This is a purely European, class-warfare statement. Americans have never begrudged the success of people. It is a European attitude that pits the successful against those who are not in the same economic strata.
There has been a saying around for a while that defines the difference in outlook. The saying goes that when a European sees someone driving an expensive car, they ask why that person gets to drive that vehicle. When an American sees someone driving an expensive car, they say “I am going to get me one of those.” Americans don’t begrudge others’ success; they just want to join them.
Despite my trips to Europe, I was not quite clear that the Europeans actually thought so selfishly about others’ success. It became clear when I had the opportunity to meet Shel Talmy. Mr. Talmy came into my office for some financial help. You may be unaware of this man, but he‘s quite famous in the history of Rock and Roll. Mr. Talmy was the original record producer not only for The Who, but also for The Kinks. He had lived in England for over thirty years despite being American born. When I inquired as to why he had returned after all these years, he stated he could no longer handle the negative attitude of the Brits. He then launched into retelling me the parable about the car. Mr. Talmy could not handle the negativism any longer.
My German client expressed the same attitude. When we met her in her hometown of Munich, she expressed how much she missed the positivism of America. Questioning other peoples’ success is a quintessentially European trait.
Mr. Obama has become our first European President by buying into their attitudes about people’s success. His overture to the G-20 on limiting compensation appears to be an end run around the American people and their reluctance to prohibit other’s success. Maybe he believes if the G-20, largely populated by European leaders, goes along with his onslaught against higher-income folks, he will be able to fulcrum that through the Congress and the American people.
Our country has always been a place of limitless opportunity. If you achieve, you are rewarded. Though there are inequities, the system usually rewards the hardest workers and the risk-takers. It may not be a perfect system, but it has created 42 million jobs over the last 25 years while Europe has been stagnant.
Mr. Obama has achieved much despite his modest beginning. He now has a large home and a chauffeured-driven car. What he should aim for is everyone in America having the same opportunity. He should forget the European attitude and encourage people to want to get a Corvette. That is the America we want to keep and that is why our forefathers left Europe behind.
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