Why the Rich Are, and Aren’t, The Enemy

Michael Moore made a bundle from his first documentary, “Roger and Me”, putting him firmly in “The 1%”.

Automatically evil, right? Not at all. He tells about talking with some factory workers who asked him how much he made on the film. He told them three million, and they burst into applause, and were especially impressed by how he spent the money to help his family and people who were important to him. These factory workers knew he hadn’t turned into someone who wanted to take money from them.

Michael Moore took home $3M
and didn’t become evil.

I live in San Francisco, which has very high per capita income (not from me!), and I live in a particularly rich neighborhood, where almost every house goes for over a million, and some for much more. A lot of the newly rich around here came by their money in some branch of information technology. Some of them are very rich, and I don’t care. It’s not money alone that determines whether you are The Enemy. It’s something else.

That something else boils down to whether you spend it trying to subvert democracy to make yourself still more rich. If you do, you are an enemy of democracy, an enemy of the people.

Having money is not itself the crucial element. The mega-rich have the same choice we do to use their money for good. Bill Gates and Warren Buffet teamed up to devote billions of dollars for important charitable efforts.

But some of the mega-rich spend huge sums subverting democracy in order to give themselves even more money they can’t possibly use. As usual, the Koch boys present a perfect example. These are two brothers whose industries brought them billions of dollars. OK so far. But they use their money unethically, to support ALEC, an agency whose sole purpose is to subvert the democratic process to benefit the ultra-conservative rich. They operate by purchasing elected legislators with substantial campaign donations. Then ALEC presents these lapdogs with custom-made legislation. The purchased legislators always give full support to the proposed law, which is always of great benefit to the Koch boys, and virtually never helps those at the other end of the income scale.

Some mega-rich spend huge sums
subverting democracy to give
themselves more money.

Guess who else does this sort of thing? Why, the banksters, of course. The five largest banks spent half a billion dollars each year over the last decade, on lobbying (see GlobalExchange.org). A total of $5,178,835,253, nearly a million and a half daily. And lo and behold, Congress did their bidding, trashing the crucially protective Glass-Steagall Act and decimating essential regulatory agencies and their regulations. All that, of course, created the catastrophe that’s hurting us right now. Not for banksters, though. After declaring in 2009 that the crisis was over, they went back to giving themselves multi-million-dollar bonuses while millions of homes were under water or foreclosed and millions lost their jobs and everything else.

Want to guess why there have been no significant indictments, let alone large numbers of bankster criminals serving prison terms? Could it be because the billionaires own the government? How different is this from a non-democracy in which the mega-rich pay themselves with everyone else’s money?

So if you want to know who among the rich are The Enemy, you have to dig a bit. It takes more than money. It takes subverting democracy for their own profit, and you can’t tell that just by looking.


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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Reblogged this on Kmareka.com and commented:
    John Pennington from San Fransisco gives us a good tutorial on how to distinguish the problematic rich from the OK rich.


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