Letter to Jeff Jacoby, The Boston Globe
Dear Mr. Jacoby,
I came across your May 6, 2012, op-ed on the web: “Thanks, Obama, but wealth is not theft.”
First of all, “those who peddle class resentment” are today’s wealthy 1%. They pay less taxes than the wealthy did in the 1950s when the economy hummed along quite nicely. American CEOs are the highest paid in the world and the gap between CEO and the lowest paid worker has increased astronomically. Yet, when I was working in a corporation and executives respected management guru, Peter Drucker and CEO, Lee Iacocca, more than Ayn Rand, the Drucker idea about the gap between the highest paid CEO and the lowest paid worker was advocated. It’s a much smaller gap than what we see today. Business worked quite well under these circumstances and more people owned a piece of the American pie. I refute your negativity towards working people and the 99% of America.
Philosophers might argue about what “piece of the pie” means. The argument might be: my statement presumes there is a limit to wealth. I choose to think in terms of an infinite “pie.” So nah nah nah nah nah nah… to all the detractors who wish to make an issue out of something and miss the point: the small business merchant class has been destroyed in America, the same as what happened in Ancient China as that economy imploded due to austere measures.
Descendants of American individuals who once owned their own retail outlets and small farms are now forced to work for the big conglomerates with CEOs making 200 to 300 times what the lowest-paid worker makes. What I am saying here is not an advocacy for socialism or communism, but a revelation of the facts that small farms which once provided enough finances for individual families have been destroyed by big agri-business with a few people at the top controlling the wealth and paying the descendants of small farmers peanuts while expenses within the economy – the things that block family “profits” or discretionary income – have risen astronomically when considering more than just the “government breadbasket” statistics which are out of whack.
Secondly. Funny, but Romney and Ryan have created a platform in the Republican Party rife with fascist definitions of the family, but refuse to acknowledge the facts about family profits. The pot is stirred up regarding envy and jealousy of those who make better five-figure salaries, while never recognizing the number of people who make six-, seven-, eight-, nine-, ten- or more figure salaries. There is a definition that de-values work from teachers, but places great value on techies, accountants, and lawyers who make far more money doing things like – ambulance chasing, figuring tax deductions and how the wealthy can escape paying their fair share. Teachers can loose their jobs while these others are a valued part of the economy? Lawyers and tax accountants are sacred cows? While the average family is told by the Republicans how morality is supposed to work and “if you make too much of a five-figure income” and just beginning to turn a profit, after many years of living paycheck to paycheck , you ain’t worth shit.
Mr. Jacoby, perhaps you need to consider there are gray areas, not just black and white. For if you work from the premise there is only black and white – socialist or capitalist – then you can come to the conclusions you drew in May of this year. BUt I challenge you to stop being stubbornly ignorant and consider the gray areas. Consider the role President Obama plays in stimulating free-market capitalism which flies in the face of the McDonald’s, Wal-Marts, and Chick-fil-a’s, whose focus is about destroying competition (and those they disagree) than to compete with them on a level playing field. McDonald’s vision years ago was to destroy the “mom and pop” restaurants. The same is true today with Wal-Mart. But in either case, you probably will not see such “vision” written down on paper. just deceptively implemented.
Something I recently read about wealth and wealthy tycoon, Andrew Carnegie: Andrew Carnegie condemned wealthy leaders who inherited their wealth. Examples of Romney, Ryan, and the Bush family come to mind. Apparently, he believed that those who inherited the wealth had no idea what it meant to WORK in order to EARN their wealth, so were not worthy of being “captains of industry.” He believed those who worked hard, earned their money after many years of hard work, made better leaders because they know what it is like to EARN, rather than destroy competition and take from others. Carnegie believed in being a giving person. Those modeled after Carnegie’s ideas would be Barack Obama and Joe Biden. Barack Obama was chastised in 2008 for “lack of experience.” But such criticism, by Carnegie’s standards, was unwarranted. And what do the Republicans do to those who have gained this wisdom after many years of experience and working their way up from little or nothing? These hapless SOBs wish to put most of us “out to pasture” with little means of supporting ourselves. Just when we “begin to turn a profit,” the rug is pulled out from beneath us by wealthy people claiming “there is not enough of the American pie to go around.” As I said, it’s an infinite pie which the 1% wish to claim is finite.
There are numerous statements from some wealthy people who preceded the jackass wealthy of the 21st Century which berate the attitude of the Ayn Rand followers. What is unbelievable is that those who embrace the Ayn Rand attitude act like communists who took power in Europe in the 20th Century. They believe utopia is found when everyone believes the same thing as these wealthy ones believe (this is called fascism) and wish to rip apart everything from the past, as if it was always a failure – except some perceived idea of perfect morality which existed in the past (a fantasy). America became a great nation, due to attitudes from Adam Smith, Andrew Carnegie, and “trust buster,” Teddy Roosevelt (conservationist, too). These attitudes conflict with those of Ayn Rand and others.
America became a great nation due to religious leaders like Dr. Norman Vincent Peale and the “power of positive thinking” which would have negated the focus and generation of extremist attitudes towards minor negative aspects of ObamaCare. This negativity generated by big business ignores many of the positives about ObamaCare.
Dr. Peale’s “positive thinking” flies in the face of conservative religious dogma generated by the pope, elders in Salt Lake City, Liberty U. (and the Southern Baptists) in Virginia (and Dixie), and Billy and Franklin Graham, among other televangelists. Original blessings is really what Jesus Christ endorsed, not the concept of original sin. Original sin is a doctrine from a church of men. The pope and others do not like this Dr. Peale positive attitude, so, as conservative Republicans wish, the pope and others wish to destroy those who endorse original blessings. The pope has already done so by excommunicating a priest who endorses original blessings. To the pope, elders, and deacons of narrow-focused dogmatic churches, I say: “Seek wisdom, not certainty.”
Mr. Jacoby, there ARE gray areas, not just the black and white defined by narrow-focused religions and their goons in business leadership.
Hypothesis for “Where Have All the Leaders Gone?”
Mr. Iacocca, perhaps I am not wealthy enough to be allowed to make conclusions. Perhaps I have not made it to the top of the heap, as others have done, so I am simply a stupid intellectual to be ignored.
Nevertheless, my recent reading of essays about the wealthiest persons in the world, Andrew Carnegie, I may have stumbled across the answer to the question you posed in your 2007 book, Where Have all the Leaders Gone?
Andrew Carnegie believed CEOs of corporations had to learn what work ethic is and that those who inherited wealth don’t know what true work ethic is. Therefore, these people should not lead. They become false models for those who work for them. The problem of work ethics lies not in the workers, but in the leaders.
In order to fix this idea of “work ethic,” the late Kenneth Lay and other living stupid leaders force the Ayn Rand “ethics” or “virtues” of selfishness and greed – espoused by Greenspan and Paul Ryan – upon employees like a communist leader or the pope, elders of Mormonism, and the late Jerry Falwell of the Southern Baptists (and other leaders) claim there is “utopia” if people only follow one way of thinking.
There is no objection to the role greed and selfishness played in the rise of the poor son of Scottish Presbyterian immigrants, wealthy tycoon, Andrew Carnegie, to the accumulation of massive amounts of wealth (when considered for the days he lived). There is no denying statements by 18th-century economist, Adam Smith, in the claim capitalism should be free of interference. But to embrace ONLY these statements to validate Ayn Rand’s irrational thoughts about “virtues” or Barry Goldwater’s irrational statements about greed – there is a virtue in NOT “compromise” – is absurd.
Mitt Romney admires Goldwater’s nonsense “virtues” and Paul Ryan admires Rand’s nonsense “virtues.” Both fly in the face of one of the wealthiest men in the world. Andrew Carnegie also believed the wealthy have a duty to society.
Mr. Carnegie lived at a time when unions had not been established, so he agreed with the others in his management cronies. They were all against unions. But his reasoning was based on the fact that HE insisted he never had any assistance (or so he claimed – and he is wrong) to earn his wealth. A teacher had assistance from my mother, became wealthy and departed from the teaching profession, and then spurned my mother. How many wealthy ones like him disavow the assistance they received from peons along the way? Thus, it is right for unions to provide assistance to those who don’t have it. The problem, as you point out in your book, Mr. Iacocca, is when unions become as unreasonable as the wealthy CEOs have also become.
Romney received help from Daddy. Paul Ryan had an attorney as a father who likely made more money than teachers. George W. Bush had assistance from his daddy and made a LOUSY leader (as pointed out in your book, Mr. Iacocca). These are all lousy leaders who have inherited wealth.
Barack Obama worked his way up. Joe Biden worked low-paying blue collar jobs as he worked his way to the top. By Andrew Carnegie’s standards, the choice is clear. Obama and Biden.
Perhaps there are some detected levels of imperfections in these two guys. Perhaps the same can be said about Andrew Carnegie, too. When these two guys “step on toes” of others – as Romney / Ryan do all the time – the roar of Fox Noise is deafening. My bet is that Andrew Carnegie never had that kind of sabotage, but even if he did, his extreme wealth could shut it down immediately.
The problem lies in racism, too. After all, who are the guys who have likely inherited the wealth today? Stupid white men who carry a hidden objection to African Americans or Hispanics working their way to the top. Deceptive men (and women?) who live in denial of their hidden racist attitudes. And yes, there might be disappointed good white Anglos who are passed over, due to affirmative action. But why do these idiots continue to vote for stupid white men like Bush, Romney, and Ryan, rather than work together with those who recognize the value of diversity? Actually, I have heard African Americans, perhaps familiar with Andrew Carnegie’s success, who have spoken out against affirmative action, too.
Where have all the leaders gone, Mr. Iacocca? Perhaps this blog provides some answers. But who the hell am I? Nothing but horse shit, don’t you know?
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