Poor Billionaires and the Environment

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What do Utah, New Mexico, Mississippi, Maine, Delaware, Hawaii, South Dakota, Alaska and Wyoming have in common? The answer might surprise you.  These are the only states in the U.S. that do not have billionaire residents.  All the other states can claim at least one billionaire among them, some states possibly several.  MarketWatch published an article with a list of the richest people by state.

Of those in the billionaire club, some of the least wealthy accumulated riches by exploiting their natural environments, which perhaps comes as no surprise. Dennis Albaugh from Iowa made his fortune in the pesticide business. He’s only worth 1.4 billion. The Kentucky billionaire, Brad Kelley, amassed his wealth, about 2 billion, growing and selling tobacco. Bruce Halle is Arizona’s richest resident, worth 4.7 billion.  A guy with an interest in rubber, he founded Discount Tire. Did you know that it takes 2,072 gallons of water to produce just 4 tires? It does. Not exactly an environmentally friendly enterprise, especially in such a dry state.  Arizona is the 4th driest state in the nation and is one of the states at risk of running out of water.  Missouri’s favorite and perhaps only billionaire is Jack Taylor of Enterprise rental car.  By the way, it takes over 39,000 gallons of water to manufacture 1 car.  And Oklahoma’s richest resident is one of our founding frackers, Harold Hamm, worth an estimated 17.6 billion. Recently, there have been reports that buried wells of toxic wastewater created by oil and gas operations in Oklahoma may be responsible for an increase in earthquake activity there.162

I am going to give some free advice to these billionaires – take it easy on the environment.  It’s made you rich, but those riches are dependent on finite natural resources. No one knows this better than Nevada’s richest resident, mega billionaire Sheldon Adelson, whose Las Vegas Sands Corporation has made him 49 billion and counting.  He has invested deeply in greening up his casino concerns. Unless others follow the LEED, Sin City may literally run out of water and simply dry up. And who says it doesn’t pay to go green.

Now if only Sheldon Adelson and the rest of the billionaire club members would stay out of politics.  It would be nice for the Super PACs to dry up, well, all but the NextGen Climate Action Committee.  Billionaires, you can contribute to that one.

Conservatives freaking out over Hillary Clinton candidacy…AGAIN!

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Politics are all about agendas.  Foundations want money to support their particular goals.  Donors of course want something in return too. Maybe it’s face time, influence, a good feeling, a tax deduction or a bumper sticker. Nobody gives for the sheer pleasure of giving. And speaking of agendas, the conservatives are desparate again to stop the political machine of the Clintons, this time by going after Hillary and the Clinton Foundation.  Peter Schweizer, a fellow from the Conservative Hoover Institute has written a new book called Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich, which alleges that as former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton promised policy favors in exchange for donations to the Foundation and speaking engagements for her husband, former President Bill Clinton. But even if foreign donors thought they could “pay to play” or were led to believe they could, doesn’t mean they ever got into the game. There’s no evidence that I’ve seen to suggest that “foreign” money has influenced policy any more than it already has through super PACs and other special interest groups.  If anything, foreign relations influence policy.  As to the insinuation by pundits that the email erasing was to hide incriminating information, there’s nothing there. She’s said she deleted personal emails and handed over official ones, not unlike other secretaries who had come before her.

I say the Republicans are desperate again because back in 2008, they pulled a similar stunt, but instead of a book, it was a scathing documentary on Hillary Clinton that they wished to promote on TV during the presidential campaign.  The FEC said no, and the dispute ended up in the Supreme Court as Citizens United (the conservative lobbying group) vs. FEC.  And we know how that turned out. Yes, it started a new era of extreme influence pedaling by wealthy individuals who can bankroll super PACs. U.S. News and World Report reported that since the ruling, super PACs have spent over 1 billion on U.S. elections, and according to the Brennan Center, 60% of the money came from only 195 families. This outside money has no boundaries. Open Secrets.org reported that in 2014, U.S. divisions of international companies donated over 19 million – 7.8 to Democrats and 12.4 to Republicans.  Companies like Seven-11, Airbus, AstraZeneca, Bayer, Teva, Nestle, Shell, BP and many others contributing to both sides to buy influence, the sort of influence that Republicans enable and yet now seem shocked to hear exists.

This new influence pedaling appears to have been effective in influencing policy.  BP got off pretty lightly after practically destroying the Gulf Coast and now the U.S. is back to drilling and fracking with a passion to the point where our finite fossil fuels literally runeth over – we’re running out of tanks to store the stuff.  And now that Hillary Clinton is in the Presidential mix again, the Republicans are freaking out and doing everything they can to derail the Clinton train because they know that once it gets going full steam ahead, they won’t be able to stop it.  Not even Jeb Bush.

Hillary and Bill are tough and can weather the attacks, but the haters have gone too far by attacking the reputable Clinton Foundation which has done more good for the world than the do nothing Congress has in the last 8 years. And this desperate attack will cost them the election and another 4 more years.