Poor little rich boy

Charles Brown CharlesB at SPAMCNCL.ci.detroit.mi.us
Thu Apr 12 13:08:01 MDT 2001

Poor little rich boy

By Fred Gaboury

Anyone who has the money to lose $12 million doesn't deserve sympathy or a great deal
of ink in the pages of the Peoples' Weekly World. Neither does the family living on
the Upper East Side in New York City who "economizes" by serving wine costing $40 a
bottle instead of $195. But what goes around comes around and the rich, too, are
feeling the pinch as the economy - and especially the stock market - continues its
downhill slide. So we've made their plight the subject of this week's column.

An article in the April 1 The New York Times said the market tailspin is making the
rich feel "uptight" and has "begun to sour" their dinner party chit-chat. But, the
Times said, "The extremely rich [are] still extremely rich" and do not anticipate,
"even in their darkest moments, being anything else."

Nor is wine the only sacrifice forced on the 275,000 U.S. households worth more than
$10 million. Signs of overproduction are everywhere: Sales of $2,000 Italian suits
have slumped as buyers cut back from four suits to three. Wine that goes for as much
as $1,200 a bottle remains on the shelf. New Jaguars stay in dealers' showrooms eight
days longer than last year, Cadillacs hang around a month longer and Lincolns, 39
days. Things have gotten so bad that some are riding in cabs instead of limousines.

And there's the speculator who built the 12,000 square foot house in the Hamptons, the
crème de la crème of the region's pricey communities, replete with shower fixtures
costing $3,000 each. The builder hoped to sell it for eight million dollars and is now
willing to sell for "only" seven million. It's also hard to rent high-priced summer
homes that went for as much as $65,000 a year ago, so hard, in fact, that "for rent"
notices are posted on a bulletin board in one of the area's stores.

But what about those members of the rich and super-rich who occupy key positions in
the Bush administration? According to the Times, "a falling stock market is spelling
trouble for a number of wealthy Bush administration officials who are selling their
multimillion-dollar investment portfolios to comply with government ethics codes."

How sad! For these folks to worry about ethics - probably for the first time in their
lives - must be a heart-wrenching experience. But enough morality. What it all boils
down to is money - and the sacrifices they endure - as they shoulder the
responsibilities of citizenship.

Take Colin Powell, whose January disclosure statement filed with government regulators
showed him owning stock worth between $18 and $65 million. His problem? Most of it was
in hi-tech outfits that have lost 70 percent of their value since election day.

Poor Mitchell Daniels, director of the Office of Management and Budget, "lost" $12
million when he sold 463,500 shares of Eli Lilly stock for $38 million when he could
have gotten $50 million in November.

And what about Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who has engaged the services of four
law firms, a financial adviser and an accounting firm to help him dump his holdings?

With first-hand experience like this, it is no wonder the Bush administration can feel
the pain of their friends and neighbors. When they propose tax cuts for millionaires,
W. and his cabinet are simply extending the hand of solidarity to their ruling class
brethren. It is a family oriented administration and it is heartwarming to see W. and
his cabinet treat their millionaire colleagues like extended family.

Our message to Colin Powell & Co. is simple. Don't worry, you'll make it up when you
leave government "service." You've got the example of Vice President Dick Cheney, who
parlayed a cabinet position in the administration of Bush the First into appointment
as CEO of Haliburton. Cheney got millions in salary, bonuses and stocks; Haliburton
got hundreds of millions in oil industry contracts.

By the way, how did a general, even one who made Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, get all
that money in the first place?

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