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Media Darlings: The Villains who make Billions

I can’t think of a single billionaire who fights the good fight, and promotes peace and justice. Bill Gates and Warren Buffett pretend to care, but they don’t. In fact, Gates and Buffett are as much a danger to peace and justice, as anyone or any institution, despite what you may hear from the corporate media. Every billionaire that I can think of is a major threat to equality, progress, and sustainability. Hopefully, I am overlooking a few people, but that seems to be the bottom line. 

What do billionaires have to do with healthy plant-based diets and the future of all species, and our only planet? Well, everything. Our current animal and GMO based food system operates through violence and suffering, and is unsustainable. Unfortunately, it is also highly profitable for the wealthy few.  

“The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty, and all forms of human life.” – John F. Kennedy

Here are a few statistics that may surprise you:

– The United States is the wealthiest country in the world, and yet nearly 1 in 4 children are food insecure. How is it that the top one-tenth of 1% now owns more wealth than the bottom 90%, and two individuals, Bezos and Musk, now own more wealth than the bottom 40%? 

– The US outspends every other country on healthcare, and yet remains dead last in most “quality of care” measures amongst all industrialized countries. According to a Yale University study, Medicare for All would save nearly 70,000 lives and $450 billion per year (40-80 million people are either uninsured or underinsured in the US). If at least 63% of Americans have supported “Medicare for All” for decades (if you don’t support universal health care, you likely believe the lies of corporate lobbyists and politicians), why don’t we have universal health care? Perhaps Noam Chomsky summed it up best when he described the US as a “criminal state that is run by corporate power.”

– According to the RAND Corporation, America’s billionaires have taken a staggering $50 trillion from the bottom 90% of the population over the last four decades.

– In the last 20 years alone, the United States government (The United States of War), has killed millions of innocent people and spent well over $9 trillion on the illegal invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. The US government also outspends the next ten countries combined on its military, and has nearly 800 military bases worldwide. The bottom line? Follow the money. Never ending wars and weapon sales mean never ending profit$ for the wealthy few. In fact, if you had invested $10,000 in US military or “Defense” stocks when the “Afghanistan War” began, it would now be worth nearly $100,000.  

– The US has the highest number of billionaires, and guess what? In their unrelenting efforts to undermine democratic processes, billionaires don’t even pay their fair share of taxes. According to Oxfam America, “Tax Day serves as a stark reminder of the gross inequity in our nation’s tax system that enables the ultra-wealthy to purchase yachts and private islands, while the US child poverty rate climbs and food insecurity spikes.” In fact, a report by ProPublica in 2021 showed how billionaires like Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Warren Buffett pay nothing, or very little in income tax compared to their massive wealth. As per Democracy Now!, “Oxfam America finds the wealthiest U.S. billionaires are worth a combined $4.7 trillion, a 62% increase over the past two years. Oxfam released its report on Tax Day, noting that taxing the wealth and income of the nation’s 735 billionaires and enacting a global minimum corporate tax would drastically reduce widening wealth inequality in the U.S. This follows a recent ProPublica investigation that found the 25 richest U.S. billionaires paid a true tax rate of just 3.4% between 2014 and ’18. Meanwhile, over the past decade, a typical American household paid more in taxes than it accumulated in wealth.”

Each entry above represents a US policy that directly contradicts what most Americans want and believe. As per Noam Chomsky, “…(Wikileaks) reveals the profound hatred for democracy on the part of our political leadership.” 

If that is the case, and we don’t have a real democracy, then who is driving the bus?

According to researchers at Northwestern and Vanderbilt Universities, “Historically oriented scholars have long argued that “major investors” or business elites dominate the making of public policy and the agendas of both the Republican and the Democratic parties. Jeffrey Winters maintains that the top one-tenth of 1 percent of US wealth-holders constitute an “oligarchy” with decisive power over certain key policy areas related to what he calls “income defense…We report the results of a pilot study of the political views and activities of the top 1 percent or so of US wealth-holders. We find that they are extremely active politically and that they are much more conservative than the American public as a whole with respect to important policies concerning taxation, economic regulation, and especially social welfare programs. Variation within this wealthy group suggests that the top one-tenth of 1 percent of wealth- holders (people with $40 million or more in net worth) may tend to hold still more conservative views that are even more distinct from those of the general public. We suggest that these distinctive policy preferences may help account for why certain public policies in the United States appear to deviate from what the majority of US citizens want the government to do. If this is so, it raises serious issues for democratic theory.” 

The US doesn’t have a true democracy, but rather a plutocracy, which is a government run by the wealthy (as was shown in 2020 by the DNC’s obvious preference for four more years of Trump over Sanders, if Biden wasn’t elected). 
Regardless of your party affiliation, I was surprised to learn that most Americans are not as divided as we might think. 

According to Francis Moore Lappe & Adam Eichen’s superb book Daring Democracy, “Hunger is not caused by a scarcity of food but by a scarcity of Democracy…What has helped a lot is one realization: despite the repeated refrain to the contrary, Americans are not fundamentally a divided people. In the 2016 election, what drew many to Donald Trump was his pledge to side with regular folks against the elite populating “the swamp.” At the same time, one thing repelling many people from him was fear that he would instead fill the swamp, accelerating the corporate takeover of our democracy. Our point is that Americans who are typically portrayed as being far apart were actually seeking a similar change. In fact, poll after poll shows striking common ground in our values as well as our vision of the democracy we want. With one big exception. Surveys of the super-rich show a huge chasm between their hopes for our country’s direction and those of the rest of us.” 

And by super rich, we are talking mostly billionaires, or at minimum, people with at least $40 million in net worth. 

Incidentally, I was never a big deal in the corporate world, but I did work for a few of the “too big to fail” financial institutions, and I can tell you that the idolization of people like Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Warren Buffett is quite real. During one of my last gigs in the financial markets industry, I befriended a new hire who was handsome, smart, good natured, and a recent college graduate. Due to his energy and charm, we would somehow always end up being surrounded by flirty and attractive young women whenever we had lunch together (to the extent that it was noticeable and I would tease him about it). One day after a few months had passed, I shared how inspired I was by the passion and knowledge of so many of the “Occupy Wall Street” protesters. My young friend quietly walked over to me and said with a hint of arrogance, “you know, I don’t give a sh*t about the Occupy Movement, I just want to make a lot of money.” He smiled and walked away, and I instantly felt let down. They got to him. I don’t know when or how, but a big part of who he was, was gone in a matter of weeks. This young, intelligent, fun loving person had completely bought in, and was now taking his first steps towards being a corporate shill by adopting the traditionally American “profits over people” mentality. His behavior reminded me of a study that showed that economics majors had a greater acceptance of greed and were more likely than their peers to classify greed as “generally good”, “correct”,  and “moral”. We are all flawed, and I was at the time, working solely for the paycheck as well, but Damn. I was bummed out, and knew that I had to make some changes.

Okay, so back to why billionaires and capitalism suck. 

“The moral crisis of our age has nothing to do with gay marriage or abortion; it’s insider trading, obscene CEO pay, wage theft from ordinary workers, Wall Street’s continued gambling addiction, corporate payoffs to friendly politicians, and the billionaire takeover of our democracy,” – Robert Reich, former Labor Secretary, and Professor of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley  

Here is a quick run down of some of the most popular and deplorable billionaires in the US (Btw, The United States has the highest number of billionaires in the world with 735).

Warren Buffett (estimated net worth: $124 billion): Don’t let the corporate media’s puff pieces and his grandfatherly image fool you, Warren Buffett is not who you think he is. He is a media darling who many consider to be a hero, despite the fact that he has made billions of dollars from investments in destructive/evil companies like Burger King and Chevron Oil (Click here to learn more about the crimes of Chevron Oil). Sadly, Mr. Buffett has recently doubled down in his defense of Chevron Oil by saying unapologetically, “Chevron is not an evil company in the least and I have no compunction about owning Chevron.”  And to make matters worse, Warren Buffett has also decided to give control of most of his $124 Billion fortune to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which represents a whole other history of deceit and greed as well. Click here to learn more about Chevron Oil and Warren Buffett. 

Bill Gates (estimated net worth: $129 billion) – Dr. Vandana Shiva has called Bill Gates a billionaire dictator who is the Christopher Columbus of modern times. She adds that Bill Gates continues the destructive work of Monsanto/Bayer by pushing chemicals, GMOs, and patents globally with a mission to impose genetically modified organisms, and digital dictatorships all over the world. Bill Gates has also called whistleblower Edward Snowden a criminal (like Daniel Ellsberg, the former Defense Department official who released the Pentagon Papers, Snowden brought to light important information that deserved to be in the public domain, while doing no lasting harm to the national security of his country), and has had laws rewritten through the WTO so that Microsoft could pay fewer taxes, while simultaneously being critical of Elizabeth Warren’s 6% tax on billionaires. According to Tim Schwab of The Nation, “Gates has proved there is a far easier path to political power, one that allows unelected billionaires to shape public policy in ways that almost always generate favorable headlines: charity. The Nation found close to $250 million in charitable grants from the Gates Foundation to companies in which the foundation holds corporate stocks and bonds: Merck, Novartis, GlaxoSmithKline, Vodafone, Sanofi, Ericsson, LG, Medtronic, Teva, and numerous start-ups—with the grants directed at projects like developing new drugs and health monitoring systems and creating mobile banking services. By Bill and Melinda Gates’s estimations, they have seen an 11 percent tax savings on their $36 billion in charitable donations through 2018, resulting in around $14 billion in avoided taxes (and savings). The foundation would not provide any documentation related to this number…” Bill Gates also had a years long relationship with Jeffrey Epstein (the disgraced billionaire who was found guilty of soliciting prostitution from minors, and sex trafficking), which some speculate may have played a role in the dissolution of his marriage. Click here for more information on why Bill Gates is anything but a hero.

Elon Musk (estimated net worth: $219 billion) – According to PETA, “Time’s Person of the Year, Elon Musk, who has a long history of harming animals by shooting squid, mice, and water bears into space as well as implanting a computer chip into a monkey’s skull and coin-size computer chips into pigs’ brains, is facing a lawsuit from PETA over his new proposal to ship a Noah’s Ark of animals to Mars.” Elon Musk rarely pays taxes, threatens his employees with retaliation if they try to unionize, and vehemently opposes a billionaire tax. Elon Musk did not found Tesla, but he is the CEO of SpaceX, which is a part of the US military industrial complex that has received billions of dollars from the US government (via the Pentagon) to manufacture rockets. Time Magazine named Elon Musk the 2021 Person of the Year, but we need to remember that they also named Adolf Hitler the person of the year in 1938 (the magazine’s criteria for the selection is “the person or persons who most affected the news and our lives, for good or ill,” so, theoretically, you could have a bad person every year and be justified). Apparently, Elon Musk has 66 million twitter followers which is scary enough, but he also once famously tweeted, “We will coup whoever we want! deal with it.” Musk’s comments followed the ouster of the former president of Bolivia (a country with vast reserves of lithium) Evo Morales (Morales claims that it was due to his efforts to nationalize lithium), and it was pointed out that Musk’s business empire is dependent on cheap lithium. Fast forward to today, and Democracy Now! has summed up Musk’s twitter acquisition with the following headline: “Elon Musk, the World’s Richest Man, Has Been an “Abusive” Bully on Twitter for Years. Now He Owns It.” And after analyzing the corporate media’s response to Musk’s attempts to acquire Twitter, Media Matters shared this analysis: “Mainstream coverage adopts Elon Musk’s “free speech” framing – despite his anti-union, anti-speech, anti-worker history.” It was interesting to see people posting on social media that Elon Musk is going to save free speech by purchasing twitter. This is the same Elon Musk who once called on the Chinese government to censor folks who were criticizing Tesla, and who also tried to destroy the reputation of a Tesla whistleblower. Twitter should be owned and regulated by the people and not by someone like Elon Musk who consistently displays sociopathic behavior. We also know that trusting powerful institutions and people to self-regulate never works (greed and ego always win out, as evidenced by the most recent example on Wall Street). Elon Musk’s success, like many abhorrent and powerful people, is based on the survival of our broken systems of government. The more power he obtains, the worse off we will be.

Jeff Bezos (estimated net worth: $171 billion) – Amazon is owned by Jeff Bezos, and has an abysmal labor record. As per union president Stuart Appelbaum (on Democracy Now!), “Amazon cut people’s wages in the middle of the pandemic. At the end of May, they eliminated the $2 hazard pay they had been giving, even though the pandemic continued to rage, even though the hazards were just as bad, if not worse, as they had been before. And why did they do it? They didn’t do it because they needed to. You talked about how much money Bezos has made during this period. They did it because they thought they could get away with it. Oxfam put out a report that said if Jeff Bezos had given every one of his employees a bonus of $105,000, Bezos still would have been wealthier at the end of the pandemic than he was at the beginning.” But it doesn’t end there. According to Democracy Now!, the world’s second richest man recently completed a 10 minute suborbital flight aboard his Blue Origin spacecraft. As a result, congressmember Pramila Jayapal tweeted, “If Amazon paid its workers fairly and did not fight unionization, workers would not be funding the expensive hobbies of billionaires. They would be taking care of their families and living dignified and fulfilling lives.” She also noted that the 11-minute “joyride” cost over $2.5 million a minute. “Yes, it’s time to tax the rich,” she said. A January report by Oxfam had this to say on the profiteering of billionaires during the pandemic, “the 10 richest people, as of 30 November 2021, have seen their fortunes grow by $821 billion dollars since March 2020. The 10 richest men were listed as: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Bernard Arnault & family, Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Ballmer and Warren Buffett. The report added that the ten richest men doubled their fortunes during the pandemic while incomes of 99 percent of humanity fell. *I continue to shop at Amazon because of the lower prices, convenience, and return policies. I am not sure what to do moving forward. 

Bernard Marcus – Billionaire and Home Depot co-founder Bernard Marcus recently called American workers “lazy”, “fat” and “stupid”, and said socialism was to blame for his claim that nobody in the US wants to work. Bernard Marcus exemplifies what is wrong with capitalism, and why, contrary to his jaded views, capitalism is completely unsustainable, and at the root of most of our problems. Bernard Marcus is 93 years old, and worth an estimated $7-9 billion, and it is because of people like him, we have seen a $50 trillion transfer of wealth over the last 40 years from the US middle class to the wealthiest few. Bernard Marcus has made billions of dollars off the backs of working people, yet he would never admit that because it wouldn’t conform with his warped, elitist, and very likely racist views of the world. I have been blessed to know many non-wealthy people who clearly worked harder than anyone else, especially those like Bernard Marcus! Do you want to know more about Bernard Marcus? Under B. Marcus’s stewardship, Home Depot fought long and hard against employee rights and their attempts at unionization. Bernard Marcus has also donated tens of millions of dollars to far right candidates who pursue white supremacist, anti-women, anti-gay, and anti-environment policies (one report showed that he has given a combined $64 million to both Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis). Bernard Marcus also doesn’t believe that he should have to pay his fair share of taxes. I mean, you can’t make this stuff up. And since Bernie Marcus seems to enjoy name calling in his attempts disparage and humiliate millions of lower income people whom he has never met, I am going to indulge myself and have a little fun. How do the old “Yo Mama” or “The Dozens” jokes go? Yo, Bernard Marcus is so dumb, he thinks Johnny Cash is a pay toilet! Or how about, Yo, Bernie Marcus is so dumb, he bought a solar powered flashlight! Sorry, I needed to laugh. But seriously, can billionaire Bernard Marcus be any more offensive and full of it? He made a lot of money by manipulating a capitalistic system that clearly favors white people with money, and that is about the extent of it. Does billionaire Bernard Marcus know that over 140 million Americans are living at or below poverty levels, and are just one emergency away from financial ruin? Has he heard that over 500,000 Americans lost their homes in 2021 due to medical debts, and that 40-90 million Americans are either underinsured, or have no health insurance? Yo, Bernie Marcus is so dumb, it takes him 2 hours to watch 60 minutes! Sorry, I couldn’t resist. Does this clueless and arrogant billionaire know that 1 in 4 households in the US were food insecure in 2020? Give me a break. Unsurprisingly, due to his enormous wealth, Bernard Marcus is a corporate media darling, so nobody in the mainstream media calls him out. Finally, socialism doesn’t exist in the United States, unless you count US government actions like its $1-3 trillion bailout of Wall Street, which I am sure Bernie Marcus thought was great and necessary. I have to admit that I do feel a little uneasy exposing Bernard Marcus for his insulting and nonsensical views. I mean, he is 93 years old after all. Hmm. Yo, billionaire Bernard Marcus is so dumb, it takes him an hour to cook minute rice!

“If you want to know what God thinks of money, look at the people he gave it to.” – Dorothy Parker

Donald Trump ($3 billion) & Jared Kushner ($950 million) – According to Forbes, “Trump’s net worth has jumped an estimated $600 million since he left office”. Man, talk about using the power of the Oval Office for personal gain. Donald Trump was born on third base and thought he hit a triple (I love that quote). But it’s worse than that, Donald Trump inherited a fortune and has filed for bankruptcy 7 times. According to clinical psychologist Mary Trump (Trump’s niece), Donald Trump is a “sociopath” who grew up in a dysfunctional family that fostered greed and cruelty. She has called her uncle, “the world’s most dangerous man”, and has added that he has never earned anything in his life. Mic drop? There are too many examples to get into with regards to the incompetence and repulsiveness of Donald Trump and Jared Kushner, so I will just keep it short. And please don’t get me wrong, I am not a supporter of the democrats or the republicans, but for a variety of reasons, I do believe that people like Donald Trump and Jared Kushner are the biggest threats to the survival of our species and the wellness of our planet (I added Kushner’s name because he is equally revolting and seems to be Trump’s “Mini-Me”, while also being on track to be as much a danger and threat to justice and equality as anyone (see his $2 Billion “gift” from Saudi Arabia for more details)). I will simply close with a quote from Noam Chomsky where he called Donald Trump, “the worst criminal in human history.” Nuff said. 🙂

Here are a few of the lesser known billionaires (or soon to be billionaires), who nonetheless and to varying degrees, wreak havoc on our democracy and our species’/children’s future.

Dishonorable mention 1John M. Olin (The Olin Corporation, DDT manufacturers, estimated wealth: $10 billion)
The Olin corporation produced one-fifth of the DDT used in the United States before the deadly pesticide was banned in 1972. According to Jane Mayer, during the fifties and sixties, the company itself estimates that an Olin factory “spilled about a hundred pounds of mercury every day” into public waterways. Progressive political strategist Rob Stein called the Olin Foundation, “the most potent machinery ever assembled in a democracy to promote a set of beliefs and to control the reins of government.” John M. Olin showered money on conservative culture warriors, transforming them into significant public players. He spread his support to a wide range of figures, from right-wing standard-bearer William F. Buckley Jr., to feisty ideologue Dinesh D’Souza, to prominent academics such as Closing of the American Mind author Allan Bloom, to professor Samuel Huntington, who for years led Harvard’s John M. Olin Institute for Strategic Studies and in 1975 would famously complain of America’s “excess of democracy.” John M. Olin also backed conservative policy journals and the Federalist Society, known for incubating court cases to overturn the Affordable Care Act and favoring the elimination of unions. (Source: Daring Democracy, Frances Moore Lappe & Adam Eichen)

Dishonorable mention 2Richard and Betsy Devos (estimated wealth: $7.3 billion)
Billionaire Richard DeVos is the founder of the Michigan marketing colossus Amway. When Donald Trump picked Richard’s daughter-in-law Betsy to be Secretary of Education, few knew that years before the DeVos family had been key in orchestrating the Citizens United lawsuit. It ultimately reached the Supreme Court and culminated in the widely disliked 2010 ruling that led to a vast increase in independent and non-disclosed election spending. In the late 1990s the DeVos family was criticized for being the largest contributor of less-regulated “soft money” to the national Republican Party, and Betsy DeVos responded, “I have decided…to stop taking offense at the suggestion that we are buying influence…They are right. We do expect some things in return.” (Source: Daring Democracy, Frances Moore Lappe & Adam Eichen)

Dishonorable mention 3Charles and David Koch (estimated wealth: $124 billion)
Perhaps the champions of the Anti-Democracy Movement have been Charles and David Koch, fossil-fuel magnates, known as the Koch brothers. They have built a radical right-wing political apparatus that rivals those of the two major parties. In 1974 (citing a 1971 memo from eventual Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell, and commissioned by the US Chamber of Commerce, that outlined the strongest possible response to what he perceived as a growing attack on corporations, and the unfair treatment of corporations), Charles called for “radical new efforts to overcome the prevalent anti-capitalist mentality” in a speech to Dallas businessmen. One root of the family’s fortune enabling the Koch brothers’ influence today was their father Fred’s lucrative business dealings in Stalin’s Soviet Union and in Nazi Germany. Jane Mayer, author of the book “Dark Money”, explains that the Kochs and their allies have created a private political bank with the capacity to bestow unlimited amounts of money on favored candidates, and they do it with virtually no disclosure of its source. They have established a Republican Party in which donors, not elected officials, are in charge. This ideology helps to explain one of the most important Koch crusades: the fight to prevent action against the climate crisis. The Koch-sponsored advocacy group Americans for Prosperity has been at the forefront of climate-change opposition over the past decade. When the Republicans took over the House of Representatives in 2011, Americans for Prosperity lobbied lawmakers to support a “no climate tax” pledge, and by the time Congress convened that year, 156 House and Senate members had signed on. (Source: Daring Democracy, Frances Moore Lappe & Adam Eichen, and The New York Times)

Dishonorable Mentions 4 & 5: Athletes Michael Jordan (estimated net worth: $1.6 billion) and Tom Brady (soon to be billionaire with an estimated net worth of $600 million).

“What can you say about Tom Brady other than that he is truly the “GOAT” in all sports, he personifies the jingoistic George W. Bush era, the white nationalist Trump era, and the nothing will fundamentally change Biden era. Jordan and Gretzky couldn’t personify 3 presidents.” – The Beer Nerd (via the excellent Chapo Trap House podcast)

I still don’t know what to make of Tom Brady other than he does seem to be more about the brand than anything else. He seems like an otherwise nice guy, and he is definitely the GOAT of NFL QBs, but like Michael Jordan, he has been careful to never really stand for anything that might hurt his sales/popularity (despite his platform). And even with his enormous wealth, apparently too much is never enough, as Brady continues to be a pitch person for harmful animal/junk food products. Can you imagine, rather than being shills for the  junk food manufacturers, and corporate America, Tom Brady and Michael Jordan instead combined forces to reduce animal suffering, or eliminate food insecurity? Hopefully, the glorification of celebrity athletes like Michael Jordan and Tom Brady will soon end. When asked why he wasn’t political, Jordan famously responded by saying “Republicans buy sneakers too.” Jim Brown once said that “Jordan’s main concern is the demands of corporate America.” And Kareem Abdul Jabaar added that “Jordan chose commerce over conscience. It’s unfortunate for him, but he’s gotta live with it.”

Dishonorable Mentions 6 & 7: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi & Senator Mitch McConnell. Nancy Pelosi has seen her net worth jump from $41 million in 2004, to $115 million in 2019. Senator Mitch McConnell has seen his wealth increase from $3 million to $34 million in the same time period. Great investors? Hardly. Just two more corrupt politicians who regularly chat with corporate CEOs, and are even involved with the so-called “regulation” of the financial industry (talk about the foxes guarding the hen house). Nancy Pelosi recently reminded us of her level of corruption, and why she is a big part of our problems (along with the DNC and the GOP), when she rejected a stock trading ban for members of Congress, declaring that “We are a free-market economy. They (members of Congress) should be able to participate in that.” Should it surprise anyone to learn that the majority of lawmakers in Congress are millionaires?

“The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to the point where it becomes stronger than the democratic state itself. That in its essence is fascism…” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

For some reason, the corporate media, and huge chunks of the US population, adore the people mentioned above. Much of the adulation, I suspect, has to do with living in a capitalistic culture where a lot of the messaging celebrates, and even worships, money, power, and consumerism/materialism (rather than say, justice, equality and peace). The US government has a one of a kind sense of entitlement too (much like US billionaires), that can never do wrong, or look in the mirror and blame itself for anything (capitalism commodifies life, and everyone, and everything is expendable). I am reminded of a quote from former President George Bush, Sr., who infamously said, “I will never apologize for the United States. I don’t care what the facts are… I’m not an apologize-for-America kind of guy.” (George Bush was speaking in the wake of the 1988 downing of a commercial Iran Air flight by a US missile, which killed 290 civilians onboard). Wow. Unfortunately, that kind of disconnect and arrogance remains all too pervasive in the collective psyche of too many Americans, especially the super-rich. I was lucky enough to stop listening to the corporate media decades ago, but clearly, it continues to have a tremendous negative and toxic influence (via profit driven disinformation). My guess is that another part of our “billionaire” problem stems from people needing heroes, and how billionaires and soon to be billionaires, are appealing because of marketing, and how their lifestyles’ suggest that if you just work hard enough, you too can obtain FU money, and live a life of luxury. This plays perfectly into the hands of the wealthy few, and distracts people enough to be okay with the status quo. And if that is the case, then nothing ever changes. In fact, things only get worse, and become what they are now, unsustainable. Taking the money out of politics, and overturning Citizens United would be a great first step in increasing our chances for survival. But what if we also started to view the concept of a “billionaire” as being repugnant, especially while we live in the wealthiest country in the world, and food insecurity, poverty, homelessness, and countless other injustices, including the destruction of our only planet, continue to be major problems that we know could easily be solved by simply changing our priorities, and our policies.

Unfortunately, I don’t believe that a great change on that scale will happen in my lifetime as our political, judicial, and economic systems are just too broken, with too much corruption, on too many levels (sigh). But I do remain inspired by the optimism of others, and by the words of Frederick Douglass who said that “No man (or woman) fails, or can fail, who so grandly gives himself and all he has to a righteous cause.” We can still dream, right? And who knows, perhaps I am wrong about significant change happening anytime soon. After all, there is a precedent in Sweden where the concentration of wealth is comparable to the United States, and yet higher education, healthcare, retirement, and childcare are all covered with public money. In fact, even though Sweden has yet to achieve a fair distribution of wealth, it still ranks 7th on the Human Development Index (HDI), which measures the overall quality of life in a country and is a combination of life expectancy at birth, gross national income, and expected years of schooling (the US ranks 17th). The HDI score is one of the best indicators of the overall quality of life and living conditions in a respective country.

As per Francis Moore Lappe and Adam Eichen, “So our culture carries in it the dreary view that our selfish and competitive traits trump our more cooperative selves. From there it’s hard to trust each other. In 1972, almost half of Americans felt they could trust others; however, by 2016, as brutal capitalism tightened its grip, only about a third felt that same trust. Because democracy depends on an assumption that humans can come together for the common good, distrust itself helps to sink democracy’s chances. Viewing our nature as essentially self-interested, we come to doubt our own and others’ capacities to deliberate, learn, and compromise for the good of all….This cultural frame teaching us to distrust others and just fend for ourselves leads us down a self-reinforcing spiral of powerlessness that goes like this: given our flawed nature, a market that works on its own to sort things out for us looks really attractive; in fact turning over our fate to an infallible “free market” makes perfect sense. But, as noted, a one-rule economy, highest return to existing wealth, makes it virtually inevitable that wealth, and with it, political power, becomes ever more tightly held. Economic elites dominate political contests through massive campaign contributions…Understandably, our representatives in Washington and in our statehouses come to accept, no doubt partly un-consciously, that their decisions must favor their wealthy funders’ interests, not ours. Our favorite label for this sad outcome is “privately held government.” Then what happens? Distrust deepens still further, as we see those at the economic pinnacle behave callously. Millionaire Wall Street bankers daily walk by a growing number of homeless people. CEOs reap huge profits from selling sugar-laden drinks implicated in twenty-five thousand US deaths annually; and fossil-fuel magnates help to heat our planet and destroy life while raking in more than $20 billion a year from US taxpayers via subsidies…In this awful cycle we’re affirmed in our starting assumption: humans really are heartless materialists, looking out only for themselves, with the most powerful inevitably screwing the rest of us. So, we disengage further, believing that trying to have a real voice is futile. But nothing in this spiral of powerlessness is inevitable. On this we want to add a surprising note we find, oddly, encouraging. Americans typically dismiss Scandinavia as either too “socialist”—“its taxes are too high”—or so different from us as to offer no useful lessons. All Americans want to be millionaires, the story line goes, so we’d never accept the “leveling” they tolerate in “those” countries. But what if the concentration of wealth in say, Sweden, were comparable to that in the United States? At the same time, though, what if it had achieved vastly greater freedom of opportunity in higher education, health care, retirement, childcare, and more, all covered with public support? Plus, in politics, what if Swedes had kept private money’s grip at bay and their voter turnout was one-third higher than ours? In fact, all this is true….So, the lesson for us could be that when citizens stand up strongly, as Swedish workers did in the 1930s and onward, they can achieve a greater voice in political decisions, much fairer income distribution, and a quality of life freer of fear and richer in opportunity. And they can do so, even though they have not yet achieved a fair distribution of wealth. One reason might be that Sweden’s modern economic “guru” was a different Noble laureate, not Milton Friedman but Gunnar Myrdal, who rejected Friedman’s rigid market dogmatism. Myrdal believed economic dynamism and prosperity flowed from investing in people.” Investing in people? Wow, what a concept.  🙂

And what about billionaires having everything to do with plant-based diets? We have seen how they control public policy and government officials, but there is more too. The US meat, dairy and egg industries’ projected revenues for 2022 exceed $500 billion, as billionaires like Warren Buffett continue to make tons of money from Burger King franchises, and countless other junk food restaurants and retail outlets. Bill Gates, on the other hand, expands his power & wealth in part by continuing the work of “The Poison Cartel” and pushing hard for the required use of biocides and deadly GMOs all over the world. Big Ag is big business, and the wealthy few have zero regard for the catastrophic damage that is done by Industrial Agriculture to people’s health, animal welfare, and our only planet (their goal is to maximize profit in the short term, regardless of future consequences). 

Incidentally, you are not alone if you are curious to learn more about how Big Ag (and billionaires) “maximize” profits when meat, dairy and egg prices are so seemingly low. According to David Simon’s exceptional book Meatonomic$, “The American government spends $38 billion each year to subsidize meat and dairy, but only 0.04% of that ($17 million) to subsidize fruits and vegetables. The federal government’s Dietary Guidelines urge us to eat more fruits and vegetables and less cholesterol-rich food (that is, meat and dairy). Yet like a misguided parent giving a kid cotton candy for dinner, state and federal governments get it backwards by giving buckets of cash to animal agriculture while providing almost no help to those raising fruits and vegetables…A $5 Big Mac would cost $13 if the retail price included hidden expenses that meat producers offload onto society. Animal food producers impose $414 billion in hidden costs on American society yearly. These are the bills for healthcare, subsidies, environmental damage, and other items related to producing and consuming meat and dairy. That means that each time McDonald’s sells a Big Mac, the rest of us pay $8 in hidden costs.” Wow.

Independent of the widening financial gap between the super-rich and the bottom 90% of the US population, most people will be happy to hear that despite the hundreds of billions of dollars in US subsidies and hidden costs that that are offloaded onto the American consumer (that benefit Big Ag & many billionaires by providing zero accountability, and allowing them to keep their prices artificially low), a plant-based meal still costs about 40% less than meat and fish dishes, and takes about 30% less work to prepare.

But don’t take just my word for it, a recent United Nations (UN) report suggested that everyone should choose “a more plant-based diet” due to the connections between sustainable and nutritious food, accessibility, affordability and the climate crisis. In addition, the UN report also stated that “by adopting a balanced diet featuring plant-based foods, we can take major steps to fight climate change”, and that “a shift toward plant-based diets” is one of the most significant ways to reduce greenhouse gases from the agriculture sector.

Also, there was a recent Oxford study that led to this headline from The Guardian, “Avoiding meat and dairy products is the single biggest way to reduce your environmental impact on the planet”. Mic drop? The new research shows that without meat and dairy consumption, global farmland use could be reduced by more than 75%, an area equivalent to the US, China, European Union and Australia combined, and still feed the world! According to Oxford’s Joseph Poore, “A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth, not just greenhouse gases, but global acidification, eutrophication, land use and water use…really it is animal products that are responsible for so much of this. Avoiding consumption of animal products delivers far better environmental benefits than trying to purchase sustainable meat and dairy”.

But the corporations and the billionaires don’t care. In fact, they are driving our species straight off the proverbial cliff with the pedal to the metal. And so, the good fight continues. 🙂

* Update
Did You Know?
– If you make $100,000 working and a billionaire makes $100,000 selling stock, you will pay $9,000 more in taxes than the billionaire because of the tax code.
– If you own your home and a billionaire owns 2 yachts, 3 planes, 4 Picassos, 8 racehorses, and $900 million of stock, you will pay more in “wealth” taxes than the billionaire because of the tax code.
– If you paid more than a single penny in federal taxes in 2020, you paid more to run the country than FedEx, Nike, HP, and 52 other multinational corporations did in 2020 because of the tax code.
Click here to learn more from 

Click here to learn more about how America’s 1% has taken $50 trillion from the bottom 90%.
Click here to learn more on how never-ending wars mean never ending profits for the super-rich. 
Click here to learn more about “Democracy and the Policy Preferences of Wealthy Americans” from Professors Benjamin Page, Larry Bartels, and Jason Seawright.
Click here to learn more from Dr. Vandana Shiva on how Bill Gates is continuing the work of Monsanto.
Click here to learn more about how nearly 1 in 4 children in the US are food insecure.
Click here to learn more from Oxfam on how to make billionaires pay their fair share to fight poverty and reduce hunger. 
Click here to learn more about how billionaires avoid paying taxes. 
Click here to learn more about how billionaire wealth grew dramatically during the pandemic. 
Click here to learn more about which countries have the highest number of billionaires. 
Click here to learn more about the richest Americans.
Click here to learn more from Noam Chomsky on US leadership and its hatred for democracy. 
Click here to learn more about the arrogance of Elon Musk.
Click here for more information on Elon Musk.
Click here to learn why many people believe that Elon Musk is a fraud. 
Click here to learn more about Elon Musk from Abby and Robbie Martin’s excellent podcast “Media Roots Radio”. 
Click here for more on Jeff Bezos’s space flight.
Click here to learn even more about how billionaires profited from the pandemic.
Click here to learn more about Jeff Bezos and his theory of value. 
Click here to learn more about the ugly labor policies of Amazon.
Click here to learn more about Jeff Bezos and his connections with NASA and the US government.
Click here to learn more about how Amazon is building a sprawling surveillance state.
Click here to learn more about how Amazon treats its employees.
Click here to learn more from Oxfam International. 
Click here to learn more from Mary Trump and why she called her uncle “The world’s most dangerous man”.
Click here to learn more from Noam Chomsky on the dangers of Donald Trump.
Click here to learn more about the sleaziness of Jared Kushner.
Click to learn more about Tom Brady from The Nation. 
Click here to learn more about how Nancy Pelosi makes millions of dollars in stock trades.
Click here to learn more about the criminality of Chevron Oil from The Intercept.
Click here to learn more about the harmful products that are endorsed by celebrity athletes like Michael Jordan and Tom Brady.
Click here for the enlightening Psychology Today article titled, “Does Studying Economics Breed Greed?”
Click here to learn more about the majority of politicians in Congress who are millionaires. 
Click here for Francis Moore Lappe and Adam Eichen’s excellent book Daring Democracy.
Click here to learn more about the Human Development Index (HDI).
Click here to learn more about the lobbying “secrets” of the US Chamber of Commerce.
Click here to learn more about the UN report, and how plant based diets impact our lives and our only planet.
Click here to learn more about how vegan diets cost 40% less than meat and fish diets.
Click here for the David Simon video on Meatonomic$.
Click here to learn more about Bill Gates and his fake solutions for the climate crisis. 
Click here to learn more about the Oxford study, and the importance of avoiding meat and dairy products.
Click here to learn more about the super-rich corporate dictators from Ralph Nader.
Click here to learn more about how Bill Gates gave $319 million to corporate news outlets.
Click here for ten ways billionaires avoid taxes on an epic scale.
Click here to learn more about Jane Mayer’s book Dark Money (and the Koch Brothers), from The New York Times. 
Click here to learn more about why private charity has become just another scam for the 1 percent. 
Click here to learn more about the need to tax the billionaires who profit from carbon emissions.
Click here to learn more from Northwestern University on how conservative billionaires control public policy.

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