- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 31, 2019

Note to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: Americans, by and large, don’t care if billionaires have billions of bucks.

Americans, by and large, aspire to become billionaires themselves — or millionaires, or otherwise financially independent — and therefore don’t have a problem with a country that gives the freedom to meet those economic goals.

Hating wealth, hating the wealthy — those are socialist things.

So Ocasio-Cortez, in coming after Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, has seriously misstepped.

“Why don’t people ever tell billionaires who want to run for President that they need to ‘work their way up’ or that ‘maybe they should start with city council first?’” she tweeted.

Thing is: Schultz did.

Schultz is the American dream personified.

He was raised in a public housing project in Brooklyn, New York, the son of a truck driver. And he grew, through hard work and focus and determination and persistence, to become the billionaire CEO of one of the world’s best-known coffee chains, Starbucks.

“Starbucks’ Howard Schultz net worth grew from rags to riches,” as Business Insider put it, in a 2018 headline.

Schultz is what you’d call a solid example of American capitalism at work; he’s a classic, textbook example of how freedom benefits the individual — and why Big Government doesn’t belong in any country with a constitutional republic.

He just announced he was “seriously considering” an independent run at the White House in 2020 — and since has gone on to slam the likes of “Medicare for all” from Sen. Kamala Harris and a 70 percent marginal tax rate on the wealthy, from Ocasio-Cortez, as unAmerican. He’s also called Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s call for a 2 percent annual tax on the wealthy as “ridiculous.”

This, of course, has sparked anger from the left in general and from those three leftists in particular.

“What’s ‘ridiculous,’ ” Warren tweeted, “is billionaires who think they can buy the presidency to keep the system rigged for themselves while opportunity slips away for everyone else.”

Do Democrats not receive the same unemployment reports as the rest of the country? The jobless rate has been under 4 percent for some time; if jobs translate into opportunities for financial accumulation and wealth, which they do, well then — Warren is wearing the blinders.

So, too, is Ocasio-Cortez in her criticism of Schultz.

Americans may not like crony capitalism, CEOs who steal, business leaders who commit fraud and corporate officials who pretend to care about their employees while treating them like dirt — but that’s not the same as saying Americans hate millionaires and billionaires.

Ocasio-Cortez, a self-declared socialist, doesn’t get this. Her politics are rot — the stuff of envy and anger and entitlement and hate.

Schultz, on the other hand, inspires the best. And America could sure use more of his kind.

• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com or on Twitter, @ckchumley.

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