I'm a Pundit Too

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Greed or Jealousy?

In Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Scrooge is known as the town miser. The wealthiest man around who cares for no one but himself and the vast wealth he has accumulated. One of his memorable remarks to the plight of the poor at Christmas was, “Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses? When the response to his questions came back that many would rather die than to go to such places; Scrooge’s reply was evermore heartless. “If they would rather die, they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.” Many in our society today see anyone of wealth in the same light as old Ebenezer.

Recent years have treated us to a litany of perfect “Scrooge” examples. From Enron to Worldcom, we have seen the rich and powerful brought down because of their greed and lack of moral compass. These corporations, and others like them, have become the rallying cry against corporate greed, but they have taken it further to include any corporation that shows a profit. If you watch the economic news and see that the economy grew at 3.9% last quarter, beating all “expert” projections, the naysayers quickly interject that it is only the tea and crumpet crowd that are doing well. The poor peons like us are really suffering while the rich get richer. Is this analysis true? Or is it that there those among us that see a dark cloud on every horizon?

Anytime I have written on the benefits of capitalism over socialism, I am bombarded with statements laced with jealousy and rage. Statements such as, the wealthy only became wealthy by exploiting those around them. The CEO’s all make too much money while the workers are barely scraping by on minimum wage. My personal favorite is the blind rage sparked by the mere mention of Walmart. They don’t pay a living wage. They don’t provide proper benefits. They are the devil. Are any of these assertions true?

Do the rich exploit those around them to get ahead? There is no denying that some break any law and step on anyone in their way while on their quest for more money. That scenario is the exception, not the rule. For years Bill Gates was vilified because of his wealth. Lately though, the chorus of catcalls has died down. Could it be that since Gates and his wife pledged to give away billions to promote better health around the world? Is the wrath over wealth tied to political ideology? Why isn’t George Soros hated for his wealth? Bill and Hillary Clinton have made millions since leaving the White House 7 years ago. Why is there no angst over their “greed”? Is it only rich conservatives that deserve the hatred?

The politically left leaning among us like to point out that capitalism is causing millions to starve around the world. Why are there more starving people in communist Cuba than there is here in capitalist America? Why was the Soviet Union doomed to failure if their economic system was so superior to ours? The rant on the election trail has been that the rich aren’t paying their fair share in taxes. The top 50% in terms of income are paying almost 97% of the taxes in this country. The top 25% pay almost 85% of the taxes. The top 1% pay more than 35% of the tax revenue every year. What percentage of the revenues should they paying? Should we make the top 1% pay 50%? Why stop at 50%?

Those who follow this line of thinking believe that the rich have too much money and it should be redistributed to everyone else. It is only fair that we should all have the same amount. If my neighbor makes more than I do, then he is greedy and should give me some of his paycheck so that my feelings don’t get hurt. It is becoming a common theme of my articles, but I feel it is necessary to admonish the little children among us. Grow up and realize that your neighbor makes more because he did the extra work to make more money. If you don’t like your current financial situation, you have 2 choices. You can do what it takes to improve your situation. You can go back to school, find a better job, start your own business, move to a different area with more opportunity. Sadly, the spoiled little brats in our society would rather blame everyone else for their plight. They want the government to go and forcefully steal more money from everyone else and give it to them so they don’t have to do anything more than necessary to survive.

Anytime a politician promises to give you something, remember he has to take it from someone else. That may be fine with you as long as you are on the receiving end, but what happens when big brother has to come and take from you to give to someone else? Does your thinking change then? Billionaire Warren Buffet was recently quoted as saying that he believes that he does not pay enough in taxes. I would like to remind Warren that no one is stopping him from writing a big fat check to the Internal Revenue Service. They will gladly accept it. If Mr. Buffet really believes that he needs to pay more in taxes, he would write that check. Since he does not follow through on his bizarre statement, one can only surmise that it is all for political purposes in an election season.

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