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Posted: March 05, 2012

Us…and them

Winners, losers -- the question is, who's who?

David Sneed

The shepherd drives the wolf from the sheep's throat, for which the sheep thanks the shepherd as his liberator - while the wolf denounces him as the destroyer of liberty. —Abraham Lincoln

There’s been a lot of talk lately about class warfare, usually involving taxes and the rich. It’s a discussion worth having, but we’re starting on the wrong square. The debate should begin with the Winners and the Losers - and who is which. (Nod to Kurt Vonnegut.)

Forget America for a second, and look at Greece.  Without knowing much about that country, we can see that there are Winners and there are Losers. The Losers – nearly everyone – make up the biggest group.  Sure, they can vote and they can chose what to eat for dinner, but the average Greek has no control over what happens in their economy, no control over Greek foreign or domestic policy. Losers have no say.

Anyone who can influence one of these matters, or can buy their way around a policy they don’t like, I’d call a Winner.  

Austerity is hitting Greece hard, but it doesn’t have the same effect on the Winners as it does the Losers.  The rich have moved to their homes in Geneva to be near the money they socked away during the good times. (Proof is seen in Geneva’s cost of living increase since 2010, as well as the Swiss Franc’s rise against the Euro which is perfectly inversely proportionate to the decline of the Greek economy.) Capital flight is the result of a risky economy.

No Winner cares what the average Greek thinks just as none cares what you and I think (until we start lobbing Molotov cocktails at their limo.) The reason is simple: we don’t matter. Oh sure, were important because we buy their songs, watch their movies, borrow their money and vote for them, but we are resources to be exploited - not equals.

The Winners have a say because they own the economy and they make the laws. Before you try to analyze my political views, I believe the head of every party is a Winner. No matter who I vote for, a Winner will win - and Winners are different from us. Winners don’t lose their jobs or their house. Winners don’t borrow money, they lend it. Winners win, and we vote for them because who wants to vote for a Loser?

So we argue about whether or not to raise taxes on the rich. The most vocal opponents are Losers who want to be Winners. They see a time when, if things go well, they could stand behind the velvet rope parade-waving at the masses. “The rich won’t hire if we tax them” is the common straw man. Let me ask:  How many people does Mel Gibson hire from his personal earnings this year? If his tax rate went to 30 perent, do you think he wouldn’t still have a pool boy? Personal income doesn’t hire factory workers, company income does.

Sometimes the argument is that the CEO who earns $80 million a year works hard for his money. Oh? Harder than the single mother of three who works two jobs while raising productive members of society?

Losers also argue for taxing the rich. Those who do are afraid of sinking to the very bottom and want a soft landing if they fall. If the poor are cared for, those Losers think it won’t be so bad.

“They need to pay their fair share” is the chant. What does that mean “fair share?” If Mel Gibson pays a million in taxes at 12 percent, and I get a refund at a 30 precent tax rate, what does fair share really mean? I didn’t pay income tax, why should he?

This debate detracts from the real point, which is: what you think doesn’t matter because you’re a loser.

Half of all congressmen are already millionaires (probably more since disclosures don’t include value of their personal homes), and the rest will be when they become lobbyists. You aren’t. Only 1 percent of Americans have at least a million in assets, and only a few thousand earn more than a million dollars a year.

The issues that concern a millionaire or congressman personally aren’t the same issues that concern us. Oh, they claim a kinship with the common man, but predatory lending and mortgage fraud aren’t things your average senator has any knowledge of. Neither is wondering what they’ll do if Johnny gets hurt playing football, or how they’ll pay the gas bill.

The only way to effect a change, if that’s what we really want, is to stand together as Losers. We think we’re doing that as Democrats or Republicans, but we aren’t. Politics divide us.  Whatever party you vote for, I can assure you that you’re voting for someone who knows that they’re a Winner and you aren’t. And as long as you act along party lines you are only standing up against other Losers. Bronco fans and Raider fans both want the NFL to succeed.

You won’t stand with me because I believe in women’s rights, and I won’t support you because you don’t.  Guess who the abortion debate doesn’t affect? The Winners. The same goes for Gay Rights and Universal Healthcare. Billionaires couldn’t care less if Shelia gets to marry Jenny. They do want you to have enough success to afford their products, but that’s as far as their concern goes.

We think that the Winners who amass wealth during a time of prosperity should keep it so they'll spend it when the economy needs it most. We have seen how this hasn’t happened in Greece, and how it hasn’t happened here. The Winners hunker down offshore with their capital until the dust settles, real life Scrooge McDuck’s swimming in a vault of gold coins.

What we’re all doing is playing tug-of-war with a dirty leftover rope, trying to find a different group of losers to pull into the mud. And the Winners love the discord. The talking heads at Fox and NBC are all Winners.  They each rile up a different group, and as long as they do that, they’re safe.  It’s only when a people stop fighting each other that they can come together to fight a common enemy.

David Sneed is the owner of Alpine Fence Company,and the author of" Everyone Has A Boss– The Two Hour Guide to Being the Most Valuable Employee at Any Company." As a Marine, father, employee and boss, David has learned how to help others succeed. He teaches the benefits of a strong work ethic to entry and mid-level employees. Contact him at  David@EveryoneHasABoss.com

Enjoy this article? Sign up to get ColoradoBiz Exclusives. The opinions expressed in this article are solely that of the author and do not represent ColoradoBiz magazine. Comments on articles will be removed if they include personal attacks.

Readers Respond

Most would say that they don't want to give their hard earned money to someone who is going to spend it on drugs. We'd prefer they buy food, clothes, etc. - especially for their children if they have them. But, when the math has been completed, it becomes even more expensive to pay to test all that receive assistance, just in case. I'd personally prefer not to pay more to test. By Snow White on 2012 03 06
Thank You to all who've emailed me about this article. I will have a follow-up on this topic in early April. By David Sneed on 2012 03 05
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