I watched the movie Monuments Men last night, directed by George Clooney, starring Clooney, Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, Bill Murray and Jon Goodman. I liked the movie a lot. It took me some places I had no idea it would take me.
It's not getting rave reviews from critics. That's not surprising. it is based on a true story that involves a number of heroic people, so it doesn't get into the dark places and deep character arcs that critics love. Still, it was entertaining, educational and inspiriting, a few times touching my heart and brining me to tears, a few times outraging me. I strongly recommend seeing it.
Let's start with the good stuff. This movie tells the story of a group of art experts tasked with saving the art works of Europe, that it is believed the Germans are stealing massively. That story results in amazing success. In the process of telling the story, you get a heartwarming, inspiring feel for the value of art.
Now the the other side-- the outrage. This movie is about World War two, about Nazis. Some of the scenes show Hitler, Goering and other officers, acting horribly. A scene with Goering got me thinking how I would, if I'd been there, happily shot and killed nazis, especially the generals like Goering. This despicable general was proud to be a plunderer-- to steal mass troves of privately owned art.
The movie underscores the idea that art is culture, great art the accumulation of achievements people have produced, and how thefts of art are assaults on a people and their culture. That got me thinking about the billionaires and multi-millionaires who are actively attempting to destroy middle class American culture and break the backs of American workers-- the Koch brothers, Sam Zell (bought Chicago Tribune and LA Times,) Tom Perkins of HP and Kleiner Perkins venture capital, , John Schnatter of Papa Johns Pizza, the Walton Family, the Richard Mellon-Scaifes of the world".
These people are not just wealthy. They are parasites who exploit workers, who are the biggest welfare hogs, using and taking advantage of the government, the commons and the middle class. They are the generals in the class war-- a war that they and their ilk started and have been ginning up. They are enemy generals. Their spending, which I would estimate runs in the billions of dollars, more if you include the welfare and parasitization they engage in, is used to destroy lives, and it actually kills people, or kills their hopes and dreams. They are indeed far worse than billionaire Tom Perkins whined when he spoke of comparing the wealthy to the Jewish victims of Kristallnacht.
Let's talk about Perkins. This man recently sold his yacht-- the biggest sailing yacht ever built-- 289 feet-- for about $100 million dollars-- at least $50 million less than he paid for it. The Megayacht news website that reported this stated that Perkins kept the personal two man submarine he had built. This man attacks the people of Occupy for challenging the one percent. He feels threatened. He should feel threatened. No, I don't want to do to him as I would do to a Nazi general. But I do want to end his life as a billionaire. I do want to eliminate all billionaires from the planet.
That doesn't mean I want to kill them or harm them. No. I want to take away what they do not deserve-- their wealth. No sane person deserves, wants or needs billions of dollars. No person needs a 289 foot private sailing yacht. No person needs to privately own a painting or work of art that costs over $100 million. People who feel the need to possess that much money and such obscene, even pornographic possessions are sick. More and more people are saying it takes a sociopath to run a fortune 500 company or to become a billionaire. I've learned a bit about sociopaths and they are part of a collection of predators and malevolent personalities, which include psychopaths, anti-social personalities, narcissists and Borderline personalities. I'd also throw in addicts and hoarders to the list.
Seneca said " Success consecrates the foulest crimes." Balzac said, " Behind every great fortune there is a great crime," While Ghandi said, " All crime is a kind of disease and should be treated as such." The problem is, the treatments for the above diagnoses are minimal to nill success rates. When that's the case the best approach is to eliminate the sources and vectors for the disease and minimize the symptoms. T here were no billionaires or ultra-rich in the times before civilization when people lived in bands and tribes. Anyone who attempted to hoard such wealth would have been treated as insane. He would have been either thrown out of the tribe or straightened out. They would never have gotten to the point of wealth that today's billionaires have reached. It took a very flawed side-effect of civilization to enable the viability of billionaires.
Billionaires are predators who step on, step over and remorselessly destroy, harm or even kill people to reach their goals-- usually to win and dominate. And these people don't become billionaires or successes alone. They corrupt and buy (infect) many people-- politicians, regulators, judges along the blood way to get to the top. Just as generals in wars make decisions to spend the lives of troops, billionaires and CEOs consider the costs of people who are sickened by pollution or who die because they didn't have access to healthcare to be an acceptable part of doing business. And don't dare try to tell me that everyone can go to the emergency room. If that's what you are thinking, crawl back under your rock, like a good insect.
So, I'm watching this movie, thinking about how billionaires and multimillionaires really are a lot like the German officers who stole the treasurers of Europe's culture. It's a war movie. Some people get killed. That's not a spoiler. But it did get me thinking of the great courage and sacrifice millions of soldiers manifested in the "Great War." My father fought in North Africa, then in Italy. As a Jew in a division primarily from Texas, he was asked repeatedly, as a serious question, where his horns were. He faced some nasty anti-semitism and didn't take it. When he was a master sergeant, a lieutenant called him a "jew bastard." He punched the officer out and was busted to private, then assigned to reconnaissance-- one of the most dangerous jobs-- going ahead of the rest of the troops. At one point, he was in a jeep with two officers, again, going ahead, on reconnaissance, when their jeep hit a mine. The explosion knocked him out. His hard helmet protected him, but not the two officers. Their brains were splattered all over him. He was eventually wounded in the leg, sent home with a purple heart and carried shrapnel there the rest of his life, His father had a similar story. He was a soldier in the Czar's army back in the 1890s. The story has been passed down that a pogrom was perpetrated upon his shtetl, or village and Samuel Calchinsky (it was changed to Kall when he immigrated through Ellis Island) defended his people, killing the leader of the pogrom. He had to leave Russia, so he came to the USA about 115-120 years ago.
So". no, I don't want to kill billionaires. And I don't hate them. I see them as deadly, pertilences-- freaks of nature manifesting a rare form of gigantism. You don't hate the black plague. But you do all you can to eliminate it, to protect people from it and prevent it from harming anyone.
I do want to take billionaires' power away. I want to stop them from doing their damage, from hurting and killing. I want to tax them out of existence. I want to make it illegal to have so much money. I want to prevent a child of a billionaire from ever becoming a billionaire again-- by instituting 100% dynasty taxes on inheritances over $20 million a person. I know. Libertarians have sh*t-fits when I suggest this. After all, what about family estates that have been in existence for decades or even centuries? Sorry I don't hold any love for royalty or dynasties. On the contrary. they are multigenerational cultural malignancies. Of course, royalty is included in this category of parasites. It might be possible, if a culture wants to retain their royalty, to do so by nationalizing their castles and royal jewels-- assets which were gained by totally narcissistic, psychopathic means.
I really do believe it is possible to get traction with this issue. I'm not crazy. Billionaires and multi-hundred millionaires are among the most dangerous, deadly people on earth. Their power must be eliminated. T
In addition to taking away their billions, we should also treat them, every one of them, like war criminal suspects and investigate them. Look, we spend billions of dollars arresting, prosecuting and jailing millions of pot smokers and small-time criminals. We should be spending equal amounts on the hundreds of billionaires and thousands of hundred millionaires in the US.