Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Cookie Jar

It has been a long-running debate. The Ayn Rand free-market "Get Government Off My Back"-ists would argue that capitalism is a self-policing and self-healing system. Alan Greenspan now says, "Well, maybe I made a mistake in that calculation." I once heard a small town mayor say that it wasn't necessary to require businesses that would serve customers to have any parking spaces ... the business owners will learn that if they don't provide a place for customers to park, nobody will come to buy. I replied that free-market capitalism would sell it's daughter on the street to make a quick profit. Businesses won't put in enough parking if there isn't some ordinance that specifies the rules. They'll all figure that customers will park next door, and then come over to their fancy storefront.

That said, I must say I'd favor fewer laws, not more. I'd like the Internal Revenue Code to be simpler, not more complex. I don't want freedoms to be diminished. Nobody does. But, in the crowded 21st Century we will be drawing some important lines, weighing carefully some opposing views, and coming to grips as a society with very complex and tough philosophical questions.

Slogans won't get us to a solution, though the value of marketing is great in a capitalist society. Make no mistake about it, we in America are a capitalist society. So, if we're not careful, and don't consider our reasons for our actions and beliefs, we'll likely just go with a slogan instead.

My thought for today is simply this ... we put the cookie jar on a high shelf for a reason.

If it's easy to dip into the cookie jar, if it puts temptation in our face at every hour of the day and night, it becomes very easy to do unhealthy and enjoyable things ... like eat too many cookies.

We see Wall Street doing that this year. The CEO's give each other raises. They appoint their friends to the Board of Directors for million dollar compensation packages and in return the Board of Directors give them, well, sometimes *Billions* of dollars. Billions, with a capital "B". Really, check out the guy from United Healthcare. $1.6 Billion in stock options.

It is time for the American people to put the cookie jar on a high shelf.

It won't be easy. Most of the lawmakers are in the coin pockets of Big Business. I saw a bumper sticker that proclaimed, "If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention." For real change to occur in America, we will have to pay attention.

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