Imagine that you are an employer and economic conditions have required you to cut back wherever possible. Some of you reading this won’t have to try very hard to imagine such a scenario.
Imagine how your employees would feel if your response to the need for belt-tightening was to freeze wage rates or possibly even cut wages and benefits. On the benefit side, imagine that you dropped health insurance coverage for your employees and their families and that you suspended all travel and training programs, much of which had been offered to help your employees qualify for opportunities for advancement within you company.
It is reasonable to expect that your employees would be disappointed, at the very least, and we can be certain that some would be angry and resentful. During hard times, however, people understand that sacrifices must be made and the majority of your people would not lose their trust and respect for their employer or for you and your leadership.
Now, let us add a new variable to the equation. Let us assume that the members of the management team have not been asked to make corresponding sacrifices, even in this difficult economy. Imagine, in fact, that your management team is still eligible for the same salary increases and bonuses that were common when times were good. Imagine also, that the management team got to keep their executive health package and that they routinely attend training programs, seminars, and conferences in many locations around the U.S. and the world.
How would these factors affect the morale of your employees not to mention their loyalty to their company and its leadership team? Would they still be willing to endure the sacrifices they have been asked to make? Would they still be committed to the long-term best interests of your organization?
We all know, at least at an intellectual level, that such decisions on the part of management would have huge consequences with respect to their ongoing relationship with their people. No doubt many would begin looking for new opportunities.
Now, let us take a step back and think about the current reality about the way the federal government, particularly Congress and the executive branch, treat the American people at the low end of the economic continuum.
Whether these Americans are minimally employed, unemployed, on welfare or disability, depend on Medicaid or Medicare, or are on a fixed retirement income that depends almost totally on Social Security; every time the government feels the need to reduce spending it is the people in this group that are asked to take the hit. How do you think these people feel when Congress refuses to even consider asking the wealthy to pay a little more in taxes.
These Americans cannot get decent healthcare for their families, ObamaCare not with-standing, while they read about the extravagant health plan that Congress creates for themselves and their families. They also read that virtually every other developed nation on the planet considers healthcare to be a right of citizenship and provides comprehensive healthcare and prescription drugs for their people.
In the interim the poor, the unemployed, and the underemployed citizens of what is considered to be the richest and most powerful nation in the history of the world are asked to believe in an American dream that is little more than illusion to them.
These people are told to take advantage of the opportunities of this great nation and that an education is the ticket to the American dream. What these American know to be true is that getting a good education is a myth when they are asked to send their kids off to public schools that have embarrassing failure rates and that seem to chew their children up and spit them out.
As a result, these Americans no longer believe in the American dream and they no longer teach their children that the dream exists. Neither do they teach their children that getting an education is important and something for which they should work hard and make sacrifices. Not surprisingly, the children of these Americans arrive at their first day of school with precious little motivation to learn and are poorly prepared to succeed. Rather than accept responsibility as a partner with their children’s teachers and principals for the educational success of their children, these mothers and fathers look at school as a form of free day care that keeps the kids out of the house for eight hours a day, five days a week.
They see an educational process that is focused on failure. When their children struggle to understand their lessons, rather than take extra time to make sure their kids understand, they see their children pushed prematurely from one lesson to the next by teachers who do not seem to care. The result is that their children fall further and further behind until they are so hopelessly lost that they give up on themselves. They begin to lose all hope that they can catch up with their classmates and they learn quickly that the surest way not to suffer the humiliation of failure is to avoid participation. The rest of us sit back in indignation, clueless to the dynamics of this reality.
The parents of these children understand what their children are feeling because it is the very same thing they felt when they were still in school. As a result they refuse to cooperate with their children’s teachers because they view those teachers as adversaries and as tellers of lies; as so-called professionals who simply cannot be trusted to do what is best for their children.
As this cycle of failure repeats itself semester after semester and year after year, why do we seem surprised that these children grow up and give birth to a whole new generation of children who are reared in an atmosphere of hopelessness and powerlessness.
Other Americans become frustrated with these people because they rarely exercise their right to vote and seem unwilling to accept the responsibilities of citizenship. We cannot quite comprehend that these Americans feel this way because they have absolutely no faith that their voices make a difference. As a result these men and women are effectively disenfranchised. They feel hopeless and powerless to control the outcomes in their own lives and in the lives of their children.
The rest of us point the finger at these Americans, never fully comprehending that the reality in which these Americans live and endure is one that exists solely as a consequence of our own actions; of the decisions and policies of people who view themselves as leaders of the free world.
As we have pointed out in earlier posts, we are fast approaching a tipping point in which mainstream Americans can no longer bear the weight of the poor, the uneducated, the hopeless, the powerless, and the disenfranchised. As we sit by in our blissful ignorance and self-righteousness, that tipping point is rushing at us at the speed of desperation.