"Silver hair combed neatly, a purple tie gracing his neck, Ricardo Salinas Pliego spoke with the easy confidence of a man who has not worried about money in a very long time." 'Mexico's Credit Card,' Erin Carlyle, page 132, FORBES Magazine, May 7, 2012. "Grupo Elektra's Ricardo Salinas Pliego makes his billions the old-fashioned way: by charging the poor usurious interest rates. In Mexico, that's not a bad thing."
The owner of Westgate Resorts, David Siegel, sent an email to his workers before the U.S. Presidential election advising them that he might let them all go if Obama won. (See http://finance.yahoo.com/news/ceo-workers-youll-likely-fired-131640914.html.) Mr. Siegel talks about his 42 years of hard work and many sacrifices to earn his fortune and his big house (called "Versailles"). Now he is concerned that the Obama administration thinks it is right to take his money to stimulate the economy.
What these one-percenters never understand is how little the rest of us care about how clever they have been and how many sacrifices they have made. For each one of them, there are thousands who were fairly clever, worked just as hard, and made as many or more sacrifices – but still lost their jobs and their homes The competition is not equal and the one-percenters have all the advantages.
Consider the old joke about the 800-lb gorilla sitting wherever he wants. The gorilla has that "easy confidence" of the rich and thinks that the world is fair. After all, anybody can sit wherever they want, if they just work hard enough and make sacrifices.
"Australian billionaire Gina Rinehart, the world's richest woman, has told Australians envious of rich people that they should stop complaining, work harder, and cut down on drinking, smoking and socializing." (See http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/weird-wide-web/gina-rinehart-australian-billionaire-worlds-richest-woman-clive-palmer-mining-aussie.) Well, thank you so much, Ms Rinehart. What a comfort it is that there are people like you to to amaze us with such commonplaces. Being an heiress to unearned billions has given you such a refined insight into the lives of the hoi polloi.
The fact is that the capitalist economic system is already broken because the rich cannot really lose. Perhaps worse, they get to pick the winners. They are beginning to become a useless aristocracy rather than a vibrant stimulus to the economy. Whatever fight Mr. Siegel might once have had in him, he is ready to quit and go sit on the beach for the rest of his life.
No matter what, Mr. Siegel's life will be as secure as it can possibly be. His workers' lives are about to be as insecure as they can be. They do not get to quit securely, no matter how many years of sacrifices they have made.
The rich are correct that anyone can become wealthy and secure in a capitalist system. However, this vision is as fake as a lottery. Very few win, but the promise of security keeps the majority playing – and losing. This is the basic unfairness of the system.
Perhaps most offensive of all is the self-righteousness. The rich cover themselves with propaganda about their own good qualities. This may be true to a point about those who built their own fortunes, but at some point their wealth rose to a level where they gained so many opportunities and advantages that no poorer person could really compete with them. And best of all from their standpoint, they did it without ever doing anything really "wrong." Al Gore said it well regarding his campaign solicitation calls from the White House, "There is no controlling legal authority that says this was in violation of law."
In effect, capitalist societies today threaten those who lose the economic game with at least homelessness, breakup of the family, and social disgrace. In some places they are threatened with starvation.
Perhaps many of the rich think that widespread economic fear is what energizes the system, creating and maintaining a high level of total wealth. They work toward a society where little wealth is shared with the unworthy lest they lose their motivation. They want to make sure there is a lot of stick and only a little carrot.
If they believe this, it seems strange that they would believe that it is good that they themselves suffer no economic fears. Unless, of course, they feel themselves to be naturally deserving as superior beings compared to the rest of us. Either way, perhaps they do not believe that what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.
At tosoc.org, we believe instead that the hard work and sacrifice of the workers deserves economic security just as much as the hard work and sacrifice of wealthy entrepreneurs. We believe the entrepreneurs deserve more, but we are very much against the entrepreneurs using economic insecurity to strike fear in the workers. We do not need the David Siegel's of the world threatening our jobs based on election results. We need leadership, not beatings.
The best way to accomplish that is to set up multiple exclusive currencies and the markets to go with them. Make sure the markets are truly competitive by keeping the rich separated from the poor. Let the rich have their laissez faire capitalist markets, if they wish. Let the poor be shielded by protected socialist markets, if they wish. Read all the posts on tosoc.org for more details.