Friday, May 23, 2014

Middle Class Squeeze

Originally posted by Best Selling Author and Life Founder Orrin Woodward.

God bless, Scott Johnson



The Static Classes
In a 2011 article, reporter Stephen Marche pinpointed the painful paradigm of today’s static class:

There are some truths so hard to face, so ugly and so at odds with how we imagine the world should be, that nobody can accept them. Here’s one: It is obvious that a class system has arrived in America — a recent study of the thirty-four countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that only Italy and Great Britain have less social mobility. But nobody wants to admit: If your daddy was rich, you’re gonna stay rich, and if your daddy was poor, you’re gonna stay poor. Every instinct in the American gut, every institution, every national symbol, runs on the idea that anybody can make it; the only limits are your own limits. Which is an amazing idea, a gift to the world — just no longer true. Culturally, and in their daily lives, Americans continue to glide through a ghostly land of opportunity they can’t bear to tell themselves isn’t real. It’s the most dangerous lie the country tells itself.

The “Idle Rich”
Everywhere I looked, I was exposed to this bitter reality. The middle-class is in the big squeeze. This isn’t my opinion the irrefutable data is available to all.  On one side of the squeeze is the aristocratic elites.  They have their special deal monopolies (which raise the prices on all consumers), courtesy of our government. These “idle rich” enjoy a non-competitive life of leisure because they are allegedly “too big to fail.”  Since there aren’t any free rides in life, the perks provided by the government are paid for by the middle class through higher prices. (How much money do you put in your gas tank weekly?) However, in order to maintain the special deals for the “idle rich” the government must develop another segment of the populace that approve of the current state of affairs.


The “Idle Poor”
Thus the government creation a new class of people – the “idle poor.” Let me define the “idle poor.” They are NOT anyone who is out of work, but still looking. Sadly, the squeeze has left many hard working people to suffer this fate. In contrast, The “idle poor” have surrendered the very idea of personal responsibility, expecting others to provide for them indefinitely. Our government creates and funds the “idle poor” for votes, similar to an insurance policy. This protects the “idle rich” from middle class frustration at the voting booth. The middle class surrenders its vast majorities by division into parties, ensuring the idle class’s perks while the middle class works.


Do you really think the wealthy elites care about the poor, especially after we can see how voracious they are to tax the middle class? Could an alternative explanation be that the “idle poor” are necessary to maintain the “idle rich” special deals in the rigged game? The poor are treated like they are “too small to win,” so the “idle rich” can continue being “too big to fail.” This is a fraudulent philosophy of life. The poor, in a free environment, can win in the game of life. I have witnessed it numerous times first hand. Sadly, however, it’s easier to get people to volunteer for a “something for nothing” program than to work, even though the volunteers lose the most – their self-respect.

Middle Class Squeeze
The politicians (of both the left and right persuasion) promise handouts to enough groups until they have enough votes for re-election, thereby continuing the middle class squeeze. First, the “idle rich” bilk the middle class with monopoly positions protected by government politicians elected (bought) by the wealthy elite’s money. Second, the “idle poor” squeeze the middle, receiving hand outs courtesy of the government taxes taken from the middle class. Both idle classes receive benefits without effort. The rich gain through monopolies and the poor through handouts, both thanks to our government’s monopoly of force. In the meantime, the middle class runs faster and faster on the gerbil wheel never seeming to get ahead.

This Isn’t Free Enterprise
Please don’t misread my point. I love free enterprise and competition, but the crony-capitalism of the USA or Canada is definitely NOT Free Enterprise. Sadly, our government has created a static class system more diabolical than Thomas Jefferson’s worst fears. I want our countries to be free and to have all people everywhere have the ability to win through their willingness to work and grow. But this demands an end to the hypocrisy of class system built on top of the American Dream ethos. In order to fix this mess, it must be called what it is – an aristocracy in our midst. Stephen Marche elaborates:

In the United States, the emerging aristocracy remains staunchly convinced that it is not an aristocracy, that it’s the result of hard work and talent. The permanent working poor refuse to accept that their poverty is permanent. The class system is clandestine.

Restoring the Entrepreneurial Dream
Perhaps if enough of the working class unite together, we can restore the entrepreneurial dream. Call me a dreamer, and idealist, or even a nut case. I don’t care. A man with experience (success over time) is never at the mercy of a man with an opinion (and no results.) I know the middle class squeeze to be true in several ways. First, I have witnessed the workings of the “idle rich” class, watching second generation wealth attempt to secure it through special deals. Second, I have thousands of people joining LIFE who have been squeezed by these very forces at work. I will not sit by idly and watch my country fall without doing something. The West needs a resurgence of freedom and an end to the class system protecting the “idle” on both ends of the spectrum.

LIFE Meritocracy
I (and my fellow founders) formed the LIFE business as a dream for meritocracy, developing merit based leadership communities around the world. LIFE is a level playing field where a person is rewarded based upon his contributions within the community. Do a little, receive a little; do a lot, receive a lot – just like my experience in competitive sports. May the best man or woman or team win based upon performance. No class system, no special deals, just an opportunity to win based upon one’s results.

When discussing meritocracy there are two main reactions. On one hand is the group who gets excited and thankful, realizing that they finally have an opportunity to win based upon their own efforts and results. On the other hand is the group who gets upset and bitter, realizing they will no longer be able to hide from the scoreboard of life, since they have been exposed by their lack of effort and results. I was involved in community building for 5 1/2 years with little to show for it, but I never blamed anyone else. In fact, you only become a loser when you blame someone else. Don’t fall into pity parties or you will never experience the victory parties.

Who Wants to Play King of the Mountain?
Regardless of the rhetoric of either side, meritocracy is simply just. For meritocracy ensures that everyone is given an equal opportunity and playing field. Imagine playing a game of King of the Mountain where everyone has a right to enter the game and battle their way to the mountaintop. New participants join the game with the goal of running to the top and knocking off the current King of the Mountain. This is an analogy of a true free enterprise system. Anyone can enter and compete, but if you don’t perform, don’t come crying to mommy. People can enter as individuals or teams, but no group gets a special deal. The King today may be knocked off tomorrow by better ideas, strategy, and people. The referee (government) is supposed to be neutral (justice), ensuring everyone plays the games by the rules.

Imagine the travesty if the current King of the Mountain buys off the referees, forcing all new participants to carry a 50 pound bag on their back (extra regulations). Even if the King has to carry the bag also, it’s much easier to be on top with the 50 pounds than run up a mountain side with it. The more government rigs the game, the less free enterprise it becomes and the more a class society results. Western Civilization is at a crossroads because Big Banks and Big Business do not like to lose and believe they are “too big to fail.” They have rigged the game, ensuring “idle rich” stay on top, while the rest of us run around wondering why no one seems to knock off the Kings of the Mountain anymore. Government must stop playing the paid off referee and go back to the neutral umpire it’s supposed to be. Either this changes or the West, as we know it, will die.

Vacancies on New Mountains Only
One might be wondering how Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, etc made it to the top of the mountain. In truth, nearly all of the new big league entrepreneurs made it to the top of a new mountain with no established hierarchy of entrepreneurs at the mountaintop. In other words, since the old mountains are closed by the unethical partnership of Big Business and Big Government, the only opportunities for hungry entrepreneurs is to innovate into the new fields where the mountaintop is still vacant. Innovation and competition is fantastic on the new mountains, but imagine how much more innovation would occur if Western Society opened up all its mountaintops, like a true free enterprise system should and competitive sports does?

For example, can one see how perturbed the established energy companies would be if some crazy innovator developed a way to convert water into workable energy? Does a person think the established order would support the new innovator or attempt to quash his (or her) ideas because trillions of dollars are on the line? Regretfully, squashing the new entrepreneur is the modus operandi in Western economics. Everyone, except the few with the special deals, are hurt here. For without innovation an economy stagnates and declines.

Here is a quick video describing the economic malaise damaging the West.



 Challenge and Response
What if leadership communities, groups who educated themselves and others on historic leadership and liberty principles, joined together and formed free communities for real change? In my book, RESOLVED: 13 Resolutions for LIFE, I talk about Arnold Toynbee and his thesis of “Challenge and Response.” We are going through one of these critical periods where the West has serious challenges to respond to and it takes leaders to respond. Throughout the West history, citizen leaders have stood up to tyranny whenever the need arose to right the wrongs. Today’s issues demand courageous leaders who will respond similarly, standing up and fixing them, doing what is right because it is right. Do you see the challenge? Are you ready to respond? I am and that’s why I committed to LIFE for life. Sincerely, Orrin Woodward