I’m feeling more hopeful today despite bizarro-freak news that does not appear to be fake, only stupid. The great white hope, our president, is possibly a Putin “asset,” which in economic terms means he is owned. In today’s politics the thing that makes this sleazy is the alleged owner is a foreign billionaire, not an American one.
So why am I hopeful? Business Insider has focused on the House committee assignment of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She’s the woman who yesterday walked to the Senate to hand-deliver a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, urging him to bring bills he’s sitting on to the Senate floor for a vote. Why isn’t the Senate doing its job, and keeping government open? And who passed a law that says “essential” government workers must work for no pay?
It’s rare for a House member to do such a bold thing. But no, that’s not the best news. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has placed this daring woman on the elite House Committee on Financial Services. Years ago, it used to be called the banking committee, and traditionally sat only elite white guy “assets,” who had rich white guy owners on Wall Street. It’s no wonder the media focuses on Ocasio-Cortez—she’s so fearless and beautiful. But the news is better than that.
Rep. Maxine Waters is chair of that committee now. She’s served her time and learned the Wall Street players; she’s the first woman chair, and the first African American. I counted the sixteen members of the committee she just announced and found other formidable newcomers like Rep. Rashida Tiabi of Michigan, and tough veterans like Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii. All told they’re a majority female, another first.
There are 540 mostly-male billionaires in the US and nearly 15 million millionaires, half of them multi-millionaires. The rest of us tend to come up short because the American political system for the past 40 years has enabled 1 percent of our population to hoard 40 percent of our national wealth and its assets, and the top 20 percent, fully 90 percent. That’ll buy a lot of politicians.
That means the rest of us have to split the remaining 10 percent of our wealth. Picture it this way: Jeff Bezos gets 40 front row seats in a 100-seat theater for the “show” of our American life. His slightly less rich friend reserves 50 more seats for himself and his 9 guy friends. As a result, 80 people like you and me will have to share the remaining ten seats. The median chair-reservation is about $60,000 a year in income, enough for one butt-cheek. But the bottom 20 of us own nothing but debt. Go sit in that hole in the floor.
About 49 million people in 19 million households are now below the poverty line, in the hole, on average with around $18,000 a year per household. A bunch of these are women and children. But when women no longer are tokens, they’re harder to silence. The new House Financial Services Committee might just put their pretty little heads together to call out billionaire owners of political assets—and make some real change in who gets a decent seat.
—Rickey Gard Diamond