Friday, March 7, 2008

"Uncle Grumpy Returns"

Hang onto your hats. Back again, my vituperative Uncle Grumpy, borrowing my blog to offer, as they said in the Blossom theme song, his opinionations.

Uncle Grumpy, the floor is yours. Try not to lose me all my readers.


Hoppity Hornytoads! The things rich people want yuh to believe. No wonder they’re rich. Those guys can sell anything! And with a straight face!

There’s this economic theory been floatin’ around, claimin’ that if you tax rich, entrepreneurial, successful people too highly, they’ll stop workin’, because there’s no financial incentive for them to continue. If that’s true, that would be bad. The entrepreneurs would stop entrepreneurialing, no jobs would be generated, and tax revenues would go down, because all the go-getters would be out golfin’. Solution? Lower rich people’s taxes to give them the “financial incentive” to keep producin’, and – spit on a monkey and hope to die – tax revenues would go up!

Do you buy any of this? Rich folks turnin’ self-interest into economic theory? Answer me this: What’s wrong with people with more money than they’ll ever need sharin’ some of it with people who don’t have enough? If sharin’s not an American value, they oughta tell that to Kindergarten teachers, so they’ll stop makin’ the kids in there share their crayons.

Why in heck’s bathroom are they indoctrinatin’ children with values that are exactly the opposite of what’s actually going on? The poor kid gets in the Actual World, and they’re royally confused:

“What gives? All that flak I took for not sharing my crayons in Kindergarten, and it turns out, nobody shares!”

It’s true, ain’t it? In real life, nobody shares unless there’s a gun to their heads, like a prison sentence for not paying your taxes. I wouldn’t blame those kids for suin’ their Kindergarten teachers for malpractice. They’re teachin’ the kids the opposite of what they actually need to know!

Okay, pay attention. Here’s the problem with the economic theory that says that too high taxes destroys the financial incentive for going to work.

It’s wrong.

How do I know? Evidence. What evidence? Look to the opposite end of the continuum, not the end where you get folks to start workin’, but the other end, the end that, reasonably, oughta motivate ‘em to stop. Imagine rich people with more money than they can spend in a hundred lifetimes, or one lifetime, if they’re rich enough to buy immortality. They have no financial incentive to work. None at all.

And yet.

They show up for work every day.

No matter how rich, no matter how old. Often, earlier than everybody else.

Explain that to me, will ya? If the financial incentive is really a motivating factor – as the lower-taxes-for-the-rich theory insists it is – why do people who will never need another dime for the rest of their lives continue comin’ in to work?

The answer?

It’s not about money.

Money is only an issue for people who don’t have enough of it. They need things, sometimes important things like life-saving medicine, and they can’t pay for them. Money is a serious issue for people who need money. Money is not an issue for people who have tons of it. The reason why this economic theory has any traction as all is that the people promoting it encourage the people who need money to believe that the people who don’t need money think the same way they do.

They don’t.

What does money mean to people who don’t need it? Orel Hersheiser, a successful pitcher for the Dodgers in the 80’s, once said, “Money is our way of keeping score.”

That’s all it is. A method of scorekeeping. Billionaires checking the “Hundred Richest People“ list in Fortune magazine, and saying, “Oh, look, I passed Oprah!” “Net worth” measures the standings in the Shekel League. It’s bragging rights. It’s keeping up with the Gates’s. As if you could.

What money’s not is incentive.

I’ve crossed paths with a few really rich people. They don’t talk about money the way people who are short of money do. They don’t talk about it at all. It’s never, “You wanna see my money?” It’s not an issue. What they talk about is their work. And they talk about it with passion and enthusiasm. What Orel Hersheiser implied was that money was a by-product. You do your job and it comes. What really matters is

The Action.

That’s what it’s all about. Being on fire, doing what you do, the very best you can do it. Bottom line, man or woman, we’re talking about “The Big T” – testosterone – and how having that energy juice coursin’ through your blood stream makes you feel. That’s what makes rich people go to work when they’re long past “financial incentive.” They’d work whatever the tax level was. They’d do it for nothing. Those who wouldn’t, they’re not the entrepreneurials we’re talkin’ about. One thing about the true players – in any game you care to mention – they do it to do it. Why?

They’re addicted to the action.

“Action” is combat without the dying (if you don’t count the heart attacks). “Action” is The Ballgame. Everything else? A secondary by-product. Money. Power. Attention from the opposite sex, even if you’re old and ugly. That’s just a fact. You never see a beautiful woman fawning over an elderly homeless guy. Or even a young homeless guy. The hottest-looking homeless guy on the planet – no chance. Well, maybe a little.

On the other hand, old guy with money? “Hello, Dolly!” Aging women with money?

YOUNG BOYFRIEND: “I can’t explain it. We just connect.”

Sure, ya do.

Henry Kissinger said, “Power is an aphrodisiac.” Translation? “Look how ugly I am, and I’m getting movie stars!” It’s not the money. It’s gladiators, hot-wired to the action. How else would you explain Donald Trump attracting anyone?

Look. A lot of rich people simply don’t want to share, but they’re embarrassed to say so. How great, then, is it to discover some economist, claimin’ that rich people sharin’ would bring down the economy! It’s quite a trick, that theory. And when the people who need money swallow it, the wealthy go, “No wonder I’m rich; these Yahoos will buy anything!”

Before you go away thinkin’ I’m some Lefty pinko Redsky, let me add one last thing. Rich or poor, Right or Left, nobody wants to pay taxes if that money’s going to be wasted. That goes not just for “entitlements”, but for tax credits and subsidies as well. It’s the job of everyone in the government, but especially the people supportin’ the principle of taxation, to fight like blazes to insure the credibility of the system. Stop squanderin’ our tax dollars or, sharers or not, nobody’s gonna want to pay.

That’s it. I gotta take a pill.


Next on Uncle Grumpy: Women – Does true equality mean dying as early as men do?

3 comments:

HART said...

WITHOUT THE RICH THE POOR WOULD BE EVEN POORER

IF I HAD ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD I COULDN'T BREAK A TWENTY

TIME IS MONEY AND VISA VERSA.

Max Clarke said...

As Coach said on Cheers, "The fun's in the fun."

Hopalong Thumbelina said...

Hart,

I think uncle grumpy's point was about taxation, not existentialism, nor cynicism.

If you read between the letters, you'd realize that my uncle Grumpy, (yes, I'm related) knows exactly what having money feels like. Hence, the expertise.

From a phonic point of view, your name triggers irony...maybe Fart would suit everyone better?