Reading this AP article
made me think of that little cartoon guy with the top hat from the game Monopoly. We truly live in the new Gilded Age
The thing about this is, if this is what they disclose, you know that most of their real wealth is off the books, hidden in some trust or someone else's name. More "fun" after the fold, but here's a taste:
A $14,000 shotgun, a $2,700 mountain bike and five fishing rods were among $26,346 in gifts President Bush accepted last year, according to his financial disclosure form, released yesterday, which also listed millions of dollars the president has invested in U.S. Treasury notes and certificates of deposit.
The annual disclosures required by law offered a glimpse into the president's and Vice President Cheney's wealth -- and what they gave each other for Christmas last year.
Now, let me confess something: I'd like to make a lot more money: I'm an independent businessman with reasonable prospects, lots of education, intermittent cash flow problems, few hard assets and potentially crushing medical insurance costs. I'm one bad break from deep, deep crap, and yet have a lot more going for me in terms of upward wealth potential than most other people do. I probably would be wealthier if I ever had made money a top priority in my life, but I haven't and I don't. It's more important to me to live right than to live rich.
That's a long way of saying that, if I have any envy of the wealthy, it's not that much of an influence on me. The desire for wealth is as American as applie pie, as the longevity and popularity of the game Monopoly demonstrates. While I would like to have some fraction equivalent to Bush's or Cheney's assets, I do not envy them, because they have accrued this wealth by living in ways I hold in contempt.
It's necessary to meet the "Oh, you're just envious" objection because in America, as soon as you talk about someone's wealth, you are accused of being envious and dismissed. Full disclosure of your motives is necessary to continue the conversation.
Read the whole article. It's not long. Among the things you will learn:
Now, let's talk about Social Security.
- for Christmas, Cheney gave Bush a $500 clock that now sits in the Oval Office. Now, no one ever needs a $500 clock. It's the sort of showy gift one gets a person who already has all he will ever need. You can get a $10 digital clock at the local mall.
- Bush was less generous to Cheney on Christmas. He gave Cheney a $425 globe that sist on a wooden stand. Fitting, I suppose, since Cheney is really the one running the world, between those two. He gets to look at his globe and cackle like Montgomery Burns, "Mine, all mine!" Plenty of oil resources to take over, controlling the limited reserves we have left, like the finite number of real estate squares on a - you guessed it - Monopoly board. I guess the clock was the right gift for Bush so he would know when nap time is.
- Laura did well, too: "Laura Bush accepted $400 in salad plates from Tricia Lott, wife of Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.), and a $1,300 gold bracelet from the first couple's friends, Mr. and Mrs. Tom Bernstein of Riverdale, N.Y." I suppose Trent wanted to be creative in his suck up attempts, since Bush already has effectively said to Trent, "You are my bitch, and I will streamroll you as necessary." Or maybe Trent did not want to give much to W himself, out of spite, but wanted to be nice to Laura, as a way of saying, "No candy for you from me, George!"
According to the polls, the American people have the good sense to distrust what Bush and Cheney have to say about the most successful federal program ever. Why should they? Though Cheney came from working people, generally speaking, he long since sold his soul and has no idea anymore what it is to worry about how to afford to eat. Bush never really had to work a day in his life, and it seems, he still does not work much at all. It's nice to have a bike trip on a working day in a national park while the Capitol is evacuated, isn't it? No need to disturb the "Commander in Chief" when there's a potential national threat. Cheney has already told George "what time it is," after all. George knows who's boss.
I like money as much as they next guy, and though I'm not religious, I like my soul, or my integrity, better. I've made real mistakes in my life, and I've learned from them. Without confidence in my own character, no amount of material wealth will make me feel rich.
There have been a lot of religious arguments here lately, and I sit them out, because I'm not religious anymore, though my former Catholic bona fides were once irreproachable. But I have a suggestion for my religious friends around here: whay can't you make the forceful argument that people like Bush and Cheney have sold their souls, and are now selling our government, for wealth and for the wealthy, and have forgotten what the Old Testament prophets and Jesus forcefully argued: that a nations shunning the widow and the orphan is one that God will punish? I know the other side has its punishment narrative, telling how they think our society has gone astray (couch, faggs, cough). But why not make an aggressive counterargument that yes, we have gone astray, but in our craven worship of mammon over God?
You've got lots of scripture to back you up. While I'm not religious, I sure do see how the progressive case can be made in the political realm. Why not organize to make it?
Okay, now who will be the first to post in the comments a picture of that Monopoly guy?
Update [2005-5-14 11:26:12 by Pachacutec]: Excellent observation in the comments below: Bush has over $1,000,000.00 invested in Treasury notes, which he argues in his Bamboozlepalooza tour are insecure investments for Social Security. The term "asshole" seems to apply
Furthermore, what campaign advice would I give religious progressives?
* start a web site called GodNotMammon.org. I have no idea if the domain name is available, but you get the idea.
* Learn from georgia10 and her friends who turn outrage into action, with their site www.downingstreetmemo.com. Get some facts out there with scriptural quotes to argue that our politcal establishment has sold its soul. Then collect money to run ads online, cut commercials, run print ads with signatures, get letters to the editor going across the country to local outlets, collect petition signatures, etc. We have too many religious arguments here about dumb stuff. Let's see the religious among us take more effective action.
* Look at how effective John Aravosis is on his site, americablog.com. He did a lot to push the Guckert story and push Microsoft to stop caving in to right wing bigots. Why can't our religious propgressives be as organized and effective? I challenge you.