"Contrary to what many parents tell their children," wrote Robert Frank, "talent and hard work are neither necessary nor sufficient for economic success. It helps to be talented and hard-working, of course, yet some people enjoy spectacular success despite having neither attribute." It's not a particularly bold claim. Nor is Frank's conclusion the sort of thing that ordinarily makes headlines. Saying that "the link between success and luck is stronger than many people think" borders on the trite.
Unless, of course, you're on Fox's new business channel. There, self-made anchor Stuart Varney was shocked, shocked, that Frank would suggest such a thing. The result is some extremely entertaining television.
It seems more like a skit than a segment. If I were writing a parody of Fox's new business channel, I think I'd have turned in something a little less heavy-handed. "Go back to your Socialist newsroom!" for instance, wouldn't have struck me as believable. But this isn't a skit. It's an ideology. And now there's an entire cable channel dedicated to propagating it.
I e-mailed Robert Frank to ask his impressions of the segment. He was pretty measured in reply. "Varney, like most highly-paid right-wingers, is dead certain that his own success owes nothing to luck," Frank wrote back. "But that can't be true, as his own strange performance during our 'conversation' amply demonstrates."
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