Monday, November 25, 2013

"The Year of the Billionaire" (Updated)

Politico has a story entitled "The Year of the Billionaire." Its thesis: 
In the off-year campaigns of 2013, liberal and Democratic interests have enjoyed a decisive advantage in the billionaire spending bracket. Indeed, groups tied to just three billionaires — New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, California investor Tom Steyer and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg — have spent well more than $25 million this year pushing progressive candidates and causes. 
Their arrival on the political scene, at the same time as many conservative donors remain disheartened from the GOP’s 2012 defeat, represents a shift in power in the arena of big-money campaigns. And it’s the clearest sign that Democrats have abandoned their initial revulsion about outside money in favor of a recognition that they have to play and win by the same political rules as their opponents.
The Politico story, as you can tell even from brief quote above, has very much a "whats good for the goose is good for the gander" attitude. However, there has never been any question that the very wealthy have always supported the Democrats. One needs to look no further than the political fetes hosted by Hollywood moguls and among the super-rich of San Francisco (the site of his 2008 "bitter-clingers" remark).

However, Matthew Continetti at the Washington Free Beacon asks if it really matters how the billionaire donors label themselves (or are labelled).
But, when closely examined, the differences between the suppositions of billionaires grow somewhat thin. The consensus shared by most of the American elite is well established and long enduring and objectively liberal: a love of economic growth; rhetorical support for fiscal responsibility; a desire to play nice with others and, post Iraq, to avoid war; a belief that the benefits to the economy of comprehensive immigration reform outweigh social cohesion and the costs to low- and non-skilled native workers; an expansive interpretation of all rights, constitutional and judicial, except the right to keep and bear arms; a desire to reduce trade barriers with all nations regardless of regime or labor conditions or the costs, again, to low-skill native industries easily displaced to the other side of the world; a secular-materialist view of nature and support for its protection; and a commitment to multiculturalism and diversity in pursuit of equality.
It is one’s allegiance to these ideas, and not one’s income or the particular industry in which one works, that is the true measure of membership in the Caste. Quibbling over the edges of this worldview—over which programs to cut or expand, which taxes to lower or increase, which industries to subsidize and which to not, how best to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and power America—is a matter of means not ends. Nor is it a question of one side working for selfish purposes and the other being devoted to a higher morality. Only the half-baked can think that particular charge withstands scrutiny. We’ve known since Plato that all human action, no matter how wrongheaded, is taken with a view toward some good; and that it is difficult for human beings, even Democrats, to separate their view of the good from their view of what’s good for them.
 In his Decline of the West, Oswald Spengler cited this as an inevitable result of the evolution from Culture to Civilization (his term from the transition from a dynamic, country-side dominated culture to a culturally stagnant or dead civilization dominated by and for the benefit of the great "world-cities"). Spengler held that the our Culture/Civilization (which he called Faustian) was backed by a moral code that compels us (speaking individually) to force our morals on others. He wrote:
It is these fact-men of the grand style [i.e., the super-rich] who are representatives to-day of the Will-to-Power over other men's destinies and therefore of the Faustian ethic generally. Men of this sort do not broadcast their millions to dreamers, "artists," weaklings and "down-and-outs" to satisfy a boundless benevolence; they employ them for those who like themselves count as material for the Future. They pursue a purpose with them. They make a centre of force for the existence of generations which outlives the single lives. The mere money, too, can develop ideas and make history, and [Cecil] Rhodes--precursor of a type that will be significant indeed in the 21st Century--provided, in disposing of his possessions by will, that it should do so.
Conversely, he also observed:
The Megalopolis--sceptical, practical, artificial--alone represents Civilization to-day. The soil-peasantry before its gates does not count. The "People" means the city-people, an inorganic mass, something fluctuating. The peasant ... is therefore overlooked, despised, detested. With the vanishing of the old "estates"--gentry and priesthood--he is the only organic man, the sole relic of the Early Culture. There is no place for him either in Stoic or in Socialistic thought.
Update: More on the power the wealthy exert in the Democratic party: "Obama raises money among the stars"--an article on yesterdays' two fund-raising events that Obama attended.
The gatherings — one at the home of NBA superstar Magic Johnson, and the other at home of Hollywood producer Haim Saban — will benefit a joint fundraising committee aiding Democratic House and Senate candidates.

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