Start with this:

. . . the New Jersey governor was whisked into . . . a fund-raiser at a Palm Beach home owned by the heir to a sugar fortune.

Inside, Mr. Christie found what must pass, at this difficult moment, as an oasis for him: a group of Ferrari and Jaguar-driving Florida Republicans for whom traffic in New Jersey is a distant thought.

Getting into his Bentley after the fund-raiser, one guest, Geoffrey Leigh, called the controversy over the lane closures “little flies on the wall, quite frankly.”

Little flies.

(One is reminded somehow of Leona Helmsley‘s, “only the little people pay taxes.”)

Next, consider this guy’s reaction to the news that the 85 richest humans on Earth have wealth equal to that of the 3.5 billion least richest:

It’s fantastic!

It’s fantastic, he says, because it helps motivate those at the bottom.  It’s a one-minute clip, worth watching not least for the stunned reaction of his co-host.

I doubt it reflects the views of most Republican voters, but Republican elected officials, perhaps out of fear of billionaire-backed primary challenges, believe we should cut the estate tax rate on billionheirs to zero . . . tax income from wealth less heavily than income from work . . . if at all . . . and grind down income for work wherever possible by killing unions and holding down the minimum wage — all the while cutting food stamps, cutting off the long-term unemployed from further support (which has the added “benefit” of adding even more desperate people to the labor pool to grind down wages even further), and opposing the investments in infrastructure that would boost the demand for labor.* 

It is more than selfish; it is self-defeating.  Henry Ford knew he’d get richer if workers earned enough to afford to buy his cars.  It’s a thriving middle class — not a desperate, squeezed, shrinking one — that produces the virtuous cycle that enriches the best off along with everyone else (and keeps the country strong).  See, as always, that seminal Nick Hanauer clip.  (Now at 999,780 viewers — you could be the millionth!)

*To the extent it’s true, as the Congressional Budget Office estimates, that hiking the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 would boost 17 million workers’ income but cost 500,000 jobs — and I like to think the added oomph to consumer demand might in fact neutralize that job loss — the answer is not to keep wages low, it’s to invest in infrastructure . . . which would add more than a million jobs, and which we badly need to do anyway.

#

That would be plenty for now, but it’s Friday.  So if you want a little weekend reading (or own any SIGA) . . .

KAPPA BETA PHI

It’s a secret Wall Street fraternity founded in 1929 — pre-October! — that few, including me, had ever heard of before it came to public attention in this week’s New York Magazine.  (Wikipedia already had it nailed, but who knew to look? or to crash their annual dinner?)  It’s worth a read, not because these are bad folks — most of them are very good folks in most ways, I’m sure.  But perhaps some of them are just a tad skewed in their world view?

SIGA

My bad: I had meant to post this a month ago, right after this.  But it still seems relevant, so in case you own shares:

Glenn:  “I don’t want to get in a back & forth argument about SIGA on your website.  If a company is running out of cash and shuts down its R & D, then it’s time to run for the hills.  But if a company has a fantastic balance sheet and they shut down their R & D plus they have a drug which needs a major partner to really be successful, they are preparing to have an efficiently run company that is sold for top dollar!  Why have an income statement that shows significant R & D expenses for potential future drugs that aren’t anywhere near being able to be marketed? SIGA has a huge amount of money for a small company (market cap around $200 million) with a lot more money coming from their current BARDA contract.  I do believe they are in the process of preparing to be sold.  However I think any company buying them is going to wait to see how they come out in the law suit (this will significantly affect the buyout price).  Also if SIGA does have a buyer lined up, they don’t want to upset Judge Parsons any more than they have to in announcing a huge deal.  I don’t have any insight into our government’s procurement process.   However I know that even if there were any progress as to potential additional orders from BARDA, SIGA management wouldn’t be talking about it.  . . . As far as their dengue fever opportunity, I agree it’s a long way off; but if they partner with a larger company to do the drug, it has huge potential.  I just read about another company that’s going to launch a dengue fever drug later this year.  However it is only effective against 3 out of the 4 strands of dengue fever.  My understanding is that SIGA initially believes they have a potential drug that is effective on all 4.  Have a great day!”

☞ At the very least, it will be fun to see how this turns out.  At the very best, we’ll make a fat return on money we could truly afford to lose.

 

 

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