Let’s Get Real: Billionaires Are Nuts!

Let’s face it, billionaires are nuts: their grand schemes of social engineering almost always go badly for the rest of us.

When megalomanic, multibillionaire barons of industry suddenly announce that they are boundless geniuses who must remake society, government and nature, perk up and pay attention! But let’s get real, we all know that billionaires are nuts. Their grand schemes of social engineering almost always go badly for us nonbillionaires.

Having spent their careers in the top-down, self-aggrandizing, exploitative corporate culture, they invariably turn to techno-solutions and AI computer models, ignoring such bothersome factors as human dynamics.

So look out, for here comes a gaggle of high-tech gabillionaires from Silicon Valley, planning to “fix” America’s cities by building an urban utopia from scratch. They’ve chosen Solano County, northeast of San Francisco, for their start-up city, promoting it as a hybrid of technotopia and European urbanity, free from the gritty realities of — you know — real cities.

Their plan, however, did not include informing the people currently living there about their scheme. Instead, they dispatched secret armies of lawyers and developers to snap up the area’s rich farmland, preparing to surprise the locals by converting their land, community and culture into the gabillionaires’ experiment in new urbanism. One of the moneyed schemers declared that: “The idea is simple: Found new cities, free from old bureaucratic and legal structures, and explore bold new visions of how government should work.”

But that’s not simple… it’s simplistic. Also, wholly anti-democratic and un-American. But it’s in keeping with the egomaniacal ejaculations of such other self-indulgent richies as Peter Thiel, who wants cities to float on oceans; Jeff Bezos, who proposes that cities orbit in space; and Elon Musk who wants cities built on Mars.

These billionaires are nuts, and should all be sent to those places now! Meanwhile, what if more of of them invested their money and political influence in funding real solutions to real problems in the real cities America already has?

A Thundering Herd of Bankers Robbing Oklahoma City Taxpayers

Oklahoma troubadour Woodie Guthrie wrote a song about outlaws that was right on target:

As through this world I’ve traveled
I’ve seen lots of funny men
Some’ll rob you with a six gun
Some with a fountain pen.

That could apply today to Clayton Bennett, a multimillionaire Oklahoma City banker who has regularly wielded his fountain pen to loot public funds for his private gain. Bennett is a Hall of Infamy player in the elite club of big-league owners of pro-basketball teams, specializing in picking taxpayers’ pockets to finance his operations. In 2006, he and a few high-rolling partners bought the Seattle SuperSonics team, promptly demanding that locals pony up $500 million to build a new arena for them.

No, said Seattle. So Bennett & Gang scampered off to Oklahoma City with the team (renaming it the Thunder), using their fountain pens to filch a $100-million subsidy from taxpayers there. Soon, Bennett and the Gang struck again, demanding that local officials hand over another $115-million subsidy.

Gratitude? Robbers don’t say thank you. They refill their fountain pens. As Judd Legum reports in his excellent Substack report Popular Information, Bennett is now demanding $850 million from OKC taxpayers to build a glittery new basketball palace for him. Legum notes that this is about “$3,200 for every Oklahoma City household,” and that Bennett’s take will deplete the budget of about a dozen essential community projects.

He also has an inside accomplice: the mayor. Having taken Bennett cash to get elected, Mayor David Holt is now warning taxpayers to hand over millions to his rich banker buddy — or the Thunder will leave town.

So go! The thieving won’t stop until the people stop the thieves. Boom-boom-boom — ship the whole herd of thundering thieves out of town, including Bennett and that pusillanimous mayor.

Jim Hightower