Do Stocks Promote Inequality?
Now I know, a lot of people love piling on the politicians these days. We're not talking debate; it's hate. Vitriol. Insults to you, your parents, and your kids. The anger and the hate is right off the deep end.
Twenty years ago, Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich would sometimes drink sherry together at the end of the day. Now, Vince Vaughn will likely never be in a Hollywood movie again after he shook the president's hand.
I mean, he's kind of a crappy actor, but that's not the point. Americans are blinded by our partisan hate. Trump could say that the Dems love aspirin, and his voters would boycott Bayer.
We gotta get over this brother vs. brother stuff.
Civil War II
Personally, I like the fact that we have passionate politicians like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. I'm glad there are leaders who are not afraid to say that everything's not perfect, that some things need fixing.
Does anybody believe that the American Dream is alive and well? Do you believe kids today have the same opportunities that kids had 40 years ago?
90% of Americans will answer "no" to both of these questions. And then we'll point to the person next to us and say it's their fault. It'd be funny if it weren't so sad.
Today, I enagage in a civil, respectful, completely one-sided debate with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The subject is this tweet:
I am deeply offended at the suggestion that the stock market is a mechanism for inequality in America. The stock market is probably the single-most democratic mechanism we've got.
Nowhere on a Schwab brokerage account application does it ask what race you are. The stock market is completely colorblind.
A man is allowed to own just as much stock as a woman. There aren't any stocks that are off limits to trans people. No one cares if you face Mecca when you pray or if you're looking at the sky.
The stock market simply does not care who you are. Everyone is welcome.
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Socialism vs. Capitalism
Seems to me the debate surrounding socialism vs. capitalism is not being framed accurately. Capitalism is not being defined correctly. It's not rich vs. poor. It's not employer vs. employee. Capitalism is about ownership.
Capitalism says you — an individual — can own the means of production. You can own a convenience store and charge what you want for a Twinkie. You can hook a snowplow up to your F-150 and charge to clear parking lots. You can own a house and rent out rooms.
If you charge too much, you won't be in business for long.
If I wanna plow parking lots for 12 hours a day and you're done after 8, guess what, I'm gonna make more money than you. This is the essence of competition and freedom.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average tracks the stock price of 30 companies. Apple. Walmart. Target. JPMorgan. Cisco. Home Depot.
You wanna be an actual owner of any of these companies? Great, you may buy shares anytime you want during market hours. You know what Schwab will charge you for the transaction? Nothing. Zero. Zip. Nada.
An ownership share of Walmart sells for $115 right now. Buy it through Schwab right now and you'll pay... $115. Seems fair.
Now, can we frame a question about whether every person in America has an equal opportunity to buy that share of ownership in Walmart? Why, yes we can. The fact is, the opportunity to buy a share of Walmart isn't equal in this country. And it's because of education.
About 10 years ago, I went out on a couple dates with a 35-year-old woman who was the director of a non-profit neighborhood family center. She was bright, passionate, and had no idea she could go out and buy shares of Bank of America.
How are we not teaching our kids this stuff?
Right now, economic courses are using phrases like "means of production" and "working class" with high school kids. Bo-o-o-ring with a capital ZZzzzzzz...
Can you imagine the debate you'd get in a high school classroom if you put Spotify vs. Apple Music up? Or Nike vs. Adidas?
C'mon AOC — this is the debate we need to have in America. Let's talk about how business actually works in this country. Maybe talk tax credits for low-income investors. This is the stuff our kids need to learn, and it's one area where government can work with business to really make America great.
Until next time,
A 21-year veteran of the newsletter business, Briton Ryle is the editor of The Wealth Advisory income stock newsletter, with a focus on top-quality dividend growth stocks and REITs. Briton also manages the Real Income Trader advisory service, where his readers take regular cash payouts using a low-risk covered call option strategy. He also contributes a weekly column to the Wealth Daily e-letter. To learn more about Briton, click here.
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