LabourStart headline – Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation
LabourStart headline – Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation
“It’s not 30 pesos: it’s 30 years.” This slogan, one of the most frequently used in the mass protests in Chile, explains in seven words what has triggered the biggest mass demonstrations in living memory in this Andean country since the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. It was not the 30 Chilean pesos (€0.037 euros, US$0.041) rise in the subway fare but the accumulation of decades of neoliberal policies, which have turned the Chile of today into one of the most inegalitarian countries in Latin America.
The subway fare rise, one of the highest in the region, unleashed, in the words of Argentine sociologist Maristella Svampa, “an unprecedented generalised experiment in civil disobedience” that began on 7 October, when a group of high school students called for a mass avoidance of fare payment. Five days later, the popular uprising took to the streets. “A violent outbreak was to be expected because it was the only way out. When the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) was discussed in Congress, for example, we went on marches, we asked for meetings and consultations, and we were ignored: the system continues along the path of social injustice,” says Alejandra Parra of Environmental Rights Action Network.
Chilean President Sebastián Piñera, who shortly before the social unrest broke out had described his country as “an oasis of stability” in the midst of regional upheaval, declared a state of emergency and imposed a curfew. As the crisis mounted, the president compared himself to Ulysses: just as Homer’s mythical hero did not succumb to the sirens’ song, he would not give in to the claims of his people (equating the sirens’ songs with populism – and populism with the people’s demands).
Not long afterwards, however, he reversed the increase in the subway fare, introduced a package of social measures and announced changes in his cabinet; changes that his critics consider cosmetic. Chile’s citizen’s movement is aiming further than this: it wants to dismantle the neoliberal economic and social order that was imposed in the country through blood and fire, following the coup that removed Salvador Allende in 1973, and the implementation of a system that effectively remains in place thanks to a constitution which, as Parra explains, “was formulated in the middle of the dictatorship, and designed to place in private hands public services such as health, education and pensions, and basic rights such as water.”
The uprising in Chile coincided with protests in Ecuador and Haiti, also triggered by an increase in the cost of public transport, but the causes go further back. On Tuesday, 1 October, the Ecuadorian government announced a package of economic measures (the “big package”) that included the withdrawal of the fuel subsidy (through Decree 883), a 20 per cent reduction in the wages of casual public employees and other reforms imposed by the IMF.
The people responded with mass protests and their demands went far beyond the repeal of the decree; they questioned “the neoliberal policies that are against the people’s interests, under pressure from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which seek to reactivate the business economy but not the economy of the people, or of our rural communities,” concludes Katy Machoa of the Federation of Indigenous Organisations of Napo (FOIN), speaking from the Amazon.
The protests made President Lenín Moreno reverse the fuel price rise, but it seems less likely that there will be a reversal in the direction of his economic policy. “Ecuador is trapped: it has a dollarised economy that it cannot devalue, it does not control its own currency and is very reliant on the export of raw materials, whose prices are falling,” says Svampa, who is concerned about the rise of the right at a time of “a questioning of the party system.”
In Haiti, where, according to a report by the Tricontinental Institute for Social Research, inflation (18 per cent) and a wage freeze exist alongside the para-militarisation of daily life, the government of Jovenel Moïse, weighed down by corruption and waste, followed the recommendations of the IMF and decided to increase the price of fuel. This provoked shortages, which, in turn, generated mass protests in which, according a report published by the United Nations on 25 October, 30 deaths were recorded, half of them at the hands of the police. It never rains but it pours: the cycle of citizen’s protests had begun in July 2018. The Haitian people are demanding Moïse’s resignation and the end of foreign interference in their economy.
If anything is characteristic of these protests, it is the sheer size and diversity of the mobilisation. “In Ecuador, the popular revolt has served not only to put anti-neoliberal theories back on the agenda but also the issue of pluri-nationality, thanks to the strong role played by the CONAIE [Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador], the [clear] visibility of women, and its multicultural nature,” explains Svampa. Students, unions, rural movements and citizens in general have also joined the ranks of the protestors.
In Chile, where the mass demonstrations of 2005 and 2011 were led by students, this time other social actors have joined in, including the middle classes disillusioned with the neoliberal model that has failed to live up to its promises. Alejandra Parra highlights the horizontality of the movement:
“The organisation has been spontaneous, and at the same time it has been the result of the strengthening of diverse social organisations – students, unions, community and socio-environmental organisations, women’s rights groups, native peoples – who had been working along parallel lanes but who in recent years have been working together to put forward coordinated proposals”.
“Women will be increasingly important in the mobilisations – in different aspects: community women’s groups, urban or rural women’s groups – as well as native peoples and socio-ecological groups,” says Svampa. This Argentine sociologist also notes a common reaction by the states: “It is to be expected that these crowds will face a repressive response from the state, and a state of emergency.”
We have already seen it in Ecuador, where the Ombudsman’s Office counted eight dead, about 1,200 arrests and 13,400 injured; President Moreno, decreed a state of emergency and imposed a curfew. In Chile, the tally is even more alarming: 20 deaths, 3,193 detainees and more than 1,000 injured, according to the National Institute of Human Rights (NHRI), which has also reported complaints of rape and torture. Several witness statements suggest that a torture centre was set up for at least one night at the Baquedano subway station, which brings back dark memories of the dictatorship for the Chilean people. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and former Chilean president, Michelle Bachelet, sent a mission to investigate what happened; the social movements are demanding that there should also be an independent investigation that coordinates with the social organisations.
What will the Latin American political scene look like in the wake of these protests? Parra is optimistic: “I hope that there will be a real change: what we have experienced will stay with us, body and soul, ‘learning by doing’ has not been erased from our popular culture and is seen today in the form of assemblies that are formulating structured proposals from the demands voiced on the streets, in order to launch a people’s demand for structural change in our country; and that will go to a constituent assembly that will lead to the reform of the constitution”. According to a survey carried out in October, 80 per cent of Chilean citizens approve the idea of a new constitution and 85 per cent are “in agreement” with the social movement of recent weeks.
“In Chile there is a radical questioning now of the status quo, but there are no left or centre-left parties capable of articulating those demands,” argues Svampa. What has been put on the table, however, is that the “oasis” of stability that was Chile, for years presented as proof of the success of the liberal model, had feet of clay. From now on, it will be more difficult to use Chile’s macroeconomic figures as an argument to legitimise adjustment policies in the region. And it remains to be seen what will happen to Piñera, who has already had to suspend the summits of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum (APEC) and the 2019 United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP 25), scheduled for November and December, respectively.
What these popular uprisings have also shown is that “the impact of the mobilisations is much greater when they manage to break away from the polarised image that presents the issues as a case of government versus opposition,” explains Svampa.
In other words, these protests are not so much about the government of the day, but the economic model itself: in Ecuador, the movements now protesting against Moreno have also dissociated themselves from former President Rafael Correa.Likewise, in Chile and Haiti the protests are not against a specific government and in favour of another one, but rather against neoliberalism and its austerity/adjustment policies. In Argentina, on the contrary, although anti-neoliberal protests are frequent, they have not developed “the ability to break into the public scene and end the simplified neoliberalism versus populism paradigm,” says Svampa.
Have American businesses become more concentrated over the past 30 years? Anecdotally, it seems like the answer is yes. The Big 8 accounting firms are now the Big 4. There are only four cell phone companies, soon to be three. Four airlines control 80 percent of the American market. The car industry consolidated into the Big Three decades ago. Four companies control two-thirds of the cloud computing market.
But in spite of this anecdotal feeling, it’s an undecided question among economists about whether American businesses are really a lot more concentrated than they used to be. Anyone can pick a few examples of industries that have consolidated, but what happens when you look rigorously at the business community overall?
We’re not going to solve this question today, though in general I’ve been more persuaded by the researchers who say that consolidation has, in fact, happened, and the result has been increasingly monopolistic behavior among US corporations.
One of those researchers is French transplant Thomas Philippon, who is introduced to us today in the New York Times by David Leonhardt. Philippon’s research has convinced him that we have indeed gone through an era of considerable consolidation, and it’s mainly due to weak enforcement of antitrust laws. In Europe, which has much stronger antitrust enforcement than we do, Philippon reports that the top firms have increased their market share far less than American firms. As a result, prices charged to consumers have also increased far less than in America. Here is Philippon’s conclusion about how this has affected American workers:
The consolidation of corporate America has become severe enough to have macroeconomic effects. Profits have surged, and wages have stagnated. Investment in new factories and products has also stagnated, because many companies don’t need to innovate to keep profits high. Philippon estimates that the new era of oligopoly costs the typical American household more than $5,000 a year.
I find that $5,000 number quite easy to believe. In fact, it seems a little low to me. But how did it happen? Even with weak antitrust enforcement (thanks Robert Bork!), how do companies get away with raising prices and cutting pay? They still have some competition, after all. The answer to that, I think, is the long Republican war against unions:
The destruction of the American working class is a two-part story. First, it was necessary to get rid of unions. As long as they were around, they’d demand a fair share of profits for workers no matter what the competition landscape looked like. That war lasted from about 1947 to 1981. When Ronald Reagan broke the air-traffic controllers union it was the final straw. Unions had already been decimated both by Republican laws and by Republican-led-efforts to train companies in how to resist unionization. Democrats never had the will to fight back hard enough, and after Reagan they never had the power. Republicans won their war against unions decisively.
It was only then, with unions effectively out of the way, that corporations could start consolidating and taking an ever bigger share of profits for top executives and shareholders, leaving workers with stagnating wages and grinding working conditions. No union, for example, would accept the practice of “clopening,” where an employee is required to close up a store at night and then turn right around and open in the morning. Nor would they accept the ever-more-common practice of expecting workers to be on call at all times, never knowing for sure what their work schedule will be. As much as low pay, these are the kinds of things that make work such a burden for the working class these days.
So this is the story. Spend three or four decades wiping out the power of labor unions, and then you can spend the next three or four decades turning the United States into a plutocracy with no one to effectively fight you about it.
And you have to give Republicans credit: Not only did they cobble together this plan and execute it brilliantly, they’ve managed even so to convince much of the working class that only Republicans truly understand their economic woes. They’re the very party that created those woes by killing off unions and then letting corporate America loose to do whatever it wanted, but hardly anyone sees it that way. Donald Trump yells “China” or “Mexico” and the working class howls its approval. I guess it must be China and Mexico that caused all these problems after all.
The extremely rich Americans who are now frantically trying to figure out how to intervene in the Democratic presidential campaign make me wonder how different they are from the animated character who loved frolicking in money and kissing dollar bills while counting them. If Uncle Scrooge existed as a billionaire in human form today, it’s easy to picture him aligned with fellow plutocrats against the “threat” of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
The exceedingly wealthy are usually content to stay in the shadows while their combined financial leverage and media power keep top government officials more or less in line. But the grassroots strengths of the Warren and Sanders campaigns have jolted some key oligarchs into overt action.
“At least 16 billionaires have in recent months spoken out against what they regard as the danger posed by the populist Democrats, particularly over their proposals to enact a ‘wealth tax’ on vast fortunes,” the Washington Post reported over the weekend. Many of those billionaires are “expressing concern” that the populist Democrats “will blow the election to Trump by veering too far left.”
But are those billionaires more worried about a wealth tax that will curtail vast fortunes, or about Trump winning re-election? Are we supposed to believe the far-fetched notion that voters will opt for Trump over the Democratic nominee because they don’t want billionaires to pay higher taxes?
The biggest fear among the billionaire class is not that a progressive Democratic nominee will lose against Trump. The biggest fear is that such a nominee will win — thus gaining presidential muscle to implement measures like a wealth tax that would adversely affect the outsized fortunes of the 0.1 percent.
Such fears are causing a step-up of attacks on Sanders and Warren, and even some early indications of trauma. “Piling on against the wealth tax have been corporate celebrities from Silicon Valley and Wall Street,” the Post reported on Saturday. Facebook head Mark Zuckerberg “suggested Sanders’s call to abolish billionaires could hurt philanthropies and scientific research by giving the government too much decision-making power. . . . Appearing on CNBC, billionaire investor Leon Cooperman choked up while discussing the impact a wealth tax could have on his family.”
Sanders often points to the fact that just three individuals — Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and Warren Buffett — own as much wealth as the entire bottom half of the U.S. population. Gates has publicly denounced Warren’s proposal for a wealth tax. It shouldn’t surprise us now to learn that earlier this year Bezos urged Bloomberg to run for president. We might call it ruling-class unity — which is a point that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez quickly made while campaigning alongside Sanders in Iowa when the news broke.
“Of course!” AOC told a Des Moines Register reporter. “They’ve got class solidarity. The billionaires are looking out for each other. They’re willing to transcend difference and background and even politics. The fact that Bill Gates seems more willing to vote for Donald Trump than anyone else tells you everything you need to know about how far they’re willing to go to protect their excess, at the cost to everyday Americans.”
Moments later, Sanders joked: “Jeff Bezos, worth $150 billion, supporting Mike Bloomberg, who’s worth only $50 billion — that’s real class solidarity.” And Sanders tied in the climate emergency: “When you talk about class warfare within the context of climate change, like Alexandria was just saying, the fossil fuels industry makes billions [and] billions of dollars in profits every single year, and the people who suffer the most are often lowest-income people. But it’s not just low-income people. Family farmers in Iowa and agriculture in Iowa is going to be suffering.”
News of Bloomberg’s looming entry into the Democratic presidential race elicited mass-media awe because of his wealth. A Republican until 2007, Bloomberg didn’t become a registered Democrat until October 2018. His record as New York City’s mayor included hostility toward labor unions in the public sector, support for police use of stop-and-frisk targeting racial minorities, and vocal antipathy toward the Obama administration’s minimal Dodd-Frank regulation of the financial industry. Bloomberg is a mismatch with most Democrats.
For most of this year, Biden seemed the best bet for moguls like Bloomberg. But confidence receded as the Biden for President campaign lost ground — not only because of his continuing “gaffs” and stumbling syntax but also because more information kept surfacing about his actual record while in the Senate from 1973 through 2008.
Further erosion of support for Biden can be expected due to a pair of powerful articles in the current issue of The Nation magazine. An “anti-endorsement” editorial summarizes his career as a servant of establishment power, concluding: “On issue after issue, Biden’s candidacy offers Trump a unique opportunity to muddy what should be a devastatingly clear choice. The Nation therefore calls on Biden to put service to country above personal ambition and withdraw from the race.” And an investigative piece breaks new ground in documenting how Biden and his immediate family have been enmeshed in scarcely legal conflicts of interest and pay-to-play corruption for several decades.
These days, for billionaires trying to line up a new Democratic president, good help is hard to find. Biden is willing as ever but perhaps not able. In effect, seeing Biden falter, Bloomberg is on the verge of cutting out the middleman. At this point, why hope that activation of pro-Biden Super PACs will be sufficient, when Bloomberg can step in and hugely outspend everyone out of his own pocket?
But even if it turns out that Biden has outlived his usefulness to the billionaire class, no one should doubt his unwavering loyalty. Biden offered reassurance during a speech at the Brookings Institution last year. “I love Bernie, but I’m not Bernie Sanders,” he said. “I don’t think 500 billionaires are the reason why we’re in trouble. . . The folks at the top aren’t bad guys.”
The first chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court would have agreed. John Jay liked to say: “Those who own the country ought to govern it.” Now, the rhetoric is quite different. But the reality is up for grabs in the realm we call politics.
Oligarchs are blinded by hubris, wealth and power. Their cloying sense of entitlement sees them outraged by even the most tepid reforms or mildest of criticisms. They lack empathy and compassion, along with remorse or guilt, for what is done to those outside of their tiny, elitist circles. Privilege does strange and unpleasant things to human beings. I saw these distortions among my rich classmates as a scholarship student at prep school and at Harvard University, an institution designed, like all elite schools, to perpetuate the plutocracy. Living in privilege spawns callousness, even cruelty, to those less fortunate and feeds a bottomless greed.
The repugnant characteristics of the rich are skillfully masked by armies of lawyers and publicists, a servile and intimidated press, good manners and the fig leaf of philanthropy. Jeff Bezos, Jamie Dimon, Bill Gates, Jimmy Wales, Peter Thiel, John Mackey and the late Steve Jobs and David Koch—whatever their carefully packaged public image—champion or championed economic and social models that are designed to create a new form of serfdom for the working class and further consolidate the concentration of wealth and power into the hands of the oligarchs. When a society falls into the death grip of an oligarchic class, the result is always catastrophic.
Oligarchs, because they live insulated lives surrounded by obsequious courtiers that cater to their bottomless narcissism and hedonism, wield power based on fantasy. They propagate ruling ideologies, such as neoliberalism and the intellectually and morally bankrupt writings of Ayn Rand, which are not economically rational but justify their privilege. Their mantra, first uttered by a notorious serial killer and enthusiastically embraced by Rand, is: “What Is Good for Me Is Right.” All our institutions—the press, the courts, legislative bodies, the executive branch and academia—have been perverted to serve the oligarch’s narrow, selfish interests while an oppressed citizenry, struggling to survive, is seething with mounting rage and frustration. The corporate coup orchestrated by the ruling oligarchs over the past few decades gave us Donald Trump. If this coup is not reversed, far worse will follow.
The oligarchs are the last to understand the consequences of their moral depravity. The political reformers, such as Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, who could save the system from self-destruction are demonized in the same way the Russian oligarchs demonized Alexander Kerensky, the socialist revolutionaries and Mensheviks, paving the way for the tyrannical Bolsheviks under Vladimir Lenin. When the end comes, and the end will come, most probably in our case with a tyranny imposed by Christian fascists, the oligarchs will be blissfully unaware, gorging themselves at their palatial estates or on their mega yachts like the clueless French or Russian aristocrats on the eve of their revolutions.
“We are in the midst of a major global, political, economic, social and cultural transition—but we don’t know which way we’re headed,” writes Lisa Duggan in “Mean Girl: Ayn Rand and the Culture of Greed.” “The incoherence of the Trump administration is symptomatic of the confusion as politicians and business elites jockey with the Breitbart alt-right forces while conservative evangelicals pull the strings. The unifying threads are meanness and greed, and the spirit of the whole hodgepodge is Ayn Rand.”
This spirit of meanness corrupts the far right and the far left. It defines the Christian fascists and the alt-right as it defines many in antifa and the black bloc, although unlike their fascist opponents the far left in the United States is a marginal, poorly organized, ideologically bankrupt and ineffectual political force. As societies polarize, the attempts by reformers and moderates such as Sanders and Warren to halt the disorder, defuse the mounting hatreds and antagonisms that are increasingly expressed through violence and salvage democratic norms prove fruitless. The oligarchs do not respond to their appeals and eventually the disenfranchised lose patience with the impotence of the moderates.
Lenin’s ruthlessness and rule by decree and terror, enforced by death squads run by the Cheka, reflected the ruthlessness and terror employed by the Russian aristocracy and the Okhrana. The Committee for Public Safety, which assumed dictatorial power from September 1793 to July 1794 during the French Revolution, reflected the ruthlessness and terror employed by the French nobility. Extremists, no matter what their political platform, are remarkably similar once in power. And it is almost always extremists who inherit power in failed democracies.
The oligarchs, who spent $1 billion in 2016 to deny Sanders the Democratic Party nomination and try to put Hillary Clinton in the White House, learned nothing from the debacle. If they can’t shove Joe Biden down our throats, how about Pete Buttigieg or Michael Bloomberg? And should Warren or Sanders miraculously become the Democratic candidate, which the oligarchs are working hard to prevent, they will reluctantly back Trump. Trump may be vulgar, corrupt and inept, he may have turned the United States into an international pariah, but he slavishly serves the financial interests of the oligarchs.
No battle to accrue profit is too small for oligarchs. The election for City Council in Seattle saw Bezos, the world’s richest man, spend $1.5 million to flip the council to serve his business interests. Bezos was incensed by a council decision last year to tax Amazon, which in 2018 paid no federal income tax, and other businesses to help provide housing for the city’s 11,000 homeless. Amazon got the city’s tax repealed within a month. Bezos in this election targeted his nemesis, the socialist City Councilwoman Kshama Sawant, who thankfully was re-elected, and pushed a slate of pro-business candidates for the council. Bezos failed, this time, to seize control of the council. No doubt, the next round of elections will see him triple or quadruple his investment. The 2016 elections had a price tag of $6.5 billion, but as Hamilton Nolan points out in the Guardian, “for a group that exercises total control over a federal budget of more than $4 trillion, that’s a real bargain.”
Oligarchs, freed from outside oversight and regulation, wantonly pillage the political and economic institutions that sustain them. They run up huge government deficits by slashing taxes on the rich. This forces an underfunded government to borrow from the banks, further enriching the oligarchs, and impose punishing austerity programs on the public. They privatize traditional government services, including utilities, intelligence gathering, large parts of the military, the police, the prison system and schools to make billions in profits. They create complex financial mechanisms that ensure usurious interest rates on mortgages, personal and student loans. They legalize accounting fraud and suppress wages to keep the public trapped in a crippling debt peonage. They loot trillions in taxpayer money when their speculative bubbles burst.
They are no longer capitalists, if we define capitalists as those who make money from the means of production. They are a criminal class of financial speculators that rewrite the laws to steal from everyone, including their own shareholders. They are parasites that feed off the carcass of industrial capitalism. They produce nothing. They make nothing. They manipulate money. And this gaming of the system and seizure of political power by finance capital is why the wealthiest 1% of America’s families control 40% of the nation’s wealth.
Dimon, the chief executive of JPMorgan Chase with an estimated worth of $1.4 billion, is the poster child for corporate greed and criminality. He directed JPMorgan Chase to underwrite fraudulent securities in the years leading up to the 2008 financial crash. He overcharged members of the military on mortgages and mortgage refinancing transactions. He overcharged customers for overdraft fees. He manipulated bidding on California and Midwest electricity markets. He overcharged homeowners for flood insurance. He billed customers for nonexistent credit card monitoring services. He charged minorities higher rates and fees on mortgages than those paid by white borrowers. He failed to pay overtime to company workers. Yes, JPMorgan Chase had to pay more fines than any other financial institution in the country, but the profits more than offset its fraudulent and criminal activity.
It is Dimon, along with fellow oligarchs Gates and the billionaire investor Leon Cooperman, who has recently led the attack on Warren. Dimon chastised her for her “wealth tax” plan and for allegedly vilifying “successful people.” Cooperman accused Warren of seeking to wreck the American dream. Gates also denounced her wealth tax plan, although if he did have to pay the tax, he would still be worth $6 billion. When questioned, Gates refused to say whether, if Warren becomes the Democratic nominee, he would support Trump.
Greed is bottomless. It is the disease of the rich. The more the oligarchs accumulate the more they want. This is the dark side of human nature. It has always been with us. All societies are plagued by social inequality, but when those on the bottom and in the middle of the social pyramid lose their voice and agency, when the society exists only to serve the greed of the rich, when income inequality reaches the levels it has reached in the United States, the social fabric is torn apart and the society destroys itself. Aristotle warned about the danger of oligarchies nearly 2,500 years ago. We stand on the cusp of social and political disintegration, bequeathed to us by oligarchs who have seized total power. The ruling oligarchs will stymie all attempts at reform. This makes a crisis inevitable. Once we enter this crisis, the oligarchs will become the most potent enablers of despotism.
Forces of wealth and privilege are outraged that they have to face not one, but two progressive candidates
Photo illustration: Soohee Cho/The Intercept, Getty Images
With Michael Bloomberg, the 9th richest man on earth, apparently running for president, Americans are asking themselves some tough questions. Like, why did we ever allow non-billionaires to run for the highest office in the land? And, why aren’t all the other billionaires jumping into the race?
After all, for all intents and purposes the United States is already run by its billionaires. They should care about us enough to make things official. If you like America, you should put a ring on it!
There’s no possible downside here. We already have a guy who calls himself a billionaire as president, and that’s going great. Things could only get better with more of this billionaire magic.
History makes this clear too. Two thousand years ago, in A.D. 19, the politics of the Roman Empire had become a plaything of its ultrarich. We haven’t checked, but presumably we would have heard if anything’s gone wrong for the Romans since then.
Bloomberg (net worth: $55 billion), Tom Steyer ($1.6 billion), and President Donald Trump (“$3.1” “billion”) are a good start. But it’s time for America’s other 604 billionaires to step up to the plate. Here’s a look at just a few of our options for our next president/chieftain/despot.
Michael Bloomberg, Bloomberg L.P.
PROS: At 5’7”, would be the shortest U.S. president since William McKinley.
CONS: Is a tough sell as a Democratic candidate since he’s a Republican.
Jeff Bezos, Amazon
PROS: Harnessed the kind of aggression and lust for dominance that other humans have used for war to create a mechanism for online shopping.
CONS: Will, if the opportunity arises, abandon us to become President of Space.
Bill Gates, Microsoft
PROS: Unlike most billionaires, seems aware that 1) non-billionaires can be afflicted with disease and 2) this is bad.
CONS: Murdered Jeffrey Epstein.
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook
PROS: Speaks Mandarin, so can supervise the impending merger of American surveillance capitalism and Chinese surveillance communism.
CONS: Believes that Silicon Valley “is an extremely left-leaning place,” suggesting that he’s never been anywhere else on earth.
Sheldon Adelson, Las Vegas Sands Corporation
PROS: His administration would answer the question, “What would it be like if Jabba the Hutt were president?”
CONS: Probably nothing unless you think it would be bad for America to suddenly nuke Iran.
David Koch, Koch Industries
PROS: There’s nothing in the Constitution that says the president has to be alive.
CONS: Redundant, we’re already going to be ruled for the next 1,000 years by the nightmarish consequences of his climate denialism.
The Entire Walton Family, Walmart
PROS: As of this moment, the heirs of Walmart founder Sam Walton have a combined $200 billion, almost twice as much as Jeff Bezos. They could deliver addresses from the Oval Office, taunting him in unison.
CONS: Get ready for the new minimum wage of $0.37.
Eduardo Saverin, Facebook
PROS: Could inspire Americans to make $10 billion by attending Harvard at the same time as Mark Zuckerberg.
CONS: Renounced his U.S. citizenship to avoid taxes, but maybe he could be lured back if we all apologize.
Ken Griffin, Citadel
PROS: Embodies Schrödinger’s Paradox: He can explain that he is not driven by money while simultaneously saying we better not tax him more because he’s driven by money.
CONS: Only spent $238 million on his New York penthouse. Americans want a president who lives large.
Kylie Jenner, Kylie Cosmetics
PROS: Uses makeup both more skillfully and more sparingly than Donald Trump.
Pierre Omidyar, eBay
PROS: Handsome, kind, wise; like Bloomberg, already has a media outlet up and running.
CONS: Campaigns are expensive, and we can think of far better uses for that money. (Unlike Bloomberg Media Group, The Intercept is a non-profit.)
The post All of America’s 607 Billionaires Must Run for President appeared first on The Intercept.
Amazon’s tiny investment in PACs will make at least one-third of Seattle’s city council into their lackeys
Climate change is an unprecedented global social, political, and economic crisis. Without drastic action, the United States will likely...