In Jim Cook's Archive

THREE CHEERS FOR INCOME INEQUALITY

It really gets tiresome listening to liberals whine about income inequality. They know nothing about wealth creation or the incredible effectiveness of capitalism when it comes to delivering the goods. People get rich in America by providing goods or services that consumers prefer. New breakthroughs and innovations can make entrepreneurs wealthy. Microsoft made Bill Gates one of the richest persons to ever live. Has the accumulation of his great fortune hurt anyone? Who is suffering because of all the new millionaires and billionaires in the world? Did the poor get poorer? Of course not.

The countries with the highest standard of living also have the most wealthy people. However, the left can’t connect the dots. People get rich by growing a business and employing people. Wealthy people also create jobs through investments and through hiring people to provide services for them. The so-called wealth gap is growing wider because more people are accumulating greater riches, not because more people are getting poorer. Yes, some people are stuck at the bottom, but not because of lack of opportunity. A poor person in America is better off than most of the people that have ever lived on earth.

Liberals never talk about the generosity and the enormous good that rich people do with their fortunes. The charitable endeavors of people like Gates are enormously beneficial to mankind. It’s a perfect argument to counter the soak-the-rich schemes of the Democrats. Their high tax policies destroy wealth and make everybody less well off.

Most Americans have a reasonably prosperous life these days. The shopping malls are full and new technologies keep us busy.  Meanwhile, the leftists see our wealth as ill-gotten gain that must be redistributed. They see poverty rather than prosperity. They are a sorry lot of economic know-nothings who think they can replace capitalism with collectivism and make us better off.

 

A SWEEPING ANTI-TRUST INVESTIGATION

The struggle that entrepreneurs go through to build a business tends to make them conservative, especially when the IRS and other government agencies are impediments to their success. That’s why it’s always puzzled me as to why the big successful corporations in Silicon Valley are so liberal. The management of these companies are invariably left-wingers.

Isn’t it ironic that Google, Amazon, Apple and Facebook are now under investigation by Congress? If you have great success in business it attracts government regulators who want to spoil the fun. Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) wants to see if these super-successful companies have “harmed consumers.” Apparently he doesn’t understand that consumers make the buying choices that determine whether a company succeeds or fails. They don’t make buying choices that harm them.

I wonder how Mark Zuckerberg likes turning over his private emails to a government fishing expedition. How do Larry Page at Google, Jeff Bezos at Amazon and Tim Cook at Apple (all champions of big government liberalism) like turning over their company’s documents and records to anti-trust regulators who want to break them up? How do they like reading in the newspaper that a Democratic congressman has called their testimony “evasive”? How do they like the fact that lawmakers are intensifying the probe of their companies?

In today’s brand of twenty-first century socialism business is fair game to be taxed, regulated, punished and intimidated by legislatures and bureaucrats. Too bad that business leaders are not united in attempting to limit the size of government and preserving the Constitution. That might help to vote the liberal scoundrels out of office. For the big tech companies, it’s apparently too late.

 

SOCIAL STUPIDITY

Since the administration of Franklin Roosevelt the government has tried to improve the condition of the poor. In terms of material things like cell phones and TVs their lot in life has improved. The same can’t be said about their behavior, which has deteriorated. The more the poor of all races were helped and subsidized, the more dysfunctional they became. The trillions spent to ameliorate poverty brought instead a plague of alcoholism, drug addiction, crime, homelessness, abuse, bad parenting, delinquency and character issues that inhibit employment. All this was accompanied by an attitude of entitlement among welfare recipients that has morphed into a festering resentment that blames others for their predicament.

A rational society blames the sinner. However, what has evolved on the left is to blame successful people for the plight of the underclass. The call for social justice resonates in the media, the educational system and the government. At the heart of it is the belief in redistribution. Take the money from those who earned it and give it to those who didn’t. While you’re at it, reduce the penalties for crimes and overlook bad behavior.

Despite this national emphasis on social justice and redistribution, the misbehavior of the subsidized is getting worse. It has deteriorated through eight decades of social welfare and it will be much worse in the future. Virtually everything the left stands for promotes the destruction of civil society.

 

SILVER MILLIONS

I always wanted to make a lot of money in my life. I’ve done ok, but the big score that I envisioned has always escaped me. In 1970 I moved to Miami and started a drinking water business. Once the business got profitable, I sold it for $130,000. That was a lot of money for a young man, but if I had kept that business, I would have made millions because drinking water sales literally exploded.

I came back to Minnesota to start Investment Rarities and after some tough years, began to see profits. In 1980 things were booming. Two big companies, including General Mills, wanted to buy the company. Three guys flew out to see us from New York and they were ready to write a check for millions. I was making good money, so I turned them down. The coin business slowed way down after that.

In the early 1980s an inventor came to me for money. He had developed skates that worked on land. I turned him down. His Rollerblade company turned into a huge business. I kicked myself for missing a ground floor opportunity. In 1994 I was buying junior gold mining stocks. I had 60,000 shares of a company named Bre-X and I had an order in for 40,000 more at 50¢ a share. Then an analyst I knew in Vancouver met the principals at a breakfast meeting and told me they smelled of booze. That alarmed me and I sold the stock. Over the next two years, Bre-X went to $280 a share before a scandal erupted and the stock fell to zero. My stock would have been worth $28 million before it collapsed.

So, how am I planning to reach my multi-million dollar goal now? I’m almost totally invested in silver. For one thing, it’s cheap. It’s one of the few things selling at its lows rather than its highs. It’s the ultimate contrary opinion investment. Industry requires it for its many unique qualities and over the years, industrial demand has dramatically reduced the above ground supply. Investor buying of silver increases on bad economic news and goes into overdrive when the price starts to rise. That kind of demand can lead to a silver shortage that sends the price up many times over. One of the world’s biggest banks has been buying up massive quantities of silver for years because they think it will become far more valuable in the future. I’ve watched silver go up ten times or more twice in my lifetime. There appears to be more reasons than ever for it to do that again. For me, silver offers the possibility of reaching the financial goal that eluded me in the past. I can’t see anything else that can do it.

Late last winter, I told my wife that I was going to let my hair grow until I made 10 million in silver. The other evening at dinner a friend told me I looked like General Custer. I like the look so I’m not in a hurry to get it cut. Based on the advice I got from silver analyst Ted Butler, I think I’ll be heading to the barber shop sooner rather than later.

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