Ban the Billionaires?

The idea that the rich have too much wealth at the expense of everyone else has taken off in recent months. There’s even talk of “banning billionaires” and there are extremely popular policy proposals looking to significantly raise taxes on the ultra-rich coming from legislators like Senator Elizabeth Warren and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Americans have supported raising taxes on the rich for a long time. But the ultra-rich, Republicans, and anti-tax extremists like Grover Norquist have kept that popular sentiment at bay. Partly with rhetoric about “freedom” and partly by philanthropic deeds, not to mention a right-wing media ecosystem (itself full of rich pundits) that portrays them as benevolent, self-made geniuses.

Then came Lord Dampnut.

With (self-proclaimed) billionaire Donald Trump occupying the White House and daily revealing what a profound moron and amoral con-man he is, the veil has been torn off. It’s easier to see that many billionaires are grifters that at best, stumbled into their wealth rather than the self-made entrepreneurs that we’ve been told they are.

Before, Americans wanted to tax the rich to pay for specific policies like Medicare-for-all, public college, and repairing infrastructure. Now, Americans are beginning to see it as a moral issue. These days, the reasoning goes that taxing the ultra-wealthy will tamp down extreme wealth inequality. They believe that someone shouldn’t start out with that much of an advantage in life, especially given what kind of people they turn out to be.

It’s a truism in American politics that there’s a natural tendency for public opinion to swing in opposition to whichever party is in power. Still, I think it’s fair to say that the public’s reaction to Trump has been more intense than it would’ve been under a President Jeb Bush. Trump has energized liberals and progressives on issues, like women’s rights, in resistance to the president, which has inspired record numbers of women to run for public office.

There are also other factors, such as outrage over the Great Recession, the Occupy Wall Street protests, and Senator Bernie Sanders’ 2016 campaign which focused heavily on wealth inequality pushing the Democratic Party (the rank-and-file at any rate) to the left regarding economics. Also, our rich president, his super-rich Cabinet, and the millionaires on mainstream news TV have repeatedly demonstrated how out of touch they are with regular people when it comes to financial issues.

Finally, Trump has set himself apart from all other modern presidents by keeping his tax returns secret, bringing up daily questions about what he is trying to hide. Inadvertently shining a constant light on how the rich often get away with not paying their fair share.

Lord of the Lattes

Howard Schultz, the former Starbucks CEO, current wannabe presidential candidate, and insanely rich person, doesn’t want you to use the term “billionaire” when talking about him or other insanely rich people.

Schultz, whose presidential platform currently consists of: less taxes for me, no healthcare for you, and buy my book please, was asked if he thought billionaires had too much power in America on Monday at a book event hosted by CNBC host and New York Times reporter Andrew Ross Sorkin.

Schultz responded:

“The moniker ‘billionaire’ now has become the catchphrase. I would rephrase that and say that ‘people of means’ have been able to leverage their wealth and their interest in ways that are unfair, and I think that speaks to the inequality but it also speaks to the special interests that are paid for people of wealth and corporations who are looking for influence.”

I seem to recall the Republicans trying to do something like this with “job creators” and it not going all that well. In fact, I would like to propose a new policy where every time Howard Schultz says something profoundly tone deaf, the top marginal tax rate goes up another 2%.

It doesn’t appear Schultz noticed the irony that he is a billionaire – sorry, “person of means” – who is able to leverage their wealth into getting undue amounts of press and TV time trying to become a presidential contender. All this despite having no political experience or any sense of self awareness.

Currently, Howard Schultz’s approval ratings among Democrats, Republicans, and Independents is hovering around 4%.

I have a better idea for an alternate term for billionaire: “rich fuck”

But why is the Medium “Grande”?

There’s been a lot of talk over the last several months of a number of multi-billionaires thinking about throwing their hats in the ring for president in 2020.  Michael Bloomberg has reportedly thinking of running in the Democratic Party as an alternative to all the crazy lefties and progressives running (good luck with that), and on Sunday, Howard Schultz, the former CEO of Starbucks, launched some trial balloons to gauge interest in his run. In his case as a “centrist independent.”

Yeah, Schultz is apparently one of those insufferable “above it all” centrists that think political disagreements are just petty squabbles that can be solved through finding the “middle ground.” You know, like the middle ground between putting migrant children in prison camps and…not.

What the hell are these guys thinking? Do they really think that voters, particularly Democrats and Independents, are yearning for another egotistical rich dude to sit in the White House after the disaster that has been the Trump Regime?

The idea of “running the government like a business” has been a popular trope with Republicans for years, but given how that philosophy has been going under recent Republican administrations, it seems that experiment has failed. I don’t think that idea has a chance of resonating with people who are going to be selecting the next Democratic nominee for president, especially after Dubya and Lord Dampnut.

Granted, both George W. Bush and Donald Trump are failed businessmen; Bush couldn’t find oil in Texas and Trump went bankrupt running casinos, but I think most people, especially on the left, recognize that the government isn’t supposed to be a money making enterprise. The government is supposed to serve its citizens.

Republicans have been trying to privatize the United States Postal Service for years but have been stymied because enough people understand that the Post Office isn’t supposed to make money. They get that the Post Office is supposed to deliver mail everywhere in the U.S. regardless of where you live, and privatizing it will encumber that mission with a profit motive.

America is going to have to do a lot to un-fuck itself once Trump’s reign is finally over. It’s going to need an actual leader who cares about doing the right thing for the people. What it doesn’t need is someone who’s main skill is putting a lot of money in their bank account, or someone who serves them in an effort to get more money in theirs.