What exactly are you looking for? A list of everyone that was born poor and later when on to achieve success?
"What constitutes a willingness to do the work?"
The willingness of an individual to gain a skill or trade and sell it to another person at a rate which they have determined to be sufficient to provide a desirable standard of living.
"And what is that work, exactly?"
Any act that someone else is willing to pay you to do. If I want to pay my daughter $1000 to sit in her room and play video games, that's her "work."
"Can it be done as readily by someone with a felony conviction, a fourth grade reading level, a borderline personality disorder?"
Yes. All of those things can be overcome or mitigated against.
"Congratulations on proving the author's point that we've gone from a market economy to a market society."
He made his point just fine, thank you. But here's the problem. If a majority decide to give up a right, and right, they don't just do it for themselves, they do it for the whole of society. That's a problem. Just because I want to go buy a giant SUV, should everyone else be obligated to as well.
"So, they're making free-market choices in a capitalist society, decisions which belie a fundamental lack of morality?"
Would they be better off if they were denied those things they wanted? I think that rampant consumerism is silly, but not immoral. Or at least not immoral in the way that lying and cheating are immoral. And it would be immoral to take from those that have and give those that don't, especially when those that don't, don't by choice.