I’ve never met Michael Bloomberg, but I long admired him from afar. While Bernie Sanders has called Bloomberg’s $56 billion net worth “immoral” and Liz Warren derides him for his “bags and bags of money,” I say he deserves his every penny. It’s billionaires like Mike Bloomberg that give dictator-loving socialists a cause to rail about and fund the tax-free Ivy League school endowments that allowed Warren to earn $200,000 to teach a class or two at Harvard.
Bloomberg didn’t accrue his billions working in private equity using worker pension fund money to buy and rape companies and forcing millions of Americans from their jobs. He didn’t earn it as an overpaid CEO. His working-class daddy didn’t leave him a small fortune.
Rather, Bloomberg at 39 took a $10 million severance he received after being fired and created a global information services company that blew out an entrenched Dow Jones and provided Wall Street analytical capabilities never before imagined. The “Bloomberg terminal” is a fixture on every trading desk round the world and its value is underscored that it costs more than $20,000 a year to utilize one. Bloomberg was a tech disrupter long before the term was coined and a pioneer in subscription pricing.
What’s astounding about Bloomberg L.P. is that the company has retained its dominant position despite Bloomberg stepping aside to serve three terms as New York City’s mayor. While his Democratic rivals harp on Bloomberg’s stop-and-frisk policy that got out of hand and for which he has apologized, the city overall was a decidedly better and safer place to live under his watch. He dramatically boosted the caliber of people at City Hall, and in a city and state racked with widespread corruption, Bloomberg’s team was scandal free.
Bloomberg News’ standards of fairness and objectivity have declined in recent years, but for most of the company’s history they were unrivaled in American journalism. The company provided employment to dozens of talented and experienced journalists who were let go at the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and elsewhere because of their age. Bloomberg used to, and possibly still does, pay the highest rank-and-file wages in U.S. financial journalism. The company’s 20,000 world-wide employees should give a communal thanks that Bloomberg, rather than Blackstone’s billionaire CEO Stephen Shwartzman or some other rapacious private equity executive, controls the company.
Sadly, during the past few weeks I’ve learned there is another side to Mike Bloomberg. I never appreciated that he is an elitist, a very condescending one at that. In a 2016 appearance at Oxford University, Bloomberg declared: “I could teach anybody, even people in this room so no offense intended, to be a farmer. It’s a process. You dig a hole, you put a seed in, you put dirt on top, add water, up comes the corn.”
Bloomberg’s flak insisted Bloomberg’s comment was “taken out of context,” assuming few would take the time to watch the video. Here it is and decide for yourself:
Bloomberg betrayed his ignorance of modern-day farming, which has become a very high-tech business. (See here, here, and here). As for Bloomberg’s implication that farmers are lacking in “gray matter,” former investment banker John Ubaldo learned the hard way that transitioning from a successful Wall Street career to farming isn’t all that easy. The challenges of modern-day farming are responsible for the suicide epidemic among those who till the fields. If I represented the Dairy Farmers of America, I’d advise them to parade a cow in front of Bloomberg’s palatial 79th Street townhouse with camera crews in tow and call on him to demonstrate how to milk it.
I’m also alarmed by Bloomberg’s NDAs, but not the ones Warren harps about. I’m bothered by seemingly credible allegations by Leta Hong Fincher, who charged that Bloomberg L.P. lawyers threatened her with financial ruin if she didn’t sign an NDA preventing her from speaking out about how Bloomberg News spiked her husband’s investigative report about financial ties between one of China’s richest men and the families of senior Communist Party officials. It’s been alleged that Bloomberg News killed the story because it could have adversely impacted the company’s expansion in China. Fincher’s husband subsequently joined the New York Times, which published his story on page one after he re-reported it.
Watching the South Carolina debates, I was taken aback by Bloomberg’s weakness and missed opportunities to eviscerate his opponents. When Warren began her tirade about allegations that some women were mistreated or harassed at Bloomberg L.P. decades ago, he should have turned the tables and asked Warren about the seven women of color who resigned from her Nevada campaign last week because they felt marginalized.
Bloomberg could have also taken a shot at Amy Klobuchar for her alleged mistreatment of staffers, which might explain why her Senate office ranks among the highest for employee turnovers. He could have noted that some Bernie Sanders workers complained they weren’t paid the $15 minimum wage he espouses. Bloomberg should have demanded that Sanders quantify exactly how much wealth the socialist deems it “moral” to accumulate when he noted that Sanders is a millionaire and owns three homes.
Especially disappointing was Bloomberg’s meekness in failing to confront rampant anti-Semitism in the Democratic party. Warren’s references to Bloomberg’s “bags and bags of money” is an ancient anti-Semitic trope. Shakespeare portrayed his Shylock as a man “who dreamed of money bags.” A Murano glass figure of a Jew holding a moneybag is featured in the Holocaust’s Museum’s collection of anti-Semitic artifacts. Warren also did fund raising for Leslie Cockburn, a Virginia Congressional candidate who faced allegations of antisemitism.
As for Sanders, an organization committed to combating terrorism declared him “a magnet for anti-Semites.”
Bloomberg’s campaign’s decision to run ads during the South Carolina debate reflected a certain arrogance and gave him an unfair advantage CBS News should never have allowed. I felt sorry for the other debaters who have been traveling the country for a year trying to communicate their messages with old fashioned campaigning. It’s yet another example of the questionable judgment of Bloomberg and his campaign people.
Bloomberg tweeted about President Trump that people in New York “laugh at you & call you a carnival barking clown.” His spokeswoman ridiculed Trump for “his fake hair, his obesity, and his spray-on tan.” This is the rhetoric of someone who’s supposedly the grown-up in the room? If the presidency is going to be determined by the person who racks up the most nasty tweets, the Democrats should save taxpayers money and concede the 2020 election.
Bernie Sanders surrounds himself with hate mongers and his business acumen is such that I’m confident he will do to America what his wife did to Burlington College. The rest of the Democratic candidates aren’t qualified to be president in these troubled times. I’m compelled to vote for Mike Bloomberg but it’s with great sadness knowing that I’m complicit in allowing an oligarch to possibly buy an election.