The Raiders of Las Vegas Boulevard

The Republican Party represents the interest of big business, the little guy be damned, right?   The Party of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and Ronald Reagan has never held anything but contempt for the working man and the downtrodden oppressed workers prostituted by their big business masters, right?   Republicans stick it to the American people every chance they get with draconian repressive policies, RIGHT?

Those benevolent leaders of the Democratic Party, filled with empathy, warmth, and genuine concern for their fellow man strive continually to make life better for all of us Americans.   You’d never catch the Democratic Party team up with some large evil American Corporation, would you?   It would be counter to their philosophy, worse, imply their motives and ambitions were not genuine.   The American people would never fall for that, would they?

Given these axioms wouldn’t we find it curious to see a large corporation, say, MGM-Mirage, throw its weight behind any Democratic candidate?

Certainly, we might expect to see some smaller organizations, owned and managed by some passionate loony rogue, split off from the prescribed political allegiances and endorse the Democratic Party, but we would never see that come from one of the largest resort corporations in the world, would we?

Just in case you haven’t been paying attention, MGM-Mirage Corporation owns more than one or two resorts on the Las Vegas Strip.

In addition to the MGM Grand Hotel, the MGM-Mirage Corporation owns Bellagio, Mandalay Bay, The Mirage, Luxor, Excalibur, New York New York, Monte Carlo, Treasure Island, Circus Circus, and Railroad Pass near Hoover Dam.   It also owns over thirty acres at the southwest corner of Sahara and Las Vegas Blvd. where it is developing the property in a partnership with Dubai World, the infamous UAE Corporation which tried to buy shipping ports in the United States where our illustrious congressmen feigned great security concerns and stopped the deal.   MGM-Mirage also owns the Gold Strike and hundreds of acres on both sides of the freeway in Jean.   It owns casinos in Reno, and has properties outside the state as well.   Its yearly revenue is over 7 billion dollars.

With all that as a backdrop, armed with the conventional wisdom that Democrats are hostile toward big business always throwing their lot in with the little guy, why on earth would MGM-Mirage encourage and direct its 70,000 employees to attend Democratic caucuses, to give them maps and instructions on how to attend only Democratic caucuses and in some cases to rearrange their work schedules so employees could attend only Democratic caucuses?

Each election cycle MGM-Mirage prints out flyers for all its 70,000 employees and tells them how they ought to vote, on candidates and on propositions.

And they never endorse Republican candidates!

How can this be?

It’s funny when we see some of capitalism’s most aggressive and cut throat businessmen suddenly turn their focus toward altruistic activities.   Bill Gates used predatory practices withholding software from computer manufacturers unless they packaged their products in accordance with his dictates.   Warren Buffet closed factories and sent jobs overseas faster than you could say 37 billion.   Kirk Kirkorian majority shareholder of MGM-Mirage is noted for the hostile takeover of the Mirage resorts.

Now these mega-billionaires indulge their philanthropic fantasies; perhaps responding to some guilt they endure for their past rapacious and ruthless behavior?   And that’s why MGM-Mirage supports Democrats?

I hardly think so.

What the hell difference does it make if your tax rate goes from 35% to 44% when you are profiting two or three hundred million dollars yearly?   When all your extravagant entertainment and travel expenses go to write down your profit anyway?   When money has long ago ceased to be any type of barrier in reaching your goals and satisfying your whim?

Not a hell of a lot of difference.   Trivial things like the top tax bracket only matter to those moderately successful small businessmen and entrepreneurs who can afford to buy a new car every three years, but can’t afford to charter a Lear jet at the drop of a hat.   These things matter greatly to a guy who has devoted years of his life building his small business investing hundreds and hundreds of hours, often taking time away from his family, not for tremendous amounts of money, but just for keeping his little enterprise alive.   These things  also might matter to the few scores of workers who have become loyal and dependent members of the little business, who won’t have those jobs when the business owner, who keeps the whole thing together, decides he doesn’t want to do it anymore because some arbitrary politician has proclaimed to the American people that he’s a rich guy, and isn’t paying his fair share.

To a guy like that the freedoms and liberties guaranteed in America’s Constitution are not abstract and esoteric concepts, they are real ideals that give him a chance to face off against overwhelming odds when challenging corporations with seemingly unlimited funds.  

When corporations exploit their advantages via their size and momentum it’s called economy of scale , and this is encouraged by our capitalist system to bring the best deals to American consumers.   When they exploit their advantages because they have the politicians ear, it’s called payola and corruption (and consumers get screwed paying inflated prices prompted by government subsidies and capricious bureaucratic sentiment manifesting itself in protective policy).   These were not concepts that were ever encouraged or valued by America’s system of laissez-fare.

Additionally, when we hear some politician ostensibly declare he will protect the people by insuring business doesn’t rape the environment , or create unsafe working conditions , what he really ventures to do is institute complicated government regulations and difficult hurdles that only large corporations (loyal to the politician) could ever hope to comply with.

The Democratic Party tells us they’re out to protect the little guy, and that Republicans are self-serving leaches who will sacrifice us all given half a chance.   My question is what little guy?   The uninitiated individual who votes to raise taxes because he thinks it’s going to increase his government handout, or the guy knocking himself out chasing that American dream, all the while making opportunity for others by offering jobs and experience in industry?  

In the old days, where I can recall having my tire changed at the Shell station across from Caesar’s Palace on the strip, you could get a decent room for twenty bucks, a good meal, and have a hell of a time, and that’s when creepy mobsters ran the joint.  

Now that we have cleaned up Las Vegas and gotten rid of all the bad guys , honest corporations have taken over and a room today will only set you back a couple c-notes.   That’s unless you’re in town for the Consumer Electronics Show, then you might need close to a grand to secure that precious overnight stay.

You can always tell who the biggest crooks of all are

They’re the ones standing with Democrats.  


Copyright 2008 Jim Pontillo