Cal Thomas: What Jack Ma can re-teach America

  • By Cal Thomas
  • Monday, September 22, 2014 5:57pm
  • Opinion

In the fairy tale “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves,” Ali Baba, a poor woodcutter, is in the forest when he hears a group of robbers approaching on horseback. Afraid, he climbs a tree and hears one of the men say, “open sesame.” A door opens in a rock and the men go in, the door shutting behind them when another says, “close sesame.”

When they leave, Ali Baba climbs down and approaches the rock. He says, “open sesame” and it opens for him. Inside he discovers jewels and gold, which he takes, becoming rich himself.

Jack Ma is the founder of the Chinese Internet retailer Alibaba. According to The New York Times, Alibaba is “the world’s largest Internet commerce company, with 231 million active buyers using its site, 11.3 billion annual orders and $296 billion in annual merchandise sales.” Its initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange established its value at $168 billion, 2-1/2 times the size of eBay. But, unlike the fairy tale Ali Baba, Jack Ma is no thief. He has, however, “borrowed” from American ideals we seem to have forgotten in an age of envy, greed and entitlement. Incredibly, he has become a success in communist China, an unlikely place to find such principles practiced.

While there are legitimate concerns over how the Chinese government might capture and use credit card numbers and other information that flows through Alibaba’s website, the philosophy Jack Ma embraced on his road to success is straight from an older and nearly forgotten America.

In addition to business advice, the website vulcanpost.com has compiled some of Ma’s sayings that are the antithesis of Mao Zedong’s “Little Red Book” in which Chairman Mao laid out Communist Party principles.

Here are some thoughts from Chairman Jack:

“What is failure: Giving up is the greatest failure.”

“What your duties are: To be more diligent, hardworking and ambitious than others.”

In modern America we punish the fruits of hard work and ambition with higher taxes and more regulation, forcing many businesses to seek relief by moving overseas. As The Wall Street Journal reported last week, “With the developed world’s highest corporate tax rate at over 39 percent, including state levies, plus a rare demand that money earned overseas should be taxed as if it were earned domestically, the U.S. is almost in a class by itself. It ranks just behind Spain and Italy, of all economic humiliations. America did beat Portugal and France, which is currently run by an avowed socialist.”

To those who waste energy complaining, Jack Ma offers this advice: “If you complain or whine once in a while, it is not a big deal. However, if it becomes habitual, it will be similar to drinking: the more you drink, the stronger the thirst. On the path to success, you will notice that the successful ones are not whiners, nor do they complain often.”

To an older generation these truths are beyond debate and when applied they can improve any life.

Jack Ma has scrupulously avoided politics and advises people in business to do the same, which is probably why the Beijing dictatorship has allowed him to pursue his goals. Apparently, they do not see him as a threat to their hold on power.

Still, the principles Ma used to build his giant firm are ready-made for the Republican Party, which seems to have no positive message and is cowering in shadows for fear of being demonized by media and the left.

Jack Ma has some wisdom on that score. He says you can’t unify everyone’s thoughts, but you can unify everyone through a common goal.

While his message applies to anyone, anemic Republicans could use it most. They should stop whining about President Obama and start focusing on principles with a track record of success.

Unlike in the fairy tale, such a treasure doesn’t need a secret phrase to unlock it. It’s right in front of them and there for the taking.

Readers may email Cal Thomas at tcaeditors@tribune.com.

More in Opinion

Jodi Taylor is the board chair for Alaska Policy Forum. (Courtesy photo)
Private school, state reimbursement: family choice

By Jodi Taylor Alaskan parents have a legitimate right to choose the… Continue reading

t
Opinion: It’s time for bold action to protect our fisheries

Our fisheries feed the world and sustain our unique cultures and communities.

The logo for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District is displayed inside the George A. Navarre Borough Admin Building on Thursday, July 22, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Voices of the Peninsula: Hard to fill positions?

Paying poverty wages to support staff, secretaries and custodians is unacceptable yet routine behavior by our district

A copy of the State of Alaska Official Ballot for the June 11, 2022, Special Primary Election is photographed on May 2, 2022. (Peninsula Clarion staff)
Choosing a candidate – Who will best represent us in D.C.?

Voters are encouraged to do homework before casting a vote

Tourists watch as one of two cubs belonging to an 18-year-old sow black bear crosses the path between groups of tourists visiting the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center on Wednesday, July 18, 2018. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Tourists have pushed us to critical mass in parts of Juneau

I don’t go to the glacier in the summer now to hike or watch bears.

Sens. Shelley Hughes, R-Palmer, left, and Robert Myers, R-North Pole, read through one of 41 amendments submitted to the state’s omnibus budget bill being debate on the floor of the Alaska State Senate on Monday, May 9, 2022. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Opinion: The Alaska Senate’s foolish gamble

“All these conservative people just spent all our money”

Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships. (logo provided)
Point of View: A few ideas for Mental Health Awareness Month

What are some things you can practice this month and subsequently apply to your life?

Smoke from the Swan Lake Fire impairs visibility on the Sterling Highway on Aug. 20, 2019. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
Opinion: Alaskans should prepare for wildfire season

Several past large fire seasons followed snowy winters or unusually rainy springs

Alex Koplin is a founding member of Kenai Peninsula Votes. (courtesy photo)
Voices of the Peninsula: 1 candidate dined, 47 to go

By Alex Koplin Last month, I wrote a satirical piece for the… Continue reading

The logo of the Homer Trails Alliance.
Point of View: Connecting our community through trails

Homer is booming with housing development and the viability of long-standing trails is threatened