Whiting column: You’re not entitled to be rich; get to work
If you want something, do the work.
It doesn’t matter what we desire; there is a path if we take command and do the work. Too often, we feel entitled because it’s also possessed by someone else. It’s tempting to feel this perceived inequality isn’t fair and it should be given to us.
However, we can’t just take from one group and give to another because it doesn’t create the additional capital required by an ever-increasing population. In the long run, nothing is changed or improved. It’s like giving a man a fish because he’s hungry without teaching him how to catch fish.
We spend too much energy focusing on the rich. Sure, they can acquire or do things we can’t, and we don’t feel that’s fair. But it’s a waste of time and effort. We’re better off controlling ourselves and focusing our efforts on the work, the strategies that will earn us what we desire. If Aunt Matilda is going to leave you a million dollars, be thankful and share your good fortune with others.
We aren’t entitled to be rich, but we are entitled to do the work and take advantage of the opportunities our country provides: utilizing education and training to elevate our skills and demonstrate our work ethic. This enables us to be in more control of our own situation. If we choose not to do so, then we are facilitating this inequality by choice.
It’s our fault if all we can do well is punch the numbers at a fast food joint or other low-skill job. Or if we sabotage ourselves by not being reliable, honest, can’t get along with people and allow ourselves to be subject to alcohol or other drugs, which do affect our performance whether we want to hear it or not. The public shouldn’t have to fund our poor choices.
It can’t be a lack of opportunity when employers can’t find employees in many jobs that require additional education, training and ability to pass a drug test. It can’t be lack of pay when the pay is greater than the alternative — unemployment compensation. We are all concerned about increased government regulation, laws and taxation, but the more the government provides for us the more it has the right to control us.
The government can help us in a short term of need, but in the long term, we need to rely on that which we have the most control: ourselves. Our country’s success is a function of our traditionally being a meritocracy: Those who work hardest and best are rewarded.
Some of us think immigrants are taking our jobs. If immigrants work harder and better than we do, they should get the job. If the job requires English literacy or a specific skill and immigrants possess neither, they aren’t entitled to the job.
Similarly, instead of improving our skills and seeking responsibility, we can be tempted to be satisfied with the $10/hour job and then utilize food stamps, Medicaid, other welfare programs and take advantage of private benevolence. The public shouldn’t have to fund our choices. None of us is entitled to transportation, health care or housing without earning it. The word entitlement doesn’t exist in the Constitution.
We all desire to feel like we are getting ahead, whether it’s ahead of where we were last year or facilitating our children’s future. The government can help us in that regard by facilitating economic growth. If economic growth only equals inflation, there isn’t any growth. We can’t get ahead, which is discouraging.
Over the decades, our economy has produced an average 3 percent growth. During the last 10 years it has been 2 percent, and many of our economically illiterate politicians were celebrating that. The difference isn’t just 1 percent. For example, if one takes $1 million and earns 3 percent every year for 10 years it becomes $1,344,000; at 2 percent it’s $1,219,000. Consequently, the economic difference is more than $10,000 (1 percent of $1 million) and indeed significant. This makes it harder for a family to feel they are progressing.
With increased population, the gross national product must grow at the higher rate or expenditures will exceed income, meaning the federal deficit will continue to rise. In addition, a higher rate of GNP growth is necessary if there is to be money available for the government to spend on health care, clean energy, education, infrastructure or social programs.
When the government isn’t facilitating economic growth significantly greater than the rate of inflation, the only way to get ahead is to take command by developing and implementing a strategy to increase our income. The government taking from someone and giving it to us only serves to further inhibit the economy. If the government provides everything we need, then what motivation do we have to do it ourselves? We become more dependent.
We have to be personally responsible for our own economic welfare, and in our country we are provided the opportunity. We just have to be mature enough to do so.
Bryan Whiting believes most of our issues are best solved by personal responsibility and an understanding of non-partisan economics rather than by government intervention. He is retired after 40 years of teaching marketing, entrepreneurship and economics. Comments and column suggestions to: email@example.com.