Unless you’ve had your head deep in a hole for the past few months (it just feels like years), you heard one of the presidential candidates and his party yammer on about how giving more money to the super-rich somehow enriches us all. It’s that “trickle-down” theory of economics that we’ve been hearing about since the 1980s without any indication that anyone actually benefits other than, you guessed it, the super rich.
Right, then. Perhaps those of us in the horse business should give it a try. After all, we are talking about a theory espoused by a man ingenious enough, even while on vacation, to have found more room for luggage in the family station wagon by making the beloved pet dog ride on the roof.
So, I thought that given the high price of decent horse hay, maybe some of you who own or manage multiple horses might try a trickle-down feeding program. Give one horse in your barn all the hay and grain he can eat. Go on, let him turn into a big, bloated hippo. Then turn him out with your other horses so his wealth of blubber can trickle into them. Should cut your feed bills right down, don’t you think?
I think maybe I’ll try a trickle-down approach to riding instruction. I’ll pick one of my favorite students and give her a long, intensive lesson every single day. Then I’ll tell my other clients to go ride around in the arena with her for a while until her knowledge trickles right into them. While they’re doing that, I’ll just collect my fees and go home for a nice nap.
I know. I’m being facetious. Sort of. Honestly, trickle-down economics never made much more sense to me than, say, a trickle-down diet. No, I’m not a complete idiot; I do get the part about people at the top of the food chain creating companies that hire people and do business with other companies that also hire people. “Job creators,” we call them now.
But we also know that the super-rich stash loads of money in offshore bank accounts to stymie the IRS and gamble in the stock markets, fueling the creation of all kinds of shady “investment products” that promise big returns but inevitably implode like the pseudo-Ponzi schemes they are. And they have really clever accountants who can transform an FEI-level dressage horse into a big tax write-off.
Point being, I don’t think the super-rich do a very good job of sharing their wealth with the rest of us. (Apart from a few true philanthropists. But let’s be honest, those are few and far between.) I look around my little slice of the planet and see that since the trickle-down ‘80s the rich have gotten massively richer while the rest of us hang on by our fingernails.
I, for one, don’t recall a single instance in my life when I stopped and said, “Yowza! I just felt something trickle into my pocket!” (Okay, it happened once. But I was holding a puppy at the time, so the stuff that trickled wasn’t exactly spendable, if ya know what I mean.)
Unfortunately for all of us, one thing actually has trickled down from the world of mega-corporations and their fat-cat executives. “What?” you ask. No, it’s not money. I guess you could call it a business model, the fundamentals of which seem to involve throwing loyalty, courtesy, empathy, morals and ethics right out the window. In case you’re interested, I think I’ve seen enough to have a vague idea how you could go about implementing this type of management at, say, a small company offering horse-related products or services.
Basically, when running a modern company of any size, you have two groups who must be dealt with decisively. First are the employees who do the actual day-to-day work of running the business. They’re so annoying, complaining all the time when the tools they need wear out or break or get borrowed and not returned. And what about that manager, putting on airs pretending to work so hard while all the time he’s just making up a bunch of complaints the clients supposedly have passed along about the quality of the service or products. Not to mention your sub-contractors, always worried that they’ll look bad when you renege on your agreements with them.
The second problem group you’ll face, of course, is the customers or clients. They’re always whining about not getting the service or product they paid for, acting as if you owe them something in exchange for their dollars. And it’s even worse when you try, quite reasonably, to decrease the service or the size of the product while just increasing the price a tiny little bit. I mean, as a small business owner you have needs, right? You’ve got to dress well, drive a nice car and live in a house befitting your status? And you only hired employees so you can take a vacation once in a while, no more than three or four times a year. Why would anyone object to paying for that?
But still they complain. Never mind. When you just can’t take it anymore, simply get rid of all these awful people. Trade them in for shiny new clients and employees. It’s easy, really. Just tell a few really blatant lies to the stupid saps who think of themselves as your loyal customers. Go on, make them really mad. Then blame the employees and the sub-contractors. If anyone objects – and especially if any employees side with the customers – make a few thinly veiled threats of retribution (never in writing, of course).
You’re the business owner; you don’t have to put up with disgruntled employees or customers. They’re such a downer. You’re doing the best you can, after all. Remind your employees often that, in this economy, they’re lucky to be working at all. And remember it’s important that your clients understand you’re doing them a huge favor by actually producing the product or performing the service you’re charging them for. So never miss a chance to regale them with tales of how hard you work on their behalf and all the sacrifices you make to ensure they get exactly what they deserve for their loyal patronage and substantial financial outlay.
Always be sure to be gushingly friendly toward and complementary of all your employees and customers whenever you meet in front of anyone not associated with your company. That makes a good impression and everyone who doesn’t really know you will like you. They’ll want to become your customers and employees and everyone will live happily ever after. Until the end. When there are no customers left. Or employees.
I’m not sure what you do next. But, maybe by the time it gets to that point another business model will have trickled down from the heights of wealth and power. Until there are no more clients or employees for them, either, and the world is run by three mega-rich white guys. Or a really fat horse.