I don’t often comment on politics since this is a money column, but after watching the Democratic debate on Saturday (really, on a Saturday?) I thought I would comment on a few of the remarks from Bernie Sanders and why I’m 100% certain that participation trophies will be in any bill he would pass down the road.
About five years ago, I wrote an article about why I detest participation trophies that are handed out today in sports. You may have even seen a comment a year ago from pro football player James Harrison who said himself that he didn’t like the fact that his six year and eight year old got participation trophies. While you might think it’s cruel that only the first (and/or) second place team or individuals earn (and I say earn) trophies for playing sports, it should motivate all of our children to work harder the next season so they can be winners the following year. Rewarding someone from a team that goes 0-10 in their soccer league certainly isn’t going to help them get better because in life we get rewarded for results.
After watching Bernie Sanders the other night, I couldn’t help but to write a small column to point out a few things about participation trophies and why they don’t work in a world we all know that winner and losers are decided on results and not on activity or effort.
- Minimum Wage- If you raise this to $15.00 across the country, how do you pay for it at places such as restaurants will be the hardest hit who have low margins as we speak. Here’s what will happen. When your Big Mac costs you $6.00, your casual fare dining out experience goes from $9.99 to $15.99, and the costs of your grocery bill skyrocket even higher, it won’t help to pay someone an extra $6 to $8 bucks. You can’t magically turn $1.00 into $1.50.
- Fair Share Of Taxes- Bernie’s comments forgot about payroll taxes such as FICA and Medicare (even the new Medicare Surtax) and doesn’t factor in the states which people pay individual state income tax. I recently ran into someone who had a career year of 1.8 million income and they paid over $700,000 between federal and state tax. Does $700,000 sound like a fair share? According to the Washington Post, already 50% of Americans don’t even pay any tax at all. You can’t fix the problem by having 80% or 90% tax on the top 1%. Won’t even make a dent.
- Free Tuition For All— I’m wondering if free Vermont Maple Syrup will come with the Free tuition? Of course all of the parent’s would like to have college tuition for free. It’s just like having a participation trophy. If you show up, you’ll get a college education. Nothing talked about at all about even rewarding those that do better. Unless the Government gets serious about how they tax colleges and universities and how they manage the out of control growth of large school endowments, this is a pipe dream for the near term future.
- Wealth and Inequality- How many of you feel it is unfair that your boss makes more than you? Or unfair that someone got a promotion you think you should have received? Or unfair that your company stock is flat and your neighbor’s company stock is soaring? And on and on and on…. The USA Today did a story that there are more than forty nations that more wealth inequality than we do and you wouldn’t expect those countries that are based on socialism to have those types of issues to begin with financially speaking.
Bernie, maybe it’s time to curb your enthusiasm http://bit.ly/1jwmIhI about handing out a whole bunch of participation trophies. Maybe we just shouldn’t count grades, wins and losses, or anything else for that matter. Am I at least able to still count wins in fantasy football?
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Ted Jenkin is a frequent guest columnist for the Wall Street Journal and Headline News Weekend Express. He is the co-CEO of oXYGen Financial. You can follow him on LinkedIn @ www.linkedin.com/in/theceoadvisor or on Twitter @tedjenkin.