Winona LaDuke column: The presidential cabinet of the 1 percent
Cronyism, the unfair practice by a powerful person (such as a politician) ... is the practice of partiality in awarding jobs and other advantages to friends or trusted colleagues, especially in politics and between politicians and supportive organizations. For instance, this includes appointing "cronies" to positions of authority, regardless of their qualifications.
Sometimes I just stay home. I've been home now for a few weeks, sort of getting used to the sledding, the horses, and remembering all those birthdays of the grandchildren. Well some of them. When I'm home I really am interested in what's happening here omaa akiing, the land to which I belong.
Then I decide to go out in the big world to a meeting in New York and meet up with leaders who are looking at the incoming Trump administration, and frankly shaking their heads.
Let me put it this way. We are entering a new spectacular showboat era of cronyism, and this time, it's at the highest forms of government. This is how it looks with the cabinet appointees, now up for confirmation.
Not surprisingly, they are almost all older white men. I am sure that older white men are the most qualified to do anything in the world, but sometimes I'd like to see a few other folks there.
The cabinet is almost all billionaires—also the most qualified to make decisions on behalf of the American people. As far as I can see, Trump has done well to find many very rich people to give him counsel, but I am not for sure how he will know anything about the other 99 percent of the population, and what we might need.
Let me put it this way, the net worth of the cabinet is well over $35 billion, and the average American family makes $55,000 a year.
Rick Perry (Energy Secretary), Texas governor, and Dancing with the Stars contestant (which is sort of a cool thing by the way), was on the board of the Dakota Access Pipeline and stepped down.
Andrew Pudzner (Labor) does not believe in a minimum wage increase and is the CEO of Carl Jrs, the fast food restaurant.
Wilbur Ross (Commerce proposed appointee), net worth of $2.9 billion, may be able to help out a few major corporations. According to the London based Guardian newspaper, Ross is "...dubbed "king of bankruptcy" because of his knack for extracting a profit from failing businesses. Helped Trump keep control of his failing Taj Mahal casino in the 1990s by persuading investors not to push him out.
The only black man nominated, Ben Carson (Housing), seems to be the best of the bunch, except that after 30 years at John Hopkins University as a pediatric neurosurgeon, he has no government experience, and then according to the Atlantic Monthly is, "... A purveyor of bizarre conspiracy theories and a provocateur who compares abortion to slavery and same-sex marriage to pedophilia..."
Scott Pruitt hopes to dismantle the EPA.
Education nominee Betsy Devos, whose father started Amway, has a family fortune worth around $5 billion. She is not well liked by the National Education Association, which noted that " her efforts have done more to undermine public schools "than anyone."
Devos brother is incidentally Erik Prince, the former CEO of Blackwater, the infamous military security firm that was convicted in federal court of the wrongful death of 17 Iraqi civilians.
Nikki Haley, ambassador to the UN, gets a pass.
And then there's Rex Tillerson, former CEO of Exxon, and Trump's nominee to be the Secretary of State. CNN Money Matters writes: "... the oil giant's profits have plunged to 17-year lows, and its once perfect AAA credit rating has evaporated."
So, in other words, he might not have made it on Trump's TV show.
But, being secretary of state, Tillerson can get that all figured out. I spoke with Naomi Klein this past week, a Canadian economist and author who sits on a papal panel on climate change, who said: "Rex Tillerson is the man who seeks to benefit the most from the increase in oil prices in the tar sands. Exxon has pretty much bet the farm on the tar sands."
So this is how it works, the price of oil has been forced down by Saudi Arabia. New agreements at OPEC will increase the price of oil, but not enough to jump-start the Bakken, or the tar sands . Even with Venezuela's economy in shambles, we might need a war.
Well, another war. We have already seen that wars lead to an increase in the price of oil. From the Yom Kippur War, on.
Oil Price, an industry publication headline notes, "War Between Saudi Arabia And Iran Could Send Oil Prices To $250 ..." Well maybe. If I was Rex Tillerson, I would be interested in how to straighten out my personal fortune, and my old company. We will see how that works out for the world.
Neil Sroka, of Democracy for America, put it this way: "You've got a group of entitled, out-of-touch billionaires who are going to be bossed around by a bigoted, out-of-touch billionaire."
The movie Wag the Dog comes to mind now. I am really thinking that this spectacle of cronyism should be challenged by some honesty in politics. I hope.