I like Reese Witherspoon. She’s done some great things that have given me enjoyment. And what more can you ask from an actor?
I don’t like her any more. It isn’t because she became a lousy actress, nor is it because Forbes Magazine estimates that her net worth is $240 million. It is neither that she makes between $15-20 million a picture nor got paid a staggering one million dollar an episode for Big Fires, Little Fires, which my wife and I loved.
Why then? Because she took money she didn’t need. She took two million dollars from Cares Act money for her clothing line … C’mon now, while banking $240 million a year? But she’s just an example of what happens when you put together a careless government under pressure and greedy people. More examples will follow, but let’s start at the beginning, or at least an explanation of the beginning.
Democratic Majority Leader Stenny Hoyer explained in an interview that yes, there were probably people and institutions that got money that they legally qualified for but didn’t need. Let’s make that “a lot of money.” Time of was the essence he intimidated. Americans couldn’t pay their rent, couldn’t put food on their tables, were lucky if they were able to feed their families three squares a day. The average American family of four makes 40 grand a year and that would be to pay for everything. Even on a good day, that’s not enough. And these are not good days.
So Hoyer said, understanding they couldn’t iron out every kink in the laundry they did the best they could. The goal was to get the most money into the hands of those that needed it as quickly as possible.
I don’t buy it.
I do think the theory is believable. It’s the politics that aren’t. I will bet you my bottom dollar that the bill would either have not passed the Senate or would have been vetoed by the President unless there were big enough loop holes in it to drive truck loads of Mr. Trump’s friends, neighbors, allies, and business associates through them.
After all, the pot had $699 Billion dollars in it. And if you followed the rules for use, or at least 60% of them, it was free money, a forgivable loan. So let’s see who stands next to Princess Summer-Fall-Witherspoon:
Kanye West: a billionaire who just signed a 10 year marketing deal with The Gap. He got a few mil.
Pearl Jam, The Eagles, Guns and Roses, and others so says Rolling Stone. Hard to imagine the principals of those bands couldn’t have covered the pay for their stage hands et al.
Jeff Koons: One of the richest artists in the world. Mr. Koons just sold for $91 million a painting to the father of the Secretary of the Treasury, Robert Menuchin. Do we wonder why Mr. Secretary had been refusing to make public the loan recipients? “Btw,” Mr. Koons plucked somewhere under $2 million from the pot.
Soho Club: one of the most exclusive clubs in the world, valued at two billion dollars. Basic membership is two grand a year. They could find enough money in their own pots and pans to pay the help so they took yours.
The Church of Scientolgy (Daily Beast), 10,000 Catholic Churches and hundreds of Jewish organizations (Newsday). The Diocese of San Bernadino used its money to pay off pedophile claims. Doesn’t that warm your heart?
Politicans (but of course): Family of Elaine Chao Secretary of Labor and wife of Senator Mitch McConnell and daughter of one of the richest families in China, Nancy Pelosi’s husband (though USA Today reports the money went to a company in which he is a minor investor and did not know the company applied for the loan–figure that money is coming back).
Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump Kushner: Can you believe it? I guess they used all their silver spoons to scoop up the millions they got. If this weren’t a family blog, I’d tell you what size pair of “things” they’ve got.
Companies wth Franchises–Shack Shack and Ruth’s Cris and others applied using each separate location as a separate business (that money or some or it, is already back where it came from having bought a ticket home on the guilt train).
Odds and Ends: The LA Lakers, a West Palm Beach mega-law firm, Gunster, got $10 million approved by a bank that was one of its clients (PB Post); Newsmax and AMI, right wing publication mini-empires close to the Republican party, four of Palm Beach’s toniest private schools took five mil a piece. Billionaire Bill Koch founded one; Jack Nicklaus’ grandchildren go to another. (Palm Beach Post).
Enough. I don’t know about you, but I have to stop. I’m getting sick. It isn’t just the corruption. Corruption and politics is like Easter and bonnets, ham and eggs. In the early 1900’s a Tammy Hall mid-line “executive” proposed this theory, that there was honest and dishonest graft. His example? If he raked a bit off the top of a contract to supply his ward with coal? Honest graft. The guy could afford it. But if he assessed each tenant for the privilege of using the coal his supplier brought, well they couldn’t afford it. Dishonest graft.
I’ve thought about that for decades. If you think about it not too long, it almost makes sense. Using it as a measuring stick for the above rip-offs, one can only comes up with, “Dishonest Graft!” The hundreds of millions of dollars that went to where they weren’t needed were then not available to people who did need it. The people who stood on line for days, or made enough unanswered phone calls to go insane only to find the money was gone, and in some cases gone before it had gotten there–bank clients who had bucked the line were in line before the line formed.
I get that there’s are reasons that the rich get richer. Some of them are plain ugly. What I don’t get is how these no-count crumbs don’t see this analogy. Beggar sits on sidewalk with plate of coins. Man in London tailored suit walks by, looks down at the plate, leans over and takes out a quarter.
Dishonest graft Reese, and all you others–at least from my perspective.
Bill Gralnick is in one of those righteous indignation moods. He wishes you were too. Democrat or Republican this is legal thievery and everyone should call it that. If you want a much lighter Bill Gralnick read, “The War of the Itchy Balls and Other Tales of Brooklyn.” It is his coming of age memoir available on Kindle or Nook or can be ordered as a paperback from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Bill appears here most every Sunday except for today, which is Saturday. It’s pouring down rain, hot, humid, and Covid is so prevalent you can almost see the little buggers in the air. He got bored.
And remember everyday’s mantra: “Read. It’s good for both of us.”