Sunday, November 15, 2009
Want some cheese with that?
We are a nation of whiners. If you add the social, political, and financial freedoms we have, we are indeed living in the greatest nation on earth. I have a shirt that I wear occasionally that says "No Whining" on it. People love it. I have had more comments on that shirt than any other piece of clothing I own. The problem is, everyone likes it; no one owns up to it! I know I whine. One could say this blog is an exercise in whining. (maybe it is, what's it to you? I can't make my opinions known? .....sorry - lost it a minute) We complain about how horrible things are. I know that we are going through some challenging times financially. I feel we are going through some very challenging times socially/politically. But, all in all for most of us, things are pretty good. Our whining manifests itself in our tremendous sense of entitlement. Striving for a better lifestyle and a more secure financial future is good. That ideal was one that built this nation into the greatest financial growth engine on earth. However, today people want a better lifestyle and financial security, but want it given to them. If I have six and you have two, taking two from me is not a way to make things "fair". Yes, we both would have four now (I did the math for you, I know math can be a challenge), but how is taking something from someone that obtained them legally, morally, and ethically; fair? The best illustration of this that most people "get" is with grades. In every classroom setting you have the studious, the not-so-studious, and the stupid. (I know, not PC - but hey - some people are just not as well endowed in the cranial portion of their anatomy - if you don't follow that - you may be one of them) You have the people that make the A's, some people that make some B's, if a teacher/professor is following the intent - most people making C's, some struggling at D, some collecting F's, and some that a new letter should be invented for. How about if at the end of the course the teacher/professor said "It is unfair that there are people making A's and people making F's. I am going to average everything out and give all of you a C". That means the deadwood gets a C as well as the person that worked and studied and gave it their all. Most folks can see the inherent problem with that grading system. However, when it comes to incomes and financial aspects of life, they just don't get it. The reason communism/socialism do not, and have not worked is - they can't. If you take away the incentive for performers to be rewarded for their efforts, they will not perform. If you take away the "punishment" (failure) from those that do not perform; they become even more of a burden. By the way, for those of you that point to Cuba, China, or others as proof that these forms of government DO work - shame on you. The point of communism or socialism is to "even out" the wealth between all people. Greed, ambition, drive, etc prevent this from happening. If you do not think that there is a difference between how an average Chinese peasant and a member of the Chinese politburo lives and their incomes - go away now! You cannot "even out" the distribution of wealth without destroying the source of that wealth - ambition and drive from those willing to work for a better life. I was in a convenience store the other day and was met at the counter by a VERY happy clerk. I commented that he seemed especially joyous and he said "Today I became a US citizen". I congratulated him. I asked how long he had been here and he proceeded to tell me his story. Briefly, here it is. He came here on a student visa from India four years ago. He was very captivated by our way of life. After two years of school, he decided he wanted to live here in America. He got a work visa and went out to find a job in computers/IT - what he had done in India. Now this was 2007 and we were rolling along economically, but he could not find a job in IT. He went to work at a computer assembly plant on the line while continuing to go to school at night. He had problems making his bills, so he took a second job (while still working full time at the computer plant and going to school part-time). As we headed into this recession, he lost his job at the computer plant and had to leave school to find a job that made enough money. He went to work for this local convenience store company while keeping his second job at McDonald's. He later started cleaning up offices at night - so he worked three jobs. But, he is now a citizen, can now become a manager for this convenience store company. He told me that they have a program where he can become part owner of the store he runs if he goes to certain markets and helps them open a store. He proceeded to tell me that this is the greatest country on earth. He was literally beaming with pride at becoming a citizen and flush with the excitement of all the opportunities he had before him. Notice the timeline on this - during the Great Recession. Did I mention he was black? In India, blacks are treated with extreme contempt in most areas. Did I mention he was Muslim? Muslims in India are a minority and are also treated with tremendous prejudice. He was thrilled at the reception he got here in this country, and how he was able to get ahead. He said in his native country he would have been lucky to get a small plot of land and work it for a subsistence living. We have people of all colors, creeds, and religions in this country. We have a large group of them that expect the larger group of us that work for what we have to subsidise them. This convenience store clerk is proof that if you are willing to work - three jobs if necessary - at night if necessary - you can get ahead. Even if you are dark skinned, have a "funny" accent, and are not a Christian. You don't need mine - earn your own. If you need a bit of help while you earn yours - I'll be here.