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Posts Tagged ‘Billionaires’

Like the phases of the moon, our country has slowly moved from embracing conservative, anti- (big)-government ideology toward a more socialist democracy, and back again. In the 18th Century, we threw off the mantle of a king, and instituted checks and balances with our elected leaders in Congress. It was working pretty well for awhile and our political ship was trending toward starboard.

Then in 1994, Newt Gingrich happened.

Wanting to bring back orphanages was actually not a part of Newt’s “Contract with America,” he was just “thinking aloud.” Wanting to build more prisons and give tax breaks to millionaires was! He started complaining about “big media,” and comparing Democrats to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Sound familiar?

“The states’ main fear is that if the federal government could not legally run a deficit, it would simply pass on safety, environmental, health, and other obligations to the states, without giving them the money to pay for new programs. Congress’s habit of enacting “unfunded mandates” has been the major strain on state budgets in the last decade. A federal balanced-budget amendment would likely make it worse.”

His nightmare scenario has come true, Mr T passes on everything, including his responsibility, in this public health emergency to the states. When I watched Gov Andrew Cuomo in his  daily presser, complain about having to get in a bidding war with other states just to acquire life-saving PPE and ventilators, I thought we were deranged… and when he said FEMA would jump in and UP the price even more, I knew we were deranged and possibly doomed.

I remembered reporting on Rumson Borough Council meetings in the 90s, how this Republican group of mostly old, white men waxed on about unfunded federal mandates. They choked at the idea. And just the other day, Mitch McConnell (a modern day Newt) told states to declare bankruptcy??

This morning I found this article about a billionaire enlightening in a creepy way. How does American capitalism work, how should business work; for the greater good, or for their investors’ greater bank accounts?  https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/28/business/coronavirus-marc-benioff-salesforce.html?action=click&module=News&pgtype=Homepage

In a nutshell, The Chancellor of the University of California San Francisco could see the writing on the wall in early March. Cases of Covid were starting to skyrocket and he knew his medical center’s supply of PPE was low. So he called his buddy, the billionaire and “hyper-connected” donor, Marc Benioff, the CEO of Salesforce.

“…that phone call set off a frenzied effort by Mr. Benioff and his team that drew in major companies like FedEx, Walmart, Uber and Alibaba. In a matter of weeks, Mr. Benioff’s team spent more than $25 million to procure more than 50 million pieces of protective equipment. Fifteen million units have already been delivered to hospitals, medical facilities and states, and more are on the way.

The relative ease with which Salesforce acquired so much protective gear stands in sharp contrast to the often chaotic government efforts. While states have had to compete against each other for scarce supplies and the strategic national stockpile of protective gear is depleted, Mr. Benioff and his team simply called up their business partners in China and started writing checks.”

 

Some might call Mr Benioff a saint, but while I found his actions altruistic, I was concerned that our country had to depend on his beneficence. Do we live in a democracy with a small “d” or is this an oligarchy, or a kleptocracy?

I sent a box of Lysol wipes and Formula 409 out to the Rocker and Aunt Kiki in LA last week, and somebody stole most of the contents en route. We are making masks in our kitchen and we can’t find disinfectant wipes, but Benioff can find a warehouse full of N95 masks from China in LA? To make matters worse, Republicans are still trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act. https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2020/03/republicans-could-kill-obamacare-in-the-middle-of-coronavirus-recovery

As our quarantine wanes piecemeal, state by state, we must remember this time in history when governors had to beg to save peoples’ lives.

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Reality is a fluid thing when your president attacks the press and sends his personal counsel on errands to create or approve a conspiracy. It leaves us walking along in a fog of Christmas cheer mixed with New Year dread – what’s next?

A soliloquy that screams of Lady Macbeth in the bathroom? “We have a situation where we’re looking very strongly at sinks and showers. And other elements of bathrooms….” said the leader of the free world, which just made me scratch my head. Is this the rambling of a demented mind? Move along, nothing to see here!

As we were entering the Vanderbilt auditorium last week, I noticed a small group of young men handing out flyers. Walking down Madison Avenue in NYC I’d usually just keep moving, wave them off saying, “No thanks,” but our small group of friends stopped to engage with the students on this chilly Nashville night. They were clean cut and sincere, they just wanted us to “know something:’ their flyer read:

“Why is Vanderbilt giving Steven Pinker a platform to speak?”   

Pinker, a Harvard Cognitive Psychologist, had a relationship with Jeffrey Epstein. Hmmm Epstein, Epstein now where had I heard that name? It took a few beats before the sleazy sex trafficker came to mind.

I mean I’ve been so impressed and astonished by the impeachment hearings I’d almost forgotten the poor guy, left alone in his cell by 2 sleeping guards. But like Prince Andrew, Pinker was being sullied by association with Epstein: by flying on his private jet the “Lolita Express;” by collaborating with Alan Dershowitz to manipulate the language of Epstein’s defense on child sex trafficking that resulted with a very generous plea deal; and by being photographed with him at a party after his conviction.

Why thank you students! I was on pins and needles during the Chancellor’s Lecture, waiting for a protest to erupt or Pinker to meltdown, but nothing happened. Absolutely nothing! Southern students have manners or tremendous restraint. So i went home and Googled the guy.

I didn’t know that Epstein courted scientists, that he had donated 6.5 Million to Harvard, helping to found the Program for Evolutionary Dynamics?! Did you know Epstein was a devout transhumanist who wanted to seed the world with his sperm and freeze his head and his penis when he died? Honestly, I was wondering if this news was legit. All I’d read about was his crazy relationship with the Victoria’s Secret’s CEO, Leslie Wexner.

But Epstein was throwing tons of parties with money, booze and girls for scientists on his island and in New Mexico. He was reviving eugenics.

“On multiple occasions starting in the early 2000s, Mr. Epstein told scientists and businessmen about his ambitions to use his New Mexico ranch as a base where women would be inseminated with his sperm and would give birth to his babies, according to two award-winning scientists and an adviser to large companies and wealthy individuals, all of whom Mr. Epstein told about it.

It was not a secret. The adviser, for example, said he was told about the plans not only by Mr. Epstein, at a gathering at his Manhattan townhouse, but also by at least one prominent member of the business community. One of the scientists said Mr. Epstein divulged his idea in 2001 at a dinner at the same townhouse; the other recalled Mr. Epstein discussing it with him at a 2006 conference that he hosted in St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands.”  https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/31/business/jeffrey-epstein-eugenics.html

In the New York Times article, Pinker disavows a relationship with Epstein, saying he thought he was an “intellectual imposter,” using adolescent humor to switch subjects if a conversation wasn’t going his way. Now who does that remind you of?

Last weekend I was recounting this example of student activism to a friend at a holiday party. We were two drinks in and the party was heating up when I heard a woman’s voice from across the room yell,

HE WAS MURDERED!”

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