Open Thread: The Flower of Our Modern Nobility

Oh, look, a bunch of adorable little baby chicks and bunnies for Easter:

Their name tags read like a catalog of the country’s wealthiest and most influential clans: Rockefeller, Pritzker, Marriott. They were there for a discreet, invitation-only summit hosted by the Obama administration to find common ground between the public sector and the so-called next-generation philanthropists, many of whom stand to inherit billions in private wealth.

“Moon shots!” one administration official said, kicking off the day on an inspirational note to embrace the White House as a partner and catalyst for putting their personal idealism into practice.

The well-heeled group seemed receptive. “I think it’s fantastic,” said Patrick Gage, a 19-year-old heir to the multibillion-dollar Carlson hotel and hospitality fortune. “I’ve never seen anything like this before.” Mr. Gage, physically boyish with naturally swooping Bieber bangs, wore a conservative pinstripe suit and a white oxford shirt. His family’s Carlson company, which owns Radisson hotels, Country Inns and Suites, T.G.I. Friday’s and other brands, is an industry leader in enforcing measures to combat trafficking and involuntary prostitution….

(Unworthy, ungrateful peasant snark: …Because the pimps are competing for our maids and dishwashers, dammit!)

Mr. Kalil moved nimbly among the affluent participants and through the ornate halls of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, where the summit was held. “A lot of this is not just, you know, collaborations between the administration and philanthropists,” he said, “but philanthropists finding each other, finding other philanthropists with shared interests.”

(Disclosure: Although the event was closed to the media, I was invited by the founders of Nexus, Jonah Wittkamper and Rachel Cohen Gerrol, to report on the conference as a member of the family that started the Johnson & Johnson pharmaceutical company.)

Policy experts and donors recognize that there’s no better time than now to empower young philanthropists. Professionals in the field, citing an Accenture report from 2012, estimate that more than $30 trillion in wealth will pass from baby boomers to younger generations by around 2050. At the same time, the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy (no relation to this reporter) and the nonprofit consulting group 21/64 have concluded in a recent study on philanthropic giving that heirs are becoming involved in family foundations at an earlier age — specifically in their 20s and 30s — and imprinting them with the social values of their generation….

Yes, for the record, I’m sure these young flowers of the American aristocracy have nothing but the best intentions. And yet, the fact that the White House is reduced to playing Match.com for the children of the Lucky Sperm Club still makes me stabby, because when I was that young I thought the Gilded Age was history.






71 replies
  1. 1
    Pogonip says:

    History repeats itself. Especially when a good portion of the population is functionally illiterate.

  2. 2
    Felonius Monk says:

    If nothing else, this proves that this country is in deep shit.

  3. 3
    Mnemosyne says:

    I dunno, I don’t have a huge problem with the White House encouraging rich jackasses to spread the wealth rather than promising them even more tax breaks. Nip any Koch tendencies in the bud now.

  4. 4
    Violet says:

    This fits in nicely with the new study that shows that the US. is no longer a democracy but an oligarchy:

    A new study from Princeton spells bad news for American democracy—namely, that it no longer exists.

    Asking “[w]ho really rules?” researchers Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page argue that over the past few decades America’s political system has slowly transformed from a democracy into an oligarchy, where wealthy elites wield most power.

  5. 5
    Betty Cracker says:

    I have an ideal channel for their idealism: They pay their fair fucking share. Pig spawn of swinish parents. Fuck the lot of them.

  6. 6
    maya says:

    Wonder if they’ll form a Philanthropist Action Committee?

  7. 7
    MikeJ says:

    @Mnemosyne: Agreed. Romney would have had the young rich to the White House for tell them how great Reardon steel was, not to get them to donate money to worthwhile causes.

    But I’m sure Clinton wouldn’t have been as déclassé as the usurping negro.

  8. 8
    NobodySpecial says:

    to find common ground between the public sector and the so-called next-generation philanthropists

    Get in good with the new owners, boys.

  9. 9
    Fuzzy says:

    @Betty Cracker: Right on. You should have to bring proof of paying millions in taxes before the white house asks for next years deductions. All they are doing is figuring out how to scam us out of more.

  10. 10
    Joel says:

    Jamie Johnson produced and directed “Born Rich”, among other critical pieces. In that context, Billmon’s criticism comes across as superficial at best.

  11. 11
    Linnaeus says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Definitely there are worse things that these heirs and heiresses could be doing with their money, both now and in the future. But what concerns me is how it seems that we, as a society, are looking more and more to private wealth to do what public resources used to do. And there’s a danger in allowing too many policy matters to be determined according to the priorities of wealthy funders.

  12. 12
    Cassidy says:

    Well, I’d rather they spend their money on trying to do good deeds instead of buying elections.

  13. 13
    srv says:

    Obama needs new dudebros as all those dinners with Krauthammer, et al, haven’t been working out.

    “All my ideas are electoral death” — Megan McArdle Death

    Seriously, that quote from Doug’s C-SPAN Brooksalooserla is just fucking comedy gold. That needs an honorary rotating tag line or somesuch.

  14. 14
    Ruckus says:

    @Betty Cracker:
    I like how you think!
    I’m not asking them to be poor, or even middle class. But if the tax rates and the estate tax were a bit higher they wouldn’t feel it at all and the country would be a lot better off.
    Now I just got back from walking to the store. About a mile each way in the sun. As I walked out of the store I saw a family sitting in their fairly new Rolls, motor running, A/C on of course. They looked about as lost as anyone has ever been, as the average age of the cars/pickups around here is probably at least 10-12 yrs old with faded paint and quite possibly 3 different colors from having body parts replaced from a scrap yard and never repainted. Even the newish cars have an average cost that is about 10% of a new Rolls.

  15. 15
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    This is appropriate to the Peeps Season (also, too, NSFW).

  16. 16
    JGabriel says:

    Mnemosyne:

    I dunno, I don’t have a huge problem with the White House encouraging rich jackasses to spread the wealth rather than promising them even more tax breaks.

    Seconded. They already have the money, or stand to inherit it. May as well encourage them to channel it in the right direction.

    Betty Cracker:

    I have an ideal channel for their idealism: They pay their fair fucking share.

    I agree, but I expect most of the over-privileged brats at the conference also agree. I mean, they’re not showing up at a Koch Bros. shindig – this is an Obama/Democratic initiative.

    Also, the reporter, Jamie Johnson, is a documentary filmmaker who has been critical of, and exposed many of the tricks used by, the upper .1% in his films Born Rich and The One Percent. Johnson has basically used his status as an insider and heir to report on how the rich are abusing the system. So, I don’t really have that big a problem with him.

    That’s why I always try to qualify my contempt and disgust as being aimed at conservative billionaires. At least most of the people at this conference are aware that the system of wealth distribution in this country is fucked up and want to do something to change/fix it.

  17. 17
    Starfish says:

    Who was that one guy in the Jamie Johnson films who was giving his tailor grief and collecting telephones? That guy was hilarious.

  18. 18
    Mr Stagger Lee says:

    Ok which one of you clowns,stole my Che Guevara beret?

  19. 19
    JGabriel says:

    BTW, just wanted to add that Johnson’s The One Percent was made in 2006, way before OWS. It’s basically where OWS got the slogan.

  20. 20
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    The need for tumbrels is reaching a level not seen since the 1930’s.

  21. 21
    Mike in NC says:

    Young Philanthropists would be a pretty good band name.

  22. 22
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @JGabriel: They’re the ones who have read history, and are aware that once the mob gets going, anyone in the 1% is vulnerable, regardless of their personal political views.

    They need to put some of that fabulous wealth to use undoing what has been done in this country since the reign of the shitty grade Z movie star.

  23. 23
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Ruckus: This country can more than afford to feed, clothe, house, and provide basic medical care to everyone in it.

    The fact that we do not is a stunning indictment of the failure of political will to do the right fucking thing.

  24. 24
    Ruckus says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:
    I have decades of industrial design and mfg experience, but lack capital. A goal seems to be in order.

  25. 25
    The Other Chuck says:

    @JGabriel: Queensryche had the phrase in song lyrics in the 90’s, and it was already in common use then.

    OWS flipping the statistic around with “We are the 99%” is what actually sounded somewhat new to my ears.

  26. 26
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Linnaeus:

    But what concerns me is how it seems that we, as a society, are looking more and more to private wealth to do what public resources used to do.

    I don’t disagree with you, though you should keep in mind that those public resources were really only used from about 1934 to 1980, at best. For most of the rest of the history of the US, private wealth was used far more than public resources were.

    With our current Congress, there aren’t going to be any new estate taxes being levied, so IMO it’s better to take some action to try and get the young inheritors in the mindset that they need to give back voluntarily than just let it slide and hope for the best.

  27. 27
    Baud says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Agreed. Can’t leave anything on the table in the fight.

  28. 28
    Ruckus says:

    OK word press is being quite assholeish tonight. 2 posts eaten.
    I may just give up.

  29. 29
    Gig says:

    Roosevelt was one of the wealthy. there are always some who figure it out. these are probably better than the Kochs. we aren’t an obliarchy. If we were Obama would never have been elected, not to mention other examples. Not to say we aren’t in danger, but it’s not over yet. tax rates and laws need reforming and it will work much better if we have a smart percentage of the super wealthy who are more or less on our side.
    I don’t think it’s a good habit to always see the worst …we’ll except for the GOP right now.

  30. 30
    Ruckus says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:
    Agreed.
    Third time is the charm?
    Just saying the rich can pay a little more as they go or they can, as history as always shown, pay a lot all at one time. One way is easy and one way is anything but.

  31. 31

    @Gig: Exactly, the constant doom and gloom is disheartening, counterproductive and unnecessary.

  32. 32
    Baud says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    The fact that we do not is a stunning indictment of the failure of political will to do the right fucking thing.

    We have already raised taxes and collected money to expand Medicaid in all 50 states. Yet as we all know, the GOP won’t do it in a number of states they control. That’s beyond oligarchy into some unknown territory.

  33. 33

    I’m shocked, shocked, I tell you, that extreme wealth gives an individual access. Or did they come in with the regular White House tour?

  34. 34
    Marc says:

    His family’s Carlson company, which owns Radisson hotels, Country Inns and Suites, T.G.I. Friday’s and other brands, is an industry leader in enforcing measures to combat trafficking and involuntary prostitution…

    So, AL, which part of this was snarkworthy, exactly?

  35. 35
    El Caganer says:

    They’re only gonna practice philanthropy until they start to grow hair on their palms.

  36. 36
    kc says:

    Policy experts and donors recognize that there’s no better time than now to empower young philanthropists

    Do young billionaires really need to be “empowered?” Fuuuuuck.

  37. 37
    PurpleGirl says:

    @kc: If they haven’t been involved in family foundations so far, they do need to learn both the history of the foundation and its work and about the general field.

    I know of one family foundation that the children of the founder were very involved in running it but their children wanted no part of the foundation and its work. So the founder’s children decided to liquidate the holdings and they looked at who they had been supporting and determined how much those organizations would get over a 5-year liquidation period. I also know of one foundation whose trustees determined to liquidate because there were no more of the founder’s family involved nor any of the original trustees. So t hey developed, again a 5-year plan, and closed down. They also made final gifts to long time organizations which they had supported.

  38. 38
    Glidwrith says:

    @kc: To realize there is a world beyond the life they lead, to realize that there are many, many realities that they cannot and never will experience, perhaps educate, enlighten or inform would be better word choices. It is a certainty that they have only the vaguest idea of the suffering in this country because of the shredding of the safety net. Haven’t we, here at BJ, had multiple discussions on what it means to be poor or hungry?

    Some of us have been there, others haven’t and needed to hear what it is like. What are the chances these children have any idea on how to help when many of us that never lived at that stratospheric level, especially anyone that listens to Faux news, do not know either?

    ETA: Not that we, here, don’t already know some major ways to help: raise the minimum wage, expand social security, more money to poor schools, etc.

  39. 39
    Chris says:

    @Ruckus:

    I’m not asking them to be poor, or even middle class

    You could impose 90% tax rates from the Eisenhower years on them again, and they still wouldn’t even be middle class.

    That in itself should 1) scare the shit out of anyone, and 2) be reason enough for bringing these rates back.

  40. 40
    Chris says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    They’re the ones who have read history, and are aware that once the mob gets going, anyone in the 1% is vulnerable, regardless of their personal political views.

    Well, that and less cynically, there are those who just want to do the right thing. Not every rich person is an asshole. (And I am not saying this as a rich person).

    However, my guess would be that unless there’s a mob forming outside the castle walls that far outnumbers their guards, most rich people do not fall into that category. Which doesn’t mean most of them are Koch brothers, either, but that the human tendency towards apathy and comfort zones being what it is, most of them are just happy to let the world go on as it is. And I would guess that most of them would not be willing to admit that they live in unearned privilege, or accept the discomfort that it takes to tear it down (e.g. New Deal era tax rates, regulatory oversight, and worker empowerment) – including some of those who do believe it’s their duty to throw a bone to the poor via charity et al.

    If someone knows evidence that my impressions are wrong, well, that would make me very happy, actually.

  41. 41
    Tehanu says:

    @Chris:
    Yes, I’m always astonished when the righties blather on about their idealized Fifties families (straight off the Hollywood sets of Father Knows Best and Leave It to Beaver) and how great it would be if we could just turn the clock back, but never admit even to themselves that the tax rate on the rich back then was nearly three times as high as it is now.

  42. 42
    Mandalay says:

    From the article linked in the OP:

    Mr. Gage, physically boyish with naturally swooping Bieber bangs, wore a conservative pinstripe suit and a white oxford shirt…

    Sporting scraggy Brooklyn-style facial hair and a loosely fitting suit without a necktie…

    I bet the journalist thinks that because she wrote cringeworthy drivel about the appearance of men rather than women it’s OK.

  43. 43
    Mandalay says:

    @Chris:

    Not every rich person is an asshole.

    Certainly not, but this one could be a candidate:

    While not an ardent supporter of the Obama administration, he decided to attend the conference to consult, he said, with White House experts on climate change and to discuss grass-roots efforts to improve water quality in Puget Sound, where the foundation is based.

    There’s a whole world of problems out there, and this guy is concerned about the water quality where his foundation is based.

    The optics for that aren’t good however valid the cause, and it looks more like insider lobbying than philanthropy.

  44. 44
    Mandalay says:

    @Chris:

    If someone knows evidence that my impressions are wrong, well, that would make me very happy, actually.

    I’m not sure that it really disproves your impressions, but it is worth noting that 122 filthy rich individuals and families have pledged “to dedicate the majority of their wealth to philanthropy”. See http://givingpledge.org/

    There are lots of very well known names on that list. Good for them.

  45. 45
    Gretchen says:

    @Marc: What part of this is snarkworthy? The part where a 19-year old is deciding where to spread his millions of dollars.

  46. 46
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    If Piketty’s right, then the we’d better hope that there are more FDRs among the scions of the 0.1% than there are Kochs and Waltons, because they’re going to be doing the rulin’ regardless of who gets elected.

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    They’re the ones who have read history, and are aware that once the mob gets going, anyone in the 1% is vulnerable, regardless of their personal political views.

    Except that the the US had a bourgeois uprising led by rich landowners and merchants, and that preceded the revolutions that cost aristocracies their heads and fortunes. To Hufford Bufford IV and his peers, mobs happen in Foreign.

  47. 47
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    Johnson has basically used his status as an insider and heir to report on how the rich are abusing the system. So, I don’t really have that big a problem with him.

    Absolutely. And I think there’s a tone and context issue for readers: we’re used to the NYT format of “the travails of the not quite wealthy” and “the minor gripes of the wealthy”, so having a piece outside the Style section written by somebody who is both part of that group and sufficiently self-aware of its privileges runs the risk of being misread — it’s way way different from Mr and Mrs We Are Full Of Africa Though We’ve Never Been There last week.

  48. 48
    Joel says:

    @Mandalay: I don’t get it, what’s the problem with improving local water quality again?

  49. 49

    Until and unless we can get the country back on the right track, this kind of thing is about the best we can hope for.

    This whole rising oligarchy shit is a big reason I hope Hillary Clinton doesn’t run in 2016. Stealing from Chris Hayes’s book, we need an insurrectionist in the presidency next time, and she’s an institutionalist. I don’t even see any insurrectionists on the horizon who might be thinking about running. There are a bunch, Sanders, Sherrod Brown, Elizabeth Warren and some others, but I don’t know how likely any of them are to run. A liberal institutionalist might be the best we can hope for, somebody who won’t do much of anything to change our heading, but might at least slightly slow us down as we glide along this path to oligarchy.

  50. 50
    mclaren says:

    @Smedley Darlington Prunebanks (formerly Mumphrey, et al.):

    This whole rising oligarchy shit is a big reason I hope Hillary Clinton doesn’t run in 2016. Stealing from Chris Hayes’s book, we need an insurrectionist in the presidency next time, and she’s an institutionalist oligarch.

    There, fixed that for ya.

    Hillary Clinton is a woman whose husband runs a “non-profit” charitable organization that dispenses 73 billion dollars per year. Her daughter is a board member on that organization and just bought a 10.5 million dollar pre-WW I 8,000-square-foot apartment overlooking Central Park in Manhattan.

    Does anyone believe that Hillary and Bill’s net worth is much south of a billion dollars? They’ve taken great care to insure that the assets in their name are only a few score million dollars…but the vast amounts of cash and assets and financial instruments they control are undoubtedly worth well over a billion bucks.

    This page claims that Hillary Clinton has a net worth of “21.5 million dollars.” And yet her daughter is able to buy a Park Avenue apartment worth 10.5 million…? How does that work, exactly? (Meanwhile, another source claims Bill Clinton’s net worth is above 55 million dollars. The wife is worth 21.5 million while the husband is worth 55 million? Something doesn’t add up here…)

  51. 51
    James E. Powell says:

    @Tehanu:

    how great it would be if we could just turn the clock back, but never admit even to themselves that the tax rate on the rich back then was nearly three times as high as it is now.

    And let’s not forget the percentage of employees represented by a union, the ratio of CEO to line worker pay, regulation of financial institutions, am I missing anything big?

  52. 52
    Marc says:

    @Gretchen: Great. Fire away. But which part of this

    His family’s Carlson company, which owns Radisson hotels, Country Inns and Suites, T.G.I. Friday’s and other brands, is an industry leader in enforcing measures to combat trafficking and involuntary prostitution…

    …which prompted AL’s “ungrateful peasant snark,” is so objectionable? Would she rather hotel chains not fight human trafficking and involuntary prostitution?

    Sometimes AL is more interested in taking the cheap shot than she is in whatever underlying issue she’s nominally blogging about. But apparently she’s not the only one.

  53. 53
    Marc says:

    @Joel: The same problem as fighting human trafficking, apparently.

  54. 54
    Ella in New Mexico says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    I have an ideal channel for their idealism: They pay their fair fucking share. Pig spawn of swinish parents. Fuck the lot of them.

    Wow, besides being downright vicious, that statement doesn’t even take into consideration that these young people ARE trying to do something different than the Koch-poisoned right.

    @Marc:

    Sometimes AL is more interested in taking the cheap shot than she is in whatever underlying issue she’s nominally blogging about. But apparently she’s not the only one.

    Well at least for once there was no violation of Fair Use laws in that cheap shot.

    Seriously, reading this cynical, hateful post/comments here this close to Easter Sunday sent a shiver up my spine. Can anyone actually be a “Good Guy” anymore? I mean, do these young people have to live on a park bench and self-flagellate to make you happy or what? Or were they just too easy a mark for snark?

  55. 55
    Ksmiami says:

    @Gig: a lot of the super wealthy actually have immense contempt for the GOP fundamentalism and want to help

  56. 56
    RP says:

    I don’t get the snark either. These people are trying to do some good; that should be celebrated. Snarking about it is lazy and mean-spirited.

    And while I’m 100% in favor of drastically increasing tax rates for the uber wealthy, I still think there’s a important place for high level philanthropy.

  57. 57
    Avery Greynold says:

    They are now our dictators. A fact, whether they embrace their inherited wealth and political power, or not. But please don’t ask me to call them “benevolent” dictators, let alone thank them for their imagined contributions to our wellbeing.

  58. 58
    Marc says:

    @Ella in New Mexico: No, they’re supposed to hoard their wealth so we can judge them without complications. That’ll show them!

  59. 59
    Ella in New Mexico says:

    @Marc:

    Yes, PLEASE don’t make me have to do the heavy lifting of having to rectify dissonant realities.

    Apparently people who don’t want to work very hard are found at all income levels… ;-)

  60. 60
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Ella in New Mexico:

    Can anyone actually be a “Good Guy” anymore? I mean, do these young people have to live on a park bench and self-flagellate to make you happy or what? Or were they just too easy a mark for snark?

    The only really virtuous use of obscenely large heaps of inherited cash – to use it to dismantle the structure that made it possible in the first place. And no, I don’t require that these folks live on a park bench and self-flagellate; I want them to pay their fair share, that’s all, and not expect our slobbering gratitude for the crumbs that fall off their tables. From the WaPo article linked above:

    A freshman at Georgetown University, Mr. Gage (heir to the Carlson hospitality brands fortune) was among the presenters at a breakout session, titled “Combating Human Trafficking,” that attracted a notable group of his peers. “The person two seats away from me was a Marriott,“ he said. “And when I told her about trafficking, right away she was like, ‘Uh, yeah, I want to do that.’ ”

    Justin McAuliffe, a 24-year-old heir to the Hilton hotel fortune, was similarly impressed by the crowd. “Hilton, Marriott and Carlson,” he said. “That is cool.”

    You know what would be even cooler? A living wage for the hotel maids and an end to union-busting activities on the part of the hotels.

    As for the conference, I get what the administration is trying to do: The Republicans are 100% committed to obstructing meaningful tax reform, so perhaps they see kissing fat cat asses as the only way to move the needle in favor of the millions who need help now.

    I get that, but I’d rather have seen every penny spent on that event put into a mass media campaign that educates Americans about wealth inequality instead. I’m glad the administration and more Democrats in general are talking up the issue, but they — we — need to do more of that.

    Most people don’t know that the top tax rate under Dwight Eisenhower was 90% or that Mitt Romney pays a lower rate on earnings from his stock portfolio than the workers who built his car elevator pay on their hard-earned paychecks. We need to be shouting this from the goddamned rooftops every day between now and the next election and then the one after that. Otherwise, our democracy really is as screwed as that recent Princeton study indicates.

  61. 61
    gorram says:

    “A lot of this is not just, you know, collaborations between the administration and philanthropists […] but philanthropists finding each other, finding other philanthropists with shared interests.”

    An object lesson in making it about yourself.

  62. 62
    Lawrence says:

    Nice day for a Red Wedding.

  63. 63
    Ella in New Mexico says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    If you’d made your thoughts known like this, it would have been more informative. Calling people “Pig spawn of swinish parents” before they’ve even had a chance to do anything to change the world (or in some cases, being oblivious to the things they HAVE tried to do) is not the most effective way to convince them they’re valuable to the cause. Normally I’m a super big fan of your posts, but that statement combined with AL’s entire tone really disturbed me.

    IMHO Every single one of us who’s not living under an interstate bridge could be said to bear some of the burden of not being “balls-to- the-wall-Mother -Teresa’s”. Heck, according to Jesus, everyone should be giving up their worldly comforts and pursuits and dedicate themselves to helping the poor and down trodden. I ain’t got time for that—I gotta go to work and feed my kids and clean my disgusting bathroom and take in an episode of Scandal on Hulu once in a while. So I donate to good causes at levels I can afford, or offer my time to help out when they need bodies.

    Being super wealthy just means you got more bucks to pay someone else to do it, that’s all. It is no more a crime for children of the rich to be clueless than it is for the rest of us. Being born into a rich family was no more their choice than any of us had to be born into our own circumstances, and they will naturally not have a CLUE about certain aspects of suffering in our society until they are taught to have consideration for those things. How many things are we all not yet enlightened to that someday we will turn back and realize we could have done so much more?

    For all of those of us who do what we can with what we got there are equal numbers of people out there that hold the exact same sentiments about your and my “privilege” because we were born white (me), own computers or worked hard to send a kid to a decent college or our husbands didn’t beat the shit out of us. What can I do about not having been dealt all the shitty cards of life except try to do what I can to make the world better with what tools I do have?

    Classism can be just like racism or sexism or ageism or any other -ism: it’s true effect is to keep the rats in the cage fighting each other rather than fighting to get out of the cage.

  64. 64
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Ella in New Mexico: I disagree 100% that “classism” resembles sexism, racism or ageism in any meaningful sense — honestly, that sounds like the bullshit the GOP tries to peddle about “class warfare” every time someone suggests raising the tax rate on the plutocrats.

    As for the rats fighting each other in the cage, that would be what the young billionaires club’s fund managers are fomenting among the rest of us to protect the wealth hoarders at the top. It’s about damn time we woke up to the very real class warfare that has been waged on the 99% by the 1% for decades and started a counteroffensive.

    Were my remarks about the billionaires feted at the White House intemperate? Sure. I’m angry as hell about this issue, and it offends me that my government is kissing these people’s asses, even when I understand the reasons behind it.

    Like I said, if they want to make a difference, they can start paying their workers a living wage and direct their lobbyists to stop destroying the country by rigging the game even further in their favor. Until then, I reserve the right to consider them part of the problem.

  65. 65
    Ella in New Mexico says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    “I disagree 100% that “classism” resembles sexism, racism or ageism in any meaningful sense — honestly, that sounds like the bullshit the GOP tries to peddle about “class warfare” every time someone suggests raising the tax rate on the plutocrats.

    Don’t pull a Pavlovian dog whistle-thingy and allow a phrase to overtake reason, or facts for that matter. There’s a difference between that kind of “faux class warfare” and pointing out that when we direct all the blame and hatred towards a generic group, we’re defeating our collective goals of creating more justice and equality. In order to get change as a whole society, decent members of the 1% must also see the benefit of participating in that change. I’m just as angry about how hard it is in the Colonias of my county as the people who lived there, and it wasn’t because before I went there to help the local activists called me a Gringa pig and threw glitter at me. They welcomed me and appreciated my joining with them, and kindly withheld any negative judgements about my particular middle class blessings. And shit, the things I found out I could do to help with very little sacrifice on my part stunned and delighted me.

    Sociology 101: “-isms” are more about the most elite and powerful keeping oppressed and controlled groups fighting each other. for scarce resources.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R.....ict_theory

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    Betty Cracker says:

    @Ella in New Mexico: But I’m not talking about a “generic group” — I’m talking about specific people who are actively harming this country — some of them at that event, e.g., the Hiltons, the Marriotts, etc., which is why I say it’s crap to pretend that “classism” resembles racism, sexism or ageism in any meaningful sense.

    “-isms” are more about the most elite and powerful keeping oppressed and controlled groups fighting each other. for scarce resources.

    Exactly so, which is what I meant with my rats in the cage remark. When you first brought that phrase up, you seemed to be saying the people who gathered at the White House are in the cage with us and it was unkind to subject them to an “ism.” They’re not. They — or agents they employ to do so — are keeping the rest of us in a cage and at each other’s throats so we don’t notice that the 1% is accumulating ever larger and absurdly disproportionate shares of the world’s resources.

    I’ve outlined exactly what the members of the 1% can do to achieve a more just and equitable society: pay their fair share, pay their workers a living wage and stop rigging the game. Or they can face the inevitable consequences of rising hopelessness among the 99%, which will be a lot more unpleasant than some anonymous blogger calling them pigs.

  67. 67
    gorram says:

    @Ella in New Mexico: Oh my god you’re going to pull that Marxist line that straight, cisgender, White guys use on other reformers who want to talk about homphobia, cissexism, racism, and sexism in marxist and progressive movements. But you’re going to use it to say that we shouldn’t critical or even just feel annoyed with rich people because that’s divisive and allows the wealthy/elite to remain in power except wait THAT’S WHOM BETTY’S CRITICIZING.

    You’re using a wrong and terrible argument that has a long history of misuse, but you’re using it in a way that contradicts even that terrible way of going about it. Stop.

  68. 68
    gorram says:

    @Ella in New Mexico:

    In order to get change as a whole society, decent members of the 1% must also see the benefit of participating in that change. I’m just as angry about how hard it is in the Colonias of my county as the people who lived there, and it wasn’t because before I went there to help the local activists called me a Gringa pig and threw glitter at me. They welcomed me and appreciated my joining with them, and kindly withheld any negative judgements about my particular middle class blessings. And shit, the things I found out I could do to help with very little sacrifice on my part stunned and delighted me.

    You need to not make activism on your part that’s on other people’s behalf about you. If you benefit from it, great, but when you make it about your benefit, it tends to get decoupled from actually meaningful assistance to the people who face the issue at hand. That’s exactly the dynamic the original post was about, and the fact that you’ve gotten really defensive of the megarich’s right to feel like they’re making a difference while not doing anything substantive is something you should probably examine.

    Over and over again, they’ve phrased their activism and you’ve phrased your activism in those sorts of terms (that it’s key that you were delighted or that philanthropists connected, etc), and there is I think justifiable anger over making organization on these issues cater to and otherwise about the people who aren’t affected by them.

  69. 69
    Ella in New Mexico says:

    @Betty Cracker: I understand your anger on this issue, and hold the same views on the remedies as well as of the stubborn, self-entitled of that bunch. And yes, WE are the rats in the cage arguing about how to fix things, and maybe a few of the more decent 1%’ers who are in here with us, actually tying to do something to fix the world. Our fighting keeps us very busy not addressing the powers that be who don’t want any change.

    And you must admit, not everyone who is wealthy is a Pig Spawn of Swinish Parents. ;-)

    @gorram:

    A. “Oh my god you’re going to pull that Marxist line that straight, cisgender, White guys use on other reformers”…B. “you’ve gotten really defensive of the megarich’s right to feel like they’re making a difference while not doing anything substantive”

    A. I have no idea what you are talking about . B. Crashing my discussion with Betty Cracker late means you are totally out of the loop and are ascribing things to me that are untrue and unfair. I was not doing that at all.

    You need to not make activism on your part that’s on other people’s behalf about you.

    As in, there should be no benefit to me–spiritually or meaningfully? That’s just silly.

    Seeing as you’re apparently missing the whole point of that particular statement, I’ll finish the thoughts: the things I found I could do that came more easily for me (including my own set of very modest resources and tools such as class, race, writing and speaking skills, education, general freedom to speak out without danger of being deported) helped my fellow man without those same resources speed up the change needed to make those hell hole Colonias healthier and safer places to live. That what I once saw as an overwhelming problem for which I had nothing to offer became something I COULD help with. To have received that gift, I was stunned and delighted, for it gave me meaning. I might not have hung around and felt that way if people had been brutish and rude and insulting.

    Some people in America used to call it behaving civilly and reasonably and connecting with the humanity within all of us to solve problems. They did some good things when they did that–still do, too. That’s all I’m saying.

  70. 70
    Crouchback says:

    @Ella in New Mexico: Being civil is nice. But a lot of times getting bloody is also helpful. It took a bloody war to end slavery. It took a number of riots for the Protestants to accept the Irish Catholics as part of American society. Labor unions had to show they were willing to stand their ground in violent conflicts to get fair treatment for workers. Hell, rioting is pretty much a part of every ethnic group’s progress in the United States. Sometimes if you want civil relations, you have to convince the other side the alternative will be much worse. I don’t think we’ll need to get bloody but I strongly doubt the top 0.1% will give up significant wealth and power willingly.

    In the case of Gage et al, I suspect concern about trafficking is limited to sex workers. That’s a nice sentiment but far more workers are trafficked for mundane jobs such as scrubbing toilets. I don’t think these young philanthropists are that concerned about the well being of the women working as maids or cooks. Hell, given the lack of workers rights the absolute number of women sexually exploited may be higher among conventional hotel workers than among sex workers. But solving that problem would hit the bottom line of the hotels. It could be done but the bosses would have to make due with less. I suspect Gage et al don’t want to pay that price. They want credit for civic virtue as long as it doesn’t cost too much. They’re like the oligarchs of the Jim Crow South. They’re not entitled to the benefit of the doubt – let them prove their virtue.

  71. 71
    Ella in New Mexico says:

    @Crouchback:

    Being civil is nice. But a lot of times getting bloody is also helpful.

    As the mom of three HS soccer players, a wrestler and a center defensive lineman, I couldn’t agree with you more. ;-)

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