What’s wrong with billionaires?

Bloomberg’s performance in his first debate was a non-performance. Was he a deer in the headlights, or a posh autocrat genuinely surprised by insubordination from the riff-raff?

It’s hard to tell, because he was very passive in the face of some blistering personal attacks. Of course, if you’re being nailed for sexism and racism, I guess there are few good retorts.  

“Good one, Elizabeth, but you’re just a histrionic woman, so who cares!” (No, he didn’t say that).

On the other hand, a multi-billionaire scoffing at plans for correcting financial inequality didn’t work, either. 

“This is ridiculous…we tried that…it was called communism.”(Yes, he said that. And nope, we never tried communism). 

So, calm down, Mr. Mayor, and get ready for the next debate.

On the other hand, maybe Bernie and Elizabeth and Pete could calm down a little bit, too. It’s one thing to deride an economic system where people live paycheck to paycheck, hold two, even three, jobs to survive, and where inequality is a real and devastating problem. And it’s one thing to attack politicians who lie, cheat and steal to accumulate their wealth. 

But it’s entirely another thing to attack people who have achieved wealth honestly. 

What’s wrong with being that kind of billionaire? I’d love to be one. I’d like my kids to be billionaires – the whole family, my friends, my neighbors.

When I was in my formative years, being a millionaire was the height of success. Of course, that was when a dime bought you a cup of coffee. Today coffee is twenty times that at Starbucks. Which explains why Howard Schultzis a $3 billionaire. 

Billionaires are the new millionaires. Inflation. 

But billionaires are now bad guys if they run for President, at least according to Sanders, Warren, Buttigieg, and others.

I don’t know how much he spent on the first Presidential campaign, but George Washington was one of the richest guys of that era. So were Jefferson and many of the early Presidents, except for Adams. 

That was way before millionaires. (I wonder if they were called “hundredaires” or “thousandaires” then.)  

Politicians weren’t automatically hated for their money until recently. In fact, Roosevelt was loved by most of the country. Not so last week where “billionaire” became an epithet.

Buttigieg- “A billionaire who thinks that money ought to be

the root of all power”. 

Warren – “A billionaire who calls women “fat broads” and “horse-faced lesbians” and, “Democrats take a huge risk if we just substitute one arrogant billionaire for another.”

Sanders – “billionaires like Mr. Bloomberg seeing huge expansions of their wealth while a half-a-million people sleep out on the street tonight.” He also accused Buttigeig of being support by “46 billionaires.”

I could understand their anger if Bloomberg had gotten his money by lying, cheating, stealing, and self-dealing like a Mafia Don. But he didn’t. He went from paperboy to billionaire by following the rules. 

Until recently, that was the American Dream.  

Bill Gates is another example. He made his fortune by bringing something new to the table. Ditto Steve Jobs and Elon Musk. Jeff Bezos is worth $150 billion because he invented a new retail model. Warren Buffet made $88 billion by sage investing.

There’s an irony to this piling on. With “Citizens United”, the Supreme Court opened the floodgates of money from corporations to buy and control politicians.  Now comes a guy with so much money he doesn’t need “Citizens United” money. He cannot be bought – or controlled – by anyone.  

And he’s attacked for having the money to remain independent.

There are lots of reasons to vote against Bloomberg: “stop and Frisk”, arrogance, old-school sexism, lack of charisma, lack of empathy for the poor, among others. 

But working your way up from paperboy to billionaire shouldn’t be one of them.

(If you like this, pass it on. If you don't, pass it on anyway. Why should you suffer alone?)