Billionaires...first they came for the economy

First the oligarchs came for our economy, and we said nothing. Then they came for our government, and again, we said nothing. Now, they’ve come for science, and we’re not saying a word. Thanks to Republican-backed austerity measures, our nation’s scientific infrastructure has been hit with devastating budget cuts.

All across America, research labs are shutting their doors, scientists are joining unemployment lines, and potentially life-saving drug trials and research projects are being put on hiatus. But have no fear, because the billionaire oligarchs are here. As William Broad points out in The New York Times, “Yet from Silicon Valley to Wall Street, science philanthropy is hot, as many of the richest Americans seek to reinvent themselves as patrons of social progress through science research.”

Broad goes on to write that, “The result is a new calculus of influence and priorities that the scientific community views with a mix of gratitude and trepidation.” And as Steven Edwards, a policy analyst with the American Association for the Advancement of Science said, “For better or worse, the practice of science in the 21st century is becoming shaped less by national priorities or by peer-review groups and more by the particular preferences of individuals with huge amounts of money.”

From disease research and underwater exploration, to space travel and climate change denial, billionaires are funding just about all aspects of science - or pseudoscience - in America today. As a result, basic science research, which is most often responsible for huge scientific breakthroughs, is suffering, because it’s not in the personal interests of the billionaires.

They’re only funding areas that they personally care about, and they’re privatizing science in the process. But this billionaire takeover of science in America shouldn’t come as a surprise, because it’s just the latest piece of the puzzle. Before they had their sights aimed on science, the billionaires came for our economy, and turned it into an oligonomy.

With the help of Ronald Reagan, they unleashed Reaganomics on America, taking our nation back to the Gilded Age era of oligonomy, an economy dominate by oligarchs. In 1981, soon after he took office, Reagan signed into the law one of the largest tax cuts in history. That legislation included a 23% across-the-board cut to individual income tax rates. And in 1986, Reagan again lowered individual income tax rates.

Meanwhile, Reagan also stopped enforcing the Sherman Antitrust Act, a law that has been on the books since 1890. The Act prevents monopolies from forming, and protects against other unfair business practices. Unfortunately, without being enforced, corporations were allowed to grow out-of-control under Reagan, as the billionaire oligarchs got even richer. This all inevitably led to a massive split between the wealthy elite and everybody else in America, a gap in income equality that is getting worse and worse every day.

Next, the billionaires came for our government, and turned it into an oligarchy. From the halls of Congress to state houses across the country, government is working for the wealthy elite first, and everyone else second. The ultimate proof of the oligarchs’ success in taking over our government came in 2008, when they crashed our economy.

During the Great Recession, total U.S. household wealth fell by about $16.4 trillion, with much of those losses going into the pockets of the oligarchs who caused one of the worst economic collapses in American history. Not a single billionaire bankster was jailed or even prosecuted for that collapse. And for even more proof that Washington has turned into an oligarchy, the NRA, a group that is among the oligarchs, is fighting feverishly to block President Obama’s nomination of Dr. Vivek Murthy to be Surgeon General.

With help from current Senators, including Democrats, the NRA has launched campaign against Murthy, arguing that his position that gun violence is a significant public health threat means that he is hostile towards the Second Amendment rights of American citizens. Over the past 40 years, billionaire oligarchs have slowly but surely taken over just about all aspects of life in America. But enough is enough.

It’s time to end America’s oligonomy by rolling back the Reagan tax cuts and enforcing the Sherman Anti-Trust act, so that corporations can’t grow out-of-control and amass endless piles of money. And as for Washington’s ruling oligarchy, we need to roll back Citizen’s United, and say loudly and clearly that money is not speech.

Go to, and help kick the oligarchs out of Washington.


DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 10 years 13 weeks ago

In the movie Scarface, Tony Montana said, "First you make the money, then you get the power, then you get the woman." Two out of three ain't bad. Actually, first you make the money, then you get the power, then you protect the money. That's what is happening with the science takeover. The oligarchs want to protect their money. What better way than by controlling R&D. Stop all that pesky research on Global Warming and environmental protection and slant it all in their favor. Billions of dollars saved right there alone. Regulate the regulators if you will.

In the medical community they can set any prices for treatments and medicines as well.That will pay for the initial investments several times over alone. It's easier to make money than to keep money. That is what this is all about, maintaining fortunes and the control necessary to protect them. You can defend the insurance industry and further postpone the inevitable evolution to "socialized medicine" at the same time.

Public funded medicine would help to treat the real cause of runaway gun violence--poverty and mental illness. They can't have that, after all their main goal is to control and that means they have to take guns away from law abiding citizens; therefore, they need to maintain the pretense of runaway gun violence as an excuse to do it. They know that the more people who senselessly shoot each other the more their pretense will allow them to increase their control over the people"s ability to fight back and defend themselves.

Privatization across the board means an end to our Democracy and the beginning of a fascist oligarchy. The United States of America is up for sale to the highest bidder. Privatization is in the horizon and we need to do everything we can to stop it.

Elioflight's picture
Elioflight 10 years 13 weeks ago

The wealthy are concerned about science in as much as it fills their pockets. Privatization of science will be bad. Only the inquiry that brings in money will be explored.

Such a sad world we live in.

science philanthropy is hot, as many of the richest Americans seek to reinvent themselves as patrons of social progress through science research.” - See more at: philanthropy is hot, as many of the richest Americans seek to reinvent themselves as patrons of social progress through science research.” - See more at: philanthropy is hot, as many of the richest Americans seek to reinvent themselves as patrons of social progress through science research.” - See more at:

Gator Girl 10 years 13 weeks ago

Unfortunately, I think our population has been dumbed down because of the poor education system and increasingly large religious push into government and education that people just do not realize how important science is to EVERYONE!!

Religion is a main part on both sides - both money and then power. Their tax exempt status and huge funding which they then pour into the government keeps true science from being properly funded. Stem cell research? Nope - religions fear that. Clean energy - nope - there goes the funding to the big oil companies and their religious contributors. Oh, those contributors don't really give a damn about the church but it gives them an aura of authenticity. NASA and space programs? Nope - even thought all of them out ther who have had the help of space age prostethic devices from heart valves, limbs, Cheney's L-VAD on which he lived for the years before his heart transplant all owe a great deal of thanks and appreciation to how the space industry helped in their creation.

But, they are of the "I got mine and tough crap about yours"attitude. Do you really think Cheney came up on the heart transplant so quickly without favoritism? Well, I don't and that is what you get when the rich lead our country and unless WE do something it will only get worse. Wht can we do? Well, if ALL of the 99% went to the polls for the next election and voted AGAINST the 1% we could do a LOT!! And if those same people would STOP voting AGAINST their own best interests and FOR what is going to help them it would go a long way toward helping to stem the tide of the rich taking over. It is UP TO US!! WE get the government we deserve and if you are such a stubborn, stupid republican who votes across the board just for the party and not for what is good for this country then the Boners, Ryans and Cruz' will continue to do their damage and it will be OUR FAULT11

Suburban Housewife's picture
Suburban Housewife 10 years 13 weeks ago

Oh No!!! What will happen to Dr. Robert Stadler!?!

What I want to know is how much govenment (i.e. you and me) funded science research goes in to developing weapons, drones, white phosphorus, etc......

So what if billionaires want to fund space travel or underwater exploration. It's not like they are coming up with new exciting ways to blow up weddings in 3rd world countries!

JBPIERCE's picture
JBPIERCE 10 years 13 weeks ago

This is why we need people\human standards, then everyone would be involved in these isssues and the human future and not just the money hungry and power hunger and the people who really don't care about us as humans. everyone one would have a say in humanity. people\human standards is the answer.

FractionallyUnnerved's picture
FractionallyUnnerved 10 years 13 weeks ago

Rockefellers handy work pulling Reagans strings True (rockefeller for Prez? Wrong)

quote "Meanwhile, Reagan also stopped enforcing the Sherman Antitrust Act, a law that has been on the books since 1890. The Act prevents monopolies from forming, and protects against other unfair business practices" Time to pay fair share like before Warren Buffet's sells the idea even

to quote Rockefeller "competition is sin " the monopolist that scares away Green science!

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 10 years 13 weeks ago

It's pretty hilarious how the U. S. govenment can be so concerned with the Russian influence in Crimea while our own internal dysfunction is by far a bigger problem, and in fact empire ending in magnitude. We have five right wing extremists on the Supreme Court working for a handful of private sector Fascists who have basically dismantled our representative democracy all for their own piggish pursuit of endless wealth and power. Well, it aint gonna end pretty for them or us...... Our so called government can dither around all they want with Ukrainian issues, it won't slow down our own Fascist wrought collapse.....Ancient "Rome" dithered around a lot too!

ken ware's picture
ken ware 10 years 13 weeks ago

I agree with some of what Hartmann states in his blog today. But, as usual he lets his President Obama and the Democrats skate and throws the blame on the Republicans for our Austerity measures we see in the Sequestration bill. Thom, you and I both know (please Google it if you think I am wrong) as well as everyone else that President Osama and that is not a typo, with the help of Reid and Pelosi made sure that the Sequestration was part of the Budget Act (the Dem’s had the House and Senate at the time) and it may or may not have backfired on the Democrats. Personally I believe they inserted it into the Act to implement the cuts that will continue to plague the poor and middleclass for a decade. So, please will you damn progressives stop shoveling the shit and admit that Osama and the Democrats are just as responsible for Austerity as the frigging Republicans. Now I am waiting for Hartmann to bow down and worship Osama for instructing the Dept. of Justice and ICE to stop any deportation of ILLEGAL'S and only deport those with criminal backgrounds and those charged with a crime. How the hell are you going to get the bad guys if you are not checking on all those who have committed a crime by entering our country illegally? More bullshit from the White House due to the fact the elections are this year and in 2016. I will wait for Hartmann to bow down and kiss Osama’s hind end for this political move before I really state my beliefs on this political move and how it will only hurt American’s and their jobs by giving a green signal to citizens of other nations who want to come here and take even more jobs away from American Workers and that our President will not stop you or the employers who hire the illegals. K.W. I have not taken any personal shots at those who think Hartmann walks on water, but if you want to start slinging the B.S. with personal cheap shots, I am game for that move as well...I will address that next time around on this blog if you wish to start it up again, as you have with Kend. You know who I am speaking too.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 10 years 13 weeks ago

I hear ya 10K. I don't get it, why this Ukrainian business is putting all this tension between the U.S. and Russia. I thought we were over that. Why should we give a flippin' damn about Ukrainian issues when our own house is such a pig sty? It seems our so-called representatives are obsessed over everyone's business except our own. I don't see much humor in this but it sure is pathetic. - AIW

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 10 years 13 weeks ago

Ken Ware ~ You should know by now I don't think Thom "walks on water." Personally, again, I can't disagree with anything you said. However, I take some issue with the notion that you imply that the Democrats are behind most of this charade and not the Republicans. If you could clarify that then you, I, and many others are definitely on the same page.

I hope that you can see by my first post that I too take some issue with what Thom said--especially about gun control. I think that most of us on this blog are fed up with his kowtowing to the Democratic BS line as I stated clearly pertaining to this issue. Whatever strings are behind this disarmament campaign are not fooling many of us. Certainly not myself.

I heard it stated quite well today on the Hightower Lowdown website. A quote from Mark Twain you might approve of: "[The] true patriotism, the only rational patriotism, is loyalty to the Nation all the time, loyalty to the Government when it deserves it." ----Mark Twain's The Czar's Soliloquy, 1905

With that, I couldn't agree with you anymore. DAM

ken ware's picture
ken ware 10 years 13 weeks ago

DAM - Sorry if I was not very clear on who I believe is to blame for the Austerity measures that are still in place. President Obama and the Democrat's seem to forget they helped pass the present Austerity measures that will affect America for the next ten years, as was approved in the Senate and the House by both parties. Mr. Obama (I hate calling him President even though he is and I voted for him the first time) is primarily at fault for the Austerity or Sequestration that will continue to hit all social programs and the military (10% reduction per year) as it was written and put into the Budget Act and it originated in the White House before being passed onto Reid in the Senate and Pelosi in the House. The Republicans are equally at fault and they are the politicians that will not discuss cutting back on the Sequestration and are holding it as a bargaining chip in an attempt to get cuts in programs like Medicare and Social Security for future beneficiaries. The Republicans are without a doubt the biggest supporters of cutting back in all social programs and the real supporters of Austerity. I just wanted it to be clear that the Democrats and Obama had a hand in originally crafting the Sequestration as part of the Budget Act. Hartmann likes to make it sound as though the Democrats had nothing to do with the Sequestration and the cuts to all programs by Washington, that’s all. Thank you for posting that quote by Mark Twain, a true American inspiration to us all. He would not recognize our Nation and the death grip Washington has on us all. I try to see things in a more positive light, but it is getting harder by the day, when we see what our politicians are doing to us all. From the Presidents TPP free trade agreement to the cuts that are being carried out to our social safety net programs, we are being led down a path of no return if something is not changed soon. I am almost (almost!) glad I am over 60 and have experienced much better days than what I see ahead for our citizens and their children. Have a good tomorrow. K.W. I was not referring to you when I mentioned that some think Hartmann walks on water or something to that nature.

ScottFromOz 10 years 13 weeks ago

Welcome to the new Dark Age.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 10 years 13 weeks ago

Gator Girl, I couldn't agree more. My hubby & I never miss an election. Before the last mid-term it took begging and pleading to get one of my friends to vote. Too bad I didn't fare as well with her partner, a former activist, who said she now prefers gardening to politics! (SIGH)

I believe what enabled the Rich Boys' Party to keep the House, and continue obstructing everything of consequence to us, was not a "victory" or majority of votes so much as would-be voters staying home and/or refusing to cast a ballot. Here in Oregon, the most election-friendly state in the nation, there is simply no excuse not to vote! Hell, we don't even have to drag our butts to the poles; here voting is done on paper ballots, in the comfort and privacy of home. Doesn't get any better than that.

I wish the U.S. could adopt Australia's policy of imposing a punitive fine on any citizen who neglects this important civic duty. What a study in contrast! Here we have politicians passing laws to do the opposite, making it harder to vote. This should make our fellow citizens all the more determined to cast their ballots! But I have yet to hear or observe much evidence of this.

History is full of gut-wrenching stories of the heroes & heroines who fought and died so that everyone - not just propertied white men - could vote. It is amazing what blacks and women went through to secure themselves a voice in these elections. Yet today, people blow it off like it's nothing. Makes me crazy sometimes. - Aliceinwonderland

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 10 years 13 weeks ago

I wonder how many of those Australians now vote against the party that made voting mandatory?

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 10 years 13 weeks ago

Good question, PD. Those Aussies who do are lacking in perspective as well as smarts. - AIW

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 10 years 13 weeks ago

I guess so, AIW...after all they have spawned Rupert of Fox News and then there is "Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal who owns a 7 percent stake in News Corp — the parent company of Fox News — making him the largest shareholder outside the family of News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch."

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 10 years 13 weeks ago

Ugh. Gag me.

soups347's picture
soups347 10 years 13 weeks ago

Purging of Chosen Targets: Nazis’ Versus Billionaires’ Rise to Power

Billionaires ... First They Came for the Economy, reminded me of the Nazis' rise to power and the subsequent purging of their chosen targets, group after group. It also reminded me of the rolling nature of the off-shoring of jobs by the 1 percent. The 1 percent purged targets, group after group, as well.

“First they came …” is a famous statement and provocative poem attributed to pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) about the cowardice of German intellectuals following the Nazis' rise to power and the subsequent purging of their chosen targets, group after group. There is some disagreement over the exact wording and when it was created. That may be because the poem was presented differently by Niemöller on different occasions.

The best-known versions are the poems that began circulating by the 1950s.[1] The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum provides the following text as one version of the poem:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out -- Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out -- Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out -- Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me -- and there was no one left to speak for me.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 10 years 13 weeks ago

"soups347", I have that poem prominently displayed in my house. - AIW

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