely to be married and the latter are least likely to be married. It is why Asian students succeed in the same “bad” urban schools that are supposedly failing the other minority students.

The magic ingredient is a stable family and parental involvement. It is the difference between Dasani and a Chinese girl who is already working toward getting into Stuyvesant High School; that elite city institution of high-performing students that Bill de Blasio wants to "diversify”.

It’s not that there are institutional barriers of race that exist for one girl, but don't exist for the other. It's that one girl comes from a culture that values success based on long-term planning and short-term sacrifice and the other one doesn't.

Despite the best efforts of the left, Dasani and her family are not typical of African-Americans. If they were the city and the country would be uninhabitable and there would be no black middle class. But it is the mission of the New York Times and the rest of the left to convince their white readers that if not for their social justice campaigns, every black little girl would be a Dasani.

There are black parents who push their children to succeed every bit as hard as Amy Chua does. I have met some of them over the years. The problem is that there aren't nearly as many of them as there were before the wheels of the Great Society began to turn and African-Americans were told that they should accept failure and even welcome it as proof of their persecution.

Culture is just another way of saying that it isn't the state that makes success possible, but the individual and the family.

We are more than the sum of our institutions, we are our parents and our grandparents, we are the things we read and the things we believe, we are the sense of mission that brought our ancestors through thousands of years of trouble and we are their strengths and their weaknesses.

It's not institutions that make our successes possible. It is our beliefs that make all the difference.


TOPICS: Government; History; Politics; Religion
KEYWORDS: greenfield; sultanknish; tigermom

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1 posted on 01/12/2014 4:47:26 AM PST by Louis Foxwell
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To: daisy mae for the usa; AdvisorB; wizardoz; free-in-nyc; Vendome; Georgia Girl 2; blaveda; ...

So much can be said about this issue. I began a life time of campaigning against welfare in 1965 when I resigned from the Balt Dept of Welfare. In my letter of resignation I said, "Welfare promotes far more dependency than it overcomes." I was nieve and young. (Still am nieve, just not young)The purpose of welfare is to enslave.
Government is a rapacious maw that seeks to devour everything. It must be kept in check or it becomes a destroyer of worlds. We are learning that hard lesson today. Our Founders understood it perfectly.
The King had absolute power and ruled his subjects with an iron fist. So did Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, Mao and all the other tin pot dictators who have launched themselves as saviors. They are not. They are demons who destroy.
Then we come to Barack who, by any other name, seeks the absolute destruction of the greatest nation in the history of mankind. His reign of terror proves we are not invincible.
We are not protected by our Constitution or by our institutions. Our only protection is ourselves. We can come together as a band of brothers fighting for the dignity and honor of our independence or we can be herded into cattle cars for a final trip to the camps.
There is no salvation in government. That is the singular message of the Obama presidency. We will learn to throttle government before all is lost or history will remember us as the generation that failed to stand for what its progenitors knew to be true.

2 posted on 01/12/2014 5:05:19 AM PST by Louis Foxwell (This is a wake up call. Join the Sultan Knish ping list.)
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To: Louis Foxwell

Hits the nail on the Head!


3 posted on 01/12/2014 5:26:00 AM PST by left that other site
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To: Louis Foxwell

bttt


4 posted on 01/12/2014 5:32:40 AM PST by petercooper ("I was for letting people keep their health insurance, before I wasn't". --- Barack Obama)
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To: Louis Foxwell
The King had absolute power and ruled his subjects with an iron fist. So did Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, Mao and all the other tin pot dictators

I do not disagree. But I would like to point out a crucial difference between traditional Kings and modern dictators.

Most (though not all) kings and emperors down through history were not totalitarians. They generally made little or no attempt to control the lives of their people at the regional or local levels, much less that of the family or individual. Even the most vicious of them generally directly impacted only his court and perhaps the populace of his capital; he just didn't have the mechanisms to push tyranny onto everybody.

IOW, unless you were unlucky enough to come to the king's attention, you were pretty safe. Most "tyranny" by kings arose not from direct meddling law enforcement, but from spendthrift kings trying to refill their coffers by taxation.

Modern dictators use bureaucracy and technology to directly impose their will.

The contrast is between theoretical absolute rule and in practice general loose freedom, and theory and practice of tyranny getting lined up together.

BTW, there are exceptions to the above in history, but they're pretty unusual.

5 posted on 01/12/2014 5:49:37 AM PST by Sherman Logan
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To: Louis Foxwell; Sherman Logan

If forced to chose between rule by a monarch or rule by a mob, I would choose the former as there is at least a chance of a benign monarch - no mob is ever benign.


6 posted on 01/12/2014 5:53:10 AM PST by Aevery_Freeman (Politics are just the rules - Power is the game!)
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To: Louis Foxwell
It treats culture as equivalent to race because it doesn’t believe that people are capable of change. The left views people as static. Culture is equivalent to race for them, because they don’t believe that people can change. Or that they should change.

That's not quite correct.

The Left believes individuals are generally incapable of change, but that Society is infinitely malleable. And when Society changes, individuals will change as a result.

It's a lot of fun, from their POV, to either make huge changes in society while experimenting with their ideas, or to sit around bitching about how horrible the world is because they aren't getting that opportunity.

Certainly a lot more fun than getting down in the mud and blood of trying to help individual actual people change their lives. Which, to be fair, NOBODY really knows how to do, on any consistent basis.

7 posted on 01/12/2014 5:55:06 AM PST by Sherman Logan
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To: Aevery_Freeman

Yup.

In theory the perfect form of government is absolute rule by a benevolent dictator, assuming he’s given the information needed to make wise decisions. (A rather large assumption!)

The problem with this form of government is that even the wisest and most benevolent dictator eventually dies, and historically the odds of his being succeeded by an equally benevolent leader are not good.

That’s why the Founders established the system they did. It’s designed not to provide full scope for the best leaders, in fact it limits them greatly. The Founders planned a system which limits the damage even the worst leaders would be able to do. That’s really about the most anyone can reasonably expect out of a system of government.

It’s really sad we don’t use this system anymore.


8 posted on 01/12/2014 5:59:50 AM PST by Sherman Logan
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To: Louis Foxwell
Third World activists complain that Western aid destroys local capabilities and cripples domestic economies while promoting a culture of corruption and violence.

The liberal welfare mentality destroys what it touches...

9 posted on 01/12/2014 6:26:45 AM PST by GOPJ ("Remember who the real enemy is... ")
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To: Louis Foxwell
We can come together as a band of brothers fighting for the dignity and honor of our independence, or we can be herded into cattle cars for a final trip to the camps.

There is no salvation in government. That is the singular message of the Obama presidency.

AMEN.

10 posted on 01/12/2014 6:49:57 AM PST by Old Sarge (TINVOWOOT – There Is No Voting Our Way Out Of This)
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To: Louis Foxwell

http://www.amazon.com/Inside-Criminal-Mind-Revised-Updated/dp/140004619X


11 posted on 01/12/2014 7:04:43 AM PST by PGalt
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To: Louis Foxwell

I saw a fascinating example of this in the Indian tribes of Arizona.

When Indian casinos were legalized, several different tribes built them. Those around the municipal areas and highways thrived, and those in more rural areas did not, so closed.

But with great charity, the tribes sponsored a state initiative to allow wealth sharing among them. That is, the profits from the successful casinos would be divided per capita among the tribes, so all would benefit.

Yet this is just background. The important thing was what the tribes, large and small, did with their new money. What truly stood out was how much wisdom went into these decisions, far more than you might suspect.

A larger tribe, the Pima tribe, lived for many hundreds of years on very meager amounts of food, so their metabolisms are very efficient, needing only about a third of the minimum calories of someone with European ancestry. But with a typical American diet, they are plagued with morbid obesity and diabetes.

So they spent their money on a state of the art, world class, tribal diabetes clinic.

A wise choice. However, of all the tribes, what I think was the wisest was a small tribe, with only a few hundred members. With their money, they vied for education. Full funding for any tribal member, as far as they wanted to go in school. If they wanted a PhD, their tribe will pay for it.

And just money was not enough. They decided to make education a hallmark of their tribal culture, that every one of them should encourage and support it in any way they could. That all adults were obligated to help children become the most educated they could be.

It truly makes me wonder what will become of that tribe in the next hundred years.


12 posted on 01/12/2014 7:06:53 AM PST by yefragetuwrabrumuy (There Is Still A Very Hot War On Terror, Just Not On The MSM. Rantburg.com)
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To: Louis Foxwell
In my letter of resignation I said, "Welfare promotes far more dependency than it overcomes." I was naive and young. (Still am naive, just not young) The purpose of welfare is to enslave.

I was a Public Health nurse in West Baltimore in 1969 and 1970. I saw every day what shoveling War on Poverty money into that community was doing to intact families, and to single teenage girls.

Although I felt my job was important, I had an opportunity to go to Jamaica on The SS HOPE, so left Baltimore in '71. Also naive, I never dreamed that the powers-that-be would not correct the deteriorating situation of the people living in the 'ghetto' - as reporters called it then.

Apparently, building high-rise blocks of flats so girls could leave their mothers' homes and have their own apartment to raise her own fatherless children was considered success in the War.

Working married fathers were given strong encouragement to 'leave' the household: the welfare bennies added up to more than some fathers could bring home if their job was in an unskilled field.

Now, almost a half century later, I see our country falling into the same death spiral as Baltimore's poor did all those years ago. If history is an example, there might not be enough rational people in power positions to reverse the trend of sitting back and waiting for the checks to arrive. And the food, and the phones, and the special checks for extra bennies, and the subsidized housing and .....

13 posted on 01/12/2014 7:07:34 AM PST by maica (We are seeing an interesting mixture of malice and incompetence at healthcare.gov)
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To: Aevery_Freeman

There is no difference between a mob and a tyrannical government. They are the same thing.


14 posted on 01/12/2014 7:40:26 AM PST by Louis Foxwell (This is a wake up call. Join the Sultan Knish ping list.)
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To: maica

I founded the Fellowship of Lights, a center for runaways, in Balt around 1970. Do you remember?


15 posted on 01/12/2014 7:47:55 AM PST by Louis Foxwell (This is a wake up call. Join the Sultan Knish ping list.)
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To: Louis Foxwell
This is one of the best pieces I have read in some time.

For a long time I have said that we "save" children one at a time through good parenting and hard work. Being a good parent is the hardest job in the world. Being a bad parent is quite easy.

To my mind there is nothing more evil than producing children in order to receive welfare payments. Our government uses our hard earned tax money to seduce young girls into welfare, thereby dooming their offspring. Young women "sell" their offspring for welfare benefits. The current system is itself evil, but the good people who fight against it are demonized by the leftist media.

Welfare attempts to mask the symptoms of poverty and in so doing it makes the root causes stronger. Even worse, we are no longer allowed to discuss the root causes of poverty, decaying schools and feral youth. The Democratic hell holes we call cities are doomed.

16 posted on 01/12/2014 8:09:10 AM PST by Senator_Blutarski
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To: Louis Foxwell

I love the way Greenfield blithely deconstructs the foundations of liberalism.


17 posted on 01/12/2014 8:48:25 AM PST by oldbrowser (discriminating against a culture is not racism.)
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To: Senator_Blutarski

Very well stated.


18 posted on 01/12/2014 8:49:16 AM PST by gattaca ("If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything." Mark Twain)
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To: Senator_Blutarski
To my mind there is nothing more evil than producing children in order to receive welfare payments.

Except perhaps manufacturing children to "normalize" a same-sex "marriage."

19 posted on 01/12/2014 9:24:28 AM PST by Albion Wilde ("Remember... the first revolutionary was Satan."--Russian Orthodox Archpriest Dmitry Smirnov)
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To: Louis Foxwell

Well said, Louis. THANK YOU.


20 posted on 01/12/2014 9:31:31 AM PST by golux
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To: Louis Foxwell

No, my portfolio was high risk mothers and babies.


21 posted on 01/12/2014 10:02:24 AM PST by maica (We are seeing an interesting mixture of malice and incompetence at healthcare.gov)
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