Can I buy your vote? This week Darcy Burner, a candidate I supported got beat by a rich candidate. Recently, some groups I supported, SF Ocean Edge, The Sierra Club and The Audubon Society lost an appeal to stop seven acres of natural grass from being ripped out of the west end of Golden Gate Park  and replaced with artificial turf and 150,000 watts of stadium lights for soccer fields. The project is funded by a rich family, the Fishers, whose father founded the Gap.

It’s rough when the rich beat us, not just because we lost, but because it can be used as an encouragement for the idea that being rich should be your first and main goal — since it seems to prove that everything you want flows from that. “Want to win an election?” be rich. Then buy what you need to win. “What to break the law?” be rich, then pay the lawyers to make it a civil case so you just pay the fine. “Want to not break the law? Buy the lobbyist, who pays the lawmakers to fix the law so you don’t break them–it’s cheaper than the fine and then you are a “law abiding citizen.”

Money can’t buy you love? Yeah, but plenty of rich people find people to love them. It isn’t always a “if you are rich you can’t get love” equation. Poor people can’t find people to love them either. And being poor can get in the way of way of love just like being rich supposedly does.

I know I have a bad attitude toward how some rich people use their money. (Note I didn’t say toward all rich or all money. I’m directing my ire at behaviors.) This is one of the reasons that I designed the Spocko Method program to go after the right wing media. It was designed to take away their money. Because, like Eddie Murphy said in the movie Trading Places, “You know, it occurs to me that the best way you hurt rich people is by turning them into poor people. ” And there are certain kind of rich people I wanted to hurt by making them less rich. They were the ones who believed in violence directed toward Muslims, journalists, Democrats and liberals. Race-baiters, bigots, racists and homophobes all care as much about money as most Americans. If I know I’m not going to change their mind and I don’t want to censor their views then I want to ensure they don’t get rich espousing those views. They have a right to say what they want, they don’t have a right to get rich doing it.

Now if I was smarter I could have figured out a way to not just cost the disgusting rich money, but get their ill gotten gains to flow to me. Why? Because as we have learned in America, being rich should be your first and main goal since everything you want flows from that. I could then use this money to keep costing the disgusting rich money.

In my life I’ve helped people create millions and I’ve helped people lose millions. I’ve enjoyed helping people create millions more, partly because the people I helped were creating good things and they valued my help. When I’ve cost people money, there is satisfaction because I hurt people who were creating bad things, but my work wasn’t valued beyond, “Atta boys.” I think that I, like a lot of, people in America are still locked in to the idea that, “First get rich. If you can’t get rich then there is something wrong with you.  Being a “good man” doesn’t get you much beyond an occasional warm feeling while shaving.

I think of all the students who will have huge debt coming out of college. Their mandate will need to be, “First get rich.” Will they have the ability to see beyond that need? I don’t think I could. It’s hard enough to get a job, let alone one that will make you rich.

But maybe it is a fallacy that everything you want flows from being rich.   How do you prove it? How many people, after hearing the stories of how money doesn’t buy lottery winners’ happiness, say, “Let me try it and win the lottery and then we’ll see. I’ll be different. Money WILL make me happy. I can buy what I want and be happy.”

Should I be just as delusional (and have the same poor understanding of math) as other Americans and buy lottery tickets? Should I “buy” into the “first get rich” attitude? I’m already been part of the “first be poor” attitude and its been pretty crummy.

I’m very frustrated right now. Pointing to the defeat of Meg Whitman who spent millions doesn’t help much right now. The shortcut of buying elections is appealing. But it’s not just that they are buying ads, they are cashing in on the attitudes that someone spent 40 years inculcating.

Here is what 40 years of buying smart communicators, the media, regulators and legislators seem to prove:

  • ♦  Money CAN buy you your election (even if that isn’t true all the time- “Let me show you a bunch of stories where it happened, ignore the times it didn’t.”).


  • ♦ Guns CAN protect you (even if that isn’t true all the time – “Let me tell you a bunch of stories where guns protected people, ignore the times they didn’t, besides if more people had guns there would be more protection!”)


  • ♦ Wall Street CAN fix the problems they created (even if that isn’t true most the time – “Read about a bunch of Very Serious People ™ who believe self regulation works, even though they have been wrong almost 100 percent of the time”.)

So in the face of this ‘evidence’ we should be going out and buying elections, getting guns and letting Wall Street regulate themselves.

But I’m not buying their evidence. I’m going to work to show the failure of their evidence, to change attitudes and prove them wrong. Or maybe I’ll grow back my goatee and accept that I can’t be that one man with a vision.

Very Serious People is a ™ of Duncan Black, Atrios