Friday, October 31, 2008

Spread the Wealth Part 2

The gist of the story below is not mine. I have embellished it a great deal, though.

There are five guys who went to high school together and remained friends long after. Arnold became a very successful businessman and makes a very good living. Benny owns his own small business and works very hard to keep it and manages to make a decent living. Charlie is an employee of Arnold and makes a nice living as a manager in Arnold's company. David has struggled and is also an employee of Arnold albeit a low end one. Edward has been in and out of work since high school.

Now in their thirties, the five of them get together once a month at Clinton's restaurant. Through an agreement with the owner Clinton, the bill comes to $100 which Arnold, being the most well off, pays $60 of it. Benny and Charlie each pay $20 and David and Edward pay nothing. This arrangement goes on for some time and everybody is used to it.

Eventually, the restaurant is taken over by new management. Bush, the new owner decides he can increase business to the restaurant by lowering prices. This includes making a new arrangement with the five men who come every month. The total food bill at Bush's restaurant is reduced to $80. Bush decides that since the bulk of the bill had been paid by Arnold, he should get the biggest break. So the new arrangement is Arnold pays $50, Benny and Charlie each pay $15, while David and Edward still pay $0.

Arnold is delighted with the price cut. Benny is also very appreciative. Charlie is unsure how he feels. Yes, he is paying $5 less but is somewhat jealous of Arnold paying $10 less. "Why does the rich guy get the biggest break?" he wonders. David and Edward are frustrated as to why they didn't benefit from the price cut at all. For the first time, there is an uneasiness in the group as three of them felt they got the short end of things. Benny tries to explain that it's only fair that the people paying the bulk of the bill deserve to benefit the most. Charlie, David, and Edward refuse to see it that way. They feel the new arrangement is unfair. Meanwhile, Bush's lower prices attracts a lot of new business and the restaurant booms profits for years.

All good things must end and it is discovered that some staff at the restaurant made poor investment choices with the restaurant's profits. Instead of the restaurant being a model of financial stability, it is a wreck and Bush and his executives struggle to keep the restaurant in business. What's more, this occurred just as Bush was ready to hand over the restaurant to a new owner.

There are two prospective new owners. One of them is McCain. McCain has similar philosophies as Bush. He tells the five men he will maintain the current pricing and the breakdown. He also knows he will have to keep a better eye on what the staff is doing than his predecessor if the restaurant is to stay in business.

The second prospective owner is Obama. Obama has his own ideas on how the restaurant should be run. He is going to "change" things. He talks to the five men and tells them that he will return back to the $100 total price of the Clinton era, but, he will offer the majority of them a better break. Arnold will pay $90, but Benny and Charlie will now only pay $10 each. This allows David and Edward to actually receive $5 each.

David and Edward are thrilled about Obama and passionately hope he becomes the new owner. Charlie likes Obama too as he relishes paying less and feels good about the thought of how David and Edward would benefit from this. "So what if Arnold has to pay more, he can afford it. It's only fair that he share his wealth."

Arnold and Benny, both with business experience shake their heads at what Obama is attempting. Arnold can't believe he will be required to pay such a huge percentage of the bill and be outright paying David and Edward as well. Benny, being the smart small business owner recognizes that even though he is paying less, Obama's vision won't work. Bush already demonstrated that the restaurant does better with lower prices so why does Obama want to go back to the Clinton price? Also, Benny realizes that Obama's plan will hurt Arnold and if Arnold is hurt, he will be subsequently hurt also as he will get less business from Arnold and people employed by Arnold, like Charlie.

In the end, Obama becomes the new owner - much to the delight of Charlie, Edward, and David. Unfortunately, Arnold leaves the group leaving the $100 bill to be paid by the four of them. Benny, Charlie, Edward, and David can't pay. The harmony the five men once had is shattered and the restaurant is eventually shut down.

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