Broad-Based Prosperity

ProsperityRead my Obligatory Obama Disclaimer if you haven’t already.

Given some recent comments coming from Barrack Obama, I thought I would finish an article I had started writing a few months back.

During a speech given in early April, Obama is quoted,

Broad-based prosperity has never trickled down from the success of a wealthy few. It has always come from a strong and growing middle class.

Let’s break down some of the assumptions this statement infers:

  • Only a relatively few people can ever be wealthy.
  • Middle class is all the broad majority of us can ever aspire to.
  • Broad-based prosperity is being suppressed by the wealthy.
  • Wealthy people are obligated to give others their money.
  • Americans are inherently greedy.
  • Spreading prosperity requires the force of government.

Now I don’t know about you, but I believe there is room in the world for more than just a few wealthy people. Why should people settle for someone telling them that middle class is all they will ever be? Isn’t that striving for mediocrity? Why can’t we all aspire to be wealthy? Shouldn’t we be focusing on making everyone as wealthy as possible, instead of browbeating people for being “too wealthy” and trying to bring everyone down to middle class?

There is an assumption made by some that wealthy people should be required to give their money to others. That regardless of how much someone may donate to charity, or how much they spread their wealth by spending it on the products and services of others, they still somehow “owe” money to everyone else. As if people have some sort of “right” to the wealth created by others.

Note that there is a big difference between the idea that people should be charitable and voluntarily help others, and the idea that people must be charitable and forced to give up the wealth they created. Those who believe people are greedy and will only help others if forced have a very negative view of the world and this country. Charity stops being charity when it is forced at gunpoint. By believing that force is the only way to create “broad-based prosperity”, they create class warfare where none necessarily existed. They create a perpetual us-vs-them mentality that stymies wealth creation at all levels, effectively counteracting the spread of the prosperity they claim they want to create. Ultimately, they implicitly advocate a violent society.

Unfortunately, this idea that government force is required to spread prosperity is at the core of Obama’s way of thinking. This statement is only one example. “You didn’t build that” is another. Worse, this idea is shared by too many big government politicians and those who support them. Honestly, I think it spits in the face of the American Dream. Obama and those who believe in government force are basically saying that Americans can not be trusted with their own wealth. In other words, we can’t be trusted with our own freedom. I’m not sure if anything could be more insulting to an American.

Let’s get one thing straight. Wealthy people do not suppress prosperity. Wealth is the result of prosperity. Wealthy people can and do share their wealth. There seems to be a train of thought that rich people hoard their money and keep it out of the hands of everyone else. Nothing could be more ridiculous. People with money tend to spend it. Seriously, just think about it for a minute. If you’re not rich, what would you do if you became rich? Would you lock away your money in a safe and just leave it there? I doubt it. You would probably buy a few things or hire a few people. You might start a business or grow your existing business. Perhaps you might invest some of it. And maybe, just maybe, you would *gasp* donate to charity. In actuality, you probably already do many of these things today. If you were rich, you’d just do them all on a bigger scale. If you do these things, don’t you think other wealthy people already do exactly that?

Ironically, only two sentences after his above quote, Obama refutes himself (and makes my previous point) by stating,

“That’s why a CEO like Henry Ford made it his mission to pay his workers enough so they could buy the cars that they made.”

Wait a second! A wealthy person actually decided to share his wealth? Without the force of government making him do so? Preposterous! Next you’re going to tell me that Henry Ford created a charitable foundation and started a hospital using his own money. That certainly can’t be true. Wealthy people simply don’t share their money, according to Obama and big-government politicians.

Let’s get real. Prosperity, broad-based or otherwise, can only be hindered by big government interference. The bigger the government, the bigger the taxes. By draining wealth out of the economy, there is less wealth that can be voluntarily shared by those who have created it. There is less wealth available that could be used to generate even more wealth. Instead it is siphoned off to pay for layer after layer of unproductive bureaucracy. If you think we can’t trust Americans to share their own wealth, do you really think we can trust a group of unaccountable bureaucrats to do it for us?

The reality is that wealthy people are the most generous. It only makes sense that those with the means to be generous in fact are. The proof is in the pudding, as year after year, studies show Americans are the most generous people in the world. Imagine just how much more generous we would be if government let us all keep more of our own earned wealth.