The outrageously corrupt Trump era of U.S. politics is over. However, his thankfully short reign did serve as an unintentional warning of extraordinarily dangerous shoals ahead.
For the last four years, political polarization has increased dramatically: progressives versus conservatives, gun-rights versus gun-control, pro-life versus pro-choice, Black versus white, the ecologically sensitized versus climate change deniers, and perhaps most importantly, truth and fact tellers versus the self-serving and mendacious. The fault lines in American politics have never been starker nor more frightening. But an even greater chasm has been exposed than any mentioned above. That is the ever-widening rift between the new nobility and everybody else. The COVID-19 crisis that was so grossly mishandled by the Oval Office has served to highlight this reality. Of course, this trend was already well underway before the pandemic. Donald Trump and the virus merely accelerated the process, while making it more visible.
Just who are the new nobility? It is unlikely you will meet one of them on the street. They mostly travel in limos and private jets. They vacation in places like Ibiza, Tahiti and St. Barth’s. They live in protected compounds and gated communities, while enjoying concierge medical services. Although many are American citizens, in fact, they are more citizens of the world. They can purchase golden visas so they can live in multiple different countries comfortably and with minimum effort. They can afford high priced tax attorneys to help them hide their wealth in foreign nations that serve as tax shelters.
Their sons and daughters only very rarely serve in our nation’s military. Due to their wealth, they can purchase seats for their children in the world’s best universities, giving them a huge advantage in life. By some estimates, the Age of the Robber Barons has returned with a vengeance.
Literally, the rich have gotten richer and the poor have gotten poorer during the pandemic, and right before our eyes. The 10 wealthiest billionaires in the United States increased their riches by $400 billion since March 2020, the generally understood beginning of the pandemic. During the same period, unemployment rates skyrocketed, while the stock market surged nearly 65 percent, aided and abetted by an earlier massive Trump tax break for the new nobility. Some call this socialism for the rich.
Wealthy investors made a killing, while average Americans lost their homes and medical insurance. Republican Party promises that the wealthy would funnel their tax windfall into jobs creating ventures were lies. Most of the new nobility moved their money elsewhere or bought back stock to increase their already burgeoning portfolios. Perhaps one of the most egregious falsehoods we have been told over the last four decades is that “trickle-down economics” works in the interest of common folk. In case you failed to notice, it is the Republicans that slavishly represent the financial wellbeing of the new nobility.
Wealth purchases more justice within our legal system too. Donald Trump might have been behind bars years ago, but with his ready access to consequential funds, he could buy as many lawyers as he needed to intimidate his legions of creditors and adversaries. He programmatically engaged in both frivolous and malicious lawsuits to wear down opponents. Trump is not alone among the new nobility in weaponizing the sometimes-avaricious private legal profession. State prosecutors in New York are pleased that he will no longer be shielded by the Resolute Desk.
Spend your days with Hayes
Subscribe to our free Stephinitely newsletter
You’re all signed up!
Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.Explore all your options
Proof of the pudding, not one CEO of a Wall Street investment bank went to jail for fraud after the 2008 financial meltdown. Quite the opposite, most of the Robber Barons kept their bonuses, while the American taxpayer shouldered the odious bill of bailing them out of the financial disaster that they themselves created. Greed clearly pays well if you are on one of the upper rungs of the ladder. Those on the lower rungs, who lost jobs or businesses, did not receive a federal bail-out. The new nobility only rarely goes to prison, and when they do, it is often to “Club Fed.”
Kings, queens, dukes and barons at one time made the law. Their armies enforced the statutes that served them and their privileged positions in society. Religion often became the hand maiden of the entitled to better keep the peasants in line. The new nobility in America are the ultra-wealthy, often referred to as the 1 percent. Compliant priests have been replaced by pliable right-wing politicians. Therefore, income inequality in America has grown exponentially. The ancient titles are all but gone, and yet the rules are the same. That is, the new nobility doesn’t have to play by the rules.
Robert Bruce Adolph is the author of the new book, “Surviving the United Nations: The Unexpected Challenge.” He is a former senior Army Special Forces Officer and United Nations Security Chief and holds graduate degrees in both international affairs and strategy. Adolph has lived and worked in 15 different countries on four continents.