“Survival of the Richest” Bonus Chapter

A great deal of material was ultimately edited out of what will be the published version of Survival of the Richest. I will be sharing much of that material here on my blog. I’d like to start with what was to be the longest chapter in the book, which examines the entangling alliances and incestuous nature of fame and success.

Chapter Two: Relations and Connections

Everybody gets everything handed to them. The rich inherit it….I mean what people take for granted among the upper and middle classes, which is nepotism, the old-boy network.

– Toni Morrison

Much research has been conducted over the years, establishing that most of the United States presidents were related to one another. Lineage specialist Gary Boyd Roberts found that George H.W. Bush was the tenth cousin once removed of his Vice President, Dan Quayle. Both Bush and Quayle, Boyd found, were related to Abraham Lincoln and, oddly enough, Charles Stanley Gifford, long thought to be Marilyn Monroe’s seemingly low life father. Even odder is the fact that Monroe herself was a Mayflower descendent. Boyd also stated that Bush was related to nine other former presidents. (USA Today, November 15, 1988).

Actor Tom Hanks is a descendent of Nancy Hanks, Abraham Lincoln’s mother. So is George Clooney, who is Lincoln’s half-first cousin, five times removed, according to ancestry.com historians. Ben Affleck, despite what seems on the surface to be a fairly humble background, is supposedly related to sixteen different Presidents, including Barack Obama, who has a lot of prestigious figures in his family tree for the first black man to hold the office (Obama is also said to be a distant relative of another famous actor, Brad Pitt, who we are told is a distant cousin of director Spike Lee as well). Playboy founder and publisher Hugh Hefner is an eleventh cousin, twice removed, to President George W. Bush, and like the Bushes and Marilyn Monroe is descended from the Mayflower. Entertainer Madonna is descended from President John Tyler, and is also a distant cousin to Hillary Rodham Clinton. Actor Richard Gere can also trace his roots back to the Mayflower, as well as Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and James Garfield. Clint Eastwood is a real blue blood, with ties to King Henry I of England, President Franklin Pierce and Nancy Reagan. Sarah Palin is a ninth cousin, once removed, of FDR and yet another Mayflower descendent. Actress Angelina Jolie, meanwhile, is related to Hillary Rodham Clinton (who in addition to Madonna and Jolie, is also distant cousins with two more entertainers, singers Alanis Morrisette and Celine Dion, and if it can be believed, beatnik author Jack Kerouac and Camilla Parker-Bowles, wife of England’s Prince Charles). Longtime hack party politician and war aficionado John McCain is a sixth cousin to former First Lady Laura Bush.  (Quad City Times, March 25, 2008). Model Kate Upton is the niece of U.S. Rep. Fred Upton. Johnny Cash’s wife June Carter Nash was distant cousins with President Jimmy Carter. Actress Olympia Dukakis is a cousin of one time Democratic Party presidential nominee Michael Dukakis. Actor Ralph Fiennes was born into what Business Insider called “an aristocratic family,” and is eighth cousins with Prince Charles.

These roots sometimes go back several generations. Standard Oil of New York chairman of the board Henry Clay Folger, for instance, was descended from Abiah Folger, Benjamin Franklin’s mother. Americans cherish the image of Abraham Lincoln being born in a log cabin under desperate circumstances, but in reality his grandfather amassed over 5,000 acres of prime Kentucky real estate, benefiting from the advice of family relative Daniel Boone. Another president depicted as rising from nothing was Harry Truman, whose grandparents had a 600 acre farm, who took piano lessons as a child, and who at age sixteen was a page at the 1900 Democratic Party convention. Two time Democratic presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson II’s grandfather was Jesse Fell, an important Republican Party figure and personal friend and campaign manager of Abraham Lincoln. His other grandfather was even more illustrious; Adlai Stevenson I was Grover Cleveland’s vice-president. His grandmother helped establish the Daughters of the American Revolution. Gulf War Commander-in-Chief General Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr. had a father who was the superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, and presided over the bogus investigation into the Lindbergh baby kidnapping. The fact that both his father and grandfather had been four-star Admirals certainly helped John McCain start off on the right foot in his military career. Former Secretary of State and Democratic Party presidential nominee John Kerry’s background is littered with prestigious names like Forbes and Winthrop. Another Democratic Party presidential standard bearer, ex-Vice President Al Gore, had a father who was a U.S. Senator and a mother who was one of the first women to graduate from Vanderbilt University Law School. Astronaut Alan Shepherd, dictionary impresario Noah Webster, actors Alec Baldwin, Dick Van Dyke and Christopher Reeve, crooner Bing Crosby, Union General George McClellan, the first “super” chef Julia Child, reclusive author  Thomas Pynchon, painter Grandma Moses Robertson, poets Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and child “expert” Dr. Benjamin Spock are just some of the celebrated figures descended from the Mayflower.

Renowned explorer Ferdinand Magellen was born into a “Portuguese noble family.” Jonathan Swift’s grandmother was related to the poet John Dryden, his grandmother’s aunt was a first cousin of Sir Walter Raleigh’s wife Elizabeth Throckmorton, who was one of Queen Elizabeth I’s ladies-in-waiting, and his uncle married the daughter of the godson of William Shakespeare. Charles Darwin was born at his family home “The Mount” (you know you’re rich when your family’s home has a name). His father was a wealthy doctor serving high society, and both his grandfathers were prominent abolitionists. Karl Marx was descended from a series of Rabbis, and his father was a wealthy lawyer who owned multiple vineyards.
Jack London’s mother’s family (the Wellans) were very wealthy. Writer Miles Mathis alleges that London’s ancestors had testified at the Salem Witch Trials. Radical leader John Reed was born in his wealthy grandmother’s mansion, which featured a staff of Chinese servants.

Gary Cooper’s father was a judge. So was Marion Davies’, long time mistress of tycoon William Randolph Hearst. Katherine Hepburn was, to quote Wikipedia, “raised by wealthy, progressive parents.” Her father was a urologist and her mother an outspoken feminist advocate. Actress Carole Lombard had parents who each came from wealthy families; biographer Robert Matzen termed her childhood her “silver spoon period.” Imdb tells us that actress Miriam Hopkins was “born into wealth,” and attended private “academies” like her arch-enemy, Bette Davis (whose father was an attorney). Actor Franchot Tone was born into what Imdb describes as “a well-to-do upstate New York family.” Actress Paulette Goddard’s father was the son of a “prosperous cigar manufacturer,” in Wikipedia’s words. Director Howard Hawks had a father who was “a wealthy paper manufacturer,” and a mother who was the “daughter of a wealthy industrialist,” to quote Wikipedia. Director William Wellman’s upper-class bloodlines went back to the Declaration of Independence, which his great-great-great grandfather signed. Howard Hawks’ father was a “wealthy paper manufacturer” and his mother was the daughter of “a wealthy industrialist.” Sisters Joan and Constance Bennett came from a prestigious acting family, with theatrical roots dating back to the eighteenth century. Their nephew was Morton Downey, Jr., who briefly achieved fame in the late 1980s with a sensationalist talk show, and whose own father, Morton Downey, Sr. was a noted singer and composer. Actor Robert Montgomery was the son of the president of the New York Rubber Company, and his daughter Elizabeth, well remembered as Samantha in television’s Bewitched, continued to “build” on his success. Myrna Loy’s father was a banker, rancher and the youngest man ever elected to the Montana state legislature. Jayne Mansfield’s father was an attorney who practiced with a future New Jersey governor, and her grandparents were wealthy enough that she inherited what would have been over $1 million in current value from them. Margaret Sullavan’s father was “a wealthy stockbroker,” to quote Wikipedia. Jane Wyatt’s father was a Wall Street investment banker, and her mother a drama critic. According to Wikipedia, Norma Shearer’s childhood in Montreal was “one of privilege.” Orson Welles was born to an affluent family, and as a youth he once spent the summer at a private New York art colony playing with the children of the Aga Khan. He was yet another Mayflower descendant. Grace Kelly’s wealthy father had won three Olympic gold medals in his youth, and was appointed the National Director of Physical Fitness by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Audrey Hepburn had a slew of Baronesses and other aristocratic relatives in her background. Imdb provided an illuminating anecdote, noting that one time leading lady Lynn Bari happened to remark to her co-star Anabel Shaw, during the filming of Shock (1946) that she was a direct descendant of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton. An astonished Shaw revealed that she was directly descended from the man who killed Hamilton in a duel, U.S. Vice President Aaron Burr. Can we picture two construction workers, or janitors, or file clerks, ever having such a conversation?

Actress Tallulah Bankhead’s father was the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, and both her grandfather and uncle had been U.S. Senators. Humphrey Bogart’s father was a surgeon and his mother a renowned illustrator who had studied under the famous painter James McNeill Whistler, and he was still another Mayflower descendant. Speaking of Whistler, he grew up the son of a “prominent engineer,” to quote Wikipedia. Artist Henri Matisse, again in the words of Wikipedia, was the son of a “prosperous grain merchant.” Samuel Clemens, aka Mark Twain, had a judge for a father. Nathanial Hawthorne was descended from a family of judges and important members of the community; his great-great grandfather was one of those who oversaw the Salem Witch trials. T.S. Eliot’s grandfather had founded a church, his father was president and treasurer of a brick company, and his mother was one of the first social workers. Ezra Pound’s grandfather was a U.S. Congressman. So was Emily Dickinson’s. Black poet Langston Hughes had mixed ancestry; the Langston branch was described by Wikipedia as “elite, politically connected,” and had led the Ohio Anti- Slavery Society. Theodore Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, had a father who managed “the family brewery,” in Wikipedia’s words. Author Booth Tarkington’s uncle was the governor of California, and his wife was related to the mayor of Chicago. He attended the ultra-prestigious Phillips Exeter Academy. As a Princeton undergraduate, he socialized with future President Woodrow Wilson. F. Scott Fitzgerald was named after his second cousin, three times removed, Francis Scott Key; Wikipedia informs us he came from “an upper-middle-class family.” Ian Fleming, author of the James Bond books, was descended from a prestigious banking family, and his father was a long time member of the English Parliament. Socialist writer and politician Upton Sinclair had what are invariably described in accounts as “wealthy maternal grandparents.” His father came from an aristocratic southern family, too, that lost their fortune after the Civil War. John Cheever grew up in his prosperous family’s large Victorian house. William Faulkner’s father owned several businesses, and his grandfather owned a railroad. John Irving’s stepfather was on the faculty of the prestigious Phillips Exeter Academy, where the fledgling writer received an elite education. Wikipedia tells us that James Joyce’s father and grandfather both married into wealthy families. Vladimir Nabokov was born into a “wealthy and prominent family of minor nobility,” to quote Wikipedia. Gertrude Stein’s father was a “wealthy businessman,” in Wikipedia’s words. One of the few verifiable aspects of William Shakespeare’s biography is the fact his father was a wealthy official in Stratford-upon- Avon, and that his mother came from an important, respected family.

Cole Porter was “the only child of a wealthy family,” to quote Wikipedia. His grandfather was “the richest man in Indiana.” Composer Stephen Sondheim was another only child of wealthy parents. Composer Richard Rodgers was “born into a prosperous German family,” according to Wikipedia, and his father was a prominent physician. Lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II had a grandfather who was a theater impresario. When his father died, he was eulogized in the New York Times as “the Barnum of Vaudeville.”  Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber came from a prominent musical family, was a Queen’s Scholar at Westminster School and studied at the Royal College of Music. Wikipedia tells us that Agatha Christie was born into a “wealthy upper middle-class family.” Oscar Wilde’s father was Ireland’s most renowned eye surgeon, who was knighted and known as “Sir,” while his mother was Lady Wilde. W. Somerset Maugham’s father and his grandfather were both prominent English lawyers. Archibald MacLeish grew up on what Wikipedia termed an “estate,” and his mother was the president of Rockford College. In a biography that is clearly missing some essential pieces, Clare Booth (later to marry Time-Life founder Henry Luce, who attended exclusive private schools himself as a youth), was referred to publicly as a “socialite” as a young girl, attended private “Cathedral” schools in New York, took a tour of Europe as a girl with her mother and stepfather, and at age ten was Mary Pickford’s understudy on Broadway. Ring Lardner was, according to Wikipedia, “the son of wealthy parents.” Virginia Woolf was born into a wealthy family; her father was a “Sir.”

We see the same trends from generation to generation, and the list is endless. Rock star David Crosby came from the very prominent Van Cortlant family, and his father was Academy Award winning cinematographer Floyd Crosby. Future Byrds’ band mate Roger McGuinn had a mother and father that co-wrote the best seller Parents Can’t Win during his childhood. Singer Linda Ronstadt’s family was affluent enough to be featured in a 1963 issue of Family Circle magazine. Another notable folk-rock performer, Gram Parsons, came from a very wealthy family (his mother was the daughter of a citrus fruit magnate). Singer Bonnie Raitt’s father was a Broadway star.  Go-Gos guitarist Charlotte Caffey’s father was a well known television director. Pop singer Lesley Gore had a father, according to Wikipedia, who was “a wealthy manufacturer of children’s clothes and swimwear.” James Taylor’s father came from a “well off family,” to quote Wikipedia, and he was a physician and university professor, while his mother was an aspiring opera singer, who had studied at the high brow New England Conservatory of Music. His one time wife, fellow music star Carly Simon, came into the world as the daughter of Richard L. Simon, co-founder of publishing giant Simon & Schuster. Former Van Halen lead singer David Lee Roth’s father was an eye surgeon who, according to Wikipedia, “made millions via his practice and real estate.”  Glee star Darren Criss had a father who sat on the Board of Directors for the ritzy San Francisco Opera, and is the chairman and CEO of EastWest Bank. Little Feat’s Lowell George was born in Hollywood, and his musical career was initially funded by his grandfather’s stock. His father was a furrier to the stars.  Motown record mogul Berry Gordy was descended from a white plantation owner, and related to President Jimmy Carter.

Comedian Billy Crystal’s father was a jazz promoter and record store owner, his uncle was the well-known musician and songwriter Milt Gabler. Talk show host Jimmy Kimmel’s father was an executive with IBM. Kimmel’s one-time girlfriend, comedian Sarah Siliverman had a mother who was Senator George McGovern’s personal campaign photographer. Adam Carolla’s father was a psychologist, and his step-grandfather was a Hollywood screenwriter. Carolla expressed his feelings about rich people and poor people clearly (and seriously) in an interview with The Daily Caller. “They’re better than poor people. They just are,” he declared. “They (rich people) work harder, generally. More focused. …the poor people I grew up with, fairly lethargic, did a lot of complaining., they smoked a little too much, drank a little too much, blamed everyone but themselves a little too much.” It is difficult to picture the son of a psychologist, raised in North Hollywood, Los Angeles, having any poor people around to “grow up with.” Ari Emanuel is one of the most powerful agents in Hollywood. His brother is former White House Chief of Staff and current Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Yet another brother is noted bioethicist Ezekiel Emanuel, who was one of the architects of Obamacare. Their father was a doctor who was active in the Irgun, an Israeli group that many consider to have been terroristic in nature. ESPN’s Mel Kiper, Jr., who is the foremost NFL draft “expert” in the country, experienced one of those unexplained assists up the ladder, when as a high school student he was encouraged by then Baltimore Colts executive Ernie Accorsi to sell his research to fans. Do NFL executives normally give advice to high school kids? Kiper has built a $7 million fortune out of analyzing one annual event.

Actor Armie Hammer is the great-grandson of oil tycoon and advisor to numerous politicians Armand Hammer. Designer Calvin Klein’s daughter Marci fought her way through the morass of show business to become a very successful TV producer. Comedian Jon Stewart’s brother is a powerful figure with the New York Stock Exchange. Actor Chevy Chase is distinctly upper crust on both sides; his mother was a concert pianist and the stepdaughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt Crane, his father was a prominent editor and writer, his grandfather was a well-known illustrator and a grandmother was an opera singer who performed regularly at Carnegie Hall.  Chase was listed in the Social Register at a very young age. He, too, can trace his ancestry back to the Mayflower. CNN talk show host Anderson Cooper is the son of Gloria Vanderbilt. Actress Julia Louis-Dreyfuss was born to a billionaire father, and her great-great grandfather founded the huge French conglomerate Louis Dreyfus Group in 1851. ESPN’s Chris Berman’s mother was a reporter for Time magazine and his father was a corporate executive vice-president.  Singer/Actor Harry Connick, Jr. had a mother who was a Louisiana Supreme Court justice, and his father, Harry Connick, Sr. was the District Attorney of Orleans Parish, who succeeded Jim Garrison in office, and was one of his political enemies who did everything in his power to keep any information about the JFK assassination away from the public. For good measure, his parents also owned a record store. Actress Sigourney Weaver’s father was Sylvester “Pat” Weaver, a television pioneer who was once president of NBC, while her uncle was actor and comedian “Doodles” Weaver. Meryl Streep’s father was a pharmaceutical executive, and her family was among the first landowners in Pennsylvania.

While no details about his parents are available, Rolling Stone co-founder and publisher Jann Wenner attended the prestigious Chadwick School, whose alumni include Liza Minnelli, Joan Crawford’s Mommie Dearest daughter Christina, the children of actor Bruce Lee, screenwriter/director Robert Towne and Maureen Reagan. Wenner benefited from one of those fortuitous quirks of fate, as influential jazz critic Ralph J. Gleason somehow became his mentor while he was attending college at Berkeley, and helped him find a job at Ramparts magazine, then co-founded Rolling Stone with him. Actor Robert Duvall’s father was a Navy Admiral, his mother was descended from Robert E. Lee. One of Bruce Dern’s grandfathers was a former Utah governor and Secretary of War. His granduncle was poet Archibald MacLeish. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s father was a U.S. congressman and one time Mayor of Baltimore; she is one of the richest members of Congress, turning all those years of “public service” into an estimated worth of more than $58 million. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s father was a prominent figure in California politics, and as a boy he met famous people like future Chief Justice Earl Warren. Best selling author Danielle Steel had a father who was descended from the founders of Lowenbrau beer, and her mother was the daughter of a diplomat. As Wikipedia tells us, “…from an early age, she was included in her parents’ dinner parties, giving her an opportunity to observe the habits and lives of the wealthy and famous.” Best selling crime writer Patricia Cornwell is a descendant of Harriet Beecher Stowe, the abolitionist who wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Her father was one of the leading appellate lawyers in the country, and served as Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black’s law clerk.

Time and again, when investigating those who’ve “made it” big, one encounters strange missing links. While there often is little information about what their parents did for a living, when a prep school props up, or an Ivy League university, or an unexplained internship with some individual or company that is a guarantee of future success, the conclusion becomes inescapable that this particular person grew up in a decidedly wealthy family. Robin Leach, for example, an ordinary looking man with no discernible talent, has amassed a $15 million fortune, primarily from hosting the pretentious television show Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, which was little more than weekly promotional advertising for greed and materialism. Leach, too, had a strange jump to prominence, as his limited public biography informs us only that he somehow became a general reporter for the Harrow Observer, a mainstream weekly British tabloid, at age fifteen.  Sam Zell, founder of Equity Group Investments, was the son of a “successful grain trader,” and while he was in college, he benefited from a unique arrangement; in return for managing a fifteen unit apartment building, he was given free room-and-board. In short order, he was managing all of this owner’s investment properties, and won a contract with an even larger developer. During a 2012 appearance on CNBC’s Squawk Box, Zell arrogantly declared, “I succeed because I am driven and I take the risks. Deal with it.”

Some beneficiaries of the system at least acknowledge how fortunate they were. Actress Jennifer Anniston once uttered these refreshing comments; “My dad became a soap opera actor, and I was an extra in a skating rink scene on the soap. I didn’t audition. It was nepotism all the way.”

The two most popular “advice” columnists of the twentieth century were “Dear Abby” and Ann Landers. Their real names were Pauline and Esther Friedman, and their father owned a chain of movie theaters. Whatever the odds are of the two most high profile figures in an industry that seemingly requires no special talent, being sisters, it is hardly surprising that they came from a family of substantial means. Another pair of famous siblings, actors Julia and Eric Roberts, had parents who ran an acting school. Among their students were the children of Martin Luther King, Jr. As a thank you for their services, Coretta Scott King paid the entire hospital bill when her mother gave birth to Julia. Talk about literally entering the world on an exceptionally fortunate note! Brothers Bryant and Greg Gumbel had the decided economic advantage of having a judge for a father. Sibling actors John and Joan Cusack had a father who owned a film production company, and was close friends with high profile political activist Philip Berrigan. Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal’s father was a director and producer, their mother a screenwriter. They are descended from Swedish nobility. Actress Joan Collins and her best-selling author sister Jackie had a father who was a theatrical agent whose clients included the Beatles and Tom Jones.  If any of these celebrated figures had been born to fathers that were chronically unemployed alcoholics, for example, would they ever have been able to “build that?”

Film Director and Producer Judd Apatow’s mother managed the record labels founded by Judd’s grandfather, music producer Bob Shad. His father was a real estate developer. Both of actor David Schwimmer’s parents were lawyers; his mother boasted high profile celebrity clients like Elizabeth Taylor and Rosanne Barr. Schwimmer’s Friends’ co-star Matthew Perry had a similar comfortable upbringing; his father was an actor and model, and his mother was at one time the Press Secretary to Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. Actor Geoffrey Owens, who was one of the regular cast members on the 1980s Cosby Show, was the son of United States Congressman Major Owens. Actress Kyra Sedgwyck is a true blue blood. Her father was a rich “venture capitalist,” and she is descended from a slew of luminaries, including the founder of the prestigious Groton School and an owner of The Atlantic Monthly. Her actor husband, Kevin Bacon, while not boasting quite the same sterling set of genes, did have a very prominent architect for a father, who was a long time Executive Director of the Philadelphia City Planning Commission. Actor Edward Norton has a similarly impressive set of relatives; his father was a lawyer and Carter administration federal prosecutor, his grandfather was a prominent developer who developed Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and Boston’s Quincy Market, and is generally credited with inventing the modern shopping mall. Fresh out of Yale University, the future actor was able to begin his working life comfortably as a “consultant” with one of his grandfather’s companies in Japan.

Dan Akyroyd’s father was an adviser to Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. Chris Farley had a father who owned his own oil company. Andy Sandberg had a grandfather who was a “philanthropist,” to use Wikipedia’s term, and served as executive chair of the American Jewish Congress, and he is a third cousin to U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin. Robin Williams had a father who was a senior executive with Ford Motor Company, a mother who’d been a model, and his great-great grandfather was Mississippi Senator and Governor Anselm J. McLaurin. Nick Kroll’s father was the founder of “the world’s leading risk and security consulting firm,” to quote VH1.  Glenn Close grew up on a five hundred acre estate in Connecticut, the daughter of a “socialite” mother and a father who was renowned enough in the medical world to be the personal physician to Zaire President Mobuto Sese Seko. Her grandfather was married to an heiress of the Post Cereals family, and was the director of the American Hospital Association. She is also a second cousin to Brooke Shields. Nicole Kidman’s father was a noted psychologist and author. Her great-great-great grandfather was a “Sir,” who owned a huge chunk of the Australian outback. Actor Paul Giamatti’s climb to the top was made much easier by the fact his father was an affluent Yale professor who would go on to become Commissioner of Major League Baseball. Another sports Commissioner, current NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, had a father who was a United States Senator.

Burt Bacharach’s father was a well-known syndicated newspaper columnist. Stewart Copeland, drummer for the band The Police, was the son of CIA officer Miles Copeland, Jr. Actress Olivia Wilde was the daughter of successful journalists and according to VH1, “comes from a long line of British nobles.” Filmmaker and actress Lena Dunham had famous artists as parents and spent her childhood summers vacationing next door to Meryl Streep. Actor Tom Hiddleston, again according to VH1, “grew up the son of a wealthy scientist and pharmaceutical company owner, and attended school with Prince William.” Maroon 5 lead singer Adam Levine, according to Pop Crush, is the son of Fred Levine, founder of giant clothing chain M. Fredric.  He met two of his fellow band members at the exclusive, private Brentwood School. Ariana Grande’s father is CEO of a design company that includes FAO Schwarz and Eddie Murphy as clients. Model/singer Cassie attended a very expensive (Pop Crush reports the yearly tuition is upwards of $26,000) prep school, so her ethnically diverse parents (Filipino and Mexican/African-American) must have had some money. Actress Michelle Williams is the daughter of commodities trader and author Larry Williams, who was also a two time Republican U.S. Senate candidate. Game of Thrones star Rose Leslie is certainly at home on the set; she was born in a castle (just one of those owned by her family), and is descended from an impressive line of nobility. Celebrity scientist Neil Degrasse-Tyson’s father was the human resource commissioner for New York City mayor John Lindsay. Bill Nye, another celebrated scientist, attended the exclusive Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C. Henry Beard, co-founder of National Lampoon, is the great-grandson of Vice President John C. Breckinridge. Screenwriter and playwright Robert Sherwood, a member of the celebrated Algonquin Round Table, was born to a “rich stockbroker” and a mother who was “a well-known illustrator and portrait painter.” Sports columnist and short story author Ring Lardner was “the son of wealthy parents,” and his son Ring, Jr. continued to “build” on the family success, becoming a renowned journalist and screenwriter.

Barbara Walters’ father was a Broadway Producer and Entertainment Director of the Tropicana casino in Las Vegas. Perhaps this explains why her speech proved to be no impediment to her astonishing success in the broadcasting world. Wikipedia tells us that news anchor Brian Williams was raised in a “well to do” home. His father was an executive vice-president of the National Retail Merchants Association. His daughter, Allison Williams, is upholding the family tradition, and “building” a promising acting career. Veteran reporter Diane Sawyer’s father was a judge. Producer Dick Ebersol’s father was a chairman of the American Cancer Society, and again, in one of those strange leaps to prominence, he temporarily dropped out of Yale University at the age of 20, to become ABC’s first ever “Olympic researcher.”  Media mogul Ted Turner’s road to success was made much smoother by the fact he inherited his father’s business, worth $1 million, in 1963, when he was only 24 years old. Turner’s father committed suicide, but unlike most children in such tragic circumstances, young Ted was able to console himself with a lucrative, ready-made career. Right wing journalist John Stossel was raised, again in Wikipedia’s words, “on Chicago’s affluent North Shore,” and went to Princeton. Fellow conservative Rush Limbaugh grew up in a family full of lawyers, including his father. His grandfather was a judge and member of the Missouri House of Representatives. Journalist Hannah Storm’s father was the Commissioner of the American Basketball Association, and later moved to the NBA, where he became President of the Atlanta Hawks. Conan O’Brien’s father is a physician and a Harvard professor, while his mother is an attorney. MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski not only had a father who was Jimmy Carter’s National Security advisor, she is the grandniece of a former President of Czechoslovakia. ABC’s Cokie Roberts is the daughter of long time Congressman Hale Boggs, who was also a member of the Warren Commission. Ben Bradlee, long time editor of The Washington Post, was from a wealthy Boston Brahmin family. His lineage included various royal figures, including a Roman emperor. His close friend in childhood was future CIA big wig Richard Helms. (Newsweek, October 21, 2014). His third wife, author and reporter Sally Quinn, was the daughter of a renowned military figure who was connected prominently to the birth of the Central Intelligence Agency.  One of Bradlee’s ace reporters, Bob Woodward, was the son of a chief judicial court judge.

Young music phenomenon Taylor Swift is descended from three generations of bank presidents. Her mother was a former marketing executive who became a homemaker. Her father was an executive with Merrill Lynch, who according to The Richest, “provided the initial seed money for starting Big Machine Records, which had Taylor Swift as the first signed artist.” The Richest described it as “a very upper-class upbringing.” Lady Gaga’s father was Joseph Germanotta, whom The Richest called “a successful and wealthy internet entrepreneur.” A child star from an earlier era, Brooke Shields, had a father who was a wealthy Revlon executive, and she is descended from several noble Italian families, including her grandmother, who was a princess.  Shields’ marketable “value” was perhaps best displayed when she was chosen to be a spokesperson for a federal anti-smoking campaign, and commented, “Smoking kills. If you’re killed, you’ve lost a very important part of your life.” (Orlando Sentinel, June 21, 2013). Actress Dakota Fanning’s mother was a professional tennis player, her grandfather was a former NFL player, and her aunt is one time ESPN reporter Jill Arrington. Musical artist Robert Ritchie, better known as Kid Rock, had a father who owned multiple car dealerships as well as a six acre orchard where, according to Wikipedia, young Ritchie would “help pick apples and cared for the family’s horses.” At least Kid Rock appears to understand how absurdly our wealth is distributed, as indicated by his comment that, “Athletes and musicians make astronomical amounts of money. People get paid $100 million to throw a baseball! Shouldn’t we all take less and pass some of that money onto others?” While appearing to be regularly active in charitable work, Kid Rock has still managed to accrue a $40 million fortune.

Even those who are infamous rather than famous often come from upper-class backgrounds. Monica Lewinsky, whose “fame” was achieved by providing oral sex to President Clinton in the Oval Office, came from an “affluent family in Southern California,” to quote Wikipedia, where her father was an oncologist and her mother an author. She went to Beverly Hills High School. Lewinsky netted a reported $500,000 from the book Monica’s Story, and $1 million for a 1999 interview with Barbara Walters. (New York Times, March 5, 1999). Showing little embarrassment, Lewinsky appeared as herself in a few 1999 Saturday Night Live sketches. She went on to form her own handbag manufacturing company, The Real Monica, Inc., and made $300,000 from a Jenny Craig endorsement deal. In later years, she hosted a dating show, studied at the elitist London School of Economics, and presently is rumored to be joining the cast of  The View. That’s a lot of “building” from some blow jobs. Donna Rice, only slightly remembered today as the attractive blonde whose affair with married Senator Gary Hart derailed his 1988 presidential campaign, grew up in an upper middle-class home, and started modeling at age thirteen. She was on the same high school cheerleading squad with future Entertainment Tonight host Leeza Gibbons (whose own father was the state superintendent of education). Rice has turned into a moral crusader, serving as CEO of Enough is Enough, an anti-pornography organization.

Business leaders who are not celebrities tend to come from the same kind of stable, fortunate backgrounds. Time Warner CEO Jeffrey Bewkes was born, in Wikipedia’s words, “to an affluent Lutheran family.” His father was an executive with Norton Simon. Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie’s grandfather founded General Cinema, one of the largest movie theater chains in the world. Hewlett Packard CEO Meg Whitman descends from prominent figures on both sides of her family; she is the great-great granddaughter of U.S. Senator Charles B. Farwell, and the great-great-great granddaughter of a member of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly. She is also the great-granddaughter of a judge and the great-great granddaughter of a general. Her father was the president of his own financial advisory firm. NBC President Jeff Zucker’s father was a cardiologist. His connections were such that he was able to catch on with the Miami Herald while still in high school, as an extremely rare “teenage freelance reporter.” Former Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit was raised in an “affluent Brahmin family,” to quote Wikipedia. His father was an executive with Sarabhai Chemicals. Steve Burke, former CEO and President of NBC Universal, had a father who was the president of Capital Cities Communications, the company that then owned the ABC network. Washington Post publisher Katherine Graham inherited the newspaper from her wealthy father, Eugene Meyer. Her mother was an intellectual who was close friends with famous figures like Albert Einstein, Madame Curie, and Eleanor Roosevelt. Granddaughter Katherine Weymouth went on to become publisher of the Post, keeping alive the family tradition of “building” it. Multi-billionaire Donald Bren, chairman of the Irvine Company, had a father who was a movie producer and a mother who was, in Wikipedia’s words, a “civic leader.” His father would re-marry, to actress Claire Trevor. Anne Cox Chambers, of Cox Enterprises, is worth $13.5 billion, and was the daughter of newspaper publisher James M. Cox, who was also the 1920 Democratic Party presidential nominee. Media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s father was Sir Keith Murdoch, who owned two Australian newspapers and a radio station. Philip Anschutz, worth over $10 billion, had a father who was an oil tycoon and a grandfather who founded a bank. Nick Woodman, founder of GoPro, who saw his income rise some 5000 percent in 2014, to at least 77.4 million, although Bloomberg estimated that his total compensation package was actually more than $285 million, had a wealthy father who founded his own investment bank. Heather Bresch, CEO of giant pharmaceutical company Mylan, is the daughter of U.S. Senator Joe Manchin. Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman’s father was a photographer for Life magazine. Cisco Systems CEO John Chambers had a father who was an obstetrician and a mother who was a psychiatrist. Coca-Cola Muhtar Kent’s father was the Turkish consul-general in New York. And top executives who “built” upon parental success has been so prevalent in the corporate world that USA Today would headline a December 4, 2009 story, “Second-Generation CEOs Find it Tough to Follow Dad’s Footsteps.”

Weymouth’s Washington Post headlined its February 4, 2014 story lauding Microsoft’s new CEO as, “America Needs More Immigrants Like Satya Nadella.” Nadella’s father was a prominent figure in India, who was a member of the prime minister’s Planning Commission. Apparently we “need” more immigrants whose background reflects the upper class backgrounds of so many successful American citizens. Another highly successful immigrant is author and new age physician Deepak Chopra. He too hailed from a wealthy Indian family; his father was a cardiologist and head of the department of medicine at a large New Delhi hospital. Chinese-American architect I.M. Pei has distinguished family roots that trace back to the Ming Dynasty. As Wikipedia tells us, “his family lived in the upper echelons of society.” His father was a banker. Mexican-born actress Selma Hayek’s father was an oil company executive; VH1 described him as “fabulously wealthy.” Gangham Style performer “Psy” comes from the wealthiest district in Korea, and his father is the executive chairman of DI Corporation, while his mother owns a restaurant.

Mehmet Oz, better known as television star “Dr. Oz,” was born in Cleveland, but his physician father emigrated from Turkey a few years before his birth, and his mother came from what Wikipedia calls “a wealthy Istanbul family.” “Judge Judy,” or Judith Sheindlin, was the daughter of a dentist; as of 2013, she had a contract that paid her $47 million per year, or an incomprehensible $900,000 for each of her fifty two workdays. (Parade Magazine, October 24, 2013). Doonesbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau had impressive bloodlines; his great-grandfather established a New York sanitarium, and a bishop and prominent New York politician are among his great-great-great grandfathers. One of his older ancestors, Gerardus Beekman, was one of the first colonial governors of the Province of New York.

While we’ve already listed a few examples, things appear to be much the same in Great Britain. Simon Cowell, best known as the acerbic judge of shows like American Idol, Britain’s Got Talent and The X Factor, had a mother who was, to use Wikipedia’s term, a “socialite.” His father was a music industry executive. Actress Helena Bonham Carter’s father was a merchant banker, her mother a psychotherapist, and her great-grandfather was Prime Minister Herbert H. Asquith. In the words of the internet movie database, “…her blue-blooded family tree also contains barons and baronesses, diplomats, and a director, Anthony Asquith, who made Pygmalion and The Importance of Being Earnest, among others.” Mick Jagger supposedly grew up in a “middle class” family, but he studied at the London School of Economics, one of the breeding grounds for new members of the elite, and an odd place to find a future rock star. Former Spice Girl Victoria Beckham, who went on to marry one of the world’s most famous soccer players, was “embarrassed by her family’s wealth,” to quote Wikipedia, and begged her father not to drop her off at school in their Rolls-Royce. Author Salman Rushdie’s father was a Cambridge-educated lawyer. Writer Christopher Hitchens’ father was a Naval officer, and he studied at Oxford, as did his brother, fellow writer Peter Hitchens. Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour’s father was the editor of the London Evening Standard, her mother had a father who was a Harvard professor, and her great-great-great grandmother was novelist Lady Elizabeth Foster, Duchess of Devonshire. Kirstie Mary Allsopp, a British “television presenter,” had a father who was a Baron and a former chairman of Christie’s, the renowned international auction firm. Another British journalist, Alastair Bruce, grew up on an estate and is a direct descendent of Robert the Bruce. Actor Eddie Redmayne is from a family of British bankers, according to VH1, and was classmates with Prince William at Eton. Alan Napier, best remembered for playing Alfred on the ’60s television version of Batman, was a cousin of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain.Then there is Lady Victoria Hervey. You know someone comes from wealth when their name is prefaced with “Lady.” Hervey is a very American-style celebrity; she appears frequently on British television, and is a well-known model and party “it girl.” Hervey’s understanding of poverty was revealed when The Daily Telegraph quoted her comments on the homeless: “It’s so bad being homeless in winter. They should go somewhere warm like the Caribbean where they can eat fresh fish all day.”

All of these examples are not being cited to chide the specific individuals in question, or to bemoan their success. Many of them are extremely talented, and might very well have won any kind of competition on their own merits. I’m a huge fan of some of them. Creativity must normally be nurtured and supported, financially and emotionally, so it’s understandable perhaps that artistic people especially would tend to come from upper-class backgrounds. But it’s undeniable that starting out in life with a financially secure household, not to mention extremely wealthy and well connected parents, gives one a tremendous edge in the fight for success, and supports Barack Obama’s contention that they didn’t “build that” by themselves, and were the beneficiaries of good fortune.

Despite all the evidence to the contrary, most people cling to visions of Lana Turner being discovered in her tight sweater at Schwab’s Drug Store, as the kind of fluky good break very few get in life. It is true that, unlike most actors of her generation (or any generation since), Turner came from genuinely humble origins. But they neglect to note the obvious; Turner, like most actresses, singers and journalists, was very good looking. Beauty is just about the only quality that can trump wealth, and thus we do see a number of apparent “rags to riches” stories involving females (and a much lesser number of males) who just happen to be exceptionally attractive physically. This is not merely to postulate a “casting couch” explanation, but recognizing a very simple, time honored truth, although writers like Daniel Hamermesh, in his book, Beauty Pays: Why Attractive People Are More Successful, overthink the proposition.

The establishment, which of course consists exclusively of successful people, recoils at any notion that “luck” has anything to do with where one winds up in life. In his book, Skinny on Success, Jim Randel claims to have determined that 99% of the 1000 entrepreneurs, actors, musicians and other noteworthy figures he investigated didn’t get a single break, even if they themselves acknowledged it. Forbes magazine, in a story promoting this terribly misleading book, declared, “…the truth is big breaks just don’t happen, People make them happen, through hard work, networking, courage, passion and pain. As for lasting success, it has a lot less to do with singular, transcendent moments than it does with incremental progress and unflagging grit.” I hope that this chapter alone thoroughly exposes just how untrue this contention is. Reading these kinds of declarative statements, which try so desperately to convince the unwashed masses that those who’ve “made it” deserved to, and in effect did so because they simply out-hustled and outworked the rest of us, it’s easy to understand why Obama’s “you didn’t built that” elicited so much hostility from Forbes and other pillars of the status quo.

I’ve only scratched the surface here. In searching through the backgrounds of many celebrities and successful figures in other industries, past and present, there have been very few I’ve found that didn’t come from at least stable, upper middle class families. I had to pick and choose, to edit this chapter significantly so that it didn’t become the primary thesis of the book. I also left out almost all the connections within the same field; it’s perfectly reasonable for the sons of politicians to enter politics, or singers to have children entering the world of music, actors begetting actors, etc. I’ve included essentially just the most notable examples, who were clearly aided by the circumstances of their birth in “building” their success.

Certainly, there are numerous examples of people rising from the lower class to positions of prominence, but these are exceptional cases when one factors out the worlds of sports and (to a lesser degree), entertainment. However you look at it, we are far, far removed from the kind of meritocracy Thomas Jefferson dreamed of.

The Immortality of Poverty

We’ve all heard the saying, “nothing is certain in life but death and taxes. I would add a third inevitable item to this list: poverty. Lyndon B. Johnson waged a phony war on it, and liberals have raged against it for ages. And still it remains. Poverty is inexorably tied to human greed, and as long as one exists, so will the other.

In the Middle Ages, the poor were labeled peasants. Being a peasant under the harsh realities of feudalism must have really, really sucked. While the lords got the best of everything, peasants swore an oath on the Bible to not only their lords, but the dukes, earls and barons who owned those lords’ properties.

The peasants were also called serfs, clearly differentiated from their superiors, who were also referred to as nobles. The nobility had a great deal- the serfs performed all the physical labor, while they reaped the rewards of that labor. The peasants still had to pay not only rent for a tiny share of land to live on, but a special tax called a tithe which went to the all-powerful Church. This 10% tithe still has an enduring popularity in the world of Christian fundamentalism, which falsely claims it is mandated somewhere in the Bible. It isn’t. The Church collected so much “tithe tax” (peasants often had to pay in produce, since they had little cash), that some of the massive barns they built to store it can still be seen today.

Some of the most unfortunate souls in past times were forced to stay up all night and beat the lily pads outside the castles of royalty, to drown out the croaking frogs that might otherwise keep those kings, queens, princes and princesses awake. The poor in Elizabethan England didn’t share in even a Reagan-style trickling down of the wealth from such legendary figures as Queen Elizabeth I, Henry VIII, Sir Francis Drake or Sir Walter Raleigh. Before the Reformation, the extensive monastery system in England would assist the poor, but this was not available in the later part of Tudor England.

Charles Dickens and other reformers attempted to illuminate the awful conditions of the poor in Victorian England. The East End of London was more abysmal and dangerous than any modern American ghetto. A large percentage of females of all ages were forced to resort to the world’s oldest occupation in order to eke out what passed for an existence. Homelessness was so rampant that doss houses- pathetic group dwellings which sold a filthy cot or even a spot on the floor for the night, littered the East End’s landscape.

In nineteenth century America, as in much of Europe, there was at least a partial sense of responsibility for the poor, that was reflected in state poor laws, which mandated that towns take care of their own poorest residents. By the 1870s, the term “tramp” had become familiar to all; describing poor, rootless men who traveled by foot or illegally rode the railroads in an effort to find work. Some families were so strapped for food they sent their children out to scavenge through garbage, in a precursor to today’s dumpster divers.

Outright slavery, indentured servitude, sharecropping, squatting, unpaid interns, illegal immigrants- the desire on the part of those with money has always been to get the cheapest labor possible. I sincerely believe that the One Percent personally wants to bring back slavery. Illegal immigrant labor is about as close as they can come at this point. Around the world today, there are actually still some 30 million slaves. 10 million are in India alone, which provides so many of those H1-b visa workers, who are bringing down wages in IT in the same manner illegals helped to bring down the wages of those on the bottom rung of the employment ladder.

The longest war in human history is still being waged. The rich have always waged war upon the rest of us, especially the poor. Class warfare isn’t something that will suddenly happen if the wealthy actually have to share in all that “sacrifice” they keep demanding of everyone else. It’s been happening forever, and it’s really happening now.

When a minimum wage worker ends up paying more taxes than a billionaire (which has happened far too many times), that’s warfare. When a wealthy driver with a bad record pays less for insurance than a poor driver with a good record (which is common), that’s warfare. When a poor person who can’t keep up payments on a loan has their interest rate raised, making it even harder to pay, that’s warfare. When a poor person is caught with crack and gets a much harsher sentence than a wealthy person caught with powdered cocaine, that’s warfare.

When the CEO making $40 million in compensation cuts the remaining perks and benefits of his non-management workforce, that’s warfare. When a student who rolled up a huge loan debt that can only be repaid with a high-paying job, is offered only low-paying positions that never even used to require a degree, that’s warfare. When politicians demand that recipients of truly minimal government aid be required to work or volunteer, thereby cutting into any time they might have to actually look for a paid job, that’s warfare.

When companies hire interns and don’t pay them, often for extended periods of time, that’s warfare. When business owners lie about not being able to find workers when all statistics show there are far more job seekers than jobs, that’s warfare. When politicians look to slash bottom-tier social programs that grant modest benefits to very poor people, while supporting the building of stadiums for billionaire sports team owners at taxpayer expense, that’s warfare.

When anyone loses a job or a home because of the costs of a catastrophic illness, that’s warfare. When a homeless person is forced to “move along,” even though he has nowhere else to be, that’s warfare. When the price of a small apartment is beyond the means of the average worker, that’s warfare. When the cost of living continues to skyrocket in all areas, while companies increasingly refuse to give any pay raises to non-management personnel, that’s warfare.

When pensions are being eliminated, and aren’t even a possibility to average workers under the age of forty, that’s warfare. When debtors prisons are making a comeback, as they are, that’s warfare. When layoffs and outsourcing go hand in hand with incomprehensibly lavish executive pay, that’s warfare. When the minimum wage isn’t raised for years, and an increasing number of politicians actually want to abolish it, that’s warfare.

This subject is foremost in my mind now, with the upcoming July publication of my second nonfiction book, Survival of the Richest. I am about as anti-war as a person can be, but I’m going to the front lines on this one. We need more people to fight back, against the relentless onslaught of the One Percent, as it continues to do what it has always done.

Abraham Lincoln said, “The Lord must have loved the common people. He made so many of them.” This kind of aw shucks, disingenuous “pro” poor rhetoric, which seeks to persuade the poor that their awful financial circumstances is actually some kind of blessing, has always been popular with politicians. Religious types love to quote the Bible and remind us, “The poor you will always have among you.” This little gem is supposed to assuage our concern for the poor, just like the “you will hear of wars and rumors of war” quote is supposed to make us resigned to perpetual war.

There is nothing sacred, or spiritual, about being poor. With all the wealth at our disposal, it’s criminal that poverty still exists. I truly hope that my new book will be an effective weapon for our side in this eternal class warfare.

The Impossible Math of Social Security

The establishment is finally acknowledging just how screwed up the Social Security system is. CNN and other mainstream outlets reported recently that for the first time in the history of the program, a married working couple who turned 65 in 2010, would on average receive less in benefits than what they paid into the system.

While a similar working couple, making an average income, would have received some $120,000 more in benefits than they paid, had they retired in 1990, the 2010 couple was set to get about $21,000 less than was taken from their paychecks over a lifetime worth of work. According to the same research, the problem is just going to grow more pronounced. A couple presently in their early forties can expect to pay more than $100,000 in payroll taxes than they will get back after retirement.

In the past, retirees could get as much as ten times what they paid into the Social Security and Medicare systems upon retiring. This was largely because payroll taxes were much lower during their working years. Even though payroll taxes have been increased over the past few decades, the simple fact is there are fewer workers to support the exploding number of Baby Boomer retirees. The system pays more out than it collects, and the so-called “trust fund” will be depleted by 2033.

The great “tax cutter” Ronald Reagan not only raised payroll taxes, he signed off on the odious proposal of the Greenspan Commission to start taxing Social Security benefits, beginning in 1984. The estimated windfall from this double taxation was supposed to go into the trust fund, but instead it was mixed into the general revenue, to finance endless no win wars and occupations of foreign lands, mindless foreign aid, still secret intelligence agency budgets and the like.

Payroll taxes, which are withheld from paychecks in order to finance Social Security and Medicare, are about as regressive as can be imagined. The Social Security part of the tax is only levied on the first $119,000 of income. If anyone can explain the logic in that, I’d like to hear it. Under this system, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, and the rest of the One Percenters are taxed like someone making $119,000 annually. Few if any politicians advocate for all income being subject to Social Security taxes.

During his 1992 presidential campaign, Ross Perot kindly and gently suggested voluntary means testing for Social Security benefits. This suggestion was met with howls of protest, from the AARP and other lobbying groups. In reality, means testing must be part of any rational attempt to preserve Social Security for the majority of Americans who will truly need it. As Perot also explained, he certainly didn’t need it, but couldn’t even voluntarily turn it down.

In reality, retirement is fast becoming another privilege only the rich and upper middle class enjoy. An astounding 40% of Americans aged 55-64 have no formal savings in any retirement account. The number of employees with a traditional pension (the kind paid for by the employer, unlike 401Ks) was down to 31% by 2010. The median amount of retirement savings for those in that age bracket is just $14,500. Even those in that age group with formal retirement plans have an average of just $104,500.

The average balance in a 401K-type of retirement account for those in their late 50s to early 60s is a pitifully small $17,000. As in so many areas, we have regressed here to an embarrassing degree. By any measure, and by all statistics, Americans are far less prepared financially for retirement than they were in the 1980s or even the 1990s.

As I will go over in detail in my upcoming book Survival of the Richest, conventional pensions have been all but eliminated in corporate America. As recently as 1989, two thirds of Americans still had a pension through their employer. As of 2013, in contrast, a typical American couple only had $5,000 saved for retirement. Research from Boston College shows that the percentage of households who will fall short of being able to financially survive retirement has risen from 31% in the early 1980s to 52%.

Leftists continue to deny the giant elephant in the room that illegal immigration represents in terms of many issues, including Social Security. Since so many illegal immigrants are paid under the table, they obviously aren’t paying into the Social Security and Medicare systems. As the Washington Times and others reported last year, the IRS actually encourages illegal immigrants to steal Social Security numbers. According to these reports, some one million Americans have been victimized by this government sanctioned theft.

The Social Security Administration also issues millions of “non-work” Social Security numbers. Although these cards have “Not valid for employment” printed on them, their own audits have found that illegal immigrants use them widely. Those highly valued immigrant farm workers are not subject to withholding taxes, and neither are several other classes of visa workers. Even lawful immigrants have it better in many ways than those born in America. For instance, it’s not widely publicized that legal immigrants receive significantly more government benefits than the U.S.- born.

One of the countless advantages the wealthy have over the common riff-raff is a significantly higher life expectancy. Since Social Security pays benefits for as long as you live, obviously this tends to reward them even further, as they receive a benefit they don’t need for a longer period on average than the vast majority of retirees. Men with the highest 10% of incomes live an average of twelve years longer than those in the bottom 10% bracket, while the wealthiest women live ten years longer than their poorer peers.

More than 47,500 millionaires got Social Security benefits in 2010. 7.2% of beneficiaries reported a yearly income in excess of $100,000. The median beneficiary income for Social Security, meanwhile, is just $26,000 per year. 27% receive less than $15,000 annually. Since those at the bottom in terms of Social Security benefits almost certainly had no pension or savings to rely on, we can reasonably conclude that more than one-fourth of Social Security recipients are living in abject poverty.

Echoing Ross Perot, as he did so often during his presidential campaign, Donald Trump suggested his fellow One Percenters opt out of the system. “I have friends that are worth hundreds of millions and billions of dollars and get Social Security. They don’t even know the check comes in,” the loose cannon billionaire declared in 2015. Trump has declared that he will not support any cuts in Social Security, as the Paul Ryan-types of Republicans clearly desire. It remains to be seen what the president does on this issue, as well as so many others.

The math is very simple here. Unless means testing and taxation on all income is implemented, the Social Security system will eventually crash. There is an incomprehensible $107 trillion in “unfunded liabilities;” or the difference between promised benefits and anticipated revenues. According to the Cato Institute, that’s twice the world’s annual Gross National Product. With an exploding population of elderly Baby Boomers, who will rely even more upon Medicare, clearly that problematic program is doomed as well.

Then there is the Social Security Disability Fund. A favorite target of Ayn Rand- worshiping conservatives, SSDI has been teetering on the brink of insolvency for the past few years. With the frightening increase in both obesity-driven health problems, and mental illness-related issues (antidepressant medication, for example, increased an incredible 400% from 1988-2011), the definition of “disability” has been greatly expanded.

Before Social Security, nursing homes were a rarity in this country. Older family members were simply taken in by their children and grandchildren. The program was never designed to be a retirement program. With the disappearance of pensions for most workers, however, and the general lack of reverence for the elderly in America, Social Security has become an absolute necessity for most retirees. And besides, they’re simply getting the money back that they paid into the system.

The more financially stable Baby Boomers can look forward to becoming “snow birds,” and heading for the warm climes of Florida.  Most Americans, however, aren’t that fortunate now, and far fewer will be that fortunate in the future. For them, along with the inevitable infirmaries of old age, will come a fearful financial impact.

As usual, I have no confidence in our political leaders to address this problem rationally. Their pensions are top-notch, and thus if Social Security is privatized or eliminated altogether, they will not be subject to any repercussions. What are possible solutions? I’ve advocated that any drastic changes to Social Security come with the option of a lump sum payout, with the entire amount paid into the system by workers being awarded to them. Actually, this would probably be an option many might take anyhow, in lieu of monthly payments.

To save Social Security, all income must be subject to taxation. This way, Bill Gates will contribute just a bit more than your local car mechanic. And there must be strict means testing. No One Percenter needs Social Security. But knowing our leaders, they’ll probably just raise the retirement age to 90.

 

The Trump Paradox

Donald J. Trump not only is the most divisive political figure of my lifetime, he is also the most paradoxical. A billionaire populist is, after all, about as clear an oxymoron as can be found. Champions of the common people aren’t often born with silver spoons in their mouths. The upper crust is also normally a lot more articulate than Trump is.

The ouster of wild card General Mike Flynn is an ominous sign to those of us who are concerned about Trump being co-opted by the establishment that despises him. Flynn’s “crime” was evidently not telling the full truth to neocon Vice President Mike Pence, who more and more resembles Trump’s version of LBJ.

Flynn appears to want peace with Russia, something no one in the corrupt establishment wants. His son also just happens to be really awake politically. His on- target tweets about Pizzagate in particular seem to have fueled the real opposition to his father. In my view, Flynn was one of Trump’s few palatable choices so far for his cabinet. The two leading contenders, according to the dinosaur media, to replace him are Admiral Robert Harward, said to be chicken hawk extraordinaire Lindsay Graham’s top choice, and tainted insider David Petraeus.

Surrounded by neocon insiders like Reince Priebus and his assistant chief of staff Katie Walsh, who was a #nevertrumper and supposedly had the audacity to chew out Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner recently, it’s going to be difficult for Trump to get anything done that isn’t elite-approved. If Jeff Sessions can actually deport large numbers of illegal immigrants and remains strong on trade, then populists can hold their noses over his less than scintillating record on civil liberties.

While seemingly filling up the swamp with more alligators instead of draining it, Trump does continue to say things that no president has ever said. Watching his press conference today was surrealistic; I never thought I’d see a president treat the laughable mainstream reporters with the scorn and disrespect they so richly deserve. The more then keep trying to beat the drums for the “Russian hacking” scenario, the more their putrid approval ratings sink with the public. If Trump does nothing else, at least he has exposed these shills for the state for what they are.

I keep wondering at Trump’s naivete. Why would he continue to be loyal to chief of state Priebus (not to mention his assistant, Trump hater Katie Walsh), instead of replacing him with someone like Roger Stone? I can’t believe he hasn’t named Stone to any position. I thought maybe he’d reach out to conservative mavericks like Rand Paul or Pat Buchanan. Or even reach across the aisle to populist Democrats like Cynthia McKinney or Dennis Kucinich. Just this week, Kucinich launched a blistering attack on the intelligence community that is clearly trying to reignite the cold war, and came off sounding much more like a Trump supporter than many of those he has named to his cabinet.

I know personally that Cynthia McKinney would probably have taken the VP spot on Trump’s ticket. I actually suggested this to a high ranking official in Trump’s campaign, but it was quickly shot down without any further thought. Just imagine how revolutionary such a presidential ticket would have been. Instantly, the “racist” and “sexist” labels would have lost all their luster.

Trump has still been in office less than a month. Just getting America out of the odious Trans Pacific Partnership and signing the executive order banning foreign lobbying were revolutionary strikes against the corrupt establishment. If he launches a full audit of the Fed, rebuilds our embarrassing infrastructure, and actually allows Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to chair a commission that will undoubtedly expose the shameful links between autism and vaccines, then he will have done more good already than any president since John F. Kennedy.

Trump’s evident attempt to appease the neocon Republicans isn’t going to work. John McCainiac, Lindsay Graham and Paul Ryan continue to beat the drums for World War III. To his credit, Trump called them out on Twitter over this very issue. But he still continues to surround himself with too many insiders that appeal to these warmongering disciples of Ayn Rand. Trump has never been a conservative, and he isn’t playing a very believable one so far. His hot-button issues were all populist inspired, and he will be largely remembered by how true he remains to those pledges.

The hatred and vitriol directed at Donald Trump is unprecedented, and shows no signs of diminishing. Deluded filmmaker Michael Moore is now seriously proposing that Trump be removed from office and replaced with Hillary Clinton! The establishment “left” has been exposed as thoroughly as the mainstream media has. They are becoming more unhinged by the day, and don’t even attempt to formulate their never ceasing “protests” beyond calling Trump the same old tired names.

In fact, watching uncensored videos of these social justice warriors, one comes away with the inescapable impression that they cannot be reasoned with. As someone who read and was inspired by the great books The Myth of Mental Illness and The Manufacture of Madness, written by psychiatry’s greatest iconoclast Thomas Szasz, I always hesitate in calling someone crazy. However, after viewing far too many of these disturbing “protest” videos, I think it can be safely said that the most extreme of these social justice warriors are bat shit insane, if anyone is.

So Trump remains a paradox to me. One minute, he is lashing out courageously at the mainstream media and corrupt politicians in both parties. In the next, he seems to be listening to the advice of neocon advisers regarding more military intervention in far-flung lands. He needs to return constantly to the “America First” refrain that appealed to many of us. He teases us with comments about all the trillions we’ve wasted on senseless wars, but then seems to be gearing up for a battle with Iran.

It ought to be obvious to everyone by now just how entrenched the corruption at the top of our country is. Here we have a supremely flawed individual, who seems to be trying to reform just a few parts of the monumental mess in Washington, and he is being figuratively assassinated daily. If many in the government, big business and Hollywood get their way, this assassination is likely to become a literal one. Threats to assassinate Trump have become so common that they don’t even raise eyebrows at this point.

Half of this country is probably awake now, at least to some extent. And so we sit and watch our unlikely heroic One Percenter with the bad hairdo, to see if he becomes co- opted like everyone else, or if he actually battles the creatures in the swamp (including most of those in his cabinet), and succeeds in making this country just a little better.

 

 

 

 

Trump- Populist or Plutocrat?

The inauguration of Donald J. Trump as President of the United States ushered in a public polarization that has never been seen before in our history. The protests, and even cries for impeachment, are just as unprecedented. The “honeymoon” period every previous president enjoyed clearly does not apply to Donald Trump.

Trump has been an incredibly active chief executive thus far. A few of his Executive Orders have been outstanding; the one withdrawing the United States from the Trans Pacific Partnership and the one banning officials from becoming lobbyists for foreign interests in particular. He vowed to launch a full-fledged investigation into voter fraud. And in his only really admirable appointment, he tapped Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. to head a commission to investigate the links between vaccines and autism.

As always, Trump has said some awful things, too. He inexplicably sprang to Barack Obama’s defense and called Chelsea Manning an “ungrateful traitor” for criticizing the former president. He signed an Executive Order that senselessly eliminated a proposed cut in FHA insurance for lower income home owners. His appointments have too often been typical “conservative” types, presumably to appease a Republican establishment that still remains uneasy about him. It’s still  unclear just what his replacement for Obamacare will entail, and if it will do anything to stop the dramatically rising cost of health care.

The hatred and vitriol directed at Trump is something no other public figure has ever experienced, outside of perhaps Adolph Hitler. India Knight, a “respectable” mainstream British journalist, tweeted out numerous anti-Trump comments, including “The assassination is taking such a long time.” Magnatone CEO Ted Kornblum wrote on Twitter, “Rest easy, people, it’ll only take 100 days till Trump gets a bullet in the head.” Madonna spoke of burning down the White House. Actress Ashley Judd inferred that Trump fantasizes about his own daughter. And a Saturday Night Live writer joked that ten year old Barron Trump was going to be America’s first home-school shooter. Another “comedy” show is in the works, in which the star will be an adult portraying young Barron.

This open discussion of assassinating a sitting president is something that would never have been tolerated in the past. I have noted before that I firmly believe a substantial portion of Americans would support the assassination of Trump. What passes for the “left” today has been exposed in all its glory in the post-election aftermath. The hysterical weeping, screaming, and threats of violence, on the part of the anti-Trump contingent, is embarrassing, and would be ridiculed by a sane society. If this election demonstrated anything, it demonstrated that we are not a sane society.

The anger and the hatred is ostensibly because the object of their scorn is a “hater,” a “racist,” a “sexist” and “intolerant” of others. Even if the most absurd charges against Trump were true, he could never hope to be as hateful and intolerant as these inflexible “protesters” are. What exactly are they protesting? Not even Hillary Clinton disputes the outcome of the election. They are exhibiting classic poor sportsmanship, and simply will not accept the fact their candidate lost. Just imagine how protesters against Barack Obama’s election would have been treated, in the media and by the police, if they’d been so aggressive and threatening in their behavior.

It’s difficult for me to imagine that the populist hero so many of us have longed for would turn out to be this egotistical billionaire turned reality television star. Trump certainly doesn’t look or sound the part. He still forms his sentences in a frustratingly inarticulate way, and takes to social media as recklessly as a twelve year old. His immature responses to so many of the countless attacks on him, especially from the entertainment world, don’t exactly seem statesman-like. It’s difficult to imagine a better example of not judging a book by its cover.

But Donald Trump is the first major party presidential candidate in my lifetime to talk about most of the forbidden topics, the ones that control the fortunes of every average citizen. He’s talked about auditing the Fed. He actually wants to place the interests of Americans first. He’s spoken the truth about the sorry state of our infrastructure. He’s condemned the Republican warmongers John McCainiac and Lindsay Graham for “always trying to start World War Three.”

Trump may be the first genuine “conspiracy theorist” to live in the White House. Laughably, the establishment has finally found a conspiracy theory of their own to promulgate, to explain his election. After decades of demands for peace and detente with the Soviet Union, even at the height of their domination over great parts of the world, they have charged that Vladimir Putin’s Russia somehow tipped the scales by “hacking” the 2016 presidential election. This word “hacking” just keeps being robotically chanted by Trump opponents, without any further thought. Exactly what did “the Russians” do to “hack” the election? This is truly one conspiracy theory that is utterly, completely ridiculous.

The court historians tend to love the most active, hands-on presidents. As I hope to show in Hidden History 2 down the road, the most powerful presidents have actually been the worst ones, because they invariably wielded that power against the great majority of the citizens. If he keeps all his campaign promises, Donald Trump could very well be the first aggressive president whose actions conflict with the desires of the elite leaders behind the scenes.

Even if he turns out to be just another garden-variety neocon, Donald Trump’s election has exposed the fraudulent nature of the mainstream media, and the hypocritical inflexibility of those who call themselves “liberals” today. Most Americans know where the “fake news” is coming from. No alternative outlet could hope to compete with the nonsense CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post and every other mainstream organ peddles on a regular basis.

I believe that, if Donald Trump had a different personality, he would not be so despised by so many. He simply is what he is; a vain, often juvenile seventy year old man who is thoroughly used to getting his way. He doesn’t have a lot of tact, and can’t seem to filter his views for public consumption. For many people, that kind of honesty is refreshing in a politician. His most attractive trait remains the incomprehensible amount of hatred he elicits from every pillar of the establishment.

After only a few weeks at the helm, it’s been a mixed bag, but I’m still generally impressed with Trump. Even if most of his appointments don’t seem to be outsiders, those inside the swamp are howling at him louder than ever. Only time will tell if he goes the way of Richard Nixon or the way of Huey Long.

 

“Progressives” vs. Populists

The “progressive” label is affixed to public figures just as dishonestly as “liberal” is. Truly progressive thinking is obviously a good thing. But as used by the establishment, the label instead indicates the kind of narrow-minded authoritarianism most modern “liberals” are renowned for.

The easiest way to distinguish a true progressive or a true liberal from a fake one is to study their views on war and peace. The court historians tell us that Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt were the ultimate “good guys,” deeply concerned for their fellow human beings and only driven to war by despicable foes.

Study the actual historical record, not the widely publicized propaganda pieces written by well-publicized establishment historians. Wilson obeyed his masters and steered America into a disastrous foreign conflict that changed the world forever, in a very bad way. As a true progressive, General Smedley Butler described it, “war is a racket.” Butler detailed the incredible fortunes that were made just from “the war to end all wars.”

Franklin Roosevelt did everything in his power behind the scenes to move America into Europe’s new conflict, and succeeded when Japan launched a “sneak” attack on Pearl Harbor. But anyone who even suggests that FDR had prior knowledge of the attack risks the kind of scorn the mainstream media and court historians direct to those who question the divinity of the establishment’s secular saint, “Honest” Abe Lincoln.

Looking at establishment “progressives” today, the one thing that distinguishes them from actual progressives or populists is their persistent support for any and every war the United States involves itself in. Virtually any Democratic party nominee since LBJ fits this profile perfectly. They bought into the Gulf “war,” and every subsequent excursion into the middle east. Even more laughably, they support this undefinable “war on terror,” and the restrictions of civil liberties that go along with it.

Genuine populists like William Jennings Bryan, Robert LaFollette and Huey Long are generally ignored by the court historians. If Bryan is mentioned, it’s to inaccurately ridicule him as a Bible-thumping clown who made a fool of himself at the Scopes trial. He isn’t associated with “peace,” despite resigning in protest from Wilson’s cabinet over American involvement in WWI. Long, of course, is labeled a “demagogue” and accused of corruption, based exclusively on second-hand accounts of a “deduct box.”

It is hard for those who are not fully awake to understand the differences between a Howard Dean and a Dennis Kucinich, for instance. It’s the same kind of difference that existed in the 1968 campaign, regarding a Hubert Humphrey and a Robert F. Kennedy. The Democratic Party has always stayed away from any true populist presidential candidates. They had a great populist in Congress, James Trafficant, and railroaded him into prison on truly absurd criminal charges.

Donald Trump is not my idea of a populist. But he has taken stances on vital issues that border on the subversive, in the eyes of our corrupt establishment. His boldest move, and one of the boldest nominations any president has made in modern times, was tapping Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. to head a commission studying the impact of vaccines. This was a revolutionary middle finger to the state; not only has RFK, Jr. been vocal about the connection between vaccines and autism, he is a Kennedy. He’s the son of JFK’s brother, Attorney General and right-hand man. The establishment doesn’t want him near any lever of power.

Establishment “progressives” like FDR, Harry Truman, LBJ, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama delivered speeches about alleviating poverty. Their rhetoric has never come close to matching their record. Huey Long (an entire chapter will be devoted to the Kingfish in my upcoming book Survival of the Richest) actually made the lives of the poor in Louisiana demonstrably better. If Americans had elected RFK in 1968, or Cynthia McKinney or Dennis Kucinich in more recent years, they would almost certainly have taken real, direct action against poverty.

“Liberal” Bill Clinton’s push for mandatory sentencing and “three strikes you’re out” policies didn’t help the poor. On the contrary, it resulted in far more poor people doing to prison, for much longer sentences, than ever before. “Liberal” Barack Obama’s “affordable” health care act provided free health care to no one, except perhaps for illegal immigrants, which is probably a fitting epitaph for his administration. Real populists recognize that our healthcare system is beyond repair in its present state, and advocate for a single-payer system. They certainly wouldn’t support Obamacare’s mandate that forces everyone to purchase insurance or face exorbitant penalties.

The establishment Left, like the establishment Right, supports every horrific measure proposed, from NAFTA to TPP to corporate welfare, which creates the sinful disparity of wealth we see in America, and around the world today. It’s impossible to effectively solve this problem without focusing on where all the money is going, which I do in Survival of the Richest. Just during the course of writing that book, the already incomprehensible statistic that the 80 richest individuals in the world have more wealth than half of the world’s population, fell further to 62 individuals.

Unless America wants to become a card-carrying member of the Third World brigade, we absolutely have to narrow the unprecedented gap between the haves and the have nots. We not only have to deal with outsourcing, immigration and foreign visa workers; mass automation will eliminate an untold number of jobs as well. Increasingly, I am thinking that some kind of guaranteed income is the only viable solution here, but I don’t expect that idea to fly in this country, until we experience a total collapse and are fighting in the streets over food.

Where is any “progressive” leader in America, calling for a guaranteed annual income? It’s doubtful our always inept leaders have any idea of how to deal with the birth of automation, much as they never dealt intelligently with immigration, trade, healthcare, foreign policy, or any other critical issue. Their approach to the inevitable Social Security crisis is to keep raising the retirement age, which perfectly reflects the short-sided perspective that has all but destroyed this nation.

We need a new generation of populists like Huey Long and William Jennings Bryan. There is no real alternative when the establishment “left” is just as hawkish on war and disinterested in civil liberties as the establishment “right.” This is again why Donald Trump has incurred the wrath of the entire establishment. He isn’t a Reagan opposing “liberalism.” He has ranted specifically against “globalism.” Virtually every major political figure of the past fifty years has been a die-hard globalist. This is why they agreed not to disagree on foreign policy, to make it “bipartisan.” In other words, to never speak out against the continuous wars.

Huey Long’s “Share the Wealth” society attracted millions of members.  As I hope to show in my book, he was assassinated by powerful forces because of the tremendous threat he represented. Despite all the talk about eradicating poverty in the decades that followed, including LBJ’s ridiculous “war” on it, which was just as unsuccessful as Reagan’s “war” on drugs, not a single politician ever thought to pick up Huey Long’s mantle, and demand redistribution of the wealth. Not even a true demagogue, exploiting the poor for his own purposes, appeared on the scene. Even Long’s own son, Russell, never made it an issue in all his years in the U.S. Senate.

Our corrupt establishment needs a substantial underclass as much as it needs perpetual war, in order to maintain its illegitimate power. Even a few populist stances, such as Trump has taken, threaten this criminal state to its core. Take away the massive illegal immigration and awful trade deals, and a crucial plank of globalism is destroyed. Merely rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure is Populism 101, because it represents an expenditure that directly benefits all the people, not just the plutocratic elite.

Establishment “progressives” appear to define “progress” as a draconian Banana Republic-type of world, where austerity and authoritarianism reign together. Huey Long spoke of sharing the blessings with everyone, while “progressives” today advise “sacrifice” and dramatically lowered expectations and standards of living. The “new normal” is an ever widening disparity in wealth, no pay raises, benefits or retirement for the great mass of workers, and the death of both empathy and idealism.

John F. Kennedy’s idealistic speeches would be appreciated by very few in our cynical modern world. Establishment “progressives” appear to be restricting their idealism to increasing the number of transgender bathrooms. No one talks of the simple solution Huey Long advocated; to take from those who have too much and give to those who have too little. The legend of Robin Hood resounded with the public for a good reason; most people recognized that he was a hero, not a villain.

No honest system permits such a concentration of wealth as we see today. Survival of the Richest will examine this dishonest system in depth. It is indeed rigged against the common people, and in favor of the wealthy. No one honestly “earns” billions. As the great socialist Eugene Debs put it a century ago: “I am opposing a social order in which it is possible for one man who does absolutely nothing that is useful to amass a fortune of hundreds of millions of dollars, while millions of men and women who work all the days of their lives secure barely enough for a wretched existence.”

To paraphrase what was once said about slavery; if this kind of distribution of wealth isn’t wrong, then nothing is wrong. If only we had some true progressives, some high profile populists, to point the obvious out to the people.

 

Crushing the Dreams of the “Snowflakes”

Ross Perot warned Americans, during his 1992 presidential campaign, that if present trends continued, we were about to become the first generation whose children have a lower standard of living than their predecessors. His prediction has come true in spades.

Reports surfaced in mid-2016 that, for the first time in 130 years, more young people aged 18-34 lived with their parents than in any other living arrangement. In 1960, 62% of that demographic lived with a spouse or romantic partner, but by 2014 the number had dipped to 31.6%, as opposed to 32.1% residing with their parents. In 1960, 84% of young males were employed. By 2014, only 71% were.

These are alarming but predictable statistics. The cost of housing, combined with a bleak employment market, made this situation inevitable. One of the primary reasons home-ownership in America is at a 26 year low of 64% is the undeniable fact that Millennials simply can’t afford to buy real estate. Home ownership rates for those aged 18-34 fell 7.3%  from 2005 to 2015. In a recent survey, 80% of Millennials reported that it was hard for them to find affordable housing.

For those Millennials that are lucky enough to have a full-time job, upward mobility is difficult. One ugly aspect of the “new normal” was reflected in a recent Bloomberg headline: “Say Goodbye to the Annual Pay Raise.” The fortunate souls in the Top 20 percent of wage earners are given bonuses and other perks that the mass of employees can only dream about. All of these mind-boggling disparities will be discussed in depth in my upcoming book Survival of the Richest. 

The traditional pension is going the way of the annual pay raise as well. As another recent article stated, “Will the Youngest Ever Get to Retire?” We’re all familiar with the impossible financial logistics involved in Social Security. As huge numbers of Baby Boomers begin collecting their benefits, the system will become more overdrawn than ever. As usual, our clueless leaders can only push “solutions” like raising the retirement age again. No one seems to want means-testing, or taxing all income, not just the first $119,000 as under the present regressive system.

We know from polls released last year that some 62% of Americans have less than $1000 in savings. In a less reported poll, it was discovered that Americans under 35 have a collective savings rate of negative 2%. With only a slight possibility of a 401K plan (which they largely fund themselves), no yearly raises and no traditional pension, how can Millennials ever hope to advance in life? Like most Americans, they aren’t being paid enough to save anything. Without savings, not only are inevitable emergency expenses problematic, but home ownership is a virtual impossibility.

Millennials on average are 29% less likely to buy a car than those in Gen X. The average cost of an engagement ring these days is nearly $5,000. The average wedding costs $26,645.  This is just part of the reason why marriage rates in America hit a record low in 2015. Based on current trends, about one fourth of all Millennials will forego marriage. Just from 2008-2015, the marriage rate for young women with only a high school diploma or less dropped 13%. Meanwhile, the marriage rate for young women with a college degree rose 6% over the same time period. I think we’re confronting financial reality here more than a massive cultural shift.

While the disparity of income and wealth in America continues to grow, this gap is especially noticeable among Millennials. While so many of these younger Americans are unemployed or underemployed, one third of those who make over $500,000 a year are Millennials. That is startling, considering that 90% of Millennials make less than $60,000 annually. While many Google employees start at six figures and get free organic meals, free haircuts, nap pods and other incredible amenities, numerous Millennial peers are filling out vague psychological questionnaires online just to be considered for an $8 hourly retail job.

Student debt has overtaken credit card debt in America. Young people are paying exorbitant tuition fees and not receiving their money’s worth. The job market has changed dramatically in the past twenty five years or so. Many of the jobs that used to require only a high school degree now demand at least a Bachelor’s. Not only this, but they pay less than they used to. And, of course, the benefits have been slashed across the board for working-class people.

As I will detail in my book, the poorer you are, the more you pay for nearly everything. If you fall behind on your credit card payments, your interest rate goes up. Your credit score will impact your ability to get a job, and if it’s too low, you’ll pay more for things like insurance. If you’re rich enough, you get incomprehensible amounts of corporate welfare, from lucrative contracts and tax breaks, to valuable swag bags for celebrities. The average celebrity gets $100,000 in free stuff every year.

We all should want our children to do better than us. Too many of my fellow Baby Boomers have faulty memories, and ascribe to the popular mantra that they worked especially hard, walked fifteen miles to school every day, etc. I was there. We had it easy compared to the situation most Millennials must deal with today. A college degree was worth something then. Yearly raises were a reality for nearly all workers. And it was much easier to earn promotions and move onto other jobs than it is now.

Society responds to any valid complaints by Millennials by calling them “Snowflakes,” and joking about them “living in their parents’ basement.” The selfishness and greed on the part of too many old people now is uglier than it has ever been. I know Baby Boomers who’ve written their adult children off for no good reason, for making the same kinds of mistakes our generation made. They’ve disowned them, and appear to have forgotten all the illicit sex they engaged in, and all the rampant drug and booze- fueled parties they regularly attended in the 1970s and 1980s.

It’s sobering to think of what the generation after the Millennials- their children- will face. Unless Donald Trump can stop the approaching tidal wave of draconian austerity, they will be full-fledged citizens of a Third World nation that resembles the historical United States little more than a colony on Mars would.

Ralph Waldo Emerson offered this timeless gem: “To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived- that is to have succeeded.” In his greatest speech, John F. Kennedy said “we all cherish our children’s futures.” Does it really seem at this point in time that older Americans are concerned with making anyone breathe easier, or that all of them cherish their children’s futures?

If older Americans truly cared about the world they are leaving to their children, their grandchildren and future generations beyond that, then they’d be enacting policies that reflected that concern. They’d educate themselves on the current job market, the relative worthlessness of many college degrees, the limited path to upward mobility, and start showing some empathy for the younger generation. None of them would bark, “You’re out the door when you turn eighteen” or similar remarks.

I used to worry about how I’d react to having an empty nest. I don’t think about that very often now, because fewer empty nests are a part of the “new normal” world we’ve created. My generation grew up spoiled, in an unusual era where jobs were plentiful and opportunities were greater. America is morphing into a Waltons-style system of living, wherein 3 or even 4 generations living together under one roof is becoming more commonplace. Families being driven closer through financial necessity is perhaps the only bright spot in this “new normal” set of circumstances.

As far back as 1999, the head of the Australian Human Rights Commission called Baby Boomers “the most selfish generation in history.” Polls show that while Baby Boomers label themselves responsible and self-sufficient, Millennials have negative self-images and feel pressured by expectations that are becoming increasingly hard to meet. In a word, our children by and large consider themselves failures. Not only have autism-spectrum diagnoses soared among Millennials, a full quarter of them struggle with mental illness.

Successful Baby Boomers swear by the essentials that brought them their secure standard of living, and especially place great value on a college education. Mention the “college conspiracy” or crushing student loan debt to them, and you’ll get the kind of vacant look most human beings have always been known for. They’ll brag about working in a restaurant or at construction when they were young, and bemoan how little they were paid, without the least bit of knowledge of the present employment market. They act, much as their own parents did, as if the world hasn’t changed dramatically in the last fifty years.

I’m impressed by how insightful so many Millennials are. They question everything, as young people should. But unlike previous generations, I don’t think most of them will outgrow this intellectual curiosity. In the past, when people attained a level of financial security, they stopped questioning the system that granted it to them. The undeniable reality is that, for an alarming number of Millennials, they will continue to see themselves as existing outside a system where opportunities are shrinking daily.

If “Snowflakes” are not maturing into adults, accepting responsibility and paying their fair share of taxes, it’s largely because our collapsing economy has forced them into their parents’ basements. If they spend inordinate amounts of time playing video games or smoking dope, can we blame them? They understand how bleak the future is for them. What else would we expect them to be, other than perpetual adolescents?

Love your children. If you treat them the way you should, maybe they’ll take care of you in your old age, instead of dumping you into one of our odious nursing homes. Take the time to learn about our present economic reality. Most of the hard-nosed Baby Boomers are completely unfamiliar with the “new normal” in even applying for a job. They are anxiously looking forward to a leisurely retirement, and their attitude appears to be that the “Snowflakes” are lazy and entitled.

Our leaders love to advise us to “think of the children.” Is life about dying with the most toys, or leaving the world a better place for our descendants?

Of Pizza and Politics

When John Podesta’s emails were recently found to contain an inordinate number of references to “pasta” and “pizza,” it should have alarmed every American. It certainly should have alarmed some of our crack “journalists” in the mainstream media. “Pasta” and “Pizza” are long rumored to be code words for sex with children, and as someone who covered the Franklin Credit and other child sex scandals in my book, I know how common this ugly perversion is among the rich and powerful.

To cite a particular example from Podesta’s emails, consider how one of his friends was strangely concerned about a handkerchief which “has a map that seems pizza-related,” that had been left at a property. How can a map possibly be “pizza-related?” A disturbing photograph of two women and a little girl with pizza was sent to John Podesta, to which he replied, “It doesn’t get any better than this.” The women just happened to be reporters Laura Ling and Euna Lee, who’d been arrested in North Korea while investigating child trafficking. Shangrli-La Entertainment’s Steve Bing sent his private jet to pick up the two women, and none other than Bill Clinton flew back with them to the United States. You can’t make this stuff up.

John Podesta’s brother Tony is perhaps even creepier than he is. In one of Tony’s emails, he makes the curious statement, “Would love to get pizza for over an hour.” If that isn’t some kind of code, what is it? The email about the “pizza-related” map was sent by someone with the Sandler Foundation, which pays the very wealthy Tony Podesta some $7,000 per month.

The number of references in these emails to “pasta” and “pizza” is utterly staggering. These are One Percenters- they don’t eat like the common riff-raff. Do these elitists really hold that many pizza parties? And why always use the generic term “pasta,” instead of specifying which type of pasta dish? If you’re inviting someone for dinner, wouldn’t you say something more descriptive, like spaghetti or lasagna, instead of just “pasta?”

Instead of attracting the interest of erstwhile Lois Lanes in newsrooms all over the country, “Pizzagate” was “debunked” by the likes of The Washington Post, The New York Times, online establishment bodyguard Snopes and even Scott Adams of Dilbert fame. Adams admitted there was a “mountain of evidence” in the case, but attributed it to “confirmation bias.” Some of us, of course, would attribute the failure to accept such lurid allegations, by Adams or anyone else, to “normalcy bias.” The Washington Post kindly reminded us that “fake news hurts real people.” The normally feisty internet site Reddit banned all further discussions on the subject.

The whole “fake news” mantra threatens to supplant longtime establishment favorite “conspiracy theory” as the top means of discrediting the questioning of authorities. The “real people” the Post was so concerned about referred to James Achilles Alefantis, owner of the pizza parlor in question, Washington D.C.’s Comet Ping Pong. Alefantis is the former boyfriend of one of the mainstream media’s most reliable “journalists,” David Brock.

Comet Ping Pong was described by New York Magazine’s David Sax as “a hipster-heavy pizza parlor in the Upper Northwest with rough concrete walls, bathrooms hidden behind secret panels, and table tennis galore.” Hidden bathrooms? Doesn’t quite seem to fit in with a “kid friendly” restaurant. Alefantis’ Instagram account contained some disturbing posts (and comments). In one case, he called a picture of an infant a “hotard,” or combination whore and retard. In a truly appalling photograph, a very little girl was shown with her hands fastened to a table with masking tape.

In another Instagram picture, the bartender at “family friendly” Comet Ping Pong shared an image of a couple in the “69” sex position, nestled on top of a slice of pizza. Alefantis also posted lovely photos of a man french kissing an apparently dead dog, and a closeup of the eye of a dead pig. In a frightening image, Alefantis shared a photo of a large empty room, and the comments included one which said simply, “#killroom,” and a reply from Alefantis himself of “#murder.” Another comment mentioned “washing the room out.” According to some sources, this depraved businessman is the 49th most powerful person in Washington, D.C.

Marina Abramovic, who runs in the same circles as the Podestas, also made headlines recently with her “spirit cooking.” This “cooking” is related to the philosophy of satanist Aleister Crowley, and involves the use of menstrual blood, urine and sperm in the recipe. In a truly troublesome photo that graced the cover of Dust magazine, Abramovic was pictured with her hand covering the eyes of a small shirtless boy.

A screenshot of John Podesta in his office being interviewed revealed a frightening painting on the wall, depicting a man about to eat another. Tony Podesta’s home features a bizarre sculpture of a man bent over backwards, in a position identical to the way serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer posed one of his victims. There is also a seeming cage beneath their stairway, photos on the wall taken by Katy Grannan, “known for documentary-style pictures of naked teenagers,” and an excavated basement where they show “very complicated video pieces” on all four walls.

Alefantis also posted strange pictures of construction being done somewhere in his establishment. On one picture, which showed a large hole being dug at Comet Ping Pong, both Alefantis and others issued suspicious comments about “filling it” and having “lineups” there, while one joked that his hole “has been full for quite some time now.” The commentator referenced earlier, who responded to Alefantis’ picture of an empty room with “#killroom,” appears to regularly construct child-sized coffins, judging by his own Instagram account. There are, of course, different ways of interpreting these remarks, and these pictures, but the pattern is clear and cannot help but lead to frightening kinds of speculation.

Internet researchers- certainly no professional journalists- have discovered that James Alefantis never filed for a construction permit for the mysterious “holes” he shared photographs of on Instagram. They’ve also done some interesting work in tying the extensive system of underground tunnels in the same area together. The rabbit hole goes very deep here- with photos of the likes of John Podesta, Barack Obama and George W. Bush with a band aid on their left middle fingers, which connects to the legend of Hiram Abiff and the murky world of the Freemasons.

The late Dave McGowan wrote a terrifying series about the worldwide child sex trade, called “The Pedophocracy.” I devoted a chapter to this lurid subject in my book Hidden History. We know that this ugly predilection exists, and that it exists disproportionately among the rich and powerful. Child prostitution was rampant in upstanding Victorian London for instance, and there, as has been the case wherever they existed, they cost more than adults. Thus, only the wealthy could afford them.

What are we confronting here? The recent Wikileaks disclosures seem to hint at a secret elite interest in cannibalism, of all things. This takes the corruption well beyond pedophilia. The artwork the Podestas of the world possess, and their boldness in hinting of such depravity online, seem to provide textbook examples of the popular phrase “hiding in plain sight.”

Of all the subjects I’ve researched, none is more frightening than this one. None illustrates more clearly the extent of the corruption, and indeed the evil which good and decent people are confronted with here. Normalcy bias is very potent, and prevents most human beings from accepting such a diabolical reality.

Could there be an innocent explanation for all this? Well, it’s not entirely impossible. It’s also not entirely impossible that the most powerful men in America get together every summer in the mountains of California to worship a giant owl and conduct occult-tinged ceremonies, as an innocent means of relieving stress. Maybe this is all just innocent fun, that the unwashed masses can’t relate to.

Maybe the Podestas just have wildly eclectic tastes in artwork. Maybe James Alefantis is just one of those “real people” who have been slandered by false allegations. Fake news and all that. Wealth tends to breed eccentricity, so perhaps this is all beyond the comprehension of those who aren’t wealthy.

Pizza is probably my favorite food, and sometimes a pizza is just a pizza. But where there is this much smoke, there has to be some fire.

The Mother of all Elections

Donald Trump pulled off one of American history’s most stunning upsets, defeating establishment favorite Hillary Clinton decisively in the electoral college. Hillary is said to be far ahead in the popular vote, and her lead is further said to be growing. As a clueless American outside the corridors of power, I find it surprising that votes are still being counted a week after the election, and that the post-election vote seems to be so tilted in Hillary’s favor.

The response on the part of the mainstream media was predictable, but the reaction of Clinton supporters across the land was embarrassing and juvenile. Crying parties? Students being given passing marks on midterm exams because of their grief? Has any student ever been given such an important pass over the death of even a close family member? College kids being consoled with play dough and crayons, even pacifiers? Students generally just walking out of class in protest with no repercussions?

On social media, I’ve asked for an explanation regarding just what it is the protesters are protesting. Obviously, they don’t like the outcome of the election, but nothing appears to have been amiss in the electoral count, and Clinton conceded the next day. It appears that the protesters simply want the election results overturned. “Not my president” and all that. They are tantamount to a spoiled toddler kicking and stamping and trying to scream loud enough to get their way.

The authorities appear to be totally unresponsive to the protesters, despite numerous instances of violence directed at Trump supporters. I know, this contradicts the narrative that Trump’s supporters are the ones “hating” and causing the violence, but then reality always seems to contradict the mainstream media’s official narratives.

I’ve been open to the electoral college being abolished for a long time. The problem here is that you can’t abolish it post-election and then change those election results to suit your whims. I think it’s pretty obvious that if the results had been opposite (as many of us thought they’d be), with Hillary prevailing in the Electoral College and Trump winning the popular vote, those same protesters would be backing the old system to the tilt. They’d also be relentlessly ridiculing any Trump protesters as whiny cry babies and poor losers.

Hollywood in particular is distraught. The film industry may completely grind to a halt. How will America survive with Cher blasting off into space? Should Trump be “tolerant” and just allow Robert DeNiro, George Lopez and countless other celebrities to come to the White House and punch him? After all, we’ve been told that Trump opponents are in “fear” of what his presidency will mean. They need time to process the election results. They need to release a lot more videos of themselves explaining how upset they are. Miley Cyrus will probably need to get even more naked.

Now as for Trump himself, he has sent mixed messages so far to his supporters. Naming Bannon as Chief of Staff seems to have been a good move, judging by the histrionic reaction on the part of the establishment. Preibus was a predictable bone thrown to the mainstream Republicans. Most of the names being bandied about as Cabinet choices are exceedingly distressing to hear. John Bolton? Jamie Dimon? Apparently, warhawk extraordinaire Frank Gaffney is a part of Trump’s national security team already. That’s a troubling choice for someone who proclaimed that he wanted to put “America first.”

I’m hoping that most of these establishment, neocon names are just wishful thinking on the part of the mainstream media. In other words, they are names they’d like to see picked. I will be worried if no real outsiders show up in his cabinet. How about Ron Paul for Treasury? Pat Buchanan for Secretary of Defense? I’d really love to see Trump extend an olive branch to left-wing populists like Cynthia McKinney, Dennis Kucinich and Ralph Nader. Giving them a voice in his administration would go a long way towards quelling the nonstop howling from the inside the beltway crowd.

If Donald Trump reneges on his pledges to the American people, I will be the first to lash out at him. In many ways, that would be a greater betrayal that the typical broken promises of mainstream Republicrat candidates. Most of us are astute enough by now to understand that there is no point in “reading the lips” of these hack stooges. We expect their promises to be broken, and since most of their campaigns revolve around the same tired political rhetoric, they usually don’t even make any promises.

Trump needs to remember who it was that elected him. It wasn’t neocons wanting war with anyone and everyone. It wasn’t the sort of Rockefeller Republicans who seem to be all too visible a part of his transition team. It was those “forgotten Americans” who have seen their job prospects diminish, when they have jobs, and have grown tired of the special interests of a myriad of groups taking precedence over the welfare of all. In Trump, they saw a symbolic figure that seemed to maybe, just maybe, have their interests at heart.

I will studying with a keen interest the final popular vote tallies. As a “conspiracy theorist,” I naturally am suspicious of such things, especially when they take so extraordinarily long to count. Much of this late vote appears to be coming from California, where Jerry Brown’s law allowing non-citizens to get drivers licenses effectively opened to door to them voting, since only a drivers license is required as identification in that state. Some “conspiracy theorists” think some three million illegals and undocumented people voted in this election. Needless to say, that was more that enough to tip the scales towards Hillary.

On the positive side, Trump continues to stress the restoration of relations with Russia. This has incensed the warhawk “liberals,” and cranky old John McCainiac, who basically dared Trump not to pursue peace. McCain was inexplicably re-elected, by voters who returned 90 percent of our putrid representatives to the Senate, and 96 percent to the House. Common riff-raff like me find it hard to juxtapose these head- shaking numbers against the less than 10% approval rating Congress receives in virtually every poll of these same voters.

I hope that none of the countless Americans, some of them high profile, who have threatened Trump with assassination actually carry out their plans. I hope that Seattle’s District Representative Kshama Sawant doesn’t succeed in her goal to disrupt Trump’s inauguration. I hope the guy who held up the “Rape Melania” sign doesn’t do that. I hope that the same “comedians” who devoted far too much time to making fun of Sarah Palin’s Down Syndrome son don’t start attacking Trump’s youngest son; it has already been speculated that he is autistic.

It’s pretty clear at that point that the country is divided like never before in our history. No matter how many celebrities stress its importance, for instance, you are never going to get a substantial portion of the population to support, or even care about Transgender bathrooms. What’s just as obvious is the fact that the side whose candidate lost this election will never be willing to “come together.” Remember, these are the same people who demanded Trump promise to stand by the results of the election. To a disinterested observer, it looks very much like all those people in the streets, and screaming on narcissistic videos, are refusing to stand by those results.

These are frightening, breathtaking and unprecedented times. Like the unexpected Brexit election results in Great Britain, the election of Trump gives us some hope, for the first time in many years. Will he disappoint, creating even more disillusionment and cynicism,  or carve out an honored place in our history?

“Liberals” vs. Populists

With the most interesting election of my lifetime only days away, it is appropriate to consider the way Donald Trump has changed the political dynamic in America. Never has any political candidate, at any level, been the subject of such continuous hatred and vicious attacks, including numerous physical threats, than Donald Trump has.

Trump is no traditional Republican. Regardless what happens on November 8, the old GOP is dead. If Trump is elected, it will signal the birth of a new Republican Party, one that is more populist in nature, and open to hordes of independents. If he loses, there will never be another Republican president. The demographics are simply against it.

I have lost too many friends on social media because of my support for Trump. A lot of good people, who certainly ought to know better, have been relegated to defending the thoroughly corrupt Hillary Clinton, and fantasizing that she hasn’t always lusted for war, been addicted to chicanery, been in bed with large banks and corporations, and supported anything else her fellow One Percenters want. Her entire career is an advertisement for special interest/identity politics, and her every action has been against the interests of the common people.

This election season has uncovered several uncomfortable truths. First, anyone who trusted the mainstream media in the least bit has seen incontrovertible proof that they are an updated version of Pravda, little more than mouthpieces for the state. Second, anyone who believed in the fantastic “left” and “right” paradigm, which produced milquetoast “opponents” for the chosen candidates in each presidential election, has had their illusions forever shattered. The Bush family and every other neocon Republican hates their own candidate and are publicly supporting Clinton.

The slew of important disclosures by Wikileaks and Project Veritas have been met with silence by the kept establishment press. They do, however, have a burning desire to uncover the identities of those who leaked the information. Their favorite culprit is Russia, in conjunction with Trump. At any rate, they have no interest in the massive corruption being exposed.

Just what is it that the “left” hates about Putin? His ironclad stance against GMOs and Big Pharma? His ban on the Rothschild banking elite entering Russia? His attacks on military and police corruption? His encouraging Russians to have more children, which has angered every eugenicist in high places all over the world?

What does the establishment “left” offer us at this point? Their attacks on Trump are illuminating; nothing about his blowhard comment about executing Edward Snowden, or about his heavy handed “stop and frisk” mantra. Instead, they focus on things he may or may not have said at some point in his career, that were not politically correct. Or his alleged involvement with several women, who were so traumatized by Trump’s “harassment” that they waited years, sometimes decades, before going public shortly before the election. Or the fact the KKK leadership supposedly supports him. Is Trump supposed to stop David Duke, or the KKK, from voting for him?

Have Hillary Clinton, or Joe Biden, or Tim Kaine, or Nancy Pelosi, or any other prominent “liberal” today, ever done anything remotely populist? Have they even said anything that indicated they’re concerned with protecting our civil liberties? Have any of them opposed our non-stop foreign escapades in far flung tiny nations? Have any of them shown the slightest indication that they agree with any part of John F. Kennedy’s timeless, immensely powerful American University “peace” speech?

The establishment “left” has devolved into a messy mix of identity politics, social justice warring and authoritarian control freaks. They not only care nothing about protecting free speech and press, they are constantly attempting to suppress ideas they find offensive. I don’t think there is any chance that the Bill of Rights would be approved by either house of Congress today. If it somehow were, any of our recent presidents would veto it, and any of our recent Supreme Courts would declare it unconstitutional. It survives in the tattered state it does simply because it hasn’t become politically expedient for our leaders to officially discard it.

Because of my support for Trump, some people think I’m a right-winger, even a “conservative.” Nothing could be further from the truth. My all-time political hero is Huey Long, who accomplished more in his short life, before the corrupt elite of his time assassinated him, than all of our modern “liberal” politicians put together.

Genuine Liberals like Thomas Jefferson are smeared today as “racists” by authoritarian social justice warriors. Patrick Henry is mostly forgotten, as is John Hancock and many other Founders. The great William Jennings Bryan is recalled chiefly now as a Bible-thumper who embarrassed himself at the Scopes trial. In reality, Bryan’s opposition to evolution was mostly based upon his belief that it would lead inevitably towards the growth of eugenics.

Because the present-day establishment is nominally “liberal,” using a bastardized definition of the word, its heroes were as flawed as they are. Thus, Huey Long is castigated as a “demagogue,” and Eugene Debs is nearly forgotten. Few remember the great anti-war crusader General Smedley Butler. But Woodrow Wilson, a chronic warmonger and genuine racist, is extolled as an early example of “liberalism.” FDR was every bit as corrupt and war-loving as the Clintons and their ilk are today. But the court historians love them, and claim they represent true “liberals.”

LBJ’s chronically rude nastiness is swept under the rug by a media who considers him favorably in comparison to our last great president, John F. Kennedy. Rob “Meathead” Reiner- a loud mouthed Hollywood “liberal”- makes a film extolling the hopelessly corrupt LBJ, while the mainstream media continues to paint all the Kennedys as reckless, mafia-connected womanizers. As we all know, the medium is the message. Whatever message the sheeple hear the most, becomes the truth to them.

The “left” that is desperately trying to steal this election for the Queen of Corruption now proclaims that there is “no evidence” of voting fraud. Many of them supported Bernie Sanders, and presumably maintain a straight face while saying this. Wikileaks documents proving the DNC conspired to deny Sanders the nomination be damned. Other documents proving the DNC paid “protesters” some $1500 each to cause violence at Trump rallies be damned. The man is “dangerous” and must be stopped.

My point is there is a huge difference between “leftist” historical heroes like Wilson, FDR, Truman and LBJ, and genuine populists of their respective eras. There are still a few honest Liberals in public life today. Ralph Nader. Cynthia McKinney. Dennis Kucinich, for example. The list is short, however. James Trafficant was another one, and he was run out of Congress via a political assassination that rivals few in our history.

True “liberals” would not have supported odious trade deals like NAFTA. They certainly wouldn’t support the horrendous TPP, and would have been aghast at the secretive, undemocratic way that bill was presented and passed. They wouldn’t have voted to bail out the bankers. They wouldn’t support “free speech zones,” or believe there is a such a thing as “hate speech” or “hate crimes.” They would have strongly opposed every modern “war” of my lifetime. They would be protesting the very idea of drones, and certainly would have been horrified at any American official publicly supporting assassination.

Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and most other leading members of the “liberal” establishment consider Edward Snowden a traitor, not a hero. Have any of them spoken out about the unjustly incarcerated Bradley Manning? Now they are turning on Julian Assange, because his revelations reflect poorly on their candidate of choice.

“Liberalism” today, in contradiction to the inane quote from the sappy old movie Love Story, means always being willing to say you’re sorry. Authoritarian “leftists” foam at the mouth over any vestige of “racism,” “sexism,””homophobia,” that they can detect emanating from the mouths or fingers of some unsuspecting soul. Then there is a furious crescendo for the poor offender to be fired, excluded from polite society, and most of all to apologize. These apologies serve only as excessive vengeance, as they never save the victim from losing their job and their reputation.

Populists oppose corruption on any level. They are against excessive power concentrated anywhere, in government or business. They support what is best for all the people. The establishment “left” supports every globalist notion ever devised, and whatever concentrates power further and improves the lives of the One Percent.

America stands at a crossroads. I firmly believe we are on the brink of economic and cultural collapse. Memories of Rome burning and the Titanic sinking come to mind. The election of Donald Trump may accomplish nothing. But symbolically he represents a good portion of the population, who are tired of decades of politics as usual, empty rhetoric, broken promises, and a decreasing standard of living.

We will never have another Huey Long. Or another William Jennings Bryan. But we can stop swallowing the nonsense spewed out by career politicians, especially overtly corrupt ones like Hillary Clinton. We can stop re-electing our putrid congressional incumbents. We should expect better and we should demand better.

True Liberals want reform where reform is needed. They stand up for the little guy, regardless of race, religion or creed. They don’t want to punish someone, or see them lose their livelihood, because of something they said. They don’t side with big banks, or international corporations, against the people. Huey Long used to brag about never taking a case against a poor person. True liberals are magnanimous, and possess plentiful amounts of empathy. They will defend to their dying day someone’s right to say things they disagree with.

The campaigns of both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump prove that populism is the wave of the future. Power to the people. This election represents a referendum, with the voters having the ability to give a thumbs up or thumbs down to our corrupt establishment. Any poor or working class citizen cannot possibly approve of the way our country has been run, for a very long time.

Already, we’ve seen indications that voter fraud is rampant, even before election day. There have been several reports of votes being changed automatically from Trump to Clinton (never the other way around). Is this the kind of electoral system we want?

On election day, vote thumbs down. Tell the establishment that we want better.