What Do Rich Douchenozzles Get Out of Buying Politicians?

By Amanda Marcotte
Monday, November 5, 2012 8:55 EDT
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Thers, writing at Eschaton, has a question:

 A sincere question. Take Sheldon Adelson, for instance. Suppose the math is true, and Romney loses. Adelson spent x trying to install politicians who would save him tax money. Let y = the money he would have spent if he’d just shut up and paid the tax bill Obama actually proposed. I don’t imagine this is an easy question to answer once you get into the weeds of it, but I’d offer the hypothesis that in the end, it’s very possible that the absurdly wealthy are paying more for pointless advocacy than they would ever pay under an historically moderate tax regime.

I think there’s a couple ways to look at this. One is that under Republicans, taxes are so criminally low on those who profit so much off the rest of us, even if the Adelsons of the world don’t make it back in the first year, they will over time.

But honestly, I don’t think that’s what’s going on here. I think we’ve all been poisoned by glib libertarianism into thinking that “self-interest” means just “having more money”, but in reality, self-interest is about very different things. Money, after all, is just so many numbers on a ledger if it can’t buy you anything. And there’s only so many expensive toys and fancy foods and big houses you can buy; after awhile, you run out of time to enjoy it all. (Plus, a lot of these mean old conservatives have a puritanical streak that makes it hard for them to enjoy pleasures that much to begin with.) Of course you’re going to start throwing your money around, seeing how much power it can buy you. If you’re kind of a super villain to begin with, the appeal of owning the President has to be irresistible. It may even be more appealing than being the President, which is work.

It’s also important to remember that the rich are people just like you and me. There’s nothing about being rich that makes you smarter than everyone else. On the contrary, they’re often a lot stupider because no one ever tells them no. For someone who was a right wing nut to begin with, being super rich is going to turn you into a monster. No matter how wild your right wing delusions, no matter how sadistic your ideology, people are going to swarm around you, validating your every move. These guys quite literally have nothing better to do than sit around stewing about all the poor people and sexy young women (whose genuine affections they have to know are unpurchasable, even as they can purchase access to some of their bodies) just walk around free, fundamentally out of their control. They control their homes, their families, and their employees, but if you’re outside of that circle, they don’t own your ass, and that galls many of these angry old rich dudes. From their point of view, what good is having all that money if you can’t use it to expand your circle of control?


Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
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