Friday, November 03, 2006

I Snort at Millionaires!

Nast cartoon, brains of TammanyForbes notes -- a little too gleefully, as would be the wont of smirking capitalists -- that this year for the first time, its list of The 400 Richest Americans includes only billionaires. Or, as the lead puts it, "A nine-figure fortune won't get you much mention these days, at least not here."

While that was percolating, so to speak, in the brain, an advertising jingle on the radio I hadn't heard in years reinforced this. The Chock Full o' Nuts coffee slogan for decades was "Better coffee a millionaire's money can't buy."

Sure enough, the traditional morning beverage of Manhattan and Brooklyn workers has upped its ante 1,000 times.

This completes the shift meaningful to us early Boomers. We saw The Millionaire on TV, which now seems so dated that Michael Anthony would present an overwhelmed recipient with a tax-free check for $1 million. Then, for better or generally worse, it totally altered the person's life. Now, of course, the response might well be, "That's all?"

Now the culture accepts that young men in shorts or pads can become billionaires playing games and wearing branded t-shirts. Mediocre crooners and screamers can be too.

In this country, we can look to:
  • Obscene self-interest by the wealthiest of us to the exclusion of everyone else.
  • The absurd pretense that most wealth is proof of hard work or keen brain power instead of birth privilege, subsequent connections or just plain luck.
  • Extreme and growing concentration of wealth at the highest levels, while what used to be upper middle class and below earn less annually in real terms.
  • Hoarding of wealth in a rejection of the American ideal of sharing it and bettering the nation.
  • Fighting against fair taxes that the rest of the industrialized world extracts from its wealthiest.
  • Acceptance of the inequities by most Americans in the vain hope they might join the rich guys' club.
We have become increasingly a nation of window lickers, seeing but not sharing as the rich feast out of reach.

The rich folk who make up most of Congress and much of the Executive Branch also make the rules for taxes and public services distribution. Whom should we suppose they would favor?

Even if Democrats get the edge in both houses next week, we have to recall that they have vested interests that often coincide with the most political conservative when it comes to money, their money. Bwah ha ha ha.

A better nation a billionaire's money won't bother to buy.

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