Consider the pie chart.
Now consider that 1 percent of the American public holds 90 percent of the American wealth. It is the image of a completely unbalanced pie-chart.
The uberwealthy, hyper-rich citizens among us have forsaken trust in human nature and instead chosen to exploit human weakness for their own selfish gain.
I’m currently reading a book on negotiation with the terrible title of Negotiation Genius. I can tell you there isn’t much genius involved with this book… But it does offer some useful ideas.
For example: Value Creation!
Value creation is when two negotiating parties can look at any given situation and brainstorm ideas of how to create value from the results of the situation. Does this make sense to you? It’s essentially gambling, but here’s an example from the book – I’ll paraphase.
A few years back the Chicago Bulls had an awesome basketball player named Dennis Rodman. Rodman is quite possibly the best rebounder I’ve ever seen. He would pluck that bastketball out of thin air like he was plucking the highest coconut in the tree. He was a player of incredible value to the Bulls. Rodman was also a bit of a rockstardivatempertamptress and would frequently miss games and piss lots of people off. So, when Rodman’s contract came up for negotiation the negotiators went to work on it. Instead of just offering Rodman a price that they thought was fair, they also offered him incentives like if he wins another rebounding title he gets a buttload of money, and if he plays in a certain amount of games he gets another buttload of money, and if the Bulls win another championship you better get another buttload of money. Anyway, you get the point. That year Rodman played better than ever, won the title, played the games, and the bulls won the championship. So both Rodman and the bulls won out with the results of that negotiation. Now, the act of value creation on the negotiator’s part comes with the additions of the incentives to the player. These incentives made him a more dynamic player to watch for well-paying audiences so both sides ended up making out very well.
What if we applied this principle of value creation to our current cultural and economic situation?
If we were to sit down around the negotiation table between The People and The Man listening patiently to their negotiation concerning the redistribution of wealth, it might sound a little something like the following dialogue. Enjoy.
The People: Fine day for some negotiating isn’t it old chum?
The Man: Fine day indeed good sir, where shall we start?
The People: Let us begin with the simple and true fact that you have quite nearly every penny of The People locked up and stowed away. Either that, or you’ve (god forbid) spent it. Because we certainly don’t have anything! It is high time that you redistributed your savings in order to improve the life of The People. It’s either that, or we take it back forcefully. And we out number you.
The Man: Well You certainly seem to have me bent over the table don’t You?
The People: Yes sir, I’m afraid we do. But We don’t want to have to hit you nor make any intercourse to any of your orifices. Regardless of how satisfying that may be.
The Man: Ahem! Well let me say that You are most kind. Perhaps there might be some sort of deal or arrangement we may arrive at. A compromise you might say?
The People: This is a negotiation dumbshit.
The Man: So, you do have some balls huh? You should know that any real negotiator knows when to play the chump.
The People: You play it well my friend. But I’m afraid this time you must be held accountable for your actions. We know that your chump ploy is simply your own insecurities coming out about your lifestyle choices. But you’ve chosen Greed. And we’re not having any more of it. You’ve sucked the world dry. Like a vampire. You’ve poisoned our rivers, cut down our forests, and blackened our skies. You’ve destroyed our Mother Earth all in the quest of your decadent lifestyle. You’ve been behaving with great immorality and you must suffer the consequences.
The Man: May I at least speak up for myself?
The People: You don’t think we’ve entitled you enough already? You’re a disgrace. But since our virtues of trust, neighborliness, sharing, and love are intrinsically less selfish than your virtues of self-indulgence, decadence, and greed – Yes you may speak your peace.
The Man: You’re right. There is no justifying my behavior. Only You can justify me, and only You can justify me with your faith. And I realize that the only way that I can have your faith is if I buy it back.
The People: Which is why we’re here in the first place dumbass.
The Man: Yes sir. Irregardless of that. Might I suggest something to negotiate?
The People: By all means! Enough small talk!
The Man: Very well, I shall make the first proposition. I propose that I redistribute 50% of my wealth.
The People: Why you irresponsible, arrogant, greedy, malevolent little bastard! Might you be reminded that The People have you bent over this negotiation table with your pants around your ankles. You are in no position to make those demands.
The Man. Ah. Yes. Of course. What was I thinking?
The People: Probably that you wanted more money.
The Man: Oh right, thats it.
The People: Anyway, since we, The People, are gracious enough to stay at the table with you; allow us to suggest a counter offer. You should redistribute 100% of your wealth.
The Man: Now that’s just plain unreasonability. There’s no confoundin’ way that I can meet that demand!
The People: You’re playing with fire kind sir.
The Man: Quite right. Though I am compelled to test how far you’ll really extend your graciousness. I’ve been around this world a few times and I’ve seen plenty of people get violent.
The People: Violence is evil. Some people might get evil sometimes. Some other people might even choose it more often than not. But The People have a greater power than violence.
The Man: You speak as though enlightenment is a true thing.
The People: And you speak as though no thing can ever be true.
The Man: Are we at an impasse then?
The People: We still have you bent over the table.
The Man: Today you do, but what about tomorrow? You, The People have put me where I am today. You have willfully empowered me over and over again at Your own expense. Your foolishness and naivete know no bounds. You dispel rational thought all day and live your life on a whim.
The People: I’m afraid you have Us mistaken with your conjured projections of us. We, The People, are strong with a faith in human dignity, trust, sharing and truth. We, The People, care for this earth, our island home, and wish to see her restored to a land of abundance where The People can work for the joy of it instead of working to spend. Your delusion runs deep. We, The People, are taking the world back from you and there is nothing you can do about it.
The Man: I don’t believe it! You’ll just want to start spending again tomorrow!
The People: We will break ourselves of that nasty little habit you’ve encouraged for so long. We will stop spending. It’s not like most of us have anything left after rent, food, gas, and electricity anyway.
The Man: I sure did take you suckers didn’t I?
The People: Yes sir, you did. Took us by taking from us. I guess we just trusted that you had our best interests at heart. But that trust has been broken. Time and time again you’ve broken this trust by putting your interests above The People’s. We outnumber you completely and yet we continued to put a ridiculous amount of trust in you even after we started to suspect that you didn’t have our best interests at heart. And now that we KNOW that your interests lie only with yourself; the trust has been broken completely.
The Man: If only I wouldn’t have gotten caught…
The People: Hubris is a damned funny thing. You’re the biggest and you’ll fall the hardest.
The Man: Now wait a minute. Who says I have to fall?
The People: I’m afraid I don’t understand. Might you enlighten me?
The Man: Well, what if I didn’t need to fall? What if there was a way for my reputation to remain intact while still redistributing the wealth to you The People?
The People: I think we might have something to negotiate over. How about this proposition? You, The Man, redistribute the wealth completely. Let’s talk some real numbers here: The People’s debt is wiped clean. And you pay The People (everyone) a one-time payment of 50,000 dollars. You, The Man, are also required to begin rebuilding our trust by rebuilding our infrastructure. We don’t want to be addicted to oil any longer. We want You to begin helping us build fast railroads and a smart, energy efficient grid run on solar and wind and tidal and wave and geothermal energy. We want You to help us start becoming more connected with the earth. We want you to help us grow things to eat and be in awe of their simple beauty. We want you to give back the farmland you’ve stolen from us. If you can meet those demands then The People can guarantee that trust will begin to be reestablished.
The Man: I’ll take that deal.
The People: Congratulations. We’ll have our lawyers start working up the paper.
Are you still considering the Pie Chart? If we can create some value, then it’s like adding a whole new pie chart to the equation. Two pie charts equals created (and thus increased) value. In the case of my little drama above, The Man and The People can reach an agreement that is beneficial for all and good for the world. It’s just common sense.