Controlling Our Resources: Part 3
Imam W. Deen Muhammad
( Editor's note: The following is excerpted from an address Imam Muhammad delivered at a Newark, N.J. business meeting.)
We let the immediate message of business in America set principles for us. The immediate message of business in America is not the real message of business in America. The immediate message is. there's a whole lot of money to be made, a whole lot of wealth to be made. That's the immediate message. You have to go out there and get it, and not be afraid. That's the immediate message, because the people they are bringing to us in the media, who are successful in business, are just personalities. They don't present the whole life story of a successful businessman. Very seldom.
We only get information about all of his money, and all of his assets. We look at it and imagine him within the short 30 seconds he was on prime-time television. So we measure him, and decide what made him successful, in just those few seconds, and we say. 'Well, hell, he doesn't have anything on the ball that I don't have on the ball. If he did it, I can do it.
AT FIRST, YOU don't know his history. You don't know the things that were working for him, to make his success possible. You come to a conclusion because of the immediate message in the air of American business.
You come to the conclusion that you have to sacrifice principle, to get ahead, when that's not the case.
Most successful people in business are successful because they refused to sacrifice principle. That's why they are successful. They refused to sacrifice principle. They may have a strategy, and you may not be able to see all the time the dominance of that principle in their life, because they are also men of strategy, men of methodology.
So you may, because of the strategy or methodology, fail to see the dominance of their principle.
You, who are my age and older, perhaps even younger, will recall the days in this country when the business world said, "Honesty is the best policy." Honesty is the best policy. Those days represent the economic strength of the American society. Now we are experiencing a lot of economic problems, economic weaknesses within the system. But in those days, when the message was honesty is the best policy, the economy was stronger, much stronger.
UP TO THIS POINT, I have addressed problems in our assessment of our own (African-American) situation, but now, I want to address another problem; a problem not just for minorities, or striving people, but a problem for all people in business. That is, the changing business world. A change that has given, and it's still giving government and government institutions too much influence and control over business. They say. 'Hey, he sounds like a Republican. He sounds like Reagan.' Well, you should sound like somebody. When you don't sound like anybody, something's wrong.
Big government hurts the small businessman more than it hurts the big businessman. If anybody needs to support the call for a curbing of government growth, that is, big government, it should be the small business people. All government regulations put extra burdens on the striving poor businessman. Unnecessary regulations that we can do without.
Another problem for the small people with big government is that big government tends to use small people in order to get advantages from the big people. So the big government will become the guardian of the small people and we will mistake that support that they are giving us for moral support. Believe me. it's no moral support. When the government brings in small people or minority groups and begins to give them advantages or assistance, or demand more assistance for them, the government is not moved from any moral concern. The government is looking at the whole picture, at future conditions it will have to face, like most business people. Government is also a business. Government is government, but it's also a business.