Lining Up Romney’s Votes

America’s concentration of wealth at the top has been accompanied by a bolder assertion of political power by the plutocrats, not just in the proliferation of unrestrained Super PACs but also in demanding support for Mitt Romney by employees, note Bill Moyers and Michael Winship.

By Bill Moyers and Michael Winship

The new Gilded Age is roaring down on us an uncaged tiger on a rampage. Walk out to the street in front of our office here in Manhattan, look to the right and you can see the symbol of it: a fancy new skyscraper going up two blocks away. When finished, this high rise among high rises will tower a thousand feet, the tallest residential building in the city.

The New York Timeshas dubbed it “the global billionaires’ club” — and for good reason. At least of two of the apartments are under contract for more than $90 million each. Others, more modest, range in price from $45 million to more than $50 million.

Supporters of Mitt Romney in Ohio. (Photo credit:

The mega-rich have been buying these places “looking for a place to stash their cash,” a realtor from Sotheby’s explained to the Times. “A lot of what is happening,” she said, “…is about wealth preservation.”

Simultaneously, the powers-that-be have just awarded Donald Trump the right to run a golf course in the Bronx which taxpayers are spending at least $97 million to build — what “amounts to a public subsidy,” says the indignant city comptroller, “for a luxury golf course.” Good grief a handout to the plutocrat’s plutocrat.


This, in a city where economic inequality rivals that of a third-world country. Of America’s 25 largest cities, New York is now the most unequal. The median income for the bottom 20 percent last year was less than $9,000, while the top one percent of New Yorkers has an average annual income of $2.2 million.

Across America, this divide between the superrich and everyone else has become a yawning chasm that studies indicate may stifle jobs and growth for years to come. At no time in modern history has the top one hundredth of one percent owned more of our wealth or paid so low a tax rate.

But in neither of the two presidential debates so far has the vastness of this astounding inequality gap been discussed. Not by Mitt Romney, who is the embodiment of the predatory world of financial capitalism. And not even by Barack Obama, whose party once fought for working men and women against the economic royalists.

But as appalling as all this may be, here’s a new revelation of which you may not be aware. The plutocrats know it and love it and the rest of us should be forewarned: When the Supreme Court made its infamous Citizens United decision, liberating plutocrats to buy our elections fair and square, the justices may have effectively overturned rules that kept bosses from ordering employees to do political work on company time.

Election law expert Trevor Potter told us that now, “corporations argue that it is a constitutionally protected use of corporate ‘resources’ to order employees to do political work or attend campaign events — even if the employee opposes the candidate, or is threatened with being fired for failure to do what the corporation asks!”

Reporter Mike Elk at In These Times magazine came across a recording of Mitt Romney on a conference call in June with some businessmen. Romney told them there is “nothing illegal about you talking to your employees about what you believe is best for the business — because I think that will figure into their election decision, their voting decision — and of course doing that with your family and your kids as well.”

Two months later, Governor Romney was campaigning at an Ohio coal mine. In photographs and on video you can see miners arrayed around him, steadfastly standing in support, right? They work for a company called Murray Energy and attendance at the rally without pay was mandatory.

Murray Energy is notorious for violating safety regulations, sometimes resulting in injuries and deaths. The company has paid millions in fines and in the last two years also donated more than $900,000 to politicians, all of them Republicans.

The CEO, Bob Murray, a well-known climate change denier and cutthroat businessman, insists that his employees contribute to his favorite anti-regulatory candidates or else. In one letter uncovered by The New Republic magazine, Murray wrote, “We have been insulted by every salaried employee who does not support our efforts.” So much for voting rights and the secret ballot at Murray Energy!

Mike Elk also discovered that the Koch Brothers, David and Charles who have pledged to spend multimillions defeating President Obama have sent a voter information packet to the employees of Georgia Pacific, one of their subsidiaries. It includes a list of recommended candidates, pro-Romney and anti-Obama editorials written by the Kochs and a cover letter from the company president.

If we elect the wrong people, Dave Robertson writes, “Many of our more than 50,000 US employees and contractors may suffer the consequences, including higher gasoline prices, runaway inflation, and other ills.” Other ills? Like losing your job?

It’s snowballing. Timeshare king David Siegel of Westgate Resorts reportedly has threatened to fire employees if Barack Obama is re-elected and Arthur Allen, who runs ASG Software Solutions, e-mailed his employees, “If we fail as a nation to make the right choice on November 6th, and we lose our independence as a company, I don’t want to hear any complaints regarding the fallout that will most likely come.”

Back in the first the Gilded Age, in the 19th century, bosses in company towns lined up their workers and marched them to vote as a bloc. Now, the Gilded Age is back, with a vengeance.

Welcome to the plutocracy the remains of the ol’ USA.

Bill Moyers is managing editor and Michael Winship is senior writer of the weekly public affairs program, Moyers & Company, airing on public television. Check local airtimes or comment at

4 comments for “Lining Up Romney’s Votes

  1. Otto Schiff
    October 22, 2012 at 22:04

    That story about the the thousands of Jews that did not die at the world trade center could have been written by Goebbels and Streicher or Remaht.

  2. Vivek Jain
    October 21, 2012 at 04:33

    Bill Moyers’ silence about Washington’s genocidal sanctions against Iran–which have bipartisan support–is revealing.

    What’s he waiting for?

    Moyers has not acknowledged the medicine shortages and unaffordable food caused by the US government. Moyers won’t cover the suffering of the Iranian people and the crimes of the US government. Similarly, like a good propagandist, he chooses to remain silent and not challenge the propaganda from Washington about Iran.

    Our government is killing people in Iran.

    Take a look at this report by the U.N. Sec. General Ban Ki-moon, in particular, see p 15, items 42 and 43.

    “Situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran (2012)”

    It reads:

    “42. The sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic of Iran have had significant effects on the general population, including an escalation in inflation, a rise in commodities and energy costs, an increase in the rate of unemployment and a shortage of necessary items, including medicine. A number of Iranian non-governmental organizations and activists have expressed concerns about the growing impact of sanctions on the population and have noted that inflation, rising prices of commodities, subsidy cuts and sanctions are compounding each other and having far-reaching effects on the general population. They report, for instance, that people do not have access to lifesaving medicines. Furthermore, since the sanctions extend to banking transactions, many foreign banks have stopped doing business with the Islamic Republic of Iran altogether, which has made it considerably difficult for Iranians to transfer funds and for private business to obtain lines of credit.

    “43. The sanctions also appear to be affecting humanitarian operations in the country. Even companies that have obtained the requisite licence to import food and medicine are facing difficulties in finding third-country banks to process the transactions. Owing to payment problems, several medical companies have stopped exporting medicines to the Islamic Republic of Iran, leading to a reported shortage of drugs used in the treatment of various illnesses, including cancer, heart and respiratory conditions, thalassemia and multiple sclerosis.”

    Also take a look at pages 14-15, points 37-39, excerpted below. All this is threatened by the illegal economic war (sanctions) and military strikes on Iran by US/Israel.

    “37. With a population of 75 million,the Islamic Republic of Iran is an upper middle-income country which has made notable progress in human development. Its human development index value for 2011 was 0.70, placing the country in the high human development category. This represents an increase from a human development index value of 0.493 in 1985 and a total increase of 42 per cent or an average annual increase of about 1.4 per cent.The Islamic Republic of Iran is also on track to achieve most of the Millennium Development Goals, particularly Goals 1 (reducing extreme poverty), 2 (achieving universal education), 4 (reducing child mortality by half) and 5 (reducing maternal mortality by three quarters)

    “38. The Islamic Republic of Iran has showed greatly improved results in health and education. Access to health care, including reproductive health care, has improved, with increased life expectancy at birth for both men and women; more people have access to safe drinking water; maternal mortality decreased from 150 per 100,000 live births in 1990 to 30 in 2008; the under-five mortality ratio decreased to 21 out of 1,000; the proportion of births attended by skilled health personnel increased to 97.3 per cent; and primary health-care coverage in rural areas stands at more than 98 per cent. The country also has a literacy rate for girls of more than 90 per cent, an overall literacy rate of more than 75 per cent, social security coverage encompassing 30 million people and health insurance schemes covering about 50 per cent of the population.

    “39. The Islamic Republic of Iran has also made significant progress in women’s education and health. Literacy rates among 15-24-year-old women increased from 96.1 per cent in 2000 to 99.2 per cent in 2008, and the ratio of girls to boys in primary, secondary and tertiary education increased from 79.2 per cent in 1990 to 98 per cent in 2007. Currently, more than half of all university students are women. This progress is reflected in the increased gender development index, which rose from 0.713 in 2004 to 0.770 in 2009.”

    The war planners in Washington and Tel Aviv intentionally target civilian areas to inflict massive and deep suffering:

    What’s Moyers waiting for? Escalation of American and Israeli aggression toward Iran? How many human beings in Iran must die before Moyers will pretend to care?

  3. Hillary
    October 20, 2012 at 14:41

    For some reason it is difficult to understand to what nation Jewish Americans give their prime allegiance.

    Mr. Romney has won the “pandering to Israeli” contest and has gained the widely visible support of Netanyahu as a result.

    According to Israeli daily, Ha’aretz) – neo-conservatives (mostly Jewish have only one agenda on their minds -”how to serve Israeli interests to the best”.

    • joe jr
      October 21, 2012 at 18:23


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