Born on Home Plate

Remember the satirical “Billionaires for Bush” protesters? Around this time in 2008 I asked them to become Oligarchs for Obama, and they refused. But I predict Tycoons for Trump will be born this month. Inequality, like war and climate destruction, has its face now.

Chuck Collins’ book, Born on Third Base: A One Percenter Makes the Case for Tackling Inequality, Bringing Wealth Home, and Committing to the Common Good, presents the problem of inequality as well as any I’ve seen. Collins was born into wealth, gave it away, but still refers to himself as one of the wealthy, perhaps because of all the lasting privileges wealth brought him. Collins sites other examples, as well, of the wealthy putting their wealth to better use than hoarding.

Collins explains how a lot of philanthropy is, however, counterproductive, benefitting those least in need of it. He argues for a popular movement to create progressive taxation and progressive restraints on income. But he also makes a case for appealing to one percenters for solidarity, rather than demonizing them — apparently because this has proven to work better but also because it’s too late for anything else. Wealth has been so concentrated that without defections at the top it will never be truly shared again.

Collins also makes the best case I’ve seen for reparations. Donald Trump’s money, Collins writes, came from his father, who sold homes to white people who could only buy them because of government subsidized mortgages. Trump’s father also got military contracts to build houses for sailors. What Collins calls the Greatest Subsidized Generation (post World War II) — or at least the white portion of it — benefitted widely from subsidized mortgages and insurance, free college, and grants and loans from the Small Business Administration. Imagining that the racism of the day, rather than these willfully forgotten government programs, made America “great” (for some) is nonsensical.

Collins makes the case that the median wealth of white households is 13 times that of blacks in large part because of massive privileges handed to whites over the decades, including not so many years ago. And now the United States is becoming a caste society with extremely low economic mobility, and those castes parallel racial divides created by the benefits of government created wealth.

Collins paints a powerful portrait of how a wealthy childhood gives a person a permanent advantage. And he conveys the radically different, more convenient, more worry-free lives of those in the United States with great wealth. He later comes around to noting that many of those advantages are widely enjoyed in Europe. Collins argues that the wealthy are not fundamentally different from the rest of us, but his facts suggest that in fact they are. And the book’s foreword by Morris Pearl suggests to me a perspective I find it difficult to relate to. Pearl writes:

“I read about the Occupy movement in Zuccotti Park in the newspaper from the comfort of my Park Avenue apartment. When I have wanted to complain about something to President Obama, I have arranged to do it face-to-face.”

This suggests that there have been days on which Pearl did not want to complain about anything. Of course I can imagine meeting with Obama, but I can’t imagine only occasionally wanting to.

I also have a hard time relating to the phenomenon of the Missing Military as it exists in Collins’ and virtually every other liberal book published in the United States. Collins laments that $200 billion per year may be lost to the super wealthy hiding their wealth in tax havens. Collins never mentions the $1 trillion per year wasted on the murderous enterprise of militarism. In his to-do list at the end of the book, he has no mention of opposing militarism, but one of his items for us to do is to pay our taxes (because of all the good that supposedly comes of doing so).

There are some things, Martin Luther King Jr. said, to which we should not wish to become well adjusted. I include in that list all discussions of U.S. economics that erase the military.

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  • WillDippel

    Here is an article that looks at the relationship between wealth and ethnicity/race in the United States:

    The notable presence of public policies that exacerbate racial and economic inequality and the lack of will by Washington to change the system mean that the ethnic/racial wealth gap is becoming more firmly entrenched in society.

  • Bob

    I feel lucky to have been born into the middle class. It seems fewer of every color are this fortunate these days. When it comes to knowing how the super rich feel, for example the top 400 that have the same amount of wealth as 150 million, all I know is if I had this wealth, I think it would change me quite a bit.

    • These are some fact’s you need to know and share with others Bob.

      “Who controls the issuance of money controls the government!” Nathan Meyer Rothschild

      June 13, 2016 Which Corporations Control The World?

      A surprisingly small number of corporations control massive global market shares. How many of the brands below do you use?

    • ICFubar

      Or the 67 individuals that own or control as much wealth as the bottom half of all humanity….

  • This dovetails nicely here with this article. Nov 18, 2016 The Missing Liberty Movement and the Post-Election Blues

    So it took me a few weeks, watching all of this unfold, to actually finally force myself to make this video.

  • ICFubar

    Every time I come across ‘climate destruction’, the innuendo being man made, in the opening of an essay it throws me off reading further. Yes climate is changing as it always has but what if any percentage is due to human actions is still a source of great debate within the non contaminated scientific community. Of much greater importance and where the science is largely confirmed is human destruction of the ecosphere by our pollution, ‘climate disruption’ being used to distract attention from this issue. This we know and we also know how to clean up after ourselves and to mitigate making a mess in the first place but with extractive industry externalizing these costs movement in this direction is of a limited nature.. Moving to other energy sources that have almost no impact in polluting or otherwise harming the natural world upon which all life is totally dependent is the common future despite the large corporate interests which stand in the way of achieving inexpensive and abundant energy resources needed to power human civilization.

  • Turk 151

    The Estate Tax is the only reason we don’t have more family dynasties in America; there is a 90% chance that it will be repealed by Trump.

    • diogenes

      What are you talking about? What are you smoking? The 0.1%, one person in a thousand, 160 thousand families out of 320 million Americans, own 28% of everything including a controlling interest in ALL important institutions — financial, coporate, industrial, transport, utilities, media, education … you name it. And 90% of that money is INHERITED. Trump’s daddy was a millionaire. JP Morgan’s GRANDdaddy was a millionaire. Get a clue, “Turk 151” — or who do you work for? The estate tax my ass. That you speak of it as meaningful shows your utter ignorance — ever heard of a foundation? ever heard of a gift? — either that or your deceitfulness. Either way, you’re peddling hogwash. Lies, in common parlance — whether you’re smart enough to know it or not.

  • madrino

    Often, but not always, philanthropy, like USAID, gives an ounce of blood for a pound of flesh. As identified in C. Wright Mill’s “Power Elite” in 1954, those that are truly wealthy do not pay taxes as wealth comes in forms other than dollars and cents, in places unknown, and can even loose money in the nations that provide their living. The foundation of the income tax conceived in the early 1900s was for the plebs to pay for war and for the facilitators, enablers and merchants of death to profit from it. Smedley Butler spells out EXACTLY how it was done in “War is a Racket” and is on record stating that he could have taught Capone a few things in that what Butler did was done on 5 continents for a staggering amounts of assets, (land, minerals, access…). Global capitalists created the League of Nations (world’s political arm) and the International Chamber of Commerce (world’s business arm) in 1920, 1919. The UN supplanted the LoN which continues to put poor nations in debt that the interest will never be paid, while moving wealth to the few. It should be obvious that this now has turned on industrialized nations and will inevitably be all nations under the ownership of a depraved oligarchy. Peace speech at American University by John Kennedy Living in despotism? Most of us are obsolete BBC Special on GLADIO 1992 The process corporation of the cashless society Veneer of Justice in a Kingdom of Crime William Black. Financial Dangerous Institutions Untouchables – Oligarchy of Banking Cabal

    • Simply because of this very fact, “Who controls the issuance of money controls the government!” Nathan Meyer Rothschild

  • artguerrilla

    the sight of site for cite certainly incited insight in homonyms…

  • diogenes

    Heaven forbid we should “demonize” the poisoners of the planet, the killers of democracy, the pimps of all good will, the sworn enemies of human decency, the murderous worshipers of greed, the operatives in charge and primary beneficiaries of wars that have killed hundreds of millions. Poor babies. Don’t demonize them. It would be wrong, doncha know.