Ed Driscoll

Then? Future Shock. Now: Effort Shock

In “‘Effort Shock’ and Parents These Days,” David French links to Jim Geraghty:

If you don’t subscribe to Jim Geraghty’s “Morning Jolt” e-mail, then you’re not only missing insightful political commentary but quite a bit of bonus cultural commentary as well (often buried towards the end of the e-mail — move it up, please!) Lately he’s been writing a bit about “effort shock” (a phrase taken — believe it or not — from an interesting essay on Cracked.com), the alarm and surprise that so many Millennials are experiencing when “real life” turns out to be much, much harder than their childhoods. Here’s Geraghty:

Young people go through their childhood and teen years, believing that they are uniquely gifted and talented and wonderful and believing that their adult life will be one fabulous victory and success after another. And then at some point they depart the protected simulation of life that is childhood/high school/college . . . and the real world just kicks them in the crotch again and again. (This is a bit of what Adam Carolla talked about in his rant about Occupy Wall Street.) And so instead of concluding, “Oh, achieving my dream is going to be a lot harder than I thought, I had better redouble my efforts,” they deflect the hard truth of responsibility and conclude that somebody else, somebody out there — society — is to blame. They can take no joy in anyone else’s success, because that just reminds them of their own failure to achieve what they had envisioned all of their lives. And their attitudes quickly become one more obstacle — short-tempered, incapable of taking responsibility, quick to blame others, perhaps paranoid, concluding others are out to sabotage them.

The rest of Geraghty’s Morning Jolt is online here, including this scary notion: “Am I crazy for sensing a general overlap between the Dorner’s-a-hero crowd and the Occupy Wall Street crowd?” Read the whole thing. (The report Jim references in his post on the psychological profile of the OWS rank-and-file and their leaders can be found here; our take on it is here.)

Incidentally, French’s post at the Corner begins and ends with observations worth commenting on. If you’re surprised by the often conservative — or at least common-sense tone of the material coming out of Cracked.com, you haven’t been paying much attention to the site in the last few years. And his post ends with a link to a video from NBC’s Parks and Recreation. Up until the end of the clip when it goes over the top to reach its comic climax, most of the items on the success pyramid in the video mocking college basketball coaching great John Wooden are similarly common sense. And NBC is mocking the hell out of them as square, unhip, Jack Webb-era sh** your old man says.

One of the reasons why Effort Shock can be so painful is that it’s a reminder that the stuff your dad told you (or at least the stuff my dad told me — I imagine many of today’s dads are almost as clueless as their kids) is common sense for a reason. When the media overculture mocks such advice as yesterday’s news, no wonder kids feel a huge sense of resentment when they get out into the real world.

All of which is yet another reason why:

Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.

This is known as “bad luck.”

Or to put it another way, “It’s nice to elect the right people, but that’s not the way you solve things. The way you solve things is by making it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right things.”

That observation from Milton Friedman also has more than a little applicability beyond our elected officials.

Update: What’s the left wing antidote to Effort Shock? But of course: “New Book Just Comes Straight Out With It: ‘Against Autonomy: The Case for Collective Paternalism.'”

And I can’t help but think this item in Canada’s Maclean’s magazine (found via SDA) is at least partially a spin-off of Effort Shock: “Disabled America: where work is for suckers: Nearly one in 10 working age Americans now claims they’re too disabled to take a job.”