The wealthiest nation on earth is not actually obliged to starve our senior citizens. We don't need a military 670% more expensive than the next largest one on earth. We don't need to fund health insurance corporations instead of healthcare. And we don't need tax breaks for billionaires. In fact, we don't need billionaires. That's the message RootsAction is taking to Congress.
Forbes magazine has been listing the 400 wealthiest Americans every year since 1982. Thirteen billionaires appeared on the original Forbes
list. Now all 400 rate billionaire status. These 400, collectively,
possess more wealth than the poorer half of America's population put
together. Sam Pizzigati explains how we got here.
The United States now has a level of inequality that shocks much of the world. If Washington wants to balance its budget, it should do so on the backs of these 400 people, not the hundreds of millions of us who can't afford it. Tax these billionaires into non-billionaires, and Washington's financial worries -- and our economic worries -- will be gone for generations to come. The vast majority of us favor this approach.
Only 1 percent of us are millionaires, with an "m". Each billionaire
has a thousand times that much money, or more. Sixty-six percent of
senators are millionaires, as are 41 percent of House members, but they
aren't billionaires. They just work for them.
Last year a list was leaked of attendees of an important rightwing planning conference organized by Koch Industries. This is an annual meeting at which the servants of plutocracy plot its further entrenchment. Eleven members of this year's Forbes 400 were on the list. These are the hardcore plutocrats. These are the people who personally take the time to destroy our political system for their own short-term gain -- and that of their families if their aristocracy of wealth is allowed to continue. These 11 people pay a fraction of the rate you pay on your income into Social Security and Medicare. They have no need for Social Security or Medicare. And they participate in a political movement that is trying to dismantle those programs. Meet your masters, fellow Americans.
Philip Anschutz, Denver, Col.
Anschutz has $7.5 billion and got his start in oil and gas. He remains a board member of the American Petroleum Institute (API) which President George W. Bush's Energy Secretary credited for Bush's decision to kill the Kyoto Protocol in 2001. API's president and leading members met in secret with Vice President Dick Cheney as an Energy Task Force planning the energy future of the United States and how to get their hands on the oil of Iraq. API has more recently organized astroturf activism against any efforts to limit climate change.
In spring 2009, Anschutz bought the rightwing Weekly Standard from Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. and the rightwing Washington Examiner, despite reports that these have "little hope of making any money."
Anschutz has funded Colorado's 1992 Amendment 2, an anti-gay-marriage ballot initiative, and the Discovery Institute which promotes creationism, among other similar causes. In 2004, the Washington Post reported that he, his companies, and members of his family had given over a half a million dollars to Republican candidates and committees. In 1987, Anschutz's family foundation gave Focus on the Family founder James Dobson an award for his "contributions to the American Family."
Anschutz is not always so generous. In 2002, Anschutz gave $4.4
million to law schools and charities only when forced to as part of a
deal in which New York Attorney General Eliot L. Spitzer dropped a case charging Anschutz with making $1.5 billion in "unjust revenue."
Anschutz also sold $1 billion in Qwest shares before they tanked, but avoided the charges that stuck to Qwest
CEO Joe Nacchio. In recent months, however, Anschutz lost a case
charging him with selling $375 million in oil company shares as part of a
tax dodge. The IRS wants $144 million. Every little bit helps,
right? But Anschutz is appealing.
Balance the budget on his back!
Stephen Bechtel Jr. , San Francisco, Calif.
Bechtel has $2.9 billion, and got rich by inheriting his money from his father. Our top concern should clearly be encouraging that sort of initiative!
The Bechtel Corporation, now run by Stephen Jr.'s son, is one of the top recipients of funds from Washington and from state governments. Bechtel has contracts at most U.S. nuclear weapons facilities.
Bechtel Corp. is also a leading violator of laws and regulations, including violations of nuclear safety regulations, water quality laws, radioactive waste policies, and asbestos emissions laws, not to mention having dug the Big Dig tunnel in Boston with such criminal incompetence that it collapsed.