Should stupid hurt?

All the wisdom of a thousand philosophers cannot surpass the truth of a single bumper sticker.

“Jesus loves you. Everyone else thinks you’re a jerk.”

“Driver carries no cash. He’s married.”

The original tweets, bumper stickers can capture reality as succinctly as any medium of modern communication. It hardly seems fair to us verbose types, but it is true.

Recently I saw this one: “Stupid should hurt”. Here’s what I think the power-packed punch means.

Our society – well, maybe it’s not just our society; perhaps all human nature is hell bent on avoiding consequences. People constantly search for ways NOT to have their actions affect them.

In the grand scheme…

We don’t allow unscrupulous mortgage bankers and investors, not to mention Fannie Mae executives and stockholders, to fall on their faces. We bail them out with taxpayer dollars.

We don’t force auto unions feel the brunt of their impact on car manufacturers’ bottom lines. We restructure their deals and leave corporate bondholders in the lurch.

Social services certainly meet some legitimate needs in the nick of time. At other times they create habits and dependencies that block consequences from ever inspiring change.

In short, stupid should hurt, but often it doesn’t.

At the micro level…If you stay up too late, you can down a 5-hour energy drink. If you pack your schedule too tight, you can drive thru for dinner. If you stress yourself out, we have a pill for that.

We live in a medicated world that makes one wonder, “Would there be more lasting change if we didn’t have so many quick fixes to our self-inflicted woes?”

If the government would just say, “Wise up! We can’t protect you any longer from your own stupidity! We have to pay down the tab from our decades of trying.”

If the Federal Reserve would say, “Produce stuff that people want and the economy will improve! We can’t keep printing money because it will only inflate prices.”

If parents would say, “Practice diligently until you’re talented. You’re not getting a trophy for just showing up!”

If doctors would say, “You know the basics for healthy living. I’m not writing a prescription just because you refuse to live by them.”

If educators would say, “Pay attention! You’re not going to 3rd grade – or ball practice or JROTC drill – until you get this.”

As education guru Dr. Douglas Reeves asserts, the penalty for not doing the work should be to do the work.

If we let kids – or adults, for that matter – off the hook when they don’t do the work, when they don’t live responsibly, stupid doesn’t hurt.

The less stupid hurts, the less change happens. The fewer productive lives get lived. The less reality is faced. The more some bumper stickers ring true:

“I don’t have a beer gut. I have a protective covering for my rock hard abs.”

“Keep the dream alive. Hit the snooze button.”

Kevin Thompson writes weekly for The Boerne Star in the Texas hill country. He can be reached at

1 Response to “Should stupid hurt?”

  1. 1 Don Campbell July 17, 2012 at 08:03

    Kevin – Again you have hit the nail right where it needs to be hit. Our founding fathers were very wise when they established a blueprint that provided for limited government stupidity. Oh that we would follow their wisdom!

    Can we stop being hurt by stupid by electing men and women of integrity to represent us in congress? God help us!

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