Writings and observations

rainey BARRETT


When someone has an asset or significant advantage in life, it may’ve come from hard work, inheritance, luck or just serendipitous circumstance. Most of us don’t give such a situation much thought and go on our way.

But when someone so advantaged – regardless of how that advantage was acquired – brags about it or expects the rest of us to construct a special pedestal from which the wealthy can gaze lord-like over the rest of us, I get pissed. Such is my state at the moment.

We poor plebeians are suffering a torrent of billionaire bitching as some of them suddenly come out from the secured grounds of their compounds to complain we don’t appreciate them sufficiently. We’re being told they don’t deserve our scorn – that we’re treating them the way Nazis treated Jews – we “have-nots” should stop complaining about the “have’s” and spend more time admiring their success – voting should be based on “one-dollar-one-vote” – people who pay no taxes shouldn’t be allowed to vote – yadda, yadda, yadda.

Much of the arrogant blathering has been so ridiculous as to make me wonder how in hell they were smart enough to make a pile of bucks. Maybe Daddy left it to ‘em.

One of the craziest voices is that of Bud Konheim, CEO of a luxury fashion brand. I’m not going to give the bastard a dollop of publicity so if you want to know which one, look it up.

He says 99% of Americans should stop complaining and realize how lucky they are. He says our “poverty level is wealth in 99% of the rest of the world. Exact quote: “The guy’s making, oh my God, $35,000 a year. Why don’t we try that out in India or some countries we can’t even name. China. Anyplace. The (in America) guy is wealthy.”

If you’re trying to make sense out of that blather, don’t bother.

Konheim’s disconnect from reality interested – and revolted – Yale School of Management prof Jeffrey Sonnenfeld who said such “thinking” shrieks of “insensitivity and grandiosity.” “It makes you wonder about other decisions he’s making,” Sonnenfeld said.

Then there’s billionaire Tom Perkins who believes the mass of us poor folk are making “progressive war on the 1% as did the Nazis on anti-Semitism.” Perkins also has proposed giving each of us as many votes in elections as we have dollars in the bank. He, of course, would get a billion ballots or two. Damn! The last 15 years of her life, my mother – with only Social Security and family care for income – paid not a dollar in taxes. But she never missed an election in her life. Doubt her citizenship record could be matched by ol’ Perk.

Fellow billionaire Sam Zell defended Perkins with this gem: “The 1% works harder.” Said it with a straight face, too.

AOL’s Tim Armstrong slashed corporate contributions to 401(k) programs of thousands of employees because of high medical costs of two births. Said his self-insurred company just couldn’t afford it. Lululemon CEO Chip Wilson even blamed the failure of his company’s latest line of yoga pants on the women who bought them. “Some women’s bodies just actually don’t work,” he opined arogantly. And unfeelingly. Bet he sleeps alone.

Several years ago, social psychologist Paul Piff rigged a Monopoly game, sat back and watched the players. He found those who were given more money at the beginning of the game – those who used the advantage to get richer quicker and acquire more property – got ruder, less sensitive to “poorer” players and more demonstrative about their own “successes.”

When the game was over, Piff asked the winners how they did it. Most replied it was their wise purchase of property, handling their money well, quick thinking and making the right decisions. None of them brought up the privilege and extra bucks they got at the beginning.

In another dip into our social connection – and behavior – with wealth, Pitt found people making less than $25,000 a year gave 44% more of their income to charity than people making upwards of $200,000.

For every Warren Buffett among the monied class there seems to be a significant number of rich deadheads who’ve forgotten where they came from, how to relate to others not so privileged, are isolated in their “thinking” and totally divorced from the realities of people who make up the vast majority earth’s population providing their wealth. We’re currently being verbally assaulted by such monied flatulence.

One of my favorite lines from the theater was written by Philip Barry for “The Philadelphia Story” in 1939. A working stiff photographer was standing to the side of a large group of millionaires. All were jovial and enjoying the company of each other in their plush surroundings.

“Nothing like watching the idle rich enjoying their idols,” he opined.

As a proud member of the 99% or the 47% or the pick-any-percent crowd, I’d advise these guys – and the others hiding behind their security systems – to read up on Dr. Piff’s rigged Monopoly game and its findings.

Oh, yes. As Flo used to say, they can also “Kiss my grits”.

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Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

Maximus workers surprised by job losses (Boise Statesman)
Limited funds for roads in Asotin (Lewiston Tribune)
Pot zones approved for Pullman (Moscow News)
Zoning design control may be limited (Moscow News)
WSU sets up undocumented student help board (Moscow News)
New Walmart at Nampa (Nampa Press Tribune)
Bill to allow 80 mph speeds advances (Nampa Press Tribune)
Nampa teacher negotiations center on health (Nampa Press Tribune)
Grace, North Gem School Districts may merge (Pocatello Journal)
CSI might spend $100k to deal with gun bill (TF Times News)
New transparency at TF economic group (TF Times News)

Benton considers new jail plan (Corvallis Gazette Times)
Corvallis school board paying some legal costs (Corvallis Gazette Times)
Corvallis property maintenance draws crowd (Corvallis Gazette Times)
Titling undocumented drivers license ballot issue (Eugene Register Guard, Ashland Tidings)
Natural Grocers coming to Eugene (Eugene Register Guard)
Klamath Union HS remodel considered (KF Herald & News)
Hoppe plans circuit court run (Ashland Tidings)
Eagle Point shop owner plans commission run (Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
Medford teacher vote still ahead (Medford Tribune)
Tamastslikt wind turbine starts (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Hermiston officials planning ahead (Pendleton East Oregonian)
Debate over small town chicken ban (Portland Oregonian)
Mexican narco-lord arrest ripples to Oregon (Portland Oregonian)
Local governments may get lottery funds (Portland Oregonian)
Salem develoiper faces big tax lien (Salem Statesman Journal)

Management at morgue changes (Everett Herald)
Senate Democrats would end tax breaks, fund schools (Everett Herald, Vancouver Columbian)
More urban growth acreage okayed (Kennewick Herald)
New welcome sign at Longview (Longview News)
Sheriff warns of jail bond loss impacts (Longview News)
Problems with Bertha began in Japan (Seattle Times)
PA Lincoln theatre will close (Port Angeles News)
Spokane Valley bans texting by council at meeting (Spokane Spokesman)
KPBX public radio moves to new digs (Spokane Spokesman)
School testing at Tacoma (Tacoma News Tribune)
Park at Gig Harbor opens (Tacoma News Tribune)
C-Tran shows off bus proposal (Vancouver Columbian)
Snowpack at Yakima now at average (Yakima Herald Republic)

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First Take