Archived 3-26-04

thepragmaticthinker.com

“The Real War”

By Larry John

There are a lot of wars going on out there. There is the war on terrorism. There is the war on drugs. There is the war on fat, or is that a battle? There is Star Wars. There are religious wars. There are political wars. There is even the war on war itself. When I went GOOGLE and searched under the word “war”, there were over 88 million web pages dedicated to the subject of war. Now that’s a lot of war.

But more practically speaking, and perhaps with a little idealism mixed in, the war I want to address is the “war on poverty and ignorance.” Call me a little realistic, but I believe we have forgotten about this war. Call me a little idealistic and I think we can win this war. More than “can,” I think we “should.” As I see the world, the division between the rich and the poor is getting bigger and bigger. The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. The middle-class is beginning to have no class at all. The middle is disappearing. The very thing that makes a third-world country a third-world country is that they don’t have a middle-class. There are a few people who have most of the money, and there are millions of people working for the rich in low paying jobs and barely having enough money to barley get by. The middle-class is virtually non-existent in third world countries.

But, is the United States slowly (or rapidly?) becoming a third-world country, void of a true middle class? I personally don’t know anyone who I would classify in the “upper” class. The upper-class being a person who has so much money that they find it hard to spend even a little of the money they have. They could spend thousands a day and never really put a dent in the old treasure chest. I have read about these people, but let’s put it this way, we don’t rub shoulders. Sure, I know a lot of what I would call “rich” people and even have some friends (more like acquaintances) who I would call rich. (At least they want me to think they are). They live in big homes and drive expensive cars, but they are just as worried about money as all the rest of us are. They have more, because they make more and then they spend more, but they have about the same amount of money left over at the end of the year…. not much, if any! But I digress; so let’s get back to the war on poverty and ignorance.

Two things cause poverty. First, it is caused by people who won’t work. Secondly, by people who WILL work, but do so for too little money. They think that if they don’t take a job, regardless of how little it pays, they won’t have a job at all. As long as people take jobs that don’t pay much they will be poor. As long as employers know that people will take low paying jobs, why should they pay more? That wouldn’t be good business. So the rich get richer while the poor get poorer, and whose fault is it really? I think there are two places we can point our judgmental fingers. First of all it is ignorant to think that people can “pull themselves up by their own boot straps.” I mean, when you need bread for the family most of us are willing to do anything to get it. We will work as hard as we can and if that won’t buy enough bread, many will resort to stealing it. This is one reason why there is a lot more “crime” from the poor folks than from the rich folks … that is if you don’t count “white color crime,” and if you don’t count the crime of “usury” and “corporate slavery.”

Now the poor have always existed and have always been a problem for the rich. Just ask any KING of old what the number one concern of the monarch was and he would tell you “keeping the poor people fed.” If you don’t keep the poor people fed they will rise up and kill you. So, you better have plenty of land and jobs to keep them busy. Not plenty of jobs and land to help them out of poverty, but just to keep them busy, and pay them just enough, so they don’t unite and kill you. Yet that is just what we do. We pay the poor just enough to get by. It is no wonder that many have figured out that it is easier to live on welfare than to get a job and work. You get paid about the same, and on welfare you can keep up on your favorite soap operas. Today most school teachers are classified as being in the middle of the LOWER-class, not upper lower-class, but the middle of the lower-class. They ain’t the lowest of lows…. but darn close. Many of our finest teachers who are teaching the new minds and future of our nation are classified by the government as making income “below the poverty line.”

So even though there will always be poor among us, do we really want to sit back and say, “Tough beans. I can’t do anything about it,”? Well, I think we can do something about it. I think we can help people out of poverty in three ways. First, pay our employees more. I have found that the more I pay my employees, partners, and people in general, the more I seem to make. Life is funny that way. The more you give the more you get. Secondly, teach our friends and family how to become rich. Knowing and applying the simple principles “time, energy and resources” is all it takes to become rich (I will write about that in a future article). Getting rich is easy if you know the principles of getting rich. Thirdly, teach the rich that they (we) have a responsibility to share the wealth …and that could be the hardest thing we do.  Most of the rich have a fear of not being rich. It is from their “riches” that they get their power and worth. We need to help the rich know that part of the responsibility of being rich is to “share the wealth.” The rich need to change this faulty thinking and need to strive to “enrich” the lives of others by making sure people are not living in poverty. All that most of us really want is an opportunity, a mentor, a vision, a leg up, better knowledge and wisdom, freedom from ignorance, and a chance to rise up to live in the “middle.” Hey, to the poor, being in the middle class is being rich. I personally declare war on poverty and ignorance! We need to teach our friends, family, and others to take control of their own destiny; to live lives where you can have all the “stuff” you want in life and then face the problem of having your “stuff” control you instead of you controlling your “stuff.”  But I digress again.

Poverty is definitely not a good thing, but neither is being rich. Whether rich or poor I am still the same person. Money is not the ROOT of all evil; the LACK of money is the real root of all evil. Because with a little money, we can sleep a little better at night, in a little better bed, in a better home, eat a little bit better food (even though perhaps too much), and perhaps see life a little more meaningfully. In order to be totally happy we must share our happiness… and for that matter, so it is with money. Protect the middle-class by allowing more people to enter the middle-class. We can win the war on poverty and ignorance one battle at a time. Who do you know that you could mentor, give a leg up, create a vision for, enhance intelligence, or provide an opportunity?  Think about it.