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“Entitlement is there, too. A feeling of, ‘I deserve this, even if it looks like I can’t pay for it.’ ” (A more concise raison d’etre for America’s broken balance sheets?)

“There’s vanity. Wanting people to notice you. Thinking everyone is entitled to your opinion. You end up with people who think they know everything but actually don’t.” (Hello, reality TV! Also Congress).

“Overall, it’s toxic to society,” Ms. Twenge said. “In terms of going soft, we’re not going to be able to compete in a global market if we have a population who says they don’t want to work particularly hard. The countries we’re competing against, particularly China, have strong work ethics.”

Moreover, those countries aren’t literally soft. Unlike us. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, no U.S. state in 1991 had a percentage of obese people of more than 20 percent; last year, no state’s percentage of obese people was less than 20 percent.

America’s unchecked pound-packing - almost 34 percent of the population qualifies as obese - has consequences. Reduced quality of life. Increased health care costs. It offers a window into our souls: Instead of the lean, mean and hungry title character of “Rocky,” we’re the bloated, unmotivated champ of “Rocky III,” about to get pummeled by Mr. T.

“I did a TV interview in Toronto the other day,” said Mr. Siebold, also the author of “Die Fat or Get Tough: 101 Differences in Thinking Between Fat People and Thin People.” “During the break, they talked about how as soon as you go over the [U.S.] border, you can see the difference, how fat we are. Sadly, they’re right.

“And we sugarcoat it. We think about eating emotionally instead of critically. I went on the ‘Today’ show and said, ‘If you’re fat, get tough, fix it. No one is stuffing pizza and doughnuts in your face.’ Afterward, I got death threats.”

Of course, we still have the aforementioned college football, a fierce competitive crucible where only the mentally strong and physically fit survive, where tomorrow’s hard-nosed leaders are today’s tried-by-fire student athletes.

Student athletes such as those of the Louisville Cardinals, who recently lost to conference rival Pittsburgh. The reason? According to Louisville coach Charlie Strong, his team was “poorly prepared,” distracted by the previous week’s release of the new “Call of Duty” video game.

On second thought, maybe we’re doomed.

Don’t squeeze our Charmin

Or maybe not.

Pop quiz: Who took the following stand against All-American softness in a campaign speech while running for the presidency? “We’ve become fearful to compete … . I want to see our nation return to a posture and an image and a standard to make us proud once again … . We ought to be a beacon for nations … ” :

(a) Mitt Romney in 2011

(b) Barack Obama in 2008

Story Continues →