Oligarchy in the Twenty-First Century

Column: Think rich conservatives rule the world? Think again.
Sean Eldridge mingles with a local commoner. (Facebook)

“To see what is in front of one’s nose,” George Orwell famously wrote, “needs a constant struggle.” In front of my nose as I write this is a copy of last Sunday’s New York Times. I have opened it to the business section. Below the fold is one of many Times articles on Thomas Piketty, the French economist and author of Capital in the Twenty-First Century, which argues that America has entered a second Gilded Age of vast inequality, inherited fortunes, and oligarchic politics, where the shape of public discourse and public policy is determined by a wealthy few.

Pritzker’s Billions

Hyatt heiress faces tough questions during Commerce confirmation hearing
Penny Pritzker / AP

The billionaire heiress and major campaign donor tapped by President Barack Obama to head the Department of Commerce faced tough questions from Republicans about a failed bank owned by her family at her confirmation hearing on Thursday.

No Friend of the People

Union plans protest of Obama commerce nominee
President Obama and Penny Pritzker / AP

One of the largest hospitality unions in the nation will protest President Barack Obama’s commerce secretary nominee on Thursday, the first day of her confirmation hearings.

Pritzker Likely to Face Questions Over Subprime Lending, Offshore Trusts

Pritzker in 2001: 'Our commitment to subprime has never been stronger'
President Obama and Penny Pritzker Thursday. (AP)

Commerce secretary nominee Penny Pritzker could be looking at a difficult confirmation process over her financial background and her family’s asset management that includes subprime lending, offshore trusts, and a pioneering approach to tax code loopholes. For instance, the Hyatt heiress served as chairwoman of Superior Bank, a pioneer in bundling subprime loans into securities that …

A Penny Earned

Major Obama bundler Penny Pritzker nominated for commerce secretary
Barack Obama, Penny Pritzker / AP

President Barack Obama’s nomination of billionaire hotel heiress and major campaign donor Penny Pritzker could drive a wedge through his coalition of labor supporters.

Obama Donor Funds Stewart Movie

‘Daily Show’ host’s directorial debut funded by major Dem donor
Jon Stewart / AP

One of President Barack Obama’s most loyal fundraising families is funding “The Daily Show” host Jon Stewart’s first foray into film directing.

Penny Pritzker Rumored for Commerce Job

Hyatt heiress raised more than $900,000 for Obama's two campaigns
Pritzker (AP)

The Chicago Sun-Times’ Michael Sneed reports she “hears” hotel heiress and major Democratic fundraiser Penny Pritzker is being considered for secretary of commerce.

Obama Crosses Picket Line

Hotel Mogul Pritzker Gets Ride on Air Force One as Unions Launch Boycott
AP Images

Penny Pritzker, the billionaire heiress whose family owns the Hyatt hotel chain, took a ride on Air Force One this afternoon from San Francisco to Portland, Ore., where President Obama was making a series of fundraising stops.