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Brother, Can You Spare a Billion?

Glenn Greenwald and the Myth of Income Inequality

by DOUGLAS VALENTINE

Quite righteously, Glenn Greenwald and his sidekick Jeremy Scahill see nothing wrong with Pierre Omidyar having $8 billion, and not using it to house, feed, clothe and heal the poor.  No harm, no foul.

Omidyar’s “political views and donations are of no special interest to me,” Greenwald explained.

Those views and “donations” (apart from those that pay his salary) have “no affect whatsoever on my journalism or the journalism of The Intercept,” he added humbly, from the heart.

Noting that Omidyar worked hard for every cent in his piggy bank, Greenwald recently assured his nervous followers that the Omidyar Network’s political views and activities “have no effect whatsoever (italics added) on what he and his recycled mainstream media cohorts at The Intercept report, how they report it, or what they say.

But do Greenwald and Scahill really have editorial freedom?  Could they, for example, investigate and write a story on something as farfetched as income inequality in America?

I hear you laughing, and wondering why a winner of the Polk Award and a guy who’d been on the Bill Maher Show would risk their reputations by treading into such a dubious arena.

For those few who are unaware of it, “income inequality” is a favorite subject of conspiracy theorists like Noam Chomsky, the aging radical who recently tested the patience of respected journalists everywhere by hinting at the existence of a mystical “plutonomy,” composed of rich people like Pierre Omidyar, that secretly imprisons millions of human beings worldwide in a low wage “precariat” hell.

Referring to a sophisticated system of psychological destabilization established and maintained by this so-called plutonomy, Chomsky theorized that “if workers are insecure they won’t ask for wages, they won’t go on strike, they won’t call for benefits; they’ll serve the masters gladly and passively.”

Greenwald acknowledged that he and Scahill feel the same insecurities of the working classes, and that they gladly and passively serve Omidyar only because “it’s virtually (italics added) impossible to do sustained, broad-scale investigative journalism aimed at large and powerful entities without such funding.”

(It’s that kind of empathy for the average man and woman that attracts so many followers to them.)

But unlike flake-o Chomsky, Greenwald and Scahill find no evidence that some secret cabal of wealthy people has any evil intentions to rule society or oppress the poor.  They utterly reject Chomsky’s X-files belief that “by keeping people hanging on a limb than can be sawed off at any time,” the plutonomy forces people to “shut up, take tiny salaries, and do their work; and if they get the gift of being allowed to serve under miserable conditions for another year, they should welcome it and not ask for any more.”

Greenwald, quire properly, portrays his big time benefactor as “altruistic,” while Scahill characterizes Omidyar as a “visionary.”

The theory that only the charitable superrich can sustain the poor is substantiated by Milton Friedman’s success in Chile in 1973, and the IMF’s successes in a hundred indebted nations around the world.  The eminent capitalist economist Ralph Nader has also appealed to “moderately enlightened” billionaires like Omidyar to save the American political system itself.

As an example of Omidyar’s concern for the humanity, Greenwald pointed out that the billionaire philanthropist recently parceled out portions of his fortune to help poor people overthrow the oppressive government of Ukraine, where democracy had utterly failed.

Greenwald is aware of the whisper campaign designed to smear him by suggesting that some of Omidyar’s donations were used by the CIA to arm neo-Nazis.  But if CIA mercenaries were slithering around Kiev, Jeremy Scahill certainly would have heard about it and reported it.  The mere fact that Scahill didn’t report on it puts those libels to rest.

And even if Omidyar’s donations fell into the hands of neo-Nazis and helped create the current international crisis that portends the kind of military conflict Greenwald and Scahill abhor, it certainly isn’t their fault.  Mistakes happen.  Anyway, what happens in the Ukraine has nothing to do with America.

As Greenwald and Scahill are fully aware, if Americans felt they were being denied the bare essentials of life by some “plutonomy,” they have the inalienable right to vote to eliminate tax right-offs and other systematic inequalities in the system.  The unwillingness of Americans to exercise these freedoms is proof that no income inequality exists.  So why go looking for the Bermuda Triangle?

I, for one, am always glad to give Greenwald and Scahill a free pass, simply because they risk their lives daily while exposing the assassination tactics of the NSA.  To me, they are like a real life Batman and Robin, helping all the poor slobs who wallow beneath them in noble anonymity, in low paying jobs, on assembly lines and in warehouses, in construction jobs and sweatshops.  Their empathy for such little people is profoundly evident in everything they do.

Batman and Robin give us hope that we are not being victimized by unprincipled conmen running a scam as part of the greatest covert psywar operation ever mounted, a scam that perpetually separates the National Security State from the racist classist “plutonomy” it serves, at the expense of the working classes.

By their example, Greenwald and Scahill let the poor of the world know that hoarding $8 billion is not a crime.  And for that we thank them.

Douglas Valentine is the author of five books, including The Phoenix Program.  See www.douglasvalentine.com or write to him at dougvalentine77@gmail.com