Posts from — October 2011
Score another victory for the right-wing PR machine. This morning’s headline in our local newspaper screamed that America’s Social Security fund is now “cash negative.” The story came from the Washington Post, which used to be a reliable newspaper, and I am sure it was reproduced on front pages across the nation.
The story was, of course, fiction. And it has all the earmarks of a piece of propaganda planted by flacks paid to create a political climate in which the American safety net can be shredded to provide more tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy.
Social Security should be a simple concept. Introduced back in the days of FDR, it collects a “payroll tax” from working Americans and invests the proceeds in Government bonds so that when the workers retire they can count on a modest monthly stipend. The investment is backed by “the full faith and credit of the United States Government.”
Franklin Roosevelt said he decided to use a payroll tax so “no damn politician can ever scrap my Social Security program.” But that hasn’t stopped the Republicans from trying.
Politicians who want to “privatize” Social Security argue that more money is going out in Social Security checks than comes in from payroll taxes. They regard the program as some kind of Ponzi scheme, in which dividends are funded by new investments. That’s blatantly inaccurate. And it would be illegal.
The money paid out is earned from previous investments. Naturally, as the baby boomers retire, I expect the payroll taxes paid by today’s workers will not match the money going out because the boomer generation is so huge. But it’s like a boa constrictor swallowing a steer. There will be a big bulge but eventually the steer will be digested. The money collected today is not intended to meet the needs of today’s retirees. Their checks are funded by the investments they made while they were working. The payroll taxes collected today are earmarked for today’s workers when they retire.
Back in the Eighties, the National Commission on Social Security Reform investigated the program and projected that it would be solvent for the next 75 years. But that hasn’t deterred the right-wing doomsayers.
The pernicious Washington Post story was immediately refuted. Former House Aging Committee Chief of Staff Robert Weiner blasted it as “sloppy journalism.”
Weiner said the story “unnecessarily frightens seniors, distorts the national debate on the debt and is simply wrong.”
He added that the story “is endemic of a recent media trend ignoring the 1983 federal deal – a grand compromise between President Reagan and the then Democrat-controlled Congress, that saved Social Security by protecting its funds and solvency through 2037 and is routinely ignored by the media and advocates of ‘reform’ (ie cuts) today.”
Here’s an excerpt from Weiner’s rebuttal:
Social Security is like a bank that can lend its surplus to the federal government for other purposes, but doing so does not negate the bank’s obligation to make up the difference and repay its customers (Social Security recipients) under the 1983 Ronald Reagan-Tip O’Neill-Claude Pepper deal. If the feds fail to honor the 1983 Reagan-O’Neill Pepper deal, why should seniors believe any future deal?
To cut a national deficit by cutting Social Security, which does not have a deficit, is theft from seniors who have paid in. If a bank told a customer, ‘Sorry. We’ve spent your money on other items,’ would anyone accept that or say: ‘Fine, you made money on my money but you still owe me mine. Pay up.”
Pointing out the fallacy of the Post’s assertion of a cash-negative milestone, Weiner explained:
There have actually been 11 years since 1963–according to the Social Security Trustees’ own website and information–where the Trust Fund surplus has easily absorbed a temporary debt, as there is this year under the national economic crisis. Social Security has nearly three TRILLION dollars in surplus based on what seniors have paid in. This year’s $46 billion shortfall is a blip and it’s covered – sorry if other programs might have to pay what they owe.
So the Washington Post’s syndicated story has been totally debunked. But the harm was already done. That’s how propagandists employ the Big Lie – with devastating results.
This is more than “sloppy journalism,” Mr. Weiner. It is diabolical propaganda.
And it is one more example of the sinister brainwashing crusade that right-wing billionaires are funding.
The Washington Post is either complicit or negligent in printing their propaganda.
October 31, 2011 3 Comments
As far as I know, America is the only country with a constitution that protects ugly behavior. I am thinking about the broad tolerance provided for despicable remarks and the reckless permission to “bear arms.”
I could muse in vain all day and not come up with a sensible definition of “freedom.” For starters, does my freedom end where yours begins? Or am I free to badger and bully you at will?
The Obama presidency has provided an endless series of ugly examples. Critics have called America’s first black president everything but a red-headed stepchild.
They have painted Hitler mustaches on his picture, made up stories about his birthplace, flat-out called him a liar, and made monkey dolls to mock him. And far worse than all this, they have shown up at his events carrying loaded weapons and have openly called for violent revolution.
So it might not be newsworthy that a radio ad for a handgun training class in Texas specifically bars Muslims and Obama voters. Here’s what it says:
We will attempt to teach you all the necessary information you need to obtain your [Concealed Handgun License] ….[but] if you are a socialist liberal and/or voted for the current campaigner in chief, please do not take this class. You have already proven that you cannot make a knowledgeable and prudent decision under the law…. If you are a non-Christian Arab or Muslim, I will not teach you the class with no shame; I am Crockett Keller, thank you, and God bless America.
Writing about the disgraceful ad, Zachary Roth reports on a web site called The Lookout:
Keller, 65, [photo above, right] has said in media interviews that …. the message is just common sense. “The fact is, if you are a devout Muslim, then you cannot be a true American,” he told local news station KVUE, while fielding calls congratulating him for his stance. “Why should I arm these people to kill me? That’s suicide.”
“I call it exercising my right to choose who I instruct in how to use a dangerous weapon,” he added.
Obviously,the ad is just some kind of joke. Or is it?
It seems that much of the anti-Obama and xenophobic trash talking in America today is cloaked in humorous – or at least satirical – language. But that could just be my reaction to the outlandish content.
There’s an undercurrent of resentment in “conservative” America that is apparently provoked by “political correctness.” It seems these people want to do and say whatever they like without anyone censuring their behavior. If they want to use ethnic and racial slurs, why —- you if you can’t take a joke. If they want to be sexist and offensive, hey they’re entitled as free Americans to do that. And if they want to smoke wherever and whenever they like, who the —- are you to complain about the second-hand smoke? You can either suck up the carcinogens in silence or stay home, buddy. This is America!
You may have seen Herman Cain’s crazy web ad, the one with his campaign manager blowing smoke in your face (photo above, right). The pundits are cudgeling their brains to figure out what the cigarette smoke is all about. I think it’s a message to “conservatives” who resent politically correct liberals for getting smoking banned in public places.
Growing up in Jamaica, I was taught to be considerate of others. I am sure you were, too – if you grew up in a decent home.
But Cain’s crew obviously thinks that kind of behavior is un-American.
Vote for me, he says, I’m inconsiderate; I blow smoke in other people’s faces whether they like it or not. I’m an American. I’m free!
And we are free to vote for somebody else, Mr. Cain. Somebody who is considerate enough to respect our right to be free. Of second-hand smoke, for example.
October 29, 2011 1 Comment
I spent nearly all of my working life in newsrooms – in Jamaica, Haiti, Canada and the United States. And I know how susceptible reporters can be to cunning manipulators. We are only human after all, and sometimes we just aren’t that bright.
But I’ve never seen anything like this!
As traditional journalism fades, the American public is at the mercy of servile hacks who are overwhelming the voices of the few remaining “objective” reporters.
Doctored information that passes as “news” is slanted to support the agendas of the rich. Independent news outlets get little funding and the ads that support them are dwindling. But the hacks who do the bidding of America’s elite are showered with money.
Some of this happened naturally. Advertisers tend to support the media they like – or rather the media that like them.
But much of it is deliberate.
For several decades, an alliance of super-rich “conservatives” has been crafting a propaganda machine designed to counteract the “liberal” slant they perceived in America during the Vietnam era. It has been a massive crusade involving many billions of dollars.
It would be impossible to detail the campaign; it’s too huge. Not just news outlets, but “think tanks,” university departments, lecturers, and every other conceivable source of information and analysis, have been funded by these right-wing billionaires.
An article by Sara Jerving today on a web site called PR Watch, provides a revealing glimpse of the movement.
Here’s an excerpt:
As newsrooms across the country shave off staff due in part to slipping ad revenue and corporate media conglomeration, The Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, is rushing to fill the gap. The group has 43 state news websites, with writers in over 40 states. Its reporters have been given state house press credentials and its news articles are starting to appear in mainstream print newspapers in each state….
Some of these new sites go by the moniker “Reporter” as with the Franklin Center’s Wisconsin Reporter that was launched in January as a website and wire-like service. Others have taken the shared name of “Watchdog.org,” or “Statehouse News.” The websites all offer their content free to local press – many of the news bureaus send out their articles to state editors every day. The sites also offer free national stories that media can receive daily by subscribing.
….The Franklin Center …. acts as a hub that distributes funding that it receives from right-wing institutions such as the Wisconsin-based Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation and the Chicago-based Sam Adams Alliance. The North Dakota and DC-based center works with reporters embedded in conservative think tanks and others who have their own news bureaus….
The writer quotes reports showing that the Bradley Foundation’s “targets range from affirmative action to social security” and notes that its greatest successes include “welfare ‘reform’ and attempts to privatize public education through the promotion of school vouchers.”
And here’s the punch line:
The Bradley Foundation gave the Franklin Center $190,500 last year.
The article reveals that the Franklin Center was launched with the help of the Sam Adams Alliance (SAM), which is funded in part by billionaire crusader David Koch’s right-wing group, “Americans for Prosperity.”
SAM is also funded by The Claude R. Lambe Foundation. And guess who comprise that group’s board of directors? David Koch’s brother Charles, his wife and children, and long-time Koch employee Richard Fink.
In its first year, the Franklin Center had a budget of $2.9 million, and a chunk of that cash came from SAM.
This story is not unique. Dozens of “news” organizations, “think tanks,” talk radio and TV shows – and hundreds of web sites are funded by the the Koch brothers and other right-wing billionaires . Hacks even get paid to write slanted “comments” on other people’s web sites.
It’s like a plague of locusts. They’re everywhere!
Fortunately, Americans are a skeptical people, and with the assault on their credibility becoming more obvious each day, they are bound to catch on. Let’s hope it’s sooner rather than later.
October 28, 2011 5 Comments
My brother Bill emailed me a link to this photo of President Obama with the comment, “Now that’s the picture of a caring person.”
And it got me thinking about the human side of this beleaguered president.
Historians may write of him – as Shakespeare wrote of Othello – that he “loved not wisely but too well.”
It might be too late now to save his job, but he has saved Americans from a second Great Depression and he has saved millions from death and disease by sacrificing a huge chunk of his political capital to bring them health insurance.
He grieves over the men and women he sends to fight – and sometimes die – in foreign lands, honestly believing that their sacrifice is necessary to keep their country safe. And he has been relentless in bringing to justice the foreign tyrants and evil terrorists who threaten America’s security.
He frets over the jobless and their families, enraging conservatives by fighting to keep those unemployment checks going out. And he is using all of his considerable rhetorical skills in a tireless crusade for legislation to create jobs.
Blockaded at every turn by a Republican-dominated Congress, he is finding ways to circumvent his opponents and help homeowners threatened by foreclosure and graduates burdened by huge student loans.
He stands up for the oppressed, including not only ethnic minorities but also those Americans who are discriminated against because of their sexual orientation, religious beliefs and even their gender.
And he has sacrificed the financial support he received from Wall Street when he ran in 2008 because he will not sanction their immoral – and often illegal – behavior.
These battles inevitably leave political scars as the richest of the rich open their treasuries to fund the political hacks who are screaming for his head.
The politically wise thing for him to have done was to tackle the plummeting economy first and with every shred of his political capital, not to set out immediately on a quixotic quest to provide all Americans with affordable health insurance. The risk was clear: Hillary Clinton has the scars to show for it. Bill Clinton had the political savvy to back away from it.
But Obama had promised aid to so many uninsured people during his campaign. He felt obligated to keep his promise.
Now, he is stuck with a stalled economy, made worse – much worse – by the deliberate obstructionism of his political opponents and by the complicity of their allies in business who are sitting on trillions of unspent dollars.
Looking back on all of this, I am willing to set aside my disagreement with some of his policies and to acknowledge that when it comes to caring, there is only one presidential candidate that qualifies for election in 2012.
His name is Barack Obama.
October 27, 2011 7 Comments
In my opinion, President Obama has been too forbearing for too long. He has responded to the most vicious personal attacks by seeking to find some shred of agreement with his critics. Now, apparently he has awakened to the realization that nothing he says or does will placate his persecutors. And he is hitting back.
From what I know of the man, I don’t think he is on the warpath because of the personal sniping he has had to endure. He seems to be the forgive-and-forget type of person who tries to reason with his most rabid critics. I believe he is finally resorting to more aggressive tactics because his enemies have put the country in peril with their obstructionism and sabotage.
He is trying to protect America from some very dangerous forces.
In Salon today, Joan Walsh observes that the president is striking back at his critics by name. One of his targets is the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell.
Here’s an excerpt from her column:
On CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday, McConnell objected to the idea that the federal government should provide the funds to keep cops, firefighters and teachers on the job.
“They are local and state employees,” McConnell said. “The question is whether the federal government can afford to be bailing out states. I think the answer is no.” He went on to whine, “Their story line is that there must be some villain out there who’s keeping this administration from succeeding.”
On his West Coast tour Obama is hitting McConnell directly, and he’s picked a great target. In Las Vegas yesterday, and again in San Francisco, he mocked McConnell for calling the effort to keep first responders on the job “a bailout,” as though they were irresponsible Wall Street banking firms that got taxpayer support. “These aren’t bad actors who somehow screwed up the economy. They didn’t act irresponsibly. These are the men and women who teach our children, who patrol our streets, who run into burning buildings and save people. They deserve our support.”
McConnell had it coming. As Walsh observes:
McConnell makes a perfect villain because, in fact, his obstruction didn’t start last week. He’s been forcing his caucus to stick together to thwart the president since before he was sworn in.
And, as I’m sure you know, McConnell has made no secret of the fact that his number-one objective is President Obama’s defeat in 2012.
I wonder at the president’s restraint in countering McConnell’s persistently toxic barbs. As far as I am concerned, the Kentucky senator deserves far worse.
Not because he and I disagree on everything possible. For example…
McConnell is against campaign finance regulation. He led the opposition to the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act between 1989 and 1994. And he is for secret government surveillance of its citizens. He is responsible for the Protect America Act of 2007, which provides for government wiretapping without a warrant. He is also for the invasion of Iraq and keeping Guantanamo Bay open…
The list goes on and on…
But that’s not why my disagreement has turned to disgust. He is entitled to his opinions, wrong-headed though they seem to me.
What makes me really mad is his craven lack of patriotism. He is sacrificing the common good of his country to benefit corporations and individuals who fill his campaign chest.
The Koch Brothers, for example.
It seems that every time you pull back a curtain in Washington these days, you see the sinister faces of Charles and David Koch.
Among the richest of America’s billionaires, the Kochs are engaged in a wide-ranging assault on the Obama presidency and they seem prepared to ruin the country in the process.
Their agenda includes dismantling all environmental protection and corporate regulation and leaving the land and its people at the mercy of polluters and plunderers.
This is the kind of unseen force behind Mitch McConnell and his party.
This is the challenge facing President Obama. He is fighting not just to keep his job but also to protect those of us who do not belong to the richest 1 percent in the nation.
October 26, 2011 2 Comments
You probably haven’t heard much about it, but our future will be shaped for better or worse at a meeting on November 3 and 4 in Cannes. At this meeting, the top 20 powers will discuss the world’s financial problems and decide what to do about them.
They will have lots of suggestions. One suggestion comes from Adbusters, a Canadian magazine (and activist group) which was involved in promoting the Occupy Wall Street Movement. This group is calling for demonstrations to demand a 1 percent “Robin Hood” tax on all financial transactions and currency trades worldwide with the proceeds going to social and environmental causes.
Another comes from the Vatican, which is proposing creation of a global political authority as part of radical overhaul of the world’s financial system.
And, as usual, struggling Third World countries are clamoring for debt forgiveness.
The organization that’s meeting in Paris (known as G20) was created to further cooperation by the most powerful countries in the world in management of the international financial system.
According to Wikipedia:
It studies, reviews, and promotes discussion (among key industrial and emerging market countries) of policy issues pertaining to the promotion of international financial stability, and seeks to address issues that go beyond the responsibilities of any one organization.
In effect, the G20n decides at its annual meetings how the world of finance will turn for the next year.
This year’s agenda is daunting. The world’s finance system is in chaos.
In America, the Occupy Wall Street movement is spreading, with inevitable incidents of jackboot fascism by repressive authorities. Congress is in gridlock as President Obama pleads in vain for Republicans’ cooperation in addressing the nation’s crippling unemployment crisis.
Things are even worse in Europe. Spain’s bonds just got downgraded, Greece is in flames, the European union is threatened…
And the future is menacingly cloudy in Africa and the Middle East…
Everywhere, violence and discontent are rife.
“International financial stability” teeters on the edge of an abyss.
Reflecting the turbulent state of the world, a rash of demonstrations are likely to erupt at the G20 summit. The Guardian reports that:
Several anti-summit organizations have called on protesters to mobilize in Nice two days before the opening of the 48-hour summit, which will discuss the eurozone crisis, among other issues.
The French movement People First Not Finance and a second group Faced with G20 said a “people’s forum” is being organized as an alternative summit in Nice, 20 miles from Cannes. It will begin on 1 November, two days before the official summit.
The groups said they are planning a “major protest, a counter-summit and an action at the Monaco border” to demonstrate against tax havens, as well as concerts, public rallies, and stunts”. They are expecting around 15,000 protesters.
Demonstrators have planned a march, a “fiesta” and concerts, but protest leaders had reportedly reached an impasse with police over where events can be staged.
With all of this on the horizon, CNN is analyzing yet another flat-tax proposal -Rick Perry’s warmed over version of the plan voters rejected when Steve Forbes ran for president. And Yahoo News is buzzing over some celebrity’s quarrel with the judges on Dancing With the Stars and the arrest of Lindsay Lohan’s dad on domestic abuse charges in Tampa.
And we scoff at Nero for fiddling while Rome burned!
October 25, 2011 4 Comments
In a misinformed, disinformed, divided nation, “democracy” seems pitiably inadequate. Folks around here – almost all of them – blame President Obama for the economy’s troubles and they give him no credit for his foreign policy successes. And the national polls reflect the injustice being done to the president’s record.
Much of the blame for this craziness belongs to loudmouth liars like Rush Limbaugh and the propagandists at Fox News. I don’t know why people watch Fox News. Perhaps it’s because the cable station broadcasts news on the weekends when MSNBC’s staff go off to the Hamptons for some luxurious R & R. Or it might have to do with the influence of the churches: Nearly all of them preach anti-abortion politics in what I consider to be a violation of their tax-free status.
I think I know why Rush Limbaugh is so influential. His toxic trash is available for nothing – or next to nothing – to a swarm of little radio stations. Who would refuse free programming when commercials are so hard to come by?
And now you don’t even have to turn on the radio. Limbaugh’s chatter is available – free of course – on your computer and even your cell phone.
Some of the blame for the nation’s disninformation belongs to CNN, which is no longer even a shadow of the news organization that Ted Turner built. Corporate-owned and cowed by aggressive right-wingers, CNN panders to the Republicans and their army of paid public relations professionals, even going so far as to co-sponsor a presidential debate with the Tea Party.
The networks, newspapers and the rest of the media fail voters more by sins of omission than sins of commission. They’re all about fluff and dross, chasing the almighty dollar with no regard for their obligation to keep the public informed.
Because of this failure to communicate, the president gets a bum rap.
It seems so obvious to me that Republicans in Congress have dug in their heels to block his attempts to improve America’s economy. And it’s the height of unfairness for him to get the blame. But somehow the Republicans are winning the public relations game.
According to the polls, President Obama is in danger of losing his job. And to whom?
Mitt Romney? Herman Cain? Rick Perry?
Or even more laughable, Rick Santorum? Ron Paul? Michele Bachmann?
This would be such an outrageous miscarriage of justice and such an insult to common sense that my mind boggles at the possibility.
Think about it.
Think about an America with President Romney at the rudder. Think about a Herman Cain or Rick Perry presidency. And then let’s go get our papers and move to Canada.
October 24, 2011 7 Comments
I don’t hear anyone claiming that there is no need for taxes. Everyone agrees that countries must have revenue. Someone has to pay for the roads and schools and so on. But nobody likes the idea of paying taxes.
This paradox is at the heart of America’s current debate over taxes.
Republicans argue that if the government cuts taxes on businesses, they will be encouraged to expand, creating jobs.
And it’s true – so far as it goes.
Some businesses will expand but they will expand in the most profitable places. And the way things are going, that means creating jobs in foreign countries, not in America.
While presidential candidate Herman Cain is tying himself in knots trying to make sense of his 9-9-9 flat tax proposal, Democrats joined Republicans in Congress to pass trade deals with South Korea, Colombia and Panama. The agreements include tariff reductions for goods made in the three foreign countries and brought to the United States for sale.
Cain’s proposal would mean higher taxes for the vast majority of American wage earners and huge tax breaks for the richest 1 percent in the country. But a lot of voters seem to like the idea because it sounds simple.
I have news for candidate Cain: There’s nothing simple about taxes.
Here’s a Catch 22 question for Cain and his fellow-Republicans: Why cut taxes on imported goods, which shuts off an important revenue stream, while raising taxes on working people’s wages?
Yet Republicans vehemently support these conflicting policies.
In an article on the trade agreements, The New York Times reports that:
Economists generally predict that free trade agreements, which eliminate tariffs and other policies aimed at protecting domestic manufacturers, benefit all participating nations by creating a larger common market, increasing sales and reducing prices. But such deals also create clear losers, as workers lose well-paid jobs to foreign competition….
The [United States International Trade Commission] predicted that American farmers would benefit most, because of increased demand for dairy products and beef, pork and poultry. Conversely, it predicted that the pacts would eliminate some manufacturing jobs, particularly in the textile industry….
Opponents, including textile companies, said that the deals would harm the [American] economy by undermining the nation’s industrial base. They argued that South Korean companies would benefit much more than American companies because they were gaining access to a much larger market.
While he supports the free-trade policies favored by Republicans, President Obama wants to tax millionaires and billionaires to provide funds for job creation. He argues that the richest of the rich profit most from living (and doing business) in America and shouldn’t mind paying a few extra bucks for the privilege.
To me, the president’s proposals make more sense than the Republicans’.
But both sides are missing the point.
The bottom line is that America is trading away its jobs in exchange for lower prices at places like Walmart. And no amount of tinkering with the nation’s domestic tax structure is going to change that.
October 22, 2011 No Comments
You may have heard the conspiracy theory. It goes something like this:
A small group of very rich people get together every so often and decide what’s going to happen in the global economy. Not only that but they decide whether nations go to war against each other and so on. These powerful folks are known as The Illuminati.
(Click on illustration to read their names.)
If you’re like my neighbor across the street, you are a true believer in the theory.
I take my neighbor’s theories with a grain of salt because he soaks up all kinds of propaganda on the Internet and brings me videos supposedly showing that it was the U.S. government, not Al Qaida, that blew up the World Trade Center.
I am also reluctant to believe that a group of rich folks could be smart enough to run the world. Most rich folks I know can’t even keep their golf scores straight. But I might have to revise my opinion. This morning, I read a story by the New Scientist’s Andy Coghlan and Debora MacKenzie, which informs me that:
An analysis of the relationships between 43,000 transnational corporations has identified a relatively small group of companies, mainly banks, with disproportionate power over the global economy.
They concede that the claim is not new:
The idea that a few bankers control a large chunk of the global economy might not seem like news to New York’s Occupy Wall Street movement and protesters elsewhere.
But this time it’s based on a scientific study:
The study, by a trio of complex systems theorists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, is the first to go beyond ideology to empirically identify such a network of power. It combines the mathematics long used to model natural systems with comprehensive corporate data to map ownership among the world’s transnational corporations.
So what has that got to do with The Illuminati?
The “banks” (including central banks like The Fed) are controlled by individuals – not thousands of shareholders – or millions of taxpayers – as you might think. The British royal family, for example. They have been involved in central banking right from its very beginnings, and now – after four hundred years – they secretly control much of the world’s wealth.
I read somewhere that the Bronfmans – onetime rum runners – are Illuminati. And the Rockefellers.
And, of course, the Rothchilds. Here’s an excerpt from a New York Times story about one of the scions:
More than 200 years after Mayer Amschel Rothschild founded the family dynasty that offered discreet counsel and investment wisdom to kings, queens, emperors and industrial titans, his 35-year-old direct descendant, Nathaniel, has emerged as a kingmaker in his own right and an investor who some say may become the richest Rothschild of them all.
In five short years, the man in line to be the fifth Baron Rothschild is close to becoming a billionaire through a web of private equity investments in Ukraine, Eastern Europe and most significant, his partnership stake in Atticus Capital, the fast-growing $14 billion hedge fund.
The ascent of Mr. Rothschild is a vivid illustration of how the still glittering, if somewhat faded, prestige and wealth of Europe’s most storied banking family has been reinvigorated from bold bets in this era’s new-money investment vehicles.
Like his forebears, he prefers that his influence remain unseen.
Of course, nobody knows all of the tycoons who belong to the mighty banking elite today. But it seems more and more people are figuring out that these folks exist, that they’re connected and that they are sucking the world dry.
October 21, 2011 6 Comments
Back in Jamaica, when the island was emerging from colonial status to independence, I often heard well-off Jamaicans complaining that they couldn’t “get good help these days.”
“Good help” included maids, cooks, yard boys and chauffeurs. And the colonial ruling class depended on them to maintain their relatively luxurious lifestyle.
As the society evolved, politicians began to fight for the dignity of poorer Jamaicans. Successive governments introduced programs to create types of employment that would be less demeaning. The poor now had other ways to make a living besides waiting hand and foot on to the upper class.
“Good help” grew scarcer and scarcer.
The reverse appears to be happening in America.
As fewer and fewer Americans become richer and richer, the country is sliding into a class structure like the colonial system that existed in Jamaica when I was a boy.
(Click on graph to see the income gap.)
Financiers and overpaid corporate executives live like the colonialists of old, with maids, chauffeurs, and other “good help.”
With their vast resources, the corporate/financial elite are managing the political system to ensure an adequate supply of cheap labor – not only for their factories, shops and offices but also for their homes and country clubs.
I think that’s one of the reasons for the stubborn resistance in Congress to President Obama’s jobs bill.
The Republicans in Congress, who are owned body and soul by the ruling class, will never allow the president to do anything to help the country’s burgeoning underclass.
They want to keep unemployment high. They want millions of American families to live in poverty.
After all, what’s the point of being rich if everyone else is rich?
October 20, 2011 No Comments