Charles Payne
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"The point is ladies and gentlemen that greed, for lack of a better word, is good."
-Gordon Gecko

"It is a world designed to make the REAL world feel lifeless and dirty. A thousand years ago, you could have lived in a hut and been happy because you didn't know that life could be any better. But in 21st century America, you are constantly being shown how much better life can be, and that is what makes your life so (bleep) intolerable."
-Drew Magary

It's becoming a Christmas tradition: "The 2013 Hater's Guide to the Williams-Sonoma Catalog" by Drew Magary for Deadspin has some really funny parts, and like any good comedy the piece is a reflection of real-life told in a way that might otherwise not be spoken out loud. I'm not sure if the aim of the piece was to shed light on what I think is the most critical of the problems in our country today, but for me that's exactly what it does. The deliberate division of people in our country is under the guise of making our system fairer by taking the parts of our society, ripping them apart, and then putting them back together in a completely different way.

It is using the cloak of the income inequality debate that is raging around the world advocated by very powerful voices, like Pope Francis and President Obama. I think the former is using his platform in an attempt to shame and alter free market capitalism. I think the latter wants to ditch it altogether.

Liberator

Pope Francis uses the entire planet as a backdrop for his concerns, which gives his questions about capitalism more credibility; although I still think his ire is pointed in the wrong direction. Capitalism isn't a yoke on human progress- it's the one proven economic system, that when coupled with faith, serves as a liberator for the masses. The poorest nations do have a path to self-reliance and prosperity when accepting and practicing the principles of free-markets. One can argue about how fettered they are or aren't, but that's a saw, used to shackle the system.

People aren't perfect so there are rules, but the idea is to unleash potential and let winners drink from the chalice of victory, and others in the race will also be rewarded as well. It's never a zero-sum game.

Even in a nation like Bangladesh (which saw that horrific fire in April that killed 1,130 garment workers fulfilling orders from European retailers which included Benetton, Matalan, and Primark) is blessed to have foreign capital pour into its country. Of course, working conditions where people are working hard to earn money have to improve, but the operative word is "earn," which is what millions, the majority of which are woman, from rural areas are doing for the first time in history.

Free- markets must include free voices, and that's also happening in Bangladesh, as once voiceless peasants are gaining leverage to shape national policy. As a consequence of this, the government in Bangladesh upped its minimum wage by 77% at the start of December, and now garment workers earn $68 a month. Outsiders that dwell on helping the poor through handouts, and those whose beliefs are the antitheist of capitalism, are threatened by what's happening in Bangladesh.

The more people believe they can pull themselves up in life, the less likely they'll be bought off with bags of donated rice, or sacks of flour dropped out of giant cargo planes. When it comes to giving away crumbs and mitigating dreams, the powers-that-be have made it an art form that competes with annual awards, (Nobel Peace Prize anyone?) and endless events to prove how much they care and sport the latest Jimmy Choo's.

It Takes A Village

In 1976 while at the University in Bangladesh, Muhammad Yunus visited a poor village where he lent 42 women $27 each for business endeavors. This was the genesis of Grameen (village) Bank, credited with inventing micro-lending, micro-finance, and micro-credit ,that has been lauded for helping so many people in Bangladesh, and now around the world, has become self-reliant. By 2007, the bank had lent $6.3 billion to more than 7.4 million people and Yunus was the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize (in this instance, a worthy recipient).
Grassroots businesses are popping up everywhere, but the larger opportunities are arising also, because Bangladesh is a source of cheap but smart labor, where people are willing to work hard. It has found its niche with the garment industry.

The garment industry in Bangladesh is the second largest in the world and worth $20 billion annually. The industry employs 4,000,000 people learning new jobs skills, but more importantly, learning how to dream of a life, heretofore that was beyond their reach. If someone really believes the world is one big global village then the best way to improve the lives of others is the spread of capitalism, and its reliance on earned rewards, whether from elbow grease or from returns from investing risk.

Capitalism should win the Nobel Peace Prize. It's long overdue.

How the West Was Lost

Those in western nations, who are most critical of capitalism as an economic system, enjoy a life of comfort unknown to the majority of the planet making due on $2,000 a year. Welfare recipients in America live like kings, versus billions of other people on the planet. Ironically, some of the biggest critics of the system have made a killing, coming from nothing to living a life formerly reserved for only kings and queens.

There's a special flavor of hypocrisy when rich actors, singers, and athletes of the second richest man in the nation are always complaining about income inequality, and demanding others put more money into the pot. The folksy Oracle of Omaha can support higher takes for successful gas station franchises, by insisting he's paying less in taxes than his secretary. (I'm sure Mr. Buffett is talking about his tax rate on certain investments, and not his 21% share of the $6.9 billion in taxes paid by Berkshire Hathaway in 2012.) In reality, this is a guy that climbed the castle wall and is pulling up the ladder, as if sharing his view of the world would be diminished by making it easier for others to reach the top.

The sob story about America's poor has to be a joke to most people living in other nations. The thing is we shouldn't laugh, because it's a dangerous joke that hides sinister motives.

The fact of the matter is that most Americans would feel great about their own lives, if they weren't told it could be so much better, if only the 1% would share more of their own good fortune. This is the epiphany that is pointed out with this line: A thousand years ago, you could have lived in a hut and been happy.

You don't have to go back to caveman days to know of a time when people were happy with a roof over their heads and food on the table. We had that, and my dad also owned a Cutlass Supreme, so life was grand. I didn't feel poor, though we were a million miles from being rich.

Instead, we now have the raging debate for shared prosperity, being framed as a way to combat the greed of the 1%, which is really about the greed of the 99%.

But, greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Wanting a larger television is fine, as long as a person works for that larger television. Wanting a vacation home is admirable; just work and save for that dream. The problem is when we're told we already work enough and shouldn't have to save more in a nation so rich, it green-lights the notion there should be policies to make those bastards share their wealth. They didn't build that wealth; they didn't build those roads, so in reality that's our money. (Yes, I know you didn't build the wealth or the highways, but play along; there's a pot of gold at the end of this yarn.)

Reality Check

These policies have always been counterproductive, whether in local jurisdictions around America, or adopted by nations like Greece and Portugal.
Historically, revolutions that could have freed people from dictatorships and backward societies, instead saw life deteriorate when Marxist ideology was chosen over free-markets, and the belief that citizens could lift themselves up by their own bootstraps (Mr. President, it's a metaphor for guts, determination, and the will that we all possess and can tap into when conviction is strong.) From Russia to China to virtually the entire continent of Africa, upon slipping off the chains of colonialism, billions of lives could have been better and decades of time not wasted.

Yet many prosperous of nations in the world have partially or completely turned their backs on the very foundations of their own wealth, all because the greed of the 99% had to be assuaged through anti-achievement policies and higher taxes, rather than demanding for more work and sacrifice, with the backdrop of a payoff. These payoffs aren't moving as quickly for some segments of the economy, while they're zooming at the speed of light for others.

It's created a situation where someone can stand in line for hours, competing against hundreds of other job candidates for a few openings, and upon getting the job, demand higher wages on the first day of work.

The other end of the spectrum is even crazier: in America, it's unbecoming or mean-spirited to demand recipients of social benefits perform any task. On the other hand, the person commuting at six in the morning to earn a living isn't making any sacrifices for the greater (read, "common") good. This is scary stuff that defies logic. The only way for those looking for a fundamental change in America's DNA is to evoke our base emotions of envy, hate, and anger. People have to actually be victims of the 1%; and not just victims because of their unlucky association with their relatives.

People have to think so little of the 1%, and how they really got their money, in order to go against our better instincts that tell us theft is a sin. The campaign has to be relentless and never stop.

Yes, Over-The-Top, But Not Enough To Spark A Revolution

Of course, it helps when the 1% say and do dumb things that make it easier to hate. Of the items featured in the William-Sonoma "Haters Guide," I must admit the rotary iron is beyond obnoxious. Then again, I'm not big on ironing linen or bed sheets, even though I think it's nice when staying at a hotel or eating at a fancy restaurant. That being said I don't feel less about myself for not having pressed linen, or for not even having a butler who would press the morning newspaper before delivering it as he served my Eggs Benedict each morning.

Item #54-1718857 Miele Rotary Iron

Williams-Sonoma says: "Sit comfortably at this machine to press and fold large linens in as little as four minutes."

Price: $1999.95

Notes: Every year, the Williams-Sonoma catalog features gifts that are clearly meant for your help. "Thomas Barrow, my dear footman! Look at what I've got you! Now you can iron my bed sheets in nearly half the time! SURELY YOU MUST BE PLEASED." This thing is the size of a Buick. A regular iron costs thirty bucks. If you have the means to buy a giant robot ironing device, you should save your money and give the difference to ME, because I'll spend that money on more important things. I will fill a pool with snowflake marshmallows and jump into it while stark naked. Two thousand bucks. For an iron. Jesus Christ. Add it to my kid's Christmas list.

If I want something badly enough I work for it, and if it's out of my reach, then I work some more, but taking it isn't an option...unless we are talking about taking a chance. I'm sure 99% of the population would agree that stealing to reach a goal, or for material gain is wrong, and yet more and more of the population are being sucked into the idea of punitive action against the rich, (and the not-so-rich) in order to improve their own lives.
Confiscatory policies are sold as attempts to redistribute wealth, but like most government promises that involve money, these promises fall short. The biggest reason these polices fall short is the middle man, also known as the government. You see, the government takes giant chunks and puts it through a grinder like a block of cheese, and out of the other end drifts flakes that may look like Manna From Above, but are only crumbs that never change the circumstances of those with outstretched arms.

If I want something badly enough I work for it, and if it's out of my reach, then I work some more, but taking it isn't an option...unless we are talking about taking a chance. I'm sure 99% of the population would agree that stealing to reach a goal, or for material gain is wrong, and yet more and more of the population are being sucked into the idea of punitive action against the rich, (and the not-so-rich) in order to improve their own lives.

Confiscatory policies are sold as attempts to redistribute wealth, but like most government promises that involve money, these promises fall short. The biggest reason these polices fall short is the middle man, also known as the government. You see, the government takes giant chunks and puts it through a grinder like a block of cheese, and out of the other end drifts flakes that may look like Manna From Above, but are only crumbs that never change the circumstances of those with outstretched arms.

One week before Christmas and there is much joy in the air. We know we've been blessed, and yet we can want more. I do agree in 21st Century America, we are constantly being shown how much better life can be; I think that's what makes our life even more (bleep) tolerable.

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Charles Payne

Charles V. Payne is a regular contributor to the Fox Business and Fox News Networks. He is also the Chief Executive Officer and Principle Analyst of Wall Street Strategies, Inc. (WSSI), founded in 1991 which provides subscription analytical services to both individual and institutional investors.
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