Self-styled “progressives” smugly promote a cartoonish image of upper income individuals as those who enjoy limousines, expensive wine, travel and lavish parties. If one listens long enough to their story, one may begin to imagine that all rich people look like Uncle Pennybags, the little tycoon mascot of the Parker Brothers Monopoly game.
The myth, as perpetrated by progressives, is that the wealthy got to the top by cheating the little guy, gaming the system and evading taxes. Of course, under this view, the rich are unquestionably evil and the very rich are known as the “One Percent.” You don’t get any more evil than members of the One Percent. (Unless, of course, an extremely wealthy individual devotes millions of dollars to advance Al Gore’s view of global warming, in which case they get a pass and advance directly to Go).
Given this myth – and its perpetuation by main stream media – it is ironic how many of those associated with government, most of whom share this progressive ideology, are living like the cartoon version of the One Percent.
A recent news report from the Associated Press reveals that California’s health insurance exchange, Covered California, has awarded $184 million in no-bid contracts, including several worth a total of $4.2 million that went to a consulting firm, The Tori Group, whose founder has strong professional ties to Covered California’s Executive Director Peter Lee. Other no bid contracts were awarded to a subsidiary of a health care company Lee once headed.
Isn’t this the kind of insider dealing that the radical progressives accuses the “Evil Rich” of using to build their fortunes?
Then there is what CBS investigative reporter David Goldstein discovered about the lifestyle of some California State University administrators. Seems they have been spending hundreds of thousands of dollars, donated for the purpose of supporting students’ educations, on amusements like fancy parties, alcohol, season tickets to the Hollywood Bowl and top restaurants. No doubt members of the One Percent will be asking why they were not invited.
Showcasing the hypocrisy of some who vilify the wealthy is a very public critic of the One Percent, Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers, who takes down almost $560,000 in yearly compensation. Her union paid nearly $120,000 to a limousine service last year, according to federal financial disclosures.
Then there are the two-dozen Sacramento lawmakers winging their way to posh resorts in Maui to attend “conferences,” with expenses being paid for by special interests with business before the Legislature. Living large, indeed.
Not to be outdone, Sen. Kevin de Leon was sworn in as state Senate leader at a ceremony at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles to which 2,000 guests were invited. Invitations to the event called it an “Inauguration.” Usually Senate leaders are sworn in at a low key ceremony on the Capitol steps.
After the ceremony, guests attended a reception in a blocked-off street outside the concert hall where free food and drinks were provided. Sounds like de Leon just picked up the Chance Card allowing him to advance to Boardwalk, the most expensive property on the Monopoly board, where he will, no doubt, rub elbows with Uncle Penneybags.
So all this talk about how those in the private sector are greedy and those in the public sector are altruistic is, quite simply, balderdash. The sad fact is that the public sector is just an inviting environment for self-serving behavior – if not more so. The difference, of course, is that we the taxpayers pay for the latter.
Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association — California’s largest grass-roots taxpayer organization dedicated to the protection of Proposition 13 and the advancement of taxpayers’ rights.