If I Were A Rich (Wo)Man

Sometimes I fantasize about what I would do if I was really, really rich–Bezos or Musk or Gates rich, or even Bloomberg rich. I’d concentrate on the single most destructive aspect of America’s current malaise: our information environment.

I’d start by buying Fox News, Sinclair and the other propaganda outfits masquerading as “news.” Then I’d set up a foundation with a single goal: revitalizing local news organizations. Real ones, practicing professional, ethical journalism. Bezos had the right idea when he purchased the Washington Post and gave it serious financial resources, but that is only one newspaper, and it’s national.

It’s also not read by the substantial number of Americans who are insulated from reality.

David French is a conservative–one of the dwindling number of sane ones. He has a newsletter, and in the wake of the first January 6 Committee hearing, he explained why so many Republicans remain impervious to the truth, not only of what happened on January 6th, but utterly unaware of the sordid reality of the Trump Presidency.

French isn’t just a conservative and an Evangelical: he explains that he lives in a deep-Red state, and has friends and multiple family members who are devout Trumpers (a term he doesn’t use), and has engaged in numerous conversations with them.

I don’t know how to link to the newsletter, but here is the gist of his explanation.

Let’s put this all together and apply it to ordinary Republican views of January 6. First, they’re going to know a lot less about the Trump team’s misconduct than you might think. Mention the John Eastman memos that urged Vice President Pence to reject Joe Biden’s electoral-vote majority, and many will shake their heads. Never heard of it.

Bring up Trump’s infamous phone call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and they’re mystified. They simply don’t know that the president threatened Georgia’s top election official with criminal prosecution and demanded that he “find” the votes necessary to change the outcome of the state’s presidential election.

I could go on and on. They don’t know about Trump’s effort to create a slate of shadow electors. They don’t know anything about Steve Bannon’s “Operation Green Bay Sweep,” the plan he developed with Peter Navarro to leverage the objections of more than 100 GOP members of Congress to delay election certification.

It all comes back to information–or in this case, the lack thereof–and the pervasiveness of Rightwing propaganda. I am convinced that without Fox “News,” the cult that is today’s GOP would shrink considerably. Yes, we’d still have White Christian Supremicists and QAnon crazies and the like, but we’d have far few people living in an alternate reality.

So I’d start by cleaning up the information environment.

As important as it is to do something about the unprecedented levels of disinformation being spewed daily by the propaganda mills, however, citizens also need a context–an accurate context–within which to process facts and evidence. So I would also devote a lot of my imaginary money to the nation’s public school systems, and the development of curricula that would facilitate critical thinking–at least, the ability to recognize what constitutes probative evidence and what doesn’t. (And civics, of course!) I’d use my riches to counter those who are bleeding America’s essential public schools in order to send those resources to private–primarily religious–institutions that largely perpetuate tribalism and ignore civic responsibility.

And finally (remember, in my imagination, I would be very, very rich), I would create entertainments intended to influence the culture and reinforce human virtues–television shows depicting people being appreciated for traits like humility and integrity, comic books for young people showcasing admirable behaviors, music extolling friendship, inclusion and community…

Ah, well. A girl can dream…

There’s a line from Tevya’s song in Fiddler on the Roof  that has always seemed to me to be a big part of our problems.  Tevye sings that, if he was rich, all the men in his village would come to him for advice, and it wouldn’t matter if he answered right or wrong, “because when you’re rich, they think you really know” An embarrassing number of people thought Trump must be smart because he was rich, and simply ignored all the evidence to the contrary. Today’s rich–the one-percenters who are calling the shots these days– include both nice and not-so-nice people. Some are truly talented; others are blowhards and entitled know-nothings.

I wish a couple of the good ones would buy Fox “News.”

 

27 thoughts on “If I Were A Rich (Wo)Man

  1. Yes, Einstein said it was a cultural issue. He said we had to move past the predatory capitalism phase in our society which emphasized the individual over the collective. We ignored him.

    The Kochs came along with Ayn Rand and Ronald Reagan/Margaret Thatcher forty years after Einstein and made it ALL about the individual while abhorring the collective. Tribalism ensued.

    Jonathon Cook recently wrote a great article about tribalism which I republished. It’s worth the 15-20 minutes of your day. He talks about the Israeli-Palestine conflict and the Ukrainian conflict as it relates to tribalism.

    He’s bringing tribalism back to self, where we ultimately need to address the conflict. It’s an internal and external battle.

    https://muncievoice.com/29317/forget-liberating-ukraine-we-first-need-to-liberate-our-minds/

  2. Well, how do we go about putting the toothpaste of bullshit back in the tube? Dreaming about being rich? That’s good for us as individuals, suppose. But for those who DO have 15 or 20 thousand dollars they’d like to invest, become an executive producer for my upcoming TV series.

    Todd summed things up very well today.

  3. The rich are causing the problems by taking away freedom of speech. Congress is addressing big tech and how it is swaying elections by up to 6 %.
    But thanks to these people we see that this new administration that is supported them is worsening the wage gap by SES and culturally.
    Even Van Jones is slamming the incompetence of Biden
    https://www.bizpacreview.com/2022/04/29/van-jones-day-to-day-reality-for-black-folks-worsened-under-biden-dems-overpromised-and-underdelivered-1231937/

  4. Todd, pretty good!

    You are absolutely correct that it all starts with self. If you hate your fellow man, are you going to be involved in a group or tribe that doesn’t hate his fellow man? If you are wealthy, are you going to hang around with the poorest among us? It’s a great dream, but when people become wealthy, the memory becomes very very short. Me’ism drives at all!

    Look at the outrage concerning fuel prices! Why are they so high? Obviously, there are no gas stations closing because of the lack of fuel supply. So why is it so high? This has happened periodically, it’s simple! The market allows people who have no intent on receiving the fuel that they purchase on futures contract, so before any delivery would happen, the contract is canceled or sold! It makes it seem like there’s a shortage because, being cyclical, happens every day. They buy up all of the futures on oil. Then, as the price goes up, they sell for a profit! Who gets stiffed and loses money at the top of the price increase? The average Joe trying to day trade. Somebody loses, but not those who are connected! They maintain the high level through purchasing, selling, and canceling contracts. In other words, it’s all fake! There’s no real shortage. But, the Ukraine conflict is the perfect vehicle to accomplish the upper 1% becoming even wealthier playing the stock market and soaking the money out of the average person’s pockets!

    So, none of this is going to change, it’s going to keep going until everything goes right down the crapper! If there was one iota of hope, it would have revealed itself by now. Oil companies are subsidized unnecessarily by the public, and this has been happening in a cyclical fashion ever since the Arab oil embargo.

    If you’re wealthy, the cost of gasoline doesn’t matter! You could drop a grand in your tank, and not think twice. On the whole, people always forget where they come from. Are people going to be hungry? Absolutely! Are people going to lose their possessions? Absolutely. Is what’s coming going to be worse than the Great depression? Without a doubt! There is so much debt, so much printing that has been going on, the government won’t be able to do a thing. It’ll be like Nazi germany, during the end of the war, people were hauling wheelbarrows full of money just to buy a loaf of bread! No compassion, no empathy, no nothing. There you go.

  5. If I had that kind of money, I’d spend it building decent, affordable housing until everyone had a home. Then I would pay for breakfast and lunch programs at all schools. Taking the anxieties of daily life out of the equation lets more people focus on those things that make life better, like music and art. After that: “All day long I’d biddy biddy bum.”

  6. Excellent idea!
    Using one’s massive wealth to pay back to the culture that allowed one to amass such wealth is a marvellous thing, even a (OMG I’m going to say it) patriotic thing.
    Loving one’s country, and wishing to make it even better!

  7. As the famous line in the movie – “I’ll have one of whatever she is having…”

    What you be drinkin’, smokin’, woman???

  8. You’re right they’re not all stupid, but they’re ignorant, literally: ignoring the obvious, with the help of Faux News, including that half our elected representatives (or more) are public servants without the L. Fake-pious self-serving suck-ups. Get ‘em out

  9. It’s hilarious how you “think” Fox News is the perpetrator of all things evil….and I’m thankful that Elon Musk is now the richest person- he seems to be telling it like it is – and it’s resonating. A republican woman- Mayra Flores – just won a special election in south Texas that had been held by democrats for over 100 years. The independent and hispanics are voting against the democrats. Once the truth is seen, you can’t unsee it, no matter how much the Left tries to blame Trump and Fox News. When you’ve got an administration telling you day after day how great the economy is, and any problems, inflation, food prices, gas prices, baby formula shortage, are not HIS fault – it’s LAUGHABLE.
    I’m glad you all have your little pious, intellectually superior bubble
    of 20 people here to console each other – I’m afraid you may need an anger management intervention in November.

    And, yes, the links below are Breitbart news – I cancelled my cable and don’t even watch Fox News.

    https://www.breitbart.com/midterm-election/2022/06/12/poll-independents-fuel-republican-bid-recapture-congress/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&fbclid=IwAR2x09qNI3njdztkfxRG0k_xWn9Fe1EdaE2rmqpIcX_450FdzHsfUxvUIWI

    https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2022/06/14/republican-mayra-flores-flips-texass-blue-seat-in-special-election/?fbclid=IwAR26Ulp3GiNMbZEmSelxoc82e1QZEOLfNFL9COz1Z1HH6biqU91aeY-g_OY

  10. Sheila – You’re right about the rich: some are stupid, some are not. But they are ALL responsible. Some for funding the radical right propaganda, and the rest for standing by and watching.

    Vernon Turner – What upcoming news series?

  11. We, the people, like to be entertained, spoiled with comfort, and win.

    They, the wealthy, are in arms races, to see who can hoover up the most, in order to have the most power over us.

    The SOTUS Justice originalists say that the founders anticipated today and because Justices are very much like religious shamans in that they can communicate with the long-gone founders, they discuss the possibility of things changing, to which the founders answer never changes, don’t change and the past will return.

  12. Professor Kennedy,
    I want you to know, my team of six -2nd grade educators developed a few lessons to instruct our students on the differnce between fact and opinion. These helped scaffold the critical thinking skills which we went on to include in math, reading and current events.

    e. g. George Washington was the first President of the US (Fact)
    e. g George Washington was the BEST president of the US (Opinion)

    It got to be a trick I would try to play on them after a while, and they caught me every time!

    Critical thinking skills on a elementary level.
    Even Todd would agree with that! 😉

  13. Shelia, One addition to the list might be to teach about how historical patterns tend to repeat. It seems we as a country and we as part of the larger world ignore “signs”. As an example, prior to WW2 countries, particularly those on the European continent were experiencing clashes between an emerging workers population seeking a share of the wealth and better working/ housing conditions. Conversely, those with wealth (ie.industrialist merchants and large land owners) saw this movement as a threat. Ultimately the lines were drawn between Socialism and Capitalism which morphed into Communism and Fascism. While today’s problems appear more complex and tend to blur perspectives, it seems the same patterns of protecting wealth while controlling the masses with disinformation is even more acute. Add to that, the politicians who seek the wealth’s support to retain power at any cost and you have “the perfect storm”. Thanks for reading; would like to read your thoughts on this perspective. Bob Bowman

  14. Peggy, my first thoughts tend to mirror yours. How can we help people be more empathetic and inclusive? How do we reduce the fear and anxiety? Right now, many, many people survive paycheck-to-paycheck, one accident or illness or money problem away from ruin. With that constant stress hanging around them like a shroud, how can we expect them to be better? So, I agree, alleviate that stress and it’ll help everyone.

    And, tax the hell out of the super-rich, and use that for a basic universal income of some sort.

    And, follow Sheila’s plan.

  15. The Vulcan’s changed their culture with a “cult” of logic. But they ended war and had equity for all Vulcans. (OK, they still had their problem – – I get it. Besides, it’s just fiction.) We HAVE TO CHANGE and WE CAN CHANGE. NOW. I don’t see how we can survive if we don’t change now. Every day the dangers we have ourselves created seem closer and closer to destroying us. I hate to be like this and I hate to say these things, but anyone who looks forward in time can see that we are not doing enough, fast enough to save ourselves. Sorry for such a downer comment. We have to try each and every day to do more.

  16. Christopher,
    I’m busy writing the screenplay for a multi-season action/adventure series based on my Sonya Keller novels, “The Ten Arms of Durga”, “Demon Slayer” and “The Medalist”. The protagonist is a female who transcends her horrifying abuse at the hands of her father’s drug suppliers and becomes a world-famous athlete and personality, a la Muhammad Ali. She uses that platform to help create and implement real change in our country and its priorities. Oh. Sonya is also a multiple black-belt holder in various martial arts including kendo.

    My director can’t wait to get started. That would be K. Simmons Productions of Honolulu. You can find the books on http://www.vernturner.com, but be warned: Once you start reading, you won’t be able to put them down…so say my readers.

    Thanks for the inquiry.

  17. With your vast wealth you could offer a few supreme court justices 50 million or so to retire from the court and give a speech once a year.

  18. Yep, Vernon’s books are good! I’ve got all of them. And definitely, the anticipated film series will be excellent viewing if the schedule continues on an upward trajectory.

  19. Becky, Fox’s “news” people aren’t the source of evil in the universe, they’re just sad little lying hypocritical sycophants, like Trump and all his enablers. You among them it would seem.

  20. David – WADR – I don’t think Sheila (or the rest of us) like ardent name calling of those we disagree with…it is a form of bullying…

  21. David,
    I would expect nothing less –
    do you think I actually care what anyone of this blog thinks of me ???? Like I would “value” their opinion???? 🤣🤣🤣
    I only read this blog to gauge the level of anger on the topic of the day. For the most part the perspective is pretty redundant – with very little introspection into their own party’s failings – it’s always Trump, Fox, Evangelical Christians, white men, racists conservatives, at fault. Except for Todd – you can always count on him – but he’s usually attacked by the others if he doesn’t toe the line.
    Then there are the people who comment like they are writing a book to try to garner an erudite “compliment “ from Vernon.
    When there are reputable, insightful and thought-provoking comments suggesting an alternative perspective, like from a Paul Ogden, most of the time he get attacked as well – it’s all SO predictable – the infighting is laughable and it appears to be “system-wide.”
    November is gonna be GREAT AGAIN!

  22. When Trump was first running for president, I commented that he would be a terrible president and the GOP was becoming a force for evil. I went on to say that the really awful thing was that our best alternative was the Democrats. Still true. Yes, the Democratic party is a shambling mess, led by folks as old as I am, and struggles to reconcile the contradictory or unattainable desires of those under their claimed big umbrella. However, choosing between their messiness and inconsistency and the undemocratic, power-hungry, white supremacy-promoting, racist, intellectually dishonest, and outright criminal nature of today’s GOP, is not difficult. I feel sorry for Becky, who has swallowed so many lies and conspiracy theories that it must make her a very unhappy person. That there are so many people in her camp is taking our country down a very bad road. Sheila for president!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *