By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: August 31, 2017
Ayn Rand made her mark by writing and lecturing on a philosophy called Objectivism. It’s a philosophy that flips upside down everything that most Americans hold dear. Under Objectivism, greed is good, selfishness is noble, helping one’s fellow human beings is for suckers and an outright evil. The philosophy also holds that big government is bad and obscenely rich corporate titans are the real heroes of society. (See related articles below.) The Koch brothers’ network of billionaires has been financing the proliferation of Rand’s books into high schools and colleges for decades.
Trump is the personification of the Ayn Rand creed and his elevation from reality TV host to the Oval Office is valid proof that the Kochs and their ilk have spent their money wisely.
Trump’s gilded mansions and lifestyle are also mother’s milk to the one percenters he has packed into his cabinet. And their spouses. His excesses makes theirs seem routine.
In the same week that Hurricane Harvey was about to leave a large swath of Texas looking like a third world disaster, Louise Linton, the wife of the U.S. Treasury Secretary, was bragging in a post about her designer clothing as she disembarked from a U.S. chartered plane with her husband after an official business trip. Linton flaunted her #hermes, #valentino, #roulandmouret, and #tomfordsunnies attire. When a female reader responded in a post: “glad we could pay for your little getaway,” Linton berated her in a subsequent post for being “adorably out of touch,” and bragging about how much more in taxes Linton and her husband pay. (Linton apologized after the story went viral.)
Linton’s husband, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, is equally Ayn Randish. At Mnuchin’s January 19 confirmation hearing, Senator Ron Wyden outlined Mnuchin’s career milestones as follows:
“Mr. Mnuchin’s career began in trading the financial products that brought on the housing crash and the Great Recession. After nearly two decades at Goldman Sachs, he left in 2002 and joined a hedge fund…In early 2009, Mr. Mnuchin led a group of investors that purchased a bank called IndyMac, renaming it OneWest. OneWest was truly unique. While Mr. Mnuchin was CEO, the bank proved it could put more vulnerable people on the street faster than just about anybody else around.
“While he was CEO, a OneWest vice president admitted in a court proceeding to ‘robo-signing’ upward of 750 foreclosure documents a week. She spent less than 30 seconds on each, and in fact, she had shortened her signature to speed the process along. Investigations found that the bank frequently mishandled documents and skipped over reviewing them. All it took to plunge families into the nightmare of potentially losing their homes was 30 seconds of sloppy paperwork and a few haphazard signatures.
“These kinds of tactics were in use between 2009 and 2014, a period during which the bank foreclosed on more than 35,000 homes. ‘Widow foreclosures’ on reverse mortgages – OneWest did more of those than anybody else. The bank defends its record on loan modifications, but it was found guilty of an illegal practice known as ‘dual tracking.’ One bank department tells homeowners to stop making payments so they can pursue modification, while another department presses on and hurtles them into foreclosure anyway.”
At the close of the confirmation hearing, Senator Wyden added the following:
“Mr. Mnuchin, a month ago you signed documents and an affidavit that omitted the Cayman Island fund, almost $100 million of real estate, six shell companies and a hedge fund in Anguilla. This was not self-corrected. The only reason it came to light was my staff found it and told you it had to be corrected.”
The extreme wealth inequality and two faces of America came into tragic perspective over the last two weeks as Donald Trump obsessed about the size of the crowds waiting to greet him in hurricane-ravaged Texas; as the millions of dollars in renovations to the White House and Trump’s offices there were revealed; while gut-wrenching scenes emerged of the very shelters set up to provide warmth and safety to victims in Texas becoming flooded nightmares themselves.
Ayn Rand must be wearing a broad smile today.