Down With the Rich!

A piece in today’s Washington Post by James Wilson titled “Angry About Inequality? Don’t Blame the Rich” spiked my attention to the ongoing national discussion these days, partly brought on by Mitt Romney’s detractors, about wealth and its role in America. I think it’s a healthy conversation that will ultimately affirm America’s attitude towards the value of wealth and the important role it plays in maintaining a healthy, innovative economy. The result will continue to starkly differentiate the United States from Europe, where a lack of entrepreneurial spirit and boiling unrest between the rich and poor threaten economic stability and recovery.

While I hold no ill will towards the wealthy, I do worry about undeniable trends showing the growing gap between the rich and the poor and the disturbing statistics that show certain segments of the population becoming trapped in a cycle of poverty. That entrapment, on an individual level, denies the person the dignity of having a job and the hope for a better future. On a larger cultural level, the cycle of poverty threatens to sow resentment and unrest, potentially leading to negative effects for the entire country, as seen by the unfortunate riots seen over the past years across TV screens from Greece, France, and the UK.

So, why aren’t more politicians focusing on defeating the cycle of poverty instead of demonizing the rich? Are their proposals like millionaire taxes aimed more at punishing a certain segment of the population versus aiding the segment that needs it most? Do they really believe that the tens of millions of dollars collected in new taxes on the super-rich will directly affect the unarguable problem of poverty? Or is this more of an effort to get the poor and their alleged allies like labor unions and community activist organizations to reelect them? If Mitt Romney had paid $5 million more in taxes last year, would the poor be better off? Seems a bit disingenuous to me.

For politicians, it’s easier to attack the rich than to have an uncomfortable discussion on what actually causes and perpetuates poverty in America. How would the teacher’s unions that turn out millions of votes and transfer millions of dollars to Democrats react when they’re told that America’s failing schools, especially in the inner-cities, should be a priority rather than protecting the pay and pensions of some lousy teachers? How would a black church react when confronted with the fact that a 70% illegitimate birth rate is really harmful for the development of successful children? How would a group of disadvantaged rural voters react when told that sometimes you just have to move on from an economically dead area if you want to move up the ladder, even if that means leaving the plot of land that one’s family has manned since early America?

If Democrats and even Republicans want to have an ounce of credibility when it comes to leveling the playing field or pulling Americans out of the cycle of poverty, they need to be willing to have conversations that will make these groups yell and scream and remove the incentives that the government creates to satisfy these groups in the posh names of diversity, cultural preservation, and fairness.

In the mean time, stop attacking those who have made something of themselves and instead encourage them to take a moral interest in aiding those who have been less fortunate, whether it be through charitable giving to newfangled groups that have successfully found ingenious ways to combat the cycle of poverty, or through donating time and personal skills. Because if anything has been shown to be true over the past decades and centuries, it’s not the government that most often alters cycles, but selfless people and organizations like Teach for America, the Pine Street Inn, and Habitat for Humanity.


Bain Backfire

Like other conservatives, the recent attacks on Mitt Romney’s record at Bain really get under my skin. They show incredible ignorance and inspire the class warfare more commonly furthered by liberals. Thankfully, it seems that after a weekend of surprise and confusion, Mitt Romney’s team has begun to effectively counter the argument, which he certainly would have faced later in the election, anyway. Additionally, the desperate, hopeless candidates who started these attacks are both retreating from their positions after uproar on the right and have lost big name supporters as a result. Newt Gingrich was even booed by the crowd at an event for undecided South Carolina voters hosted by Mike Huckabee yesterday.

Mitt Romney’s Bain detractors seem to take issue with the fact that Bain went into already struggling companies and laid off workers. What’s the issue with that? Someone in politics needs to have the audacity to stand up and say that eliminating jobs is part of a dynamic capitalist system. Jobs come and go, they’re not a guarantee. If they
were a guarantee, we’d look a lot more like Greece and Italy. Most of the companies that were taken over by Bain probably got to their distressed position because of either unnecessary or underperforming jobs. Their economic duress was a result of their inefficiencies. Bain’s role in the process is to sort out and correct those inefficiencies.

Venture capitalists, not “vulture capitalists” as Rick Perry alleged, are huge risk takers and play a vital role in the economy. And, yes, with high risk often comes high reward. That’s the nature of investing. Without proportionate reward for risk, we would all settle for mediocrity and America wouldn’t be the innovator of the world like it is today.

My question to Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry is: What do you see as a more viable alternative to those jobs being eliminated in the hope that the fortunes of the company would be turned around? It’s painfully easy to pick and choose disgruntled workers who were laid off from these underperforming companies and allow them to disparage the firm that went in and cleaned house. The problem is that these workers are unable to see past their own agreeably unfortunate situations and see the bigger picture of how their former employer fit into the big economic picture.

Anyone who plans on being qualified to be President of the United States needs to be able to rise above the weeds of individually unfortunate circumstances and stories and see the larger surrounding field that promises better results for everyone. Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry have proven that they lack that qualification.

Mitt the Nominee

Mitt Romney is going to be the Republican nominee for President in 2012. His slow and steady approach has been vindicated as his challengers rise and plummet on a monthly basis. I must admit that his approach tested my will at times, especially when now-laughingstock Rick Perry quickly soared in the polls. However, Mitt Romney will be the one who gets the last laugh.

His sharp approach on focusing on President Obama and the state of the economy in the campaign season displays his type of discipline and leadership. Instead of tacking sharply at the appearance of a seemingly big issue, he continues to steer forward on the same charted path.

I understand why many voters, especially Republican primary voters, are uncomfortable with his past “flip flops”. However, I’m convinced that the manner in which he has run this nomination process says more about his leadership style than any past or present political positions. If he is faced with a controversial decision as president, one that challenges a declared position, you can bet that he’ll examine the issue closely, discuss with advisors and experts in the field, and come to a rational decision.

I’m also a firm believer in the fact that personal life decisions display a man’s true character more than any campaign season. A man of integrity and steadiness in family and work will more than likely carry those values with him to public office. Mitt has been married for over forty years, has a stable family, and has worked hard to be successful in business, though those who don’t understand business will assuredly challenge the benefits of his business record. Others on the campaign trail have gone through wives, estranged families, and never had long term success in any theater outside politics and the who’s who of educational high society.

And beyond all of these reasons for which I’ve been a Mitt Romney fan since he was governor of Massachusetts, 2012 will be a referendum on President Obama. In 2008, voters were willing to take a chance on beautifully crafted words and speeches, hoping that they would translate into a better America. Instead, America chose a leader who has been rudderless, making seemingly bold decisions, but then hedging on them. America chose a leader unsure of what makes the United States so great. And America chose a leader who has managed to pit American against American, instead of focusing on what we can do to climb out of this ongoing mess and avoid the fate of our European friends across the ocean.

Mitt Romney offers a clear alternative to President Obama. He’s a man of personal conviction and proven leadership. Independents, who elected President Obama in 2008 and who will single-handedly elect the president in 2012, have grown tired of the promises and lack of results. A
recent Pew poll shows Mitt Romney with a 12-point advantage of Independent voters over the president. These numbers bode well for Mr. Romney. It is my hope that the Republican clown show that has taken the stage during this nomination process continues to dig its own grave, as Mitt sails forward, focused on November 2012.

"Boomerang", by Michael Lewis

I just finished a great book that I high recommend for anyone trying to understand the European debt crisis: Boomerang, by Michael Lewis. It’s a quick read that tackles a different distraught country chapter by chapter. Lewis, unlike many analysts or authors, attempts to pin each nation’s economic woes on some of their cultural habits and customs, which is interesting. He ends with America, which isn’t as screwed as many countries in the European Union, but is close. He also does an interesting analysis on who is to blame for America’s current economic crisis, elaborating on an overall economic moral failure. I highly recommend this book, as well as Michael Lewis’ others.

Entitled America

Occupy Wall Street is a dangerous movement. It’s an unorganized cluster of disenchanted young people, old Vietnam-era people who simply enjoy a good protest, and greedy union people who would rather not have to work. It vilifies wealthy Americans, who have created the jobs of their own often-wealthy parents and created the products that they cling to religiously. iPhones, REI tents, Patagonia clothes, etc.

A democratic society that doesn’t encourage or approve of wealthy people is a society that aims to settle for less. History has not drawn a winner from that pool of thought.

Herman Cain got it right in an op-ed piece the other day. He says, “That’s not America- and not how American dreams are made. Empowerment is the key to success, not entitlement. So those asking for a handout on Wall Street, my message is this: ‘If you’re not rich, don’t blame the rich- go on there and work for it. You have to earn it.’

I stopped by many of the Tea Party rallies in Washington during my almost five years there. They were made of up middle aged working people fighting for a cause: small government and adherence to the Constitution. Look at the pictures online from Occupy Wall Street. You won’t find a normal American in the bunch. They’re either hippies, homeless, or spoiled college students who have no idea what the real world is really like outside the gates of their university. And what’s their cause? Is it simply anti-rich people? Are they for tax reform? Are they environmental activists? Anti-war protestors? Who knows? It sounds to me like they’re just anti-everything.

Being anti-everything can’t sustain a movement. Instead, it only creates more social unrest, allowing people who truly are victims of the current economic crisis and the administration’s inability to handle that crisis to lose hope in their abilities and their futures. If everything has gone to hell, why bother to update your resume or continue to look for a job month after month? Why bother keeping your dream to buy that nice house across town? Why not just join the masses sitting on their asses in parks across the U.S. and just give up? Social unrest creates more social unrest. Just look at the youth riots across Europe over the past years- the result of a society that continues to tolerate the crisis of today’s “entitled” youth.

From a selfish political perspective, I say keep protesting. Because as more and more news outlets, who are obviously in favor of the protestors and their causes, expose the true colors of the protestors, the more Americans will see that the ideas they espouse are not what’s best for America. Liberal politicians who were quick to jump on the protest bandwagon will have a hard time explaining their support for socialist/anarchist youth to Independents casting their ballots next November. Also, people will begin to seriously wonder why these protestors aren’t camped outside the White House, directing some of their anger at the man who’s been in charge for three years and hasn’t enacted much of that “change” that they were all sold on back in 2008. If President Obama hasn’t been liberal enough for them, I urge them to continue making that argument to the American people. American voters simply won’t buy it.