Wealth and Justice Go Together Like Oil and Water
A couple of stories caught my attention regarding wealthy people and the worlds they inhabit, worlds very different from the ones we little people live in.
First, the White House recently outreached the next generation of wealth, as reported in the Fashion & Style section of the New York Times. The article offers a fascinating peek into the exclusive access offered to the offspring of billionaires:
On a crisp morning in late March, an elite group of 100 young philanthropists and heirs to billionaire family fortunes filed into a cozy auditorium at the White House.
Their name tags read like a catalog of the country’s wealthiest and most influential clans: Rockefeller, Pritzker, Marriott. They were there for a discreet, invitation-only summit hosted by the Obama administration to find common ground between the public sector and the so-called next-generation philanthropists, many of whom stand to inherit billions in private wealth.
“Moon shots!” one administration official said, kicking off the day on an inspirational note to embrace the White House as a partner and catalyst for putting their personal idealism into practice.
The money involved is estimated to be around 30 TRILLION dollars, nearly twice the entire GDP of America, so it’s no wonder political operatives are courting them while they’re young:
Policy experts and donors recognize that there’s no better time than now to empower young philanthropists. Professionals in the field, citing an Accenture report from 2012, estimate that more than $30 trillion in wealth will pass from baby boomers to younger generations by around 2050. At the same time, the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy (no relation to this reporter) and the nonprofit consulting group 21/64 have concluded in a recent study on philanthropic giving that heirs are becoming involved in family foundations at an earlier age — specifically in their 20s and 30s — and imprinting them with the social values of their generation.
And what are their social values? One part of this invitation-only conference was about human trafficking. I’m assuming it was about stopping it, despite the unintentional creepiness of this quote:
A freshman at Georgetown University, Mr. Gage was among the presenters at a breakout session, titled “Combating Human Trafficking,” that attracted a notable group of his peers. “The person two seats away from me was a Marriott,“ he said. “And when I told her about trafficking, right away she was like, ‘Uh, yeah, I want to do that.’ ”
If I was there, I’d be telling these youngsters about the child prostitution ring uncovered in Nebraska, known as the Franklin case. Here’s a brief summary:
The scandal centered around the Franklin Community Federal Credit Union, which was created to serve a poor black neighborhood in Omaha, Nebraska. During the 70s and 80s, its manager, a man named Larry King (not the talk show host), ran the Franklin as a Ponzi scheme and looted over $40 million, which he spent on an opulent lifestyle and Republican fundraising. King sang the National Anthem at the Republican convention in 1984 and served on several committees of the National Black Republican Council. He had a townhouse in Washington, DC, where he threw parties with many prominent guests. In August 1988, he threw a $100,000 party at the Republican convention, and appeared in a video in which he and Jack Kemp urged blacks to vote for George H. W. Bush. In November 1988, his Ponzi scheme crashed and the Franklin was shut down by the National Credit Union Association and the FBI.
All run-of-the-mill scandal stuff, and uncontroversial in the basic facts, except that as King was climbing into the upper levels of the national Republican hierarchy, Omaha was boiling over with rumors that he was also running a pedophile ring, pandering children out to rich and powerful men in Omaha, even flying the children to Washington, Los Angeles and New York for orgiastic, abusive parties with even richer and more powerful men.
I’ll leave it at that for now, though the rabbit hole on this one goes deep. Instead there are recent allegations cropping up of powerful Hollywood men involved in drugging and raping underage boys. The main allegations center on Bryan Singer, most known for directing one of the X-Men movies. Here’s the gist:
Singer stands accused of luring the plaintiff to private gatherings at the M&C Estate in Encino, Calif., and the Paul Mitchell Estate in Hawaii; there, he allegedly plied the then-17-year-old Egan with cocaine, alcohol, weed, and professional enticements, such as modeling gigs, commercial appearances, and the chance to act in an X-Men movie. The suit says that Singer was one of several powerful Hollywood men who preyed on fresh-faced kids with dreams of making it big. Also accused of frequenting the parties were Marc Rector-Collins, former chairman of the Digital Entertainment Network (where Neuman works), and Chad Shackley, a DEN co-founder. (Rector-Collins, a registered sex offender in Florida, pleaded guilty in 2004 to charges of transporting minors across state lines to have sex.) Egan and other underage actors were added to the DEN payroll, receiving $1,500 a week for “legitimate work” and $600 a week for more nebulous services, the suit claims. A few of the ghastlier allegations:
- At one point, when Egan resisted sexual contact, Rector-Collins allegedly threatened him with a firearm and then locked him in a gun safe in the master bedroom closet.
- A nude, intoxicated Egan was allegedly passed between Singer and Rector-Collins in a hot tub and subjected to various sex acts. When he refused to perform oral sex on Singer, the older man allegedly forced Egan’s head underwater until he submitted and then forcibly sodomized him.
- The adults at the M&C Estate allegedly “strenuously pressured” the teenaged boys to ingest “copious amounts” of alcohol and drugs, and “surreptitiously administered” what they didn’t coerce. The boys were told that their predators “controlled Hollywood” and would crush their acting dreams if left unhappy. Egan claims that he in particular was warned that he and his family would be “eliminated” if he spoke up and that his phone was being monitored.
Asked why the plaintiff was bringing charges now, 15 years after the alleged harassment, Egan’s lawyer Jeff Herman denied that the timing had anything to do with the release of Singer’s latest movie, X-Men: Days of Future Past, on May 23. The statute of limitations in Hawaii runs out on April 24, he noted. (The suits were originally filed in Hawaii rather than California because the Aloha State “temporarily suspends the statute of limitations on sex abuse claims brought in civil cases.”) And in a press conference Monday, Egan furnished more explanation: According to the Daily News, Egan told reporters that he’d found a trauma therapist and a lawyer he trusted to “protect” him, and he wanted to bring his tormentors to justice. “I wouldn’t wish it on any of my worst enemies, to go through what I went through as a child,” he said. Also, Egan says that when he and his mother originally brought the abuse to the L.A. Police Department in 1999, they did nothing.
The timing may also have to do with a documentary in the works about sex abuse in Hollywood.
That the L.A. Police department would do nothing about allegations involving wealthy, powerful people is easy to believe, because when you’re wealthy, you can viciously beat your girlfriend, hitting her 117 times during a 30 minute beating as seen on security camera footage and avoid doing any time in jail:
Indian-origin internet advertising mogul Gurbaksh Chahal has escaped jail despite beating and kicking his girlfriend 117 times, according to a media report.
Chahal, 31, pleaded misdemeanor, domestic violence and battery charges last week, dodging 45 felony counts for the videotaped 30-minute beating of his girlfriend, The Huffington Post reported.
The CEO of RadiumOne – a Silicon Valley company that focusses on real-time advertising across web, mobile and Facebook – faces no jail time.
If you’re wealthy you can also rape your 3 year old daughter and only get probation because a judge thinks you wouldn’t ‘fare well in prison’.
These are some horrifying examples of how class warfare is as much a matter of who doesn’t go to prison as who does, like poor minorities disproportionally incarcerated for non-violent drug offenses, an issue Obama put some lipstick on recently.
Since there may be a few cells in American prisons freed up by Obama’s election-year window dressing, there are plenty of wealthy criminals who deserve to be locked up that should take their place.