As I conclude my blogging for 2017, I am thinking about year-end giving and the Republican tax-cut for Corporations and the wealthy. I recall when one of our clients, who was quite wealthy, made a decision that surprised me. Unlike some of her demographic, she loved to cook. Of course, we took her to Clarke, the distributor for Wolf and Sub-Zero top-of- the-line appliances. Although she could afford anything in their showroom, she couldn’t come to terms with spending more money than necessary when that cost difference could “do so much good in the community.” This client’s values are not an anomaly among our roster of clients over the past 25 years. Many of our clients, who are in a position to spend what they wish, choose not to spend. Their goal is not to show off their wealth, but to make an environment that works for their family, friends, lifestyle and that makes them feel a certain way: happy, relaxed, energized – every project has a different set of adjectives that describe them.
These wealthy clients are the people who will benefit most from the Republican tax-cuts. The extra funds will not go to hiring more people, nor for spending more money on consultants. These tax cuts will go to the value of their already swollen estates. If you think that these wealthy Americans don’t want paved roads, public transportation, an educated and healthy workforce, a safe and secure nation and a safety net for the poor and elderly, think again. Many of them drive on the interstates, take public transportation, support public schools, provide health insurance for their employees, want a strong military, and have seen their parents supported by Medicare and Social Security in their old age. Adding $1.5 trillion to the deficit by giving tax breaks to people who don’t need them is very upsetting.
Over the years, we have developed some standardized forms to help us quickly assess a project in its early stages. I’ve often wondered if we couldn’t use these same techniques to find out what Americans really want. In one of our early possibilities workshops, we ask clients (large and small) to describe in adjectives or phrases, their future office, restaurant, retail space, assisted living facility, home, educational space, or religious institutions.
We also ask them to rank their priorities on topics like “design,” “green,” “budget,” “schedule,” etc. I’d love to ask Americans what are the adjectives they would use to describe their ideal Chief Executive (President). For me, these adjectives would include: “dignified,” “intelligent,” “a good listener,” “truthful,” “cares deeply about our country and all of its citizens.”
I’d also like to ask Americans what the priorities should be for the U.S. budget. Would Americans rank tax breaks for the wealthy (this is a form of spending) above keeping Social Security and Medicaid/Medicare afloat?
So, join me this year-end holiday season in celebrating your own accomplishments and supporting the accomplishments of others. Let’s plan our priorities for next year, and think about all the “good we can do in our communities.”
Give me a call if you want help facilitating consensus-building in your family, company, or non-profit. We can help you make your world a better place.