By Alec Pruchnicki, MD
“A billion here, a billion there, and before you know it, you’re talking real money.”
—Attributed to Senator Everett Dirksen.
Former Mayor Mike Bloomberg recently pledged $100 million for Democratic election efforts in the swing state of Florida. That is a lot of money for one state. Very rough estimates indicate that the Biden campaign will spend about one billion dollars on the election, with the Democratic Party spending about another billion on House and Senate races. For Trump, the figure will be about 1.5 billion dollars on his hoped-for re-election, and another billion will be spent on the Republican House and Senate races.
But it might take a lot more to crush the Trump death cult previously known as the Republican Party, and the cult’s enablers in the Senate. Where will this money come from? In the last four years Trump and his followers have demonized a lot of billionaires with very deep pockets. Now is the chance to return the feelings.
Jeff Bezos, head of Amazon, is worth about $200 billion when this is being written on September 20th, and probably a lot more by the time you read this. He has been a constant target of Trump because he also owns the Trump-critical Washington Post. Trump has attempted to interfere with the Post Office to raise rates dramatically to undermine Amazon. Isn’t stopping that worth a few billion?
Bill Gates is worth about $120 billion, from Microsoft. He has given a great deal to charities such as medical foundations. But he is a target of the QAnon conspiracy believers who think he helped cause COVID-19. Trump is soft on QAnon, and they love him, so who knows what conspiracies will be imagined with another four years of this administration. Gates can hope
QAnon goes away or he can put up a little cash, let’s say a few billion, to get their ally out of the White House.
Mike Bloomberg (worth about $55 billion) has started to fight back against the president who loves to label him “Mini Mike.” Warren Buffett ($80 billion) knows the unfairness of the tax system and economic inequality and is in a secure position to donate a goodly amount. George Soros (a mere $8-9 billion) is a constant target of Trump and his followers, so this is a golden opportunity to fight back.
There are many other relatively low-profile billionaires in the $50-60 billion range who are in the computer and internet fields, such as Google, who are having a hard time recruiting tech workers from overseas because of Trump’s increasingly restrictive immigration policies. These could get much worse during another four-year administration.
If conservatives can’t stand the idea of donating to Democrats, there is another option. There are many anti-Trump Republican groups like the Lincoln Project that have gone after him and his spineless Senate enablers. Christy Walton, of the Walton family, has been reported to donate to the Lincoln Project and anti-Trump campaigns.
How does this affect the West Village? There are rumors that there are billionaires, whose names I don’t know, living locally. When the next hurricane Sandy sends flood waters across the West Village to their doorsteps, as it did to mine, they might decide the time has come to do something about global warming other than just deny that it’s occurring and continue to undermine every public policy and scientific attempt to curtail it (as the president does).
Some rich folks like Thiel, the Koch family, and maybe even Zuckerberg (who might have a truce of convenience with the president) might be beyond hope. But you have to start somewhere.
It’s pretty easy for me to ask people to donate billions of their dollars. But there is one more good reason that was explained in the movie Chinatown as follows:
“What can you buy that you can’t already afford?” J.J. Gittes (Jack Nicholson).
“The future Mr. Gittes, the future.” Noah Cross (John Huston).
Instead of jockeying to see who can get higher on the Forbes list of rich people, a legacy to the future—for their own posterity and that of their own descendants—might be in order. It only takes money, lots of it.