millionaires

What's that you say, Mr. Wall Street Banker?

Maxine Waters.jpg

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

Women Collaborate While Power Colludes

“For as long as I can remember I’ve felt compelled to be of service to my community. It is a lifetime commitment rooted in a family tradition of public service. As I’ve watched the problems caused by a lack of effective, honest government grow,  I’ve decided to be part of the solution and I am now running for the Michigan State Senate.” (www.rosemarybayer.com)

“For as long as I can remember I’ve felt compelled to be of service to my community. It is a lifetime commitment rooted in a family tradition of public service. As I’ve watched the problems caused by a lack of effective, honest government grow, I’ve decided to be part of the solution and I am now running for the Michigan State Senate.” (www.rosemarybayer.com)

Mid-week THIS week, I could use some good news, couldn’t you? Assume the worst for those Republican Senators on the US Judiciary Committee, who refuse the usual protocol when an allegation against any judicial nomination raises its ugly head.  Let them pretend to be fair, in an even worse way than Senators pretended to be fair about Anita Hill 27 years ago. That time, they at least investigated.

American women (and the men who love us) will see the testimony, and hear the questions set against the background of the Georgetown Prep School yearbook, and they will vote in November, and increasingly they will run for office and win elections.

How do I know that? Michigan, the home state I write about in Screwnomics, played a pivotal role in 2016. But now a record number of women from diverse racial and cultural backgrounds have won primaries in state and national elections there—and promise to be community-minded problem-solvers.

Rashida Tlaib speaks to staff, supporters and the press after the Associated Press called Tlaib's race in her favor at one of Tlaib's field offices in Northwest Detroit on Aug. 7, 2018.   (Photo: Cameron Pollack, Detroit Free Press)

Rashida Tlaib speaks to staff, supporters and the press after the Associated Press called Tlaib's race in her favor at one of Tlaib's field offices in Northwest Detroit on Aug. 7, 2018. (Photo: Cameron Pollack, Detroit Free Press)

Kathleen Gray at The Detroit Free Press writes a long article about the phenomenon, because only a long article would cover it all. Shannon Garrett of Holland, who co-founded VoteRunLead, is training women to run for office—172 of them from Michigan.  She says: “The reason we’re at this point in politics is because we’ve had the same people serving in political seats since the dawn of democracy, and that’s mostly white men. And the politics has become less about policy and more about power.”

Candidates from diverse genders, race, and income level promise better problem-solving, Garrett says, “Because if you have the same group of people looking at the problem, they’re going to come up with the same ways of solving these problems.”

Ms. Garrett is much nicer than I am, so I am going to point out that “the same group of people,” is not just mostly white males, but also mostly rich white males. Forty-percent of Congressional members are millionaires. Those who aren’t, depend on funds from “the donor class,” who are their billionaire friends, operating a profitable elections industry.

Maybe it’s a co-incidence, but I’ve noticed Congressional health insurance and retirement benefits are outrageously better than yours and mine. Michigan state Rep. Christine Greig (D-Farmington Hills), who could be in line to become Michigan’s first female Speaker of the House, told The Detroit Free Press: “When we have more balance in gender, we have better and more ways to communicate. And in general, you hear about women being really strong at collaboration….”

We surely could use some productive collaboration to counter the fakery of collusion, pretending fairness to protect an unchecked power.

—Rickey Gard Diamond

FYI:  (Rosemary Bayer, whom I’ve never met, is the cousin of my son-in-law, who sent me news of her surprise Senate race. He’s very proud of her!)