ME AND IMAGINARY BIG BIZ SIT DOWN FOR A CHAT

BB: Marianne, thank you so much for being here today.

ME: Thanks, Big Biz. I’m delighted to be able to discuss things. I have a lot of questions for you.

BB: Fire away. I’ve got questions for you as well.

ME: OK. Well, let me start with this: what do you think of the current polarized political situation in America? No one is happy, it seems, and no one is getting the things they need.

BB: We’re all in a tough place now. But we’ve got to be responsible, bite the bullet, stay the course, and get this deficit monster off our backs, and reduce government bloat.

ME: Yes, of course.

BB: I know some liberals and loud-mouthed union bosses don’t want to hear it, but what we are doing in DC and in the State legislatures is for everyone’s good. They’ll all come around someday when they’ve got a little more money in their pockets, and want to keep it!

ME: Everyone wants to be able to support their families and not worry about where their next meal is coming from.

BB: Now, missy, this is where you are wrong about people. You’ve got a lot of people in this country who have no intentions of working. If the government will pay their ways, they’ll just sit back and take the cash. We have generations of people who think they are entitled to handouts!

ME: Ever look at a bell curve?

BB: Sure. Distribution. Mean, medians.

ME: Right. There’s a natural bell curve to almost everything in our world. There are the people you talk about down the very end, or people who by physical or mental circumstance or choice cannot obtain paid work. There are people like you at the other side, who are super-achievers, or inherited a great deal, who have almost every advantage one could have in life. But the vast majority of people are in the middle somewhere. Most have good ability to work, and honest motivations to support themselves fairly.

BB: Honey, that’s just na├»ve. Someone offers you a free cookie, you gonna turn that down?

ME: I like cookies, but I don’t need them all.

BB: You like people stealing the cookies you worked for and bought yourself?

ME: There is a difference between want and need. Why don’t we leave the allegorical talk behind for a moment? Let me get back to my point. In the natural world, there are poor and there are rich, those who are challenged and those who are gifted. And most people are a little bit of it all. The problem is that you’ve skewed the curve, and that messes up the natural order.

BB: And just how is that?

ME: You’ve bought up all the cookies. But instead of building a cookie factory here to make jobs and goods available to others, which supports order, you’ve eaten the cookies, banked them, or sent them off to pay for far cheaper labor pools in other countries.

BB: It’s un-American to tell me how to run my business. This is a capitalist country, not a daycare or a charity ward.

ME: It’s un-American to deprive those less-fortunate of opportunities to work by hoarding resources and outsourcing to unprotected workers in 3rd world countries.

BB: I have a right to keep my success! If workers here weren’t so greedy with their increasing demands for health insurance and pensions and vacation time, we’d give them the work. American workers have priced themselves out of the real-world market. They aren’t worth it. I can’t afford them and continue to build my business.

ME: You can’t afford them and continue to make as much profit. But you would still profit, plenty.

BB: By limiting my vision, you limit my motivation and my potential. I’ll pack up and take my business to another country, how about that?

ME: You can do that. Many have. But many haven’t, because they’ve been able to infiltrate into our highest levels of government. You’ve paid for politicians who repay you by making sure your taxes are low or nonexistent through loopholes and concessions. They put through legislation that gives you more authority and your workers less. They make sure the pile of cash you worship stands taller than the Statue of Liberty.

BB: Typical bleeding-heart nonsense. I’m a patriot!

ME: What makes you a patriot if you have absolutely no investment in your fellow citizens other than what you can squeeze out of them? You don’t care if they are undereducated. You don’t care if they can’t make their house payments and end up in a motel. You don’t care if they can see a doctor if they are sick. They keep telling you, so many millions and millions of people, that they are drowning. And not only are you not listening, you are pushing their heads below the water, even those who are strong swimmers.

BB: You can’t make this my problem. People sometimes need to hit rock bottom before they get tough with themselves and work harder to achieve what they want.

ME: It is your problem. We all live in the same house. When you purposefully deprive others of being able to access the things that build a strong foundation, your house – your house – will crumble someday. People get ill and then stay ill. They aren't getting what they need out of the educational system, or are burdened by crippling college debt. They are angry and even in their best efforts to achieve, get nowhere. Look at what can happen to very large populations of disenfranchised people. You risk radicalizing them. Don’t think it can’t happen here. When it gets to the point that people have nothing left to lose, they will come to you, one way or another. If you shut off their ability to have a say in how their lives go, they will do whatever it takes to be heard again.

BB: That sounds like a threat.

ME: No. I have hope things will never get that bad. I still feel that most people just want to live modest lives, enjoy their families in peace and not be worrying how they are going to survive.

BB: So your solution is bigger government, a social welfare state, with all the mess and corruption and waste that goes along with that, and a country that feels just fine with taking something for nothing. I’ve heard this all before. It doesn’t work.

ME: Big Biz can assist government by working with them to modernize and restructure and streamline, to find inventive solutions to reduce bloat. But government is not a business, it should be noted. It is there to serve and protect the citizens, to do the things that keep everyone strong. “Give us your tired and poor” must have more meaning than “Give us your tired and poor, if I can profit off them.”

BB: It’s not like I don’t give back. I have a foundation.

ME: For tax reasons.

BB: There’s nothing wrong with that.

ME: You go to church?

BB: Every Sunday.

ME: So…what would Jesus do? What was his message?

BB: Well…look how he ended up.

ME: Sigh. Big Biz, I’m not making my point here with you, am I.

BB: Nope. And I’m not getting through to you either, right?

ME: You and I pretty much represent how divided our country is, about almost every issue there is to work on.

BB: Yup.

ME: Well, I’ve got to get going. I’d wish you good luck, but you’ve already had so much. You hardly need it.

BB: Not luck, sweetie, hard work. Hard work and smarts.

ME: And all those people who supported you, the nurses and teachers and cops and factory workers and electricians and systems analysts and accountants and…

BB: There is only one winner in a race.

ME: And when they cheat they get disqualified.

BB: Endless. You never shut up.

ME: Nope.