Monday, September 28, 2009

Your Fair Share


There are a surprisingly large number of people in America who sincerely believe that they are not getting and so want their 'fair share' which leads to the question: what is your fair share? What is it exactly that you are owed? And who owes it to you?

The first thing that we need to do before we can determine what your particular fair share is would be to define exactly what it is we are talking about. What is it that you are missing out on that others are getting and that you deserve?

Tops on most people's list would be, of course, money. Are you getting your fair share of money? And if you don't think so, then why are you not getting your fair share? Who are you comparing yourself against? What do they do for a living? What do you do? Why do you deserve as much or more?

One area where you hear many folks complain about what others are earning is athletics, or entertainment. Why should a ball player or a singer or an actor make millions while you struggle every day at your difficult job and make five figures?

Well, first of all, how much do you generate in income with your production at your job, and how easy would it be to replace you right now, or in a short time? Could you get up on a movie set and act as well as Denzel Washington or Meryl Streep, get up on a stage and sing as well as Mariah Carey, step up to the plate and hit as well as Derek Jeter?

So the answer is a resounding "no", and you are willing to admit that. But you still sweat and toil, and wonder why they get paid so much more. Well, for one, tens of millions of people all over the country and from around the world are willing to pay their own hard-earned money to watch or listen to these performers. Is anyone willing to pay anything to watch you work?

Because of these individuals God-given abilities they have separated themselves from the rest of us with skills that many of us are willing to enjoy watching them perform. These talents and abilities generate vast sums of income for their studios, teams, and production companies, and a portion of this goes to the performers.

The easy solution would be to not go to any games, buy any music, view any movies, etc. However, the majority of your fellow citizens will not join you in this reclusive lifestyle, and so your protest will effectively be wasted and worthless, except to you, of course.

The exact same income-generation scenario plays out in other forms of salaried positions, from executive boards to law offices to surgery rooms people make money because they have specific talents, or have become educated in and mastered specific skills and professions.

Police officers in the career that I have chosen make more money than clerks in the banking industry that I left behind. The police work outside in all types of weather conditions, have to physically confront dangerous individuals, wear at least one weapon everywhere they go and may need to use it at any time. These and many other skills and job hazards lead to the discrepancy.

In today's America, and for decades now, the old arguments about equal opportunity no longer exist. There will be race-baiters, women's liberation holdovers, and other excuse makers who will try to play on the liberal conscience and make you believe differently, but the fact is that in the vast majority of circumstances in this country, anyone who wants to can succeed.

Recipes for success vary wildly, from taking advantage of some natural talent or ability, to concerted efforts at higher education, to plain-old hard work. If you don't have a natural talent, you can outwork that perceived disadvantage by staying in school and studying, taking low level jobs and working your way up, and so on.

Now some people put roadblocks in front of any success by their own actions involving personal behavior, substance abuse, criminality, and many other activities which cause them to miss opportunities, or have those delayed. This is nothing more or less than their own decision-making process effecting these opportunities.

If you don't want to work hard, or study hard, or conform to regulations, procedures, rules, and norms set up by society or professions, then that is your choice. But then don't blame anyone else for your lack of success either.

Some people complain that they have made all the right choices: never made poor personal choices, stayed in school and studied hard, and went out to work and worked hard, and yet still the big opportunities never came along. To the young who fit into this category all I can say is that competition is rough, and you may need to evaluate specialty education or skills. Keep plugging away, keep looking for opportunities, be willing to stretch yourself, stay on the right path.

To older individuals, you can take the same advice and make it work, but you need to realize that the older you get, there will be some opportunities that begin to close on you. This is a simple fact of life, and if you don't plan on making yourself valuable and diverse while you are young, you may never be able to make that up as you get older. You simply need to try as hard as you can while remaining realistic.

This is not to say that there are no people who need and deserve help. There are some who, because of physical or mental disabilities not of their own making, or because of unusual extraneous circumstances absolutely deserve assistive services in providing at least a certain level of opportunity. This is simple compassion. But no one deserves a check for sitting home and doing nothing when they could be out working and have the opportunity to do so.

This is also not to say that there are not employers who have historically taken advantage of workers by not paying them a 'fair' wage. This happens when business owners in particular fields or businesses 'collude' to construct a salary structure that does not allow for competition. In such cases, limited intervention may be necessary such as salary arbitration, minimum wage laws, etc. But a fine line needs to be walked between protecting salaried workers and profit-seeking businesses so that neither ends up suffering.

The bottom line here is that the only 'fair share' that any of us is entitled to is that which we actually earn by our actions. The person who goes out to work at a low-skill job deserves more salary than the healthy person who sits home on the couch. The person who gets educated and gains experience in a field deserves more than the low-skilled worker. The naturally gifted talent that others are willing to pay see perform deserves more than this educated and experienced person.

You deserve a 'fair share' dictated by your own efforts, your talents, and your ability to generate income for others. There is no legitimate system in the world that works any other way. All systems of Communism and Socialism that attempt to take hard-earned money from true workers and disperse it among everyone eventually have collapsed or deteriorated into systems of pure political patronage.

In the end, the only 'fair share' that we deserve is in opportunity. If we waste away our time and our opportunities while others are working hard to make their dreams a reality, then those others deserve more than we do. Many Americans have simply become their own worst enemy, and the only path to success for them will never come from some political 'change', but only through personal change.

No comments: