As I’ve watched both the US and global economies tank over the last couple of years, I’ve given quite a bit of thought as to why it happened. At the end of the day, the simple answer is greed. Greed is to blame…but who’s greed?
Therein lies the rub.
Our country essentially has 3 main groups: people, businesses, and government. Unfortunately, each group has very different goals, and thus very different agendas. It shouldn’t be that way, but it is.
People want all of their needs and some of their wants to be provided for. Those wants and needs differ form person to person and family to family. Some people want more. Some people need more. In order for society to function properly, all needs MUST be met, and some wants SHOULD be met. If all needs and some wants are met, the vast majority of people will be content, and greed will be far less of an issue on this front.
Perhaps though, when referring to people, what’s really wrong isn’t greed…but longing, longing for a better life, for a little less misery, a slightly better existence. Unfortunately, be it greed or longing, the problem is rooted at the source of the money…businesses.
Companies want to be profitable, but unfortunately many want to get to profitability on the backs of what amounts to slave labor. Why slave labor? Simple. When a worker is paid just enough to cover their basic needs, but not enough to cover all their needs and some of their wants, then they are not properly provided for. This then essentially enslaves them in a pursuit to earn more, to climb the corporate ladder, and thereby hopefully attain that magical place where all needs and some wants are met.
I’m all for capitalism, but that is just wrong. We, the workers, trade the best hours of our days and the best years of our lives, and we do so under the expectation that all of our needs and some of our wants will be met. Too few companies met or exceed our expectations. 5% of the US population earns minimum wage or less, not even enough to support a single individual except in poverty and squalor. The majority earn barely enough to provide an OK life, and just OK is hardly the ideal.
And then we have the worst of all, our incredibly greedy government. By the people, for the people, no taxation without representation, blah, blah, blah…my ass. Once upon a time, long long ago, the founding fathers dreamed a dream of freedom, equality, tolerance and prosperity for all. Clearly someone didn’t get the memo.
As I was sitting in bed this morning, I had an epiphany. The single worst thing that our government does is over-taxation. Over-taxation is responsible for the majority of the world’s ills, either directly or indirectly. No room for more, but one quick example and one of the huge issues I see is in the realm of gift giving.
Let’s say, for example, that I have a neighbor who is in a dire financial situation. Let’s also so, for the sake of this argument, that I have the financial means to help him out. If I did, any money I gave to this neighbor would be taxed, creating yet another financial burden for the neighbor. Now how, exactly, is that fair? If I earn the money, and pay taxes on the money, why then should someone have to pay taxes on that money yet again if I give them some as a gift? Wasn’t it already taxed? It was a gift, after all, not income, not payment for goods or services…a gift!
What this does, essentially, is to discourage charity, or at least to force you to be charitable only to certain tax exempt institutions. How exactly does that foster charity and brotherly love here, where it is needed? No offense, but starving children in Africa shouldn’t be a focus for us until we have solved our own damn problems. We’re in no position to help the world until we’ve cleaned house first!
The government, on the other hand, seems to think they are entitled to be involved in everything and get a cut of everything, with the vast majority of that money going to worthless endeavors, bureaucratic crap, pointless wars, and overinflated salaries and perks for our venerable “public servants”.
The fact is that elected officials are, by and large, greedy. They want the power, the money and the perks that political offices represent. The real question is: why the hell do we put people like that in office? I can spot a scheister a mile away, and the majority of politicians are clearly just that. And what is the result of putting such people in office? Why, their greed permeates our government, and what was supposed to be “by the people, for the people”, becomes “by the many gullible people, for the cunning greedy power hungry people”.
Wolves in sheep’s clothing is an apt metaphor for both our government and the politicians running it.
The blame for the collapse of our economy, by and large, sits squarely in the lap of the government. They are the #1 culprit, both by direct action and criminal inaction. Second, and a close second at that, are greedy corporations and the greedy people running them, taking advantage of anyone they can. Last but not least come the people…some greedy, some gullible, some foolish, and most clearly too weak to change what is wrong with both the government and the greedy corporations.
I don’t exempt myself…I’ve been foolish with money, and have roughly $38,000 in debt to show for it. That said, much of that debt came from periods of unemployment, just trying to pay the bills. Some was for wants, but most was for needs…schooling, a car, medical expenses, a place to live, secondhand clothes, groceries…
However, I believe that had I been properly provided for by the companies I worked for, I would never have turned to debt to provide for myself and my family. Had the government not taken so much, perhaps I would have been better able to provide with what little I made. I am not without responsibility for my debts, but there is plenty of blame to go around.
So, I’ve learned some important lessons: avoid unsecured debt at all costs, structure all of my personal and business endeavors to make sure that I pay as little tax as possible, and don’t rely on greedy companies to provide for my family when I can provide better working for myself 🙂