I had written the following article just prior to tonight's third and final presidential debate. The name of an Ohio plumber was mentioned 20 times between the two candidates. I was very disappointed as the debate progressed, to find that neither candidate was able to truly understand the perspective of plumber Joe and the strengths of capitalism Vs. socialism.
Last week, at a recent Obama campaign event, an unscripted question was asked by an ambitious hardworking plumber named Joe Wurzelbacher. This ambitious plumber says he works 10 to 12 hours per day and lives in a modest 90 to 140 thousand dollar home. He asked Obama: "I'm getting ready to buy a company that makes $250,000 to $280,000 a year, Your new tax plan is going to tax me more, isn't it?"
Obama's surprising response was: "It's not that I want to punish your success, I just want to make sure that everybody who is behind you, that they've got a chance for success, too ... When you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody."
Click on the video below to hear the entire exchange between Obama and "Plumber Joe"
Obama's response is wrong on many levels. What is worse is that Obama does not understand what motivates this plumber to work so long and hard, sacrifice for so many years and risk everything he has for a chance at success.
This plumber has clearly sacrificed for years, in terms of his time, effort, lifestyle and the saving of his money to purchase the company that he now works for. His motivation is clearly that if he works hard, long and honestly, and sacrifices fancy cars, clothing, houses, fancy meals and expensive vacations, he has a chance to become wealthy. Of course the chances are just as good, that after all of his sacrifices and hard work, he loses it all, and must start over from square one. This is what is meant by "risk Vs. reward". This is the fundamental principle of capitalism. Our capitalist system often rewards those who are motivated to offer their customers better service and value than their competition, and accommodate their customers by finishing jobs on time, even if it means working evenings and weekends and charging less than their competion. Democratic capitalism is capable of motivating people to do “the extraordinary”, while providing jobs, innovation and wealth for their community and their country. American capitalism has led to innovations that have truly raised the standard of living worldwide. Risk Vs. reward is at the core of American capitalism.
Innovation, honesty, hard work and excellence in service are used by a motivated individuals, in order to surpass their competition. Obama clearly showed his ignorance about American capitalism as well as human motivation when he said: "It's not that I want to punish your success," I just want to make sure that everybody who is behind you, that they've got a chance for success, too ... When you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody."
The last thing that this plumber wants is for his competition to have an advantage that he never had nor needed. He got where he is today by working harder, smarter, longer and better than those behind him. He wants them to continue to be behind him, that's how he gets ahead. Staying ahead is what motivates him to get up earlier than his competition, work longer than his competition, and offer a better value than his competition.
If the guy behind “Joe the plumber” wants a chance at success, all he has to do is to wake up earlier than Joe, work harder than Joe, be more innovative than Joe, hire better employees than Joe and offer his customers a better value than Joe. Joe knows this, and that is what motivates him to “walk the extra mile”. Millions of people like Joe, who walk the extra mile, is what has brought America the prosperity that we now enjoy. Obama is asking people like Joe to share the wealth, without asking others to share the risk, sacrifice, talent and priorities. Taxing a man's sacrifices, hopes, dreams and ambitions and giving the money to those who are less ambitious and averse to risk, is tantamount to larceny. It can also crush one's spirit.
When you “spread the wealth around”, you de-motivate people like this plumber to do extraordinary work, come up with extraordinary innovations, and demand excellence from employees in exchange for better wages.
By taking from the successful people and giving to people who “haven't made it”, you are rewarding mediocrity and punishing excellence. It is extremely clear to me that there can only be one end result. That result is more mediocrity and less excellence. This is exactly what you will get with socialism.
Democratic capitalism leads to innovation, high wages, efficiency, motivated workers, high rates of employment, good wages, excellent products, opportunity and greater wealth for all classes of society.
Socialism promises equality, which has never been attained. But more importantly, socialism guarantees mediocrity in goods, services, pay rates, employment opportunities and individual motivation. Most importantly, when you take from the rich and give to the poor, you end up with less rich people and more poor people.
Democratic capitalism provides greater wealth for all classes of society. People all have the opportunity to find their own way to the top if they choose to make sacrifices by spending their own money, time, effort and their natural God-given talents to improve their own lot in life. Most people do not choose this “tough row to hoe”, but those who do, have a chance at success. This is the very definition of freedom. The best, brightest, most innovative and hardest working people will rise to the top. Any system that leads these type of people to the top, will lift up everyone in the system. They have provided wealth for all of the people who work for them and the companies who they purchase goods from in the course of business. When a plumbing company succeeds, it also helps the company that manufactures and sells pipes, toilets, water heaters, etc. When a plumbing company succeeds, it also helps all of the people who enjoy the goods, services and innovations that it provides. Not that long ago, plumbers invented and made available, toilets, water heaters and indoor plumbing.
Each and every advancement was made by people like Joe, who were striving to get ahead by staying ahead of their competition. Obama says that Joe should want to help the people behind him. In fact, people like Joe, spend every waking moment trying to stay ahead of the people behind him, not trying to help them. Obama does not understand capitalism, business nor human motivation.
It is paramount that we educate all Americans to these truths. Unfortunately, many schools and universities are teaching our children that capitalism is corrupt and unfair but government regulation and social engineering programs, including “spreading the wealth”, is fair and helps the little guy. In this sense, our educational system is harmful to our economic well being and the future of our nation. Politicians use this theme to win elections because there are more little guys and less wealthy people. There have always been more common people than wealthy people. This is the way it is, and the way that history shows it has always been. Outcomes will never be equal because human motivation, passion, competency, priorities and desires vary among all of us. History has shown that human passions and motivation can only be stifled by government. Our individual abilities, passions and desires are given to us by God and are boundless when left unfettered by government regulation and taxes. Democratic capitalism, restrained and tempered by religious morals as exemplified in the Judeo-Christian ethic, is what has led to America becoming the freest, most prosperous and most powerful nation that this world has ever seen. America's wealth, innovation and compassion has improved the lot of people worldwide. Obama's socialist ideas of “ spreading the wealth around”, actually insures that there will be less wealth for everyone and will create regulations that breed corruption, waste and inefficiency. Our individual and collective prosperity can only increase, if government stands clear of plumber Joe's noble passions. Government may be able to redistribute existing wealth, but only motivated people like plumber Joe can create it.
Click on the video below to hear Neil Cavuto interview "Plumber Joe"