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Wells writes: "'Too much money' sounds like an oxymoron, especially when applied to American politics. But in the last week, Republicans are beginning to learn that lots of money can have its downside."

Mitt Romney and wife Ann jet-ski on Lake Winnipesaukee in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. (photo: Charles Dharapak/AP)
Mitt Romney and wife Ann jet-ski on Lake Winnipesaukee in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. (photo: Charles Dharapak/AP)



Romney: Of Billionaires, for Billionaires, by Billionaires

By Robin Wells, Guardian UK

12 July 12

 

oo much money" sounds like an oxymoron, especially when applied to American politics. But in the last week, Republicans are beginning to learn that lots of money can have its downside. Thursday's story that Romney may have actively directed Bain Capital three years longer than he claimed – a period in which Bain Capital-managed companies experienced bankruptcies and layoffs – caps what must be the worst weekly news cycle of any modern American presidential candidate. From images of corporate raiding, to luxury speedboats, to offshore accounts in the Cayman Islands, to mega-mansions in the Hamptons, this week's stories suggest that the candidacy of Mitt Romney – poster-boy for the symbiotic relationship between big money and the modern Republican party – is in serious trouble.

Last weekend's photos of the Romney clan on a luxury speedboat cruising around a lake in New Hampshire, where their multimillion-dollar compound sits, were startling in their tone-deafness. And just to make sure the sentiment wasn't lost on anyone, at a campaign event the same week, Obama recounted childhood memories of touring the US with his grandmother by Greyhound bus, even the thrill of staying at a Howard Johnson motel. In a smart political calculation, the Obamas chose to forgo their annual summer vacation in Cape Cod (a nice upper-middle class vacation spot, mind you, but nowhere near the same league as the Romney estate). Instead, Obama was photographed visiting a senior citizens' home in the battleground state of Ohio.

And the hits kept coming. Next, Vanity Fair published an article listing the Romneys' various offshore investment accounts worth potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in the secretive tax havens of Cayman Islands and Bermuda, as well as a since-closed Swiss bank account. Democrats stoked the predictable outrage from the revelations. On the Sunday ABC news program "This Week", Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley thundered:

"Mitt Romney bets against America. He bet against America when he put his money in Swiss bank accounts and tax havens and shelters."

On the same program, Bobbie Jindal, Republican governor of Louisiana, could only lamely respond:

"In terms of Governor Romney's financial success, I'm happy that he's a successful businessman."

While there is no evidence that the Romneys illegally evaded taxes through their various offshore accounts (their secretiveness making it impossible to tell), the reek of entitlement became overwhelming when it was revealed that the Romneys had accumulated somewhere between $20m and $101m in an "IRA", a tax-advantaged retirement account designed for middle-class savers, limited to a few thousand dollars a year contribution. As one commenter parried, "I may be stupid, but I ain't no fool." In other words, we might be too stupid to understand how Romney was able to obtain all these tax breaks legally, but we aren't fooled about unfairness of it all.

Well, at this point, you might of think that the next sighting of Romney would be of him clothed in ash-cloth ladling out soup at an inner-city soup kitchen. But no. Next, we were regaled with the New York Times story of a lavish fundraiser in the Hamptons hosted by the infamous David Koch, the billionaire benefactor of conservative causes. The optics were worse than bad, as the the Times recounted how one woman in a Range Rover, idling in a 30-deep line of cars waiting for entry, yelled to a Romney aide, "Is there a VIP entrance? We are VIP."

Romney was expected to haul in several million dollars from his trip to wine and dine with the billionaires of the Hamptons. But why risk confirming the very message that Democrats have been hammering upon: that Romney is a super-wealthy elitist whose objective is to further the interests of the 0.01%?

Certainly, billionaires for Romney would have given him those millions without the face-time and the photo-ops, the chance to dress up and be seen. And to be heckled by Occupy Wall Street protesters and parodied by reporters. What is so very puzzling about the whole episode is the sheer in-your-face-ness of it.

Yet, perhaps that is the point. As a very perceptive article in the New York Magazine, Lisa Miller describes how new psychological research indicates that wealth erodes empathy with others. In the "Money-Empathy Gap", Miller cites one researcher who says that:

"The rich are way more likely to prioritize their own self-interests above the interests of other people. It makes the more likely to exhibit characteristics that we would stereotypically associate with, say, assholes."

Researchers found a consistent correlation between higher income, management responsibility and disagreeableness. One researcher interpreted her findings to imply that money makes people disinterested in the welfare of others. "It's not a bad analogy to think of them as a little autistic" says Kathleen Vos, a professor at the University of Minnesota.

If this research is accurate (as it seems to be, replicated in various ways by several researches), the synergies between it, the increasing concentration of wealth and the Citizens United ruling, have striking implications for the future of the Republican party. As Newt Gingrich, the uber-southern politician, plaintively explained how he lost the Republican primary: "Romney had 16 billionaires. I had only one." The domination by the super-wealthy means that Republicans not only have no interest in the welfare of the rest of the 99.9%, they have no understanding of why this is a problem. The noblesse oblige days of the old money, such as the Bushes, the Kennedys and the Roosevelts are long gone, replaced by the new mega-money of hedge funds, corporate raiders and global industrialists.

How else can one explain the allegiance of the Republican party to the profoundly unpopular Ryan tax plan, which would eviscerate Medicare and Medicaid while delivering more tax cuts to the rich? What is the future of a party in a democracy when the powers-that-be can no longer even understand, much less address, the welfare of the vast majority of its citizens?

Taking the hint, the Obama administration is finally positioning itself on the firmly on the side of progressives, attacking income inequality and holding Republicans accountable for their assaults on the middle and working classes. How ironic it would be if, after all, the other side's big money is the answer to the Democrats' prayers.

 

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+17 # BeaDeeBunker 2012-07-13 00:04
Okay, so it turns out that the 'new rich' are proven to be "assholes." We knew that from the get go.
Okay, so the scientific studies prove that as you get richer and richer, you lose your ability to empathize with the 'other' in direct, or near direct proportion to the wealth you have stashed away in tax free havens. We knew that too; it was just a feeling in our gut.
Okay, so the story of King Midas, and his Midas touch, might be a story that carries a worthy moral tale, and might just be the downfall of the mega-rich, and with them the Republican Party. So there might be poetic justice after all.

The real question is whether the synergistic effects of all these wake-up calls, will wake up enough true Americans in time for them to wipe the cobwebs from their eyes, upchuck the kool-ade, and get to the polls in time to vote, if they still have the right to vote!
 
 
+14 # Ralph Averill 2012-07-13 03:41
"The noblesse oblige days of the old money, such as the Bushes, the Kennedys and the Roosevelts are long gone."
The Bushes?! Noblesse oblige? All I can think of is Barbara Bush's comment post-Katrina that the people in the New Orleans Superdome were on a kind of holiday, a camping trip.
 
 
-7 # RMDC 2012-07-13 04:41
None of this really matters. Money wins elections. Wisconsin proved that. The Kochs and their cohort control US politics. Romney may be the poster-boy for the ugly rich, but so were the Bushes and they had no problem getting GW elected twice. Remember Bush telling a group of millionaires and billionaires that "you are my base."

It is the same with democrats. Obama is the candidate of big banks like Goldman Sachs and big corporations. He's a lot more attractive than Romney but in the end he is just the same. The same money controls both the democrats and the republicans.

In some ways, Romney is better for America. The left has pretty much been silenced by Obama. They are afraid to criticize him. But Romney will activate them in just the way that GW Bush did. The public discussion of corruption and imperialism will return to the forefront under a Romney presidency. Romney will be a Cheney in the Whore House. All of his dealings with business and banks will be much more out in the open than it will ever be with Obama in the Whore House.

If America is to survive, it must bring its military-indust rial-banking-co mplex under control. It must regulate them in the public interest. It is nearly impossible to talk about Obama as an imperialits and capitalist tool. With Romney all that will be obvious and few will be afraid to say it.
 
 
+3 # BeaDeeBunker 2012-07-13 12:44
[quote name="RMDC"]

"In some ways, Romney is better for America."

"If America is to survive, it must bring its military-indust rial-banking-co mplex under control. It must regulate them in the public interest."

The logic of your thinking escapes me. First you say that there are some ways that Romney as President would be good for America. Then you spell out the 'only' way America can survive.

If the solution you spell out is the only way America is to survive, then there is ABSOLUTELY no way that would happen under Romney, and therefore no way that Romney would be better for America. There seems to be no logic at all to your analysis of the situation. They must be putting something in the water supply there in DC.
 
 
+1 # thomachuck 2012-07-14 05:13
For me, it is a little academic to debate whether catering to big money interests is better done in bright sunlight than it is in closed rooms. Politics sucks; so said George Washington (although he did not use those words, obviously) and it is ruining our government. To say that Democrats are afraid to criticize Obama is not supported by reality. Look at Southern Democrats. Johnson said when he signed the Civil Rights Act that "we have delivered the South to the Republicans." He was right.
 
 
+14 # tuandon 2012-07-13 05:49
I commented before...Make these people work for $7.25/hr for a couple of years, with no benefits and no hope of improvement, and deny them access to their money. THEN listen to the tune they sing. Get these parasites off our backs!
 
 
+4 # humactdoc 2012-07-13 05:50
Are the disagreeable billionaires people who externalize their self esteem in the form of "money will make me happy"? Gathering money is their modus operandi (MO) for happiness. This money gathering is falsely feeding and externalizing an internal emotional need that is dependent on internal serenity. Lack of self esteem drives money gathering at all cost. Corrupt, impersonal and selfish thinking and acts are rationalized as needed to gather more money and make one happy. This negative emotional drives one further away from a state of internal serenity, i.e. makes one more unhappy. Thus goal of making money is to make these people happy but their negative behavior to get money and others reaction to that behavior creates more unhappiness. Then, the realization that others could be corrupt to get the money = happiness person's money gets emotionally amplified to a state of paranoia. This unhappy state drives further extremes of money gathering which creates a vicious cycle.
This is my theory of obsessive psychopathic money makers.
Romney is a money=power=hap piness=bully. "Anything for a buck" and "leave no prisoners" are the moto's of this MO.
 
 
-7 # 4merlib 2012-07-14 09:11
The disagreeable wealthy are people like George Soros, John Edwards, Ted Kennedy, and even Barack Obama, who make their money one way or another, and then try to make sure nobody else can get rich like them.
 
 
-25 # MidwestTom 2012-07-13 06:41
When you think about it one can probably name many different people that are worth at least $250million. I used to work fora one. Consider Tom Cruse, Drew Breeze, Shaq, the kids who created Facebook. The really wealthy are the Billionaires like Kaiser Francis, who who is a big Obama fan and got the government (that is you and me) to guarantee his investment in the failed solar outfit Solantra.
 
 
+10 # Feral Dogz 2012-07-13 11:21
Quoting MidwestTom:
When you think about it one can probably name many different people that are worth at least $250million. I used to work fora one. Consider Tom Cruse, Drew Breeze, Shaq, the kids who created Facebook. The really wealthy are the Billionaires like Kaiser Francis, who who is a big Obama fan and got the government (that is you and me) to guarantee his investment in the failed solar outfit Solantra.


MidwestTom, You really should do a little research before you post your propaganda.

Do you mean Solyndra, the solar panel manufacturer that was backed by the Bush admin. and killed by the Chinese dumping cheap solar panels on the U.S. market? Following this disaster, the current admin. put tariffs on Chinese panels.

Do you mean George Kaiser, one of the worlds wealthiest oil men who champions ending govt. oil subsidies and using that money to reduce tax burdens on ordinary people? Kaiser is among those who have made The Giving Pledge, a commitment to give away half of his wealth for charitable purposes. Among his prominent causes is fighting childhood poverty through the George Kaiser Family Foundation.

Fed loan guarantees did not cover private investments from Kaiser and others. More Fox news lies.
 
 
-26 # jimattrell 2012-07-13 07:56
Who would I rather have as President? A successful role model who will encourage our youth to create wealth and jobs and become successful? Or a President who takes (borrowed) money from the middle class and ships it overseas as part of a stimulus program? That's a no-brainer. http://thenewamerican.com/usnews/politics/item/12039-obama-stimulus-funding-goes-abroad-outsources-jobs
 
 
+19 # humactdoc 2012-07-13 08:16
Neither one truthfully or objectively describes President Obama or Romney.
 
 
+17 # jwb110 2012-07-13 11:22
Bobbie Jindal, Republican governor of Louisiana, could only lamely respond:

"In terms of Governor Romney's financial success, I'm happy that he's a successful businessman."

Business men are not necessarily good Presidents. A Democracy is not a business is it a system of gov't whose purpose is to guarantee all it's citizens rights, responsibilitie s, and welfare. Clearly the Party of Big Business has lost sight of this. For that reason alone their candidate is not worthy of the office.
 
 
0 # thomachuck 2012-07-14 05:24
Your observations are good ones. Good businesspeople can have lousy judgment. It's worth remembering also that no matter which party holds the White House, the president is going to consult business analysts and economists big time; even if "he knows how to read a balance sheet." Political judgment is usually the lens through which a president views economically important choices. So if you are wrong politically, you can be very wrong economically, particularly when masses of people are hurting. Businesspeople are often expansive and generous and prefer to exercise this largesse through charitable donations rather than when they sign their Form 1040. In the end, you have to decide what kind of country you want to live in. Republicans are painting their vision of a return to the late 18th Century. Very scary to me. And certainly social injustice. After all the middle class has worked for over these many decades--pretty sad and shortsighted.
 
 
-3 # 4merlib 2012-07-14 09:06
If social injustice means less of the government taking peoples' money away and giving it to others, then you have a point. The "return to the late 18th Century" that you refer to is almost entirely bogus though, unless you mean a time when Americans loved their country and felt good about the future. Nothing to be scared of at all. What we should be scared of is the left's vision of the late 20th century, 1984 in particular. Fortunately, the people are starting to wake up to this horror and are about to put it out of its misery.
 
 
+3 # Susan1989 2012-07-14 09:04
Romney has no soul, no heart....he is a chilling robot. Has anyone noticed that he rarely makes eye contact...that his eyes have no substance behind them.
 
 
+3 # michelle 2012-07-14 09:50
and look at the photo at the top of the page. What a metaphor for Romney. Notice someone else is in the driver's seat.
 

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