Monday, January 11, 2016

Who pays the piper,calls the tune

Hillary Clinton has received large speaking fees from the financial industry since leaving the State Department. According to public disclosures, by giving just 12 speeches to Wall Street banks, private equity firms, and other financial corporations, Clinton made almost $3 million from 2013 to 2015.

Clinton’s most lucrative year was 2013, right after stepping down as secretary of state. That year, she made $2.3 million for three speeches to Goldman Sachs and individual speeches to Deutsche Bank, Morgan Stanley, Fidelity Investments, Apollo Management Holdings, UBS, Bank of America, and Golden Tree Asset Managers. The following year, she picked up $485,000 for a speech to Deutsche Bank and an address to Ameriprise. Last year, she made $150,000 from a lecture before the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce.

To put these numbers into perspective, compare them to lifetime earnings of the median American worker. In 2011, the Census Bureau estimated that, across all majors, a “bachelor’s degree holder can expect to earn about $2.4 million over his or her work life.” A Pew Research analysis published the same year estimated that a “typical high school graduate” can expect to make just $770,000 over the course of his or her lifetime. This means that in one year —  2013 — Hillary Clinton earned almost as much from 10 lectures to financial firms as most bachelor’s degree-holding Americans earn in their lifetimes — and nearly four times what someone who holds only a high school diploma could expect to make.

Hillary’s haul from Wall Street speeches pales in comparison to her husband’s, Bill, which also had to be disclosed because the two share a bank account. During Hillary Clinton’s time as secretary of state, Bill Clinton earned $17 million in talks to banks, insurance companies, hedge funds, real estate businesses, and other financial firms. Altogether, the couple are estimated to have made over $139 million from paid speeches.

Let’s be blunt. The message she sent the slimiest of bankers and financiers was “Don’t worry! I’m on YOUR side!”

As Howard Zinn wrote “The result of having our history dominated by presidents and generals, and other ‘important’ people, is to create a passive citizenry; not knowing its own powers, always waiting for some savior on high, God or the next president, to bring peace and justice.”

While Arundhati Roy in 2004 commented “The U.S. elections have deteriorated into a sort of personality contest, a squabble over who would do a better job of overseeing Empire…It’s not a real choice. It’s an apparent choice. Like choosing a brand of detergent. Whether you buy Ivory Snow or Tide, they’re both owned by Proctor & Gamble. To imagine that a leader’s personal charisma and a résumé of struggle will dent the corporate cartel is to have no understanding of how capitalism works, or for that matter how power works. Radical change will not be negotiated by governments; it can only be enforced by people.”

Is Hillary worth the money? Are the transcripts of her talks freely available? Here’s the way it works: “Transcription solely for speaker’s record….sponsor shall have no ownership rights of any kind.” No audio recording. Approved video recording only. So basically, if there is a record, the Bill Hillary and Chelsea Foundation is the only organization that has a copy.

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