Life Matters

bw_cookieI was not born a poor black child.  I have always been a white male, who uses gender specific language to describe himself.  My parents, my family and most of my friends have always been white.  By most, I mean not all, and I have met, known and become friends with members of other races.  For the most part, race has simply not been an issue.

On the other hand, I do know what it’s like to be judged by my race, verbally demeaned for being white and to then, in turn, stereotype a group due to skin color.  But, my individualistic sensibilities have always taken over and I know that people are just that, individuals.  That’s the thing about radical capitalism, much to the chagrin of its detractors, in life, as in the wild, a being is only as good as the soul inside.

I also know what it’s like to be confronted by hostile law enforcement officers riding the high of a power trip.  I know what it’s like to have a gun pointed at me, with the knowledge that the man holding it has been trained to use it.  I know what it’s like to be guilty of a crime and to be caught in the act.  I know the fear-based desire to excuse my actions and turn an issue into the fault of those in power, blaming authority for my own destructive behavior.  I have since learned to accept responsibility, to balance my perception of justice and to live my life based upon the merits I deserve, as a white, heterosexual American male.

But my life does not matter.

Because to the progressive ideologues, blinded by willful frustration, I am the problem.

There is a movement rampaging through the country that seeks to divide our nation in the name of justice, peace and race.  Any good that was born out of the Black Lives Matter movement has become shrouded in sadness and vile aggression.  This vulgar display of power can be seen (here) at an event where none other than the avowed socialist Bernie Sanders was invited to speak.  He was pushed out of the way to allow a woman to take the stage and declare, among all else, that the Democratic supporters in the audience are white racists… simply because they are white.

This group invokes the in vogue “I Am…” to be completed with the name of whatever purported victim has been claimed by the racist white culture.  This personal identification seeks to take charge of a tragedy and let it be known that justice will not rest.  As this writer, a gender and Africana studies professor claims, when writing about the recent death of Sandra Bland, “in Sandra I see myself.”  This writer goes on to add that just as she “is” the victim in this truly horrific case, we white people cannot be anything but the cause of Ms. Bland’s tragic death:

“White people resist seeing themselves in the face of the oppressor. That mirror reflection is almost too much to bear. I get it. So then they resent the person that holds up the mirror. But let me just say as directly as I can: White people must begin to see themselves in the faces of the mostly white police officers who keep committing these atrocities against Black and Brown people. This will not stop until you recognize that you are them. These officers are your brothers and sisters and aunts and cousins, and sons and daughters and nieces and nephews, and friends, and church members. You are them. And they are you.”

-Side Bar: notice the use of “mostly white police officers?”

The progressive political machine saw a valuable ally in this movement.  They saw a group that was willing to take aggressive action and claim the status of perpetual victim, as promoted by the “I Am…” monicker.  And they will now reap what they sow.  The Republicans are already damned as far as this group goes, therefore, hostilities must exude towards the most liberal politician, in one of the most liberal cities in America.  And they get away with it there.  But the greater audience, the one who recognizes this charade of victimhood, will not be defined by a woman with a microphone and a penchant for unwarranted public outburst.

I am more than my race, and so are you.

I am not a racist white police officer and no metaphorical mirror will get me to see that I am.  I do not hate because of skin color and I don’t engage in willful discrimination against any group because of its race.  I do find generalities easy to communicate and I do fall back on stereotypes.  But I recognize these mental constructs for what they are and deal with individuals based upon their own merits, their own actions and their own hearts.

Unlike the “leaders” of Black Lives Matter movement, I will not be made a victim of my race.  I will not allow these saints of victimhood to create my own self-identification and then tell me that I had better work on eliminating my inner racist because “black lives matter.”  They do matter.  And as much as it may hurt to hear, so do white lives.  And Asian lives, Latinos, Eskimos, feline and canine, to say nothing about the lives of the unborn (too far?).

It’s a tragic day in the United States when a politician, a Democrat no less, cannot say openly that “all lives matter” without apologizing for it after the fact.  By singling out black lives, the movement seeks to segregate as means to annihilate any peaceful existence we might enjoy.  They will invoke the name of Martin Luther King Jr. as a permission slip to disparage other groups and cause all matter of civil unrest.

The left has seen but a glimpse of the antagonism of this mentality.  Much like the criminals in Gotham, they came to a “point of desperation. And in their desperation they turned to a [group] they didn’t fully understand.”  The Black Lives Matter movement will not be controlled because it has justice, God and Martin Luther King Jr. on its side.  And when white society does not immediately capitulate, these activists will riot, they will torch and they will blame me for their actions.

Unlike the civil rights movement, where MLK spoke of inclusiveness and the importance of white people and black people working together to secure the goals of equality and peace, this group has no tangible goal.  Society is lost in its eyes.  What remains, is pure rage.  There is no end, there can be no peace, there is no legislation that will suffice to right any perceived wrong.  What they want, is a reckoning.

“They can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned, or negotiated with. Some… just want to watch the world burn.”

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A $70,000 Reality Check

20130504_FBD002_0“We can ignore reality, but we cannot ignore the consequences of ignoring reality.” ― Ayn Rand

Politics is about winning elections while economics is about reality.  Fantastical idealism vs. the real world.

A difference between politicians and economists is in the questions they ask an interested audience.  The politician will ask, “what is it that you want?” and seek to gain favorability by promising those desires.  An economist will ask, “what do you want more?”  Underlying this question is the basic comprehension of the concept of a trade-off that is all but irrelevant, and potentially perilous, in populist, partisan politics.

All elements of business, welfare, investment and taxation are interconnected by the over-arching economy of a nation.  As the world has grown closer, through technological achievement and innovation, the economies of other nations also play a role and affect our own.  Economics is not necessarily good or bad in the moralistic sense but seeks to study and predict the cause and effect of particular actions based upon given rules and understood truths of human nature.  However, the values underlying business practices will determine the destiny of a business.  And such economics are not prone to sympathy, they do not care about the subjective sense of what is right.  Economics deals with what is.  It is the business of reality.

Enter Dan Price, the CEO of Gravity Payments in Seattle, who decided a few months back that his “values-based” company would raise its minimum pay for employees to an annual $70,000.  This action was taken in the midst of other calls for an increase in the minimum wage so, predictably, Price was hailed as a hero of the working class.  This was a decision based on need, not fiscal responsibility or practical, financial, business motivations.

As Price told Time magazine back in April, “To me, once you know the right thing to do, and it’s the right thing for everybody involved and it’s going to be beneficial to everyone, it becomes a moral imperative to actually do it.”  This is undoubtedly a noble thought, on its face, but economic reality is not so forgiving.

To risk being the bearer of bad news: there is no such thing as “the right thing for everybody.”  There are only trade-offs and opportunity costs.  To spend anything, be it time or money, in one place, means that that same item cannot be used for anything else.  And with that, the economic reality of Price’s decision has now started to take effect.

Entry-level employees have seen their compensation double in some cases while those employees who worked their way up to beyond the baseline $70,000 have seen no benefit of this “moral imperative.”  Consequently, consternation and corporate conflict have now ensued.

Here is a story from the New York Times of one employee:

“Maisey McMaster was also one of the believers [of the compensation plan]. Now 26, she joined the company five years ago and worked her way up to financial manager, putting in long hours that left little time for her husband and extended family. “There’s a special culture,” where people “work hard and play hard,” she said. “I love everyone there.”

“She helped calculate whether the firm could afford to gradually raise everyone’s salary to $70,000 over a three-year period, and was initially swept up in the excitement. But the more she thought about it, the more the details gnawed at her.

“He gave raises to people who have the least skills and are the least equipped to do the job, and the ones who were taking on the most didn’t get much of a bump,” she said. To her, a fairer proposal would have been to give smaller increases with the opportunity to earn a future raise with more experience.

“A couple of days after the announcement, she decided to talk to Mr. Price.

“He treated me as if I was being selfish and only thinking about myself,” she said. “That really hurt me. I was talking about not only me, but about everyone in my position.”

Predictably, Ms. McMaster is no longer an employee of Gravity Payments.

Need, charity, the greater good all sound great to the general populace because everyone assumes that they will personally benefit from such action.  The problem with this type of business plan is that plenary payments to employees in the form or equal compensation seek to equate the inequitable characteristics of humankind.  Namely, the inherent abilities of every individual.

People are not simply clones with identical skill sets driven by ambition and dedication.  Some work very hard but not very well, others seem to skate by while exuding very little effort.  A few work hard, and well, all their lives.  The fundamental purpose of compensation is to monetarily represent all of those intangible facets of human beings.  And the only way to successfully run a business is to compensate based upon a return on the investment made in an employee.

A business owner cannot pay an employee more than that employee generates for the business in financial returns without losing money and, subsequently, going out of business.  To compensate in order to correct perceived social inequalities will only result in further inequality and financial ruin.

That, for better or worse, is economic reality.