Can 50 New York Millionaires Make a Difference?

As rank and file Democrats debate whether they want a significant shot at prosperity through public investment with Bernie Sanders or the Obama status quo with Hillary Clinton, 50 New York millionaires, mostly women, wrote an open letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo. They asked to have their taxes raised, saying of our crumbling society:

We cannot afford to ignore these challenges. As business leaders and investors, we know that the long-term stability and growth of a company requires investments in both its human capital and physical infrastructure. The same is true for our state.

This is precisely the message the Preservation Society has been debating since 1933. It seems that many of our esteemed fellow  ruling class-mates are “getting it” and recognizing the dire need for public investment.

In another article we applauded our class-mates Asher Edelman for his “progressive” support of Bernie Sanders and Nick Hanauer for the $15/hr minimum wage. But we also pointed out the skepticism the rank-and-file masses should have for tycoon charity. Ruling class members sometimes mean well towards the lower classes, but it is very difficult for them to voluntarily break with their power interest. They are almost hopelessly intertwined with it. The spirit of the ruling class has a strong grip. Most of these generous individuals, despite their good intention, will continue their status quo business, much of which contributes to the cause of economic disparity and instability in the first place.

According to the Christian Science Monitor  the New York Millionaire letter “comes from a subset of the ‘Patriotic Millionaires,’ a group of more than 200 US millionaires and billionaires calling for policies that benefit wage-earners and the majority of Americans over the wealthy elite.” We applaud them for their honesty. However, as we stated, wealth and “moral goodness” are uncomfortable bedfellows.

One of the signatories to the letter is Steven C. Rockefeller, whose famous family has a significant investment in Walmart. Walmart, of course, is famous for paying its employees so little that many of them need to go on public assistance — costing around $6.2 billion in 2013. Then there’s the Rockefeller-backed pharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences. They charge “$84,000 for a 12-week course of a new drug to treat hepatitis C. Gilead sells the exact same course for $900 in poor countries like Egypt and India.” The pill alone costs $1,000. We would imagine that such prices are a considerable amount to working families in the US.

It is not that Steven is especially duplicitous, but merely acting in accordance with the logic of his class. While he recognizes the need for strong government action to stabilize a sick economy, he is almost entirely helpless, poor dear, to do anything but undermine it: His position as a ruling class member puts him in an inherent conflict with the masses.

The relative incompetence of the ruling class in pursuing a balanced social agenda may be illustrated by a comparison between Us in the ruling class and Ralph Nader. With his small  merry band of “Nader Raiders”, the DC crusader has made seat belts, airbags and auto safety a part of his substantial legacy. Here is a list of other legislation he was instrumental in passing:

Clean Air Act
Clean Water Act
Consumer credit disclosure law
Consumer Product Safety Act
Co-Op Bank Bill
Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act
Foreign Corrupt Practices Act
Freedom of Information Act
Funeral home cost disclosure law
Law establishing Environmental Protection Agency
Medical Devices safety
Mine Health and Safety Act
Mobile home safety
National Automobile and Highway Traffic Safety Act
National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act
Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Act
Nuclear power safety
Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)
Pension protection law
Safe Water Drinking Act
Tire safety & grading disclosure law
Whistleblower Protection Act
Wholesome Meat Act
Wholesome Poultry Product Act

Much of that legislation was landmark like the Freedom of Information Act and OSHA. Below is a list of organizations Nader helped start:

American Antitrust Institute
Appleseed Foundation
Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest
Aviation Consumer Action Project
Buyers Up
Capitol Hill News Service
Center for Auto Safety
Center for Insurance Research
Center for Justice and Democracy
Center for Science in the Public Interest
Center for Study of Responsive Law
Center for Women Policy Studies
Citizen Action Group
Citizen Advocacy Center
Citizen Utility Boards
Citizen Works
Clean Water Action Project
Congress Project
Congress Watch
Connecticut Citizen Action Group
Corporate Accountability Research Group
Critical Mass Energy Project
Democracy Rising
Disability Rights Center
Equal Justice Foundation
Essential Information
FANS (Fight to Advance the Nation’s Sports)
Foundation for Taxpayers and Consumer Rights
Freedom of Information Clearinghouse
Georgia Legal Watch
Global Trade Watch
Health Research Group
Litigation Group
Multinational Monitor
National Citizen’s Coalition for Nursing Home Reform
National Coalition for Universities in the Public Interest
National Insurance Consumer Organization
Ohio Public Interest Action Group
Organization for Competitive Markets
Pension Rights Center
Princeton Project 55
PROD – truck safety
Public Citizen
Retired Professionals Action Group
Shafeek Nader Trust for the Community Interest
Student Public Interest Research Groups nationwide
Tax Reform Research Group
Telecommunications Research and Action Center
The Visitor’s Center
Trial Lawyers for Public Justice

Meanwhile, 200 millionaires and billionaires (and with a supposedly “progressive” president in office) struggle mostly in vain to raise their own taxes a little bit. Moreover, no individual member of Congress or the President has accomplished so much as Nader with or without the largess of the superior orders. The ruling class’s hold over the two parties is such that we actually have to tell the Liberal party to tax us more. In a functional ruling class democracy, we would be battling with the Liberals (through the Conservatives) to lower taxes and limit our social responsibility. The masses would be more like informed citizens than the largely apathetic or unquestioningly loyal masses we now enjoy .

It is up to the masses to better their position and stabilize society. We in the ruling class are too helpless to fix society on our own.

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