Americans have always been excessive worshippers of what William James called “the bitch goddess success”. Self-help gurus have topped the bestseller lists since Benjamin Franklin published his autobiography. Americans are much more likely than Europeans to believe that people can get ahead in life so long as they are willing to work hard. And they are much more likely to choose a high-paying job that carries a risk of redundancy than a lower-paid job that guarantees security.
But you can't have winners without losers (or how would you know how well you are doing?). And you can't broaden opportunity without also broadening the opportunity to fail. For instance, until relatively recently, blacks could not blame themselves for their failure in the “race of life”, in Abraham Lincoln's phrase, because they were debarred from so many parts of it. Now the barriers are lifted, the picture is more complicated.
All of which creates a huge problem: how exactly should a hyper-competitive society deal with its losers? It's all very well to note that drunkards and slackers get what they deserve. But what about the honest toilers? One way to deal with the problem is to offer people as many second chances as possible. In his intriguing new book “Born Losers: A History of Failure in America”, Scott Sandage argues that the mid-nineteenth century saw a redefinition of failure—from something that had described a lousy business to something that defined a whole life.
Yet one of the striking things about America is how valiantly it has resisted the idea that there is any such thing as a born loser. American schools resist streaming their pupils much longer than their European counterparts: the whole point is to fit in rather than stand out. American higher education has numerous points of entry and reentry. And the American legal system has some of the most generous bankruptcy rules in the world. In Europe, a bankrupt is often still a ruined man; in America, he is a risk-taking entrepreneur.
American history—not to mention American folklore—is replete with examples of people who tried and tried again until they made a success of their lives. Lincoln was a bankrupt storekeeper. Henry Ford was a serial failure. At 40, Thomas Watson, the architect of IBM, faced prison. America's past is also full of people who came back from the brink. A second way to deal with losers is to celebrate them. Perhaps in reaction to the relentless boosterism of business life, American popular culture often sympathises with losers. But even in the loser-loving bits of popular culture, the American obsession with success has a habit of winning through. More often than not, born losers turn out to be winners in disguise.
31. According to paragraph 1, why are Americans “much more likely to choose a high-paying job that carries a risk of redundancy than a lower-paid job that guarantees security”?
[A] Because they don't mind taking risks.
[B] Because Americans believe in the idea of “no pain, no gain”.
[C] Because Americans rely a lot on self瞙elp books written by famous people.
[D] Because a having high瞤aying job is how many Americans view success.
32. Paragraph 2 suggests that ________________
[A] America was once a racist country.
[B] black Americans now have equal rights.
[C] if you give someone the chance to succeed, you also give them the chance to fail.
[D] you can know how successful you are by seeing how many people are failing.
33. The “honest toilers” mentioned in paragraph 3 refer to__________________
[A] lazy people and alcoholics.
[B] trustworthy workers.
[C] people who fail even though they try hard.
[D] born losers—people who need lots of second chances in order to succeed.
34. We can learn from paragraph 4____________
[A] that the United States is better than Europe.
[B] that American society is designed to give people many opportunities.
[C] that the American system is better for children and businessmen.
[D] that Scott Sandage's book is largely irrelevant to modern American society.
35. According to paragraph 5, which of these is NOT an example of why Americans might like losers?
[A] They often succeed in the end.
[B] Losers often have legal problems.
[C] There is sometimes a dislike of people who enthusiastically promote business.
[D] Some very famous Americans were once losers.