‘Don’t just see me as some wealthy guy, defending the free market. Instead see me as the son of a mother who dropped out of school in eighth grade…’
(Ben Sellers, Liberty Headlines) Conservative investor Foster Friess and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio–Cortez, D-NY, may have a lot to discuss if the congresswoman accepts Friess’s dinner invitation.
In an opinion piece published Thursday in USA Today, Friess said he wrote to the 29-year-old former bartender to invite her to be a guest at Friday’s Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans induction ceremony.
It honors those who came from humble beginnings and were able to translate it, through their own efforts, into a degree of eminence or success—i.e., the “American Dream.”
Among the nonpartisan association’s past member–honorees, Friess noted, were television personality Oprah Winfrey, former President Ronald Reagan, poet Maya Angelou and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Friess managed to transcend his own lot coming from a high-school-educated father who worked as a cattle-dealer and a mother with an seventh-grade education who helped her family pick cotton, according to his online biography. But he overcame early adversity to found an investment firm managing billions in assets.
While noting the association’s efforts to provide scholarships for disadvantaged youths, Friess called out AOC’s recent attacks on a free market economy, both with her policies—like the Green New Deal—and in her rhetoric.
In a March speech at the South by Southwest festival, she said capitalism was “irredeemable,” according to The Hill.
“Capitalism is an ideology of capital—the most important thing is the concentration of capital and to seek and maximize profit,” she said, adding that the success of one came at considerable expense to other people and to the environment.
But in his op-ed, Friess countered that it was simply the vehicle for opportunity through which individuals determined their own outcome.
“In achieving the American dream, ‘Income Inequality’ is an unavoidable result,” he said. “It’s created by the stunning success of companies like Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft, and their wealth creation should be applauded, not cursed. Why scorn their success?”
But the alternative, Friess said, was to punish success and de-incentivize the work needed to attain it.
“Socialism is not consistent with fundamental principles of human behavior,” he said. “It has one critical defect: it ignores incentives. The ‘free’ stuff government offers comes with a price.”
Friess said affluent people, rather than stepping on the backs of the poor, were in the best position to elevate others: “The spectacular American economy derives from a government which encourages private initiatives that achieve the wealth.”
By contrast, government-managed wealth-redistribution only created greater bureaucracy, inefficiency and corruption—as was evident in existing healthcare programs.
“In every other sector of the economy, when you allow the free market to work, prices drop and access improves,” Friess said.
Although some have questioned whether Ocasio–Cortez’s background was as humble as she claims—having grown up in the middle-class, suburban neighborhood of Yorktown Heights and attended the costly, private Boston College—Friess appealed to their common connection as individuals who knew the extremes of poverty and success.
“When we meet, I hope you will sense that I love this country as much as you do,” he said. “Don’t just see me as some wealthy guy, defending the free market. Instead see me as the son of a mother who dropped out of school in eighth grade or the $800 I had when I started my career.”