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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Nov. 20, 2008 / 22 Mar-Cheshvan 5769

Failure is not an option

By Victor Davis Hanson


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | We all remember the advice about failure we received from our parents and teachers. "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again." "Learn from your mistakes." "Failure breeds success."


The common theme was that some sort of failure in life is inevitable. It is a wake-up call for reflection — and should prompt needed change. Our character is not just built from success, but during setbacks as well.


But now Americans seem to think such folk wisdom is obsolete. First came the $700 billion bailout of the financial industry. Such a one-time federal guarantee was perhaps necessary to restore liquidity for the failed banking system, but it sent a terrible message.


Those who caused the mess — greedy traders, corrupt politicians, incompetent CEOs and gullible stockbrokers — got a collective reprieve. Most inside the rescued Bear Stearns, American International Group, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are either quiet about their failure or are blaming others rather than showing contrition. So far, few have admitted that their managers were both incompetent and far too highly paid.


The teetering U.S. auto industry is now next in line for a multi-billion-dollar federal bailout. But for decades, Detroit made gas-guzzling automobiles that the public believed were not as well built as the Japanese competition — despite being made by unionized workers who were paid nearly twice as much as those somehow building better cars. Will overpaid auto executives and workers worry about the consequences of their ongoing mistakes when the government has assured them that failing is not an option?


States and cities are lining up as well for fail-safe cash. California is nearly bankrupt; the state was just projected to have a deficit of $28 billion through June 2010. The state has vastly increased its public spending over the rate of inflation. Californians pay among the highest sales and income taxes in the nation.


But what they see in return are bloated bureaucracies, poor schools, congested highways and dysfunctional community hospitals. With a bailout, California's governor and legislators won't worry too much that their constituents are some of the most taxed and least served of any in America.


All sorts of promises are proposed to bail out mortgage holders who have defaulted or owe more than their homes are worth. Apparently, no debtor is really culpable. And apparently, no one took out second or third mortgages for optional consumer purchases, or bought homes too large for their incomes.


What is the lesson here for other pinched families who will not default and will somehow meet their mortgage obligations, even on homes with negative equity? Is it that those who pay what they owe are punished while those who fail to are excused?


President-elect Barack Obama promised over $1 trillion in new entitlements at a time when the Bush administration may well run a $500 billion annual deficit, only adding to a $10 trillion national debt. We also have $50 trillion in federal unfunded liabilities, ranging from long-term promises to Medicare and Social Security to payouts for government bonds and guaranteed loans.


Such massive borrowing and guarantees all offer cover for insolvent or poorly run programs (that face no worry of running out of money — and thus have no incentive to change). Corporate farmers just learned that the current $288 billion farm bill will once again provide government subsidies to ensure that it won't matter much whether they plant the wrong crop at the wrong time.


Universities raise tuition rates that exceed the rate of inflation. But in our brave, new no-failure world, why worry when more promised federal-guaranteed student loans and credits will ensure steady paying enrollment? With guaranteed federal money, why be concerned that colleges and universities are overstaffed with administrators, replete with centers and programs that have nothing to do with undergraduate education, and erecting Las Vegas-like student unions and colossal recreation centers?


Americans are creating a therapeutic society in which none of us need fail. No one loses in T-ball anymore. Schools honor a dozen valedictorians. In universities, a "C" passing grade is now the understood kinder and gentler version of the old and now-rare "F."


Our culture forgot that there was once a utility in failure. Failing reminded us of what works and what doesn't — and how we must learn to avoid the latter. Instead, in our new economic purgatory, no firm, company, state, city or individual ever quite goes to financial heaven or hell. A Bear Stearns or Chrysler neither succeeds nor fails but just sort of endlessly exists.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Victor Davis Hanson, a classicist and military historian, is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and a recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal. Comment by clicking here.


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