I couldn’t believe it. As the newscasters went through the different pros and cons of the political candidates, one candidate’s wealth was deemed as a knock, something that would be held against him as people went to the polls to vote for their next leader. (Read This: Your Idea of Equality Isn’t Very Fair)
It made no sense to me. For the first time in my life it seemed that it was actually bad to be successful. To be successful had somehow also meant that you were in some odd way, evil. Lost were the years of work and toil and intelligence, the jobs this man created, the companies he’d turned around and thus, the jobs he’d saved. Instead the masses focused on the money in his bank account. They saw his house, his yacht, things they’d purchase if they had his money, but they didn’t earn it and that made them jealous, envious, and suspicious.
It was becoming apparent that, because the majority of us don’t apply ourselves to the degree that winning requires, we see those who do as having cheated. This suspicion of the successful that, in my generation, was becoming commonplace sickened me. Maybe it’s because I know what it’s like to start a business, or maybe because I know millionaires and even billionaires who built fortunes based on intelligence, intuition, and persistence, not slight of hand or smoke and mirrors.
I’m not sure why but I immediately thought of the movie, the Pursuit of Happyness, the story of Chris Gardner, a dirt poor single father turned uber rich investor.
A scene from the movie stuck out. Chris, who was played wonderfully by Will Smith, is hustling, trying to sell a product that no one seems to want when he happens upon a fella driving a Ferrari.
Watching this from today’s perspective you’d expect the poor, broken down, beat-to-a-pulp single father to grab a handful of eggs and throw them at the guy in the hundred thousand dollar car who seems to not have a care in the world. You’d expect him to occupy the car, deeming the man a cheater, thinking he deserved the car instead because of everything he’d recently been through.
But no, with his jaw dropped, he asked the man what he did for a living, and thus, Chris had his Pursuit.
Mr. Gardner is far from an ordinary man. Most would have quit before they had to find bathrooms to sleep in at night. Most would have been overcome by the shame and the failure and would have looked for a way out, almost understandably. But he’s from a different generation it seems.
In the man in the Ferrari he saw hope, not injustice, and as I watched the news anchors condemn this candidate’s success I realized that we, as a society, are being trained to lose, we’re being train to quit, give up, to see success not as something to pursue, but something one can either only cheat their way into or be born into, so why try?
There are very powerful psychological changes going on in our society that the masses are getting behind. I’m sure it comes from or originated from a good place, but when something’s founded in stupidity and ignores the ways of the world it’s doomed to change how we act, think, and ultimately erase that timeless pursuit that was born with a free nation and a free people and a free market to boot.
We are demonizing success. We are punishing winners.
To counter that many say that the winners will always win so we need to take from them and give to those who can’t. Well, “can’t” is a choice, as is winning. But when you start to reward laziness and failure, albeit unintentionally, you don’t create less of it, you make it the norm and the new pursuit.
When you punish victory, you don’t keep it in check, you don’t spread wealth enabling others to rise and succeed, you simply discourage success, making it an increasing minority.
It may not happen immediately, but as a society demonizes those willing to work, to risk, to innovate, create, and to persist, we create a culture where the state rules every facet of our lives and the pursuit of happiness is no longer an option if our ideas of happiness aren’t in complete agreement with that of the state. (Read This: The Truth About Happiness and Who Controls Your Fate)
That race to leadership was eye-opening. The Occupy Movement was the same. Seeing people spit on nice cars. Seeing the hate in their eyes. But also seeing each and every one of them as completely un-hireable humans with no skills, no ambition, wanting to take power away from the big bad corporations and crying for the government to do the dirty work, was sickening.
The world would be a far better place if everyone had the ambition, but also the work ethic, the persistence, and the belief in self-responsibility that Gardner had. I think that’s something every human in the world can agree with.
Yet, we’re stuck with far more people that lack any sense of responsibility instead replacing that much more honourable quality with a sense of entitlement that makes them feel they’re worthy of what another man has earned. More than that, they’ve been raised and trained to want success, but feel they have no power in attaining it.
What follows are ways we’re demonizing success, wealth, and winners.
We need more winners, not fewer, and by changing these odd aspects of society that are now becoming the norm, we can bring back both the American Dream, and the pursuit of happiness that should be every man’s right if they’re willing to get off their ass and work.
1. We Reward Participation.
It was refreshing to see James Harrison, linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers, force his sons to bring back their participation trophies. He took them out of their hands and left them on their coach’s doorstep.
Participation isn’t an awardable feat. It’s mediocrity, it’s simply showing up. It requires no extra effort, sacrifice, or talent. And yet, talent when applied should be rewarded. People cry because talent isn’t something that’s handed out evenly, so those who have it have a leg up on everyone else.
Of course they do! And good for them. They found what they’re good at, don’t try to bring them down, to feel average by giving them the same award that everyone else got. The world isn’t a fair place. People are better and smarter than you, the only equalizer should be hard work, not regulation enacted to make everyone feel nice.
This is an increasing practice in our schools, and it’s dangerous.
When you take incentives away from young adults you train them to see no value in getting to the gym earlier, in practicing harder, but you also train them to think that showing up is all that matters, that talent isn’t real, that being great isn’t good.
We need more winners, not fewer. We need more of the talented to work hard and hone their skills. When we reward everyone the same no matter their results we make results unimportant. A society where results are unimportant is a losing, jobless, innovation-free culture where everyone’s forced to scrape by on the tit of the state.
Winners need to be applauded. Losers need to look at winners, their talent, their work ethic, and aspire to be where they are.
You can’t reward participation and expect excellence.
It’s an ignorant worldview, that we’re saving and protecting feelings by not announcing who won or who is the best. It’s cultural socialism and communism and it removes work ethic when it’s work ethic and talent that helps all of us thrive.
2. We’re Afraid and Lazy, So We Regulate
Regulation hurts those aiming to break into a new industry, to start a company, and especially in those industries that are already established, i.e. the entrepreneurs, the little guy, the first time business owner and creator.
Regulation is born from fear and laziness. Where the market is allowed to regulate itself, the winners, I mean the true winners, those who provide the best services and products will rise to the top.
As it is now, cheaters can win, and if you’re too big to fail you can pay some politician to increase certain regulations which then make it impossible for a start up to match what you’ve done.
Take the supplement industry. Everyone seems to agree that the supplement industry needs more regulation. But what would increased regulation do to the industry?
Smaller companies that actually provide higher quality products would have to close shop because they can’t afford the multitude of government certifications and tests that come out of their pocket to run a business. New companies without proper funding wouldn’t be able to break into the industry and provide their twist on your favourite supplements either.
Competition would close to the few massive companies that can afford to navigate through the governments maze or the government itself will decide who can win and who should fail.
Without regulation you have companies that are ahead of the curve with innovation. They’re researching new ingredients and products that a slow government body wouldn’t allow even though they’re healthy and effective.
Regulation is born from fear and laziness. It’s people who fear companies, not their government – a body that knows far less about the industry that the corporation is in than the corporation itself, and likely less than you too. It rewards not the best, but it discourages those willing to risk, to work, and to provide a service better than their competitions from entering the race that is capitalism.
We think of regulation as something that saves us, what it does is it discourages us, or at least those who have an idea worth taking to the market, those with balls and guts and it keeps those who are already established where they are at the top of an industry that’s being sucked of the competition that made it great.
Take my industry as another example. They’re increasing regulations on who I can send emails to and how I can send them. If you’ve read my newsletter it’s both how I make my money (which enables this site to be filled with free content), and how I provide the most value.
They’re increasing regulations because there are bad people who spam and send useless information, they get your email without your permission and then spam the heck out of you. Yet, the government doesn’t think you can take care of yourself. It doesn’t think that you can decipher spam from valuable info, so it’s coming down hard on an entire industry, many within it being single-person companies who provide great service.
Yet again unjustly hurting those who want to provide real value at little friction to those who can afford the lawyers to make sure that they’re completely compliant.
Regulation halts competition, it prevents new blood in old industries, and yet the losers among us want someone protecting them, they crave regulation, they cry for it, they won’t stop until it’s in every facet of every industry and we have but a few massive companies controlling everything we buy, hand-in-hand with the government that “regulates” them.
3. A Tax Structure That Punishes Winners.
Again, we need more winners, not fewer of them. We need to reward success, especially those who produce jobs and make our lives better, even in the smallest, simplest ways by producing great services and products that we all love.
When you have a graded tax structure where the percentage of taxes owed increases as you earn more money, you not only allow those who are winners to keep less of their winnings, but you make it more difficult to stay on top.
To want to take another man’s money is also an envious feeling no matter what your reasons or intentions. It’s incredibly weak and feeble to want another man to pay a greater percentage than you do.
Here’s what’s wrong with the graded tax structures that we have in the west:
a. When you have a great year, a second isn’t guaranteed. The smart businessman will save his money for the following year, but when an increased chunk has to be sent to the government, that makes future investment in your company’s future harder, even impossible.
Winners should be able to keep more of their money because they’ve earned it, obviously, but also because they know how to use it to create more of it which has a far better impact on the economy (on all of us) because of the next couple of points.
b. The government is the worst allocator of resources in the world. A corporation has earned its money, but it also has shareholders to answer to. While a government does have voters to answer to, it hasn’t earned a single penny, and the ones who are charged with redistributing it waste it like no other company on the planet.
And do governments really have to answer to their voters? No. The vast majority of voters are uninformed. We vote a different version of the same person into office year after year and how our money is spent and allocated behind closed doors is far from efficient.
Much of our money goes to paying politicians who are out of office’s pensions so they can earn hundreds of thousands of dollars without actually serving the public.
A buddy of mine was searching for a new office in Vancouver. For kicks he went to the penthouse of one office building to see a place that was for lease. What he saw were people packing up. Knowing that this office space was $50k/month to lease, he asked this raggedy looking group what they did, expecting some start-up or new company, instead he was introduced to the government’s team of salmon counters.
Think about that. These lazies count salmon all day. They could do this from a warehouse. Yet, backed with money that they didn’t earn, they spend 50k/month for a view that they didn’t earn. Thus, the way that a big bureaucracy works. It spends someone else’s money to live high on the hog. Do you actually think your money’s going to help the poor stand on their own two?
c. The psychology behind punishing success and rewarding failure is powerful. Now, I’m not against certain social programs designed to help the poor. I think a single mother of 3 working 2 jobs needs some help. However, it isn’t helping the poor. (Read This: Do Not Give, Teach)
Statistically it’s done more harm than good. Ever since the war on poverty has started, the growth of poverty has exploded. When you provide most people with the means to survive they lack the initiative to rise.
They aren’t getting the kick in the ass required, nor are they receiving the training they need (which is a much better allocation of our money).
You have to separate the state from the community. For a long time it wasn’t the state’s job to help the poor, it was the community’s. When the state took over the community gradually faded. Now we no longer hold one another accountable, nor do we come to one another’s aide unless we’re living in a small town where that thing still happens.
Furthermore, a dollar received and in no way earned for many is taken for granted.
When America was at it’s freest (market-wise, with the least amount of government intervention into the lives of the civilians or the market) toward the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, more charities were started, many that still exist today, than ever before. It’s because men have a desire to help their fellow man. Yet, when the government laziness and inefficiently takes over this role that duty fades and what we’re left with are entire communities of poor people who are dependent on the state for sustenance.
d. A graded tax bracket isn’t fair, if fairness is what you’re actually after.
People say they want to punish the rich because that’s fair. Well, fair would be the same tax percentage for each income. Cut the government’s waste and that would easily pay for everything we need to pay for – with that said, privatize every single aspect of our lives and you’ll have a better product. With the increase of private policing we’re seeing competition produce better cops, for example. Without the “club-like” atmosphere wrought with special interests and self-governing, a private force answers to the public. If they fail there are real consequences.
You can compare private vs public to every aspect of our lives. A private company will do better work because of competition and public pressure than a public, government run and funded organization that governs itself, but also that’s backed by unions where firing is far more of a hassle than it’s worth. To fire a teacher, for example, can cost as much as $300,000. It’s just not worth it. So we allow the worst of the worst to stay employed.
In a private school, however, if someone sucks or does something wrong, they get canned. Ah, the glory of the free market.
Alas, back to taxes.
The government is inefficient. They waste your money and my money. And yet we want to unfairly punish those who’ve earned more money.
Many will come back with, “well to get rich you’ve either been born rich or you’ve cheated”.
And that’s just lazy bullshit.
A majority of billionaires are self-made, for one.
Here’s the thing, this majority of self-made billionaires is only true for countries with free markets. That is, countries that allow for people to rise and succeed through capitalism. This isn’t true for socialist and communist countries, or countries that are completely controlled by the state.
It’s hilarious that many who feel that they have no chance to succeed in life because the system is rigged, want to further rig that system.
They want to increase regulation, increase taxes on people that actually earn money and create jobs, and they want to give the government more power over how we live our lives.
But there’s also the psychology behind it and it’s both weak and lazy.
When you think that success needs to be punished you think that it can’t be earned. When you think that you need to cheat to get it, or that you need to be born into it to acquire it, you excuse yourself from its pursuit.
People that want to increase the tax bracket on the rich don’t want to work. They don’t want to apply themselves. They don’t want to hustle and they don’t want to have to persist through the highs and lows that is the business world. So, they’re fine with punishing the rich because they have no intention of actually being rich.
And yes, there are rich people who think that an increase in taxes for the wealthy is okay. And why? Because they’re already there. They don’t care about the guy who’s trying to hustle his way into the top bracket because they don’t want the added competition. They don’t care if it makes it harder for others to stay successful as, year after year they have to give more of what they’ve earned to a government that wastes everything they get. They’re already there. They’ve moved their companies offshore and they don’t care if Joe blow can’t afford to do that yet.
IT’S TIME YOU ACT LIKE A MAN
No matter how you look at it, the way our markets are set up, the way our society and culture works, we love punishing winners.
We love seeing the mighty fall. We love getting checks from the government.
We hate work. We hate risk. We hate going above and beyond. We like safety. We like someone else telling us what we can buy, what we can create, what we can aspire to become. (Read This: The Death of Self-Reliance)
We aren’t Chris Gardner’s. We’re all Occupiers wanting what others have earned – or heck, maybe they haven’t earned it, maybe they were born into it, that still doesn’t make it right to take what they have.
We want to make it harder for businesses to thrive, yet we want the best products and we want more choice.
What’s more is that by punishing success we somehow think we’re going to create more of it?
The logic is laughable. Reward failure, punishing success. That sounds like a wonderful recipe for a society to thrive and ride the backs of those willing to do more than anyone else.
A society with more winners is a society that wins.
Stop wanting to bring people down a peg and instead put an effort in to rise. Vote for laws that actually do some good. People will help people. A government has no interest in truly helping people. It has an interest in power. And yet we continually vote in administrations that depend on a greater lower class to stay in power.
Think about that.
We continually vote in parties that depend on a greater lower class to stay in power.
We hate politicians that depend on a greater middle and upper class to stay in power. How does that make sense?
It’s a very dangerous road you travel when you want to punish success. Socialism and communism – both economic and social – have resulted in horrible economies, incredibly low production, and almost no freedom in every instance, and yet there’s a growing movement to bring it back.
If you want the freedom to be who you are, you have to give others that same right. That includes the right to win.
About The Author
Chad Howse: Chad’s mission is to get you in the arena, ‘marred by the dust and sweat and blood’, to help you set and achieve audacious goals in the face of fear, and not only build your ideal body, but the life you were meant to live. He’s a former 9-5er turned entrepreneur, a former scrawny amateur boxer turned muscular published fitness author. He’ll give you the kick in the ass needed to help you live a big, ambitious life.
You can contact him at –