America is sick. Do you know what can heal America, my friend? A billionaire, that's who!
At least, that's what Ralph Nader thinks.
Earlier today, Ralph Nader released a memo highlighting 20 "modestly enlightened rich people" (MERPs) that he thinks could run for president and shake up the two-party system.
The problem with the two-party system, apparently, is that there aren't enough billionaires.
He doesn't necessarily endorse any of these twenty billionaires, but he offers them as examples, as models for his vision of shaking up the system.
Let's take a look.
(1) Thomas Steyer – former Hedge Fund entrepreneur, and a determined, environmental advocate especially on climate change.Tom Steyer, although I support his anti-Keystone work, is still a major supporter of fracking. He's also a major Democratic Party fundraiser.
(2) Ray Dalio – heads the country’s largest hedge fund and is an engaged philanthropist.
(3) Oprah Winfrey – founder of the Oprah Winfrey Show, advocate, actress and philanthropist.
(4) Jerome Kohlberg – co-founder of KKR – large leveraged buyout firm, contributes to education and has funded campaign finance reform.
(5) Barry Diller – media, cable business, believes in the public airwaves as a public trust.
(6) John Arnold – former energy trader, now promoting the Giving Library connecting philanthropists with nonprofits, among many other projects.
(7) Ted Turner – cable television business, philanthropy includes $1 billion to the United Nations and other major donations to environmental, peace and population control programs that he advocates.
(8) Thomas Siebel – software company creator, heads several companies in software, real estate and agriculture, and creator of the annual educational Siebel Scholars program.
(9) Chase Coleman – successful money manager and creates venture capital firms.
(10) Marc Andreessen – supports Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and advances all-investing-partner philanthropic commitments.
(11) David Rubenstein – former, energetic White House assistant to President Carter and co-founder of a successful venture capital firm – the Carlyle Group – expanding philanthropist and convener.
(12) Steve Case – former CEO and chairman of AOL and exuberant philanthropist for innovative projects.
(13) Sheryl Sandberg – COO of Facebook, author of Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead and a co-founder of the Lean In Foundation which supports women in reaching their career goals.
(14) Bill Gross – leading bond mutual fund manager, supports, among other organizations, Doctors Without Borders.
(15) William Conway – co-founder of Carlyle Group – whose priority philanthropic mission is to generate job producing activities.
(16) Stanley Druckenmiller – investment firm manager, now giving to medical research, education and the fight against poverty.
(17) Abigail Johnson – President of Fidelity Investments, trustee of the Fidelity Foundation which has provided over $200 million to nonprofits in the United States and Canada.
(18) Tom Golisano – former independent candidate for Governor of New York, founder and Chairman of the Board of Paychex.
(19) Bill Gates, III – co-founder of Microsoft, now more of a philanthropist with emphasis on prevention of infectious diseases and education.
(20) George Kaiser – chairman of BOK Financial Corporation, and advocate for renewable energy and tax reform.
Oprah is the grand cultural icon for the neoliberal era.
Barry Diller won the honor of being called "America's laziest man" by Nicholas Kristof back in 2007 because he was the nation's highest-paid chief executive--at a time when his company's stock was falling.
John Arnold made his money rigging energy markets in California at Enron and is currently waging a war against public pensions. He was also an Obama bundler.
Thomas Siebel is a Republican bundler. Here's how he introduced Sarah Palin at a 2008 campaign fundraiser: "Sarah Palin carries the flag of outrage ... for each of us who cries out, 'We're mad as hell, and we're not going to take it anymore."
Marc Andreessen was a Romney supporter.
Let's hear a gem from David Rubenstein: "I analogize [private equity] to sex ... You realize there were certain things you shouldn’t do, but the urge is there and you can’t resist." And here's him mocking a Working Families Party protest against tax favoritism: "When history is written and people talk about the great protests, I don't think that this will be in that category."
Here's a fun story about "bubble baron" Stanley Druckenmiller.
I totally trust Abigail Johnson, the president of a company that makes money from 401(k)s, with the future of Social Security.
Tom Golisano moved from New York to Florida because taxes made him sad.
George Kaiser is quite the fan of tax avoidance.
I don't know much about the others. But let's just say that their backgrounds don't inspire me any more than the others.
Go home, Ralph Nader. You're drunk.