A ribbon for participation.

I am a surveyor who likes ranting about whatever is on my mind on a blog. I am prone to terrible run-on sentences, occasionally rambling postings, some spelling errors that slip through the spell-check function of the blog, and some grammatical errors that doubtless have made some of the grammar fixated wish that they could jump through their computer screen and slap me in the head. Some of my writings may be dull or lack in creativity at times. I recognize these literary shortcomings on my part.

Despite knowing that I do not write among the best on earth, I find it simply agonizing as the collective best among academia gather at Columbia University (an institution that I have been unfairly prevented from attending), and work to truly wreak havoc on my self-esteem through highlighting the planet’s literary best through an internationally celebrated awards ceremony. As the spotlight shines on the world’s literary best, a sidelight shines upon my inadequate writings thus humiliating me on a profound scale. How dare they openly remind me that I will never be able to reach the apex of literary achievement!! How cruel and unfair this world is indeed. Every time I see one of these award winners I nearly fall prostrate and go fetal in agony as they rub my nose in my shame of not being able to produce the world’s best.

This cruel ceremony must end! This recognition and presentation is damaging to the self-esteem of every literate person on earth who does not win it!



While the above demand appears to be ridiculous and the rationale behind it whining, entitled and petulant, it is pretty much the same sort of demand and same rationale being used by the idiots in a Calgary school who have managed to get the honour roll among all other academic recognitions and their associated ceremonies removed from the school.

Kurt Vonnegut (another robbed of a Pulitzer) wrote a fantastic short-story called Harrison Bergeron that I strongly recommend anybody read if they have not already. He depicts a futuristic world where equality is achieved through the removal of all recognition that anybody may have more ability than another and literal handicaps are applied to anybody who excels beyond the average in society.

Download Harrison Bergeron here

Vonnegut’s story truly does appear less and less like abstract science fiction as we see stories of the ongoing assault on all forms of recognition of excellence being successful. Scores are no longer kept in many children’s sports and games as simple as duck duck goose are actually being banned so that nobody may lose.

This pursuit and enforcement of mediocrity will not be creating children with higher self-esteem. If anything, these children are being set up for a catastrophic blow to their self-esteem when they leave the coddling walls of educational institutions only to discover that in the real world, not everybody gets a ribbon for participation. Will these kids with such a deep sense of entitlement be able to adapt to the harsh realities of life? I guess some will and some won’t, but hiding them from these lessons for their formative years will not be doing them any favors.

We need awards and heights in order to keep us striving. Ambition is not a bad thing, in fact it is essential. If the world had been controlled by these self-esteem obsessed fools 10,000 years ago, we still would never have seen the invention of fire for crying out loud. Do you think the inventor of the wheel did so for altruistic reasons? Do you think he didn’t seek the celebration of his peers as another part of his ambition along with seeking a better way to move things around?

We need to be taught to strive for the top yet accept that we won’t all make it there.

Some people are smarter than others. Some people are stronger than others. Some people are better looking than others. Some people work harder than others.


I think personally one of the biggest lessons I had in life has been to quit worrying about what others do or what they have. Envy and entitlement are the most poison of feelings and our attempts to enforce a form of equality where it really does not exist will only foster more entitled bitterness.

I know I won’t win a Pulitzer Prize. I am OK with that. I don’t let the knowledge of that keep me from writing and feeling satisfied with what I write. I can celebrate the top of the writing world while still being happy with my mediocre standing in it.

There are ways and there are ways to deal with inequality. I know and understand that I am not hung like Rasputin. I still make what I like to think is good use with what I have and go for a drive in my large diesel truck when it really bothers me. To follow the self-esteem movement’s lead, what I should be doing is lobbying that all men be surgically shortened to an equitable length or at least ban them from shared changing rooms in the name of fairness. It is no less ludicrous than many other proposals in the name of equality out there.

Sadly it is much easier to drag folks down in the quest for equality than it is to try to pull everybody else up. I hope this trend ends soon.

Some recommended reading.


There are many factors that went towards creating the charming, modest and somewhat opinionated person that I am today. Growing up and observing the fallout of the National Energy Program gave me a healthy dose of regionalism and watching Thatcher and Reagan work to try and save us from the consequences of policy based on the drug-addled attitudes of the  sixties certainly helped shape my opinions on the political world.

There was one outright turning point in my thought and growth that stands out though. While in junior high we were required to read the short story Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut.  The story is a futuristic portrayal of what may happen should we continue the pursuit of equality where it simply does not exist. It excellently displayed the futility of such pursuits and the damage to free society that will result. It began my course down political philosophy which is still of course evolving.

Kurt Vonnegut was not a right winger by any stretch of the imagination. He was an admirer of early socialist labor leaders and was always critical of Republican governments . Vonnegut did recognize one of the critical flaws in socialism though and wrote on it.

In the pursuit of equality, one finds that they can’t pull the non-productive up to the level of the productive thus socialists tend to turn to pulling down the productive to the lowest common denominator instead. This is referred to as “Crab mentality”  and it is one of the most destructive trends we have.

The politics of envy run strong particularly when times are tough. We saw that in the vapid yelping of the “occupy” movement as they tried to separate and demonize a mythical 1% who they felt controlled the world. We see this as teacher’s unions fight every manner of testing of children and fight all forms of competition in schools. The every child gets a ribbon sentiment is nice but it damages children terribly when they encounter the real world and find out that we can’t always win.

Raj Sherman released his desperate provincial Liberal platform recently. In sprinting for low hanging fruit he has taken up the usual shallow stance of taxing the perceived rich. Despite numbers showing that people of higher income are already paying the vast majority of taxes in Canada, the lazy and envious want to drag these hard workers down even further.

The real outcome is secondary to the perception of equality.

Some years ago I was debating with a fellow on an internet forum about European health provision models. The discussion came to a point where it was proven that in some models by allowing people to pay out of pocket to jump the queue; the entire lineup gets shortened for all in the universal system. This fellow still was opposed to the possibility of utilizing these provision models. I doggedly kept on him and asked if he preferred that everybody waited and suffered longer as long as the suffering was equal. He floored me in his honestly when he said yes. This man’s envy could not let him abide by somebody getting faster treatment even if it meant faster treatment for everybody in the end. His attitude is shared by way too many people though many may not realize it or be as honest as this guy was about it.

The twisted ideals of equality and fairness when taken to extremes are incredibly destructive. The simplistic can be easily called out and led when a seductive case for dragging down the successful is made for the sake of political expediency.

It is a short story yet makes the point excellently. Again, I strongly suggest that folks take a moment to read Harrison Bergeron and more importantly think about the point it makes.