Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Politics, Wealth, And Why They Don't Care About You

Politics, Wealth, And Why They Don't Care About You

Money, Dollars, Success, Business, Finance, Cash

I have no animosity toward the wealthy. I’m not rich, but I don’t begrudge people who get rich so long as they do so legally.

Any issues I have with Jeff Bezo or Bill Gates isn’t because they’re wealthy, it’s because they support or espouse bad ideas.

Yet there’s a class of wealthy people that, frankly, bother me, and that’s people who weren’t particularly wealthy before, but because of running for office, they are now.

The Daily Beast started me thinking about this with a piece they did on Stacey Abrams.

Stacey Abrams is now a member of the millionaire’s club. That’s right. In the four short years since her failed 2018 Georgia gubernatorial bid, Abrams went from a net worth of $109,000 to $3.17 million, according to state disclosures. For some people, losing an election is a crushing blow. For Abrams, it was a goldmine.

Unlike politicians who inherit their wealth or suddenly see their income explode after winning office (the rich get elected and the elected get rich), Abrams had to hustle. (The bulk of Abrams’ money comes from paid speeches, investments, book deals, her role as executive director of the Southern Economic Advancement Project, and her role on the board of Heliogen—a California company whose aim is “replacing fossil fuels with concentrated sunlight.”)

Still, these opportunities wouldn’t have been possible without the attention she garnered by running for governor. Complicating matters is Abrams’ refusal to concede her loss, which helped boost her status as both a victim and a leader of the resistance.

This is not to say that Abrams lacks ideas or that her primary motivation was cashing in. But when running for office boosts your income tenfold in a mere four years, it’s clear that the incentives are perverse.



That made me decide to look at the estimated net worth of one Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

AOC was famous for going from bartender to the halls of Congress. Her net worth is far more humble than Abrams, estimated at around $500,000.

However, according to Open Secrets, in 2018, her net worth was -$8,499. Yes, that’s a minus sign.

She’s gone from a negative to being relatively wealthy in just four years, all on a salary of $174,000 per year while maintaining residences in two of the most expensive American cities to live in.

Now, understand, I’m not accusing anyone of doing anything illegal here. All I can see are estimates. AOC is one of only a few lawmakers who has spoken out on members of Congress trading stock while in office, so it’s doubtful she’s doing so as well. Not directly, anyway (I understand she does have some mutual funds, though, which are different).

The problem for me is that while politicians claim to care about you, there is a perverse incentive to run for office with the intention of cashing in. Even losing may do wonders for your financial position, as Abrams has learned.

Which would be fine were it not for these same people decrying wealth with every fiber of their being.

They’re ready to cash in but woe be unto you if you try to cash in on something else.

For both Abrams and AOC, they position themselves as women of the people, all while raking in far more money than I can get killing myself each and every day. It’s kind of difficult to take their supposed desire to help the poor seriously when their net worths keep accumulating at a prodigious rate over the last four years.

Most politicians say what they think most of you want to hear. They echo the thoughts of others that they think you’ll find the most appealing. More than that, they want you to think they care about you.

They don’t.

Oh, they might when they run for office, but you’d think that term after term of not getting the things they want done, they’d walk away. Only, they don’t. They stay indefinitely.

If they were truly motivated by the altruism they espouse, they’d leave to find another place in which to help the world.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure there are exceptions. For some, just trying to hold back the insanity is probably reward enough, so they stay for as long as they can.

But for others, the ones who claim they’re going to change everything? No, they start seeing that payday and recognize that they need to remain in office for a while if they want to keep the gravy train rolling.

It’s not about you, as a voter and American, if it ever were. It’s about how they can milk the system for their own benefit, even while decrying people making their fortunes the old fashioned way.

With incentives like this, all they really care about is getting into a position where they can make considerable bank.

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