Policy Disasters: Politicians Don’t Have to Follow the Path of “Learned Helplessness”

By Louis Avallone

It’s called “learned helplessness.”

It’s a state where you have given up hope and effort that your actions will affect your outcomes, even when later you’re in a position where control of the outcome is completely within your reach. It’s why women stay in abusive relationships, or why the poor feel that no matter how hard they work, or how much education they get, they will never escape their present lot in life. And it must be why so many folks don’t even bother to vote, or take part in our political process, because they’re discouraged that nothing gets done or will change anyway.

It’s a problem in politics because the important issues facing our nation are so vast, and the solutions seem so monumental. For many, the mountain is simply too big to climb, or the hole dug is too deep to get out of, so why bother?

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Today, our nation is buried under a mountain of debt, 5 million Americans have had their health insurance policies cancelled as a result this administration’s policies, the gap between the rich and poor has widened to a point not seen since the Great Depression, respect for our nation is dwindling as world leaders seemingly taunt the United States and unemployment is so rampant that there are three unemployed people for every job opening in our country today.

With all of that said, it’s clear that too many Americans suffer from “learned helplessness” when it comes to electing the same politicians, election cycle after election cycle, even when real change, and the choice to send someone else to Washington or Baton Rouge, is plainly within their reach.

For these folks, they say, “Why bother?” I say, “Hogwash.”

You don’t have to be expert in all of the important issues of our day to escape “learned helplessness,” or to believe that what you do can make a difference. You only need to look at example after example of liberal policies that have caved in on themselves, and litter the scrap yards of life.

The British tried appeasing Hitler in the 1930s, because they were convinced war was immoral, and that we must have “peace in our time.” That approach didn’t work out, of course. Hitler became stronger, and millions more died through appeasement, than would have otherwise. And what are we doing in the Middle East today? Appeasement.

Or what about the administration’s proposal to raise the minimum wage? If you already know that unskilled minorities, aged 16 to 19 years old, are already experiencing a 37.8 percent unemployment rate, and you raise the minimum wage, how do you help these folks when they would be the first workers to be let go after the minimum wage is raised?

Or how about this example? Liberals are always talking about unfettered, free access to contraceptives, and how abstinence is simply old-fashioned, foolhardy thinking. Yet, in example after example, the well-intentioned liberal thinking falls short, time after time. In New York City, for example, schools distribute thousands of the “morning after pill,” as well as prescriptions for birth-control pills, intrauterine devices, hormonedelivering injections, etc. to help to prevent pregnancies.

However, and despite liberal intentions, one of every 10 abortions occurs in New York. More abortions are performed on minors, more late term abortions, and more repeat abortions, are performed in New York City than anywhere else in the country. If this is one of the most important issues for women in history, how can this debauchery be good for the very women these liberals are intending to help?

We could talk about how, because of the Affordable Care Act now, and the rising insurance costs to employers, the most qualified candidate for a job may never get the job because the most attractive candidate may be the one already covered by their parent’s or spouse’s health insurance policy, saving the employer the cost of the premium altogether. Ridiculous.

And we could talk about how fulltime employment, under the Affordable Care Act, is now defined as working 30 hours per work. At 30 working hours per week, you can see that we’re fast becoming a nation of under-achievers.

We could also talk about how, in 1999, liberals prodded the Fannie Mae Corporation to ease the credit requirements, and encouraged them to extend home mortgages to individuals whose credit was generally not good enough to qualify for conventional loans. And it didn’t take long for the housing market to collapse just a few short years later, of course.

Here’s the bottom line: As a nation, we must re-learn that success is within our control, and that we can affect the outcome, but can’t keep doing what we’ve doing, or we’ll simply keep getting what we’ve been getting. Escaping “learned helplessness” is understanding that it is not the blowing of the wind that determines our destination; it’s the setting of the sail.


And that starts by electing folks that “get” that idea and who see the promise, and are likewise willing to pay the price.

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