I was watching the news this morning and they were talking about the state of the American economy. They were discussing the fact that although the official unemployment rate has dropped to 9%, implying things are improving, only 36,000 new jobs were created in January. They didn't mention at all the likelihood that the drop in the unemployment rate with that low a number of jobs created was more likely simply a result of people no longer qualifying for unemployment benefits, rather than any genuine improvement.
An economist mentioned that although American businesses “have stopped firing, they have not started hiring.” He then said that although business is more profitable than ever and the Dow keeps rising, businesses are not committing to actually hire employees, they’re depending on temps and overtime instead. I know that a friend recently told me that this is exactly what’s happening at his company. They’re using mandatory overtime to work their employees to near breaking point and bringing in temps…but not hiring.
On Wall Street, which the American taxpayers bailed out, the huge profitability and bonuses are back, but do you honestly think that AIG and the others are ever going to REALLY show their gratitude to the people of this country that has been SO good to them? Of course not…they’re too greedy for that.
The wealthy sit their in their ostentatious mansions and squawk about how they can’t possibly pay the tax rate that they paid during the prosperous Clinton years when the entire country was doing fantastically…in fact, they don’t even want to pay the reduced rate that they paid under Bush and then extorted Obama (with threats of removal of tax cuts for people that actually NEED them and refusal of unemployment benefit extensions which would have caused an even deeper depression) to keep. If the uber-rich had their way, their rate would drop to the 26% being advocated by Congressman Paul Ryan (R – WI), author of the Republican “Road Map” for America (which my republican congressman recently tried to deny to my face even is the position of the Republican Party), and if we'd only give them THAT tax break they really WOULD create all the jobs that they promised in order to get the cuts in the first place. You know...all those jobs that didn't materialize all during the Bush years while they were crashing our economy.
I see people like Peter G. Peterson (http://arismusings.blogspot.com/2010/11/who-in-fuck-is-peter-g-peterson.html) and the other multi-billionaires (that’s a term that I don’t think I’ve ever used before...it used to be almost unheard of to be a “multi-Millionaire, then it was completely unheard of for a single individual to be a Billionaire, but not anymore) and I literally feel physically sick. All of this ostentatious, literally obscene wealth has just gone too damn far and I’m definitely coming to the conclusion that there needs to be some leveling.
For example, let’s take the case of Ira Rennert. I bet you may even be thinking (like with Peterson), who the fuck is Ira Rennert? Well…I’ll tell you...
Ira Rennert is a 76 year old man who amassed a multi-billion dollar fortune through trading “junk bonds” (he worked and trained with criminal Michael Milken and took over the trade when Milken went down in scandal, defaulting on over $1 billion in bond debt) and cannibalizing companies that were going through hard times. I actually find myself curious if the utterly despicable character of “Gordon Gekko” is based on him. It’s certainly based on someone exactly like him.
Rennert’s company, Renco, is one of the nation’s largest privately held empires and has amassed significant holdings in many industries, including mining and metals, lead smelters, coal mines, magnesium producers and vehicle assembly lines (thank him for the gas guzzling “Hummer”). Apparently profiting off companies that rape the earth is no problem for Ira. His personal fortune is estimated to be $20.3 billion.
Ira Rennert and his wife live on an estate that is larger than most luxury hotels. Their “home”, named “Fairfield” in Sagaponack, NY is set on 63 acres, has ocean frontage and is valued at over $190,000,000. The buildings total over 110,000 square feet with 66,000 of that being in the main house which includes 29 bedrooms, 39 bathrooms, a $150,000 hot tub and a formal dining room that is 91 feet long. The grounds also include three swimming pools, two tennis courts, two squash courts, a basketball court, a bowling alley, and a private theater which seats 164.
The couple does have three children, but they do not live at the estate. Ira reportedly gave his two daughters matching apartments on Park Avenue in Manhattan that cost over $30 million each. So other than staff, this tremendously huge place is occupied by TWO people. In addition to this palace, the Rennerts also own their own Park Avenue duplex as well as a home in Israel and a private Gulfstream jet.
The annual taxes on this monstrosity in 2007 were only $397,559.
Personally, I believe that if someone is going to live like THIS, the annual taxes on such a thing should be a hell of a lot more than only $398,000 a year. This kind of obscene ostentation should be discouraged…no one NEEDS to live like this. I would be ASHAMED to live like this.
Which brings me back to the premise upon which I started writing this entry…I think I’m starting to become a socialist. I desperately want to start seeing some things equalize in this country. This is NOT supposed to be the era of the “robber barons” who get to amass this kind of repugnant wealth on the backs of the people doing all the actual work while the workers suffer in squalor. America is becoming more and more like a third world country every day in terms of disparity of wealth and I find it completely unacceptable.
I’m so tired of seeing good, decent, kind, hardworking people struggling by with next to nothing while people like the Rennerts and the Petersons just keep sucking all the lifeblood out of the middle class for their own enrichment, and constantly whining that it’s not enough. No amount would ever be enough for the likes of them.
I’m starting to think that it’s time to start seriously leveling the playing field. Personally, I'd like to start by turning multi-billionaires into just billionaires and having the property taxes on places like Fairfield be at least $1 million.
I just wish I knew how to make it so.