In my office sits a trophy for my having placed third in a local 5K charity run. Impressive, wouldn’t you say?
When I was asked to compete in this race I naturally replied, “Real men don’t run.” Of course, real men do run, but only in short bursts when they are on fire or are about to miss the opening kick off of the Super Bowl. Aside from that, men are supposed to sit stationary and wait for their prey. At least these are the kinds of things a man says when he’s trying to get out of something he hates. I trotted out every excuse I could think of but it was all for naught. I finally agreed to participate in the race on the condition that I would not have to train.
Because this was for a good cause, I allowed my 13-year-old son to run with me. Come race day, there was a decent-sized mob at the starting line, so I instructed him, “Just stay with the crowd and I will wait for you at the end.” Within just a few strides, I discovered he had inherited his mother’s running gene. He was well rested and waiting for me at the finish line by the time the miserable experience was over.
So, how did I receive the trophy? I got it for placing 3rd out of five men in my age group. The two men I beat decided to walk the race. I keep the trophy around for kicks. Obviously, running is not my thing. And that’s okay.
Growing up, I was fortunate my parents and teachers didn’t fill my head with the loony notion that I could do anything I wanted to do. Life experiences and common sense quickly taught me that some people are built by God for leadership. Others have a talent for art. Some are born engineers. A few are world-class musicians.
For sure, there’s plenty to be said for seeking to improve oneself through discipline and hard work. But one must possess a natural gift before it can be developed. The last thing we should want to do is encourage an adolescent to waste precious time pursuing that for which he has no knack — time that could be used to ascertain and enlarge upon his true endowments.
For this reason, a young person must be permitted to fail. But failure rewarded is failure disguised. This is why it is immoral to give children trophies they haven’t earned. How will they ever hope to discern their talents in such an environment? How will they move on to something that is a better fit with their natural abilities and thereby achieve their true potential? In the end, those who come to terms with their weaknesses will be happier for having failed, and learned, and come a step or two closer to matching their work to their giftedness. Imagine if I would have allowed my 5K trophy to delude me into fantasizing that I’m a gifted runner. On what important endeavors would I have missed out, having squandered my time and energy in futility?
This brings us to the subject of minimum wage — one of the dumbest and most destructive ideas that mankind has ever conjured up, and this for scores of reasons. Not least among them is the fact that it hinders young people in the process of learning where they are truly gifted. Never mind that minimum wage is an undeserved trophy for some at the expense of others (in order for a $4/hour worker to receive minimum wage, the $16/hour worker must be robbed of half what he’s worth).
Oh, never mind that particular injustice. The point is that talent and aptitude might never be discovered, let alone ripened, because the rewards that should have encouraged those in their possession have been misallocated. Something has to give. Companies don’t have unlimited resources. Wage costs are finite. Therefore, when big government sets minimum compensation, mediocrity necessarily consumes an inordinate proportion. Everyone suffers for it.
William Hung never made it big in the music industry, except as a novelty for a short time. Those who bought his music were only making sport of him. By now, hopefully he has discovered something at which he isn’t atrociously bad. But, if we applied minimum wage mentality to the music industry, Hung would still be torturing our ears and raking in as much money as Barbra Streisand while depriving the world of whatever contribution he was put here to make.
Before anyone proposes a cockamamie idea to train and hire federal career counselors to help young people find their fit, there’s a better way. Who is in the best position to tell a young employee if he has what it takes? You guessed it: the employer. The language he speaks is wage (when not muzzled).
The fact that minimum wage law is both senseless and immoral is the very reason you can count on Democrats to continue to support it with zeal. Further, you can count on them to accuse anyone who opposes this destructive policy of a lack of compassion. (At least they’ve discovered what they’re good at.) If you’re a Democrat, the 1st-place trophy for wasting time, money, and individual potential goes to you. Display it proudly. And, rest assured, you’ve earned it.