Way back in a former life, (When I was a Woolworth manager for those of you with longer memories,) It was widely known that internal causes of theft far outweighed external sources of theft. This was not due to any greater likelihood that employees were more or less dishonest than any one else in the world. It was merely a function of access. People who worked in the stores had a greater number of opportunities and far better quality of opportunities to fall to temptation. Their actions were no more or less despicable than the actions of those who did not work for the company. It was merely a case of them both proverbially, and in some unfortunate instances really, having the keys to the kingdom.
Mitt Romney is well to do. God bless him for his success. It should be celebrated rather than vilified. He has achieved what many of us wish to in our lives. He also serves as the embodiment of what is possible in America. I can look at Mitt, and say to my self during the hardest days of my trying to make my own way, that kind of success is there for me if I work hard for it. His success can become part of my vision. I was born here in America, and with this place of birth, I was not tethered to some predetermined social station which would have kept me in what ever socioeconomic strata of society other people had seen fit to tether me to. The choice is mine. I can forge my own path, and I need not rely on the opinions of others to allow me access to the good life I seek. For those who choose to do so, America is also a nation which allows people to live their lives while putting forth the minimal amount of personal effort. That choice also remains theirs.
It is no secret now that part of the Obama campaign strategy is to get at least 51% of Americans to despise Mitt Romney's success, and Mitt Romney himself. The latest attack it seems alludes to Romney having, "gasp," foreign bank accounts. How evil of the man to participate in an activity that is perfectly legal. The appearance of Team Obama on every news show proclaiming that they're just asking questions, while it is obvious to anyone with a functioning brain cell, that they're clearly implying some wrong doing while never actually making an accusation is the most stunning display of campaign malfeasance since the Lyndon Johnson Daisy Ads. (Before any of you Democrats bring up the Willie Horton ads, bear in mind that the facts put forth in those ads were verified to be 100% accurate.)
What may surprise many of you to know is that most Americans have an offshore account in some fashion. If you are a participant in a pension, 401k, 403b, 457, or other deferred compensation plan through your place of employment, then chances are pretty darned good that part of your money is held in an overseas brokerage account. I do not know anything about the Romney Financial Plan or Mitt Romney personally. I have heard a net worth estimation somewhere in the neighborhood of $300 Million. Let's pretend just for a moment that it is only 10% of that number. Let's pretend that Mitt Romney has a nest egg of $30 Million on which to build his future and insure his wife always has a nice horse to ride. I would be willing to bet that his Financial Planner would offer the advice that the efficient frontier as described in Harold Markowitz's Nobel Prize Winning Modern Portfolio Theory dictate that somewhere between 4% and 12% of those assets should be in international equities. On $30 Million, that represents anywhere from $1.2 Million to $3.6 Million. With that kind of money to invest, simple efficiency would tell that adviser to open accounts in the places where those foreign capital markets were trading. In other words, there is simply nothing at all that is anywhere near nefarious going on here. This is simply a man who built his fortune through prudent investing, taking the prudent steps any savvy investor would have taken, all of it above board and legal. Steps as it turns out that have been taken by plenty of Obama's own people and more to the point, the man himself.
Putting all of this boring stuff aside for the moment, I read something on my facebook this morning that I'd like to share.
Apparently, I'm supposed to be more outraged by what Mitt Romney does with his money than by what Obama does with mine.
Why is it that malfeasance committed by politicians is somehow considered more noble than malfeasance committed by private citizens. Daily, we see examples of Politicians getting away with behavior that if exhibited by you or me, would land is in jail for a long, long, time. Yet somehow, it is excused as a necessary evil to achieve the greater good. Yes Ted Kennedy killed his pregnant secretary, but he fought hard for a government takeover of every single aspect of our lives in order to insure that we were protected from what ever harm we wished to do to ourselves.
Last week I wrote about my friend who brought up the robber baron myth and insisted on bashing capitalism on the basis that it made it possible for some to become too successful. His belief is that people, all people are inherently evil. That when someone becomes successful, they will us that success to squash the dreams of all others around them. Let us assume for a moment that this were true. (I do not agree with it at all, but we'll play along anyhow.) How much more screwed will we be when we hand the keys to the kingdom to those same evil people to run our society for us and make all of our decisions for us? Just like the employees of W.T. Grant, or F.W. Woolworth who so successfully robbed their perspective companies into the graveyard of once mighty American Businesses, (by the way standing as examples of large corporations not being all powerful but obviously vulnerable,) politicians in charge of everything have greater access, and opportunity to act in a reprehensible manner. As Milton Friedman once famously asked Phil Donahue, "where will we find these angels who are going to organize our society for us? I don't even trust you to do that."
If life were so terrible here in America during the time of John Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, Charles Schwab, et al, why on Earth were people from all over the world clamoring to enter our nation? I don't know how many times it must be said, but here it is again, wealth is not a zero sum proposition. The people in the United States did not build the wealthiest society the world has ever know by stealing that wealth from other places in the world. Our wealth was created from the ground up quite literally by allowing people the freedom to create and to serve the wishes of their fellow human being. Conversely, the people of the Sudan do not lack refrigeration and running water because we here in America stole their resources from them. They lack those things because when a malevolent government hacks the heads off of millions of its own citizens, chances are pretty good that it was one of those people who would have given them refrigeration and decent plumbing.
For the class warriors out there. How will punishing the rich in any way benefit you or anyone else? If Mitt Romney were to lose everything today, I would awaken tomorrow morning with no increase in groceries at my own table. That will only occur when I do something to put those groceries there. That is independent of Mitt Romney's success or failure, unless of course Mitt in his private enterprise hires me to work for him. I've never been hired by a poor person, I've only ever been hired by rich people.