Tuesday, March 20, 2018

$799 million a Year. And Striking Teachers Are Greedy?

*"In 2015, Mr. Schwarzman was paid $799"  million. Source
Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired.

Most working class people don’t follow the goings on in private equity firms like Blackstone or the parasite that runs it Steven Schwarzman-----but we should.

These firms are basically money managers, they manage the money of large institutional investors and charge a hefty fee for doing so.  Their lives are basically milling around in the cesspool of financial management and moneylending that is much like the swimming pool in the movie The Magic Christian. There has been an ongoing war between these private equity capitalists and other bourgeois over taxes as the compensation an investment manager received is taxed as capital gains as opposed to income which is taxed at twice the rate.

These characters have accumulated massive amounts of money.  Schwarzman is currently worth almost $13 billion dollars and is sought after by heads of state from around the world. He made $786 million in 2017 and John Gray, the man recently promoted to Chief Operating Officer and expected to replace him eventually made, $274 million. When the Obama administration under pressure from competing capitalists appeared to be favorable to increasing taxes on carried interest, Schwarzman described it as “A war………like when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939.” Newsweek

After the 2007 crash when this wasteful and inefficient capitalist system was dragged from the edge of the abyss by public funds, Blackstone and Gray in particular were ecstatic. That same year, the money dealers bought another firm of vultures, Equity Office Properties (EOP) for $39 billion and the Hilton hotel chain for $26 billion. EOP, the property of another parasite Sam Zell, worth some $5 billion who apparently spends 1200 hours a year on private jets, held a collection of 580 commercial buildings and by the time the dust had settled, Blackstone made $20 billion in profit.

Schwarzman and Blackstone, like all scavengers, are loathe to look a gift horse in the mouth.  Some five million people had their homes taken from them (foreclosures they call it) during the crash and the banks were laden with bad loans.  Of course, Schwarzman and those like him don’t physically liberate people from their shelter and throw them out on the street; good gracious, he went to Yale, he’s a cultured educated man, they have the state’s security forces, sheriffs or police do it.

Regulators responded to this situation by pushing the banks to tighten lending requirements. Schwarzman, being the egalitarian that he is wanted to help, “…we said, ‘Oh my goodness, this could be huge. Nobody is going to be able to borrow, they’re going to need housing,’ ” Schwarzman told the Wall Street Journal,  “So we went out and started to buy houses to rent to people.”  So Blackstone became quite the landlord scooping up some $10 billion worth of homes the moneylenders and their police had taken from those that lived in them. Huge landlords like this traditionally like their victims under one roof like a tower block as single family homes can be scattered and miles apart making servicing them time consuming and expensive, but a good crisis shouldn’t go to waste. A vulture doesn’t pass up a free meal. The firm also lent money to other landlords.

Schwarzman counts among his friends Colin Powell, Michael Bloomberg worth some $30 billion, and is very fond of Trump not to mention the Saudi’s. He’s no tight wad when it comes to spending the money he never actually earned. In February 2017 his birthday party in Florida was reported to have cost $7 million.  One of his guests at his birthday party ten years earlier was Cardinal Egan of New York. The Catholic patriarchy knows whose ass to kiss.

When I think of people that support the degenerate racist Trump (Not types like Schwarzman but workers) it makes me so angry. To blame undocumented workers, the poor, welfare recipients or other working class people for the ongoing decline in living standards and quality of life when people like Schwarzman live on this earth, is not simply stupidity, it is plain cowardice. It is like blaming the rape victim rather than the rapist because a victim is seen as powerless and that’s safer than attacking the power or a representative of that power. In that sense it is not these parasitic billionaires as individuals that are the problem, it is the system that produces them and that they defend and propagate. 

Like the hogs and poultry in industrial farming that become psychotic and unrelated to their relatives on a family farm or in the field or back yard, humans lose our humanity in the quagmire of capitalist society.  Insecurity, fear and alienation drive us mad and separate us from our collective historic past. Like flowers in bad soil we begin to wilt and die. Despite their obscene wealth, wealth accumulated off the backs of workers throughout the world, the Schwarzman’s of this world are the most damaged of all living as they doo off the profit of capital. The vicious, competitive environment that is their world destroys them.  Man is born to labor and the bird to fly, the prophet Job is quoted as saying in Judeo/Christian mythology. The US ruling class of which Schwarzman is a dominant figure do no productive labor. They have no real friends as association with other human beings for them is all part of business, bribing, handwringing, building connections everywhere that can ensure the money train stops at their station.

It always fascinates me when workers think that a person that has accumulated $12 billion, or $20 billion like the celebrity Oprah, will actually serve our interests. To accumulate such amounts, and particularly to keep it, one has to be the most ruthless of human beings. In its buying binges, Blackrock has owned many different types of businesses from the Weather Channel to Sea World. What is produced matters not to the capitalist, whether they invest in so-called leisure for the masses or food we need to eat, profit is the determinant, what is produced is incidental.

 "I want war, not a series of skirmishes... I always think about what will kill off the other bidder." Schwarzman said of his business activity. When financial war halts, physical one ensues. Schwarzman, a Jew, is in deals with the Saudis. They don’t let religion or nationality become and obstacle to money making. People die, business must go on.

One business Schwarzman and Blackstone acquired was Sea World. If the reader hasn’t seen it I recommend the movie Blackfish which delves in to this business and also the eventual death of Sea World trainer Dawn Brancheau who was killed by an Orca she worked with in 2010. The film also gives some insight in to Orca’s and their family relationships and habits as well as the brutal treatment the Orca’s received at Sea World.

Obviously concerned with the negative impact Brancheu’s death would have on profits Schwarzman blamed her for violating safety rules (somehow I don’t think the billionaire was on the job every day.) Sea World "had one safety lapse -- interestingly, with a situation where the person involved violated all the safety rules that we had," Schwarzman told the media. The company has since made some half assed excuse for his statement but that’s how they think. Profits over life itself.

Schwarzman’s comments were no accident.  A comment like that alone is enough to destroy any fantasized idea a worker might have about people in his world being decent human beings. It never hurt him anyway. His wealth doubled, and in 2016 he hit a lucky streak making $250 million in five days.  Ain’t life grand?

* I don't think they were talking about safe drinking water for our cities or electricity for Puerto Rico

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