In chapter thirteen of Orrin Woodward‘s book Resolved: 13 Resolutions for LIFE, Orrin writes about Bastiat’s Law. Summed up, Frederic Bastiat, a French economist, taught the fatal tendency existing in man’s heart is to satisfy his wants with the least possible effort. Orrin writes, “Since men are naturally inclined to avoid pain, a pain that labor causes, it follows that men will resort to plunder whenever plunder is easier than work.”
LIFE Leadership focuses on teaching people the unchanging principles of success that include systematic hard work applied to a proven opportunity over time that produces something of value. As I speak with more and more people about “living the life they’ve always wanted,” Bastiat’s Law is prevalent. Despite sayings like, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch,” people eagerly search for free lunches, health benefits, income, etc. More and more people are becoming more and more unwilling to work hard for success, let alone be open to better opportunities to attain it. After all, plunder, in the short term, is easier than working.
Increasingly our society is resorting to plunder rather than labor, or as I put it, production, as a means to survive. The statistics of those living off of the government are staggering. Greater numbers of people look to Big Brother Government to fix their problems rather than fix them on their own. People truly want something for nothing (SFN). People play the lottery with high hopes of getting “free” money. Laws and taxes get passed based on promises of free programs that provide free services that in reality are not free at all, But, “Hey, if I don’t have to pay for it, I’m for it,” because plunder is easier than production. At times, I even question a person’s intentions who seeks “support” so they can travel the globe in the name of some good cause. What are they producing? What are the results of their efforts? Are they merely plundering other’s goods so they can go on a feel-good trip and create memories for themselves?
People are quick to identify our world’s problems, and possibly even their own, but as Einstein said, “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” Therefore, if you have someone who’s mindset is one of plundering working to solve the world’s problems, the proposed solution will be one of borrowing, taxing, or taking from one to give to another. But if a person’s mindset is one of production they will offer a solution that creates a product or service. Problems get solved when something is produced rather than someone else’s productivity is plundered.
I believe one of the main contributing factors to the plunder vs. production mentality is a lack of long-term thinking. Think about it. Plundering is the easiest method of gain with the least amount of labor. “Even though it may hurt me or future generations long-term, I don’t think about that. I only think about my short-term needs. And heck, even better than that is if I can get something for nothing at all.” And this line of thinking certainly carries over in other areas of life.
Most health, financial, relational, and moral problems are the result of poor decisions made over time. Unhealthy lifestyle decisions don’t seem to have an impact the day they are made. Yet over time, they can lead to many problems. One bad purchase doesn’t cause a bankruptcy. It takes many, many bad financial decisions to lead to bankruptcy. Financing things that depreciate is a prime example of short-term thinking. A person does not become an addict after just one smoke or one drink. Constant poor choices that didn’t seem to be a “big deal” in the moment lead to a lifestyle of decay and ruin. Friendships do not crumble after one disagreement. They fall apart when the relationship has been under fire over a period of time. Even something as basic as car maintenance is a “long-term thinking” issue.
This past Spring our Chrysler Pacifica died. It’s not a knock on the make and model of the car. It’s a knock on my poor thinking. We purchased the car brand new in 2005 (which was a poor long-term financial decision that lacked long-term thinking and delayed gratification). I never bothered reading the owner’s manual, and in doing so I never learned the proper maintenance as it pertains to vehicles with timing belts. Long story short, the timing belt broke after 188,000 plus miles of use. Yep, you read that correctly. A friend of mine also owns a Pacifica that has only 150,000 miles and he has changed the belt twice. He understands the long-term repercussions of not properly maintaining a timing belt. My lack of understanding about proper timing belt maintenance caused us to go from a paid-for Pacifica to a used 2011 Kia with a payment (Ironically, some of you reading this probably think it’s better for us to have a newer car with a payment than an older car paid off, which is another symptom of short-term thinking).
You may have heard it said that there is no such thing as an overnight success. That is true. Success, whether in marriage, parenting, finances, health, sports, or business occurs after many years of seemingly small, insignificant decisions to do the right things. Proper long-term thinking can solve so many potential problems in life. This principle is probably best described in Jeff Olson’s book The Slight Edge.
Here’s the problem: every action that is easy to do, is also easy not to do.
Why are these simple yet crucial things easy not to do? Because if you don’t do them, they won’t kill you…at least, not today. You won’t suffer, or fail or blow it- today. Something is easy not to do when it won’t bankrupt you, destroy your career, ruin your relationships or wreck your health- today.
What’s more, not doing it is usually more comfortable than doing it would be. But that simple, seemingly insignificant error in judgment, compounded over time, will kill you. It will destroy you and ruin your chances for success. You can count on it. It’s the Slight Edge.
That’s the choice you face every day, every hour:
A simple, positive action, repeated over time.
A simple error in judgment, repeated over time.
It is a person’s inability to understand the long-term implications of their decisions that causes them to do things that over time will kill them. This is perhaps why I am so incredibly thankful for LIFE Leadership! Despite all that I’ve been taught along the lines of spiritual matters and making decisions that will affect me for eternity, for whatever reason I never implemented that line of thinking into my finances, health, and business success. LIFE has changed how I think. Not only do I have a head knowledge about long-term thinking, but I actually ask before most decisions I make, “How will this affect me long-term?” And that has led my wife and I to make some tough present day decisions to help our long-term future.
I truly believe that if long-term thinking was consistently taught throughout people’s lives, they would be far less likely to make poor decisions that could ruin their future. Becoming a productive member of society rather than a plunderer makes sense once an understanding is gained of the consequences of poor choices. What we do today, good or bad, affects our future good or bad. Far too many people today make emotional, feel-good feelings based on short-term thinking without thought for their long-term future. And honestly, it’s easier in the moment to make short-term decisions because proper long-term thinking requires delayed gratification and self-control. And just where is that taught today?
Today’s society is bombarded through media to give into our immediate impulses and live for the moment, rather than make choices with our future in mind. Yet, as Claude Hamilton says, “If you take the easy way out, your life will get hard. But if you take the hard way out, your life will get easier.” Don’t be like the 90% out there that gives in to impulses and short-sighted, selfish thinking. Join the 10% that will make a difference in generations to come by choosing to be a producer rather than a plunderer. Use the Slight Edge principles that help a person, over time, become successful. Be a long-term thinker and productive member of society and help overcome the plundering mindset crippling our nation.