“Never take on vast projects with half-vast ideas,” is a fun way of reminding us not to take on big challenges with little ideas. And yet somehow still expect results. The biggest issues facing us as a nation, including inequality and poverty, gun deaths, and our widening divisions, all have simple, but terribly difficult to implement, solutions. None of them–not a one of them–can be successfully overcome with legislation and money. No matter if the legislation is bipartisan or along party lines, and no matter how many trillions we spend.
That is the subject of today’s 10 minute episode.
Deep seated, long term term problems require long term solutions, and these long term solutions require hard work, and lots of one-on-one hard work over time. Here are a couple of familiar examples. People who have gained a significant amount of weight over the years may seek an easy solution, e.g., diet pills or a quick, crash diet. But as we all know, those do not work long term. And may not work at all. Only a lifestyle change can work–a simple, effective, hard to implement solution. Addiction is another example; alcohol, weed, nicotine or other drugs, are hard to kick. And like losing weight, require a lifestyle change.
America needs a lifestyle change. Legislation, no matter how well intentioned, and spending, no matter how massive, does nor even come close to supplying the needed lifestyle change. Let’s examine some of the greater challenges.
Poverty and inequality. We’ll start here with a claim on my part: If you divided up all the wealth in the country equally, simply took the total amount of private wealth and shared it all equally in one stroke, in 5 years, maybe 10 years, we’d be right back where we are now, with the same people being wealthy, and the same ones being poor. The basics of making, holding onto and growing money are simple. And difficult to do, requiring discipline and hard work over time. Kinda like weight management. Or anything else worthwhile. We would need to magically redistribute work ethic and the basic financial rules–and the motivation needed to apply these rules over time. All at the same time that we redistributed the money, or everything would return to the pre-redistribution status sooner rather than later. Perhaps more importantly, if we could distribute the rules and the motivation, we would not need to redistribute the money in the first place. Money flows to people who know how to make it, keep it and grow it, and are motivated to exercise those disciplines over time.
Today’s key point: We must (re)distribute a work ethic and the basic, and simple and hard to implement rules for success in life. More difficult, but at least as important, is the need for us, you and me, to help others find the motivation to implement those simple-to-understand, difficult-to-implement rules. Here is an example of a few simple, powerful rules for financial success:
Make more than you spend.
Spend less than you make. (Those are usefully different.)
Pay yourself first, i.e., take 5% or 10% of your income and put it tinto savings or investment before you do anything else each month.
There are a few more rules, but if these three are implemented it would make a world of difference for any individual, family or group. These rules are oh-so-simple to understand, and very, very difficult to implement. And a dodge that a lot of us use is pretending that something is impossible because 1. “You don’t understand, do you? I’m disadvantaged!” Or 2. “I shouldn’t have to do this. Hey, other people get free money.” We accept these and other excuses as reasons not to take action.
Pause for a truth. Governments can legislate and provide money from taxpayers. They are not good at teaching and utter failures at motivating. Only we, you and I, can do that.
Reducing gun deaths is much the same. If anyone is serious about saving lives here, that someone would go to where the vast majority of gun deaths occur: inner cities with people using hand guns. But that would be a tough grind, and massively unpopular. No cameras, no applause; the very definition of a thankless task. As with reducing poverty and inequality, legislation and money can make only a very expensive, highly publicized and highly praised dent in the issue.
Predicted results. Poverty. If we follow our current path of spending and legislation, we will reinforce and perhaps even bake in the disastrous cycle of debt and dependency. People who are dependent on the government drive more taxpayer debt, and more debt used for welfare creates more dependency. And round and round it goes. Guns. If we continue to direct our anti-gun focus on rifles, where less than 2% of gun deaths occur, the slaughter will continue. And the people supporting legislation and spending as the primary fixes for both problems will heartily congratulate themselves. All while blaming others for the continuation of the problems.
We do need at least one addiction–an addiction to the truth. Almost everywhere I look, I see a fixation on agendas, with supporting evidence either being carefully selected, or even made up to support the agenda at hand. The current and emotional Daunte Wright case is just one example. The facts in the case show that Mr. Wight, a black male, was driving with expired tags on his car. When he was pulled over, the officers noticed a car freshener hanging from his rear view mirror, a violation in many states because it can interfere with a driver’s vision. They also discovered that he had an outstanding warrant for his arrest. Mr Wright was asked to get out of the car, which he did, then began resisting arrest while attempting to re-enter his vehicle. The officer, a white female, 25-year police veteran, Kim Potter, made a horrible mistake when she drew her gun instead of her taser, while shouting, “I’ll tase you! I’ll tase you! Taser! Taser! Taser!” She fired one shot, which proved to be fatal. Ms. Potter, who has resigned from the force, was subsequently arrested and charged with second degree manslaughter. Democracy Now!, a show appearing on PBS, passionately and repeatedly made the case that Wright was pulled over only for the air freshener violation, that there was no need to pull either a gun or a taser, and that it was impossible for the officer to have made a mistake of that magnitude. One of their principal spokespersons said that Wright was killed for the offense of driving while Black. That kind of “reporting” is in itself a hate crime, inciting more hate crimes. Democracy Now! is not alone; most news outlets routinely spin the news to fit their agendas.
Let’s be addicted to the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Isn’t that necessary before any healing can take place?
Did today’s episode stir up any new thoughts for you? If so, what might you be doing differently?
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. 1 Corinthians 16:1.
As we get ready to wrap up, please do respond in the episodes with comments or questions about this episode or anything that comes to mind, or connect with me on Twitter, @willluden, Facebook, facebook.com/will.luden, and LinkedIn, www.linkedin.com/in/willluden/. And you can subscribe on your favorite device through Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify and wherever you listen to podcasts.
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Will Luden, coming to you from 7,200’ in Colorado Springs.
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