With a net worth today of $1 billion and at age 73, I cannot imagine what Joe Ricketts is worried about. Or maybe I can.
The founder of TD Ameritrade is fretting over the crumbs falling from his table. It galls Joe that some of those crumbs might be used to help poor people in the country that facilitated his company’s phenomenal success.
Along with industrialist Charles Koch, investor Tom Perkins and gambler Sheldon Adelstein, Ricketts is another aging billionaire who believes America has let him down. These well-heeled gents and others like them seek to purchase a government that will promote their selfserving agenda if it can’t be achieved through free and fair democratic elections.
These 1 percenters have a simple formula: tap ignorance and anger to convince the 99 per cent to vote against their own best economic interests.
With the help of the right-wing media, these unhappy billionaires have achieved at least part of their objective. Try to name any meaningful legislation passed into law since Republicans took control of the House of Representatives nearly four years ago.
Inertia and government shut downs serve Ricketts, Koch, Perkins and Adelstein as well as anything else.
Conservatism, as I’ve noted, is a political system founded on deception. It cannot survive in a true democracy unless it is supported by distortions, half-truths and lies. There’s no way, for example, billionaires can say, “Americans need to coddle people like us because …” Like the others, Ricketts cowers behind front groups, pumping millions of dollars into right wing propaganda campaigns to support the conservative candidates most likely to bend to his will. Joe has to be careful. TD Ameritrade’s many customers who disagree with his extreme politics might take their business elsewhere. Meantime, quaint notions of decency and honor have no place in Mr. Ricketts’ playbook. In 2012 he planned a racist advertising campaign against Barack Obama that stereotyped the president as a “metrosexual black Abe Lincoln.” After the campaign was exposed, the ads never saw the light of day. Ricketts said he didn’t know anything about it.
Michelle Nunn is a thoroughly decent and honorable human being, born and bred in Georgia to one of our state’s most celebrated families; a wife and mother of two who decided to run for the U.S. Senate because (get this!) she wants to help Georgians.
Before that, Michelle led the volunteer service organization Hands on Atlanta, which later merged with President George H.W. Bush’s Points of Light Foundation.
“She is visionary, creative and a magnet for great people passionate about service,” said Neil Bush, President Bush’s son and chairman of the foundation.
Michelle comes by these attributes naturally. Her dad, Sam, is one of our nation’s most revered statesmen, a former U.S. Senator who brought great credit on Georgia.
If she gets to Washington, Michelle will no doubt distinguish herself too, working with the Senate’s bipartisan women to get things done for middle class, working and poor Georgians.
I knew aliens would crawl out of the woodwork to viciously attack Michelle Nunn. What I didn’t expect was Joe Ricketts’ virulent bare knuckles assault on her so early in the Senate campaign.
Lurking behind something called the Ending Spending Action Fund, Ricketts is paying for TV ads in Georgia that present unflattering photos of Michelle while suggesting Michelle is greedy and selfish, firing half of the 175 Hands on Atlanta staff while taking a salary increase.
This line of attack by Ricketts would be funny if it weren’t so nakedly hypocritical.
Ricketts’ son Pete, the Republican nominee for Nebraska governor, fired 450 employees and then collected more than $700,000 in bonuses as COO of TD Ameritrade.
Hands on America merged with Points of Light and as often happens, there were redundancies, so some were laid off. Nunn went from leading a regional non-profit to CEO of a national volunteer organization, accounting for her bump in pay. Her salary at Points of Light was not unusual for national not-for-profits.
Voters are going to be inundated with all kinds of bogus GOP commercials this election cycle. You folks need to make darned sure your B.S. antennae are finely tuned.
There are Ricketts around every corner.
Kevin Foley is an author, writer and public relations executive who lives in Kennesaw.