A Billionaire’s Opportunity Cost

It’s a holiday week — posts here may be slower than usual. Our team of contributors are traveling or preparing for guests and feasts, or just plain in need of a break after the last two weeks.

Here’s something to talk about to launch this open thread: Michael Bloomberg and the opportunity cost of running for the presidency.

Many Democrats are angry with yet another billionaire popping into the primary race. If they sincerely cared about this country’s welfare they would do better things with their money, like fund media outlets so they don’t become husks siphoned dry by vampiric private equity firms (motives of which may not merely be sucking down loose cash).

But this is a problem Democrats have that Republicans don’t — they don’t think like people born to capital or who’ve acquired the separation from society wealth provides.

Take Michael Bloomberg (please, bah-doom-tish!). He already owns a media company. He doesn’t believe he owes the media ecosystem anything further if it doesn’t have his name on it and make a butt load of cash.

He’s worth $54 billion dollars, though, and not running for office has a steep opportunity cost.

Investopedia defines opportunity cost as “the benefit that is missed or given up when an investor, individual or business chooses one alternative over another.”

For Bloomberg, the risk of losing as much as 2% of his accumulated capital to a wealth tax must have looked so likely he felt he had to throw his name in the ring.

The $37 million he spent this past week on advertising was chump change. You see, if Bloomberg was liquid and invested in guaranteed income funds paying 3%, he’d make $1.62 billion a year just sitting there breathing.

He could spend 2% of his wealth — $1.08 billion — over the course of the next year leading up to the election, a burn rate of around $3.08 million a day, and possibly shape tax policy dialog on the left and the right while potentially winning the election against Trump.

And then he’d be able to influence tax policy to his benefit, making up for the money he spent campaigning.

Of course Bloomberg would throw his hat in the ring. It’s the same reason Starbucks’ Howard Schultz got into the ring.

What it tells me is that 2% isn’t a steep enough rate to tax these super wealthy assholes into thinking about something besides protecting their own assets.

This is an open thread. Feel free to share your favorite Thanksgiving Day recipes while you’re bashing billionaires.

98 replies
  1. Ruthie says:

    I admit to not being well informed regarding Steyer’s positions, but from what I’ve heard/read he’d be infinitely preferable to Bloomberg. Still, I find it highly annoying that he could jump into the race so late and rely on his billions to get him onto the debate stage. Choosing an ostensibly benevolent billionaire to champion the cause of income inequality seems counter productive.

    As to recipes, I hesitate to say that while we feast in my household (and I’m a good cook), we don’t have a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. My husband is from Spain and doesn’t care for turkey. Every year the menu changes – this year, beef tenderloin with a smoked paprika sauce is the centerpiece.

      • Rayne says:

        I missed this exchange earlier. Yeah, me too — a friend brought some smoked paprika home from a trip to Spain and I wasn’t sure what I should cook with it. But then I was asked to cook a family recipe, a brisket usually made by a relative from Texas who’s sadly passed on. She used a couple tablespoons of paprika and liquid smoke. I thought, Huh, why not smoked paprika? It was the best brisket I ever had, worth all the hassle of wrestling with a 25-pound slab of meat.

        • Ruthie says:

          Smoked paprika is what gives Spanish chorizo ( as opposed to that of other countries, which can be quite different) and lots of charcuterie its distinctive flavor. FYI, it’s also good with veggies. One of our family favorites is a dish with eggs, zucchini, tomato, green pepper, garlic and smoked paprika.

        • Cathy says:

          Smoked paprika for us was a lucky break because I was looking for a cumin alternative (avoiding a food sensitivity). The rub was such a hit I’m now allowed to do small brisket cuts in an oven roaster without fear of excommunication.

          @Ruthie @Eureka –
          Thanks for the tips on the veggies and the scallops!

  2. pjb says:

    The idea that MB’s belated Presidential run is ego driven is spot on, but I think I’d quibble with the idea he’s at all concerned that a 2% wealth tax is remotely likely to apply. He is intelligent and well-informed and obviously knows the constitutional and political impediments to a new law imposing a tax on wealth make it a largely performative (dare I say “virtue-signalling’) promise, sort of the left version of building a southern wall and have the Mexicans pay for it. He may be worried about Warren or Bernie for the country, I don’t know. But its not because he’s afraid of losing 2% of his net worth.

    Also, I think his motives have to be somewhat distinguished from Steyer. Unlike Steyer, MB has actual and substantial government executive experience. We can argue whether the mayoralty of NYC is good experience to be POTUS, but 12 yrs running NYC is alot more than Mayor Pete’s experience (and I like Mayor Pete!) so I would bet MB is sincere in believing he has the relevant experience to do the job.

    Now, why MB thinks he could win the nomination, I havent a clue. Believing that “moderates” will throw over Uncle Joe for him is difficult for me to understand. The best he can do, it seems to me, is make a brokered convention more likely. Maybe that’s his real goal?

  3. BobCon says:

    If Bill Gates actually cared at all about the environment and sustainable development he’d fund meaningful opposition to Bolsonaro, Modi and other monsters. Fighting tropical diseases is fine, but it will all mean nothing if he doesn’t wake up to the larger trends driving the social and environmental forces that accompany and magnify them.

    • Rayne says:

      We don’t like foreign interference in our elections. Why advocate for that in another country?

      There are better ways to encourage a democracy than undermine its democratic processes.

      • BobCon says:

        I reject the idea that backing (small d) democractic institutions is inherently interference.

        Secret propaganda campaigns are interference. Organizations like Open Society are above board. Funnelling laundered campaign contributions is interference. Investing in newspapers and other media with journalistic integrity is not.

        Funding NGOs which promote fair elections, increasing public education which counteracts propaganda, backing human rights organizations, funding attorneys who defend the rights of vulnerable populations — these are all legitimate things which Gates could do.

        Bolsinaro is steamrolling the rights of indigenous people and driving illegal destruction of the Amazon, and Brazilians who are trying to fight him are grossly underfunded. Gates spending half of what spent pushing charter schools could make a big difference.

        • Rayne says:

          You wrote, “he’d fund meaningful opposition to Bolsonaro, Modi and other monsters.”

          That’s not the same as “backing democratic institutions.”

          Any campaign donation to a candidate from a foreign entity is outside interference in a democracy. The people of a democratic nation-state should choose and elect their own candidates from their own people.

          If Gates wants to encourage fair and uncorrupted democracy instead of corrupt autocrats, he could fund education to that end.

          But that’s exactly what George Soros has been doing with his Open Society Foundation projects. Gee, I wonder why the fascists have a problem with that.

          • BobCon says:

            A free press and democratic institutions are the very heart of meaningful opposition to authoritarians.

            For just a couple of examples, the Chicago Defender and the NCAA Legal Defense Fund were at the heart of the opposition to segregationists. Was the money Harry Bellafonte raised to keep SCLC afloat somehow not helping meaningful opposition?

            I’m really pretty stunned that you’re projecting a bad faith argument on me.

            • Rayne says:

              I’ll repeat this because your eyesight must be fuzzy.

              You wrote, “he’d fund meaningful opposition to Bolsonaro, Modi and other monsters.”

              That’s not the same as “backing democratic institutions.”

              What part of “he’d fund meaningful opposition to Bolsonaro, Modi and other monsters” are you now disavowing? Those were YOUR words, not mine.

    • e.a.f. says:

      sounds like you are a little too first world, fighting topical diseases is fine,…. If Gates wasn’t fighting tropicial diseases do you have any idea how many people would die each year? Ensuring children get their shots saves lives. perhaps you have lived in North America too long. Try a few months in some place where no one is “fighting tropical diseases” Have you ever had malaria? At least Gates isn’t running for office. He does something which actually saves lives.

      • Rayne says:

        LOL I’ll put you down for “white savior complex.”

        The same person who *thinks* he’s doing a great job by the African continent also refused to listen to them about their software needs. That’s why African nations didn’t adopt Microsoft but went with open source software.

        You’re kidding yourself if you don’t recognize the push for social development by the Gates Foundation on the African continent as a racist effort to propel its vision of technology.

        This is an area in which I consulted. I know damned well Microsoft and Gates both failed the African nations. It might behoove you to follow Anand Giridharadas about the pathetic charitable efforts of billionaires.

        • e.a.f. says:

          no need, never suffered from white saviour complex

          of course Gates wasn’t doing it out of the goodness of his heart, none of them do. they do it for p.r., tax write offs, etc. it doesn’t really matter why they do it, as long as those kids got their shots and have a chance at life.

          having known people who have had malaria, its not fun.

          living in b.c. where vast numbers of Indigenous people died from diseases things like measles, small pox, etc. in the 1700s and 1800s, its part of our history. some of us know the impact of these diseases. in fact some white men used small pox to kill Indigenous people in british columbia to clear the way for them to own the land. So my point of view is, doesn’t matter how or why the kids get the shots its just important that they do. any one who ever though Gates was charitable for charity’s sake is perhaps misled.

      • BobCon says:

        The first world approach is putting on blinders and thinking that somehow change is happening without addressing the deep insitutional rot in authoritarian countries.

        For a donor with limited information and a small budget, it is great to be making donations in a less than comprehensive way. But Gates has monumental resources and enormous potential for analysis. Gates avoids hard questions in interlocked issues, such as the effect of climate change and the spread of infectuous disease, because the assault on indigenous people and the illegal logging and mining of the Amazon are tied to the authoritarian Bolsinaro. Nevermind that fires in the Amazon are going to launch greater misery than much of what Gates tries to address.

        Gates wants to believe there are technocratic solutions that completely sidestep the realities of governance — except when it comes to liberal constituencies, in which case he is happy to fund AEI and Heritage.

        It’s not an either-or situation for Gates. He can fund both technology based projects and support comprehensive institutional changes. But unfortunately, he backs far too many rightwing institutions, and dodges the question of opposition ti rightwing governments. And what does he get? Modi constricting Gates Foundation work anyway.


        • e.a.f. says:

          How very true. If gates and his fellow billionaires wanted to make a real change in the world, they could, but that might effect their bottom line

  4. Raven Eye says:

    Geez! How much money does Bloomberg need, at this point in his life?

    If he wants to show some political stones and convince people that he is serious, he could completely divest himself of his media business (granted, there is the problem of finding a dedicated buyer who could actually run the thing). Then he could stuff all of his doubloons into some kind of blind trust(s), with a 10-20 billion in a checking account to use as mad money and to fund the campaign.

    Thus positioned, he would be ready to take on Trump, and fund some PACs to get back the Senate.

    But I hear that he wants to turn the media business into some kind of political castrato, forbidding serious reporting or investigation on anything related to him and his potential competitors for the nomination, as well as reporting on some of the big issues and “solutions” that some Democratic candidates are floating.

    He needs to make the grown-up decisions: Is he willing to commit his life, wealth, skills, and reputation to the presidency? Or is he just another narcissistic New York billionaire who can’t grasp that political commitment at that level involves personal sacrifice?

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      If Mikey put his $54 billion under a mattress, he could spend a million a day for about 148 years before he exhausted his stash.

  5. sproggit says:

    Over the weekend I read an online article (or it might have been a Tweet, since I’m not finding it again with Google) that suggested a radically different idea – that Bloomberg could be entering the running specifically to fund a campaign of commercials attacking Trump.

    The thinking seemed to be (assuming I understood the point being made, which I don’t claim to have done) that this is a mechanism to circumvent FEC rules that limit a single individual to $2800 per election to a candidate and $5000 to a PAC. If there is a shred of truth in this theory, then I suspect that means that Bloomberg could fund “attack commercials” right up to the point of someone securing the Democratic nomination, because there are no limits and what you can pay to support yourself out of your own funds.

    (And for what it’s worth, that FEC “limit” that isn’t a limit – the one that says that you can spend as much of your own money as you like – is a total scam. Yet another twist of the rules to favor the rich over the poor).

    • skua says:

      Lets see what happens around ads that attack Trump.
      The subject of what non-redistribitive paths a member of the elite could take with their money to address social ills has me wondering about someone with Bloomsberg-level wealth going, in entirely legal ways, after the financial well-being of the major less-than-good people who have enabled Trump’s despoiling.

      Say for example if an alternate manufacturer of chicken products arose, and a FB-like social-media platform that was much more attractive to consumers appeared, and possible lawsuits against these people were searched out and then well funded?
      What are the social costs and benefits of this happening?
      What are the ethics invovled?

  6. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Mimi Rocah says Don McGahn is a “person of integrity.” That was not snark, it was a suggestion that as a practicing attorney, he testify to Congress in order to clear “his good name.” I should think that’s one of those places you can’t get to from here, Mimi.

  7. observiter says:

    Why would Steyer and Bloomberg use their money to run? Ego reasons? Money reasons? maybe Somehow I think there’s more to it. I haven’t seen their ads so maybe their ads are telling.

    Maybe they are very concerned about Trump and the powerful right-wing extremists backing him. Maybe they see their part in the election as a way to implement wide-spread PR campaigns to the American public about what is currently taking place behind the scenes the public isn’t hearing about. Hasn’t Steyer been concerned about environmental issues for a long time?

    Neither Bloomberg nor Steyer are now CEOs of publicly traded, conservative companies in which they must be accountable to their shareholders — i.e., keep their mouths moderated. (Whether CEOs of companies should keep their mouths moderated is a different discussion.) Notice Bloomberg News’ recent statement about their opinion-page relationship with Bloomberg during this election.

    One related comment. I think the Right-Wing Extremists currently in power had been looking for a long time for a colorful, pliable, stupid puppet, with crooked inclinations, like Trump (and Palin, etc.), that they (Extremists) could use to (1) obtain the attention of significant (stupid) segments of the public, (2) gain trust from the public and thus power, and (3) use the “color” to deflect attention from universally-unpopular policies they are implementing behind the scenes. (a looong sentence)

    Wondering…if a candidate uses their own funds for an election, is the expenditure tax deductible?

    • Rayne says:

      Bloomberg helped create the problem we’re in. This isn’t just ego or anti-Trump/anti-fascism driving him.

      • Eureka says:

        Je me souviens, et je suis pissed.

        I can’t wait for the part where suburban moms and Americans everywhere get a clear airing of how Bloomberg’s support for ~ gun reform republicans (choke, gasp) seems to mean la plus ca change, the more innocents get killed.

        Also the ten million he dumped Toomey’s way freed other funds for anti-HRC Trump-style misoginistic ads against McGinty.

        Je me souviens, et je suis pissed.

        Adding: Ruthie, Cathy, Jenny- your foods sound delicious.

      • Wm. Boyce says:

        “But I hear that he wants to turn the media business into some kind of political castrato, forbidding serious reporting or investigation on anything related to him and his potential competitors for the nomination,…”

        Yes, as reported on NPR. Bloomberg is forbidding his newsroom from reporting on his august self as he runs for President.

        And the Times confirms your post about Bloomberg’s support for Senator Toomey in 2016. These two facts alone disqualify him from any support from Democrats, at least those who don’t like the current crime family running the country.

    • skua says:

      “been looking for a long time for a colorful, pliable, stupid puppet, with crooked inclinations”
      The sequence Reagan, GW Bush, Trump …
      ” Feature creep sneaks up on even the best Product Managers.” – Kate Harvey

  8. Bri2k says:

    Thank you for a fantastic post, Rayne. The third paragraph alone was worth the read!

    I also wanted to thank all you here at the emptiest of wheels, the incredible Ms Wheeler, Rayne, Mr Maz, Ed, Jim and all you magnificent commenters. May you enjoy all the delights and happiness of the holiday season.

  9. Gregory says:

    Of course 2% is enough. You yourself identify those 2% as scary enough that they have to throw their hat in the ring.

    2% EACH year means a third of their wealth taken away every 20 years.
    That’s bigger than anything ever and probably close to the maximum you can – and should – do to address the issue : makes it so that a lazy centimillionaire will not get richer by just reaping interests on their fortune (3% minus inflation, so everything they gain each year would go into the wealth tax).

    Also, the 6% on billionaires means a 71% confiscation over 20 years.
    You’d have to triple your net worth just to not be less rich after those 20 years. So as Bernie freely admits, this is largely sufficient to make most billionaires disappear.

    I’m all for that wealth tax, but can we stop being disingenuous and conflating “2% every single year for perpetuity” and “just 2%” ?
    I doubt anyone would be confused as to the cost of a 2% mortgage over 20 years compared to paying a 2% fee on buying your house.

    • P J Evans says:

      Are you taking into account their financial gains during those same periods? because those are going to offset inflation (and most taxation).

      • Rayne says:

        Yeah, that — and there’s one persistent oversight by the plutocrats, which is the massive amount of pent-up demand across two generations. If they weren’t in hock for a decade or more to pay for college they could probably stimulate the economy with new home and vehicle purchases.

        And then there’s four generations paying 3X too much for lousy health care; what would happen if health care was more cost efficient and all four generations had more cash spread across the population, instead of hoarded up in the pockets of super wealthy?

        The economic stimulus would be mind boggling. The only upside to the hoarding of wealth by a few thousand Americans is that it restrains use of fossil fuels. If wealth tax stimulates the economy, we must ensure it’s applied in a sustainable fashion like the New Green Deal.

    • Vince says:

      “2% EACH year means a third of their wealth taken away every 20 years.”


      The investment portfolio currently held by Gates would earn him well more than any wealth tax he would pay, so his net worth would continue to grow year after year.

      • Rayne says:

        I just shook my head at that, I mean, I pointed out a guaranteed income of 3% while spending 2% on a presidential race would still put Bloomberg ahead.

        If I could sit around and whine about making 1% net on 54 billion…sweet butter Jesus, if only I could sit around doing nothing while earning $1.5 million per day…

            • Tracy Lynn says:

              I read this article, and while it is fashionable for others to bash the Bay Area and its real estate prices, I get somewhat judgmental about people who make decisions that seem off given their circumstances. For example, paying part of his girlfriend’s rent back in New York while he lives out west and starts a new job? I imagine that took a toll on his income. Also, who says “yes” to a media job and moves without figuring out what the expenses of the move and the costs of living will be? I feel for the folks who invested in themselves and worked hard for advanced degrees, but had to take out loans to get that degree. I really do. I have several young friends who are paying back their student loans, who won’t be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel for a decade or more.

              But… I’ve worked in media here in the Bay Area all my career. I’ve worked two jobs my entire working career because the media jobs I could get didn’t pay squat. I’m now 60 years old and I’m still working two jobs. I’m not writing this to tell people how much better I am than some Gen Z or Millennial. I’m just saying I took a hard look at what I wanted to do and figured out how to make it work. I knew I wasn’t going into an industry that paid well. Two jobs did the trick: I have a 401K, I own a (yeah, it’s a very small) condo. I have health insurance (thank you Covered California). I also am aware that a health catastrophe could bring the whole thing crashing down. I recognize I’ve been very lucky in addition to working very hard.

              • Rayne says:

                I personally thought the author was morally and ethically responsible for paying his portion of the rent back in NYC because NYC isn’t much better than SF/SV except that it has the occasional holdover for rent control. How unfair to make a job decision that leaves one’s partner hanging financially. I think he explained his reasons for going out west, which is the same as it is for many young people trying to do the opposite and moving to NYC. And while he was living in little more than a chicken coop and his friend was in a garage, dozens of young people fried to death in a warehouse which itself is emblematic of the SF/SV housing crisis. There’s no getting around those deaths even if you can marginalize his choices. He, too, took a hard look at what he wanted to do and figured out how to make it work. It just wasn’t in the cards to do any more than he did any longer than he did because SF/SV/CA is in gross denial about its housing crisis.

                As for current education expenses: admit you really don’t have a clue what they are right now. I am going to pay for my son’s last semester at a state university, writing out another check for +$10K. That’s just tuition, no books/supplies/fees. He has a job to help with living expenses in a shared house for which he pays $300/month. Thankfully that’s cheap. Between my two kids (the other had a half-ride at a private university) I will have spent more than $250K for their degrees. They are blessed that I have been willing to give up new cars, vacations, and will likely have to cut back on my retirement plans, and they know it. Like the author of that Harper’s piece I made a moral and ethical economic decision to invest in them; I couldn’t thrust my flesh and blood out in the world handicapped financially for a couple decades. Especially not in the age of Trump and the mounting climate apocalypse.

                • P J Evans says:

                  Actually, CA isn’t in denial about its housing problem, but getting people to see that single-family housing isn’t going to fix anything – that’s a real problem. So many people are fixated on having that, and won’t consider higher density, and a lot of higher-density is aimed at people who have money but not kids. (I’m close to being priced out of even a small apt with no luxuries.)

                  • Rayne says:

                    getting people to see that single-family housing isn’t going to fix anything” — you just described denial, PJ.

                    Perhaps Michigan should consider building massive weather-controlled domes next to its Great Lakes so westerners who refuse to deal with our weather might find a third coast to call home. Much, much cheaper real estate here; I’m half tempted to buy a 3-bedroom house which has been vacant and sitting on the market for a year at under $40,000 because I could use a profitable hobby like house flipping. Our problem is and remains the refusal of technology companies to move to flyover country from the west coast. It’s as if they don’t actually believe in the internet they rely on so heavily.

                    • P J Evans says:

                      The state is trying to encourage denser residential housing, but the problems are more at the local level: NIMBYs and builders who want to do high-end and zoning agencies who areunwilling to do what’s necessary (and probably corrupt). (The 60-unit apt I’m in sits on two large lots. The larger one next door has three lots. This is the kind of thing that can be done, though I’d really like to have a small patio or something for my private space outside That’s considered “luxury” now.)

            • Savage Librarian says:

              Speaking of real estate, I’m wondering if this mysterious company will ever wend its way into the MSM. It’s called CIM Management. Some of the people with connections to it are: Kushner, Firtash, Harry Macklowe, Manafort, Shaul Kuba, Avi Shemesh, Richard and Tony Ressler, Leon Black, Felix Sater, Tevfik Arif, Tamir Sapir…

              “Trump and Kushner’s Little-Known Business Partner” – May 25, 2017 · by Andrea Bernstein and Ilya Marritz

              …”Over the years, documents show, CIM has done at least seven real estate deals that have benefited Trump and the people around him, including Kushner.”
              “CIM was founded in Los Angeles in 1994 by Shaul Kuba and Avi Shemesh, two Israelis, and Richard Ressler, a former New Yorker with private equity in his family — his brother Tony Ressler co-founded industry giant Apollo Global Management with his brother-in-law, Leon Black.”
              “Throughout the early 2000’s, CIM kept rolling up cash, in part by drawing investments from public pension funds like those in New York State and California.
              CIM said it received annualized rent of $37.7 million from the General Services Administration and other federal agencies…”

              “CIM also depends on the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, which provides a path for foreign investors in American real estate to obtain U.S. green cards…CIM spent $430,000 on federal lobbying in 2015, putting it among the top ten real estate firms lobbying on that issue…”

              “This is the same program that Jared Kushner’s sister Nicole Meyer, one of his siblings who now runs the family business, was recently promoting in China.”
              “CIM has an infrastructure investment fund which it acknowledges is sensitive to “regulation” and “political events.”  If Trump gets an infrastructure bill passed, funds like this could earn many millions from projects like roads and tunnels.


  10. Vince says:

    Everything you need to know about Bloomberg is encapsulated within his claim that a wealth tax would “ruin the economy”. That’s dumber than dirt. Spending by the top .1% is not a driver of the national economy. Bloomberg has no plan to reverse the highest level of income inequality in the history of the republic, and his healthcare plan would leave millions of citizens with no coverage.

  11. observiter says:

    “Bloomberg helped create the problem we’re in.”

    , I take your comment. Well…we could also say Obama also created the problem by being SO passive, especially towards the beginning of his presidency.

    I admit…I’m not taking Bloomberg’s candidancy seriously. I feel he has (0?)% chance (same Steyer), but I admit in these days unexpected things do happen.

    • Rayne says:

      I wish the public could have had a better view of what happened in the earliest days of the Obama presidency. I don’t think what came out of his administration can be pinned on him alone. The one thing I really think you need to grasp is that being the first black president did come with risks that could be used as leverage.

      But Bloomberg has both a massive media mouthpiece AND a history of donating cash to Republicans who served the aims of capital rather than democracy. He’s been a danger the way Obama couldn’t be because there’s no leverage on Bloomberg to induce him to act any particular way, being a private citizen with obscene wealth exceeding the GDP of small countries.

  12. Jenny says:

    Thanks Rayne. EW always delivers.

    The problem we have in politics is money. Billionaire Bloomberg is in that category, therefore a problem.

    Baking date/coconut oatmeal cookies, almonds are optional. Enjoy the holiday.

    • Rayne says:

      Ooh, date-coconut-oatmeal sounds yummy, but we have someone in the household who is so anti-coconut I think they may be mildly allergic.

      I may have to try date-oatmeal, though. My mom used to make a date-oatmeal pinwheel cookie, might have to chase that one down.

      Bon appetit!

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        I vouch for the date-oatmeal combination. The added coconut is scrumptious, if you can tolerate it.

        Somewhere along the desert highway from SD to Phoenix is date country, always stopped to buy some. There’s an Area 51 Cafe-like ice cream stand where everything on the menu includes dates. The milkshakes are fabulous, but require a prompt visit to the dentist because they’re so sweet.

        • P J Evans says:

          Off I10 in the Indio area there’s still date orchards. Some sell on the web – try “Shield’s Date Garden” – they have “date crystals” which are chopped and very-much-dried dates.

          • bmaz says:

            Yes. Hadley’s. That was I-10. There is also an incredible date shake joint on I-8 back from San Diego (kind of) and Mexico through a couple of ports.

      • Jenny says:

        Yes, make without the coconut. I use the Medjool Dates. They are delicious. The cookie is good with just dates, nuts and oats or just dates and oats.

  13. P J Evans says:

    The first impeachment meeting of the House Judiciary Committee is scheduled for Wednesday. They’re going to start by going over the rules for impeachment.

    There are also rumors that Mark Penn is “advising” Trmp on impeachment. (He’s denying it, but that doesn’t mean much, coming from him.)

  14. pswebster says:

    A billion here, a billion there.” : Everett Dirkson back in the 50s; “now, you’re talking real money”> Trying to grapple with this as I do not relate easily and I have enough at this point.

    1,000 Million dollars in seconds is 32 YEARS; a measly million is like a week. WTF?

    Humans don’t scale and I do not scale billions. HOw is it that others grasp it like they are about to lose something very special. Calling Dr. Freud.

    Bill Gates and the guy who is on the same list he hired do not deserve billions; a billion, OK. It was mostly luck, serendipity, which is probably true for most of the cringing hands who desire more. Luck of the draw or inheritance has a lot to do with it. NO ONE needs or deserves more than billion dollars; don;t even need that.

    The is a bit of a connection between grasping more-more, fear of losing it and sex. Also, the capability to commit crimes, even murder, has a stimulating effect on criminals so they like to repeat it…and get more and more..even paying someone a million usd to advance their felonious, sick agenda. When you got a billion, you have 999 million in reserve. No worries, right?

    Best for Turkey Day and thanks to this crowd here. Thank you for being relentless; helps carry me. Gracias.

    • Rayne says:

      It was mostly luck, serendipity” — no.

      Gates had education, beginning with private school and ending at Harvard; he gained access with that education even though he didn’t finish his degree. Though education was more affordable when he was in college, it was the privileges he had and used which made that education a key to his success.

      He also managed to create two near-monopolies in operating systems (MS-DOS and Windows) and a monopoly browser (Internet Explorer). These monopolies weren’t lucky or serendipitous; they were deliberate as hell.

      Microsoft nearly had a monopoly in word processing with Word but a judge nipped that in the bud. This might have been an unlucky moment for Gates’ business.

      I’ll bet if you look at other billionaires’ lives you’ll find similar not-lucky circumstances.

      • rip says:

        Luck comes to those that are in the right place. And Gates was only able to be there through his heritage.

        Lots of us talk about what the world might have been like if Gates/Jobs/others hadn’t grabbed for the brass rings and tried to kill competition. Personally I think that a monopolistic environment causes us poor minions to rise up and create something better — until one of us poor ones decides to take on the mantle of emperor.

        • Rayne says:

          Suppression of competition versus a rational, legitimate response is what in no small part caused nearly two decades of ‘blue screen of death’ events. With the closest competition being free (Linux) or marginalized (Mac OS), why bother to really fix the problem? Just slap a patch on it and call it good.

          ~sigh~ The opportunity cost uncalculated by corporations for not funding a nonprofit competitor — I can’t wrap my head around it.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Thanks for that correction. Gates was lucky in the sense that he won the birth lottery, he was born white upper middle class. It was likely that, as well as his brains, that gave him access to Harvard, along with the ability to pay for it.

        I believe it was his big law firm partner dad who provided the seed money that allowed him to drop out and start his own business. Needle in a haystack opportunities.

        • P J Evans says:

          And the luck and money to buy software from a business that would otherwise have been a strong competitor.

      • Vince says:

        Gates himself stated that his affluent parents ability to pay for his school and board made the difference. He said that if he had to work while attending school, as so many of his classmates did, he would not have been able to stay up late, eat pizza and drink cokes, while coding with his buddies.

      • PSWebster says:

        You really have a hard on for me, Rayne…all because of a few remarks about the criminal Epstein and the non criminal Kraft getting a simple hand job mutually agreed to.

        OK. SO try all of the oligarchs billionaires we have been talking about first…then line up the USA ones and see how their connections, familial and otherwise, work for them…

        From your remarks I assume you have never run a business doing 1 million a year. If you had and you were honest with yourself, you would realize how much serendipity plays notwithstanding the fact that you worked and sweated your arse off.

        No biggie. Cheers.

        • Rayne says:

          Dude. Put your wishful thinking aside — my chick dick will not get it up for you, ever. And your casual attitude toward the law and trafficking of humans is still utterly reprehensible.

          No, I’ve actually worked for Fortune 100 corporation executives, sat in on their meetings, typed up their executive board minutes in which they outlined for perpetuity what was their discoverable plans for their holding companies while listening to their actual plans. There’s no serendipity when there are billions on the line and the SEC and shareholders to satisfy. They buy legislators to ensure there isn’t any serendipity, only calculable outcomes from which they can profit and on which they can hedge.

          Just go stuff your naive self. At least the turkey will thank you.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Oh, there’s lots of serendipity in corporate profits and bonuses. CEOs and their direct reports take home whopping bonuses for being in the right place at the right time. Energy and auto companies, prone to boom and bust cycles, feature prominently among them.

          And to one of Rayne’s points, the system is bent in their favor, starting with the glaring bias government shows capital in what legislates, regulates, and enforces. Labor can pound an empty table.

          What you seem to miss is the day-in, day-out manipulations many top executives engage in. HR departments’ top task is to keep the CEO’s dick out of the ringer when he screws up, a frequent occurrence. Accountability is the enemy. The plethora of compensation consultants are there, too, to sooth it by packing his wallet until it bursts.

          It is not being predatory that is offensive to them. If it were, the culture of Enron would have died out along with its former top executives. Instead, it has metastasized to much of corporate America.

          The offense is to get caught – and NOT get away with it. Gives everyone a bad name. Donald Trump compares it to being a eunuch. He’s not alone.

          • Rayne says:

            Hmm. Have to disagree about HR’s purpose. I’ll give you an example: an industrial hygienist reported they found a cluster of employees with a rare autoimmune disorder which isn’t genetic. The hygienist was fired within the month.

            Now if you mean the CEO was somehow responsible for hiring a qualified and ethical hygienist in the first place, sure, HR kept the CEO’s dick from being implicated in reporting the corporation was generating a toxic product.

            In re: Enron — same corporation also couldn’t figure out how to emulate Enron’s profitability. “It makes no sense,” one of their hedge fund managers told me. In hindsight it was because the corporation wasn’t as sleazy as Enron; never occurred to the hedge traders that they could ignore laws. But it’s not as if they weren’t trying to figure out how to get a piece of that action.

            • earlofhuntingdon says:

              Protecting the CEO means covering up problems he and his direct reports create. Firing the hygienist, presumably for documenting a problem that could cost the business a lot of money, fits that to a T. Employee deaths be damned. DuPont was famous for that sort of thing.

  15. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Any bets that the presidentially pardoned Butter and Bread, instead of “retiring to a farm in Virginia,” are on someone’s menu on Thursday?

    The Don is not much given to keeping his promises, especially when he thinks he’s left something “on the table.” Some enterprising journalist should tag them. Guatemala and Gitmo are only short flights away; the WH kitchen is even closer.

  16. e.a.f. says:

    perhaps Bloomberg switched parties because he thought he’d have a better chance at becoming President. Its not unheard of in Canada for politicians to switch parties and have more success in the next party. Usually its an NDP politicians switching to the federal Liberals and their careers improve.

    I do wonder why Bloomberg is running but feel it has little to do with, what is good for the U.S.A. and it citizens. with his money he could actually do something to make life better for a lot of people, but not much is happening there. My take on it is, some thing along the lines of, back in the day only the really rich had swimming pools, 3 houses, etc. Then the middle class were able to attain that also Then it became billionaires started to buy sports teams, now a whole bunch of them own them. Then one alleged billionaire became President. Now they all want to be president so the contest is on. none of these billionaires running seem to have great track records of contributing to social organizations, like building health clinic or providing better education for poor kids in rural and urban places. with hospitals closing in rural areas they haven’t done much to provide personal funding there. usually its just a few doctors and nurses who work for almost nothing They may donate to things such as PBS where they get their names on t.v. or to an art gallery or univerisity where the get mentioned or a building named after them. No, I think its all about ego and how to make more money.

  17. Jenny says:

    I realize this is about billionaires opportunity and food; however I watched on PBS an excellent documentary entitled, “College Behind Bars.”
    These individuals did not have opportunity. An insightful, expansive and moving film.

    College Behind Bars, a four-part documentary film series directed by award-winning filmmaker Lynn Novick, produced by Sarah Botstein, and executive produced by Ken Burns, tells the story of a small group of incarcerated men and women struggling to earn college degrees and turn their lives around in one of the most rigorous and effective prison education programs in the United States – the Bard Prison Initiative.

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