The cure is education, encouragement, and one-on-one love, assistance and belief.
Giveaways in any form, including reparations, loan forgiveness, unearned certifications, above market pay and below market goods services may look attractive in the short term. They are really cruel teases, doomed to leave the recipient angry and feeling some combination of having been cheated and remaining entitled to more. Like a huge meal of junk food, these measures leave you temporarily satisfied, but soon to be hungry again–and devoid of the needed building blocks to grow smarter and stronger.
That is the subject of today’s 10 minute episode.
But Will, what about making things fair with income and wealth redistribution? My claim, my conviction, is that if somehow, by waving a Marxist magic wand, we could suddenly make everyone’s current income and total wealth exactly the same; everyone has the same paycheck, same value in homes and cars, and the same amount of money in the bank, nothing fundamentally would change. Within 10 short years, everything would be right back to where we started, with the same people being at the top and the bottom of both the current income and overall wealth charts. And the same activists would be pointing to the inequalities in income and wealth, still demanding “justice.” When challenged about why this total redistribution plan had not worked, the not surprising answer would be, “It was not done the correct way.” And they would be right, but for the wrong reason.
Pause for a call for volunteers: Curing the increasing income and wealth gap is primarily a task done by us as individuals, one-on-one with others. Asking government, at any level, local, state or federal, to do that for us is a cop out. The keys to income and wealth are:
- Valuing a useful education and being willing to work hard over time.
- Respect for legitimate authority, and
- Knowing the basics of handling money.
The above cannot be taught by city councils, state legislatures, or Congress.
Okay, Will what are the keys to knowing how to handle money?
- Spend less than you earn.
- Earn more than you spend (yes, those are different).
- Practice delayed gratification.
- Listen to Albert Einstein when he said that compound interest is the 8th Wonder of the World.
Of course we need to teach our children these basics. And model that behavior for them. But what happens if other children are not taught these vital lessons? Or worse, are taught destructively opposite behavior? It is still our responsibility. Governments cannot teach how to live well, and encourage these kids to do exactly that, so who is left? We are. And if we don’t do it, it ain’t gonna happen.
In addition to teaching and encouraging our up and coming generations about how to live well, they must be taught and encouraged about why to do the hard work that leads to living well–the motivation part. Let’s take another look at the partial lesson from the “Give a man a fish” example. Most of us have heard the piece of wisdom pointing out that if you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach that man to fish, you will feed him for a lifetime. Well, not so fast. In order for someone to want to fish for themselves, buying and maintaining the tackle, sometimes going out in the cold and rain, and occasionally spending most of the day trying hard, and coming back with nothing, they must be motivated. Without motivation, they will still want the free fish. Now, let’s add one more level to using fishing as a metaphor for feeding humanity. Teach a man to teach others to fish, and how to motivate them, and you feed a nation. Governments cannot do any of this; only we, you and I, can.
But, don’t the individuals have responsibility for themselves? What happened to personal responsibility? Nothing happened; personal responsibility is alive and well. But that is only 75% of what is required. The other 75% is being our brother’s keepers. (No, life does not always need to add up to 100%.) The core, driving principles at Revolution 2.0, are:
- Personal Responsibility; take it, teach it and,
- Be Your Brother’s Keeper. The answer to the biblical question, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” is a ringing, unequivocal “Yes.” There is no other answer.
Government does have a role here, and it is twofold:
- Providing for those who cannot–cannot–provide for themselves, and
- Supplying seed corn. Initial investments.
The chart below points out how we can think through who needs and deserves taxpayer money, and for how long.
When it comes to no. 2., supplying seed corn, that can be done with blunt instruments like stimulus packages, or more specific tools like Small Business Administration (SBA) and other loans. But remember the first rule of seed corn: Don’t eat your seed corn, or that might be your last meal. One example of eating your seed corn is using student loan money to pursue a degree that will not allow you to earn the money you need to live the way you want to, including not earning enough money to pay back what you borrowed. Another is using an SBA (or other) loan to fund a business that you have not thought through in every aspect, and are not willing to make huge sacrifices to ensure its success.
Today’s Key Point: We, you and I, are the cure for increasing income and wealth gaps, not government. One-on-one with our brothers and sisters. It will not be easy, but it is the only way.
Tell me what you believe. I and many others want to know.
As always, whatever you do, do it in love. Without love, anything we do is empty.
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Will Luden, coming to you from 7,200’ in Colorado Springs.