By: Wayne Brown
The efforts to stir class warfare driven by envy and greed continue on the part of Americans who should be far more responsible. The President of the United States at the very least should be intelligent enough to recognize that fact considering the claim that he graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard Law yet he is one of the biggest pushers of the concept. The shame of it all is that his use of envy and greed are driven by his own need to gain re-election to the office at any price. All that plays well on an ignorant populous and that is a proven fact in history. We can only wait and see how ignorant America is when the time comes to vote.
Wealth is a relative thing. To you Warren Buffet, The Sam Walton Family, Bill Gates, and the various Hollywood elites are the “rich”. You see their lifestyles, the money they spend and you realize how wonderful life must be to have that kind of buying power and to be able to literally live in the lap of luxury at your own whim. Sure you have a house, a car, savings, and some money in your bank account but you constant have to watch your “p’s n’ q’s” to stay out of the poorhouse. The point you have missed in your assessment is that somewhere out there, some may think you are rich because you possess the basic things which they do not yet have. In their eyes, you have made it. Maybe, just maybe, in their eyes, you don’t deserve it because you don’t look like the type of person who does.
Never mind that you studied while in school, got good grades and even made it through college. Never mind that you started in the mailroom down at work and made it to a high level management spot by giving more than your best every day for years and years and years. Forget those late hours at work and sitting in the unbearable traffic jams getting to and from it. Never mind the crap you have taken over the years from managers who can’t seem to find their butt with both hands; yet you stayed. For all those days that you wanted to chuck it; throw in the towel, you stayed because you knew that you had invested much of your life and self into this job and you wanted the payoff.
But guess what? Someone out there or maybe several people out there think you are rich. Your life appears comfortable and you have more than the daily basics of survival. You have enough money to eat out occasionally and buy gas for your car. You can take vacations and you never have to worry about the next paycheck because you are one of the lucky ones who has a job and a regular income. You are rich, much richer than they will ever be. They are sure of that fact. They have watched you.
Maybe, as purely a social experiment, we should take what you have and divide it among those people who look upon you as rich. We’ll give your car to that guy over there that has no way to get to work. He can also have your job since he will have transportation now. Your house is paid for since you were thoughtful enough to finance it on a 15-year note and pay extra each month. Let’s give it to that family of illegals who sleep in the old abandoned car down by the bridge. How about your savings and 401K? Let’s use it to feed the homeless. I know the perfect organization that does just that. Now, you have nothing, how does that make you feel? It should make you happy because look how many others have something now, surely the tradeoff is well worth the outcome?
Time passes and you wander the streets now sleeping in abandoned cars and foraging for food. Those things you had seem miles away now but the memory of it all is still there in your head. You long to have those things back and you promise every day to take better care of and appreciate them more. You realize now how fortunate you have been in life in that you have been able to make a living and provide for yourself while accumulating some assets. Those were the good times.
Oh, you remember the guy who we gave your car to so that he could drive into town and do your job? Well, you should be running into him somewhere on the street as he has given all that up. He was elated to get the car but felt duped when he found out there were still ten more payments due on it before it was free and clear on the title. He went to the job for a while but there was way too much crap and too many folks expected him to put up with all of it and to produce an unbelievable amount of work every day all in the name of having a job. He was finished the first time that he told the boss to “jam it!” Since he no longer had a job, it was not long before the bank hunted him down and took the car as well. Now, he can’t get another job because he has no way to get there since they took his car. He has been victimized by corporate America.
I am afraid your house did not fare much better over the long haul. Remember, we gave it to that family of illegal immigrants. Well, since it was free and clear with no debt owed, the illegals thought it might be a good idea to take out a mortgage since the federal government was offering taxpayer money in a special program to finance homes for illegals. So, they applied for and got $100,000 against the value of the property. They were rich overnight and soon began celebrating by bringing more of their family over, sending money back to Mexico, and buying a new car, of course. Unfortunately, no one thought of trying to get a job to pay the mortgage when it started coming due. Soon, there was no solution but to evict them and turn the house over to the federal government for auction. The illegals are back down at the bridge in that old car.
You will be glad to know that your savings and 401K money did do some good. Yes, the organization that we gave that money to did feed some of the homeless in the shelter they had set up down on Main Street. I said they fed some of them but not too many. You see, it turns out that this organization was not exactly what it seemed. Oh, it met all the parameters of a “charitable organization” for tax purposes and it did use the required 10% of the money for charitable efforts such as feeding the homeless but the other 90% of the money went into the “cost of administration and payroll”. It seems the founder of that organization lives really well and has a lot of overhead. But gosh, he really does some nice things.
Anyway, I am really, really sorry that this “social experiment” worked out so poorly. I know you think you were the big loser here but think of the others who were victimized by the potential of your wealth. You really messed up their lives giving up your stuff like you did and I am sure they will be years getting over it. At the same time, some have remarked that being rich is not all that it is cracked up to be. That is an interesting observation, don’t you think?
As I stated to you earlier, “wealth” is a relative thing and few if any really understand how any single individual came by their good fortunes. The only thing they seem to be sure of is that whoever has it does not deserve it and the money can be put to better use in some other manner…like sharing it equally with the rest of us.
You see, in the end, those who see you as wealthy do not care how you came by your assets. They assume that everything you have is in “cash” and easily available for spending. They assume that you owe nothing and all the mortgages and taxes are already paid. They assume that you have no talent which justified the assets which you have accumulated. They simply assume that you are unfairly rich and taking more than your share of the prize. It would only be fair if you divided everything up into equal shares and gave them all some of your wealth. In the process, based on our social experiment, we can all be sure that after some period of time, none of you will be considered to be “wealthy” ever again.
Recently, I read where an individual questioned the wealth of Microsoft entrepreneur, Bill Gates. The question was ask, “Is 40 billion dollars too much to allow one man to consume?” The unstated conclusion was “yes, we should confiscate his wealth and divide it equally because no one man deserves that much wealth.” The fact of the matter is that Bill Gates does not have 40 billion dollars to spend or consume. He is estimated to have assets valued at 40 billion dollars…houses, buildings, equipment, cars, airplanes, etc. In reality, on a daily basis, he might not have two real dimes to rub together in his pocket. Bill could be “cash starved” but still be the wealthiest man in America on the basis of his asset holdings. Assets are still wealth that is true as are stocks and bonds which have a market value. But, in the end, the real money is not there until the items are sold and the cash is in hand so all the estimates of value in the world are simply estimates until a sale takes place. In actuality, Mr. Gates might be in a leveraged position cash-wise for all we know and struggling to make ends meet on a monthly basis. There are all kinds of wealthy people.
In the end, none of us really own the “wealth” of the economy. We may control a portion of it on a relative scale for some period of time. Wealth is dynamic and is only relative if its value is used in an economic sense. Yes, we can buy and hold something like land for a lifetime but somewhere in time that land eventually gets sold to someone else and an exchange of money takes place. That singular factor is what assigns “value” to the asset. In the end, our immediate wealth comes from the cash in our pocket and whatever we can leverage down at the bank on lien. The rest is simply “value” which we are in control of for some portion of history.
The question then arises, “are those of us who are lucky enough to be the guardians of the wealth worthy of the role?” Are we capable of guarding that value and sustaining or growing it? Or, are we the ones who will have no real appreciation for it except its liquid value in cash to be squandered? That might sound laughable until you think about it for a while. Think back on the example I gave you above in terms of the social experiment. While you were reluctant to give up your perceived wealth to others, we forced you to do it thinking that far more would benefit from your perceived wealth than you. In the end, all it did was victimize those people even more and added you as a victim as well. That conclusion is true if you see yourself as a “victim” every time things don’t come out in your favor.
In the end, most of us are not really prepared to be good stewards of the wealth of the world. In the end our envy and greed will only cause us to squander in an irresponsible manner. Then once it is gone, we will declare that we have been victimized by the allure of wealth. We will be worse off than we were before we became stewards of the riches. For you see, with wealth will come the responsibility and accountability of it. People look to the wealthy for opportunities and jobs through their investment and risk. Just squandering the money or dividing it equally among all of us will not bring those things to our lives long term. That approach will not speed up the process of doing away with the wealth and making all of us victims of it. For, you see, wealth is a relative thing.
If the value of the America dollar were totally destroyed today, how much money would Bill Gates have? Far less than he has today, you can be sure. Gates’ wealth, as that of others, depends greatly on the security and stability of the American monetary system. If the government elects to print money indiscriminately, the value of the money which is already in circulation goes down as does the ability of that money to buy things. Inflation sets in and suddenly the value of much Mr. Gates holdings go up due to inflation meaning that it will take more dollars to buy the same thing that less dollars would have bought a few years before. While that sounds good for Mr. Gates, one must remember that those dollars he receives for that asset buy less at the same time on the other side of the aisle as he goes to make his purchase of other things…inflation affects everyone, rich or poor. Mismanagement of wealth affects everyone…rich or poor.
Large corporations seldom follow the vision and focus of just one person. By their sheer nature, the momentum of these companies inevitably comes from the senergy and drive of the people who work within them. The decisions they make, the goals they set, the product schedules they meet, comes together to produce the desired result and effect the bottom line success of the company. People do this for many reasons. A significant one is that the company provides a job, a paycheck, future security, benefits, and a given level of personal satisfaction in terms of individual success and accomplishment. These people work hard on a daily basis to re-create the success of that company for they ultimately understand that in doing so they are acting as good stewards of the wealth of this nation, and for that fact, we can all be thankful.
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