The recent American election can teach us many things. An important thing is the way populism works and how there is no patience among the people for privilege or corruption.
William Watson is a columnist in the Financial Post. I found this paragraph in a story entitled “Asylum for Hillary” conveys an important message about the country, the economy and ourselves. Emphasis added.
The whole election, from Trump to Sanders to those who supported Hillary Clinton in spite of emails revealing a spider’s web of connections and corruption, was about revulsion against privilege. But populism like that is actually the standard conservative, free-market line. Markets are great because they produce riches, sure. But they’re even greater because they’re fair. Nobody gets to write his own ticket. There are no insider deals. To succeed, you have to provide goods and services people want, which is what people like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg all did, with a vengeance.
Watson believes in free trade and hopes President-elect Trump will not endanger it. That is something to see at a future date. He is willing to have laws that prevent insider deals, and we can welcome that. To be fair, markets must be free of ideological bias and preferences.
The paragraph above is a simple outline of what works. It implicitly offers us two choices. Contribute and thrive or sit back and let others look after us. The second of those seems easier for many, but it ignores important variables. Principle among them, will the producers want to carry you forever?
Some people have come to believe there is a way to get something for nothing. They have never been taught the efficient and simple market idea. Many of those lost souls would do well if they had the right approach. They should learn the fundamentals at least. With those they can at least see the limits that imposed charity creates. An important one. The wealthy can defend themselves and when the cost/benefit equation of that works for them, they will. What then?
There is something noble in the idea of getting back what you are worth. Being paid fairly for what you do.
The impediment to that is there are obstacles, inefficiencies and corruption in the way. Some people, usually governments, will manipulate a market to achieve an ideological idea that would likely flourish sooner if left to the fairness market. When their approach fails they will, of course, blame the evil producers who have too much money and who don’t see the wisdom.
We can be smart enough to see through that. Something for nothing should not be a goal. If someone does well fairly, we should applaud them.
Don Shaughnessy arranges life insurance for people who understand the value of a life insured estate. He can be reached at The Protectors Group, a large insurance, employee benefits, and investment agency in Peterborough, Ontario. In previous careers, he has been a partner in a large international public accounting firm, CEO of a software start-up, a partner in an energy management system importer, and briefly in the restaurant business.
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