Tuesday, February 23, 2010

In Which The Devolutionist Ponders President Obama, Teddy Roosevelt, and the Amoral Selfishness of Certain Wealthy Angelenos

President Obama speaking to BusinessWeek in early February regarding enormous bonuses paid to Jamie Dimon and Lloyd Blankfein:

“They’re very savvy businessmen.  And I, like most of the American people, don’t begrudge people success or wealth.  That’s part of the free market system.”

Teddy Roosevelt in a 1910 speech (via Jonah “My Mommy Says I’m The Smartest Kid in School!” Goldberg):

“We grudge no man a fortune which represents his own power and sagacity, when exercised with entire regard to the welfare of his fellows…We grudge no man a fortune in civil life if it is honorably obtained and well used. It is not even enough that it should have been gained without doing damage to the community. We should permit it to be gained only so long as the gaining represents benefit to the community.

It goes without saying T.R.’s was the more inspirational quote and the old Rough Rider obviously went farther in making a connection between the gathering of wealth and the communal good.  The Devolutionist chalks that up to a) the difference between giving a major policy speech and an interview in BusinessWeek and b) T.R. was naturally more of a fighter then the pragmatic Obama.  Still, interesting similarities.

And then there is this article from today’s Los Angeles Times following the trials and tribulations of Frank and Jamie McCourt as their divorce plays out (emphasis mine):

“The McCourts…jointly pocketed income totaling $108 million from 2004 through 2009…(o)n that sum, they paid zero federal and state income tax… the McCourts deliberately structured their business at least partially to allow them to live tax-free.” 

Frank and Jamie McCourt own the Los Angeles Dodgers, the fourth-most valuable franchise ($722 million) in Major League Baseball as of 2009, according to Forbes.

Like presidents past and current, Your Curmudgeonly Devolutionist does not begrudge business people their success, even those who inherited family real estate empires and used that fortune to buy a baseball team.  He also does not like writing a check to the federal government every year any more than the next taxpayer, though he’s not going to fly a plane into an I.R.S. office over it.

No, the objection here is that, in case the McCourts have been too busy redecorating one of their eight houses to notice, the economies of California and America recently crashed down around our fucking ears.  The city of Los Angeles alone faces a budget deficit of $300 million or so and rumor has it the cops and parking enforcement have been given a green light to go stone cold nuts writing tickets to try and squeeze out a little more revenue from the people.  

This is your community we’re talking about.  The citizens are your customers.  They come to your stadium 81 times a year to overpay for Dodger Dogs and cheesy souvenirs and cups of warm Bud Light and even just to enter the friggin’ parking lot.  Yet your refusal to pay taxes means even more of the burden of paying for city and state and federal services falls on us.  Which actually hurts you, because the more we get squeezed on taxes, the less we have to spend on Manny Ramirez wigs. 

I’ll give Frank McCourt credit for starting the ThinkCure charity, which funds research on cancer cures.  Personally, I think a guy who is worth several hundred million dollars could be even more involved in philanthropy, but I’ll let that pass for the moment.  I’ll be satisfied if he and his soon-to-be-ex-wife just start paying their fair share of taxes.  Think of it as an investment in your customers so you can continue to rip them off at the stadium.  Because we’re all in this together.

You fucking dolts.

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