FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Bloomberg: a Candidate of, By and For the 0.01%

by

shutterstock_261040724

Even as Bernie Sanders’ insurgent “democratic socialist” campaign for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination is really starting to look like it might actually succeed, with polls now showing him ahead of Hillary Clinton in both the earliest primary states, Iowa and New Hampshire, and with Republicans engaged in a circular firing squad where all the people with guns are nut-jobs of one kind or another, making a Sanders presidency even seem possible, we read that former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg is contemplating running for the White House as an independent candidate.

Now while the idea of a mega-billionaire as president may be a sick joke, Bloomberg’s running for president on his own tab (he’s ready to spend $1 billion of his own money) is no joke at all. With Forbes magazine listing his current worth as $36.8 billion at the start of this year, he is the eighth richest man in America, just behind Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and just ahead of Jim Walton.

It is hard to think of a worse idea than having a smug, self-congratulatory billionaire – someone not just from the top 1% of the population but the top 0.01% — sitting at the top of government telling us all what to do, but I suppose in the interest of fairness we should tote up his pros and cons. So in memory of the departed but not forgotten TCBH! co-founder Chuck Young (see his 2010 article Where Mayor Mike Can Push His Poll [1]), here’s my list of five good and five bad things about having Bloomberg join the race for president as an obscenely wealthy independent candidate:

5. Good: Donald Trump, the likely GOP candidate at this point, will no longer be able to boast about his supposed business acumen. Forbes says Trump, no a self-made man but rather a trust-fund baby who got staked $1 million by his old man, is now worth $4.5 billion, making him only the 72nd richest man in America. That might seem a decent sum, but it’s just lunch money for Bloomberg ,who added more than that amount to his assets just over the past year, according to Forbes. And Bloomberg, who hails from an ordinary working family, made all his money himself (or rather, his employees made it for him), first in the securities industry and then with his Bloomberg financial information network.

Bad: Bloomberg is a tight bastard. During his three terms as mayor of New York, he allowed the New York public school system to sink into a funding black hole, as he tried to squeeze teacher salaries and pensions and to both close some schools and convert others to charter schools. The worst year was the Great Recession year of 2010-11, when revenues from the city budget for the city’s schools fell by 10.4% and from the state government, by 24.1%. Federal aid to New York City public schools was boosted that year by 1%, leaving the schools system short by 17%, or about $4.5 billion. Now maybe it wouldn’t be fair to have expected private real estate magnate Trump to turn over his whole nest egg to get the schools in his hometown through that one-year crisis, but Bloomberg in 2012 was worth a cool $25 billion according to Forbes. He could have funded the schools for the mostly impoverished kids of his city fully that school year and wouldn’t have evennoticed the difference.

4. Good: Bloomberg is 73 years old, just a year younger than Sanders, which should defuse the charge, made by mainstream pundits and no doubt soon by the 69-year-old died-blonde Trump, that that Sanders is too old to be president.

Bad: Bloomberg is impeccably groomed, and probably gets $200 haircuts regularly, which leaves both Trump and Sanders as the messy hair candidates.

3. Good: Bloomberg doesn’t have much love for The Donald, so Bernie won’t have to handle the whole job himself of attacking his Republican rival during the fall campaign.

Bad: Bloomberg has his own news service and an army of journalists on payroll, who no doubt will be called upon to churn out favorable articles about the boss. Sanders for his part can barely get mentioned in the corporate media, and when he does get mentioned, it’s usually in the form of hit pieces.

2. Good: Bloomberg treated the Occupy Wall Street abominably, no doubt because all his cronies are Wall Street bankers and investment bankers who were terrified by the rabble at their gates, and were annoyed at being discommoded by having to endure taunts from spikey-haired lip-ringed kids as they rode to “work” in their limos and by the need to cross police barricades that were blocking off the whole of Wall Street itself. This will give Sanders, who backed the Occupy movement, a great target. He’ll be able to rake Bloomberg, the uber-one-percenter, for calling out the NYPD thugs and loosing them on the protesting kids, for denying them portapotties near the Zuccotti Park occupation zone, and for finally crushing the movement with a night-time assault and police riot that featured clubs, tear gas, mace and mass arrests. (Bloomberg did the same thing earlier with protests against the Iraq invasion and with a march and demonstration against the Republican National Convention.)

Bad: If Bloomberg were somehow to win the presidency, we can expect even more military-style policing, more spying and fewer civil liberties. Mayor Mike may have a soft spot for gay rights and abortion rights, but he’s no fan of civil liberties.

1. Good: Bloomberg has all the charm and easy folksiness of a… robber baron. Looking like he’s badly constipated and just ate something bad when he’s in a group of plebes, he makes Bernie Sanders look positively charismatic in comparison.

Bad: He is a robber Barron, and he can and no doubt would pour endless amounts of his own money into an independent campaign, swamping both Trump’s funding and Sander’s funding – money that he could have put to much better use by donating it to the poor kids of the city’s cash-starved schools, as he should have done back in depths of the recession.

At least if Bloomberg does join the race, reporters like myself can have a field day exploring how Bloomberg managed to go from being worth $4.8 billion on January 1, 2002, when he took office as mayor, to being worth a staggering $27 billion when he left office at the end of 2013.

You really have to wonder how a supposedly full-time mayor of the country’s largest city managed to pull that off. Was he actually moonlighting at Bloomberg LLC through his three terms? Or is that simply how the super-rich get richer, i.e. by doing nothing?

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

December 08, 2016
John W. Whitehead
Power to the People: John Lennon’s Legacy Lives On
Mike Whitney
Rolling Back the Empire: Washington’s Proxy-Army Faces Decisive Defeat in Aleppo
Ellen Brown
“We’ll Look at Everything:” More Thoughts on Trump’s $1 Trillion Infrastructure Plan
John Stauber
The Rise and Fall of Obamacare: Will the Inside Story Ever be Told?
Ted Rall
Ameri-Splaining
Michael J. Sainato
Mainstream Media Continues Absolving Itself From Clinton, Trump Election Failures
Ralph Nader – Mark Green
Divest or Face Impeachment: an Open Letter to Donald Trump
Gareth Porter
US Airstrikes on Syrian Troops: Report Data Undermine Claim of “Mistake”
Martha Burke
What Trumponomics Means for Women
Ramzy Baroud
Fatah, Hold Your Applause: Palestinian Body Politic Rotten to the Core
Steve Horn
Jeff Sessions, Trump’s Attorney General Pick, Introduced First Bill Exempting Fracking from Drinking Water Rules
Joe Ware
The Big Shift: Why Banks Need to Stop Investing Our Money Into Fossil Fuels
Juliana Barnet
On the Ground at Standing Rock
Franklin Lamb
Aleppo Update: An Inspiring Return to the Bombed Out National Museum
Steve Kelly
Hidden Harmony: on the Perfection of Forests
December 07, 2016
Michael Schwalbe
What We Talk About When We Talk About Class
Karl Grossman
The Next Frontier: Trump and Space Weapons
Kenneth Surin
On Being Caught Speeding in Rural America
Chris Floyd
In Like Flynn: Blowback for Filth-Peddling Fascists
Serge Halimi
Trump, the Know-Nothing Victor
Paul DeRienzo
Flynn Flam: Neocon Ex-General to Be Trump’s National Security Advisor
Binoy Kampmark
Troubled Waters: Trump, Taiwan and Beijing
Tom Clifford
Trump and China: a Note From Beijing
Arnold August
Fidel’s Legacy to the World on Theory and Practice
Dave Lindorff
Is Trump’s Idea To Fix a ‘Rigged System’ by Appointing Crooks Who’ve Played It?
John Kirk
Cuba After Fidel
Jess Guh
Repeal of Affordable Care Act is Politics Playing with the Wellbeing of Americans
Eric Sommer
Team Trump: a Government of Generals and Billionaires
Lawrence Davidson
U.S. Reactions to the Death of Fidel Castro
John Garvey - Noel Ignatiev
Abolitionism: a Study Guide
Clancy Sigal
Caution: Conspiracy Theory Ahead!
December 06, 2016
Anthony DiMaggio
Post-Fact Politics: Reviewing the History of Fake News and Propaganda
Richard Moser
Standing Rock: Challenge to the Establishment, School for the Social Movements
Behrooz Ghamari Tabrizi
Warmongering 99 – Common Sense 0: the Senate’s Unanimous Renewal of Iran Sanctions Act
Norman Solomon
Media Complicity is Key to Blacklisting Websites
Michael J. Sainato
Elizabeth Warren’s Shameful Exploitation of Standing Rock Victory
David Rosen
State Power and Terror: From Wounded Knee to Standing Rock
Kim Ives
Deconstructing Another Right-Wing Victory in Haiti
Nile Bowie
South Korea’s Presidency On A Knife-Edge
Mateo Pimentel
Some Notes and a Song for Standing Rock
CJ Hopkins
Manufacturing Normality
Bill Fletcher Jr – Bob Wing
Fighting Back Against the White Revolt of 2016
Peter Lee
Is America Ready for a War on White Privilege?
Pepe Escobar
The Rules of the (Trump) Game
W. T. Whitney
No Peace Yet in Colombia Despite War’s End
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail