Lance Armstrong, the 7 time winner of cycling’s biggest race, the Tour de France, is under attack again.
It seems that the fact that he was exonerated of all charges years ago, and that in his career he has passed hundreds of tests for banned substances is not good enough.
Allegations have surfaced again and the authorities scent blood. Now they want to ban him from his new sporting discipline of triathlons.
Why is it that successful people become such attractive targets? Is it jealousy? Envy? Why are so many people quite happy to see successful people knocked off their pedestals?
It seems incongruous that the majority of people want to improve their own situation in life, get a bigger house, better car, have more expensive holidays in exotic places, but enjoy seeing people that have worked hard to achieve all that “brought down a peg”. Equally incongruous that those same people are not prepared to put in the hours of sacrifice necessary to achieve success and then call those that do “lucky”. A recent tweet put it succintly and accurately as “We like the idea of success, but we don’t like other people becoming successful” such is the fleeting nature of twitter that I could not find that tweet a second time to give its author credit.
Why do the authorities, and trophy hunting prosecutors in particular, go to such great and at times, underhand, lengths to bring charges against the likes of Martha Stewart, Conrad Black, Rebecca Brooks and now it seems Lance Armstrong yet show a lack of interest in apparently more serious crimes committed by ordinary people with limited publicity value. Far better legal minds than mine have frequently argued that in Conrad Black’s case the charges were unfounded and would not have been entertained by a Canadian court. While Rebecca Brooks may have broken the law, in which case I would not have much sympathy for her, it seems that by charging her for obstruction of justice, and not one of the more serious alleged acts, the authorities are using her as a scapegoat.
Either unwilling or with insufficient evidence, to go after the Murdochs themselves, an attractive red head dragged into court on lesser charges, provides an entertaining spectacle, a high profile victim for trophy hunting prosecutors and gives the appearance of action being taken.
While I see it as a form of fair punishment that Tiger Woods got hit over the head with a golf club and parted from a chunk of his fortune for cheating on his wife, I do not find any joy in his falling from the top position in golf. After his recent victory, he might have reversed the trend, I hope so.
Outright crooks like Bernie Madoff, Allen Stanford and others, are an entirely different story, the evidence indicates that they deliberately broke the law and defrauded people over a long period of time.
It seems that achieving greatness through business success or sport is no longer acceptable to the masses, to be accepted, heroes must come from the arts, left wing politics, environmental or human rights causes. The fact that most of the celebrities in those areas got their wealth directly or indirectly, from commercial ventures or inherited it, is conveniently forgotten.
This sad state of affairs has largely been brought about by the sense of entitlement, the demand for “equal rights” – an excuse for penalising the successful in any way possible and making life easy for those unwilling to make much effort themselves.
Of course I am generalising and I accept that many people do make an effort to improve themselves and that there are genuine cases of hardship that do need a social safety net.
What I struggle with, as a relative newcomer to North America and the first world, is the acceptance and even celebration of, mediocrity. The attitude that any one who is wildly successful in business must be either lucky or crooked. The cry for “more income equality” without a willingness to accept that higher incomes are generally the result of higher risk, longer hours and considerable personal sacrifice, often after repeated failures over many years before achieving that higher income. The erosion of individual rights and personal freedom. The hasty enactment of new laws to protect people who should know better from statistically remote possibilities of harm.
I will be forever grateful that I lived for most of my life in a society that celebrated success, that had consequences for lack of effort, that did not reward mediocrity, that did not give schoolchildren a passing grade unless they produced the required quantity and quality of work. That only gave trophies to winning teams or individual competitors, not the same award for all participants regardless of performance.
Is it any wonder that many successful people move their wealth offshore to protect it from the vultures – both the professionals in the bureaucratic system and the amateurs in social media and elsewhere. It seems that punishing the successful and reducing every one to the level of the lowest common denominator is becoming a national sport in too many countries.
What does this mean for Internet Marketers, small business owners or anyone who is self employed?
- A carefully created and legal trust fund with secure firewalls against frivolous litigation might be a better investment than an expensive sports car.
- Modesty in manner and possessions might be safer than ostentation.
- Your real net worth does not make you a target, the illusion of wealth and fame does.
It’s a strange world indeed. I hope that the pendulum starts to swing back to more responsibility for individual action or lack there of and away from the ever expanding government control of society soon or I really fear for the future of our Western way of life.
Wishing you success (and protection from the vultures) in all your endeavours.