Healthier Divisiveness?

In listening to all the political sausage manufactured by both parties, we have all grown tired of the same old party lines. Racial differences, party differences, class warfare and religious differences are dangerous and divisive techniques that are at odds with our organizing principle of e plurbis unum. I have pondered this debate from both sides. Where can we find common ground and a shared objective? The “us vs them” perspective is fundamental to human nature and to political debate. Here is my half-baked idea for channeling this natural divisiveness into something more constructive.

In all classes of society, there are two types of people: 1) wagon-pullers and 2) wagon-riders.

The wagon-pullers are the folks that make things happen and produce stuff with the energy and resources they have. They include entrepreneurs, investors, bosses, workers, and people from the wealthy, the middle class, the lower class and the poor. These are folks who produce more than they consume. The wealthy wagon-pullers invest their resources wisely for the greater good of the community. The middle class and lower class wagon-pullers work hard and strive to earn their salary, save enough for financial security and grow their contributions to the community, their business and their family.

The wagon-riders are the folks who take advantage of the skill, energy and generosity of the wagon-pullers. They produce little compared to what they consume, or what they keep. Some people, but a relatively small proportion, are destined to be wagon-riders. They may be handicapped in some way by physical, intellectual or circumstantial shortfalls at no fault of their own. There are wagon-riders in every class. There are plenty of wealthy wagon-riders. Some hoard financial resources and spend resources extravagantly, benefiting only themselves. Some exploit tax loopholes and minimize their tax contributions either legally or illegally. There are plenty of companies and individuals paying very low tax rates for privileged reasons that only politicians and the wealthy gain benefit. There are also plenty of middle class and lower class wagon-riders who exploit the safety nets of unemployment, welfare, insurance, and other systems intended for truly needy, and not intended for people who could be wagon-pullers if they so choose. Perhaps there are more wagon-riders in the lower class, but the ones in the wealthy class are much more detestable.

If we could get both parties and our politicians aligned in a war against the unnecessary wagon-riders in every class through welfare reform, campaign finance reform, medical insurance reform, litigation reform and tax reform, perhaps we could get to a more unified country again. It seems to me that this country was formed largely by wagon-pulling immigrants who wanted freedom, fairness and rule of law that favored wagon-pullers, not wagon-riders. To me that is the spirit that built this country and a spirit that we need to reinforce.


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