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Ear to the Ground

This Billionaire Likes to Tinker With Government

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Posted on Oct 2, 2011
woodleywonderworks (CC-BY)

The Wall Street Journal recently profiled Nicolas Berggruen, a billionaire who has apparently become fascinated with political gridlock and enamored with the smoke-filled room. What makes Berggruen interesting is his ability to summon personalities such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Joseph Stiglitz, Tony Blair and Condoleezza Rice.

The billionaire social engineer has set his sights on California and Europe, so far.

As the Journal describes it, Berggruen puts bigwigs in a room, thinks through some problems and funds their best ideas, including two initiatives he got passed in California.

Sounds great—until you think of it as further proof that when it comes to our politics, money talks.  —PZS

The Wall Street Journal:

A year ago, Berggruen convened a conclave of some of the biggest names in his rolodex, including former secretaries of state Condoleezza Rice and George Shultz, Google chairman Eric Schmidt, former governor Gray Davis and the man who ousted him in a recall election, Arnold Schwarzenegger. “You had the recaller and the recalled next to each other and singing the same song,” Berggruen says.

The group recommended creating a “Rainy Day Fund” requiring the state to set up reserves when tax revenues are running high. Another suggestion: Allow California’s gridlocked assembly to approve the state’s budget with a simple majority rather than a two-thirds majority. With some arm-twisting from Berggruen’s group, the assembly passed both initiatives into law. Tax hikes and budget cuts passed under the simple majority rule have so far helped California to cut its deficit by nearly two-thirds.

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By gerard, October 3, 2011 at 9:55 am Link to this comment

He probably takes excellent care of the stuffed animals.

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cpb's avatar

By cpb, October 3, 2011 at 9:35 am Link to this comment

@ Sheno

“What happens when a sociopath takes over the
world?”

I think this should be rephrased into the past tense. 
This is what we get, since sociopaths have in fact taken
over the world.

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Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, October 3, 2011 at 8:46 am Link to this comment

EmileZ, maybe an explanation of the reason for your comprehensive comment could be forthcoming?

Is it possible you have writers ‘Coprolalia’ (the spontaneous writing of socially objectionable or taboo words or phrases)?

Was it something I wrote? You hate Austin Powers? You like Rick Perry? You disagree with the Occupy Wall Street protesters?  Well, this is far as I can guesstimate and surmise, until an explanation then I will not lose any sleep over it!

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By Leefeller, October 3, 2011 at 7:24 am Link to this comment

Why am I reminded of; ‘Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me’ All the characters seem to be in place from ‘Fat Bastard’ to ‘Little Me’ and the flying Willie, Woody… or whatever you want to call it.

Looking at this guy in California, the Koch Brothers and Karl Rove and all their money put together, the protesters on Wall Street are the only ones who get it right, poor choice of words (correct)!

If the Koch Brothers summon, they come! Perry flew up to Colorado to meet with the Koch Brothers, gotta give Chris Christie credit, he made the rich ass holes fly to him and still told them he was not going to run fro president!

The protesters on Wall Street are the only voices of the people for the time being, maybe the last gasp or the new future?

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By Shenonymous, October 3, 2011 at 3:13 am Link to this comment

And democracy takes a fatal blow to the heart and f’ the people? 
The ballot is a joke and democracy is flushed down the absolute
father-knows-best ruling elites’ craphole.  The word truth loses
all meaning and the world succumbs to the wealthy.  The whole
idea of the stocks and bonds market is the vampire of state
economy.  Sucking money from money then constructing a world
where more money makes more money and that is what all energy
and effort is set up to support.  F’ the people, they are pawns
(mindless slaves) in the billionaires’ game.  Next they will be (read
“are”) engineering humans (investing in the clone business could be
a very lucrative endeavor right now) to create their Brave New World
and Huxely was more prescient than we ever imagined.  Instead of
Huxlean fictional Fordism, Berggruenism is a reality.  Not only should
we Americans beware but the entire world should beware.  The New
World Order has emerged to show a public face.

This ain’t no cartoon comic book.  Berggruen’s god complex has a
frightening reality.  What happens when a sociopath takes over the
world?  Better hope some savage comes along.

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By EmileZ, October 3, 2011 at 1:02 am Link to this comment

Well.. you certainly can’t argue with the merits of (to take one example) getting rid or the two-thirds majority in California to raise taxes (assuming it actually happened, I don’t live in California and if it did happen, I am all for it though who knows how it was actually accomplished).

This in no way legitimatizes the “smoke-filled room”.

If is flood the populace with disinformation, then attempt to solve some of the worst policy fiascoes in the confines of a “smoke-filled room” headed by a billionaire self-proclaimed “Jedi-warrior”....

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