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August 24, 2012 8:48 AM Age: 8 yrs

I Don’t Want to Eat Your Lunch…

Category: Larry Checco
Source:  Larry Checco, featured commentator

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If you held any doubts as to which direction the Republican presidential ticket would take this country if it were to be elected this fall, with the selection of Paul Ryan as vice presidential candidate, doubt no longer.

It would be an Ayn Randian society in which the individual trumps (no pun intended to The Donald) the collective, or community; a society where selfishness and greed are worshipped, altruism is frowned on and government is the enemy of the good.

"I grew up reading Ayn Rand,” Ryan said in a 2005 speech, “and it taught me quite a bit about who I am and what my value systems are and what my beliefs are. It's inspired me so much that it's required reading in my office for all my interns and my staff.”

In case you aren’t familiar with what those values are, what follows, in her own words, are just some of what Ayn Rand held—and presumably Paul Ryan still holds—passionately close to the heart:

  • “I swear, by my life and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.”
  • “A government is the most dangerous threat to man’s rights: it holds a legal monopoly on the use of physical force against legally disarmed victims.”
  • “If any civilization is to survive, it is the morality of altruism that men have to reject.”
  • “Money is the barometer of a society's virtue.”

In short, I got mine; you’re on your own, bud.  Nice, from a guy like Representative Ryan who gained much of his personal wealth through marriage and ostensibly claims to espouse deep Christian values.

As a caller recently said on a popular radio talk show, "Ayn Rand’s philosophy seems like a capitalists wet dream."

Is Money the Score Card?

Many years ago, an ambitious entrepreneur told me that money is just a game, a way of keeping score. 

The metaphor reminded me of a bumper sticker I’ve seen on more than one luxury car that’s passed me on the New Jersey Turnpike:  He who dies with the most toys wins.

Wins what, I ask?

I know a lot of people, and you probably do, as well, who spend their entire lives toiling at jobs they despise to earn buckets of money to buy things to impress people they don’t care about or even know.  They’d eat your lunch—worse yet, your dog—to get ahead.

Believe it or not, many of us don’t want to get up in the morning worrying about how to eat someone else’s lunch.  We’re more interested in simply enjoying our own.

Our goal in life is not the pursuit of money for money’s sake.  Instead we’re chasing our lives’ passions.  We just need enough money to live comfortably.

We may be aspiring novelists, artists, or actors, or we may have simply given up the opportunity to acquire fortune and fame for the satisfaction of helping others because we understand the value of community. Imagine that, Ayn!

We don’t truck with Madison Avenue’s notion that our next purchase will buy us eternal bliss. 

Instead, we work hard at trying to identify and appreciate what I refer to as spontaneous moments of joy—or SMOJ’s. 

Whether it’s spending more quality time with our families or drawing in our first breath of fresh air and feeling grateful for the opportunity to experience a new day, our goal is quality of life, not quantity of things.

Is Envy the Reason?

Earlier this year, Mitt Romney explained to Matt Lauer of the Today show, “I think it’s about envy.  I think it’s about class warfare…. those people who have been most successful will be in the one percent”.

Well, Mitt, Paul and their ilk have got it all wrong.  It’s not about envy or warfare, at all.

If success for you is to work an 80-hour week and become rich, go for it!  Most of us in the remaining 99 percent don’t resent or envy that.

However, what we do react passionately against is if you’re screwing the rest of us as you claw your way up the corporate ladder. 

Do you hear that, Wall Street?!  Make your money honestly and ethically and we’ll get off your back.

The bottom line in November is are we going to elect leaders that take us down a road where individual aggrandizement is more important than our sense of community, and altruism is viewed as a weakness rather than a virtue?

Or are we going to send the message that we value each other both as individuals and community members, and believe that working for the common good is good for us all?

By the way, Ayn Rand also said, “The question isn't who is going to let me; it's who is going to stop me.”

As voters, we need to give that question some very serious thought when we mark our ballots in November.

Larry Checco is president of Checco Communications.  His latest book is entitled Aha! Moments in Brand Management: Commonsense Insights to a Stronger, Healthier Brand.  Checco Communications is a consulting firm that specializes in branding.  Larry’s take is different.  His message is that good branding is far less about marketing, advertising and public relations and far more about quality leadership and staff, appropriate and ethical behavior, and an organization’s willingness, ability and commitment to live up to the promises, or covenant, its brand represents. His first book, Branding for Success: A Roadmap for Raising the Visibility and Value of Your Nonprofit Organization, has sold thousands of copies worldwide.

Contents © 2012 by Larry Checco - All Rights Reserved

Published by: Corporate Governance & Accountability Advisors, Inc. Content & Concepts ©2008 by CG&AA, Inc. All rights reserved