Mr. Nick Hammer. Zillionaires, pitchforks

A hammer has been struck by Nick Hanauer. Nick Hanauer? Who is he? On June 30 he wrote an article that appeared in Politico Magazine. I think what he had to say would be of considerable interest to the 99 percent of Journal readers struggling to keep their heads above water, to be able to pay their monthly bills, and God permit, might have a few bucks left over for savings.

He has dared to challenge his fellow billionaires. He offers a warning before it's too late and financial disaster descends on our beloved country due to their current financial and political policies.

Mr. Hanauer in addressing his fellow billionaires said, "You probably don't know me. I am one of those .01 percenters and a proud and unapologetic capitalist. I have founded and co-founded more than 30 companies across a range of industries from tiny ones that I started in my 20's to giant ones like for which I was the first nonfamily investor. I then found Quantitative, an Internet advertising company that was sold to Microsoft in 2007 for $6.7 billion. In cash. My friends and I own a bank. I tell you all of this to demonstrate and that many ways I am no different from you. Like you I have a broad perspective on business and capitalism. And also like you I have been rewarded obscenely for my success with of life that the other 99.9 percent of Americans can't even imagine. Multiple homes, my own plane, etc., etc. You know what I'm talking about."

Hammer felt seeing over the horizon a little faster than the next guy was a strategic part of his success. The lucky part was that he had two immensely talented friends who also saw a lot of potential in the web. None more so than Jeff Bezos who was the founder of Mr. Hanauer went on to say that he was not the smartest guy that anyone ever met or the hardest working. He admitted he was a mediocre student. Not technical at all. "Can't write word or a single word of code." What set him apart according to him was a tolerance for risk, and intuition about what would happen in the future. See things where they are headed. In essence the key of entrepreneurship and what he sees in this future that now he must try to say.

He sees pitchforks. At the same time people that like him are thriving beyond the dreams of any plutocrats in history. The rest of the country's 99.9 percent is lagging far behind. The divide between the haves and have-nots is getting worse really really fast. In 1980 the top 1 percent controlled about 8 percent of the United States national income; the bottom 50 percent about 18 percent. Today the top 1 percent share about 20 percent, the bottom 50 percent just 12 percent. He goes on to state that the problem isn't that they had any inequality. He points out that any inequality is intrinsic to any capitalist economy. The problem in America today is that the inequality is at historically high levels and getting worse every day.

According to Mr. Hanauer our country is rapidly becoming less a capitalist society and more of a feudal one. Unless our policies changed dramatically he states the middle class will disappear and we will be back to the late 18th century in France before the Revolution.

He states I have a message for his fellow filthy rich, for all of them who live in our gated bubble worlds. "People, it won't last. If we don't do something to fix the glaring inequalities in this economy pitchforks are surely going to come to us. No society can sustain this kind of rising inequality. In fact there is no example in human history where wealth accumulated like this and the pitchforks didn't eventually come out. He added let them show him a high inequality unequal society and he will point out a police state or an uprising. He strongly contends here are no counter examples. None. It is not if, it is when. He mentioned France 1789 and I might add Russia in 1918 and the American Revolution in 1775?

Mr Hammer warns, "Revolutions like bankruptcies come gradually and then suddenly one day somebody sets himself on Fire. Then thousands of people are in the streets and before you know it the country is burning and then there's no time for us to get to the airport and jump on our Gulfstream and fly to New Zealand. That's the way it always happens and if any time inequality keeps rising as it has been, eventually it will happen. We will not be able to predict when and it will be terrible for everybody, but especially for us." He offers his observation as well as a lamentation, "The most ironic thing about a rising inequality is how completely unnecessary and self-defeating it is. If the oligarchies try to do something about their policies as Franklin Roosevelt did during the Depression to help save our country, they must do so also to help the 99 percent and preempt the revolutionaries and the crazy ones, the ones with pitchforks. That will be the best thing possible for rich folks to not just escape with their livess. Instead they will most certainly get even richer.

Hal DeBona lives in Dorset.


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