Yesterday as I was traveling down I-15 I tuned in to Dave Ramsey. I like to listen to him because he makes me want to be frugal with my meager funds. It was his millionaire show in which millionaires call in and they talk about how to build wealth. The dialogue was quite interesting.
He put up some statistics that I have no reason to disbelieve. There are over nine million millionaires in the United States. Around 88% of them are first generation money. In other words, they built their wealth themselves as opposed to inheriting it.
The typical story seems to be one of frugality and hard work. All of the callers had worked at learning a trade or profession and becoming good at it. Almost all avoided debt and took advantage of a 401K or other savings instrument to build wealth over a 15 to 30 year period. During this time they worked hard, bought things with cash rather than credit, drove used cars rather than new and did not spend money on designer clothes and extravagant vacations etc. In short, they sacrificed to develop a marketable skill, worked hard, they were frugal and they saved.
This seems to coincide with what I see in the lives of my “rich friends.” The millionaires that I personally know include: two electricians, a retired Army Colonel, a doctor, a retired contractor, a couple of accountants and a man who builds, sells and sets out gum ball machines. If you stood behind them at the grocery counter or watched them drive their five year old Honda Accord down the road, you would not know that they were particularly wealthy. All have been able to help their children go to college etc. and donate or give back to their community.
My “rich” friends went after the American Dream, worked hard, sacrificed, stayed the course, and became wealthy.
This is and always has been the American Dream.
It lives today.
I honestly believe that anyone in this country who is willing to put forth the effort to make themselves marketable, live frugally, stick to the plan, stay out of debt and sacrifice to invest, can become a millionaire. Some Civil Rights activists would disagree with that statement. Nevertheless, I stand by it. There are minority groups that are being successful beyond any expectation because these concepts are part of their culture. If our Civil Rights movement is serious about trying to better the lives of those whom they purport to be concerned with, they need to be teaching these principles; not activism, marching and how to be a victim.
While there are over 9 million households with a net worth over one million dollars in the US, there are only 615 Billionaires. These are the superrich. Even here the picture that our nation’s progressives are painting is slanted. If you look at the political and social beliefs of the wealthiest individuals in our country you will soon discover it is mostly a group of socially liberal and even progressive individuals who are quite generous in their support of charitable and left leaning causes. In large part, this invented evil and oppressive oligarchy are the ones who are financing the nation’s liberal crusades. Even the Koch brothers lean left on social issues.
Progressive pundits would have you believe in some politically conjured group of evil rich people who look down upon the masses. They would have you believe in rich and greedy oppressors who sit around wondering how to take money away from you and me. Indeed there are a few greedy scrooges. However, such people rarely become wealthy because they just simply lack the character it takes to become successful.
So where is the evil empire that is currently being so jealously trashed on progressive propaganda blogs? It just simply does not exist. There are some people with obscene amounts of money, but they are very few, often do not hang onto it for very long and are usually generous to worthwhile causes and seldom evil.
While the malevolent and mystical empire of oppressors does not exist, I do not deny the seriousness of income disparity in a democracy. However, the issue of undue influence in the political process by the wealthy needs to be corrected through political finance reform not government sponsored theft by means of inflated taxation.
Neither do I deny the obscenity of CEO salaries in our largest corporations. However, the cost in freedom of inserting our government into the largest boardrooms of America would seem to be a much greater threat to our democracy than a few obscene salaries.
I do not deny a need for those who are less fortunate to have a helping hand to lift them out of poverty nor do I deny the need to provide health care for all of our citizens. These things however, do not require tax brackets in excess of fifty percent or free college for everyone. They do not require government sponsored extortion and robbery. With few exceptions, the rich have earned their money. It belongs to them. It is not the governments to take. Robin Hood was stealing from the government to give to the poor. Excessive taxation, as I recall, was the trademark of the evil King Richard.
There are those in this country who want to tax the American Dream to the point that it will destroy it for future generations. The purpose in doing so is to build a large government with larger social programs. Such programs would replace personal responsibility with government responsibility and ultimately remove choice.
There is a major problem with a socialist society. People have different talents. Some are better at creating wealth than others. In limiting how well the best are able to succeed, we slow down the nation’s economic engine. We limit our nation’s ability to grow economically. Think it through. If we took all of the wealth of these great United States, gathered it up and then redistributed it evenly to every household in America, the equality would be short lived. Those who understand the process; those who are marketable, live frugally, avoid debt and save, would once again become rich. The rest of the distributed wealth would be wasted and lost to the nation having been of only temporary use in furthering our nation’s economy through unwise consumerism. Therein we find the problem. Money taken from the rich if just given to the less fortunate is wasted. It accomplishes nothing unless it is done in a way that encourages, teaches and empowers self reliance.
I ask you, if the government taxes away the dream, what is left of America?
When progressives wax poetic about issues of “income redistribution”, they are not proposing to take the treasury from an evil King Richard and distribute it to a group of hardworking and exploited village saints. They are stealing it from Joe the Plumber and giving it to the King, to our oversized government. They are giving it to People like the pre-politician Bernie Sanders who was too busy being a radical to learn how to be a good carpenter. They are giving it to people who are not productive members of our society because they are too busy complaining about things that are “unfair” or “exploitive” or “bigoted” while subsisting off of the production of others. We see these people in the tents of the Occupy Wall Street movement. We see these people patronizing their libido and then demanding free abortions as a means of birth control. We see these people living on the streets of New York because welfare makes work unappealing. We see these people in governmental appointees who have overthrown the idea of service in favor of empire building; of using the government as a vehicle to become wealthy. Robbing from the rich to give to the poor should never be viewed as a shortcut to wealth.
The end result of a socailist presidency and subsequent administration would not be utopia, it would spell the end of the American Dream for developing generations. It would be the end of what our forefathers called “the pursuit of happiness.”
Samuel Waen Jensen