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July 4th: Celebrating a Nation Founded on Protecting Freedom, Wealth of Its People

Posted on Thursday, July 4, 2024
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by Outside Contributor
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Though Bidenomics will likely increase the price of your cookout, July Fourth is still a celebration of everything that made America great—namely, our dedication to the defense of freedom and our other God-given natural rights.

Regrettably, that’s a dedication not shared by all. Though Washington has always had its share of demagogues, they have increasingly turned their attention toward destroying our way of life. Specifically, this movement is focused on maligning wealth, property, and those who pursue a better way of life through innovation.

Listening to these policymakers, you could be forgiven for thinking that our national wealth mostly consisted of gold bars sitting in a safe on a yacht bound for the nearest tax shelter—a collection of idle idols. As such, much of the policymaking debate in Washington has zeroed in on taxing, regulating, and redistributing wealth.

This mindset couldn’t be further from the truth, however. The wealth of American households overwhelmingly reflects the value of productive assets, such as factories, office buildings, delivery trucks, and your favorite corner restaurant.

But there is another important component of wealth—the intangible value breathed into these productive assets by innovators and entrepreneurs. Their work, aided by investors who vet new ideas, brings these productive assets together in ways that make the total truly greater than the sum of its parts.

When innovators and entrepreneurs are free to make new discoveries and harness them into new production methods and products, they enrich our lives. Not only do their inventions and businesses extend our quality and length of life, but they also free our time of tedious labor and allow us to fill them with purpose.

Societies with more productive assets (capital) at their disposal produce more output per worker. This leads to higher wages and more flexibility over your time; that is, more time to spend with your family and in your community.

Conversely, when nations strangle the formation of capital, they suppress productivity and with it, they suppress wages and force people to spend more time on a treadmill at work and in an impoverished state, deteriorating the fabric of civil society.

These are the rotten fruits of anti-wealth policies. The new anti-wealth agenda in Washington stands at the crossroads of willful ignorance and malicious disregard for this delicate process that is the foundation of our prosperity.

They obscure a critical fact: Wealth and innovation drive each other and enable both material prosperity and our ability to free our time to live purpose-filled lives.

Only 11.8% of the assets of the wealthiest 0.1% of American households are made up of real estate and consumer durables, which include houses, cars, and other personal items. The other 88.2% of their assets are made up of stocks, bonds, and other assets that are directly tied to businesses and the economic engines that reduce prices for consumers and that increase wages for workers.

The net worth of the wealthy is often discussed purely in dollar terms, as if that is their wealth—something that could be easily picked up and redistributed. This misses the point disastrously. Their wealth isn’t cash or money that is tied up in a company. Their wealth is the company itself and its capacity to produce.

The broad categories of assets that cover yachts, private planes, and Rolexes, represent only roughly 0.5% of household assets—$1 out of every $200 of household assets. These categories also cover every single motorcycle, bicycle, recreational vehicle, motorboat, watch, wedding ring, collector coin, etc., in the entire country.

To boot, almost all the cash that’s actually sitting in a safe is held by the Federal Reserve banks. Almost all of the rest is circulating around the economy.

The truth is that almost all the assets of Americans are themselves directly linked to the productive engines of the economy.

If every customer of Amazon switched overnight to a competitor, virtually all of Jeff Bezos’ net worth would dry up overnight as well. The market value of Amazon is simply an approximation of the real value created by the company for its customers, workers, and the small businesses that sell through Amazon.

Bezos’ net worth reflects a portion of the value created by Amazon, of the value created for tens of millions of people through his innovative business model.

Every time you walk into a restaurant or a store to buy something, you are using the wealth owned by the wealthy. You don’t need to own the factory that made your grill in order to have it for your July Fourth barbecue. Henry Ford personally used very few of the millions of cars his factories produced. The use of the wealth he owned went to the millions of American families that could now afford a car.

Wealth is, ultimately, impossible without the work of innovators and entrepreneurs to generate prosperity for the rest of society. Their work very much creates productive wealth that is in service to others.

Our Founders understood this process—that among the many blessings of a free society is the freedom to innovate and to pursue the good life for ourselves and the rest of society. Our national commitment to these principles allowed us both the material and political freedom to lead purpose-filled lives and to strengthen and enjoy our strong civil society.

Free of government interference, that’s exactly what innovators and entrepreneurs do. The stark reality is that to regulate or tax the creation of wealth, or to attempt to redistribute it, is an act of destruction. It simply removes assets from their productive application—or prevents their creation in the first place.

The anti-wealth storm clouds in Washington do not ultimately threaten the wealthy. They threaten everyday Americans. They threaten the abandonment of the principles of a free and natural rights-respecting society. They threaten the very foundations that have made America, for more than two centuries, the center of innovation and wealth generation, and with it, the engine of global prosperity.

Rejecting this anti-wealth demagoguery, and embracing our innovators and entrepreneurs, will ensure that our kids and grandkids can celebrate a prosperous America on every July Fourth for generations to come.

Richard Stern is director of the Grover M. Hermann Center for the Federal Budget at The Heritage Foundation.

Reprinted with the permission of The Daily Signal – By Richard Stern

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of AMAC or AMAC Action.

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Ty
Ty
8 days ago

American wealth, just like American blood, should never be squandered! Blood in the sand is sacred, and sacrifice should never be forgotten. Biden’s handlers and his SWAMP managers best remember that bad behavior has a price that will be weighted and judged. Being mentally incompetent is no excuse for neglect of duty!

Kim
Kim
8 days ago

Simply put, when the government taxes something, there will be less of it. Biden has raised taxes and plans to raise more taxes. This makes goods and services more expensive, so there will be less buying of these goods and services…and a slowdown in the economy, with a lower GDP. When President Trump lowered taxes and eased regulations, there was an immediate positive response–business expansion, new start-ups, strong hiring, and higher income…all without increasing inflation. Small businesses create over 2/3 of all jobs in this country, so I vote for policies that support business formation.

Restrictive policies and high taxes are not good for the country, but do we expect anything else from democrats? They think there’s so much wealth out there that they can take it at will…and waste it on stupid programs and give it to people who don’t belong here. In 2022, I believe it was, biden gave $451 billion to the illegals crashing the border. Bribery? (“I’ll let you in and give you stuff if you vote for me.”)

When biden and obama both have said, during inflationary times, that “companies should just lower their prices”, they completely dismiss how this economy works. Do they know how much more I paid for seeds and pots these past few years compared to years ago? No; they don’t care and they don’t understand that business owners need to not only recoup their costs but also to sell their goods at a profit. Competition in the free marketplace keeps it fair for everyone.

It doesn’t matter to me what people choose to buy–whether yachts or surfboards, Ford or Lexus–it’s their choice. They also can choose to spend beyond their means to pay the bill, and that’s their problem…until the federal government decides to “forgive” that debt (actually, biden passes that burden on to us taxpayers). That’s another reason to get democrats out of government.

Rob citizenship
Rob citizenship
9 days ago

Great article Mr.Stern ! The idea of innovation — so important , at the foundation of so many endeavors . The spirit of having a sense of purpose in this life , the source of many developments that lead to genuine betterment of life for the whole society. I am 74, a. Reagan Conservative since 1980. Have been designing and making tools since the 1970’s.– tools for carpentry, plumbing, electrical and mechanical uses and also tools for navigation instruments, weather instruments and microscope systems. I surely respect and appreciate views expressed in this article Richard. As you stated in the first paragraph the dedication to freedom and other God given natural rights — that thought sets the soul and spirit , the right sense of history in motion and that makes for other honorable good ideas to follow


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