Not all Billionaires are Created Equal

Maybe we should take a tip from France. The French government just introduced a new debt reduction package that includes a 3% income tax increase on people making more than $720,000 a year. But no one is screaming about class warfare in France today – that’s because it was the millionaires and billionaires themselves who asked for the tax increase. In an open letter – some of the wealthiest people in France wrote, “We, the presidents and leaders of industry, businessmen and women, bankers and wealthy citizens would like the richest people to have to pay a 'special contribution'.”

The letter goes on to say, “When the public finances deficit and the prospects of a worsening state debt threaten the future of France and Europe and when the government is asking everybody for solidarity, it seems necessary for us to contribute." As in – they realize there’s not much quality of life in being rich while living in a poor country – a sentiment that most billionaires here in America don’t appear to understand.

I guess it IS true – not all billionaires are created equal.


thegroup 12 years 43 weeks ago

The difference between France and the U.S.? The business leaders in France have a longer history to realize that if the middle class falls, so does the country. And they don't aspire to own the government for the pursuit of greed. We have a solution.

Gene Savory's picture
Gene Savory 12 years 43 weeks ago

Such an excuse - "I didn't mean to kill Oscar Grant, I just wanted to hurt him." Tasing a suspect who is already in custody and under control is torture.

Shutting off communication facilities in the BART tunnels creates a safety hazard.

These BART managers are a danger to life and public safety.

Gene Savory's picture
Gene Savory 12 years 43 weeks ago

More Soma, please.

DRichards's picture
DRichards 12 years 43 weeks ago

Libyan War Planned Right After 9/11 ... Or Before

Toppling Gaddafi was planned right after 9/11, or perhaps even before.

As American reporter Gareth Porter reported in 2008:

Three weeks after the September 11, 2001, terror attacks, former US defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld established an official military objective of not only removing the Saddam Hussein regime by force but overturning the regime in Iran, as well as in Syria and four other countries in the Middle East, according to a document quoted extensively in then-under secretary of defense for policy Douglas Feith's recently published account of the Iraq war decisions. Feith's account further indicates that this aggressive aim of remaking the map of the Middle East by military force and the threat of force was supported explicitly by the country's top military leaders. Feith's book, War and Decision, released last month, provides excerpts of the paper Rumsfeld sent to President George W Bush on September 30, 2001, calling for the administration to focus not on taking down Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network but on the aim of establishing "new regimes" in a series of states... *** General Wesley Clark, who commanded the North Atlantic Treaty Organization bombing campaign in the Kosovo war, recalls in his 2003 book Winning Modern Wars being told by a friend in the Pentagon in November 2001 that the list of states that Rumsfeld and deputy secretary of defense Paul Wolfowitz wanted to take down included Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan and Somalia [and Lebanon]. *** When this writer asked Feith . . . which of the six regimes on the Clark list were included in the Rumsfeld paper, he replied, "All of them." *** The Defense Department guidance document made it clear that US military aims in regard to those states would go well beyond any ties to terrorism. The document said the Defense Department would also seek to isolate and weaken those states and to "disrupt, damage or destroy" their military capacities - not necessarily limited to weapons of mass destruction (WMD)... Rumsfeld's paper was given to the White House only two weeks after Bush had approved a US military operation in Afghanistan directed against bin Laden and the Taliban regime. Despite that decision, Rumsfeld's proposal called explicitly for postponing indefinitely US airstrikes and the use of ground forces in support of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance in order to try to catch bin Laden. Instead, the Rumsfeld paper argued that the US should target states that had supported anti-Israel forces such as Hezbollah and Hamas. *** A senior officer on the Joint Staff told State Department counter-terrorism director Sheehan he had heard terrorist strikes characterized more than once by colleagues as a "small price to pay for being a superpower".

General Clark added some details in 2007:

I had been through the Pentagon right after 9/11. About ten days after 9/11, I went through the Pentagon and I saw Secretary Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz. I went downstairs just to say hello to some of the people on the Joint Staff who used to work for me, and one of the generals called me in. He said, "Sir, you’ve got to come in and talk to me a second." I said, "Well, you’re too busy." He said, "No, no." He says, "We’ve made the decision we’re going to war with Iraq." This was on or about the 20th of September.


So I came back to see him a few weeks later, and by that time we were bombing in Afghanistan. I said, "Are we still going to war with Iraq?" And he said, "Oh, it’s worse than that." He reached over on his desk. He picked up a piece of paper. And he said, "I just got this down from upstairs" — meaning the Secretary of Defense’s office — "today." And he said, "This is a memo that describes how we’re going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran."

Obama is simply carrying out the Neocons' war plans created right after 9/11 ... if notbefore.

DRichards's picture
DRichards 12 years 43 weeks ago

Hmmm.... I wonder when we are going to liberate & bring democracy to Saudi Arabia?

Lore's picture
Lore 12 years 43 weeks ago

while I think the donkey whisperer is pretty disgusting, it reminded me that Republicans have an appropriate animal representation. Donkeys were the hard workers that were the backbone of farming communities and more. So Donkey's - represent the backbone of workers in our nation - in the Democratic Party. Republicans have the elephant - a very strong animal that is very heavy, moves slowly and remembers lessons learned years earlier -- that it doesn't forget! Trying to get an elephant to accept a new idea is nearly impossible. Or, as today shows, the propaganda is accepted and no facts and truths will dislodge their brainwashing!

thegroup 12 years 43 weeks ago

your closing rant...

very well said...thanks. We have a way to get those things done. Take a quick peek at our page when you have seven minutes, let us know what you think.

leighmf's picture
leighmf 12 years 43 weeks ago

The French enjoy showing we ugly Americans the high road. But, they are right.

MaryMary's picture
MaryMary 12 years 43 weeks ago

Isn't donkey a polite way to say Jackass.

MaryMary's picture
MaryMary 12 years 43 weeks ago

I couldn't agree with you more Mr. Hartmann. France is a very progressive country. France was one of the first true democracies in Europe. France supported the US during the revoloutionary war, gave us the statue of Liberty. The French Aeronautical engineers are the best in the world. France also derives 75% of it's electricity from Nuclear power, and is the worlds number one exporter of electricity. This is a teachable moment, and France can teach us how to be secure in our energy policy.

Ursel Twing's picture
Ursel Twing 12 years 43 weeks ago

Moral of the story. Behave yourself, and be respectful of others while traveling on the BART and you will have no problems with the police.

Global's picture
Global 12 years 43 weeks ago

Yes, the Donkey whisperer is a great add. Best political add I have seen in years. Gets right to the point and is funny.

dowdotica's picture
dowdotica 12 years 43 weeks ago

we...weee. misewer!lol Not only are they progressive but they are far from the puritanical hypocritical backward thinking bible thumping lunatice fringe that is more and more everyday creating more devisiveness in ...uh..hmm..what did we "use" to call America? Oh yeah, The United States! You know that once envied place of..."We the people...!"

miriamhamsa's picture
miriamhamsa 12 years 43 weeks ago

Well, for one thing, the French love discussing politics at the dinner table. They also, for the most part, really love their country deeply - and it isn't just a yahoo love. In the US, the rich have been eating the greed greed greed idea for a long time. This idea is not so well regarded in France.

miriamhamsa's picture
miriamhamsa 12 years 43 weeks ago

Thanks. This generic use of America for the United States drives me crazy. I remember seeing an article in the Smithsonian magazine years ago saying how Cubans had old American cars. Last time I looked, Cuba was in America. So is Nicaragua, Paraguay, Chile, Mexico, Belize, Canada, Argentina, Venezuela....

Chubbell 12 years 43 weeks ago

They are racist. Plain and simple... as the majority of th GOP are. It is as obvious as an ass on an ass. Nothing can change it and they will always deny they are... which, given their own hypocrisy on almost any subject, translates to the opposite of their denial being the truth.

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 12 years 43 weeks ago

Maybe the French billionaires finally figured out what studies already show, happiness peaks at $75,000 a year. No matter how much more than $75,000 people make, they don't report any greater degree of happiness. Apparently American billionaires are getting so koched-out on Fox at their tea-parties, they've lost all perspective. After all, what good is wealth generated self-puffery when the other 98% of the population is already in or facing the possibility of economic ruin due to the reckless behaviour of a few?

renee in dc 12 years 43 weeks ago

Say, if "x", then: if "conventions are your thing", then elephant is another way of just sayin'…oh…Dumbo*. So in conclusion, say, "x" is to: "donkey" is to Smarta** as "elephant" is to…(*hint: rhymes with Jumbo).

Global's picture
Global 12 years 43 weeks ago

This kind of talk only makes the tea party stronger and exposes the progressives as the real racists as it is they who race bate at every opportunity. The progressive liberal agenda is a total failure and relies on a continuation of failed ponzi social programs that are now bringing down Europe.

bobbler's picture
bobbler 12 years 43 weeks ago

I suspect the leaders of industry in France are smarter than their American counterparts. Because they "know" they need a vibrant economy so people can buy their stuff..

However, I fear another possibility is more likely.. Since the American conservative rule has deleted virtually all rules, the leaders of industry [in America] do not need a vibrant economy, because they can simply skip out to some other market (IE: multi national with no protectionism for American workers), once they have soaked up all the money in America.. Any way you slice it, conservative economics is destructive to life liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (unless you are a CEO)..

I havent been on the boards for a couple months.. Had surgery (cervical disk).. Will try to look up this thread in a couple days..


Skepticrat's picture
Skepticrat 12 years 43 weeks ago

When the top 5% of wealth owners are paying 50% of the tax burden, asking them to foot another 3% and phrasing it as "their fair share" seems, well, awkward. That a host of leftist wealth holders in France would demagogue the issue with an open letter isn't surprising, but rather expected. I suspect they still consider themselves loyal to the Vichy cause?! ;)

Skepticrat's picture
Skepticrat 12 years 43 weeks ago

re: Chubbell - They are racist. Plain and simple... as the majority of th GOP are. It is as obvious as an ass on an ass. Nothing can change it and they will always deny they are... which, given their own hypocrisy on almost any subject, translates to the opposite of their denial being the truth.

~ o ~ o ~ o ~ o ~ o ~ o ~ o ~ o ~ o ~ o ~ o ~ o ~ o ~ o ~ o ~ o ~ o ~ o ~

You do realize it was the GOP that freed the slaves, don't you? Um, you do know that more Republicans voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 than Democrats, don't you? I suspect Clarence Thomas, Michael Steele, Condoleezza Rice, J. C. Watts, Ward Connerly, Alan Keyes, Richard Parsons (former Chairman and CEO of Time Warner,) Joseph C. Phillips, Angela McGlowan, JJ Walker, Lynn Swann, Karl "the Mailman" Malone, Armstrong Williams, Allen West, Herman Cain, Janice Rogers Brown, Larry Elder, Thomas Sowell and Walter E. Williams will be surprised to learn they're a bunch of white supremacists. Who knows... maybe this week even Colin Powell is in touch with his Republican demons.

Randy95023's picture
Randy95023 12 years 43 weeks ago

The French think about the "French Revolution" in a far different light than we think about the "American Revolution"! When I see the beginnings of Class Warfare here at home that we haven't seen since FDR in the 1930's the French think of Class Warfare in the terms of the French Revolution. I bet John Boehner's knees would tremble as he walked up the scaffold of the Guilliotine. He IS a 21st Century version of Marie Antoinette after all... But John Boehner looks tepid next to some of the Tea Party kooks that wander the halls of Congress.

The wealthy French wisely decided to give up 3% of their income every year to keep the peasants from revolting. I doubt that the French "millionaire" is any more philanthropic than his American counterpart. He merely has a clearer view of history.

I'm not a "Marxist" but I have read most of his and Engel's writings. Engels uses a more basic writing form that the average man can understand. His view of the Proletariat's struggle with the bourgeoisie is spot on. I don't agree with Marxist "solutions" but I recognize clearly the class struggle. As an "upper class white male" I clearly understand that the USA has "welfare and food stamp" programs as a tax to keep rich white men from being murdered in their beds (Tale of Two Cities?)...

The French bourgeoisie are no more philanthropic than the American bourgeoisie, they are just better educated in history. French institutional memory very clearly remembers the French Revolution and the Wealthy in America should study it as well...

Peace, Randy

MaryMary's picture
MaryMary 12 years 43 weeks ago


wan3800's picture
wan3800 12 years 43 weeks ago

The Wealthy in France realize they don’t live in a vacuum. They know demand maintains a fertile climate for the working rich to get richer, the poor to get richer, and the super rich to maintain their standards in a country that has a great quality of life. The powerful people in France also know that it’s better to give a little now in self regulation then wait and have a popular revolt make changes for them.

HempForPresident's picture
HempForPresident 12 years 43 weeks ago

Your guest from the ACRU the other day was completely wrong. England's gun murder rate is extremely low, and this graphic completely disproves her point that "only the criminals are armed" in England. By the way, they were neatly queued up waiting for their turn to loot stores. Only in the UK...

dianhow 12 years 43 weeks ago

Progressive Liberal agenda ? Hogwash Truth is US has lived under toxic policies of Reaganomics 1981 deregulation of ruling class, 1986 amnesty for cheap illegal wages, huge unfunded debt, long failed wars based on lies & profits Killing & maiming wasting trillions. Bush 2008 crash Paulson TARP scam on taxpayers. 1980 Reagan Bush 1-2 GOP 2008 28 yrs of wealth favoring policies that tanked jobs and US wages. Bush even gave corp cuts to Co that sent good jobs overseas. Our con judges make laws that enrich the top Money is SPEECH ? Nonsense .Know your history global

buenomonica 12 years 43 weeks ago

The wealthy are scared. Unfortunately the phsyche of the U.S. is one of fear. The wealthy are just as afraid of losing everything as the rest of us. Afraid that their lives will not be as satisfying if they give up a small portion of their money. It is a sad reality that many people in the U.S. base their happiness, satisfaction and self worth on the amount of money they make and items they have. People in other countries tend to base happiness etc. on cultural experiences, personal relationships and the work they do. We need a better way to determine our Country's success than GDP or the stock market.

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 12 years 43 weeks ago

Maybe the wealthy in France remember their history and are more afraid of the masses with guillotines. I guess wealthy Americans have to learn the hard way!

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 12 years 43 weeks ago

And as the wealthy continue to squeeze us into the starving masses...its headed that way...and is now for many people...some will struggle to survive and this will be manifested by more "crimes" like bank robberies, muggings, fraud, etc. With many in law enforcement being laid off around the country (or laying off the experienced and hiring more noobs) I'm sure many "survivors" will resort to taking advantage of a weakened system. I read an article in the recent AARP magazine about how even old people are getting into the swindle and fraud acts. Seems a lot of people are more willing to trust their money with avuncular or grandfatherly(or grandmotherly) people in the investment business...especially if they manage to win their targets over with a sob story...or even a success Bernie Maddoff who made people think they were going to beat the system and get something for nothing. But then with a government like ours who bails out the wealthy when they make wild bets on derivatives and such....why should people worry about risk? Our crooked system is geared to support the fraudsters....because our government is a fraud...bought off by pyramid and ponzi schemers.

chef dude's picture
chef dude 12 years 43 weeks ago

A difference between U.S. and France. Mass media here is corporate controlled the corporate sponsored cheerleaders are drowning out the voice of the people and outright refusing to discuss increasing taxes at all times. The other point is France educates its people and they learn a people's history while here we cook the books for our students.

chef dude's picture
chef dude 12 years 43 weeks ago

Mary Mary Beware nuclear energy does not contribute to this issue. Why poison the discussion with pro nuclear agenda. France is also having a lot of issues with low water levels due to man made climate change that is causing great concern on how to provide cooling systems for the many Nuclear Plants in operation. Danger danger young Will Robinson.

MaryMary's picture
MaryMary 12 years 43 weeks ago

Sorry Chef Dude, you just can pick and choose parts of an economy and say that's what makes it succesful. Nuclear energy contributes a significant part to the French economy, and cannot be ignored. Ignoring it would be like going to a 5 star Italian restaurant, and ordering the Spaghetti with out the meatballs. You need to have the whole package to make it work. By the way "man made climate change" you've swallowed the whole package haven't you.

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