The American Dream Highjacked by the Masters of the Universe


We’ve been robbed. You may not be able to exactly explain it but something in your DNA, in your heart, something is telling you that the dreams of your forefathers have been ripped away from you. When did it happen. Who can say? Such things never come on overnight. It’s happens over a stretch of time so that what might have been outrageous is a few years later much ado about nothing. Old news, you know? Well, it’s not old news that our children and grandchildren will likely live in worse circumstances than we. That’s new and it’s un-American.

The brighter among us, those not zoned out seven days a week on reality television or social media, have tried to raise the alarm for many years. For their concern and their efforts, they have been ignored by the masses and indicted as far right by the mainstream media. The media’s far left friends, whom the media never refer to as far left, paint the “far right” as grandma’s worst nightmare. The class warfare plays to a large audience and allows the real power brokers, those author Tom Wolfe calls “the masters of the universe”, to make billions and billions without breaking a sweat.

Meanwhile, the masters of the universe have declared grandma can earn 1/10 of one percent on her meager savings. Tough luck granny, we have to recapitalize the banks and float the government spending . . . we have to because the masters f’d up and their cardhouse fell down. So granny, eat your dog food. They get the gold and you get the shaft.

Years after Wolfe’s novel, ‘The Bonfire of the Vanities’, the little golden crumbs of the bond traders are somewhat less important. New scams grow truckloads of cash, much of it untaxed or taxed lightly in overseas accounts. The Soros types have made their stacks by market manipulation and clever plays, calculated by computer programs run by brilliant swinging richards, from the finest Ivy League schools. For fun in their spare time, they break the bank of England. All this is a lot of sound and fury, producing nothing of significance but piles of gold for those who have the wit and stomach for financial rape and pillage.

As a natural consequence, a good bit of the cash makes its way to politicians. They are happy to pass laws that enable those they allegedly regulate to continue and build new scams even as the barrier to competition is lowered for them. Dodd-Franks, my friends. I just got a notice from one of my credit card companies that the interest on unpaid balances was going from 12 to 27 percent. Crooked, again.

Speaking of crooks, I wonder what Franklin Raines is doing with the tens of millions he made as Fannie Mae was being run aground. Did they claw any of that back.? Oh, they gave him a little fine for throwing the world into chaos and sent him on his way with his millions. Thank you Mr. Franks and thank you Ms. Waters. Both detestable. Barney and Maxine, enablers, crooks and dammit, untouchable.

The real money today is made by people in finance and from stock options by those in the right place at successful corporations. It’s takes $5 million in assets to break into the top one percent in America. Where once the top one percent was a lot of small and medium sized business owners, they’ve been left in the dust. They can’t “print money” with stock options or make a billion strangling the Bank of England. The people who actually work at making something tangible have been kicked to the curb by the masters.

Membership in this elite group is likely to come from being involved in some aspect of the financial services or banking industry, real estate development involved with those industries, or government contracting. Some hard working and clever physicians and attorneys can acquire as much as $15M-$20M before retirement but they are rare. Those in the top 0.5% have incomes over $500k if working and a net worth over $1.8M if retired. The higher we go up into the top 0.5% the more likely it is that their wealth is in some way tied to the investment industry and borrowed money than from personally selling goods or services or labor as do most in the bottom 99.5%. They are much more likely to have built their net worth from stock options and capital gains in stocks and real estate and private business sales, not from income which is taxed at a much higher rate. These opportunities are largely unavailable to the bottom 99.5%.

Recently, I spoke with a younger client who retired from a major investment bank in her early thirties, net worth around $8M. We can estimate that she had to earn somewhere around twice that, or $14M-$16M, in order to keep $8M after taxes and live well along the way, an impressive accomplishment by such an early age. Since I knew she held a critical view of investment banking, I asked if her colleagues talked about or understood how much damage was created in the broader economy from their activities. Her answer was that no one talks about it in public but almost all understood and were unbelievably cynical, hoping to exit the system when they became rich enough.

Folks in the top 0.1% come from many backgrounds but it’s infrequent to meet one whose wealth wasn’t acquired through direct or indirect participation in the financial and banking industries. One of our clients, net worth in the $60M range, built a small company and was acquired with stock from a multi-national. Stock is often called a “paper” asset. Another client, CEO of a medium-cap tech company, retired with a net worth in the $70M range. The bulk of any CEO’s wealth comes from stock, not income, and incomes are also very high. Last year, the average S&P 500 CEO made $9M in all forms of compensation. One client runs a division of a major international investment bank, net worth in the $30M range and most of the profits from his division flow directly or indirectly from the public sector, the taxpayer. Another client with a net worth in the $10M range is the ex-wife of a managing director of a major investment bank, while another was able to amass $12M after taxes by her early thirties from stock options as a high level programmer in a successful IT company.

The picture is clear; entry into the top 0.5% and, particularly, the top 0.1% is usually the result of some association with the financial industry and its creations. I find it questionable as to whether the majority in this group actually adds value or simply diverts value from the US economy and business into its pockets and the pockets of the uber-wealthy who hire them. They are, of course, doing nothing illegal. –G. William Domhoff,

What it all means is the American dream is in big trouble. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to go from rags to riches. Whereas we might have once had some respect or at least sympathy for the old masters of the universe, circa 1985, the new breed is beyond contempt for they are now contemptible in their disrespect of average Americans. The elite now in control of the financial levers of power, including control over the politicos, have drawn up a game only a few can play. Their rules are made for those who get their gold from stock options or other financial instruments, various forms of hedge funds and investment banking. If you lack the resources or the skills to play in these games, your destiny is most likely that of worker bee or subsistence on the government plantation.

There’s a way to change what looks to be the future. Conservatives must kill the Democrat party as it exists today. They are the party of crony capitalism and Keynesian economics. They are the party of Soros and their president is the the only person threatening to withhold granny’s social security check. The only vehicle to defeat the Democrats is the Republican party, at least for today. There’s RINO hunting to be done there and if the resistance of the GOP to constitutional governance can not be overcome, then let the GOP die. They will be of no further use. Some may wind up in the same cell block as Soros. (We can dream.)

To affect constitutional change, Americans must throw out the statists, wherever they are. This takes an organized approach because the battle is against the Democrats and their union boots on the ground. You must support constitutional conservatives and many of you must put your boots on from inside the GOP, and as our good friend Cold Warrior reminds, “recruit, pray, repeat.”

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Texas native. Conservative small businessman with 31 years experience. Government should roll back the nanny state. No country can tax its way to prosperity. The question isn't who will let me but who will stop me?

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E Pluribus Unum
July 25, 2011 7:26 pm

Central control. It’s what’s for breakfast anymore.

July 25, 2011 10:09 pm

TG you are right on the money desccribing these people. They really do exist and are at the seats of power because they can dazzle with the “new numbers.” Have you ever been at the business table with them, with a little money or power on it? One gets the impression of being in a place where common sense has been sucked out of the place like air from a vacuum. Up seems down. One thing is certain – behind the confident dazzle is utter self service – no good will, no desire to earn trust, no moral compass, no… Read more »

July 26, 2011 9:18 am

Barney has probably already thought of that! There’s just no downside for him anywhere in this racket, is there?