Please Watch Charles Tonight on "Making Your Market" on Fox Business at 6PM
On Wednesday America will celebrate the historic March on Washington where Martin Luther King gave perhaps his most famous speech. It's been 50 years since we first heard "I have a Dream" and yet the nation continues to struggle with many issues of the past. Yet it's unfair to the country to suggest the intensity of those problems are the same.
In fact, from time to time we should take a break from finger pointing and demands to pat ourselves on the back and applaud the evolution of a country that made "a more perfect union" its goal.
We must also be careful that people that never liked the idea of a nation built on individual achievement that makes the sum significantly greater than the whole use our unfinished business as a wedge to further separate the nation in an effort to remake it a collective that frowns upon ambition, wealth, and individual success.
The march in 1963 was for jobs and freedom-and today there are too few jobs and our freedoms are under attack.
I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
Anyone that wants to remake America is out of their minds. In a couple hundred years we have blossomed into the most amazing country ever. The most prosperous, the most industrious, the most welcoming, the most wrecked by pangs of guilt and desire to get better. Because America has strived to be better it has made the world better. The medicines, industry, technology, and sacrifice to police the planet have led to longer lives, better diets, safer nations and bigger dreams for people that have never set foot in the United States.
We take many of these things for granted and often forget the foundation of blood, sweat, and tears that made America great. These days many are saying wealth is part of the public domain and therefore should be divvied up as such. This message sounds good to people working jobs that seem to have no future, low pay and low esteem. The message sounds good to people who want to work but can't find a job in this gridlocked economy. The message sounds good to people that think the rich only get richer at the expense of those that are not rich.
Unfortunately, those that buy into the idea that all wealth should be divvied up miss the fact that all wealth is already divvied up and they have benefited in the process.
Heck, yes, it's great to want a bigger piece of the pie. In fact, the unique aspect of the American economy is when we earn larger pieces of the pie, the pie actually gets larger. When we actually earn our prosperity as individuals it benefits others including our immediate families and communities. Jobs and prosperity are two of the greatest tools toward attaining true freedom. The fight in 1963 was for equal opportunity and chances to earn prosperity. Martin Luther King's speech mentioned "mobility" not being limited to moving from a smaller ghetto to a larger ghetto.
Instead the message was for equality of opportunity, a chance to get a foot in the door and then to grow based on merit and accomplishment. In other words, opportunity to achieve and grow based on content of character.
The problem now is we are being told you should be rewarded for lack of character. You should be paid for coming up short because you never gave real effort. The public domain should pool funds to pay for the children of people that are in no position to pay themselves ... even though they knew this before having those children. There are forces attempting to hijack the King message to push for an entirely different nation that would have never morphed into what this nation has become.
Artificially high incomes framed as economic justice or livable wages reward less effort and deter extra effort (the high school dropout or lazy student and worker is rewarded while those that go the extra mile should subsidize funding those rewards while seeing limited gains themselves) - and make the nation less likely to grow the pie. Yes, Martin Luther King died fighting for workers' rights in Memphis, but it was mostly about black sewer and garbage workers to be treated the same as their white counterparts.
A series of events beginning with 22 black workers being sent home when it began to rain while white workers stayed on the job and were paid was followed the next day by two black garbage men being crushed to death from poor machinery. Several visits to protest these conditions were noble but didn't speak of punishing the successful. The stakes increased on March 5, 1968 when King led a day of support for striking workers that erupted into violence and the death of a 16 year old kid named Larry Payne.
Back then the average income of Memphis garbage workers was $1.70 per hour ($11.41 adjusted for inflation). I have no problem with people wanting more money, especially if they are earning that money, but that's not what's happening in today's politcal climate. We all must be mindful of a true plan that despises individual wealth and hates capitalism. I don't claim to be an expert on Martin Luther King Jr., but I've read much and studied much and it seems to me the goal wasn't to bring down those with access to America's riches, but to give everyone an equal chance to attain that wealth.
Dr. King went to Washington DC 50 years ago this coming Wednesday to "cash a check" for blacks and others for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. He brought a check marked "insufficient funds" to a nation that had the funds and withheld those funds. In his words, "funds" were not money but a chance to live the dream that America stood for to the entire world. The land of opportunity didn't spread sufficiently or fairly the opportunities to pursue happiness. There's still work to do, but the operative word is "work," a willingness to get hands dirty.
Despite the malaise in the nation and ebbs and flows that occasionally may even take us backward economically and socially, we are still on a path toward a more perfect union. Yes, I still believe "we shall overcome."
Making Your Market
The issue of less prosperity isn't solely about people without jobs or low-paying jobs, but even those considered successful but still woefully unprepared for retirement. Moreover, we are seeing a society drifting further into despair and fear making their own worst outcomes more probable. It's not just choices of young people that don't want to get married, have children or own a home that will reverberate in decades to come, but middle aged folks that have stuffed their savings under a mattress that help grind the wheels of commerce to a halt.
A giant swath of Americans is not prepared for retirement yet has the funds to build a base. They say "what's the use" because the market is rigged, it always crashes and it's too hard to understand. Many say why invest when there's a socialist in the White House and the nation is on the cusp of a civil meltdown. There is a lack of trust by most systems that used to stand for the trust of the public. To certain degrees these are all legitimate concerns but none are a good excuse for not being better prepared for a better life.
I get that you are afraid but I will never enable the idea of digging into a hole and waiting for the latest crisis blow over.
This week I'm hosting a special on Fox Business called "Making Your Market" that will aim to shed most fears about the market through the realization that Wall Street is not the same as owning great American companies. The knuckleheads are chilling out in the Hamptons because they picked off your trades and get insider information.
You're in the stock market already as a consumer and unpaid advocate of products and services you enjoy so it's time to be an owner of those businesses when there is unrealized value and opportunity to make money and change your life.