The Politics of Envy

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It has been awhile since I’ve written for AL but I was struck with inspiration recently while listening to an audiobook, and decided to opine. Since about the age of 25, I’ve been on a journey of self improvement. I read books, listen to podcasts, attend seminars, and visit speakers to improve every aspect of my life from relationships to sales to health and everything in between. I recently purchased The 10X Rule by Grant Cardone to listen to in the car or in the gym. Basically the book is for people wanting to achieve more success in their lives and outlines the necessary work and actions one needs to commit to in order to attain it. It’s definitely a bit rah-rah, but it speaks universal truths about the relationship between success and hard work that any entrepreneur/employee/athlete/coach/etc has come to discover.

What struck me most about the book was that Cardone describes success as not only desirable, but as an ethical RESPONSIBILITY. It is people’s responsibility to achieve success for themselves, their families, and their communities. Without continuing to succeed, people, families, communities, and nations regress and fail. Success is CRITICAL for SURVIVAL. Without entrepreneurs chasing dreams of financial and business success, the economy would rapidly decline, jobs would be lost, and America as a nation would weaken and potentially die. As such, people should cheer on those in the world that accumulate massive amounts of wealth. As Cardone puts it, “If a Wall Street banker earns $400 million, that should be an inspiration to anyone that wants $400 million!” They are a shining beacon of what one can achieve in this country with enough determination. The same can be said for those that go one to create massive businesses, even those dastardly Koch brothers. Their massive accumulation of wealth has employed thousands of people, improved the lives of the consumer with their product, and donated countless millions of dollars to charities all over the country. None of this has impacted anyone’s ability to achieve their own success. In some cases, those rich families success has led to amounts of personal success, even if just a little by societal standards, that otherwise wouldn’t have been achievable to certain individuals.

As Libertarians and Capitalists, this is hardly news to us. We all know that financial success and wealth creation is not a zero sum game. A rising tide lifts all ships, as they say. However, in this political climate, people are not only NOT happy for the immense success of others, but they actively DEMONIZE it. They treat others financial success and wealth accumulation almost as an act of theft. It’s as if their gaining of wealth somehow limits their potential to accumulate wealth for themselves. But why is this? class warfare

The answer lies in the narrative people are fed from those that benefit from them believing this myth. Progressive politicians and pundits have told people for over a century now that the reason so many are in poverty is because a few people are rich. You are poor because Mitt Romney or any of the countless boogeymen that progressives create are rich beyond their “needs” (a limit conveniently determined by them while somehow being undefined. Where is the cutoff? Is $1million dollars more than one needs but $999,999 is ok? I digress).  The point is, the progressives have a vested interest in people believing that they are poor not only because of the 1% of wealthy people, but also because of racial, gender, sexual, or other prejudices that keep the common man down. eat_the_rich

Progressive politicians, both on the right and left, NEED victims. Period. It is a fact. They need you to be a victim for their very survival. Progressive not only DON’T have an interest in helping you get ahead, they actively pursue laws and rhetoric that keep you poor and pissed off. They need a perpetual dependent voting block. If every person in America was gainfully employed and happy, government would barely be needed (ah, what a dream). Therefore, liberal progressives gin up economic discontent, I.E. envy, to get people to vote for them. People need a reason for their own shortcomings. It’s human nature to point the finger at everyone else when you haven’t achieved your desired outcomes or goals, be it for a deadline at work you missed or not having the type of financial success you thought you’d have at this stage in your life. It’s always everyone elses fault or it’s because of external forces beyond your control. Progressives FEED off of this. It quite literally gives them life. Progressives don’t exist if you believe you have the power to control your own destiny and take ownership of your success. They know this, and in an act of self-preservation, they engage in creating envy and resentment between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’.

The progressive manipulation doesn’t stop with wealth gap nonsense. They of course also use race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and any other possible identity group they can to create their useful victims. “It’s not your fault that you’re not wealthy”, they’ll say, “It’s rich, white, cis, hetero, males hogging up all the wealth for themselves and leaving nothing for the rest of us!” This is, of course, hogwash of the highest degree, but it WORKS because people would rather be victims than do the necessary work to gain success for themselves. It is infinitely easier to be a victim than to get up early every morning with a good attitude and go out into the world and do the things you know you need to do to be successful. Here is a harsh truth: everyone, from the lowest beggar to the wealthiest hedge fund manager, is responsible for their own lot in life. For all of its flaws, The USA is still a bastion of freedom wherein anyone with a dream and willpower can grow wealthy and successful beyond their wildest dreams. It’s cliché, but it’s true. But it comes at a cost, and that cost is hard work. Likely, 10 times more hard work than you ever thought it would take. 10 times more work than most people would put up with. And as such, you have a block that would rather Demand universal debt forgiveness ‘just because’ and demand a ‘living wage regardless of employment’, than go out into the world and find meaningful work that also brings them financial success. And these useful victims will keep in power progressive politicians that will wave at their occupy rally out the window of their bulletproof limo, on the way to the bank.

Consider the progressive dumpster fire that is California. Have the states absurd tax policies done anything to actually reduce poverty? 20% of residents live in poverty. This is by DESIGN. The progressives running the show in CA need a large portion of the population to be poor (outside of their Hollywood donors, of course) and they need them to believe they have no hope. Then they tax the most successful among the states residents at some of the highest rates in the country, to provide goodies to those they’ve told they can’t survive without the assistance from their friends at the government. It becomes self fulfilling. Progressive programs designed to ‘help the needy get out of poverty’ are a sham. They are designed to do nothing but foster dependence or at least, create a temporary vote. And how is California faring with this strategy? Not. Great.

The point of this is that victim mentality will get you nowhere, and it is absolutely a choice. You can choose to believe you can’t succeed because you were born poor, or black, or female, or gay, or any number of reasons. And if you believe that, then you wont. But blaming others and demanding wealth redistribution wont bring you wealth or happiness. However, it WILL keep those with the most to gain from you being poor and helpless in power.

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Nobody Is Entitled To a Job

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My junior year in high school I accepted my first job in the service industry.  I was a busboy at a restaurant owned by the local country club.  I was pretty excited for the opportunity; the restaurant was ten minutes from my parents house, the wait staff was made up of beautiful girls I’d grown up with, and the guys in the kitchen were willing to buy me and my friends alcohol.  As a 17 year old, I couldn’t ask for more.  The only problem was, I was scheduled to work till close every Friday and Saturday night.  I remember complaining about my schedule to my dad, telling him that working till 11 at every Friday and Saturday night left me with no time to hang out with my friends.  

In retrospect, his response was predictable; my dad comes from a blue-collar family, and the work ethic instilled upon him by my grandfather has allowed him to become successful in his career.  He looked at me and told me “it’s a job, people around here would kill for the opportunity you have, don’t blow it because you don’t like the hours.” This was in suburban Detroit at the onset of the financial crisis, the parents of my friends primarily worked in the auto-industry and were losing their careers left and right. My dad’s message was clear, nobody is entitled to a job. People on both sides of the aisle seem to have forgotten this.

This week Google fired James Damore, the author of a 10 page internal letter sent to his colleagues at Google about diversity in the workplace. While the left has called his letter sexist, the right has hailed his letter as brutally honest. In it he acknowledges that racism and sexism exists, but points out that society may be ignoring human nature. Men and women, black and white, etc. all have different psychological and biological make ups that make absolute equality nearly impossible, some groups are going to be better at some things than other groups. He states that our experiences help build who we become, and he rightly states that companies need a diverse set of opinions and experiences to thrive. In his opinion, Google has failed in that sense.  Google disagreed, and this week they fired him. Damore is now exploring legal action against the search  Damore.jpegengine.

Similarly Colin Kaepernick has been unable to find a job in the NFL following his actions last season with the San Francisco 49er’s. Throughout last season Kaepernick, who had previously led his team to a berth in the Super Bowl, took a knee during the national anthem; when the media started picking up on this story his actions became controversial, the right got upset at his “disrespect” while the left hailed his bravery. Kaepernick followed this up by expressing his political beliefs publicly. While talking on these issues, the quarterback pledged to donate $1 million dollars of his salary to various charities that he believes make a difference. As of June Kaepernick had donated $700,000 to 24 organizations. Kaepernick’s actions took bravery, and he had every right to speak out, but he had to know there would be backlash. But I doubt anyone realized that as of August 8th he would be unemployed. ESPN, which has moved further and further to the left over the last couple of years, has been outraged. He deserves a job, they clamor. The outrage has gone so far that multiple ESPN personalities have demanded that the NFL step in and force a team to sign him, much like how they kaepernick.jpgpressured the Rams to draft Michael Sam, the first openly gay player to be drafted.

Both the Damore and Kaepernick stories are incredibly similar. Both Damore and Kaepernick took a public stance on something they believe in, both are now unemployed, and both have drawn criticism from those who disagree with their actions. But both must now reap what they sow.

Damore isn’t entitled to his job at Google just because the right believes he in his actions. Simultaneously, no NFL team must sign Colin Kaepernick just because the left found him courageous. Both Google and NFL franchises are businesses, neither is required to employ someone whom they believe may damage their brand. In Google’s case; many employees feel uncomfortable with Damore’s letter, and they have determined that their brand suffers from his presence. In the NFL’s case; owners, coaches, and GM’s have determined that their brand would suffer from signing Colin Kaepernick. It doesn’t matter how good these men may be at their professions, employers are always going to way risk versus reward.

None of us are entitled to a job. If you take a stand, or express an opinion that your employer disagrees with, or believes damages the brand, then they don’t need to keep paying you. Your bravery, right or wrong, does not entitle you to a paycheck. We all must accept responsibility for our actions.

The War on Natural Rights

“He who fights monsters should see to it that he himself does not become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”

— Friedrich NietzscheBeyond Good and Evil

 

Ben Franklin once said:

“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” 

With this quote, Ben Franklin was arguing that a free society, built on the premise of natural rights; including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, cannot sacrifice its principals in the name of security, lest it become an un-free society.  Democratic governments are historically quite fragile.  Shocks, either exogenous or endogenous, can lead to drastic actions that either undermine or usurp a democratically elected government.  The curtailing of rights is usually the first step.  Therefore, it is unethical to curtail rights in times of war, lest we lose our ever tentative grasp on liberal democracy.

Hitler, and his government, were democratically elected.

Traumatic and extraordinary times, such as war, create situations where it may seem necessary to sacrifice these rights.  Free speech could be curtailed so as not to “spread enemy propaganda.”  Rights to privacy and unreasonable searches could be sacrificed so as to “aid in the search for enemy spies or agents.”   “Emergency Powers” may be “temporarily” given to the government for the “duration of the crisis.”  Elections can be suspended due to the “necessity of war.”  All of these things have traditionally been the steps through which an authoritarian or totalitarian regime usurps control from a democratic government.  Indeed, during the 1930s Weimer Republic, the Nazi party under Hitler did all of these things in the name of “security.”  It cannot be stressed enough that Hitler and the Nazis were democratically elected by the people of Germany.  By playing to the German peoples’ anger, fears, and uncertainties, Hitler and the Nazis were able to dissolve the Weimer Republic and usher in the Third Reich.

 

The citizens of Egypt demand the end of oppression.

The above example is but one of hundreds of examples throughout history.  Even today, authoritarian and totalitarian dictatorships justify their sweeping powers through the need for security, arguing that their methods are necessary to safeguard the nation.  Famously, for instance, the government of Egypt under Sadat and Mubarak declared a “State of Emergency” in 1967 during the Arab-Israeli War.  Which granted the government sweeping powers of arrest, censorship, and curtailment of human rights.  This “State of Emergency” lasted until 2012 when it was rescinded in the wake of the Arab Spring.  During this time, the Egyptian government enjoyed a monopoly of power at the expense of its citizenry’s right to free speech, expression, assembly, privacy, and other basic rights.

 

Recep Erdogan has been consolidating power since a failed coup attempt in 2016.

History has shown that freedom and liberty are fragile things.  The world that we appreciate and depend on today hangs on a knife’s edge.  Turning our attention to today’s world, we can see the same pattern in current governments.  Russia, where Putin’s United Russia party has held power since the fall of the Soviet Union, is constantly beset by “threats” and “dangers” from all sides, according to the Russian media.  In France, following the terrorist attacks in Paris, the Far Right “National Front” party experienced a brief surge in the polls culminating in the candidacy of Le Pen.  In Turkey, Erdogan declared a state of emergency, following the 2016 coup attempt which allowed him to silence critical elements of the press and conduct purges in the name of protecting against “those who work against the state.”  To date, the purge has extended beyond those directly involved in the coup to include anyone critical of his administration.  Even in the United States, the fear of terrorism has catapulted candidates like Trump to the Presidency, who actively campaigned on curtailing people’s rights.

 

This is not because people wish to be ruled by dictators.  People are simply just scared…terrified even.  In their fear they turn to bullies to protect them because the bully presents strength and security.  To use a more visceral analogy: Imagine being on a schoolyard playground and being bullied by a group of kids.  Another kid offers to protect you from the bullies.  In return, however, he asks you to do his homework.  You agree, and the kid proceeds to beat up the group that was bullying you.  He then comes back and says that he got in trouble with the teacher.  He demands that you take the blame for him, as he helped you out.  You agree to that too.  After all, he did protect you from the bullies, right?  As time goes on, your protector grows more and more demanding of you, eventually becoming like the bullies that he promised to protect you from to begin with.  This is, essentially, what the curtailment of rights and authoritarianism is on a mass scale.

 

People that are scared will agree to things that they never thought they’d agree to, accept compromises that before would have seemed inconceivable.  In doing so, they accept the curtailment of their rights, one by one, until there are no longer any rights.  But by then, the government is there to soothe them with propaganda.  Those that have curtailed those rights assure the people that all is well and safe…that security and prosperity are well within reach so long as the leaders are allowed to work their changes.  But as Charlie Chaplin said in his movie, “The Great Dictator;”

“By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power, but they lie, they do not fulfill their promise, they never will.”

 

Indeed, all of these things are lies told by the authoritarian to keep the people from realizing the awful truth: that their freedom has been stolen and their spirits have been shackled.

 

The curtailment of rights is a slippery slope.  A right curtailed here, a new emergency power there, and if one is not careful, one can find oneself in chains.  Therefore, it is unethical to curtail rights, even in times of war.  When fighting monsters, one must take care not to become a monster…or allow the monster through the door.