bureaucracybusters

Posts Tagged ‘CLASS WARFARE’

A MORALITY LESSON FOR LABOR DAY

In Business, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on September 2, 2019 at 12:13 am

Every Christmas, TV audiences find comfort and triumph in the rerunning of a black-and-white 1946 movie: It’s a Wonderful Life.

But in its depiction of the endless struggle between management and labor, it could just as well be shown on Labor Day.

It’s the story of George Bailey (James Stewart), a decent husband and father who hovers on the brink of suicide—until his guardian angel, Clarence, suddenly intervenes.

Its A Wonderful Life Movie Poster.jpg

Clarence reveals to George what his home town, Bedford Falls, New York, would be like if he had never been born. George finds himself shocked to learn:

  • With no counterweight to the schemes of rapacious slumlord Henry F. Potter, Bedford Falls becomes Potterville, filled with pawn shops and sleazy nightclubs.
  • With no George Bailey to save his younger brother, Harry, from drowning in a frozen pond, Harry drowns.
  • With no Harry to live to become a Naval fighter pilot in World War II, he’s not on hand to shoot down two Japanese planes targeting an American troopship.
  • As a result, the troopship and its crew are destroyed.

George is forced to face the significant role he has played in the lives of so many others.

Armed with this new knowledge, he once again embraces life, running through the snow-covered streets of Bedford Falls and shouting “Merry Christmas!” to everyone he meets.

Audiences have hailed George Bailey as an Everyman hero—and the film as a life-affirming testament to the unique importance of each individual.

But there is another aspect of this movie that has not been so closely studied: The legacy of its villain, Henry F. Potter, who, as  played by Lionel Barrymore, bears a striking resemblance to former Vice President Dick Cheney.

Lionel Barrymore as Mr. Potter.jpg

Henry F. Potter

It is Potter—the richest man in Bedford Falls—whose insatiable greed threatens to destroy it. And it is Potter whose criminality drives George Bailey to the brink of suicide.

George dreams of leaving Bedford Falls and building skyscrapers. Meanwhile, he works at the Bailey Building and Loan Association, which plays a vital role in the life of the community.

Potter, a member of the Building and Loan Association board, tries to persuade the board of directors to dissolve the firm. He objects to their providing home loans for the working poor.

George persuades them to reject Potter’s proposal, but they agree only on condition that George run the Building and Loan. Reluctantly, George agrees.

Potter tries to lure George away from the Building and Loan, offering him a $20,000 salary and the chance to visit Europe. George is briefly tempted.

But then he realizes that Potter intends to close down the Building and Loan and deny financial help to those who most need it. Angrily, he turns down Potter’s offer: “In the whole vast configuration of things, I’d say you were nothing but a scurvy little spider.”

Momentarily defeated, Potter bides his time for revenge.

On Christmas Eve morning, the town prepares a hero’s welcome for George’s brother, Harry. George’s scatter-brained Uncle Billy visits Potter’s bank to deposit $8,000 of the Building and Loan’s cash funds.

Related image

He taunts Potter by reading the newspaper headlines announcing the coming tribute. Potter snatches the paper, and Billy unthinkingly allows the money to be snatched with it.

When Billy leaves, Potter opens the paper and sees the money. He keeps it, knowing that misplacement of bank money will bankrupt the Building and Loan and bring criminal charges against George.

It’s at this point that George almost commits suicide—only to be saved by Clarence, his guardian angel.

Then, word of George’s plight suddenly reaches his wide range of grateful friends. A flood of townspeople arrive with more than enough donations to save George and the Building and Loan.

The movie ends on a triumphant note, with George basking in the glow of love from his family and friends.

But no critic seems to have noticed that Henry Potter’s theft has gone unnoticed.  (Uncle Billy can’t recall how he lost the money.) Potter is richer by $8,000. And ready to go on taking advantage of others.

Perhaps it’s time to see Potter’s actions in a new light—that of America’s richest 1%, ever ready to prey upon the weaknesses of others.

Justice never catches up with Potter in the movie. But the joke-writers at Saturday Night Live later conjured up a satisfactory punishment for his avarice.

In this version, Uncle Billy suddenly remembers that he left the money with Potter. Enraged, George Bailey (Dana Carvey) leads his crowd of avenging friends to Potter’s office.

Potter realizes the jig is up and offers to return the money. But George wants more than that—and he and his friends proceed to stomp and beat Potter to death.

The skit ends with with George and his friends singing “Auld Lang Syne”—as they do in the movie—as they finish off Potter with clubs.

America is rapidly a divided nation—one where the richest 1% lord it over an increasingly impoverished 99%.

The time may be coming when many Americans are ready to embrace the SNL approach to economic justice.

FOR REPUBLICANS: A WARNING ABOUT CLASS WARFARE

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Military, Politics, Social commentary on April 26, 2018 at 12:07 am

A 2012 book offers timely advice for Republicans who believe that serving the interests of the wealthiest 1% will maintain their party in power.

It’s Confront and Conceal: Obama’s Secret Wars and Surprising use of American Power, by David E. Sanger, the chief Washington correspondent for The New York Times.

Related image

Divided into five sections, it dramatically covers the following subjects:

Afghanistan and Pakistan – How Obama sought to disengage from the former while readying plans to occupy the latter should its growing nuclear arsenal pose a threat to America.

Iran – To prevent the Iranians from building nuclear weapons, Obama authorized a malevolent virus to be inserted into that nation’s computer system.

Drones and Cyber – American drone attacks have wiped out much of Al Qaeda’s leadership—but increasingly strained U.S. relations with Pakistan.  And while America has launched cyber attacks on Iran, it remains vulnerable to similar attacks—especially by China.

Arab Spring – America was totally surprised by the popular revolts sweeping the Arab world.  And Obama had to balance  showing support for the revolutionaries against jeopardizing America’s longtime Arab—and dictatorial—allies.

China and North Korea – The United States found itself financially strained to meet its worldwide military commitments.  This forced Obama to use a both persuasion and containment against both these potential adversaries.

And in its section on the Arab Spring, there is an unintended warning to Republicans and their Right-wing followers.

David E. Sanger 2011 05.jpg

 

David Sanger (Copyright, Creative Commons)

Sanger analyzes why the vast majority of Egyptians felt no solidarity with Hosni Mubarak, the general/dictator who ruled Egypt from 1981 ti 2911. 

Mubarak came to power after Islamic fundamentalists assassinated President Anwar Sadat during a military review. They believed that Sadat had committed the unpardonable crime of signing a peace treaty with Israel.

Mubarack often warned Washington that only he could prevent Egypt from being dominated by fundamentalist, anti-American groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood.

But, writes Sanger, he achieved the very opposite:

“By leaving his citizens without a social safety net, by failing to invest in the country’s crumbling infastructure…he paved the way for the Brotherhood’s success….

“In a land where the state delivers so little, even the smallest [medical] clinic” as provided by the Brotherhood “will win respect and loyalty.

“So when it came time to vote, most Egyptians decided to cast their ballots for candidates they knew could provide something—Islamist or not, it almost didn’t matter….”

Image result for Images of Hosni Mubarak

Hosni Mubarak (Copyright, Presidenza della Repubblica)

One such Brotherhood supporter, who grew up in the poor, agricultural region of Beni Suef, was quoted as saying:

“The Muslim Brotherhood came into my village, and brought lorries of fruits and vegetables,” selling them at discounted prices.  “They supported medical clinics”–and thus won the hearts of the people they served.

Fast forward to Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican Presidential nominee, and his vision for America.

As Romney saw it, questions about Wall Street scandals and income inequality were driven only by “envy.”

On January 11, 2012, after winning the New Hampshire primary, Romney appeared on NBC’s “The Today Show.”  Host Matt Lauer noted that many Americans were concerned “about the distribution of wealth and power in this country.”

“I think it’s about envy,” replied Romney, whose own fortune has been conservatively estimated at $250 million. “I think it’s about class warfare.

“I think when you have a president encouraging the idea of dividing America based on 99 percent versus one percent… you’ve opened up a whole new wave of approach in this country which is entirely inconsistent with the concept of ‘one nation under God.’”

Romney added that it wasn’t necessary to have a public debate about the inequality of wealth distribution in this country.

“I think it’s fine to talk about those things in quiet rooms and discussions about tax policy and the like,” Romney said. “But the President has made this part of his campaign rally.

“Everywhere he goes we hear him talking about millionaires and billionaires and executives and Wall Street. It’s a very envy-oriented, attack-oriented approach and I think it’ll fail.”

Romney did not mention that, in 2007, the richest 1% of the American populace—of which he is a member—owned 34.6% of the country’s total wealth, and the next 19% owned 50.5%.

Thus, the top 20% of Americans owned 85% of the country’s wealth and the bottom 80% of the population owned 15%.

Romney claimed that Obama’s focus on this issue was just “part of his campaign rally.”

Clearly, now-ousted rulers like Mubarak and Muammar Quaddaffi believed “it’s fine to talk about these things” like vast differences in wealth “in quiet rooms.”  That is, so long as they and their 1% rich supporters were doing the talking.

But over time their remoteness from the vast majority of their impoverished fellow citizens sealed their doom.  When enough people broke into open revolt, even the military decided to change sides.

Mubarack was forced to resign, and Quaddaffi—after waging war against his own people—was captured and murdered.

If Romney’s—and now Donald Trump’s—vision of “everything for the 1%” is allowed to prevail, they and their ultra-privileged supporters may truly learn the lessons of class warfare.  

IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE (FOR A CRIMINAL)

In Business, Entertainment, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on December 25, 2017 at 12:01 am

Every Christmas, TV audiences find comfort and triumph in the rerunning of a black-and-white 1946 movie: It’s a Wonderful Life.

It’s the story of George Bailey (James Stewart), a decent husband and father who hovers on the brink of suicide—until his guardian angel, Clarence, suddenly intervenes.

Its A Wonderful Life Movie Poster.jpg

Clarence reveals to George what his home town, Bedford Falls, New York, would be like if he had never been born. George finds himself shocked to learn:

  • With no counterweight to the schemes of rapacious slumlord Henry F. Potter, Bedford Falls becomes Potterville, filled with pawn shops and sleazy nightclubs.
  • With no George Bailey to save his younger brother, Harry, from drowning in a frozen pond, Harry drowns.
  • With no Harry to live to become a Naval fighter pilot in World War II, he’s not on hand to shoot down two Japanese planes targeting an American troopship.
  • As a result, the troopship and its crew are destroyed.

George is forced to face the significant role he has played in the lives of so many others.

Armed with this knowledge, he once again embraces life, running through the snow-covered streets of Bedford Falls and shouting “Merry Christmas!” to everyone he meets.

Audiences have hailed George Bailey as an Everyman hero—and the film as a life-affirming testament to the unique importance of each individual.

But there is another aspect of the movie that has not been so closely studied: The legacy of its villain, Henry F. Potter, who, as  played by Lionel Barrymore, bears a striking resemblance to former Vice President Dick Cheney.

Lionel Barrymore as Mr. Potter.jpg

Henry F. Potter

It is Potter—the richest man in Bedford Falls—whose insatiable greed threatens to destroy it.  And it is Potter whose criminality drives George Bailey to the brink of suicide.

The antagonism between Bailey and Potter starts early in the movie. George dreams of leaving Bedford Falls and building skyscrapers. Meanwhile, he works at the Bailey Building and Loan Association, which plays a vital role in the life of the community.

Potter, a member of the Building and Loan Association board, tries to persuade the board of directors to dissolve the firm. He objects to their providing home loans for the working poor.

George persuades them to reject Potter’s proposal, but they agree only on condition that George run the Building and Loan. Reluctantly, George agrees.

Later, Potter tries to lure George away from the Building and Loan, offering him a $20,000 salary and the chance to visit Europe. George is briefly tempted.

Related image

But then he realizes that Potter intends to close down the Building and Loan and deny financial help to those who most need it. Angrily, he turns down Potter’s offer:

“You sit around here and you spin your little webs and you think the whole world revolves around you and your money. Well, it doesn’t, Mr. Potter!

“In the whole vast configuration of things, I’d say you were nothing but a scurvy little spider.”

It is a setback for Potter, but he’s willing to bide his time for revenge.

On Christmas Eve morning, the town prepares a hero’s welcome for George’s brother, Harry. George’s scatter-brained Uncle Billy visits Potter’s bank to deposit $8,000 of the Building and Loan’s cash funds.

He taunts Potter by reading the newspaper headlines announcing the coming tribute. Potter  snatches the paper, and Billy unthinkingly allows the money to be snatched with it.

When Billy leaves, Potter opens the paper and sees the money. He keeps it, knowing that misplacement of bank money will bankrupt the Building and Loan and bring criminal charges against George.

But at the last minute, word of George’s plight reaches his wide range of grateful friends. A flood of townspeople arrive with more than enough donations to save George and the Building and Loan.

The movie ends on a triumphant note, with George basking in the glow of love from his family and friends.

But no critic seems to have noticed that Henry Potter’s theft has gone unnoticed.  (Uncle Billy can’t recall how he lost the money.) Potter is richer by $8,000. And ready to go on taking advantage of others.

Perhaps it’s time to see Potter’s actions in a new light—that of America’s richest 1%, ever ready to prey upon the weaknesses of others.

Justice never catches up with Potter in the movie. But the joke-writers at Saturday Night Live have conjured up a satisfactory punishment for his avarice.

In this version, Uncle Billy suddenly remembers that he left the money with Potter. Enraged, George Bailey (Dana Carvey) leads his crowd of avenging friends to Potter’s office.

Potter realizes the jig is up and offers to return the money. But George wants more than that—and he and his friends proceed to stomp and beat Potter to death.

The skit ends with with George and his friends singing “Auld Ang Syne”—as they do in the movie—as they finish off Potter with clubs.

America is rapidly a divided nation—one where the richest 1% lord it over an increasingly impoverished 99%.

The time may be coming when many Americans are ready to embrace the SNL approach to economic justice.

THIS IS YOUR BOSS: VOTE LIKE I SAY – PART FOUR (END)

In Business, Politics, Social commentary on October 22, 2012 at 12:00 am

David Siegel is the founder and chief executive of Westgate Resorts, the largest privately owned time-share company in the world.  And he’s building the biggest home in the U.S., a 90,000-square-foot Florida palace they call Versailles.

Recently he took time off to tell his 7,000 employees how to vote. And to threaten them with dismissal if his Presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, loses the election.

On October 8, he sent out the following memo. To which I offer commentary where required.

SIEGEL:

So where am I going with all this? It’s quite simple. If any new taxes are levied on me, or my company, as our current President plans, I will have no choice but to reduce the size of this company. Rather than grow this company I will be forced to cut back. This means fewer jobs, less benefits and certainly less opportunity for everyone.

COMMENTARY:

This adds a whole new meaning to the phrase: “If I don’t get my way, I’ll just take my football–I mean, company–and go home.”

Of course, he wouldn’t DREAM of telling his employees who to vote for–he just makes a blatant threat that if they support the re-election of Barack Obama, he will close down the company and throw them into the street.

That’s why the United States desperately needs–and deserves–an Employers Responsibility Act to legally require employers to behave responsibly toward their employees and job-seekers. Only then will “employers” and “responsibility” truly be linked.

SIEGEL:

So, when you make your decision to vote, ask yourself, which candidate understands the economics of business ownership and who doesn’t? Whose policies will endanger your job?

Answer those questions and you should know who might be the one capable of protecting and saving your job. While the media wants to tell you to believe the “1 percenters” are bad, I’m telling you they are not.

COMMENTARY:

That’s right–who are you going to believe: Your own experience–or what Siegel is telling you?

SIEGEL:

They create most of the jobs. If you lose your job, it won’t be at the hands of the “1%”; it will be at the hands of a political hurricane that swept through this country.

You see, I can no longer support a system that penalizes the productive and gives to the unproductive. My motivation to work and to provide jobs will be destroyed, and with it, so will your opportunities. If that happens, you can find me in the Caribbean sitting on the beach, under a palm tree, retired, and with no employees to worry about.

Signed, your boss,

David Siegel

COMMENTARY:

Again: Siegel wouldn’t DREAM of telling his employees who to vote for. But, just to make sure they get the message he’s sending them, he signs off as: “Your Boss.”

For thousands of years, otherwise highly intelligent men and women believed that kings ruled by divine right. That kings

  • held absolute power
  • levied extortionate taxes and
  • sent countless millions of men off to war

–all because God wanted it that way.

That lunacy was dealt a deadly blow in 1776 when American Revolutionaries threw off the despotic rule of King George III of England.

Today, millions of Americans remain imprisoned by an equally outrageous and dangerous theory: The Theory of the Divine Right of Employers.

Americans did not win their freedom from Great Britain–-and its enslaving doctrine of “the divine right of kings”-–by begging for their rights.

And Americans will not win their freedom from their corporate masters–-and the equally enslaving doctrine of “the divine right of employers”-–by begging for the right to work and support themselves and their families.

And they will most certainly never win such freedom by supporting right-wing political candidates whose first and only allegiance is to the corporate interests who bankroll their campaigns.

Americans can choose to reject those lies–and demand that employers behave like patriots instead of predators.

The solution can be summed up in three words: Employers Responsibility Act (ERA).

If passed by Congress and vigorously enforced by the U.S. Department of Justice and Labor, an ERA would ensure

  • full-time
  • permanent and
  • productive employment

for millions of capable, job-seeking Americans.

And it would achieve this without raising taxes or creating controversial government “make work” programs.

Such legislation would legally require employers to demonstrate as much initiative for hiring as job-seekers are now expected to show in searching for work.

Among its provisions:

The seeking of “economic incentives” by companies in return for moving to or remaining in cities/states would be strictly forbiddenEmployers who make such overtures would be prosecuted for attempted bribery or extortion:

  1. Bribery, if they offered to move to a city/state in return for “economic incentives,” or
  2. Extortion, if they threatened to move their companies from a city/state if they did not receive such “economic incentives.”

Under an Employers Responsibility Act, CEOs who tell their employees, “Vote as I say–or else,” would find a new home from which to conduct business: A prison cell.

THIS IS YOUR BOSS: VOTE LIKE I SAY – PART THREE (OF FOUR)

In Business, Politics, Social commentary on October 19, 2012 at 12:21 am

David Siegel is the founder and chief executive of Westgate Resorts, the largest privately owned time-share company in the world.

And he’s building the biggest home in the U.S., a 90,000-square-foot Florida palace they call Versailles.

Recently he took time off to tell his 7,000 employees how to vote. And to threaten them with dismissal if his Presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, loses the election.

On October 8, he sent out the following memo. To which I offer commentary where required.

SIEGEL:

Unfortunately, the costs of running a business have gotten out of control, and let me tell you why: We are being taxed to death and the government thinks we don’t pay enough.

We pay state taxes, federal taxes, property taxes, sales and use taxes, payroll taxes, workers compensation taxes and unemployment taxes. I even have to hire an entire department to manage all these taxes.

COMMENTARY:

On the contrary, the Federal income tax rate has never been lower for corporations. The United States’ corporate tax rate was at its highest, 52.8%, in 1968 and 1969.

Today it varies from 15% to 35%. And the wealthy have continued to prosper even more through the infamous “Bush tax cuts,” which cut the tax rate of the top 1% of American taxpayers by about 25%.

SIEGEL:

The question I have is this: Who is really stimulating the economy? Is it the Government that wants to take money from those who have earned it and give it to those who have not?

Or is it people like me who built a company out of his garage and directly employs over 7000 people and hosts over 3 million people per year with a great vacation?

Obviously, our present government believes that taking my money is the right economic stimulus for this country. The fact is, if I deducted 50% of your paycheck you’d quit and you wouldn’t work here.

I mean, why should you? Who wants to get rewarded only 50% of their hard work?  Well, that’s what happens to me.

Here is what most people don’t understand and the press and our Government has chosen to ignore – to stimulate the economy you need to stimulate what runs the economy.

Instead of raising my taxes and depositing that money into the Washington black-hole, let me spend it on growing the company, hire more employees, and generate substantial economic growth.

COMMENTARY:

In its June 8, 2011 cover-story on “What U.S. Economic Recovery? Five Destructive Myths,” Time magazine warned that profit-seeking corporations can’t be relied on to ”make it all better.”

Wrote Rana Foroohar, Time‘s assistant managing editor in charge of economics and business:

“There is a fundamental disconnect between the fortunes of American companies, which are doing quite well, and American workers, most of whom are earning a lower hourly wage now than they did during the recession.

“The thing is, companies make plenty of money; they just don’t spend it on workers here.

“There may be $2 trillion sitting on the balance sheets of American corporations globally, but firms show no signs of wanting to spend it in order to hire workers at home.”

In short: Giving even greater tax breaks to mega-corporations–the standard Republican mantra–has not persuaded them to stop “outsourcing” jobs.

Nor has it convinced them to start hiring Americans.

SIEGEL:

My employees will enjoy the wealth of that tax cut in the form of promotions and better salaries. But that is not what our current Government wants you to believe.

They want you to believe that it somehow makes sense to take more from those who create wealth and give it to those who do not, and somehow our economy will improve.

COMMENTARY:

“The Republicans have pulled off a major (some would say cynical) miracle,” writes Time’s Rana Foroohar.

They have convinced “the majority of Americans that the way to jump-start the economy is to slash taxes on the wealthy and on cash-hoarding corporations while cutting benefits for millions of Americans.

“It’s fun-house math that can’t work. We’ll need both tax increases and sensible entitlement cuts to get back on track.”

SIEGEL:

They don’t want you to know that the “1%”, as they like to label us, pay more than 31% of all the taxes in this country.

Thomas Jefferson, the author of our great Constitution, once said, “democracy” will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.”

Business is at the heart of America and always has been. To restart it, you must stimulate business, not kill it.

However, the power brokers in Washington believe redistributing wealth is the essential driver of the American economic engine. Nothing could be further from the truth and this is the type of change they want.

COMMENTARY:

“The man who builds a factory,” said President Calvin Coolidge, “builds a temple. “And the man who works there, worships there.”

Most corporate CEOs still believe this–and Siegel is clearly one of them. But there is no reason for the rest of us to embrace this self-defeating philosophy.

THIS IS YOUR BOSS: VOTE LIKE I SAY – PART TWO (OF FOUR)

In Business, Politics, Social commentary on October 18, 2012 at 12:00 am

David Siegel is the founder and chief executive of Westgate Resorts, the largest privately owned time-share company in the world.

And he’s building the biggest home in the U.S., a 90,000-square-foot Florida palace he calls Versailles.

Recently he took time off to tell his 7,000 employees how to vote. And to threaten them with dismissal if his Presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, loses the election.

On October 8, he sent out the following memo.  To which I offer commentary where required.

SIEGEL:

Just think about this – most of you arrive at work in the morning and leave that afternoon and the rest of your time is yours to do as you please. But not me – there is no “off” button for me.

When you leave the office, you are done and you have a weekend all to yourself. I unfortunately do not have that freedom.

I eat, live, and breathe this company every minute of the day, every day of the week. There is no rest. There is no weekend. There is no happy hour.

I know many of you work hard and do a great job, but I’m the one who has to sign every check, pay every expense, and make sure that this company continues to succeed.

Unfortunately, what most people see is the nice house and the lavish lifestyle. What the press certainly does not want you to see, is the true story of the hard work and sacrifices I’ve made.

COMMENTARY:

According to The Corrupt Society, by the late and distinguished British historian Robert Payne:

“Power and wealth are the main sources of corruption.

“The rich, simply by being rich, are infected with corruption.

“Their overwhelming desire is to grow richer, but they can do this only at the expense of those who are poorer than themselves.

“Their interests conflict with those of the overall society. They live sheltered from the constant anxieties of the poor, and thus cannot understand them. Nor do they try to.

“Inevitably they come to fear and distrust the poor, and, just as inevitably, their fear and distrust are translated into legislation that protects them against the poor.”

But Payne foresaw an even greater danger from the rich and powerful than their mere isolation from the rest of society:

“The mere presence of the rich is corrupting.

“Their habits, their moral codes, their delight in conspicuous consumption are permanent affronts to the rest of humanity.

“Vast inequalities of wealth are intolerable in any decent society.”

Writing in 1975, Payne noted that a third of the private wealth was possessed by less than 5% of the population–while about a fifth of the populace lived at the poverty level.

“The tendency is toward greater and greater concentrations of wealth in private hands.

“Unless this accumulation is checked by law or by violent social change, about two-thirds of the national wealth will be in the hands of 5% of the population in the year 2000.”

At the same time, more than half the population would be below or near the starvation level.

“These estimates portend disaster,” warned Payne.

Payne has proven to be an uncanny prophet.

On November 1, 2011, Forbes magazine reported that, in 2007, the richest 1% of the American population owned 34.6% of the country’s total wealth, and the next 19% owned 50.5%.

Thus, the top 20% of Americans owned 85% of the country’s wealth and the bottom 80% of the population owned 15%.

SIEGEL:

Now, the economy is falling apart and people like me who made all the right decisions and invested in themselves are being forced to bail out all the people who didn’t.

The people that overspent their paychecks suddenly feel entitled to the same luxuries that I earned and sacrificed 42 years of my life for.

COMMENTARY:

Mitt Romney gave this speech on May 17–the infamous “47%” rant against those who don’t comprise the privileged 1%.  Among its most memorable lines:

“All right, there are 47%…who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it. That that’s an entitlement….

“And so my job is not to worry about those people—I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

Put more concisely: “I’ve got mine–so screw you, Jack.”

Of course, Romney said this when he didn’t know a camera was rolling. He wanted money from his wealthy donors–and votes from the “99%” he and his fellow one-percenters so despise.

Siegel gives this rant in public because he’s not seeking to win votes from the “lower orders.”  He just wants to tyrannize his employees.

SIEGEL:

Yes, business ownership has its benefits, but the price I’ve paid is steep and not without wounds.

COMMENTARY:

Oh, no, pity the poor rich guy.  How many of his “friends” worked at jobs that barely paid enough for them to live from paycheck to paycheck?

THIS IS YOUR BOSS: VOTE LIKE I SAY – PART ONE (OF FOUR)

In Business, Politics, Social commentary on October 17, 2012 at 12:00 am

David Siegel is the founder and chief executive of Westgate Resorts, the largest privately owned time-share company in the world.

With his wife, Jackie, he’s building the biggest home in the U.S., a 90,000-square-foot Florida palace they call Versailles.

“King David” Siegel relaxes atop his throne

But he isn’t so busy that he can’t take time off to tell his 7,000 employees how to vote.  And to threaten them with dismissal if his Presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, loses the election.

On October 8, he sent out the following memo. To which I offer commentary where required.

Subject: Message from David Siegel

Date: Mon, 08 Oct 2012 13:58:05 -0400 (EDT)

From: [David Siegel]

To: All My Valued Employees,

As most of you know our company, Westgate Resorts, has continued to succeed in spite of a very dismal economy. There is no question that the economy has changed for the worse and we have not seen any improvement over the past four years.

In spite of all of the challenges we have faced, the good news is this:  The economy doesn’t currently pose a threat to your job.

What does threaten your job however, is another 4 years of the same Presidential administration.

Of course, as your employer, I can’t tell you whom to vote for, and I certainly wouldn’t interfere with your right to vote for whomever you choose.

In fact, I encourage you to vote for whomever you think will serve your interests the best.

However, let me share a few facts that might help you decide what is in your best interest. The current administration and members of the press have perpetuated an environment that casts employers against employees.

They want you to believe that we live in a class system where the rich get richer, the poor get poorer.

They label us the “1%” and imply that we are somehow immune to the challenges that face our country. This could not be further from the truth.

COMMENTARY:

Of course America has a class system–we, as a nation, simply refuse to acknowledge it. Of course, under this system, the rich do get richer and the poor do get poorer.

Unearned income–such as from investments–isn’t taxed, while earned income–which comes from actually working–is. 

Neither the press nor the administration has to “cast employers against employees”–the tax system alone does that.

And according to the top 1% richest Americans:

  • It’s only “class warfare” when those who aren’t well-off demand a bigger slice of the pie.
  • It isn’t “class warfare” when those who, like Siegel, can afford to build a 90,000-square-foot palace while the vast majority of their fellow citizens are living paycheck-to-paycheck.
  • And it’s not “class warfare” when that privileged 1% demand even more–even when this comes from those far less fortunate than themselves.

SIEGEL:

Sure, you may have heard about the big home that I’m building. I’m sure many people think that I live a privileged life. However, what you don’t see or hear is the true story behind any success that I have achieved.

David Siegel’s “big home” version of “Versailles”

I started this company over 42 years ago. At that time, I lived in a very modest home. I converted my garage into an office so I could put forth 100% effort into building a company, which by the way, would eventually employ you.

We didn’t eat in fancy restaurants or take expensive vacations because every dollar I made went back into this company.

I drove an old used car, and often times, I stayed home on weekends, while my friends went out drinking and partying. In fact, I was married to my business — hard work, discipline, and sacrifice.

Meanwhile, many of my friends got regular jobs. They worked 40 hours a week and made a nice income, and they spent every dime they earned.

They drove flashy cars and lived in expensive homes and wore fancy designer clothes. My friends refinanced their mortgages and lived a life of luxury.

I, however, did not. I put my time, my money, and my life into this business —-with a vision that eventually, some day, I too, will be able to afford to buy whatever I wanted.  Even to this day, every dime I earn goes back into this company.

Over the past four years I have had to stop building my dream house, cut back on all of my expenses, and take my kids out of private schools simply to keep this company strong and to keep you employed.

COMMENTARY:

What a tragedy! He had to stop building his dream house and even take his ultra-privileged kids out of private school!

Horrors! They actually had to rub elbows with children whose parents can’t afford a 90,000-square-foot palace that masquerades as a house.

Millions of Americans have sent their children to public schools–and continue to do so. Millions of them have lived–and continue to live–highly productive lives. 

CLASS WARFARE: A LESSON FOR MITT ROMNEY

In History, Politics, Social commentary on July 31, 2012 at 8:30 am

A new book sheds unprecedented light on President Barack Obama’s “secret wars and surprising use of American power.”

It’s Confront and Conceal, by David E. Sanger, the chief Washington correspondent for The New York Times.

Confront and Conceal: Obama's Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power

Divided into five sections, it dramatically covers the following subjects:

Part 1:  Afghanistan and Pakistan – How Obama has sought to disengage from the former while readying plans to occupy the latter should its growing nuclear arsenal pose a threat to America.

Part 2: Iran – To prevent the Iranians from building nuclear weapons, Obama authorized a malevolent virus to be inserted into that nation’s computer system.

Part 3: Drones and Cyber – American drone attacks have wiped out much of Al Qaeda’s leadership–but increasingly strained U.S. relations with Pakistan.  And while America has launched cyber attacks on Iran, it remains vulnerable to similar attacks–especially by China.

Part 4: Arab Spring – America was totally surprised by the popular revolts sweeping the Arab world.  And Obama had to balance  showing support for the revolutionaries against jeopardizing America’s longtime Arab–and dictatorial–allies.

Part 5: China and North Korea – With the United States financially strained to meet its worldwide military commitments, Obama had to use a combination of persuasion and containment against both these potential adversaries.

Concentrating on America’s foreign policy in the age of Obama, the book says nothing about the 2012 Presidential race.  Yet, in its section on the Arab Spring, there is an unintended warning to Mitt Romney and his right-wing followers.

Sanger analyzes why the vast majority of Egyptians felt no solidarity with Hosni Mubarak, the general/dictator who ruled Egypt since October, 1981.  He came to power after fundamentalists assassinated President Anwar Sadat during a military review.

Mubarack often warned Washington that only he could prevent Egypt from being dominated by fundamentalist, anti-American groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood.

But, writes Sanger, he achieved the very opposite:

“By leaving his citizens without a social safety net, by failing to invest in the country’s crumbling infastructure…he paved the way for the Brotherhood’s success….

“In a land where the state delivers so little, even the smallest [medical] clinic” as provided by the Brotherhood “will win respect and loyalty.

“So when it came time to vote, most Egyptians decided to cast their ballots for candidates they knew could provide something–Islamist or not, it almost didn’t matter….”

One such Brotherhood supporter, who grew up in the poor, agricultural region of Beni Suef, was quoted as saying:

“The Muslim Brotherhood came into my village, and brought lorries of fruits and vegetables,” selling them at discounted prices.  “They supported medical clinics”–and thus won the hearts of the people they served.

Fast forward to Mitt Romney, the presumed Republican Presidential nominee, and his vision for America.

As Romney sees it, questions about Wall Street scandals and income inequality are driven only by “envy.”

On January 11–after winning the New Hampshire primary–Romney appeared on NBC’s “The Today Show.”  Host Matt Lauer noted that many Americans were concerned “about the distribution of wealth and power in this country.”

“I think it’s about envy,” replied Romney, whose own fortune has been conservatively estimated at $250 million.  “I think it’s about class warfare.

“I think when you have a president encouraging the idea of dividing America based on 99 percent versus one percent… you’ve opened up a whole new wave of approach in this country which is entirely inconsistent with the concept of ‘one nation under God.'”

Romney added that it wasn’t necessary to have a public debate about the inequality of wealth distribution in this country.

“I think it’s fine to talk about those things in quiet rooms and discussions about tax policy and the like,” Romney said. “But the president has made this part of his campaign rally.

“Everywhere he goes we hear him talking about millionaires and billionaires and executives and Wall Street. It’s a very envy-oriented, attack-oriented approach and I think it’ll fail.”

Romney did not mention that, in 2007, the richest 1% of the American populace–of which he is a member–owned 34.6% of the country’s total wealth, and the next 19% owned 50.5%.

Thus, the top 20% of Americans owned 85% of the country’s wealth and the bottom 80% of the population owned 15%.

Romney claimed that Obama’s focus on this issue was just “part of his campaign rally.”

Clearly, now-ousted rulers like Mubarak and Muammar Quaddaffi believed “it’s fine to talk about these things” like vast differences in wealth “in quiet rooms.”  That is, so long as they and their 1% rich supporters were doing the talking.

But over time their remoteness from the vast majority of their impoverished fellow citizens sealed their doom.  When enough people broke into open revolt, even the military decided to change sides.

Mubarack was forced to resign, and Quaddaffi–after waging war against his own people–was captured and murdered.

If Romney’s vision of “everything for the 1%” is allowed to prevail, he and his ultra-privileged supporters may truly learn the lessons of class warfare. 

%d bloggers like this: