Every once in a while, Kathleen Parker writes an excellent editorial, maybe it is not her ability, but whether I agree with her. Yesterday was one of those days, where she wrote a poignant and informative review dealing with the Democratic Party’s problem with success. As I Was reading this article I got to thinking about the breakdown of wealth in our congress? Do Democrat or Republican congress people have more money?
The top 20 wealthiest Senators and Representatives collectively own half of the total net worth of our political leaders. A Republican from California, Darrell Issa has a net worth of $283 million. Then there is a Republican from Montana. A Democrat, Jared Polis, from Colorado is worth $119 million. Diane Feinstein is worth $58 million, and Nancy Pelosi is worth about $39 million. Even Bernie Sanders is worth $2 million and owns three homes. Don’t get me wrong, I am not criticizing wealthy people in our government, but what I am criticizing is the hypocrisy of people who think that wealthy people don’t care for others.
In one of my classes a few years ago, I was telling my students about the East Lake Community in Atlanta, Georgia. The East Lake Foundation was “created in 1995 to help transform one of Atlanta’s most troubled neighborhoods.” The old dilapidated homes were torn down and replaced with better built homes. Tom and Ann Cousins wanted to create new opportunities for people who lived in this community. The story is an incredible story demonstrating how a partnership between a community, government, and private partners can make a difference and improve the life of people in a neighborhood.
My students felt that because Tom Cousins was rich he was wrong to want to improve the neighborhood and the golf course attached to it. East Lake Golf Course has become an important course to the PGA and college golf, but it is also a place that employs people from the community to help them improve their lives. My students didn’t see it that way. So, I called the East Lake Foundation and we had a teleconference with them. We had an amazing conversation of what happened and why. The people at East Lake were gracious and answered all of my student’s questions. I am not too sure my students felt any better about the situation, but I sure did.
I still believe in Horatio Alger stories. I still think that people can get ahead by working hard. I also think that Americans are the most generous people in the world. We give of our plenty to help those who don’t have as much. We choose to give billions of dollars to charities to help people. We also pay a certain amount of our taxes to have good social programs for people in need. So, I find it ironic when she states, “These days, as income inequality has become a leitmotif of Democratic politics, being rich is a liability.” Talk about hypocrisy. Elizabeth Warren is worth about $7 million, and Maxine Waters is worth about $5 million. I know you will say well the Republicans are worth so much more. True?
Rather than try to destroy people with money, calling them negative names, and take an anti-wealth stand, let’s do what the wealthy have stated they want. Set a reasonable tax rate for them. Warren Buffet has stated he can afford to pay more taxes. I am not too sure how Maxine Waters became a millionaire, but the wealthiest congress persons were entrepreneurs. I am sure they are fine with paying more. But times have changed, as Parker notes, “Once upon a time, Americans celebrated others’ success and aspired through grit and sacrifice to improve their own circumstances.”
I am not a Trumper, but I do not suffer from Trump Derangement Syndrome either. I am not a fan of Trump’s use of twitter to declare policy, but I am amazed at how he could make and lose so much money during his career in real estate in New York. Regardless of what you think of him he has worked long hours as a business person to be successful. As Parker notes, even everyday Joe Biden rakes in millions.
At this point in time I feel very uneasy voting for any Presidential candidate. I cannot in good conscious vote for any of the Democrats. However, if Nikki Haley would run, I would vote for her in a minute. I am also thinking about voting for Howard Schultz. Here is a man who grew up in a Brooklyn housing project, under dire circumstances, yet, through hard work he has become a very wealthy man. The people who worked for him were paid well, had good benefits, and were able to access tuition reimbursement for college. Kathleen Parker states, “Nor do you need a government program to create those opportunities. As head of Starbucks, Schultz accomplished through free enterprise what some Democrats want to do through government for free.”
I am involved with an organization called the Nehemiah Project. In fact, I am leaving in a few minutes for its yearly dinner. Patrice Tsague is the founder of this organization and he believes very strongly in helping free enterprise give people the opportunities in life we all desperately want. The Democratic Party wants government to do this. This is what scares me. I agree with Parker when she states, “The anti-wealth sentiment currently in vogue isn’t, of course, a rational response to challenges. It’s an emotional reaction to politicians barnstorming about inequality that, they say, can only be resolved by punishing the wealthy and subsidizing the rest.”
There are millions of jobs not being filled right now, good paying jobs, because the workforce skill level haven’t caught up to market need. Rather than redistributing wealth via a Robin Hood process, let’s incentivize businesses and the wealthy to help create training programs that help people have the skills to work those higher paying jobs. Rather than increasing pay at McDonald’s or unionizing a small restaurant in Vancouver, WA, let’s get people the skills they need to work in higher skilled work. Instead of becoming Socialist, let’s use the mechanisms of the free market to help all ships rise. There is room for all.
And that is my thought for the day!