Today I was shocked, shocked to read in the news today that New Jersey Nets owner and Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov is planning a presidential run-against Vladimir Putin in the March 2012 Russian Presidential election.
Prokhorov and his billions caused two thoughts to immediately spring to mind. First, I am concerned, no, check that, I am alarmed to find out for the first time in the history of our great and mighty country, these United States, we appear to have a frightening billionaire gap between our elected officials and the Ruskies. In 2011, according to Roll Call, Michael McCaul (R-Texas), was our richest congressperson, worth a mere $294 million, at most! And he isn't even running for president. Prokorov is worth $18 billion, according to Forbes. Mitt Romney, the richest candidate at the moment, is only good for about $200 million. Sure, that's a lot of $10,000 bets. But he wouldn't stand a chance playing Texas hold 'em with Prokhorov.
America, this bastion of free-market capitalism, how could it fall so far behind the red menace? Where is the patriotism of the Koch brothers, both billionaires? Or Warren Buffett or Michael Bloomberg? They could take this Prokhorov fellow, dollar-for-dollar. But are they running?
We are at the brink of a crisis not seen since the missile gap threatened us all. We had to go to the Moon to win that one. But we did it. And without the soaring deficits we have today, thank you very much. We even had room for a war in Vietnam at the same time.
One time-honored approach to closing such a gap would be to put it in the hands of a government department. For example, NASA. They got us to the Moon. But then things got a bit stalled out with the Shuttle program that really didn't go anywhere in particular, like back to the Moon, but rather round and round. Don't get me wrong; I love NASA. But it sure wouldn't have been nice to have Americans living and researching on the Moon now.
So maybe what we need is a new department, the department of billionaires, dedicated to ensuring that our elected officials are richer than their elected officials. For too long we have depended on Wall Street to serve this function. And they have done yeoman service in the cause of billionaires everywhere. But they are worn out. They just can't crank out billionaires like they did during the go-go Greenspan years.
I believe that this is the greatest threat we are now facing as a nation. After all, there are more Russian billionaires than ever before. And there are more Australian, Chinese and all manner of other billionaires out there...threatening our sovereignty and status as the world's mightiest billionaire haven.
Now there are many that will say, but wait a minute, didn't we just help our billionaires, with luscious tax breaks and the enormous TARP program, which seems to have focused mainly on the threat that they might lose their billions, rather than jobs and bail-outs for the rest of us? Certainly they seem to have managed to hold onto their wealth better than the middle-class--and Americans everywhere and of all economic levels have proudly sacrificed their own treasure to preserve the great American billionaire way of life. Just look at the numbers? Never have so many sacrificed so much for so few.
But I say that if we do not redouble our efforts, by removing all taxation on those with over a billion dollars, there is no hope that they can keep pace with the massive buildup of foreign billionaires that now threaten us to our very shores. In fact, we should make it official and rename the Department of the Treasury, the Department of Billionaires. Rename Congress, the Committee for the Preservation of Billionaires and the Supreme Court--well we don't need to rename them. They've already made corporations people, which has done even more to help billionaires than TARP.
But if no billionaires step forward to help us with the elected-official-billionaire gap, then perhaps we should do the next best thing. This Prokhorov fellow is mostly American already, at least as American as Rupert Murdoch, for goodness sakes, and he's a citizen. The Russian owns the New Jersey Nets. What could be more American? So why not just make him a billionaire-citizen, too, and change the Constitution so he can run for president here in 2012 as well as in Russia? That would close our billionaire gap by making him one of ours, too.
That way the billionaires from both countries can come together to rule us together. It's that or talk Bloomberg into running, and fast. At least he has some government experience--and almost a billion-dollars more than this other guy.