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Last week we discussed what a life of prosperity really entails.
Quite a few of you wrote to say the message really resonated.
And more than a few of you shared that you had medical or dental issues you hadn't yet addressed, because money to pay for them was an issue.
Of course the knee jerk response is that the government should provide all this for everyone.
With the presidential election heating up here in the States, there's a lot of talk about the government providing prescriptions, medical care, and education.
But that actually is lack and entitlement thinking.
It fosters co-dependency and enablement behavior.
On the surface it looks like prosperity thinking.
But it's actually the opposite.
Because if you believe education is a "right," then you have to ask who pays for it.
If you believe the government should provide free medical care, it brings the same dilemma.
Who will pay the doctors and nurses?
Then who determines how much they get paid?
What if they don't want to work for the government at the salary it determines?
And then what happens when no one will take those jobs because they are basically slave labor to the government?
It takes away free enterprise, and the basic tenants of prosperity, namely property rights and the right to determine what you are paid for your efforts.
To finance things like medical care or education, the government has to raise the money at the point of a gun from the productive people, and redistribute it to the non-productive ones.
(And for anyone who thinks I am being melodramatic with the gunpoint language, I suggest you not pay your taxes for a few years and watch what happens next. You'll be arrested and imprisoned.)
Sadly today, the social order is steadily deteriorating into a mass of people who want something for nothing and governments around the world who want to give it to them.
The government needs you to be a worker drone in the collective, to support the harvesting of wealth from the productive people and providing it to the unproductive - because this solidifies their power base.
If you watch the Democratic Party debates here, the candidates are practically falling all over themselves trying to sell their vision of all the goodies they will provide the working class, by taking them away from those evil, greedy rich people.
The Republican Party, which once upon a time was for less government and taxation, is now desperately trying to out Santa Claus even the Democrats.
Representative Ron Paul, the only voice of sanity in the race, has been almost demonized by his opponents, and the mainstream media is making a concerted message to keep his message from getting out.
He's making a very strong showing anyway, so perhaps the tide is turning.
When I listen to Hillary, Obama and John Edwards, there is a part of me that wants to rally around the flag with them, reach for greatness, and do the right thing by providing for all of the people who are struggling.
Then my sanity returns.
I want the same things they do.
I do want a great country that offers education, health care, and a safety net for poor people.
It wasn't that long ago that I was a poor people myself.
But for the government to provide all these things is Socialism, and Socialism is simply Communism with lipstick on.
Communism is one of those things that looks good, sounds good, and looks good on paper.
Unfortunately it just doesn't work.
One visit to Cuba, China, or the former Soviet Union will prove that beyond even a shred of doubt to any rational person.
John Edwards preaches eloquently about being selfless, and taking care of others.
He loves to rail against the drug companies and the insurance companies and just about any corporation that is profitable.
It sounds like a message of prosperity, but the end results of his policies would be the antithesis of prosperity.
People today live decades longer than they used to.
That's because of dramatic improvements in medical equipment, drug treatments, and other advances.
The drug companies spend billions of dollars in research to develop those drugs.
Hopefully part of their motivation is they want to help people.
But another reason is they want to be the first to market with drugs that make a lot of money for the corporation.
That free market demand is what drives innovation.
Now if you listen to Senator Edwards, you'd get the feeling that all corporations are evil.
But what is a corporation really?
It's a legal entity owned by the shareholders.
And who are the shareholders?
Everyday people who are investing for their retirement.
Trust funds set aside for widows, children, and non-profit organizations.
It would be nice if all those researchers would work for free and develop cures for everything.
But how would they feed their own families?
Who would pay for the millions of dollars of laboratory equipment?
A guy came up to me after a speech, chastising me for suggesting that people should manifest more prosperity in their lives.
He talked about the holes in the ozone layer, the depleting natural resources, and many starving people in the world.
I asked him who he thought was going to save the world.
He replied nurses and schoolteachers.
I told him he was insane.
You probably couldn't pick two occupations more overworked and underpaid than those two.
They don't have time to save the world, because they are too busy struggling to meet their minimum credit card payments.
If there is one thing I know in every fiber of my being it is this:
the world will be saved by rich people.
Poor people carry picket signs protesting the vanishing rain forests.
(Do you know how many trees died for those signs!)
Rich people, we BUY the rain forests, and deed them into trusts.
You see the indigenous people sell these lands because they need the money to live on.
So foresters often buy it and chop down the trees for wood.
But charitable organizations (financed by the donations of wealthy people) can buy them instead.
Cures for disease, solutions to starvation, and better technologies to solve famines will come from money.
Lots of it.
Composers can compose, artists can sculpt and paint, and dancers can dance, because their organizations receive grants from rich people.
For the most part, the wonderful inventions that provide us with better lives - from computers, and cars, to medical equipment, and airplanes, are developed because people have a profit incentive to invest in them.
It's true we don't rally need remote controls.
And it would be better if you got your fat ass off the couch every time you wanted to change the channel.
But if you choose to spend some of the money you've earned to have that convenience, I for one don't begrudge you.
The truth is, the population is growing and there is no going backward.
It will take more power, natural resources, and food to supply the world.
Unless you believe that we should all move back to the jungles, wear palm fronds, and cook by campfire, we will need great innovations to survive.
And those innovations will likely come from companies trying to make a profit.
The free enterprise system and the profit motive causes innovations to happen more often and far more rapidly than it would otherwise.
I don't know about you, but when I'm going to the 27th floor in a building, I'm grateful to have an elevator available.
Now it's not that I don't want people that need help not receive it.
I just don't want the government deciding who I help and how much.
I hope you help others and contribute to charity.
Personally, the number one deduction on my tax return for the last ten years or so has been charity.
And I anticipate it will remain so for the rest of my life.
And I have often helped others with support, even though no one else knows of it, and I don't get a tax credit.
But here are the three criteria I use:
1) The person or organization is worthy of the support. 2) I can afford to do it. 3) It brings me happiness to do it.
That alone is what determines on whom and where I spend my charity dollars.
It certainly has nothing to do with who is the "neediest," or what causes are politically correct.
I support a great deal of causes.
The Opera, symphony, my church, wildlife funds, disease prevention and cures, homeless shelters, runaway shelters, and scholarships.
I have bought computers for aspiring entrepreneurs, stage clothes for upcoming Opera singers, and funded martial arts training for foster kids.
I have supplied academic scholarships for deserving kids, sponsored more amateur sports teams than I can count, and bought holiday presents for hundreds of kids who wouldn't have got any.
But remember last week I said manifesting prosperity required being selfless AND selfish?
That's why I support all of these causes.
Because it actually brings me joy to do so.
As you look around the world today, it is easy to view man as a helpless, subservient robot.
Many people are just worker drones in the collective, living their lives of quiet desperation.
We are surrounded by mediocrity and fear.
But if you look a little deeper, you see something else...
You see the heroism of someone like Bill Cosby, standing up to tell truth.
You witness Dwayne Wade defy the laws of gravity.
Marvel at the triumph of humankind's vision in the Great Pyramids, the Golden Gate Bridge, and skyscrapers to the clouds.
You experience one of Puccini's Opera, Hemingway's books, or a song by Prince.
You're in awe at the courage of a young athlete paralyzed in an accident, someone battling cancer, or a single mother raising her children alone.
You begin to recognize the enormity of the human spirit, and the greatness we are capable of.
You realize that man is not inherently weak and helpless; he just becomes that way when he refuses to use his most powerful tool - his mind.
Or more specifically, the consciousness you can develop with it.
And you recognize that you yourself can do great things, and do them for the right reasons.
You can be bold, daring and imaginative, and live a life of health, happiness, and abundance, all while leaving this world a better place because you were walking on it for a while.