Mike in Analysis 2 minutes Providence

Victor's Delusion

I’ve seen the argument that the poor and disenfranchised “simply aren’t trying hard enough” as an undercurrent supporting US capitalism. The idea started to ricochet around my brain a bit, and some of the veneer began to chip off.

Let’s take trust fund babies off of the top of a cross-section of the population, and remove the feckless lazy from the bottom. We’re left with those who might have profitable ideas, and might act upon them to improve their situation. There’s no doubt that hard work is a key ingredient to success. However, if you’ve worked hard, and you were successful, it’s possible that the bandied formula of “if you try hard enough, it will work,” will appear to be a fact. Simple: you worked hard, you were successful.

The missing bit there is luck. Probability. The “Almighty RNG,” as my friend Brian once quipped at me. Maybe you acknowledge luck’s hand in your success, or maybe luck was sly and stayed behind the scenes. Either way, it was a necessary component.

Consequently, it seems a victor’s delusion that anyone who hasn’t become successful is somehow less worthy. You might compare effort, but to compare dumb luck pointless.