- Some news items should be read in conjunction: otherwise,
they make little sense. Recently, we were informed by Vanity Fair, that
Jewish element with the US elites crossed 50%. Five years ago, it was assessed
at 30%, now we are up to more than half.
- In the artcle below, a Jewish editor feels happy about
this achievement. But how non-Jewish Americans should view it? Why should
they care? And here we offer you a second news item, saying that social
disparity gap in the US reached new heights.
- This is the answer: the more Jewish power at the top,
more social disparity at the bottom. In short, when it is good for Jews,
it is rarely good for anybody else. Read these two articles in conjunction:
- Feel The power
- By Joseph Aaron
- I just can't help it.
- This kind of thing gives me a big thrill. And a big chill.
- It's not that often that you find the entire state of
Jewish life today encapsulated in one place. So when you do, it's worth
taking note of and learning from.
- The place of which I speak is the October issue of Vanity
Fair magazine. Vanity Fair is one of the most fascinating magazines around,
one that every issue features an amazingly eclectic collection of articles,
from the very serious to the complet ely frivolous.
- Indeed, while the October issue features such stories
as "How $9 billion in cash vanished in Iraq;" "Inside Bush's
bunker;" "How the Media Gored Al Gore in 2000;" and more,
the cover features Nicole Kidman wearing a sailor cap and opening her shirt
to reveal her nautical necklace and her brassiere.
- Vanity Fair is nothing if not on the cutting edge of
where society is and is going. Vanity Fair is definitely not a Jewish publication.
- And yet, in this one issue, it tells us more about the
Jewish world as it is today than any lecture or book or class out there.
- It does that in two ways.
- The first is its annual list of what it calls The New
Establishment, the 100 most powerful, most influential people in American
- What is absolutely amazing, stunning about the list is
how many Jews there are on it. Jews make up about 2.5 percent of the U.S.
population so there should be two or three Jews on the list.
- Guess again, bubeleh.
- The list of the Vanity Fair 100 includes, get ready,
51, yes 51 Jews.
- I say 51 because that's how many I'm sure are Jewish.
There may be others on the list who are Jewish but who I don't know are
Jewish and whose names are not obviously Jewish.
- But let's say I got them all. That means that more than
half the names on the list of the 100 people who are the most vital to
this society are Jewish. And this is a list that includes Apple's Steve
Jobs and Oprah and Bill Clinton and Warren Buffett, to name a few of the
few non-Jews on the list.
- That is absolutely nothing short of astounding.
- Talk about us being accepted into this society, talk
about us having power in this society, talk about anti-Semitism being a
thing of the past, talk about Jews no longer needing to be afraid to be
visible and influential.
- And it doesn't stop there.
- The magazine also has a separate list of what it calls
The Next Establishment, younger people it believes destined to make the
big list some year soon.
- Of the 26 names on that list, 15 are Jews. That I'm sure
of. 15 of 26. More than half.
- And it doesn't stop there.
- The magazine also has a separate list of what it calls
The Pit-Stop Club, those who have made The New Establishment list in the
past but who didn't make it this year but are fairly certain to make a
comeback in a future year.
- Of the nine names on this list, eight are Jews. Eight
out of nine. Don Imus is the only non-Jew on the list.
- I mean, it's just unbelievable.
- This is a big country with lots and lots of very talented,
highly educated, tremendously motivated people. And no one has its finger
on the pulse of the people who make this country what it is more than Vanity
- And when it came time to pick the 100 who most move and
shake things in America, more than half-more than half-are Jews. And on
the list of those who will one day be on that list, more than half-more
than half-are Jews. Not to mention that almost 100 percent of those who
were on the list and are poised to make a comeback are Jews.
- Tells you so much about the place of Jews in this country,
about the amazing people Jews are.
- That's something we should never take for granted, something
we should always be blown away by, feel very, very good about.
- Instead, however, the Jewish world is so much about kvetching
- When will we learn to fight fights that matter. When
will we learn not everything needs to be made a big deal of. Not everything
we don't like is a threat, indeed some of the things we don't like only
become a nuisance because we make a big deal out of it.
- We are powerful, very powerful. We play a major, pivotal
role in the life of this country. And yet we are always acting like scared
little mice on the verge of annihilation.
- And if you think how we are doesn't have consequences,
please look at something else in this Vanity Fair issue, something that
also tells us much about Jewish life today.
- There is an article in the magazine called "Talk
of the Town." It tells the story of the intense rivalry between two
of the most powerful men on Wall Street, Henry Kravis and Stephen Schwarzman.
- Both, as you may have guessed, are Jews. Both are at
the very top of the private equity world, which is where the financial
action is these days. Both control tens of billions of dollars worth of
- The first thing that struck me about the story is what
jerks both are, each trying to top the other, destroy the other, outdo
the other. Not to mention the abominable way that each treats their employees.
Each acts in ways that are not very much in keeping with the teachings
and values of Judaism.
- That's sad, but that's not what got to me. What got to
me is how much these two do, how much these two give, to all kinds of good
causes-libraries and museums and hospitals and universities and on and
on, all mentioned by name in the article. You read and see how much energy
each puts into his charitable work, how much money each donates to charitable
causes. Doing so, it is very clear, for the social status and clout it
- What is also clear is that it seems neither is involved
in or gives to Jewish causes, at least not in any significant way.
- That too tells you a lot about Jewish life today.
- For they are not alone. The fact is that, as survey after
survey has shown, most very wealthy Jews in this country do not give to
Jewish causes. Certainly not the tens of million dollars they so eagerly
give to a university or a museum.
- The question is why they feel so little allegiance to
their own community, their own people, why they so much look elsewhere
to devote their resources and their energies.
- I think it's because we have made Judaism such an unpleasant
- Judaism has so many powerful people among us, as the
Vanity Fair 100 list shows. We are such a part of this society, have such
impact on this society and yet we're always unhappy, always feel victimized,
always kvetch about this and that. It's always another Holocaust around
the corner, there's always the next Hitler on the scene, Israel is always
embattled, we're always worried, always scared, always sure the end is
- Well, who the hell wants to join that little party?
- Because we so squander all the good that has come our
way, too many of us are simply opting to go their own way, to be part of
things that don't involve guilt and neuroticism.
- More than half those on the Vanity Fair 100 are Jews.
And yet we don't feel powerful, indeed, the very fact of the list makes
us even more nervous than we were before. Instead of being pleased and
taking pride, we fret that it's not so good to be so visible, bad that
the gentiles see how much influence we have. And so we take even an occasion
for joys and make it one for oys.
- Is it any wonder then that if we always make out that
Jewish life, despite all evidence to the contrary, is a scary and dreary
place, that those who have made it, want nothing to do with it?
- Social Inequality In US Hits New Record
- By Bill Van Auken
- 16 October 2007
- The Internal Revenue Service issued a report last week
documenting record levels of social inequality in the United States. According
to the data released by the IRS, America's wealthiest 1 percent accounted
for 21 percent of all income in 2005, while the bottom 50 percent earned
just 12.8 percent of the total national income.
- While the share of income taken in by the wealthiest
1 percent rose steeply-up three points from 19 percent in 2004-the share
for the half of the population at the bottom of the economic ladder fell
during the same period by 0.6 percent.
- The IRS data, published in the Wall Street Journal last
Friday, are based on "adjusted gross income" reflected in tax
returns for 2005. This measure provides a starker and more accurate picture
than other indices of the staggering polarization between wealth and poverty
- It records individual income after deductions for such
expenses as alimony or individual retirement accounts, and includes capital
gains, a major source of income for the very rich. It also breaks down
the figures relating to the wealthiest social layers, spelling out the
obscene levels of income raked in by the top 1 percent and top 0.1 percent,
as opposed to other reports that lump this relative handful of multimillionaires
and billionaires together with average figures for the top 10 percent.
- The share claimed by this wealthiest layer has now surpassed
the previous record recorded during the stock market boom of the 1990s.
And, while the IRS has kept such data only since 1986, it is believed that
the present percentage of the national income going to this layer is higher
than at any time since the period that preceded the Wall Street crash of
1929 and the Great Depression.
- Even George W. Bush is compelled to acknowledge the prevalence
of social inequality in America. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal,
the president said, "First of all, our society has had income inequality
for a long time." By way of explanation, Bush, the offspring of a
family worth many millions, declared, "Skills gaps yield income gaps."
- The Wall Street Journal was more candid than the president,
acknowledging that while the IRS did not spell out the source of rising
income for the wealthy, the "boom on Wall Street has likely played
- The newspaper went on to point out the enormous accumulation
of wealth on Wall Street itself, citing a recent study from the University
of Chicago showing that twice as many Wall Street executives count themselves
in the top 0.5 percent income bracket as their counterparts in other sectors
of the economy. One of the authors of the study, Joshua Rauh, told the
Journal, "It's hard to escape the notion" that the increasing
monopolization of wealth at the top is a "Wall Street, financial industry-based
- Summarizing the study, the Journal reported that "the
highest-earning hedge-fund manager earned double in 2005 what the top earner
made in 2003, and the top 25 hedge-fund managers earned more in 2004 than
the chief executives of all the companies in the Standard & Poor's
500 stock index combined." The study also found "profits per
equity partner at the top 100 law firms doubling between 1994 and 2004,
to over $1 million in 2004 dollars."
- The data released by the IRS indicated that the minimum
annual income needed to make it into the top 1 percent rose 3 percent between
2000 and 2005 to $364,647.
- On the opposite end of the social scale, the median income
of tax filers had fallen 2 percent between 2000 and 2005 to just $30,881,
with fully half of the population struggling to get by on less than that.
- Earlier data released by the US Census Bureau established
that every section of the population outside of the top 5 percent saw their
real income fall between 2000 and 2005.
- According to one recent study, while real income for
the bottom 90 percent of the population fell by 11 percent between 1973
and 2005, those in the top .01 percent bracket, comprising some 14,000
households with annual incomes averaging nearly $13 million, saw their
take increase by 250 percent over the same period.
- What emerges from the data are the effects of a long-standing
social policy involving a massive transfer of wealth from working people,
the great majority of the population, to a handful of the super-wealthy,
who have enriched themselves at the expense of the rest of society.
- This is not merely an American, but rather a global policy
that has been carried out on the backs of the working class of every country.
A study released last week by the Boston Consulting Group found that the
world's 9.6 million millionaires-comprising just 0.7 percent of the earth's
population-now control $33.2 trillion in wealth-roughly a third of all
the wealth in the world. According to the study, the world's wealthiest
0.1 percent-those with $5 million or more in financial assets-now owns
17.5 percent of global wealth.
- Meanwhile, half of the world's population-some 3 billion
people-live on less than $2 a day.
- The social cost of this vast accumulation of wealth by
the financial elite grows daily. A report issued last week by the Center
for Economic and Policy Research and the Center for Social Policy at the
University of Massachusetts in Boston found that 41 million working families
in America-one in five-are unable to cover the costs of basic necessities
with the money they earn working for low pay and no benefits.
- The study found that many of these workers are ineligible
for federal support in the form of child care assistance, the Earned Income
Tax Credit, Food Stamps, housing assistance, Medicaid or the State Children's
Health Insurance Program, and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families. Eligibility
for such assistance has been steadily tightened by federal and state governments.
- The demagogy of the current crop of Democratic presidential
candidates about defending the "middle class" notwithstanding,
these policies have been enacted by Democratic and Republican administrations
alike. The growth of income inequality in America has continued unbroken
since 1973, spurred by the high-interest-rate, recessionary policies enacted
by Federal Reserve Board Chairman Paul Volcker-Democratic President Jimmy
Carter's appointee-with the deliberate aim of driving up unemployment,
slashing wages and unleashing a big business offensive against the working
- It was under the Clinton administration that the top
1 percent set their previous record share of the national income-20.8 percent
in 2000, Clinton's last year in the White House. This was up from about
14 percent when he first took office.
- The increased concentration of wealth was fueled by the
Democratic administration's deregulation of the financial markets, which
spurred the financial bubble of the '90s that gave rise to much of today's
financial elite. At the other end of the social ladder, the Clinton White
House carried out a ruthless war against the working class and poor, carrying
through its pledge to "end welfare as we know it" and slashing
other areas of social spending.
- From the beginning of the Bush administration, the Democrats
have helped pass round after round of tax cuts for the rich, running into
the trillions of dollars. Even a limited proposal to close a tax loophole
that has allowed hedge and equity fund managers earning hundreds of millions
of dollars a year to pay a lower tax rate than a bus driver or an office
worker was shelved earlier this month by the Democratic Senate leadership,
in deference to the party's well-heeled contributors on Wall Street.
- The inequality that pervades every facet of American
society inevitably finds its expression within the Democratic Party, which,
while posturing as the party of the people, remains a political instrument
of the ruling financial elite. Among the Democratic candidates, the three
front-runners-Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards-are all millionaires.
- Roughly half of the US Senate is made up millionaires,
many of them Democrats. The House, meanwhile, is led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi,
who in her latest financial disclosure forms reported that she and her
investor husband conducted some 30 stock sales and purchases last year,
many of them involving sums up to $1 million each. She also reported owning
a California vineyard, valued between $5 million and $25 million.
- The Democrats will do no more to reverse the growth of
social inequality than they will to end the war in Iraq. In the final analysis,
the explosion of militarism abroad and the destruction of working class
living standards at home are two sides of a common political agenda aimed
at funneling the wealth of the US and the world into the coffers of a financial