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Abuse of Power

by Ed Raymond | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Gadfly | February 5th, 2020

President Roosevelt: “The Malefactors of Great Wealth Are Against Worker Rights”
He also believed that the Declaration of Independence declared that “the rights of the worker to a living wage, to reasonable hours of labor, to decent working and living conditions, and to freedom of thought and speech and industrial representation---in short---in return for his arduous toil, to a worthy and decent life according to American standards. Progress results not from the crowding out of the lower classes to the level of the upper.” These words were not said by “New Deal” Democratic President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. They were stated by “Bull Moose” Republican President Theodore Roosevelt in 1912 during capitalistic excesses in America.

It is ironic that on the same day that the impeachment trial of President Donald John Trump on a charge of abuse of power began in Washington, King Donald flew to Davos, Switzerland to address thousands of CEOs, billionaires, dictators, presidents, prime ministers, and quirky celebrities who flew to Davos on hundreds of private jets to defend the World Economic Forum members from charges of abuse of power on its opening day. The charges of abuse of power by plutocrats at Davos came from every part of the globe from both rich and poor countries. To name just a few: United States, Great Britain, Lebanon, Chile, New Zealand, France, Ecuador, Spain, Brazil, Egypt, Germany, Hungary, and Austria.

(A note to Trumplican senators: If you’re so damn bored with your $174,000 job which is sitting in the Senate listening to evidence in the third impeachment trial in over 200 years, why don’t you go out and get a “real” job?)

The New York Times recently printed letters from readers based on the book that most changed their beliefs. The letter that impressed me the most was from Barbara Lipkin of Naperville, Illinois. She wrote about Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged,” a 1957 novel about extreme capitalism and human selfishness: “When I first read ‘Atlas Shrugged’ for a high school assignment, I was so impressed with Ayn Rand’s philosophy of strength, independence, and forging through life on one’s own that I reread the book a few more times in the next few years. The final time I was a young mother and as I read, I realized that there were no children in Rand’s cast of characters, no old people; no one was sick and disabled. Where were they? How were they supposed to manage on their own?”

Barbara’s Second Paragraph
“That’s when I became a Democrat, even a socialist. It finally dawned on me that total self-reliance is fine, as long as you’re young, healthy and strong. But no one gets through this life on her own. It takes a village to support a community, to raise and educate children, to care for the sick and elderly. Who wants to live in a world where the weak are thrust aside and forgotten? Rand’s philosophy could never be mine. Her words allowed me to crystallize my own thinking. I grew up.”

But the philosophy expressed by Rand is popular with some grown-up right-wing conservatives and all grown-up Trumplicans. Literary critic Edward Younkins described it as “an apocalyptic vision of the last stages of conflict between two classes of humanity-the looters and the non-looters.” The looters approve of high taxation, big powerful labor unions, and government ownership, spending, planning, regulation, and redistribution policies. The non-looters are those that go to the bank often with their profits—like the members of the World Economic Forum.

Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises wrote to Rand: “(The book) is a cogent analysis of the evils that plague our society…You have the courage to tell the masses that no politician told them: you are inferior and all the improvements in your conditions which you simply take for granted you owe to the efforts of men who are better than you.” I am very surprised that Barbara read “Atlas Shrugged” several times. I read it when it came out because I was teaching senior English at Fargo Central High School and wanted to see if I would use it in class. But it was 1,168 pages containing various elements of mystery, politics, government, romance, science fiction, verbal diarrhea, and mountains of drivel.

Republicans and Trumplicans Who Have Drunk The Rand Kool-Aid
Among many Rand advocates from the beginning was Alan Greenspan, a college student in economics in the late 1940’s at New York University. In 1987 he was named Chairman of the Federal Reserve by President Ronald Reagan, who loved tax cuts, and so-called “free market” economics. He was appointed to consecutive four-year terms as chairman by Bush 41, Bill Clinton, and Bush 43, and finally retired January 31, 2006. (He is married to Andrea Mitchell, an NBC reporter. He is 94.)

To make a long story short, Greenspan followed the philosophy of Rand in approving the use of financial derivatives, derivative swaps (remember them?!), unregulated subprime loans in the housing markets, the dotcom “bubble,” and other financial shenanigans that brought on the horrendous Bush Recession when 8.8 million lost their jobs and over ten million families lost their homes to foreclosure.

Accused by members of Congress of causing the recession, Greenspan admitted he was “shocked” the Rand philosophy of free and loosely-regulated markets was bunk: “I made a mistake in presuming that the self-interests of organizations, specifically banks and others, were such as that they were best capable of protecting their own shareholders and their equity in firms.” He later said he was “shocked” to learn bankers could be so greedy and selfish. Well, Alan, welcome to the real world.

I imagine King Donald thinks Ayn Rand is just another stripper waiting for a sexy rendezvous because he only reads tweets and Fox TV headlines, but both Glenn Beck and Trash Limbaugh have drunk the Rand Kool-Aid as well as Associate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, the Uncle Tom on the Court, who drinks eight glasses a day. Thomas says it’s his favorite novel. At one time Republican Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin drank the Kool-Aid by saying that Rand was “the reason I got into public service,” but after the Bush Recession disaster of 2008 he dumped Ayn’s philosophy in 2012 and went back to Wisconsin milk.

What Was The Top Topic At Davos Among The Billionaires?
Democrats Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren were the top topic by the tax-avoiding billionaires and elites at the World Economic Forum because they have both vowed to make the rich pay their fair share. Even on the streets of Davos the plutocrats saw commoners carrying signs asking their neighbors to “EAT THE RICH.” That’s because now the richest 26 people in the world now have assets equal to the bottom 3.8 billion on the planet.

Democrats, let’s get real. It is not “reaching across the aisle” time as some moderates such as Joe Biden and Amy Klobuchar are proposing. Our situation is way beyond “moderation.” A few columns ago I wrote that Joe Biden was an old 77 while Bernie was a young 78. Poor Joe is about as smart as George W. Bush. The two are not dumb—but they have never made a real effort to know anything. We have to face reality. It is not “across the aisle” time. It is pitchfork, national strike, and French Razor time.

How can you negotiate with people who have drunk the Rand Kool-Aid and swallowed the Trump “Make America Great Again” cult line? When was America great for all Americans? During Jim Crow days? During slave centuries? During the Wall Street Depression? During the 2008 Bush Recession? You are going to negotiate with “Moscow Mitch '' McConnell, the head of the American Taliban and the Trumplicans? You’re going to “reason” with the Tea Party? Sorry, you can’t cross the aisle because there is a wall between political parties thicker than the Great Wall of China and what the “Great Builder” is attempting to build on our Southern border. You’re going to “make a deal” with the religious nuts like Michele Bachmann, Ted Cruz, Franklin Graham, Jerry Falwell, Jr., and the evangelicals and fundamentalists whose only desire is to turn the United States into a theocracy and fly naked to Heaven during the Rapture? How will you communicate with conservative Roman Catholics who love Father Girolamo Savonarola and Inquisition times and want to live under 13th Century rules? How can you “reach” Lindsey Graham (classified as “the most shameless man in Washington”) whose brain has been shrunk by both toxic Kool-Aid and tight MAGA caps? It’s almost obscene to see him walk so close behind King Donald. Are you going to attempt to make sense with ND Senator Kevin Cramer, a lap dog barking for the godless Chosen One?

How do you negotiate with a president who says our troops (now up to 64) did not “suffer very dangerous brain injuries” during Iraq missile raids---when he suffers from very dangerous brain injuries of his own? I loved this e-mail from a friend: “Trump could shoot and kill someone in the Senate and be acquitted 53-47 unless he killed a Republican senator. Then he’d be acquitted 52-47.”

Why Pitchforks Must be Sharpened NowThe United States has the worst economic inequality in the industrialized world while about 2,200 billionaires in the world (621 in the U.S. as of October 2019) own more than half of the total wealth of the world. Meanwhile hundreds of thousands of wealth planners and tax lawyers employed by the rich, spend all of their waking hours hiding about 15% of that wealth in tax havens around the world. (I wonder if that one building in the Bahamas still has 32,000 businesses registered as doing business from home offices in the Bahamas.)

Real estate is a hot item among billionaires. The January 24th Wall Street Journal on the pages advertising ”Mansions” reveals that the Koch brothers own dozens of mansions around the world worth hundreds of millions of dollars while the numbers of homeless families in the U.S. increase daily.

Charles Blow in the New York Times summarizes our predicament: “The idea of America that most of us have come to embrace---that of a functioning democracy responsive to its citizens who are entitled to vote and whose votes are equal---is lost. In fact, it may never have existed in that way at all. And the trends in society are now toward the worse rather than the better.”

America has never been great. Forty-one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were white slave owners. Property-owning whites were the only people allowed to vote. Even the election of a black president who might have shown we had an equal but diversified society; instead, opened the sore of racial discrimination and white nationalism which is bleeding red over the country. We can do much better.

P.S.: And Hillary: Please shut up. The Republicans managed to turn you into a toxic virus after 30 years of attacks and you haven’t recovered.

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