I had an interesting discussion with a friend that argued against raising the minimum wage like the workers of McDonald’s want. As I stated in another post, Why I disagree with the Minimum Wage Increase , I don’t believe that raising the minimum wage is the answer to the problem of income disparity in this country. So, in essence, I seem to be agreeing with my friend. However, there are key differences that separate our arguments beyond what I have mentioned in my previous post. One, he does not feel that the wealthy are in any way at fault for the problems our country faces. Two, he feels that, if he were to hit it big through his own efforts, why should he be penalized to support the lazy people.
The first task I wish to address is the need to break down the illusion the One Percenters and their followers foster upon the rest of this nation, one which has brought us to the brink of disaster many times. An illusion so pervasive that whole news networks were created to support these ideals. I am talking about the myth that all rich people deserve their wealth because they earned it. The supporters of this illusion want you to believe that all wealthy people are being persecuted by the government through taxes and regulations meant specifically to redistribute wealth. Underpinning this illusion is the view by these people that they carry the entire load of the businesses they created, that there would be nothing without them. Truth be told, they feel and act like they should be treated as Gods for the blessings they bestow upon us lazy welfares. They benevolently pay us for the little we do to support their grand projects.
Wealthy people in America act like they are the center of society and that everything revolves around them, almost the same as early man believed the Earth was the center of the universe. The reality is that they are just part of a vast whole. I do believe they deserve more for their part in creating businesses; however, at this time, I feel they are way overvaluing their contributions to the system. They are also conveniently forgetting the costs of their mistakes, forcing them down onto the rest of our society.
I Created That
My friend plays in a rock band and the example he gave was him making it big with a song he wrote. He felt that he should not be penalized for becoming wealthy from the song he created. Where I see the problem in this statement is that he is assuming that the song alone is how he achieved the wealth, an illusion shared by the One Percenters. Yes, without his song, there would not be a reason for starting a business, but the song alone did not create the wealth.
Would he be able to obtain wealth just by singing his song? Not likely. How would my friend reach a large enough audience to obtain his wealth without radio stations to play his music, record companies to make and distribute his cd’s, or instrument makers to make the guitar he plays. What about the financial infrastructure that allows for the easy transfer of funds from his fans to him? For that matter, what about the physical infrastructure of roads and bridges, which allow his fans to go to work to earn money to pay for his music, as well as, allowing the workers making his cd’s to get to their jobs?
Add to this the need for a safe working environment provided by the U.S. military on a national level. On the local level are the police and fire departments. Also, do not forget the legal system, which my friend may use to sue someone who steals his music. However, even if he does not use the legal system himself, the stable market place created by this legal system allows all the companies he interacts with to seek justice for wrongs done to them. I will admit that all of these systems have flaws and problems, but without them the market would be far worse. Most of these aspects of our economy do not gain their support from direct payments for services rendered, as would be the case in the business world, but instead are paid through taxation of the communities and nation that they serve.
If you think products are expensive now, guess how much more they would cost if you had to factor in all these cost taken on by the government. All the costs for bailing out Wall Street, raising and funding an army, and running a judicial system are all necessary for our economy to work and, by default, for my friend to make his fortune. Yet, he considers them to be a penalty. I wonder if he would find it as easy to make his fortune in Iran, Iraq, or North Korea.
Basically, all the One Percenters assume that they don’t have to pay to maintain the system that provides them the ability to become wealthy. They want to pretend that they built it all and should only have to be concerned with the cost and profit margins directly related to their product. Corporations make far more use of the economic infrastructure our government provides, yet they complain when they are asked to pay their share of maintaining it. As many pundits like to point out, Freedom is not Free and neither is making money. You have to pay to play and it is time that the people who gain the most from our economic system start paying their fair share, including the cleanup cost the government is constantly forced to take on when companies pollute an area then move on, having drained the profit away.
If you work hard you will be rewarded
Now let us look at the myth that all wealthy people worked hard for their money and are morally upstanding. My second task is to remind my readers that the One Percenters are all human and; thus, no better or worse than the rest of us.
This one is ridiculously easy to take care of with one stone, Bernie Madoff. Before he got caught, everyone thought he was a genius at making money. What he was actually good at was getting people to give him money to support his lifestyle at their own cost. American economic history is paved with rubes that fell for some get rich quick scheme or smooth talking entrepreneur. For all the success stories, there are tales of fraud, manipulation, and greed. CEOs like Kenneth Lay manipulate the market to achieve their fortunes instead of coming up with better business models, putting customers in danger by restricting their energy sources for profit. Wealthy 1% like the Koch brothers use their vast inherited fortunes to manipulate our political process to ensure and enhance their wealth with no regard to the costs of the country as a whole. Finally, the Bank CEOs from Mellon on, who created and maintain the Federal Reserve, which is at the heart of all our economic woes through policy and duplicity. If you haven’t watched the video in my post “America the Ponzi Scheme”, you should.
I’ll tell you a truth I have come to live by, 80% of the work is done by 20% of the people. I learned this in my business classes. The subject was the workforce that I would someday be in charge of that almost all business majors mistakenly ascribe only to the hourly workers and not management. For me, this saying has become my mantra for any level of human endeavors. 80% of the actual work associated with the 1%s wealth was done by only 20% of them. The rest are just milking of the 20%. The same goes for managers in the work place, 20% actually do 80% of the work, while the others usually make more work for everyone involved. Can you honestly tell me there are no managers in your company that got their job because of who they know instead of the competence they should have, no one that is all talk without much actual work. The places I work are full of them. Yet, many of them are paid well for making more work.
In addition, many of the regulations 1%s cries foul over are there either because of something illegal one of them did or because they themselves worked to have it made. Many regulations come into play when corporations have done something wrong to their customer through negligence or intent, usually in the name of protecting profit. Sometimes; however, corporations work to get regulations placed to hamper the entry of competition into the market. Yes, regulations slow down business, but they also save lives. Would you like to still have asbestos insulation being put into your house? The wealthy 1% would have you believe all regulations are bad when what they really mean is any regulation that harms their ability to make profit is bad. They don’t care about you, just your money. In other words, they are human, full of greed, lust, and sloth.
To conclude this post, I want to say that there are good people out there who are wealthy, but it is important to remember that the wealthy are human too. They can’t fight it. People need to look at them in this light and stop believing all the rhetoric spewed out daily by the right wing think tanks. Start looking at their actions and not their words; stop being dazzled by their lifestyles and look deeper into how they achieved them. Some of your money probably found its way into their pile without you knowing it. How else can 50% of the wealth be held by 1% of the population? Bones.