Any mechanic will tell you that the first step in fixing something is to correctly identify the reason for the problem. If you try to solve the wrong problem, your actions not only won’t fix the original situation, they might even make matters worse.
We all know this. It’s why we look for the mechanic who can listen to the funny noise and accurately tell us why our car is making it.
So, why aren’t we doing the same thing when we look at the situation in America today?
We are told that America has a debt problem and a jobs problem. If we could just get rid of the debt and create more jobs, everything would be fine. And it is certainly true that America has a monstrous debt and unacceptable levels of unemployment.
But are the debt and the unemployment the reason for the situation in America today, or are they the result of the reason?
Consider the following – all true examples of the behavior of Americans today.
John was injured. He required surgery and then rehab. He was absolutely open about the fact that he was going to stay on worker’s compensation as long as he possibly could, and was not planning to go back to work until his benefits had all been exhausted.
This is not a financial problem – it’s a character problem. Something we used to call Honor is missing.
Harry owns a small manufacturing business. He wanted to hire a few people. He was paying between $10 and $15 an hour for a full-time entry level position in the shop. He couldn’t hire anyone because the applicants told him that their unemployment benefits had not yet run out, and they could make almost as much money staying home, so they were not interested in working. They did ask him to keep them in mind for when their benefits were exhausted.
This also is a character problem. Something we used to call Self-Respect is gone.
Tom owned a business. He enrolled in a government program in which the government subsidized 50% of the salary of a worker who was hired from the welfare rolls for the first 6 months of the worker’s employment. He hired a single mother who was trying to attain financial independence. She received outstanding evaluations. At the end of the 6 months, Tom told her that she was being terminated. When she asked why, she was told that the 6-month subsidy had expired, so she was being replaced by another worker who could be subsidized. The mother could not re-apply for assistance for herself and her little one for 6 weeks, so she would have no income at all during that period.
Another character problem. This time it’s Justice that has disappeared.
There are many more such stories, and the common thread is a lack of character that creates a financial problem.
No one wants to talk about that. It seems that it is easier to look in our wallets than it is to look in our mirrors.
But until we do, we won’t solve anything. We can’t solve a character problem with a fiscal wrench. It’s like trying to muffle the strange noise our car is making instead of dealing with the broken part. The car will still be broken.
Ask any good mechanic.
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