There is nothing like good old American Greed. I guess that’s why all those people who live elsewhere and curse us still want to come join us.
The biggest perpetrator of greed in this country is the Federal Government. They want to levy additional taxes when people are making less money and/or getting less value for their hard-earned dollars. They tell you- don’t worry, we want to soak only from the very rich. The only problem with that is the very rich are the only ones who can afford to spend what it takes to help this trickle-down economy. So, if you take, let’s say, one thousand dollars more in taxes per very rich person, that’s one thousand less they would spend in going to restaurants, movies, plays, ball games- whatever. There are a lot of people who work peripheral service jobs in those industries who will end up getting less hours at work and less tips.
There are those who will say that I’m being too negative-that one thousand smackers in cold cash is not going to hurt the well-off and that they will continue to spend their pocket change on frivolous matters without thinking twice. There are also those who say, â€œso what!â€- take it from the rich and give to the poor by funding the government agencies that are being pinched. That last part makes sense if you can trust the government agents to play fair with the tax money they collect.
Ma is on medicare and anxiously awaits the first few days of each month when she uses her bank’s automated menu system to confirm her checkbook balance. She hears about changing Medicare and is very concerned that she will end up paying higher insurance premiums. I keep telling her that both political parties in America agree not to screw anyone over a certain age, which I think I am included. Yes, that means than anyone under fifty can expect to see a change in how the Federal Government will pay for their medical needs when they retire.
Greed is an institution in all aspects of American Society. Take professional sports. The excessive money given to athletes has ruined the joy for fans. Rather than take in the moment we now demand accountability in poerformance. The worst player on a baseball team is making around 400,000 dollars. Fifty years ago, it was more like 7,000. It was a little less than the average wage earner’s yearly paycheck. Most players didn’t mind as they knew that if they showed positive results by the following year there would be a decent increase. Even a one thousand dollar increase had great value back then.
The 400,000 dollar roster bum today is making six or seven times as much than today’s average Joe. Apparently there is no incentive to perform well. Mediocre players expect salary increases when others on the team get amply rewarded. The union makes sure of this. They provide statistical charts that lay it out to the team owners how important it is to have a minimum salary within a certain percentage of the median.
In the meantime, who is forced to pay for all this? The fan. The price of admission is over forty dollars a ticket for the grandstand. Fifty years ago it was one or two lousy dollars. Mr. Joe Average could find a dollar here or there and take his kid(s) to go see a game. Today, treating two others to a game costs well over 100 dollars. For what? The talent isn’t any better. The game isn’t any better. Actually, its been cheapened because pitchers don’t have to bat in the American League which results in two things: less late inning managerial strategy and a need for one-dimensional designated hitters who otherwise would be pumping gas except that all the stations are now self-service. What did Shakespeare say? â€œWhat fools these mortals be!â€
Take politics. Why do government workers at all levels- city, county, state and federal- deserve a very good salary and pension benefits? Public service should be a privilege and not a right. Honest and talented people should not be bribed with kingly salaries to motivate them to do their job. I read where certain public supervisors are making over 140,000 a year? Why? And why are they entitled to pensions that will pay them over 60,000 a year when they retire? Most of us in private enterprise deal with real labor market conditions. We do not make demands. We try to negotiate what is reasonable.
Greed killed the housing market. My condo is worth at least twenty thousand less than what I paid for it more than thirteen years ago. Why? Well, it was nothing I did. There are nincompoops who pushed sales of property to make commissions and while doing so helped buyers who had no business qualifying as such. Part of that can be put on the federal government who wanted to brag how so many people were now owning residences who used to rent. There was a reason they rented- they couldn’t afford all the costs of ownership. But this failure in the marketplace brings everyone down.
It is not need that kills a society but greed.