Posts Tagged wealth

When Racism Matters Insofar As It Affects The Rich

That wealthy entities in our society do not pay fairly and squarely for the transgressions and crimes they commit vis a vis their poor, often minority, counterparts is no revelation. Just look at the tropes of Wall Street executives that were escorted out of government offices with fat bail-out and bonus checks for the economic meltdown, due to their criminal activities, they had caused, no less.

Such trends are to be found quite abundantly, across all lines.

For example, last month, billionaire heir Robert H. Richards IV who was found guilty for having raped his three year old daughter, was sentenced to house arrest instead of jail because the Judge in the case deemed that Richards would not fare well “if he is sentenced to prison.”

A court in Florida sentenced an African American woman to jail for 20 years because she fired a few warning shots in the air in self defense against her abusive husband.

Discrimination against the poor (and in our society, racial minorities are disproportionately poor) is well established. In legal matters, it is a prominent factor in the availability of legal counsel.

The death penalty, for example, is fraught with racial and economic disparities, whereby the poor, the friendless, the uneducated, racial minorities, and the despised are unable to get quality legal representation, thus resulting in them more likely to end up on death row versus a wealthy, privileged defendant who can afford top legal representation.

Fairness in capital cases requires, above all, competent counsel for the defendant. Yet approximately 90 percent of those on death row could not afford to hire a lawyer when they were tried.  Common characteristics of death-row defendants are poverty, the lack of firm social roots in the community, and inadequate legal representation at trial or on appeal. As Justice William O. Douglas noted in Furman, “One searches our chronicles in vain for the execution of any member of the affluent strata in this society“(408 US 238).

Case in point: OJ Simpson. If he did not have a stellar, and expensive, legal team defending him, he would, most likely have been convicted and ended up on death row. He got out of it – or, his legal team was able to wiggle him out of it, because, unlike underpaid and incompetent public defenders, Simpson’s legal team had the resources and expertise to defend their affluent client.

I will address the terrible injustices and immorality inherent in the death penalty at a later time. What I do want to address with this post is the fact that, overall, in our society, the wealthy are shielded from taking responsibility for various crimes they commit, while crimes, injustices and bigotry committed against and directed at the  poor, the friendless, the uneducated, racial minorities, and the despised often go unnoticed and unpunished and bigotry and racism only seem to matter insofar as they affect wealthy entities.

Case in point, Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling who has been outed as a rank racist whose racially incendiary remarks leaked to TMZ last weekend.

His remarks, which were recorded by his gold-digging piece  – who clearly set him up –  lead to a lifetime ban from the NBA and a fine of $2.5 million.  Several major Clippers sponsors had previously dropped or were re-evaluated their association with the team, including State Farm, CarMax, Kia Motors America, Virgin America and Red Bull (speak of the pot calling the kettle black), not to mention the athletes for the team and prominent members of the African American community, all of whom are wealthy.

People have been applauding the decision to ban Sterling and fine him, as a victory for the team and a lesson to be learned by racists, but what most people have been missing is that this is not the first time Sterling has been facing accusations of racial discrimination.

In 2006,  sports writer and pundit Bomani Jones wrote a column titled “Sterling’s racism should be news” following the Department of Justice suing Sterling for housing discrimination. Sterling allegedly refused to rent apartments he owned to African Americans, Latinos and people with children in the suit.

The charges made against Sterling were stomach-turning. In response to the 2003 suit, one of his property supervisors testified that Sterling said all blacks “smell” and are “not clean,” that he wanted to “get them out” of his properties to preserve his image, and that he harassed tenants and refused to make repairs until they were forced to leave, according to depositions obtained by ESPN The Magazine.

It is interesting that while gross and blatant housing discrimination is Sterling’s biggest offense, it took insulting and alienating a few wealthy athletes in and sponsors during a private conversation to finally do something about this scum.

As alarming as the claims against Sterling are, housing discrimination as a practice is alive and well in America, yet goes largely unnoticed.

For individuals and families, it limits their housing choices, it dictates where you can and cannot live, and that means limited access to other opportunities: educational opportunities, employment opportunities, health care services, other amenities,” Fred Freiberg, director of the nonprofit Fair Housing Justice Center, told the HuffPost. “It sustains and enforces patterns of racial segregation and poverty concentration, and it creates a whole host of inequalities that we could, frankly, do without.”

All that stuff that’s happening in housing discrimination, which is the biggest reason that we can point to historically for why we’ve got all these dead kids in metros like Chicago and New York fighting for turf, fighting for real estate with poor accommodations and facilities and everything that you’re supposed to have in a city  – all these are an economic byproduct of the people like Donald Sterling. Yet, no one paid attention to that.  No swift action was taken against Sterling by the Clippers who are outraged now.

On the contrary, the lawsuits took years to go through, because those he hurt are poor and the poor have become invisible in this country and only seem to matter and be brought up when it comes to either slashing funding for them or to vilify and scapegoat them as lazy, unmotivated mooches who allegedly want to take away from the hard-working American blah blah fart.

It is a testament to our sad state of affairs that a bigot’s actions (such as housing discrimination)  – which are illegal and directly harm people, and which he has been engaging in for decades – have not ultimately been what got him in trouble, but the fact that he said racially offensive things to his piece of ass du jour in a private conversation, insulting wealthy athletes – who also happen to be racial minorities.

Moral integrity had little to do with  why the NBA did what it did as the NBA has known about Sterling’s racism for years and yet they only took action action because it hurt business – because a few wealthy athletes were outraged and because sponsors pulled out.

Having an opinion about blacks is one thing (and I personally think it was wrong to fine and ban him for that opinion), discrimination is another, and Sterling was penalized by the NBA for the former while he got away with the latter for years.

So, if you are sitting there celebrating the fact that the NBA has taken the moral high ground and has zero tolerance for racism, think again. Publicly chastising and punishing Sterling was a good business decision by the NBA to protect business interests and assets. And while Sterling’s racism has been rejected by everyone from Snoop Dogg to the President, when it comes to everyday acts of insidious, life-ruining racism these very, ostensibly men of honor have stayed silent with regard to the Sterlings of the world.

Screaming racism and bigotry when only the wealthy are affected but staying silent when the same happens to poor people everyday leads to the systematic marginalization and exclusion of those very people and their causes. This is how marginalization works, leading to the systemic inequalities that make it impossible for people to “pull themselves up by their bootstraps.”

Karl Marx believed that racism was just another form of class struggle. That it ultimately was not about race that some people were enslaved and subjugated but that race was used as an excuse to morally justify slavery and subjugation to ultimately create an underclass to be exploited; free labor. This is the reason why, ultimately, wealthy racial minorities begin to be have in very much the same way as their white counterparts once they reach the high social class of affluence. In fact, they then become just as “bad” and exploitative as the very “white” people they have been accusing of having done the same for centuries. The NBA’s ignorance towards the black communities that have been harmed by Sterling for decades while the NBA stated silent is the perfect example to the point.

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Speak Of Being Ungrateful

Princesses never have bad-hair days thanks to private stylists who jet with them around the world

Princesses never have bad-hair days thanks to private stylists who jet with them around the world

These fucking royals. They seem to be operating under the archaic mindset that anyone who works for them is some indentured servant whose sole purpose in life must be to cater to their pompous needs and asses without any interests, rights and/or business ambitions on their own.

Case in point, James Pryce, the man who used to brush Duchess Kate’s hair a thousand times with a sterling silver brush every night and condition her locks with the sperm of William the Conquerer that’s kept in a jar in the dungeon. he was just recently fire for treason.

See, Pryce is the guy who used to work on her famous wedding mane and traveled with her when she was going on her world tour of awesomeness to make sure she is well groomed when posing for photo ops and exhuming her royal superiority on all the peons in the world who are clearly inferior to her because they aren’t, well, royal.

However, when Pryce started to gain some notoriety for his work on Kate’s hair, he quit the salon he worked at and began to move on his own. In order to promote his solo career he, according to some sources at The Daily Telegraph, launched a Facebook page and Twitter account which featured hundreds of pictures of Kate and her various hairstyles to promote his business. When the Palace found out, he was unceremoniously booted out for having violated her privacy or some shit.

Creating a portfolio of your work, which is what every artist  – from paint, to print, fashion, make up and hair  – does is apparently something you may not do when you work for your Royal Assness and her clan of usurpers who are wealthy beyond anyone’s wildest dreams  – and also apparently important and superior human beings –  for no reason other than a long established tradition that says so.

What really gets me, however, is this claim that apparently her privacy was violated – to which I can only say: when you become the wife of some famous rich prince with metric fucktons of money he never worked for  – and you never have to work for (other than birthing him a male offspring that is) – you know that you won’t have any “privacy” –  so just get over it. Seriously.

I am so tired of listening to wealthy people who make a million dollars in half an hour piss and moan about how hard life is because they don’t have any privacy. Fuck you, bitches. You can have my privacy in exchange for all the easy millions you got. Go count your blessings, assholes, and stop making an issue of it.

The man did you hair, the work he has done on your hair is part of his body of work which he has every right to promote and showcase because unlike you, he still does have to work for a living.

I know it must be hard going through life having to kill the time in between endless hair appointments, shopping sprees, soirees and hiring staff to wait on you hand and foot, but try to level with us mere peons, dear Kate, and remember that there are human beings on this planet who need to actually work for the things they got, including the person doing your fucking hair. And if that person wants to continue doing work and making a living, there are certain things he needs to do to promote himself, such as creating a portfolio showcasing his body of work.

Others write resumes, artists and creative people have portfolios, blogs and websites. That’s how people who don’t have everything handed to them just have to do.

Considering that more than half the world’s population is living in complete and utter poverty – thanks largely to the imperialist ambitions and a host of ravaging and devastating overseas and colonial policies of the very crown that is paying for your overpriced private, jet-setting hairstylist whom you just fired  – I find it shameful to be sitting here and making an issue of your privacy.

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Review: The Company Men

Company Men

The Company Men

The 2010 feature The Company Men makes a significant statement about corporate morals, or lack thereof, and how corporations view as acceptable the devaluing and discarding of the men and women whose life’s blood made them what they are while only caring about the bottom line and shareholder interests. Naturally, it begs the question of whether it is enough to merely compensate such people with mere wages and benefits, or is respect and honor, and thus the acknowledgement that their wisdom and experience make them indispensable to a company’s continued future, due as well.

It also quite expertly showcases the immense greed that takes place in all of these places where –  on the one hand  – the executives who sit in their cushy 400 square feet corner offices with ceiling-to-floor windows and mahogany desks talk about cutting down and casually and without compunction lay off thousands of people while  – at the same time  – somehow having found the funds to buy a brand new building whose entire floor they retrofit to house three executes each pulling $15 million a year in cash plus about half of that in stocks and securities.

Trying to find a new job at 60

Trying to find a new job at 60

They lay off hard working, middle class, mind you, folks who have put in decades and endless hours into their jobs and who have mortgages to pay, kids to send to college and lives to live while in the same breath planning their exclusive winter getaway to some luxury resort with $500 dinners and $5000 a night suites. And these very men have gotten this rich not by actually producing something, or building something tangible that you can feel, touch and smell, but by pushing figures on a sheet – which is perhaps why they view their employees as nothing more than said figures on a sheet to be added or deleted off at will.

The sad reality is that too many of America’s companies (which means, not just Wall Street) have gotten quite cozy with this callous arrangement whereby actual people and their lives have stopped mattering, while greed and the bottom line have fully taken over. One example in this movie is the CEO who fires his best friend (Jones) whom he’s known from college and who helped him build the company he is being fired from, from the ground, without a trace of irony and compunction and even a smile on his face because hey, “business is business” and apparently nothing else matter; friendship, loyalty, devotion, honor and just doing the right thing are secondary when it comes to amassing wealth.

Amongst the Ruins - Tommy Lee Jones (L) and Ben Affleck

Amongst the Ruins – Tommy Lee Jones (L) and Ben Affleck(R)

Companies today seldom strive for a higher standard of value that extends beyond the dollar and this movie does a great job at showing that.

That said, it still felt a bit out-of-touch and as if it was written by people who have genuinely never experienced economic hardship. So, if you are into movies where for some of the characters the idea of being poor is that they are no longer multi-millionaires but just regular millionaires or whose idea of being broke is that the wife cannot take the company jet to go shopping or that you may have to do the unspeakable, which is rent a town home instead of living in an estate with twelve gardeners, then this is the movie for you. Have at it.

Try feeling bad for people who went from 180k a year to half that. Try feeling bad for people who own ten million dollar mansions, who won’t be eating filet mignon and lobster every night anymore ’cause they got canned; try feeling bad for people who commit suicide because they can’t send their kid to a senior trip to Italy or just don’t have the heart to tell that kid what is going on (but think that being dead is apparently a better option than admitting that they have no money to send them on such a trip).

Bobby Walker (Ben Affleck) and blue-collar brother-in-law Jack Dolan (Kevin Costner)

Bobby Walker (Ben Affleck) and blue-collar brother-in-law Jack Dolan (Kevin Costner)

Try feeling bad for people whose monthly mortgage is just as high as one year’s tuition at Brown. Try feeling really sorry for someone who no longer gets to start their work days at 11am because they had just spent the last three hours on the golf course; feel heartbroken that some rich puke had to sell his overpriced sports-car or could, god forbid, not buy his kid a $400 dollar x-box.

I personally found it hard to feel entirely too sorry for them because real struggle post recession for many was facing card-board boxes as an alternative to a home, bankruptcy, loss of their entire life savings and retirements, loss of their health care as a result of loss of their jobs, not to mention chronic unemployment with sustenance level unemployment insurance pay (which ran out), the inability to feed their children and themselves and generally having to navigate a tedious existence stuck in the trenches of destitution without any real prospects in sight, thanks to a host of middle-class busting policies by both of our parties and a practically non-existent social-safety net.

It is amazing how the architects of the Ownership Society and Hard Work – people who carelessly assert that those who don’t have everything they need just aren’t trying hard enough or are lazy mooches and and who tell those very same people to “live within their means” and “suck it up” – themselves fall into a deep emotional and existential crisis when they are tasked with the unspeakable act of having to navigate life not as a semi millionaire, but as an ordinary, middle class person, and thus like hundreds of millions of others, who rent instead of owning and who drive one car instead of housing six in a garage the size of a family town-home.

These people expect poor people or just the normal guy on an average salary to not complain about being poor, low wages, lousy benefits and exploitative employers, but they themselves aren’t even willing to live, literallyeven for one second without the luxuries and perks that come with immense wealthy and, who view their lives as so worthless without such wealth that they, in fact, commit suicide when all the luxuries, emphasis on luxuries, are taken away from them.

Objectively, none of the people in this movie, even after they lost their jobs, was in such a bad shape that one could call it destitute and, in fact, they were better off than most Americans today. It’s just that they no longer could spend $600 a month on dry cleaners or thousands of dollars on the country club membership.

the-company-men

Booted Out

As mentioned above, one of the characters commits suicide because he cannot pay for his kid’s tuition and his mortgage at the same time. While watching that I was sitting there thinking: really? You are willing to throw your life away and die because your head is so high up in the clouds that you cant even conceive to oh, I don’t know, maybe get a student loan for your kid and rent? You’d rather be dead than to tell your daughter that she may have to take a job to pay for her senior trip to Europe? You’d rather be mud and worms than to take out a student loan and rent the roof above your head?

Watching members of the 1%  – which these people were, more or less, hit “hard times” – which really just means not living in obscene wealth they mostly cheated others out of (hence the economic meltdown), is not interesting and it does not evoke my sympathy. Yes, it really is bothersome to go from an almost 200k salary to a 90k one, but not as troublesome as going from a 50k salary to 0 without a job in sight and unemployment running out. Not being able to go to the country club doesn’t make you poor, but making $12 an hour, paying 35% of that in taxes and renting, does.

Halfway through the movie i realized that these people don’t know what real struggle is. What it means to only have 5 dollars left in your checking until payday, what destitution really is and it made me realize that being poor is not for weak and lazy people, but apparently being rich is.

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Stupid Things People Do: Naming Beyonce “World’s Most Beautiful Woman”

Every year, publicists for celebrities put in a bid with People Magazine agreeing to supply them with the most exclusive stories and photo spreads in exchange for the title of World’s Most Beautiful Woman. This year’s winning bid apparently came from Beyonce and her hard working publishing team because last week, People Magazine crowned her the most beautiful human being among 6 billions out there.

After doing what cockroaches, stink beetles, whales, and all other life forms do on this Earth – birthing – Beyonce attempted to make herself, her gold gilded vagina and cashmere laced uterus stand out from the rest of humanity and all life forms for that matter by citing that she felt more beautiful than ever after having given birth and that doing what every cockroach is capable of doing finally gave her purpose in life.

I don’t know. Try giving birth in a mud shack or a village with no running water instead of occupying an entire wing of a hospital at a whopping $1.3 million with all the doctors and nurses and staff ready to cater to your every whim and fancy, and then we can talk about your “accomplishment” of having given birth.

And no matter, it is insulting to be picking an individual among six billion out there and calling them the most beautiful person on Earth, thus indirectly declaring others average or even ugly. No wonder so many women have image and self esteem issues with eating disorders and getting plastic surgery to “fit” in. They all want to adhere to some “standard’ of beauty that is not even a standard and the methods by which one arrives at that conclusion questionable.

To even think that among the six billion on this planet some rich bitch with a million dollar wig collection, a $10,000 a day stylist and a $3000 hair cut has truly deserved that title is ridiculous. I mean yeah, who wouldn’t look good after all this work. Try looking glowing and gorgeous without rubbing your face, literally, in dollar bills and all the beauty they can buy and then we can talk how truly beautiful you are.

In a world obsessed with youth and beauty but plagued with serious issues, I must wonder if it is an accomplishment to win a contest that is based on how you look like as opposed to what you actually do.

And is it an accomplishment to win a beauty contest when you basically cheated? Winning a beauty contest when you are wealthy and have nothing better to do than looking good is like winning the marathon after you did steroids. It doesn’t count.

I really detest how people with unlimited resources stand there insulting our intelligence by saying “Hey, look at me, I am so accomplished“, pretending that their “accomplishment” – such as being pretty or getting pregnant despite cancer etc. – had nothing to do with their wealth, but was something from within. Like Beyonce would still be nominated most beautiful woman if she was cleaning toilets at Grand Central station instead of sitting on 500 million dollars.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and Beyonce is pretty, but most beautiful? Especially given the unlimited resources she had to get there? I don’t think so.

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