Friday, April 8, 2011

April 8: an offensive commentary -and a missing story.

Norbert Cunnngham has a "To the contrary column" that is  (quite unintentionally, I'm sure) offensive. I quite agree with his view that people who invite us to commercial lectures on how to get motivated talks are taking the gullible for a ride. Where we part company is the notion that fierce drive and energy are the essentials to becoming rich.

In fact, most rich people are the children of rich parents. George Bush II at no time in his life was either intelligent or hard-working. Much of his youth was lost in drugs and booze. His university grades were too low to get into a good MBA programme: but daddy fixed that and got him in, anyway. Miraculously, the drunken druggie who couldn't perform up to standard in a BA, did well and got an MBA.

Then,with Daddy's help, he dodged the raft for Vietnam. Only then, at long last, did he get his first job. It was a job as CEO of an oil company. Talk about working hard to get ahead! (I'm sure it was just a coincidence that the share holders of the oil company were daddy's friends.) The company went broke.

So George was invited by become head honcho of another company that needed connections to pull off a big deal involving a baseball team. George's father, by then, was president; and had just finished using his influence to get his son out of a fraud charge arising from the oil company failure. George became a multimillionaire out of that one. He also got a "thank you" bonus of twelve million dollars that was delivered to him after he got his third job - governor of Texas.

Sam Bronfman, who founded Canadian Distilleries and a family dynasty, founded his fortune in prohibition days as a booze smuggler. So did Joe Kennedy, the father President Kennedy.

What it takes to be rich is fully explained in a book that is a big favourite of rich people. It's called "Atlas Shrugged", by Ayn Rand. That book has become The Bible of the very rich. It's argument is that greed, self-interest, lack of concern for others, are all good; that these are the qualities that make you rich. These are the qualities that the rich, themselves, tell us we should admire.

As a professonal speaker, I met a good many multi-millionaires, some of whom I quite liked. But I would characterize few of them as hard working, not when they had ample spare time for exclusive clubs with long and expensive suppers with guest speakers. They also had lots of spare time for golf and travel to exotic places.

There are people in this world who work very hard, indeed. You will find many of them struggling to survive on minimum wage. I don't think I have ever met a rich person who worked nearly so hard as any deserted mother struggling to raise a child on a job at Walmart. Even a couple, working at average wages, find it hard to make ends meet in this province. I have never met a rich person who worked nearly as hard as a single mother on minimum wage, or as hard as a lineman working on second-storey wires on a -20 day in a blizzard, or as hard as an average elementary school teacher.

Working hard has nothing to do with getting rich. What counts is greed, towering ego, a sense of entitlement, and a rich daddy.

Meanwhile, all the news media missed the significance of the most important news story of the week. President Obama has publicly stated he intends to raise one billion dollars to fight the next American election. That's a story that tells you all you need to know about the reality of where the US is, and where it is going. Maybe I'll try that one tomorrow.

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