Monday, December 17, 2012

A US ambassador's tough life. Botswana? "No thanks."

US ambassador's UK home
by Richard Mellor

All this talk of "Government by the people for the people" sounds good, but "which" people are we talking about is important to understand.  "The people" are not all equal in a class society such as ours. I had some guy tell me the other day that he was a capitalist but there's no "capitalist class" so I guess the US Chamber of Commerce, the Business Round Table and the National Association of Manufacturers has a huge percentage of its membership that get a wage check every two weeks or so, you know; plumbers, retail clerks, teachers.  The IMF and World bank boards are full of working folk too no doubt.

Let's see, I wonder if I could become the US ambassador to the UK.  I'm originally from there and know a bunch of folks back there, some good dart players too.  I used to work in a glass factory once so know a bit about assembly work as well as sewer construction. It seems I'll have a bit of competition though.  The leading contender for that job is Anna Wintour the editor in chief of Vogue Magazine. According to Business Week Magazine, she raised $500,000 for Obama and "inspired the Runway to Win" fashion line, the Obama handbags and other important stuff that brought in $40 million more.

Wintour getting the plum job isn't guaranteed either. Obama's national finance chair, Matthew Barzun who married an heir to the Kentucky bourbon fortune and Marc Lasry, a coupon clipper (Hedge fund manager) who raised more than $200.000 for Obama are alos in the running.  I wonder as a retired backhoe operator if I might have a chance, especially as I didn't even vote for Obama.

Thirty one percent of US ambassadorships are political appointees according to The American Foreign Service Association (AFSA) with the rest being career diplomats.  The best, most lucrative, go to the political appointees.  The present ambassador to the UK is Louis Susman, an investment banker.  Having these rich folks as ambassadors in the wealthier countries is important as the budget allotted to these embassies does not cover all the parties and expenses so the wealthy cough up a million or so of their own money.  "Just filling the flower vases for the embassy in London is very expensive." Tex Harris, the former president of the AFSA says.   The current president, Susan Johnson defends the lavish parties and gatherings that are necessary to help spread peace and democracy throughout the world noting that spending taxpayer money on lavish parties has "always been a sore point for people who misunderstand that this is work, it's not play."

What heroes these representatives of ours are.  Spending their own hard-earned money expecting nothing in return but the welfare of millions of American workers as they help build a peaceful and stable global community.  The UK ambassador has lots of room to hold such events too, a 12-and a half acre estate in London.  Italy's not bad either coming with a villa and a 5000 bottle capacity wine cellar.

These diplomatic expenditures are necessary, " the hopes of encouraging conviviality and commerce between their countries" BW writes noting that through a US government " in embassies" program they can adorn the walls of their establsishmen with the finest art from US museums.

This is diplomacy in action, sacrificing all for the welfare of others.  Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is under what amounts to house arrest in the Ecuadorian embassy in London and Bradley Manning is fighting for his life after being tortured and imprisoned in the US  for releasing cables sent between embassies that revealed a dark, dishonest and seedy side of this phony diplomacy. In other words, for sharing with the rest of us what these folks are actually doing.

What we have is a government by the capitalist class for the capitalist class.  As these representatives of the coupon clippers maintain their ability to plunder the resources of the global community with catastrophic consequences for human life and the environment, one US politician explains that the competition among billionaires for a US ambassadorship is "like paying $25 million to go in to's a fun thing to do."

The world is their playground as they say.

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