BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Bernard Marcus is sick and tired of being vilified, and he's not going to take it anymore. Marcus, who is 82, is not a stressed out senior worried about cutbacks in Medicaid and/or Social Security; he's not agonizing over whether to use his resources for food or medicine; his home is not about to be foreclosed on.
Bernard Marcus is a billionaire and the co-founder of Home Depot, and he is a founding member of a new public relations enterprise called the Job Creators Alliance (JCA). The JCVA is a Dallas, Texas-based nonprofit that aims to counter Occupy Wall Street-inspired talk about economic inequality, fair taxation, greed and Wall Street's predilection for ripping off almost everyone, by blanketing the nation's airwaves with messages about how wonderful the wealthy are.
Doing his best twenty-first century interpretation of Marie Antoinette, Marcus recently commented about being targeted by the 99%. "Who gives a crap about some imbecile?' he said. "Are you kidding me?" If successful businesspeople don't go public to share their stories and talk about their troubles, "they deserve what they're going to get," Marcus added.
The JCA wants - and more likely expects -- Americans to understand that if there is to be any kind of robust economic recovery, JCA members, and folks like them, will be leading the way.
At its website, the outfit explains that it is "a nonprofit, nonpartisan 501(c)3 organization," whose "goal is to defend and preserve the system of free enterprise in the United States for future generations so entrepreneurship can flourish, resulting in job creation."
Its core membership is made up of a "group of retired CEOs and entrepreneurs who are the spokespeople for a marketing campaign to defend and preserve free enterprise. JCA also accepts members who wish to support its mission and goal financially through a tax-deductible donation, joining hundreds of other members who receive our e-newsletter and are kept informed on the job creators issues of the day and on the progress of our marketing campaign."
The group has a speakers bureau, a media booking operation, easy access to such major media sites as the Wall Street Journal and Fox News, and, get this ... it is asking for donations from the public to carry out its mission.
Those involved in JCA's project include a number of long-time right-wing partisans: Marcus; John Allison, a director of BB&T Corp. (BBT), the ninth-largest U.S. bank, and a professor at Wake Forest University's business school; Brad Anderson, former CEO of Best Buy; Jim Anthony, CEO and founder of The Cliffs Company, a real estate development enterprise; Fred Eshelman, a founder of several pharmaceutical companies, including Pharmaceutical Product Development Inc., and the major funder of the highly partisan conservative organization Rightchange.com; William "Lee" Hanley, chairman of Lexington Management Group, Inc., and a member of the Board of Directors of Eagle Publishing, which considers itself "America's leading source of books, periodicals, and websites with a conservative, free enterprise focus"; Michael Holthouse, Founder and president of Paranet, Inc., a computer network services company; Javier Loya, chairman and chief executive of OTC Global Holdings; John Mackey, the anti-health care reform and anti-union co-founder and co-CEO of Whole Foods Market; David Park, managing partner, Austin Capital, LLC; Susan Story, president & CEO, Southern Co. Services; Michael Whalen: CEO, Heart of America Group, "which designs, builds and operates hotels, restaurants and commercial real estate"; Gary Rabine, CEO and founder of the Rabine Group, "a group of small companies serving facilities managers across America, and delivering maintenance and construction services of parking lots and roofs"; Steve Zelnak, chairman of the Board of Directors and former CEO of Martin Marietta Materials, Inc.; and Fran Tarkenton, former National Football League quarterback and chairman of Tarkenton Financial.
Perhaps JCA's most active partisan political member is Art Pope, a conservative multimillionaire who is the CEO and chairman of Variety Wholesalers Inc. He has been a major funder of conservative candidates and causes in his home state of North Carolina, and across the country.
"Instead of an attack on the 1 percent, let's call it an attack on the very productive," John Allison complained. This attack is destructive . . . It still feels lonely, but the chorus is definitely increased."
One amazing thing about these folks is that they actually believe they should be treated as American heroes.
According to Max Adelson of Bloomberg.com, "The top 1 percent of taxpayers in the U.S. made at least $343,927 in 2009, the last year data is available, according to the Internal Revenue Service. While average household income increased 62 percent from 1979 through 2007, the top 1 percent's more than tripled, an October Congressional Budget Office report showed. As a result, the U.S. had greater income inequality in 2007 than China or Iran, according to the Central Intelligence Agency's World Factbook."
Adelson also collected a series of quotes from some 1 percenters:
* "Acting like everyone who's been successful is bad and because you're rich you're bad, I don't understand it" -JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon. (2010 compensation: $23 million)."
* "If successful businesspeople don't go public to share their stories and talk about their troubles, they deserve what they're going to get. Who gives a crap about some imbecile? Are you kidding me?" -Home Depot Inc. (HD) co-founder Bernard Marcus (billionaire)"
* "If I hear a politician use the term ‘paying your fair share' one more time, I'm going to vomit." -Tom Golisano, founder of Paychex (billionaire)"
* "I am a fat cat, I'm not ashamed. If you mean by fat cat that I've succeeded, yeah, then I'm a fat cat. I stand guilty of being a fat cat." -Ken Langone, Home Depot co-founder (billionaire)"
* "My taxes are more than a medieval lord would have taken from a serf" -Peter Schiff, CEO Pacific Capital (net worth $64.7 million)"
* "Capitalists are not the scourge that they are too often made out to be . . . wealthy aren't a monolithic, selfish and unfeeling lot . . . [they] fill store shelves at Christmas, provide health care to millions." -Leon Cooperman, hedge-fund manager of Omega (Cooperman can "barely get through the dining room of St. Andrews Country Club in Boca Raton Advisors without being thanked" by fellow 1%-ers)."
Amongst the recent reports touted by the JCA are "Why Mandated Health Insurance Is Unfair" by John Goodman, president and CEO of the National Center for Policy Analysis, a conservative think tank; and "Capitalism and the Right to Rise" by Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida.
Two things should be said about the folks at the Job Creators Alliance and billionaires: 1) most JCA members happen to be supporters of a number of charities and civic projects; and 2) Not all high profile businessmen subscribe to the JCA's philosophy.
"Rich businesspeople like me don't create jobs," Nick Hanauer, co-founder of aQuantive Inc., an online advertising company he sold to Microsoft Corp. for about $6 billion, wrote in a Dec. 1 Bloomberg View article. "Let's tax the rich like we once did and use that money to spur growth."
Instead of pitching a tent in the public square JCA members are pitching a well-financed hissy fit in public.
Bernard Marcus and his JCA cohorts want for nothing. All their bills get paid (except maybe their fair share of taxes). All their family members are well taken care of. All their prattling about being unfairly targeted by the 99% is downright embarrassing.