By: Wayne Brown
The liberal media continues its struggle to keep the less-than-interesting news of the “Occupy Wall Street” debacle in the forefront of the news. The majority of Americans of a mature age saw this crowd back in the mid-60’s and have quickly dispensed with assigning any significant credibility to their desires. While we all appreciate the fact that we live in a country in which we are free to demonstrate and publicize our beliefs, mainstream America has little interest in watching or supporting a crowd of people simply demanding to be given things they have yet to earn or contribute to for that matter. The list of demands which forms the basis of this so-called “movement” could have been written by a group of junior high students or a naïve set of minds nourished on socialism. No doubt, many of our centers of higher learning allow the faculty plenty of opportunity to offer up this philosophy as opposed to teaching the pitfalls of it.
There is an underlying tone in the discussion of these events which seems to suggest that the basis for opportunity in America is limited. It suggests that there is a direct correlation between success and poverty to say that one can only be exchanged for the other so that the scales remain in balance. Given this rationale, those who listen to it and actually believe it are left to assume that they cannot achieve opportunity unless someone hands it to them or gets out of the way so they can have a place in line. If neither of those events takes place, they are relegated to a future of poverty among the downtrodden.
It is no wonder such thinking evolves especially when the goal of promoting such thought is to incite class envy and warfare. The rich are evil and got rich because they have not paid their fair share. So, on that basis, can we assume the poor are of the reciprocal description? I think not. But, given the rationale that “there are only so many places at the table”; one can begin to understand how minds can be shaped to believe that some folks have more than their share. In fact, no one promised any of us a share of anything except the “opportunity” to pursue happiness. No one promised that we would achieve it but we can pursue it all we want in America.
If one could take all the wealth of America, redistribute the assets evenly to the point that each and every person had an equal share, what can we imagine would happen? Would everyone be ridiculously happy and all be well across the fruited plains? The answer is clearly “no”. In essence, we conduct that experiment day in and day out. All of us face our opportunities and decide what we will do with them on a regular basis. Will we use our savings to buy a car? Will we take that vacation even though our hours have been reduced at work? Will we put a portion of our paycheck in the bank or just use it to party on Saturday night? We all make those decisions and each one of those decisions is the basis of an opportunity to take a different action; an action which could change the direction of our lives for the better.
There seems to be a perception that those who are classed as “wealthy” did nothing with the opportunities in their life except to “get lucky”. Certainly there are those who were born into wealth and always will be. There are also many, many more that had a vision, a focus, and a burning idea that they invested everything they could find into because they believed in it. For many, the gamble paid off and paid off well. In return, there are those in our society who want to demonize their success and convince others that it came only on the backs of others who were downtrodden in the process. We are back to that thought process of trading one rich person for one poor one.
Steven Jobs, one of the creators of Apple, died at the young age of 56 from pancreatic cancer. In that time span, he managed to get through college, gain a productive knowledge of computers, math, and science. He started a business in his garage which turned into the world of Apple Computers. Apple gave the world McIntosh, I-Phone, and I-Pad just to name a few of the things which came from the mind of Jobs. Steven Jobs was enormously successful and made a lot of money in the process. No doubt, he would be considered among the “wealthy” Americans who have not shouldered their “fair share” over time.
The same could be said for Warren Buffet and for Bill Gates. Both have been enormously successful. Buffet showed the world that a common man from Omaha with the right mathematical skills and some business knowledge could amass a fortune using good business decisions and a knowledge of the market place. Gates moved the computer “software” business from a point at which the term was not even understood to making it a common household reference. Both men, in their own way, like Steven Jobs, have done much to change the world we live in today yet there are those who want to label them as “evil” because of their success and point out that they have not taken on their “fair share” of the burden.
These are only a few examples and there are many more in America today. These are people who started out with the same opportunities all of us have in America. They had the opportunity for education and work. They had the opportunity to spend or save their money by their own choice. They had the opportunity to apply the knowledge they had acquired. They had the opportunity to dream and to work to make those dreams a reality. There was no one who stopped by their house one morning and handed them a box with “success” in it. They came by it like most do, by the sweat of their brow and by gambling all they had on the future. Had they gambled and lost, society might have labeled them “fools” and dropped their names from the history books.
Because Steven Jobs and Bill Gates were pioneers in revolutionizing electronics and the computer industry, does that mean they took away the opportunity for you or me to excel in those areas? That assumption would be a total mistake. Certainly it is a more competitive arena but given the fact that an individual can come forward with ideas that approach the same grand scale; ideas that bring breakthroughs in technology and improve lifestyles, there is still more than enough opportunity to go around. We have not seen the last Steven Jobs, Bill Gates, or Warren Buffet in America; not as long as there is an opportunity to achieve success in this country.
While Jobs, Gates, and Buffet have achieved success, can we assume that it came because they just had “great ideas”? That answer would be a resounding “no”. Great ideas are a good start to business success but one must have a viable plan to get from the idea concept to the physical reality of placing that product or service in the marketplace for consumption. Along the way, we can expect to run into those who will attempt to “steal” the idea for themselves on the basis of greed and outright laziness. These are “successful” people as well who have achieved their success in a different way. They are always out there and always will be. Some break the law while others simply walk a tightrope of technicality. These are people who give success a bad name and they exist regardless of whether a society is entrenched in capitalism, socialism, or communism. They exist because the desire they possess is driven simply by taking advantage of others to achieve their goals. No particular societal philosophy will eradicate them…they are part of the cockroaches of the world.
Given these types exist, should we eradicate all wealth and divide up the money equally? Theoretically, we could do that if we wanted to establish a totalitarian government that operated in such a manner. Even so, if that event took place, wait a few months; a few years, and the wealth will be just as out of balance again because there is an inherent trait within society by which some people accumulate wealth through work, focus, achievement and sacrifice. Conversely, there are those who, when given wealth, manage to squander it without regard to its limits until they awaken one morning and the wealth is all gone. Suddenly, they are victims; downtrodden; cheated by those with money. In the end, the only balance we can hope to achieve is to attempt to individually balance the efforts we make against the opportunity we have in life. If we elect to do little or nothing with those opportunities, then we can only blame ourselves as opposed to claiming that we were “victimized by the wealthy”.
America can rips itself apart on the basis of class envy and warfare and little of nothing will be achieved from it except chaos. The current “demonstrations” by the “Occupy Wall Street” crowd can be escalated into violence that ends in property being destroyed, businesses looted, lives threatened, and general chaos in the street. Some within our society who would seek a different path for America would relish the idea of the public fighting in the streets. At that point, it would be much easier to declare that the “system” had failed and the institution of a new government was more than justified. In that process, most of the freedoms we have today would disappear very quietly as would the Constitution and The Bill of Rights.
We have some significant financial problems in America today. We have those problems because some less than intelligent elected officials created government legislation which sanctioned “theft” in the American marketplace. Some individuals and companies capitalized on that premise while it existed at the expense of the American taxpayer. Unfortunately, that same government also “guaranteed” much of the money which was loaned in these schemes and had to pony up in the end when the “bubble” burst. The results sent shock waves through our economy. Many Americans suffered as a result of the downturn and that suffering is still evident in many regions today. We are here because some bad government and some bad business came together in a toxic concoction of monumental proportions never seen before in our history.
Given that premise, let’s withhold the judgment to say that all business is bad; all corporations are bad, and all wealthy, successful people are not shouldering their “fair share” of the load. In fact, the “load” or, in this case, the debt burden is a dynamic thing which is ever-changing but only in the upward direction. Government has no fiscal responsibility when it comes to money. It will spend all that is available and more…a proven fact. On that basis, how do we ever shoulder “our fair share”? If you and I pay more; if the wealthy man pays more, government only finds more and more ways to spend the revenue leaving us all in the same boat. All the wealthy people in American cannot fix that problem even if they tried.
Our problems are systemic in that we have a bloated government which continues to grow by the day and consume more and more revenue for its own upkeep. It is filled with and directed by far too many career politicians who have made it their mission to spend, spend, spend using every possible revenue source available including borrowed money to salve that itch. Spending money buys power; power over the people; power by the people, but no power “for” the people. Politicians, like those who would prey on the good ideas of others are a cancer on our society, which if we are to have a future, must be removed from their lofty posts and replaced with individuals who “potentially” can have America’s best interest in mind regardless of which side of the aisle they sit on.
America has weathered many storms in her long history ranging from revolution at creation to the bloody battles of our own civil war. We have endured famine, dust bowls, depression, political corruption, assassination, wars, nuclear threats, terrorism, and still we have survived. Through it all there have been both the poor and the wealthy yet we still survived as a nation because our focus was never about class warfare. The seeds of such envy have been planted over the past couple of years and the cancer grows within us. Feeding the fires of class warfare will never solve our problems; it will only speed up the process of ripping the nation apart at the seams. Lincoln told us, “A house divided shall not stand” and we, as Americans, should all take that to heart today for every word of it is as true now as it was way back in our long history as a great nation.
The current movement by the “Occupy Wall Street” faction will not address or solve the issues facing America today. The focus, if there is one, ignores the root of the problem…big government and runaway spending practices while pointing fingers paint the business world as an evil empire existing solely for the convenience and gain of the wealthy. This is pure and simple, envy in America which has no potential goal except to distract and disrupt the true issues.
As to the “Occupy Wall Street” crowd, we can only wonder if this so-called movement will produce as many socialist and communist as the “Hippie-Movement” of the 60’s did. If so, we can count on an ample stock of political appointees for future presidential administrations who will hang on to their dream of dismantling America and making it a “better place”.
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