The Widdershins

Remain Calm, Etc: Oh, Pity the Poor Billionaire

Posted on: February 20, 2014

Good Thursday, Widdershins.

I had a great – if chilly – time over the week-end.  I am always surprised at how tired I am after this particular event, and I have just begun to catch up on sleep, mail, reading, phone calls, etc. – in other words, my life in general.  Fortunately, I did not forget that today is Thursday, and I did manage to get my post done in a timely manner this week.

There has been rather a lot written of late regarding the concern of the 1%.  Seems that they have many concerns regarding the hoi polloi, although none of these concerns would involve the general welfare thereof.  No, actually anything but – seems that the One Percenters are concerned about themselves (nothing new here) with regard to their personal safety.  Seems that the OPs are convinced that they are being persecuted for their successes, and honestly are beginning to fear the masses.

Back in December, Peggy Noonan wrote a post for the WSJ entitled “The Most Memorable Words of 2013”.  Here’s the money quote:

The most arresting words heard this year? A billionaire of New York, in conversation: “I hate it when the market goes up. Every time I hear the stock market went up I know the guillotines are coming closer.” This was interesting in part because the speaker has a lot of money in the market. But he meant it. He is self-made, broadly accomplished, a thinker on politics, and for a moment he was sharing the innards of his mind. His biggest concern is the great and growing distance between the economically successful and those who have not or cannot begin to climb. The division has become too extreme, too dramatic, and static. He fears it will eventually tear the country apart and give rise to policies that are bitter and punishing, not helpful and broadening.

Excellent pick-up there, my monied prophet.  Too bad your comrades keep missing this obvious point.  Had they been – oh, say 1% – as perspicacious as thou, we would not have been treated to some of the latest crapola.

Come January, we were treated to a letter in the WSJ from billionaire venture (vulture?) capitalist Tom Perkins, who compared the current ill-will toward he and his ilk to kristellnacht, thus becoming the first billionaire to ever infract Godwin’s Law in the WSJ – at least to my knowledge, anyhow.  Needless to say, a firestorm ensued, and Perkins subsequently apologized for his analogy, but stubbornly clung to his theses.  In fact, just after his apology he kicked the whole thing up a notch or so by recommending that votes be confined to actual property owners.  Better yet, tie your number of votes to the dollar amount of taxes paid – that’s the ticket!  Mr. P. feels strongly that this sort of thing was precisely what those venture capitalists who founded the country had in mind the entire time.  Yessiree.  And poor old Wilbur Ross thinks that he is being “picked on”.  What’s a poor billionaire to do, anyhow?

As amazing as it is, none of it can even hold a candle to a recent article which surfaced in the New York Magazine, regarding an invitation-only Greek organization for gazillionaires, Kappa Beta Phi.  It seems that the reporter got wind of the event, rented himself a tux, and proceeded to crash to party.  He managed to be there long enough to observe some events that would likely have been considered ridiculously juvenile by my pledge class in 1967 – these sound worthy of Brother Bluto and the Delta House.  (My sorority has no office entitled “Grand Swipe”, thank God, or I might have ran screaming from  initiation.)  The article is well-written, and would be quite funny if one were unclear that these A**-Swipes are referring to us in their little ditties.  This particular article appears to have even grated on Peggy Noonan, who by and large is an OP Apologist, First Class.

For once, Miss Peggy sees clearly that if these are the job creators, there is little wonder that we have no jobs.  In another post for the WSJ, she asks some pretty valid questions:

And it is all about the behavior of our elites, our upper classes, which we define now in a practical sense as those who are successful, affluent and powerful. This group not only includes but is almost limited to our political class, Wall Street, and the media, from Hollywood to the news divisions.

They’re all kind of running America.

They all seem increasingly decadent.

What are the implications of this, do you think?

They’re making their videos, holding their parties and having a ball. OK. But imagine you’re a Citizen at Home just grinding through—trying to do it all, the job, the parenthood, the mowing the lawn and paying the taxes. No glamour, all responsibility and effort. And you see these little clips on the Net where the wealthy sing about how great taxpayer bailouts are and you feel like . . . they’re laughing at you.

What happens to a nation whose elites laugh at its citizens?

What happens to its elites?

What happens?  Nothing good.  Nothing good at all.

This is an open thread.


9 Responses to "Remain Calm, Etc: Oh, Pity the Poor Billionaire"

Most excellent post Chat.

What is amazingly dimwitted about the folks like Tom Perkins is that they have such a blinkered view of the data evidencing good economies. It is irrefutable that when the “have little classes” do better, as Paul Wellstone, who tragically died way too soon said, “We all do better when we all do better.”

Just like in a mathematical proof, when you deny the answer, you are in conflict with the constituent parts. When taking the plutocratic position to its logical outcome, they really have an argument about the “have little classes” doing better until they have all they desire. So far, we have seen no evidence of their insatiable desire ever being met.

You know…during the last Gilded Age, era of the robber barons, they at least, did feel some responsibility to the “little people”. Rockefeller had his philanthropic ideas, Carnegie built libraries, Vanderbilt contributed to the building of Vanderbilt U. What are these jerks doing today? Nothing in comparison.

They are too busy funneling money into PACs so that they might enhance their current positions.

chat@3: Good point!

What fun!! Snow two weeks ago and now, warm and also severe weather. Under a tornado watch until 3:00 am CST. Lovely!

I would take issue with Peggy’s inclusion of Hollywood “elites.” The right-wingers always throw the “liberal Hollywood” in there for good measure. First, Hollywood isn’t actually liberal. The biggest celebrities generally are, but they don’t run Hollywood. Hollywood is run behind the scenes by old white men. And they are not socially liberal. And second, Hollywood’s influence in Washington is fairly small. They don’t have a big reputation for having laws changed to benefit themselves. Wall Street, however, does. There is zero moral equivalency between Wall St. billionaires and Hollywood billionaires (there actually aren’t that many billionaires in Hollywood.)

And yes, perhaps the guillotine is getting closer. I’m glad the billionaires are finally recognizing it. Some of us have been trying to warn them of it for a very long time!

And on an unrelated note, wow what is going on in my home town of Kiev is just horrifying. A cowardly leader, ready to sell his country to Putin for a few coins, has completely lost his mind. There is no way out for him. Either he gives up control and is put on trial (if he lives that long.) Or he becomes a dictator. Putin wants a dictator. I’m afraid it’s where it’s headed unless…. I think it will all come down to how the military responds. And I’m afraid they will be called on to respond very soon.

D: Didn’t know you were from Kiev. I’ve been trying to keep up with what’s going on there. Terrible to watch.

I stand with the People Of the Ukraine… I stand for all voices being heard (even those on the far right) I stand for A free Ukraine Press and more Public Discourse about how their government is run!

As for our Billionaires well since a large number of them are where they are through manipulation of markets and and domestic capital destruction, and not like the Wealthy of the past, building railroads (Vanderbuilt) Improving the process of making steel (Carnegie) Communication and electric innovation (Edison) they really contribute nothing to society, instead they act like a Virus ot cancer slowly (or Quickly) destroying their host. The way to treat a virus or a cancer is to use the right Medicine to remove it from the Host. This is the only means to make the Host healthier.

Now I am not talking about the modern innovators that have improved our lives like Bill Gates,and Warren Buffet who have pledged their wealth to societies improvement they can reap the benefits of there innovation and invention. The Koch Brothers on the other hand, and their Ilk, need to treated with the most aggressive form of Social Chemotherapy. If that does not work, then we may have to cut out that cancer before it kills the host.

Props to the Ukrainian skiier who withdrew from the Olympics to go home and fight. Quite a young lady. I also heard this am that some of the police are crossing over to stand with the protesters.
While I applaud Gates and Buffet and their pledge of donating their estate, I would vastly prefer to see the use that capital now to create jobs. I have to believe that most folks would prefer an honest paycheck to a charitable donation. Do microfinancing – do something, for Gawd’s sake.

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