Monday, February 24, 2014


No, not the Red Shirters and their Red Letter foes, though we are coming up on election season so that should heat up Real Soon Now. This is about the Tiger Mom, Amy Chua and her husband Jed Rubenfeld who recently released a new book entitled "The Triple Package: How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America" wherein they actually say what we all know: that some ethnic and cultural groups are far more successful than the otherwise norm. And they call a spade a spade specifically identifying Jews, Indians, Chinese, Iranians, Lebanese, Nigerians, Cubans and Mormons.  That's right, Mormons. If you're surprised you must not know very many Mormons.

And they identify underlying traits shared across these groups that support success including a seemingly contradictory belief in the exceptionality of the group juxtaposed with a feeling that they as individuals are never quite good enough. Kind of makes sense when you think about it. Oh, one other thing: impulse control which surely correlates with deferred gratification which is a well recognized form of investing in oneself or at least one's future self.

Of course this is all very non-PC but that's what Tiger Mom does and these authors have been blasted in the blogosphere not only for their statements of the obvious but also for shoring it up with facts and figures. Hate when that happens. And as Godwin's Law (Reductio ad Hitlerum) is as immutable as any law of physics these flames inevitably degenerate into accusations that these authors are calling out, if not for, a master race. Some folks way overcompensate. But facts being facts you have to wonder what it really is about these groups and their experiences as groups and individuals that yields these results. You know it can't be because they're hanging with the rest of us proving smart is no more contagious than stupid.

So here's a pop quiz. Can anybody point out a group that exhibits exactly the opposite of all three of the traits and perhaps offer an estimation of their ranking on society's scale of success? Thought you could. And just how do we as a society currently address that and as Dr. Phil likes to say "how's that working for you?" Maybe rather than kill the messenger we should examine this reality and see if there is something to all this that might help other groups within the broader community achieve to a higher level.