By Jack Engelhard
Turns out – according to The New York Times – that Barack Obama took in nearly a billion dollars for his successful presidential campaign; all that from fellow Americans donating their pennies, nickels and dimes, and all of it during a time when we’re being told that there’s a Recession going on.
I forget what sum what’s his name collected on the Republican side, nothing that can match Obama’s windfall, that’s for sure, but it was plenty.
So what Recession are we talking about? Yes, many of us are hurting, but SOMEBODY is raking it in. Like I always say – everything depends on luck.
Over at the casinos in Atlantic City (speaking of luck) the gambling tables are full. People are shooting dice all over the place and the roulette wheels keep spinning. The slot machines are rapt with dreamers. Meantime, workers at these same casinos are getting fired. Right, there’s a Recession.
Gamblers are NOT being laid off.
In doing research years ago for “Indecent Proposal” and more recently for “Slot Attendant,” I found the casinos to be a perfect measure for what’s going on in our economy, politics and culture and despite the millions going into bankruptcy and foreclosure, there’s another America that’s doing all right and that’s good news within all the bad news.
Ballplayers keep signing multi-million dollar contracts – and the stands are full.
In “Slot Attendant” by the way, a novel that I wrote from first-hand experience, I note that it’s usually the wrong people who win the million dollar jackpots, bad people or people who are rich already. One lady comes to mind in particular, a real bitch who just inherited something like $50 million from a deceased husband and sure enough the million dollar bells go off at her machine. Toledo Vasquez was the slot attendant on duty and she tipped him five dollars.
Some people keep winning. Some people keep losing. That’s life. That’s luck.
A wise man once told me that the Americans with the most money, people with “the real” money, are those who run their own Mom and Pop stores. In other words, they are self-employed, self-empowered, not dependant on a regular (and irregular) paycheck. They don’t clock in or clock out. Bless them.
I’m all in favor of Big Business and as Michael Medved points out, practically everything we use (like this computer) and everything we eat and everything we wear, all of it is a product of Big Business. I have to buy a car from General Motors. I can’t build one in my backyard. However –
Given the decline in our economy, in our culture, in our politics, it is amazing how so many of our “best and our brightest” were so wrong about everything, and continue to be wrong. These are (mostly) men who graduated from Harvard, Yale and Princeton, men we believed in and trusted, trusted with our money and our lives, and through sloth, deception, incompetence and corruption profited only for themselves. Greed is not good.
Or as I said once before – the wrong people are always in charge.
How did so many Detroit car makers lose so many billions so fast? Didn’t somebody raise a red flag at the loss of the FIRST billion? The stock market keeps going up and down – one day up 300 points, next day down 300 points. Well, that’s not you or me playing this game. I’m told these are “speculators.”
Whoever they are, they are playing Monopoly with our savings.
Politically, I take it on faith that a few politicians are in office to serve the public but that most are in it for the candy.
Culturally, late word has it that the book publishing business is going through an industry-wide upheaval (just like Detroit and Wall Street). Top people are getting fired. One publishing house is being “consolidated” into another publishing house. Almost all the big ones are owned by corporations OUTSIDE the Unites States.
We don’t own our own books! We’ve sold out. Consolidation and out-sourcing, that’s partly what’s been killing us. Odd – when American publishers were owned by independents who cared about good writing and good books, run by true editorial giants like Bennett Cerf, those businesses thrived. Everything tanked when all of it was given over to “the bottom line.” Editors have been replaced by accountants.
Tina Fey (not to be confused with Ernest Hemingway), according to news reports, has just signed a $6 million contract to write a book. Is this a good business decision? (It sure means no Recession for one American.) I’m not talking books. To me, this speaks of the same cockeyed “wisdom” we’ve been getting from Washington, Detroit and Wall Street.
This Recession will come to end but only after we stop the “experts” from playing Bingo with our world.
About the author: Jack Engelhard’s latest novel, THE BATHSHEBA DEADLINE, now in paperback, places journalism at the center of our war on terror. Engelhard wrote the international bestselling novel INDECENT PROPOSAL that was translated into more than 22 languages and turned into a Paramount motion picture starring Robert Redford and Demi Moore. Engelhard can be reached and his Works can be viewed at www.jackengelhard.com.