Late Night: Billionaires’ Ball(s)
After pissing away $25 million or so on Newt Gingrich’s “candidacy,” billionaire cuckoo person Sheldon Adelson just grandly announced that he’s going to pony up another $100 million to elect Mitt Romney President. Since the guy’s got another $24.9 billion where that came from, that’s no idle threat; geezer that he is, he can go ahead and buy every political office available between now and his death, and still never come close to running out of money. That’s nice.
But then what will be left for all the other obscenely rich crazy people we’ve nurtured so obsequiously to buy? After all, the Kochs don’t seem like the types to accept that the Leader of the Free World can only be bought on a time-share basis. In the unlikely but nonetheless possible event that these wacky plutocrats disagree on something, how will they settle it? A coin toss would never work; in that crowd, the poor coin would keep disappearing before it ever hit the ground. Maybe their wives’ horses could have a dance competition.
The tragedy of oligarchic capture is descending into farce much more quickly than even Chief Justice (!) Roberts dared envision; there can only be one King, you know. How effortlessly the painstakingly manufactured horror against “punishing success” devolved into the the slapstick of the “successful” each thinking that they, and they alone, are the rightfully anointed owners of the whole damned kit and kaboodle.
I guess that’s what happens when we are incessantly taught to believe that certain people, just by getting out of their luxurious beds in the morning, are worth more than a hundred million or so of their fellow primates; they start to believe it, too. The results would be hilarious is they weren’t so awful for the rest of us; we all know who the losers are even as we watch the winners’ unseemly squabbling over the spoils.
But the difference between 2008 (pre-Citizens United) and the auction/election taking place now are different not just in quantity, but in quality. Time was, the billionaires at least hedged their bets between the parties (since either would do in a pinch) and that worked like a charm, but now it’s worked a little too well. None of them have seriously feared regulatory crackdowns or higher taxes since the bellbottom era, but in the bright new dawn of unlimited, secret donations, they aren’t just looking for favors. They expect all future Presidents to kiss their asses in Macy’s window, not 97% of the time, as Obama so infuriatingly does, but 100%, and then some.
It will be as interesting as it is nauseating to watch how this all unfolds, but one positive outcome will surely be that some really dreadful people who are already too rich to tolerate democracy will be finally shown for what they are, walking commercials for that 91% tax rate on the rich that once kept them in check, at least publicly. Wonky discussions about what to spend the revenue on become more irrelevant each day; we could simply take their money and throw it in the street, and everyone would be better off. So far, the only person with a prayer of getting this crucial message across, President Obama, has failed miserably, which explains his increasingly possible loss in November.
When intrepid extraterrestrials discover our poisoned, shriveled desert of a continent in the year 2525, they’ll no doubt be dumbfounded at the cheesiness of the ruins: casinos and car elevators, and not much else.