"If you trust in yourself . . . and believe in your dreams . . . and follow your star . . . you'll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren't so lazy."
Terry Pratchett, "The Wee Free Men"
I haven't read Pratchett's "The Wee Free Men" book series, but after stumbling across that quote, I wish I had. I mean, here's a man who clearly gets it.
I don't know about you, but I was raised to believe that there are certain rules and duties in life, and those who follow them are the ones who generally succeed. Those who follow them with pizzazz succeed further.
I also was raised to believe that if you don't work hard or follow the rules, you won't do well. Of that I am certain. For the first half of my life, I unsuccessfully tried to beat the system. I was that kid in school -- a walking middle digit -- and I gave it my all. But what that meant, of course, was that I failed with greater alacrity, if not aplomb.
Sure there are exceptions. Some are born with an extra billion-dollar note pinned to their diaper; and even the worst scoundrel hits the lottery occasionally. But in general, it's safe to say, the tortoise most often beats the hare and the diligent typically surpass the dilettantes. It's one of the foundations of Western civilization.
But modern liberalism, or progressivism as it's now being called, is systematically turning that notion on its head. In an effort to "care for" those not succeeding, progressives are increasingly messing with those who are, and the systems that produce them.
Take Common Core, for example. The stated purpose of the program is to address failing American students who cannot compete in today's global economy. But many American public school students can compete today in that economy -- and succeed -- yet they are being ensnared in Common Core, too. The ones who go home every night, do their homework and take up a sport instead of smoking a joint, are seeing their educational environments turned upside down to accommodate those doing less well.
I wrote a column over the weekend about the dumbing down of SAT tests. Essays will no longer be required on the SAT beginning in 2015, and difficult vocabulary words will be eliminated. There goes the advantage for hardworking high school students who actually studied vocabulary words.
Millions of those lesser-qualified students will find a place in college because poorly performing high school students, who wouldn't have gotten into a college a generation ago, are now shuffled right in along with government grants to cover costs. New colleges with subpar standards have popped up to accommodate them, and, as a result, the value of a college degree has been cheapened for everyone, except those with Ivy League-type degrees.
Obamacare turned the American healthcare system on its head because 15 percent of Americans were uninsured in 2008 when President Barack Obama came into office. But that means that 85 percent of Americans were insured in 2008. The system in 2008 may not have been perfect. Insurance was overpriced and over regulated. But for 85 percent of us, it somehow worked. After six years and the complete disruption of U.S. healthcare, the number of uninsured Americans now stands at 15.9 percent. And guess what? According to The Washington Post, the very same people who weren't insured before Obamacare aren't signing up for insurance now. Just one in 10 have signed up for healthcare, and in many cases, a lack of money has nothing to do with it.
The Spartans were said to leave weak children on mountaintops to die. No one is advocating that. It is good and right to offer a helping hand to those in need. But can we at least do it without punishing Americans who are working hard and succeeding?
William F. B. O'Reilly is a Republican consultant who is working on the Rob Astorino campaign for governor.