I have heard a lot of whoppers over the years, but nothing like film maker Michael Moore who recently threw his support behind the Wisconsin unions. His remarks, which were reported in the Wall Street Journal, focused on the country's state of the economy, to wit:
"America is not broke.
Contrary to what those in power would like you to believe so that you'll give up your pension, cut your wages, and settle for the life your great-grandparents had, America is not broke. Not by a long shot. The country is awash in wealth and cash. It's just that it's not in your hands. It has been transferred, in the greatest heist in history, from the workers and consumers to the banks and the portfolios of the uber-rich.
Today just 400 Americans have the same wealth as half of all Americans combined.
Let me say that again. 400 obscenely rich people, most of whom benefited in some way from the multi-trillion dollar taxpayer 'bailout' of 2008, now have as much loot, stock and property as the assets of 155 million Americans combined. If you can't bring yourself to call that a financial coup d'état, then you are simply not being honest about what you know in your heart to be true."
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Moore's comments are, of course, designed to be inflammatory. What I find disturbing about all this is how he makes accusations that cannot be substantiated, rather conveniently I might add. He is asking others to accept his position based on blind faith. Such accusations remind me of people who claim to have seen Big Foot, UFO's, the Loch Ness monster, and other such unexplained phenomenon.
Reports vary about the number of millionaires in the United States, ranging from 2.8 to 16.6 million, with a substantial number of retirees. In terms of billionaires, there is probably in the neighborhood of 500 in North America. Interestingly, Moore vilifies everyone in this category across the board, which would include such people as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Larry Ellison, Donald Trump, Warren Buffet, the Walton family, etc. He adamantly contends such people do not pay their fair share and their fortunes should be redistributed to others less fortunate.
Moore's con game is an old one whereby he uses fear and innuendo to sway his audience. He plays to the people who genuinely believe the rich are manipulating them, and in a way they are, as they are providing the means for a lot of people to earn a living. To illustrate, consider these employment numbers of the companies associated with the people above:
|260,519||Berkshire Hathaway (Buffet)|
That is 2,626,369 people who are gainfully employed as a direct result of the "Uber-Rich" as Moore refers to them, and this does not include all of the other companies in which they have purchased stocks for their portfolio. They could have simply invested their money in commodities such as oil, silver or gold, but they invested in people instead. Let us also not forget their philanthropic donations which is sizeable, yet too often overlooked by the likes of Moore. For example, it was recently reported that Gates gave away more than a third of his wealth to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which focuses on global health and development and U.S. education. Likewise, Buffett has also pledged almost all of his fortune to the Gates Foundation and has given $8 billion to the organization since 2006. Keep in mind, they were not required to make such generous donations.
Moore's rhetoric is an attempt to establish an adversarial relationship, thereby creating an "Us" versus "Them" mentality, the "Have's" versus the "Have Not's," which gullible people are openly receptive to. His objective is rather clear, a redistribution of the wealth, and the demise of capitalism, a concept which served this country well for over two hundred years.
In Moore's eyes, capitalism breeds greed, a point driven home by such Hollywood films as Oliver Stone's "Wall Street" ("Greed is good..."). Greed, of course, is a human frailty and just as applicable in socialism as it is in capitalism, but somehow this is never mentioned. However, I'm not sure which is worse, greed or distorting the truth to suit your political agenda. To me, the rantings of Michael Moore are nothing more than a desperate plea for socialism, a concept many believe to be a genuine threat to America's free enterprise system and our way of life, including me.
Keep the Faith!
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Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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