One of my passions in life is movies. I love watching them, thinking about them and now writing about them. Recently, I was able to catch one of my favorites, A Bronx Tale. One of the main themes in this movie was the conflicting attitudes and lifestyles of the main character, Cologero’s, father, Lorenzo and the local Mafia boss, Sonny. Sonny teaches Cologero or “C” that the “working man is a sucker.” C’s father, Lorenzo is a working man. He is a bus driver who struggles to keep C on the path of honesty and a good work ethic – which becomes more difficult as C starts bringing home wads of cash performing menial tasks for the gangsters as a ten-year-old. Is the working man really a sucker?
I define the working man as the middle-class guy. He works hard. He occasionally gets dirty. Sometimes works behind a desk. He will never get rich, but he takes pride in the sturdy roof over-head and the hot meal on the table.
The working man has little left over to save – let alone invest, but if he works for his company long enough he has a hefty pension with his name on it! The working man is a man who works. The problem is that if he is not working, he is not getting paid. If Lorenzo from the movie doesn’t drive his bus, he gets no paycheck. Moreover, he is not employing a term called leverage anywhere in his life to increase his income and work for him when he is doing something else.
Conversely, Sonny utilizes leverage and he probably does it a few different ways. Sonny has his minions out collecting for him and bringing him his cut. I am sure they are collecting for legal and totally legitimate businesses. Regardless, Sonny is leveraging other people to get more work done than if he worked twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.
Sonny most likely also has made some strategic investments with his extra cash. So here he has cash working for him while he is just sitting back, managing it and earning money!
Leverage is a necessary tool in most people’s financial tool box sooner or later in their lives. In fact, Lorenzo probably used leverage to mortgage his apartment. The difference is that the apartment is not an asset as it costs him money instead of makes him money. If he would have leveraged more and purchased a building, then that cash flow from his tenants would be making him money and his building would be an asset. The working man usually doesn’t have the means to secure a mortgage this large as he is working to pay for the necessities of daily life. The more automatic your investments are, the more freedom you will have to do the things that matter the most to you. This is called passive income. Passive income allows you to do something enjoyable and still realize a return.
The working man is not the only American that Sonny may have a problem with. Most entrepreneurs are can also be described as self-employed. A self-employed man can range from a doctor with his own practice to a plumber driving from customer to customer in his own white van. The self-employed, assuming they have no investments, will also have an issue if they decide to stop working. This guy will essentially turn the cash flow spigot off if he decides to retire. The issue is that they may have built a successful business, but the business is effectively himself as an individual with no use of leverage.
So is the working man a sucker as Sonny believes? I have a hard time putting the “sucker” label on a guy that gets up early every day without fail and goes to perform a job that is vital and thankless all for the survival of his family. However, the working man is just a guy that uses all the talents he has to make the most money possible, same as the entrepreneur. The downfall of the working man is that he has not yet discovered how to use leverage to free up his time so he can do things he really enjoys – but a sucker? I don’t think so Sonny.