I did something over the long holiday weekend I have been trying very hard not to do for the past year or so, and that is get into a political discussion with a family member who (and I’m not kidding) said.
“Regardless of what you think about his politics, Jon Stewart was the smartest and most fair and objective person on TV.”
Absurdity of that statement, that he later quantified with “because he says shit about Democrats and Republicans” aside, this person did say something that I think is worthy of some reflection.
“Most of the problems with the economy these days are because businesses don’t care about their people like they used to.”
“They damn sure don’t!” He wanted me to say so we could then go on and on about how businesses (which in liberal speak often means rich, white, male, conservative, Republicans who hate regular working folks who, by God, are doing the best they can to survive in a horribly oppressive and unfair capitalistic system) keep profits they should be putting back into the economy in the form of better pay, better benefits, and more jobs because they are greedy and heartless sons of bitches who only care about money.
I could go on and on but let’s just pivot back to the statement above, give it some benefit of the doubt, and see if it’s worth even uttering.
First, America’s economy is a huge beast with a ton of moving parts that only a person with a pretty solid working knowledge of economics and accounting can properly understand. To be fair here quite a few lay people have done their homework and can speak intelligently on the economy even without the benefit of college degrees or practical business experience. To be brutally honest though, if you watched the riddled with disinformation Robert Reich movie, Inequality For All and walked away thinking, “yeah, that pretty much makes sense” you are not one of those people.
Second. The overall sentiment in the statement is that businesses (rich, white, male, conservative, Republicans who hate regular working folks…) just reinforces an uninspired lefty narrative that only seems to foster hate and derision.
Third. When did businesses care? Can we go back in time to a specific point when caring was the norm in business? Sure we can mention companies like Hershey’s which has a history of caring and quote good rich guys like John D. Rockefeller who once said “I know of nothing more despicable and pathetic than a man who devotes all the hours of the waking day to the making of money for money’s sake” all day long but, to what end? What good does this do when we can also reach back to the past and find countless examples of people who owed their soul to the company store? While there are exceptions to the rule, businesses didn’t, in fact, used to care as a matter of doing business at all. If you think that businesses used to care about their employees so much then perhaps you can explain why there was ever a need for unions. Fact here is that while there are a great number of businesses that don’t care, there are many, even today, who care a great deal. So non-caring is a non-starter.
Fourth. What, exactly does businesses not caring mean? Keeping in mind that it is always used to support the narrative that rich, white, male, Republican…hate the working class. Therefore, when liberals say it it generally means that businesses cut jobs, that they don’t offer affordable health care, high pay, benefits…because they don’t care. Long story short, according to people like my family member, is that business don’t care because the rich, white, male, Republican…business leaders keep too much of the money they are supposedly morally obligated to share for the greater collective good.
Tough love fact is that McDonald’s not paying entry level employees fifteen dollars an hour for entry level work, employers not hiring, and companies laying people off does not necessarily mean they don’t care. Sure some executives care more about the bottom line than they do about people and some are, in fact, greedy bastards. But when we live in an economic system where the number one rule of the firm is to maximize profits for shareholders and in a world where we are all greedy bastards to some extent, that’s what happens.
So really, it means nothing.
I could go on with five, six, seven…but I’ve arrived at what I really wanted to talk about anyway so…
OK, if we remove the narrative that businesses (rich, white, male, Republican…) are mean, greedy, and hate the poor. And we assume for a minute that businesses really don’t care about their people anymore, where are we?
Are we living in a world where a standard of goodness, decency, and caring should apply to businesses when almost all of us fail to measure up to the same standard?
Think about that for a second.
Think about a businessman making a cost cutting decision that he maybe didn’t, in your uneducated opinion, have to make because it benefits the bottom line next time you claim a deduction on your taxes you really didn’t need to claim because it benefits your bottom line. Think about the greedy businessmen people love to hate next time you don’t give a homeless person a few dollars because you would rather keep what you earn. Think about the hatred you have for businessmen who live in mansions and fly around in private planes next time you get in the car you bought but can barely afford just because it makes you look good. Think about the charitable giving of your money and your time. Do you give of yourself as generously as you expect businessmen to? Sure, they have more but do they deserve a different standard than you do simply because of that?
How much money does a person have to have before what they do with it becomes the subject of scrutiny or scorn?
Well, you might be saying, the more people have, the greedier they become. OK, fine, that might be true in some cases but wealth isn’t always necessary to produce greed.
Not that long ago, May to be exact, The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services said it passed out almost $6 million in DSNAP benefits to over 15,000 households in seven Northwest Louisiana parishes when, according to FEMA, 4,000 homes in those parishes were flooded. Wow, regular people taking advantage of the system. Regular people taking what did not belong to them. Regular people basically stealing from a system that is in place to benefit the disadvantaged because it puts a few dollars in their pockets.
Sure, it’s a smaller scale but how is stealing six million dollars in small chunks from people who need it better than cutting jobs? Is it more moral to literally steal money that could have been used for food for the poor than it is to save a business some money? Why wasn’t this front page news? Oh, because we were too busy talking about how crooked Donald Trump is, how the rich hate the poor, and what candidate is going to get us all free college because they love us and love comes with gifts.
Rich people suck, don’t they? Always looking out for number one, never caring about anyone else where money is concerned.
Have you ever been to a fast food place where you knew the person behind the counter was making minimum wage? Ever slid them a twenty because you likely have more money than they do? Or, do you always hold back because your money is yours, you earned it, and you deserve to keep it? So much for spreading the wealth around when you won’t even do your part.
Fine, go ahead and bitch about Donald Trump’s gold plated faucets and the greedy, rich, white, Republican businessmen holding back and worrying about their bottom lines when you worry about your wealth, your stuff, and your bottom line at least as much as everyone else does.
Fine, go ahead and call me a Fox News watching closed minded moron who doesn’t understand how the world works.
But then go ahead and honestly look at yourself and tell me how much you actually care and why businesses should care more than you do.
Anyway, what’s wrong with the economy is the same thing that’s wrong with everything else and that is that we live in a fallen world that hates God.
If we all embraced our creator and Savior and started living by Christian principals, there would be far fewer problems for family members to argue about and bloggers to rant about.
*The image is of none other than Milton Friedman. If you want to learn about economics, he is a much better source than any comedian. Btw, the person with whom I was arguing over the weekend had never heard of him which was shocking from someone who believes they are qualified to talk economics.