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Guilty Wealth & Bad Movies (Final Edition) - By Charles Payne

Well its official, as the market grapples to close in the plus column for the year (S&P 500) it was a lackluster year for so many other aspects of America including movies. Unless everyone in the nation gets an itch to hit the theaters tomorrow this will be the worst year for movie attendance since 1995. What I find amazing about this is just how un-embarrassed Hollywood seems to be about the fact they are churning out a lot of clunkers.

While I get there are other distractions and the economy is ragged I also think the nation is screaming out for legitimate blockbusters based on great scripts, acting and story-telling.
I got my son to watch "The Sound of Music" over the weekend and he loved it. This is a kid that has grown up on raunchy junk action movies. That said I cringe at the notion Hollywood would ever attempt to remake any of the classic movies in history.

While there is a story about deteriorating values and paltry movie attendance I'm struck at how much this dovetails with the story of massive wealth among members of Congress where 50% are millionaires. I love the idea of self-made millionaires and don't begrudge inherited wealth but a lot of public servants show up to Washington without much and leave with fortunes. I have a problem with that and the phony outrage and attacks on the very system of wealth creation some of them benefited from. In Hollywood incomes this year for the top ten actors ranged from $20.0 million to $77.0 million and none of these guys have offered to give any money back.

A few owe me big time refunds, especially Jack Black and Will Ferrell.

But considering the saber rattling against the rich out of Congress, it's amazing any of them would want to really hurt those that might be on their way toward true wealth but aren't there yet. I'm talking about millions of small business owners and households where couples have worked hard and are moving up the corporate ladder. There was a piece in the Washington Post on Tuesday and a similar article in the New York Times yesterday on the amazing amount of wealth increase enjoyed by members of Congress. I'm not player hating on any of these lawmakers but when Nancy Pelosi stays at a hotel that costs $10,000 a night it's outrageous she would deny the opportunity to others to make that same kind of money.

The median net worth is $913,000 (national average of $100,000)
249 members are millionaires (5% of households can make that claim)

The Aphrodisiac of Power

Henry Kissinger once remarked about the aphrodisiac of power and he was spot on because lawmakers seem to land the riches spouses possible. But on that note one has to wonder if there is a real kinship between rich lawmakers that married into wealth or inherited it and those 80% of American millionaires that made it from scratch? Moreover, what about the millions of people edging along the right path to one day join the club unless their smaller fortunes are confiscated and the rungs from the ladder of success removed in the name of social justice.

Self made, you just affiliated I built it ground up, you bought it renovated
Rick Ross B.M.F (Blowin Money Fast)

I find it interesting that only three of the wealthiest members of Congress are republican and only half the list made it the hard way. I think it's easy to attack the rich, even when you're rich and there isn't a trail of blood, sweat and tears. Of course there will be some ideologues that built it ground up but even they are often beneficiaries of things like the Internet explosion and may not have the kind of dirty fingernails that makes a person cling to the right to actually build something ground up.

These lawmakers and movie stars might be suffering from a form of guilt about how easily they got the money. The selfish thing is they want to punish those that put more elbow grease into the process. Sadly, in the process they are holding back more and more people from reaching the American Dream. It's like these movies that come out all the time with an underlying message that people (mostly men) are working too hard and ignoring their families to pursue wealth or a higher standard of life. Typically, the movie ends and credits roll and its leading actor is also the movie producer, writer, director and key grip.

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Today's Session

The Italian bond auction has come off as well as could be expected, with the yield declining to 6.98% from 7.56%. That has our market moving a little higher, but the Euro is getting hammered. Gold is also getting crushed, and we can't put a finger on it, although there is a theory that actions on private exchanges in China might be the main problem. In the meantime, initial jobless claims are nothing to cheer as the number was a little larger than anticipated and took a little starch out of equity futures.