Rod Dreher

From New York magazine’s profile of David Brooks:

Brooks’s favorite social-science study is known as the Marshmallow Experimentstaypuft.jpg. A child is left in a room with a marshmallow for fifteen minutes. If he restrains himself from eating the marshmallow, he gets a second one. If not, he doesn’t. The test turns out to be a predictor of all kinds of habits in adult life. Children who show self-control in front of a tasty marshmallow score higher on the SAT, struggle less in stressful situations, maintain friendships better, and have fewer problems with drugs.
Brooks is concerned we’ve become a nation of marshmallow eaters. We want tax cuts and more entitlements, without realizing the contradiction. We want speedy, in-and-out wars. We want a president who can fix any crisis — even an oil spill he’s not equipped to solve. “They want to hold him responsible for things they know he doesn’t control,” Brooks wrote recently.
What makes Brooks’s philosophy so out of sync right now is that it’s all about not eating the marshmallow. “National greatness” projects, from railroads to Internet grids to energy bills, take patience and investment. They don’t pay off overnight. His latest hobbyhorse, balancing the budget, is even less sexy. “I think we’re gonna be Greece,” he says. But it’s hard to make anyone care until we are Greece.

Join the Discussion
comments powered by Disqus