October 29, 2009

Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us: Chapter 4 Synopsis

Bitterly Books is undertaking a chapter-by-chapter review of Ralph Nader's work, Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us. You can read past chapter synopses here. Past reviews can be read here, and Viator's columns can be read here.

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Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us, click here.


Building off their momentum from Chapter 3, Warren Buffett's Maui Mafia decides to create an "attack sub-economy," making plans to "buy some retail franchises and small businesses in just about every line of commerce and manufacturing around the country"(pp.103-104). Then Nader cuts back and forth between a number of developments.

Jeno Paulucci holds a ribbon-cutting ceremony for his PCC's new headquarters. George Soros inexplicably "showed up unscheduled," maybe because he was confused by his own CUB opening a headquarters in Washington around the same time. Given a chance to speak, Soros asks "whether there were any CEOs or trade association heads in the crowd who wanted to make a brief statement or debate him"(p.114), and he is met with "a long silence." This may be because no one can figure out what he's doing there, but it may also be because he was hopped up on junk and acting violent after not realizing that PCP referred to "Perot's Credibility Project"(p.118). Buffett has started up a lot of committees, and they're all using acronyms, so you can't blame George for having a tough time keeping them all straight.

Max Palevski looks to top his stunt from Chapter 2, where he arranged for concertgoers who had expected the band Cool Drool to be tricked into listening to "a silver-haired orator [as he] took the stage and unfurled a string of calmly delivered racist, sexist, homophobic, and ethnic slurs"(p.56). This time, Max has set his sights on addressing "the NCAA's exclusion of minorities from executive positions, [...] the subordination of academics to football, [...] the NCAA's gross negligence in failing to police the use of performance-enhancing drugs or the constant legal gambling on games, [...and] the wholesale commercialization of amateur sports, with the players sweating for nothing on hard artificial turf while the NCAA, the coaches, the universities, and the advertisers raked in the bucks"(p.122). Obviously, the answer is race baiting:

The first ad appeared. It showed photos of Notre Dame's varsity football team over the past four years, rows of headshots of the starting lineup with their names and positions underneath. A majority of the players were black. The headline read, "Funny, They Don't Look Irish!!!"
The next day's ad ran the photos again, this time under the headline "Why Aren't They Called the Fighting Zulus???"
Yoko Ono talks some shit about art, and decides that it would be great if "the government required the infusion of a harmless red dye in all airborne emissions from factories and vehicles,"(p.122) because the cure for air pollution is more chemicals. She decides to comission a team of artists to "earn posterity's respect and gratitude, just as the great art and architecture of past centuries were cherished today," because you can't build the pyramids without slave labor.

Meanwhile, Warren Beatty and his People's Revolt of the Rich advances on Sacramento. It's some billionaires in a couple of buses who are going to demand that the government start taxing them more heavily. Beatty tricks Governor Schwarzenegger into meeting with him face to face, and the two have a showdown over breakfast and "fair trade coffee"(p.125) before Beatty announces his candidacy for governor in the State Legislature.

Sol Price literally declares war on Wal-Mart.

The billionaires organize a "lunchtime rebellion" (read: teabag rally) of "hardworking Americans who choose to exercise their right of free assembly on their lunch break"(p.137). A "discernably pregnant" woman who gets into a violent altercation at one of these rallies is "just the thing to show that the proletariat, long considered moribund by the plutocracy, still had a cutting edge"(p.137), according to Bernard Rapoport, who is watching events unfold from the safety of his home in Waco.

The chapter ended on a cliffhanger as Bonecrushing Barry Diller, sensing the gathering stormclouds of an upcoming corporate counteroffensive, "reached for his rolodex"(p.138).

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