Dan Kennedy

I started noticing new talking points oozing out this past week. Rather than cite specifics, I’d like to encourage you to be on alert for them. They all have to do with the new gospel of less.

America at its best has always been about ambition – the desire for more. Now this new gospel of less holds that this very ambition has been the root cause of every problem we have – from pirates attacking our ships to terrorists hating us to the Wall Street melt-down. The preachers of this gospel have picked up where Reverend Wright left off, suggesting that our very success is the magnet justifiably attracting so much hatred, and it’d serve us better to dial it back.

We are now told – and I’m quoting nearly verbatim from this past Sunday’s discussion on “Meet The Press” – that we will need to re-set, to re-calibrate, to learn to want less, to live more modestly, to spend less and save more. To grow our own food and quilt our own clothes. To be Amish.

The President has, of course, demonized anyone who dares to earn over $250,000.00 a year, and made it abundantly clear he intends punishing such over-reaching at every opportunity. And there are plenty of people who welcome such ideas – at least until the negative effects circle all the way around to ruin their lives. After all, the overwhelming majority of Americans never set foot in a library after leaving school, do not read even one book a year, do nothing to improve their skills, do nothing to learn about managing money, nothing to earn any exceptional rewards. They don’t “thank God for opportunity,” but they do “thank God it’s Friday.”

This and no other reason explains why there is a top 1 percent, a near-top 4 percent, and a 95 percent nowhere near the top. Income disparity has more to do with ambition and initiative disparity than all other factors combined. So it shouldn’t surprise us that a president who throws around other peoples’ money with unprecedented abandon is painting over-achievers as evil-doers, over-achievement as cause of all ills, and under-achievement as the life choice most worthy of pats on the back and hand-outs from the, well. Scare us, I suppose, but surprise us? No.


Dan Kennedy

Dan Kennedy is a serial entrepreneur and contributor to the Business & Media Institute.