When I was a kid, I did not just receive an allowance. I had to work for it. Every week, I would be given a checklist of things to do: make my bed, clean my room, take the trash out, etc. Only after successfully finishing my chores would I receive my money. And I hated it. I did not hate doing the chores; I hated being told what to do. The whole checklist thing was unnecessary and annoying.
You see, for me, working to earn what I want is just like second nature. It is a value that I have been taught from a young age. It was not just an allowance thing; it is the knowledge that everything comes at a cost. So, what are you going to do about it? Do you really want to make that sports team? How bad do you want the lead role in the school play? Are you going to pass the test or come home with an F? It was just part of my life, and it has made me who I am today.
Maybe that’s why a commercial I saw recently stood out to me. It said, “You want a job? You learn a skill. You want a house? You save for it. You want bigger muscles? You lift heavier weights. You want a girl to marry you? You ask her father. You want respect? You earn it.” The commercial was actually for a beer called Modelo, but that is not the point. It was advertising a “fighting spirit.”
There are actually a number of similar commercials distributed by the company that showcase people’s hard work: An immigrant named Eduardo Pérez fighting his way to the top of an industry and becoming an executive chef; Amanda Nunes winning the title of champion in the women’s bantamweight and featherweight divisions in the UFC. You should look them up sometime. They are really well-done commercials and show how anything is possible with a fighting spirit.
In fact, much of American history is predicated on people having the ability to work for what they want in hopes of accomplishing what they want. Obviously, there are barriers and obstacles and not everyone has the same path, but the notion remains. In America, people have the ability to change their station in life if they work accordingly.
The problem is, while the notion remains, the effort and drive often does not. We, as a society, have started to act like we are entitled to what we want, when we want it. America was founded on the principles of unalienable rights and “among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Thomas Jefferson did not say that we are entitled to life, liberty, and free tuition, health- care, housing, food, etc. No, he said the pursuit of happiness. That means we have the right to work and pursue what we want. Now, I understand there are extenuating circumstances, but that is why they are called extenuating.
Let us consider the prospect of alleviating student debt that the new presiden- tial administration has proposed. While this may look like a good idea on the surface, it will cause problems. No one will ever be happy, politicians or students. First of all, how do you decide how much assistance someone gets? If Jim has $30,000 in debt and Joe has $10,000, do they only have their debts paid? If that happens, Joe is not very happy because he should have gone to a different school with a higher rate and simply had it forgiven. So, maybe they should both receive the $30,000. Now Jim is not happy that Joe has gotten a $20,000 credit while he has only had his debt repaid. If they both receive $10,000, Jim is still not happy because he still has $20,000 in debt. The world is not always fair, but this is not the fix-all solution that some people think.
Now, you can complain that young people are forced into college where they sign massive loans without fully understanding them, and you would not be totally wrong. And people should be better educated about available jobs that do not need require a degree, but the bottom line is that once you have made a decision, you have to follow through with it. You should not act so entitled as to believe that someone else should be obligated to give you a way out. The bottom line is that no one is entitled to an education; you have to work for it.
Also, where is the money coming from? Taxes is the simple answer, but how is that any better? To use an extreme example, you could pay on your college loans for the rest of your life, or you could be paying taxes that will pay for Jane Doe’s kids’ college loans from the other side of the country for the rest of your life You are still paying for college in one way or another. It just depends on whether you are paying for your loans or someone else’s. Not to mention, are you going to forgive everyone’s debt for now, let it accumulate for another fifty years, then pay it off again? This just seems like the start of a cycle.
The real issue is the cost of college, and that should probably be our focus, but let us be clear. Free college is a non-starter. Capitalism is the very base from which the American dream grows, and it is hard to have a fighting spirit when the government puts a cap on what you can and cannot do as a business. Besides, what companies or professors are actually going to work for free?
Maybe the problem lies in the difference between equality and equity. Everyone should have an equal shot at success, but people should not expect to all finish at the same place. Equity is nothing more than socialism because everyone finishes with the same success regardless of their starting point and their effort.
If the American spirit is going to survive this administration and the progressives in Congress, we have to realize that, as a society, we have to cultivate our fighting spirits and work toward the pursuit of happiness, not the pursuit of ultimate equity because if we will all end at the same spot, why bother working hard at all?
By Blake Hawkins