A few weeks back, the Drudge Report used a simple Golf Foursome photo as their headline and it made me angry. Really angry. I took a screen shot and then tried for weeks to attempt to decipher my feelings.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population of the United States right now, RIGHT THIS SECOND, is around 330 million. Now out of that 330 million people in America, how many one on one conversations did you have today with different specific people?
Yesterday I talked to, in person, my wife and kids, numerous people at work, the same nice lady at the gas station that I seemingly run into every single week. I surprisingly spoke with a young man that I had to shuttle to the Vocational Center with a badly fractured leg.
Grand total of one on one conversations? Maybe 3 or 4 dozen? The majority of people with whom I speak with on a near daily basis. What is my point? I have never, ever, had a one on one conversation with a politician. EVER. Not in 50 years. My Uncle RIck ran for trustee in Brighton Township, population 942, and lost. That is the closest I have ever been to having access to a government official.
Wait, I take that back. technically I was sentenced to a $50 fine thirty years ago in Brookpark's Mayor Court. Mayor Tom Coyne rolled his eyes at me when I spoke for a whole minute and a half. Don't quote me on it, but I believe that my Father-in-Law and Mayor Coyne played in the same softball league and had some unpleasant interactions......
Which returns me to the photo at the top of the page. Since Clinton looks a little thick around the middle, and Trump is smiling, I'm going to speculate that the photo was taken around the year 2009, maybe 2010, sometime at the beginning of the Barack Obama administration. Let's just say, for argument's sake, that Michael Bloomberg is elected President in the 2020 election.
Editor's Note: The internet is a powerful thing. Easily able to pinpoint the date of the photo: July 2018.
That means that 3 presidents, hanging out socially, before two of their elections' on a national stage. Why is that a big deal? Former presidents hang out all the time. That is explainable. They are in a very exclusive club that only numbers 45. (Five if you count living presidents.)
2 Presidents, who are private citizens, hanging out with a former president, before their election would be nearly unprecidented. Now if those private citizens were, let's say, former congressmen of the same political party, that would make sense. High level Democrats and high level Republicans congregate together all the time. They're on the same "team."
What I see with my untrained eye is 2 billionaires buying access with someone who could potentially help their business interests. (And, in hindsight, political careers.) Statistically, how many people do you think Bill Clinton talks to one on one, per day? Let's just say he talks to a hundred different people a day, one on one. Who knows the true number, but let's just use a nice round number for easy math. In any given year, Bill Clinton could potentially have a conversation with thousands of people a year. Again, I don't mean a speech where he's paid hundreds of thousands of dollars. Or a television appearance where millions can watch.
Below is a list of the richest people in America. All of them are billionaires. The first 10 are in order by bank account, the rest are more or less random billionaires as of 2019. I want you, the reader, to scan the list and look for 2 things.
#1 Do you recognize the name?
#2 Do you think that Billionaire has had a conversation with a President?
Jeff Bezos Bill Gates Warren Buffett Mark Zuckerberg Larry Ellison
Larry Page Sergey Brin Michael Bloomberg Steve Ballmer Jim Walton
Alice Walton S. Robson Walton Charles Koch Julia Koch MacKenzie Bezos
So out of the the 15 richest people in the world, it is feasible that only one hasn't had a conversation with a President of the United States and that's Google's Sergey Brin. What's the catch there? Brin is young and hates Trump. Cannot find evidence that he has met Barack Obama, but somehow he's met Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Sorry, but having a conversation with the leader of Saudi Arabia is even HARDER logistically than talking to a U.S. President. Go ahead and skim more of the list for yourself. Remember, some billionaires want that photo opt, some prefer to stay in the shadows.
Jacqueline Mars John Mars Phil Knight Thomas Peterffy Michael Dell
Len Blavatnik Elon Musk Carl Icahn Laurene Powell Jobs Ron Perelman
Dustin Moskovitz Donald Bren Leonard Lauder Thomas Frist
Elaine Marshall Jim Simons Lukas Walton Rupert Murdoch Harold Hamm Ray Dalio
Eric Schmidt Charlie Ergen John Menard Jr. Steve Schwarzman George Kaiser
Steve Cohen Micky Arison Donald Newhouse Abby Johnson Phil Anschutz
Jan Koum Jim Goodnight Charles Schwab David Tepper Jack Dangermond
Robert F. Smith Dave Duffield Andy Beal Carl Cook John Malone
Pierre Omidyar Blair Parry-Okeden Jim Kennedy Patrick Soon-Shiong Bernie Marcus
Jeff Hildebrand Marijke Mars Victoria Mars Pamela Mars-Wright Valerie Mars
Richard LeFrak Robert Rowling Diane Hendricks Les Wexner Ned Johnson
David Sun John Tu Eli Broad Ingrid Wu Christy Walton John Albert Sobrato
Marian Ilitch John Paulson George Lucas Charles Butt Richard Kinder
Gabe Newell Ralph Lauren Reinhold Schmieding Rich Devos Ray Hunt
Jim Davis Leon Black Steven Spielberg Margaretta Taylor James Chambers
Katharine Rayner George Roberts Henry Kravis Marc Benioff Jensen Huang
Robert E. Rich Jr. Randa Duncan Williams Dannine Avara Scott Duncan
Milane Duncan Frantz David Filo Stan Druckenmiller Rupert Johnson Jr. Ira Rennert
Lynn Schusterman Mark Cuban Trevor Rees-Jones Terry Pegula John Sall
Charles Johnson Ronda Stryker Charles Dolan Jeff Sutton Nancy Walton Laurie
Leonard Stern Shahid Khan David Shaw Dan Friedkin Jerry Jones
You mean Jerry Jones, owner of the NFL's Dallas Cowboys? How many Presidents can you name from this screen shot from Jerry Jones' very own Luxury Box.
Dennis Washington Whitney MacMillan Gwendolyn Sontheim Meyer
Pauline MacMillan Keinath Steve Bechtel Rocco Commisso Jude Reyes Chris Reyes
Igor Olenicoff Sam Zell Reed Hastings Edward Roski Kelcy Warren Tom Love
Judy Love Judy Faulkner Izzy Englander Tamara Hughes Gustavson Mary Malone
Fred Smith Pat Stryker Dagmar Dolby Clay Mathile Thomas Pritzker Woody Johnson
Dick Schulze Robert Pera Bob Kraft Ken Fisher B. Wayne Hughes
Travis Kalanick Gordon Moore Dan Cathy Bubba Cathy Johnny Morris
Is Kanye West a Billionaire? Hard to say.
Looking through the list...... I betchya Bill Clinton has met a good portion of the names on the list. No offense to Clinton specifically, because I also bet Trump has covered a lot of the territory that Clinton has missed.
Why isn't Trump himself on the list. Because until you get to Palmer Luckey, everyone on the list is worth at least $4 billion. The entire American Billionaire list numbers between 600 and 1,000. (Depending on your sourcing.)
Now maybe the Walton kids could claim they haven't spoken to a president, but guess what? Where did they get their money?
I stole this photo straight from the WalMart Corporate Page. WalMart was promoting the time that Sam Walton won the Presidential Medal of Freedom. For what, you ask? You know, selling toiletries at rock bottom prices. And, just a reminder, Hillary Clinton was on WalMart's Board. You're going to tell me that the Billionaire Walton kids didn't know WalMart Board Members or their spouses?
I am going to take an educated guess and say that over half of the above names have had a conversation with a President. Name any other group in America, literally any group, could you imagine half of them meeting the President and having a conversation with them?
Half of NASA's Astronauts? No.
Half of the members of the Screen Actors Guild? No.
Half of NBA Players? No.
Half of the mathemeticians at MIT? No.
Half of Professional Models? No. (But I had to think about it.)
Half of Billboard's Top Selling Music Artists? No.
Let's just be absurd and say that Bill Clinton spoke to a million different people during his lifetime. That means you or I had a 1 in 330 chance of having an audience with the president.
Again, I believe your chance of talking to a President, if you're a billionaire, is 1 in 2. (That means verbal contact with between 300-500 billionaires.) And I don't mean to single out Trump and B. Clinton, exclusively. I think that it has been this way in America since Reagan.
But I think it's getting worse now. How so?
Because now some of these billionaires aren't just buying access, but they're buying power. Donald Trump, Mark Cuban, Howard Schultz, and Michael Bloomberg are all billionaires that have at least flirted with running for President. Trump had floated the idea of running for president for 30 years before he actually won the presidency.
Why do YOU think there's a surge in billionaires wanting government access? Do you think it's a coincidence that there's a rising socialist undercurrent in this country? Elizabeth Warren floated the idea of Bill Gates paying $100 Billion in taxes and he responded almost immediately "But when you say I should pay $100 billion, then I’m starting to do a little math about what I have left over. … I’m just kidding."
Even though Gates was kidding, the blowback was also swift: Bill Gates's Comments Disprove the Myth of the Benevolent Billionaire. Unless the rich can convince the masses that the problems of this country lie with the unmotivated poor and not the policies of the rich, socialist ideas will continue to surge....
Maybe Steve Forbes was right. If America had a flat-tax, billionaires would have less of a reason to access politicians. Just pay your 17% and off you go.* If everyone paid the same, you would have a bunch of bellyachers, but the adults of the nation would understand. You wouldn't have a nation of angry citizens complaining that companies like Amazon paid no federal income taxes. 17% is a fair, debatably capitalist number. Socialism, on the other hand, has a much higher rate that everyone pays.
Unless, of course, the rich are successful in convincing the population that the problems of the country lie with citizens that look unlike the people in the mirror. Not by dollar signs, but in superficial appearances. Billionaires taking to the national airwaves to tout the virtues of running America like a business forget that America is a country, not a corporation. Sure you've got to balance the nation's budget, but how's Donald Trump doing at that? Could you run a corporation with debt numbers like this?
And, again, this isn't a specifically Trump thing. NO BILLIONAIRE is out there campaigning for a balanced budget. They are interested in keeping their personal monetary status through tax policy.
Bernie Sanders wants a balanced budget. And free college. And free health care. And a safety net. And free unicorn rides. You only have to chip in a few extra pennies per pay check to make it all happen. (Did we say pennies? We meant just send your check to the government.) Kids, please don't trust me. Go ahead and do a little math and see how much a balanced budget, free college, free health care, and a safety net cost. It's not that hard, simple multiplication will give you the estimates you need.
After a few keystrokes of your cell phone calculator, you'll quickly realize we'll need to blow right by socialism and right into communism to pay for everything. Corporate CEO's, who deal with large numbers for a living, already know that the math doesn't work.
But how many people will take the time to take out their calculators to do a fact check?
In the age of fake news and alternative facts, there is no bigger group of hypocrites than the followers of the Prosperity Gospel. Whether you like it or not, America was founded on vague Christian Principles. Rich Christians are doing Christianity wrong. And, inversely, once your nation perverts its core to reflect the values of the rich, you are governing by the Pareto Principle instead of by Democracy.
Again, billionaires aren't evil, per se, what you can't do is run your nation based on a specific subset of citizens that have government access. Now some of you are are saying, "yeah, the Whites." I would like to address that response. I am white. My immediate family, all 4 of us, are white. None of us are billionaires. The family behind us are black, all 4 of them. They are not billionaires. We have much more in common with our neighbors than with billionaires. And none of the 8 of us has ever spoken to, let alone met, a president. If the numbers of 1 in 330 bear out, there's a good chance that no one in a couple of block radius of my home has spoken to the president.
Our two families, on a suburban cul-de-sac in Northeast Ohio, are on the same team. Middle-Class Americans trying to make it in the digital age. No matter what the rich or powerful say, my neighbors are not my enemy. The rich and powerful want to divide you into superficial constructs to distract you from their policies and power grabs....
If you're rolling your eyes, thinking I'm just getting into manifesto territory, let me pause and take a breath and try to sum things up a bit more succinctly.
In theory, politicians work for us. In a democracy, they are beholden to the people. Billionaires, unless they inherited their money, like the Waltons, are almost exclusively businessmen. Businessmen are not beholden to their employees. They answer to boards and to shareholders, A.K.A. other rich people. Most CEO's are trying to figure out how to eliminate workers, not add workers. Workers are simply another line on an expense report.
So a billionaire businessman's philosophy is top/down versus a politicians' (supposed) philosophy of bottom/up. The Founding Fathers used the Constitution to frame America as a bottom/up political system, meaning the power lies with the people, which then filters up to their leaders. Once the billionaires flood politics, they do things that are the best for themselves first, and then for the people second. They by-passed traditional American systems with cash. When that occurs, you are a stone's throw from an oligarchy.
Being a good businessman doesn't necessarily make you the best person to run America.
*With a few stipulations. Like if I was running the country on the flat-tax platform, I would allow 2 deductions. Kids and Mortgage (on 1 house), the foundations of the American Dream. Other than that, I'm okay with the 17% flat tax from the richest of the rich down to just above the poverty line.