Kids, you’re doomed to failure

President Obama’s back-to-school speech contained blatant lies, writes Ann Althouse, who objects to telling kids that “nobody gets to write your destiny but you,” and that “nothing — absolutely nothing — is beyond your reach, so long as you’re willing to dream big, so long as you’re willing to work hard.”

If you believe that, you are so dumb that your chances of controlling your own destiny are especially small. But it’s absurd to tell kids that if only they dream big, work hard, and get an education, they can have anything they want. Do you know what kind of dream job kids today have? A recent Marist poll showed that 32% would like to be an actor/actress. 29% want to be a professional athlete. 13% want to be President of the United States. That’s not going to happen.

Even young people with more modest dreams — like getting a decent law job after getting good grades at an excellent law school — are not getting what they want.

Obama doesn’t really believe this or “he’d be all about reducing the role of government and unleashing private enterprise,” Althouse writes. He doesn’t look at a poor person and “his life is what he made it.”

OK, it’s hyperbole to say you can do absolutely anything if you put your mind to it and you can all grow up to be Lady Gaga. (This is my only pop culture reference.) But people who think they can control their destiny do a lot better in life than people who think that what they do doesn’t make a difference. A sense of self-efficacy is very powerful. If you think hard work will improve your life, you’ll work harder and improve your life.

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