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Gary Horton: Victimhood: the new secret to success

Posted: May 8, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: May 8, 2013 2:00 a.m.
 

Picture a modern-day Adonis with flowing, jet-black hair and rugged features for which women swoon. Picture an entrepreneur – a master of his own high-tech business.

Picture a fine Mercedes and an elite home with all the trappings, perfectly situated on a golf course. Picture a man who’s got a lot and earned everything he’s got.

Now picture this man in his seventies, yet still running strong with a much younger herd.

Picture our strapping man stranded on the side of a hot, dusty Sierra Highway up in the remote Boonies outside Palmdale when his above-mentioned Mercedes conked out.

He confidently grabs his smart phone and calls the Auto Club to tow him back to civilization. First patiently, then impatiently, he waits and waits.

After an hour of no-shows, our now-frustrated Adonis calls again, but with a clever plan to jolt the Auto Club into action.

“Listen,” he insists, “I’m 74 years old and you’ve left me standing over here on the side of a forsaken road for over an hour! I could die out here in this heat!”

The victimized “old man dying on the side of the road” gambit did the trick, and within 20 minutes our previously strong but now infirm Adonis had his ride – and more.

A fresh-faced tow truck driver rushed to Adonis’ side and, supporting him by the arm, attempted to escort him into the truck cab. “Sir, let me help you inside the cab. It’s air-conditioned and comfortable for you. Can I get you some water?”

Well, it’s good the Auto Club responds to the elderly in need. But one week later, sitting comfortably in the coffee shop, Adonis laughs at how he brushed away the tow truck driver’s hand from his arm and asked, “What the heck do you think you’re doing?”

All his 74 years of life he’s been independent, but when the Auto Club thought they might have injured the old dude they responded like he’d fallen and couldn’t get up.

“Friend!” I responded, “You’ve accidently learned the new secret of success in America – you’ve learned the power of victimhood.”

Meanwhile in America, “Do you think you’ve ever been hurt at work, maybe even if you don’t know it? Are you having trouble sleeping? Have you ever used XYZ pain reliever? Had an accident?

“Ever slipped and fallen? Call 555-5555 and the law firm of Gettem and Fleecem will get you what you’re entitled to.” In America, accidents and injuries are better than winning lottery tickets.

I’ve heard so many of these legal come-ons I’m normally immune. But last week I encountered one setting new lows for our exaltation of victimhood.

“Do you take dialysis? If you’ve used Such-and-Such a machine, you may have been exposed to potentially life-threatening effects. Call 555-5555 right now to find out how you may be eligible for compensation.”

Sweet! Eat yourself to near death and sue the manufacturer of the dialysis machine that’s the only thing keeping your likely self-abused body from a most painful and certain death. Victimhood, and the American exploitation of it, now have no shame.

During the recession, Americans successfully claimed permanent Social Security disability status at twice the historic rate. Most of these elevated claims were for hard-to-prove soft-tissue damage.

Yes, the recession was tough, but tough recessions do not bad backs make. And today, America has 2 million additional permanently “disabled” to pay for.

I’m all for a strong social safety net, but do we really have to encourage dependency through easy victimhood?
We’ve recently learned that the unlucky newspaper deliverers that got their truck shot up by the LAPD were awarded $4.2 million as settlement. These folks surely had something coming for their bullet-hole-riddled truck and trauma, but please, $4.2 million?

That’s more dough than whole neighborhoods will save from lifetimes of work – and your and my tax dollars are funding this celebration of the victimized.

On and on it’s gone, so we’ve arrived at the time when accidents that happen or are just alleged mean real paydays ahead. Judging from the preponderance of 555-5555 contingency lawyer ads, we’re either the most injury- and accident-prone society or we’re addicts to the victimization economy.

Does the world owe us a living, or do we owe the world? Most who’ve experienced real success like my Adonis friend say you have to do your part and earn your success for it to be durable and rewarding.

I suspect one day America’s victimization culture will discover we’ve soaked the proverbial dialysis machine dry and there’s nothing left to rinse our victims’ blood or subsidize their bad behaviors. We may find we’ve compromised our can-do character so there’s little more than bits and scraps from which to pillage.

My self-actualized Adonis friend humorously stumbled on his victimhood and promptly brushed it off like a stinging insect. Through his lifetime of personal integrity and work, he’s earned nearly everyone’s respect.

Meanwhile, “If you’ve ever smoked, or hit a pothole, or had a tough boss, call 555-5555. You can get the payday to which you’re entitled.”

And the rest of America will pay and pay.

Gary Horton is a Valencia resident. “Full Speed to Port!” appears Wednesdays in The Signal.

 

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