This is important because this narrative has been spread to the larger population, and it's sinking in for many. What happens is once someone believes they can't make it without special favors from the government they become indentured to the government in a way that twists the entire notion of what this country was founded on. The government is indentured to the people, not the other way around. On that note, the government's role is limited and really should not be a part of the equation for the individual pursuit of happiness (unless you are selling them overpriced hammers and toilet seats). In business, you always want individual parts to be worth more than the sum of the whole. Think of McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) and Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE:CMG). Together, CMG did not give that much of a boost to McDonald's earnings; however, as a separate company, CMG has been a monster.
In our country, it's the individual pursuit of prosperity and excellence that has made the nation great. The more we accept as individuals that we can't make it without government, the further we drift from the roots of the nation. The more we believe the government's coffers must be filled like deadly sacrifices to an angry volcano, the harder it's going to be to get back on the right path. Yet, there are those pushing this battle, unabashedly and determinedly, because they sense an awakening. Many power centers in this nation want to keep and make people less dependent on themselves.
That's the fight that's occurring right now. Self worth that goes beyond the notion of being a victim and settling for the false heroics of government is a key to the nation's future. Less than 50% of Americans pay federal income taxes, and yet there are some that believe those that are paying should pay more. Last week, Michael Moore made a series of statements that in my mind made Charlie Sheen seem logical.
"Wealthy American's money is not theirs it's ours; a national resource and we need to take it from them."- Michael Moore
One of the guys I was knocking back drinks with hadn't heard the Moore comments when he said: "rich people are robbing us." To which I replied: "Why would they rob us when we are in such a rush to give them our money?" When a bunch of people, still weighed down from Thanksgiving dinner, give a Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) store the bum's rush, trampling a security guard to death in the process, it is clear that nobody has to put a gun to their heads. We give someone money and in return get goods or services. We get that money more often than not by giving our time and effort to an employer who in return pays us.
How ironic that people that get money without providing any time or effort would be told they are victims and urged to grab pitchforks and torches. So, as my friend was talking about us being robbed I was looking at a rubber mat on the bar that read "Patron", the hot ultra premium tequila. The story of the company is a tale of entrepreneurial genius. John Paul DeJoria, one of the founders of John Paul Mitchell products, was vacationing in Mexico and drinking a tequila he thought was fantastic. He inquired about the brand and company to discover it was just a sleepy un-ambitious company, so he bought it. He repackaged the product, promoted it as premium liquor in a space where there was no premium product, and got all his hip Hollywood friends to put it in movies, videos, and served at the coolest parties.
The product caught on big-time, and is now the fastest growing tequila brand in the United States, while also making its move into Europe. The brand also made its way into a small dive on the border of the Bronx and Harlem. Nobody was being forced to order it unless you count peer pressure and the need to look cool. Heck, that rubber mat was inconspicuous at best in the dimly lit bar that also had four flat-panel televisions mounted on the walls. (Just the notion a place could be a dive and have that many flat panel televisions explains how easy it is to make poverty just comfortable enough for people not to fight hard enough to escape.)
One could argue that people bum rush Wal-Mart and other stores on Black Friday for the discounts they so desperately need, but that would be disingenuous as even the most casual of shoppers understands the sales are bait-n-switch, limited to a few items with most going for their typical price. But, how to explain people in this bar buying Patron? Could they really afford this brand? I think the answer is no if you go by data from the U.S. Census Bureau. (The data is for all of the Bronx, but the part I was chilling out in actually is poorer than most of the rest of the borough.)
I'm all for people having a taste of the good life, and if someone wanted to blow their entire paycheck on premium liquor that would be their right. I don't think it's their right to later join in with the likes of Michael Moore and demand their money back or claim John Paul DeJoria's wealth is communal wealth. I actually think everyone should dream of owning a home in America and imbibing on the good stuff from time to time. Both can be fantastic incentives to climb out of an abyss. The way out is to ignore the divisive ramblings of left-wing nuts and embrace the opportunities that living in America provide.
It's time to say "no thanks" to government help that only makes poverty more tolerable, and yes to pulling up those bootstraps. It's time to stop hating the rich and so-called rich and be inspired by them.
As for the notion the rich aren't doing their share, data would beg to differ. In 2008:
* Top 1% of income earners made $380,354 and paid 38.02% of income taxes.
* Top 10% of income earners made $113,799 and paid 69.94% of income taxes.
Making the rich and so-called rich pay more in taxes, or even taking their wealth from them, wouldn't solve fundamental issues weighing down this country. While many think that life should be easier, the solution is more elbow grease, not less. Your personal net worth isn't going to change if our government raided the personal bank accounts of every person on the Forbes 400 list. Michael Moore was onto something, however. There is a lot of money in this country and if it goes to work in the right manner we can get back on track. So, you could say the country isn't broke, but our government has been broke and broken for a long time, and it's getting worse.
Corporations are sitting on a couple of trillion dollars, banks hold record amounts of cash, and households have big-time cash, too. Money should flow into government coffers as a result of growing prosperity. To feed this beast (reckless government spending) now by attacking any of the sources for a real remedy is suicide. If anyone is robbing us it's the government, which continues to overstep its Constitutional boundaries, each step taking away a rung in the ladder of success that might have provided life with plenty of Patron and money in the bank, too.
Michael Moore was spreading his message in Wisconsin over the weekend, goading on workers that make over $100,000 a year in compensation ($14,000 in raises over the last two years) that they are victims. This is a critical battle, and simply dismissing Moore and those that sell the notion we can steal from the rich to cushion our own life or enable reckless government spending is a huge mistake. Moore has access to all the same people that John Paul DeJoria had access to when turning a sleepy tequila brand into a giant brand with appeal across multiple demographics in just a few years. In fact, he has greater access to media as he expresses a position that is equally shared in the White House.
As scary as scenes from Libya have become it's a drop in the proverbial bucket to what's brewing in the United States. If too many people believe they have a right to the wealth of others our economy is going to get a lot uglier than $5.00 a gallon gas could ever make it. But, I will say if America is going to go down that Michael Moore road then I need Jack Black and others involved in "Year One" to refund me the $60.00 I spent taking my family to see that lemon.
In the meantime, it is sad any American should feel like a victim or like they are being robbed. Everything isn't fair, and I say that from personal experiences past and present, but we can make it better and better. This is an economic issue of massive proportions because it's all about our future and how we deal with issues that will not go away or get better without sacrifice.
Supplements Industry: Getting Financially Jacked from an MIA FDA
By: Brian Sozzi, Equity Research Analyst
Gone are the days of common vitamins being found on the shelves of the local, family operated pharmacy. According to the Nutrition Business Journal (NYSEMKT:NBJ), the U.S. supplements industry is valued north of $25 billion and is pegged to ascertain a growth rate of 5% annually through 2017. The sales bonanza is occurring from greater points of distribution, such as at Target or Rite Aid, seemingly an endless array of new product introductions, and higher price points. Specialty retailers comprise about 37% of the distribution market for the industry, according to the publicly traded Vitamin Shoppe (NYSE:VSI). Pre-workout products like "Hemo Rage", "Dark Matter", and "Nano Vaper" are but a few of the performance enhancing supplements I find regularly on a trip to Vitamin Shoppe. Please visit www.wstreet.com to read the remainder of the piece.
The mess in Libya is creeping closer to our doorstep as the rebels are asking for help in what could be a do-or-die stance this week. Over the weekend, I was annoyed with answers from new White House Chief of Staff, Bill Daley, on Meet the Press. When asked if ousting Qaddafi was in America's interest, he hedged repeatedly and kept saying it should be an international decision and effort. I dislike the notion the international community gets to decide what's in America's interest or not, and control how we deploy our armed forces.
There is an interesting piece out today that the Administration tried to get Qaddafi armored troop carriers made by the British defense company BAE, but the deal was stalled by a concerned Congress (http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/03/07/libya-army-transport-deal-frozen-approval/#). I don't think that's what's causing a bind right now; it's the typical deliberations, the thoughtful period before taking action, and weighing all the variables like how and if any kind of military action would impact poll numbers.
Despite the continued surge in oil, equities act like they want to move higher. Maybe the market senses an inflection point in the Middle East/North Africa crisis. For now, the bias is to the upside, and the general media has gotten hold of inflation stories which are moving closer to the front page. I get the feeling stocks would like to react to a good jobs report and lots of strong economic data, hence pre-open resolve. The last 30-minutes of trading on Friday were remarkable, there is a lot of money eager to go to work, but would prefer to do so with crude under $100.00 a barrel.