Trump’s Record $125 Million Haul For This Last Quarter Is A Very Public Exhibition Of Elite Fear
Either that or they really believe Trump will need a lot more money to win re-election.
I see two stories at work here. First, there is this myth that Trump is the populist president working for everyone. Trump has said during his campaign that he will help to build an economy that works for everyone. Yet, one look at his seeming alliance with Russian President Vladimir Putin says exactly the opposite. A closer examination of the politics of Russia will reveal that country to be an oligarchy, kind of like ours. It’s just that their oligarchy is in your face, ours is obscured by an aristocratic mainstream media monopoly.
From a list of contributors at Open Secrets, we see that Trump’s biggest contributor is a rent seeker, GH Palmer Associates, one of the largest landlords in California. The next highest contributors are casinos and the foundations created by the casino owners to funnel money to worthy causes like re-electing Trump. These are the people who prefer the status quo and their money says so.
Trump’s behavior is a reflection of the way top brass in corporate America is insulated from the consequences of their decisions. How do we know they are insulated? Because of the way their salaries are negotiated: members of the board of directors, who also own stock, and who hope to one day be CEO, are only too happy to rubber-stamp a raise for the CEO. Bloated CEO salaries are a matter between friends, not adversaries. And these guys sit on more than one board, sometimes with competing companies to form interlocking directorates — a fancy name for “collusion”, so they always have another job waiting for them.
It is a fact that American CEO’s would not be pulling down salaries worth better than 280x the median wage of the employees who work for them if labor had a few seats on the board of directors. If labor and shareholders were actually represented on the board of directors when compensation is negotiated, we might see a truly adversarial proceeding. Instead, the board and the CEO play golf together, wine and dine each other, and act like astronomical salaries that are disconnected from their contributions to the economy are par for the course.
A recent estimate by economist Dean Baker indicates that excessive CEO salaries take up about 10% of profits nationwide. Just imagine how much more employees could be earning if they had some say in how C-suite salaries are negotiated. Just imagine the rapid decline of CEO salaries if employees could have a say in the CEO compensation package.
It is also worth noting that people who own stock do take the time to vote on important decisions for a company. That’s one of the perks of owning stock. You can affect how decisions are made at a company when you own their stock by voting with it.
23% of equities in American companies is owned as a share of a mutual fund. And it has been found that in many mutual funds, the managers of the mutual funds exercise voting rights of the stocks they manage when their customers don’t. Most people unaware of and fail to exercise their voting power when they own shares of a mutual fund.
And when ordinary Americans who own stock in their 401k fail to vote on matters of importance as a shareholder, you can bet that the *other* shareholders are going to vote, and they might not necessarily vote in a way that benefits other people who own stock indirectly, through a mutual fund.
Over the last decade, private equity has been slowly taking over American businesses, loading them up with debt and walking away with billions even when their acquisitions declare bankruptcy. Private equity sets up the companies they acquire with the responsibility to pay back the debt, yet the same private equity firms make dangerous and fateful decisions that can affect the future of the company. They like to paint themselves as capitalists, but their goal is not to create jobs, their goal is to strip assets from their prey and sell the assets for a profit, depriving the company of the resources it needs to maintain a profitable future. This is just one more layer of insulation protecting those in power from the consequences of their decisions while spreading the risk among the employees and shareholders.
And finally, this story from Jalopnik seems to cap it all off: As new car sales languish in decline and stagnation, the executives at the major car brands are awarding themselves with lavish bonuses. Car sales worldwide are flattening or tanking, yet executives are insulated enough from all of the other stakeholders, that they can give themselves bonuses with impunity. Who knew that stagnating wages would not be able to keep up with the rising cost of a new car? You know, when you’re a CEO and you’re insulated from the consequences of your decisions, it’s easy to think that this is how capitalism is supposed to work.
We are often amazed and astonished at the things that Trump does and says, even as one of the most public figures in American culture, President of the United States. If this is how Trump acts while he’s president, imagine how cavalier he must act in private as CEO of a large privately-held holding company, The Trump Organization. This behavior is what his donors are paying for. Trump donors want that insulation from accountability not just for Trump, but for themselves, too.