The USA loves its history, that’s for sure. The fourth of July and hanging on to the imperial system of weights and measurements are two of the more innocuous things, while Confederate Civil War monuments and a dogmatic,
literalist attachment to the Second Amendment are two of the more toxic.
In fact, aside from Civil War or World War Two re-enactments, there are times when living in the US can feel distinctly like living in a time capsule. Take for
example, many of those from the more disadvantaged stratas of society, deprived of their liberty, being made to work for the ultra-wealthy, effectively for free.
Thinking about the cotton fields of early nineteenth century Georgia?
Good effort if you were, but try the twenty-first Presidential campaign of Michael Bloomberg instead. And if you’re wrinkling your brow, which your author really is expecting you to be doing right now, then read on.
It turns out that the supposedly altruistic philanthropist Democratic candidate that is billionaire Michael Bloomberg has campaign staff that think it entirely
reasonable to use prison labor for political campaign purposes.
Yep, you read that right as you likely spat out your early morning latte / late evening beer.
The murkiness of this unsavoury saga goes like this…
Bloomberg’s campaign hired a call-center company that in turn used Oklahoma prison inmate labor to make campaign calls to potential voters in California.
For an absolute pittance a day. And like elsewhere in the country, the prison population of Oklahoma is made up of a disproportionate number of young, male, non-white inmates.
Of course, when this unfortunate situation came to the surface, Bloomberg and the upper echelons of his minions all threw their hands up in the air and decried how very awful that it all was. Not to worry, of course, as this is only the campaign for the most powerful position in the world – what’s a small thing like prison labor got to do with that?
Now, undoubtedly, Bloomberg wouldn’t really want to sanction prison labor to help his campaign – or so we would at least like to think. The fact though that his campaign is utilising staff that think this is somehow acceptable is very revealing. As with the buck ultimately stopping with the CEO of a private company for example, or at least one worth his or her salt, so then the same
should apply to Bloomberg in this instance. As Donald Trump so clearly highlights, the highest office in the land needs a wise head that really does know what is going on in their name.
A current President that gets confused by the idea of shutting an umbrella as he gets onto Airforce One or who keeps on, tin-foil hat wearing style, insisting that windmills cause cancer is not a million miles away from a residential candidate that has his team employ prison labor to help with his campaign work. Maybe it’s a billionaire thing?
And that’s really where we have it – the billionaires really do run this country like a post-monarchy monarchy. A few old white men (and it is always inevitably that demographic), with more money combined than half of the rest of the country put together, shamelessly hogging the levers of political power.
And here’s the real eye-opener – running a business, or inheriting one from your casual racist father, is not now, nor will it ever be, the same as running a country. This is a billionaire fallacy that continues to haunt American politics.
A board room is not a situation room. Surging gains on the stock market does not translate into equitable distribution of wealth in the rest of the country.
One of the more shoulder-sagging aspects of American exceptionalism has been, and still is, is the blind subservience and near worship of too many Americans to those with grotesque amounts of wealth. Bloomberg is just another manifestation of that – an ivory tower with figure with more wealth than the average American would ever achieve in 5000 life-times, leaping to the rescue of a system they fundamentally own anyway.
Let this be yet another warning, as if we needed any more, that the American billionaire class only cares for itself. And only ever will. They should always be
kept firmly out of office and made to pay their fair share in life as millions and millions of American struggle to do every day.