The working middle class dreams of an actual meritocracy, where performance is rewarded regardless of race, creed, or color.
The American ideals were birthed as a level playing field, rewarding people based upon their contributions, not their social status or credentials.
The American Dream promised: Do a little, receive a little; do a lot, receive a lot – just like my experience in competitive sports.
May the best man or woman or team win, based upon performance.
No class system, no special deals, just an opportunity to win based upon one’s results.
However, this system is not what the power-elites desire.
According to Nathaniel Branden, the late power-elite Bennett Cerf was quoted as saying, “You have to throw welfare programs at people – like throwing meat to a pack of wolves–even if the programs don’t accomplish their alleged purpose and even if they’re morally wrong.”
When Branden asked why, Cerf meekly replied, “Because otherwise they’ll kill you. The masses. They hate intelligence. They’re envious of ability. They resent wealth. You’ve got to throw them something, so they’ll let us live.”
Unfortunately, Cerf’s description is closer to America’s reality than the American Dream of a true meritocracy.
When a modern leader brings up meritocracy, there are nearly always two main reactions.
On one hand is the group who gets excited and thankful, realizing that they have an opportunity to win based upon their own efforts and results.
On the other hand is the group who gets upset and bitter, realizing they will no longer be able to hide from the scoreboard of life, since they will be exposed by their lack of effort and results.
On a personal note, I was involved in community building for 5 1/2 years with little to show for it, but I never blamed anyone else.
In fact, in a true free enterprise environment, a person loses only when he begins blaming someone else for his lack of results.
Refuse to play the blame game.
Instead focus on continuous improvement to win based upon merit.
Who Wants to Play King of the Mountain?
Regardless of the rhetoric of either side, meritocracy is simply the only system that is fair for all people.
Indeed, meritocracy ensures that everyone is given an equal opportunity and playing field.
Imagine playing a game of King of the Mountain where everyone has a right to enter the game and battle their way to the mountaintop.
New participants join the game with the goal of running to the top and knocking off the current King of the Mountain.
This is an analogy of a true free enterprise system.
Anyone can enter and compete, but if you don’t perform, don’t come crying to mommy.
People can enter as individuals or teams, but no group gets a special deal.
The King today may be knocked off tomorrow by better ideas, strategy, and people.
The referee (government) is supposed to be neutral (justice), ensuring everyone plays the games by the rules.
Imagine the travesty that would occur if the current King of the Mountain bought off the referees, forcing all new participants to carry a 50 pound bag on their back (extra regulations).
Even if the King has to carry the bag also, it’s much easier to be on top with 50 pounds than to run up a mountain side with it.
The more government rigs the game, the less free enterprise flourishes and the more a class society results.
Western Civilization is at a crossroads because Big Banks and Big Business do not like to lose and believe they are “too big to fail.”
They have rigged the game to ensure that the “idle rich” stay on top, while the rest of us run around wondering why no one seems to knock Kings of the Mountain anymore.
Big Government must stop playing the biased referee and return to the neutral umpire that it’s supposed to be.
Either this will change, or the West, as we know it, will die.
Vacancies on New Mountains Only
One might be wondering how Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, etc. made it to the top of the mountain.
In truth, nearly all of the new big league entrepreneurs made it to the top of new mountains without pre-established hierarchies of bureaucratic corporations already on the mountaintop.
In other words, since most of the old mountains are now closed by the unethical partnership of Big Business and Big Government, the only opportunities for hungry entrepreneurs are to innovate into the new fields where the mountaintops are still vacant.
Innovation and competition is fantastic on the new mountains, but imagine how much more innovation would occur if Western Society opened up all its mountaintops, like a true free enterprise system should and competitive sports does?
For example, can one see how perturbed the established energy companies would be if some crazy innovator developed a way to convert water into workable energy?
Do you think the established order would support the new innovator or attempt to quash his or her ideas because trillions of dollars are on the line?
Regretfully, squashing the new entrepreneur is too frequently the modus operandi in Western economics.
Everyone in society, except the few with the special deals, are hurt by the current state of affairs.
Simply put, without entrepreneurial innovation, an economy stagnates and declines; freedom is a prerequisite for entrepreneurial innovation.
Challenge and Response
What if leadership communities, groups of people who educate themselves and others on historic leadership and liberty principles, joined together and formed free communities for real change?
In my book, RESOLVED: 13 Resolutions for LIFE, I talk about Arnold Toynbee and his thesis of “Challenge and Response.”
We are going through one of these critical periods where the West has serious challenges to respond to and it takes leaders to respond.
Throughout the history of the West, citizen leaders have stood up to tyranny whenever the need arose to right the wrongs.
Today’s issues demand courageous leaders who will respond similarly, standing up and fixing them, doing what is right because it is right.
In 1979, Henry Ford II, in a Chicago Business School Conference, shared,
“I sometimes suspect that many American capitalists actually distrust the market as much as capitalism’s enemies do. There are whole industries today that prefer to escape the market’s disciplines. Such businessmen only encourage those who seek reform through the government, who seek greater regulation of business and greater governmental control over the private sector. But solutions like those are alien to our national experience, and American capitalism has a duty to fight them.”
See the challenge?
Even the industrial icons recognize the problem.
Is America finally ready to respond?
Isn’t it time for a LeaderShift?
Orrin Woodward co-authored the New York Times bestseller Launching a Leadership Revolution. His first solo book RESOLVED: 13 Resolutions for LIFE made the Top 100 All-Time Best Leadership Books List. Orrin was awarded as the 2011 IAB Leader of the Year.
Orrin has co-founded two multi-million dollar leadership companies and serves as the Chairman of the Board of the LIFE Business. He has a B.S. degree from GMI-EMI (now Kettering University) in manufacturing systems engineering. He holds four U.S. patents, and won an exclusive National Technical Benchmarking Award.
He follows the sun between residences in Michigan and Florida with his lovely wife Laurie and their children. Orrin’s leadership thoughts are shared on his blog – orrinwoodwardblog.com.