Revolt of the robber barons

Revolt of the robber barons

Miami : FL : USA | Oct 10, 2012 at 6:55 PM PDT
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Florida billionaire David Siegel, 77, founder of timeshares mega-business Westgate Resorts, has emailed every last one of his 7,000 workers that the re-election of President Obama will likely mean the loss of their jobs. Indeed, he will not merely fire them, but will shut his entire operation down, move to an island in the Caribbean (presumably a private island), kick back, sip mint juleps, and just play with his much younger wife for his remaining years.

The money part of the email reads as follows:

“In spite of all of the challenges we have faced, the good news is this: The economy doesn't currently pose a threat to your job. What does threaten your job however, is another 4 years of the same Presidential administration.”

The email was leaked by someone on his staff, an Obama supporter obviously, and has now been publicized worldwide.

Realizing that he might be treading on shaky legal ground, Siegel sought to shield himself from charges of voter intimidation: “Of course, as your employer, I can't tell you whom to vote for, and I certainly wouldn't interfere with your right to vote for whomever you choose,” he wrote. “In fact, I encourage you to vote for whomever you think will serve your interests the best. However, let me share a few facts that might help you decide what is in your best interest."

Here, Siegel details his main objections to the president. There really are only two: (1) that “Obamacare” will increase the cost of Siegel providing insurance to his employees, and (2) that his personal and business taxes will rise in a second Obama administration, necessitating a lowering of his employees’ salaries and wages or … the elimination of their jobs altogether.

“So, when you make your decision to vote, ask yourself, which candidate understands the economics of business ownership and who doesn't. Whose policies will endanger your job?”

Siegel actually defended his threats in a telephone call to the New York Daily News. He was merely trying to “educate” his workers on what is best for them—and him.

"I had the hindsight of having lived four years under the Obama administration, and I know what it's done to my company. I felt that I had a duty to inform my employees of what the possible results would be."

Perhaps I should not characterize Siegel’s missive as a threat. He specifically denies that it is, in fact. "I'm not in that voting booth with them. I'm not trying to intimidate anybody." Again, sounds like his attorney was sitting with him as he spoke on the phone to the Daily News.

Obama’s re-election would bring an end to the good times we’ve all enjoyed these last few years, says Siegel. “I don’t see a bright future. I see further layoffs,” he said.

Finally, Siegel regrets that his email went viral. But, well, somebody had to say it. "I didn't want my letter to go out worldwide like it has, but since it has, I've had calls from dozens of businesspeople who've said, ‘We feel the same way, but we don't have the guts to say it,’” he said. "We're not bad people. One-percenters create all the jobs. We should be considered heroes, not villains.”

In that phone call, Siegel made it clear what he meant about expatriation should Obama actually win: “If that happens, you can find me in the Caribbean sitting on the beach, under a palm tree, retired and with no employees to worry about.”


It appears that the entire class of the rich and super-rich has turned against Obama this time around. Recall that in the 2008 election cycle, the bulk of then-Senator Obama’s campaign donations came from these selfsame rich folks. In turn, President Obama returned the favor. He extended the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, keeping their tax burden the lowest it’s been in the history of the whole damn country. The Dow Jones average has actually doubled in value since Obama’s election. And the trillions in bailout monies to banks and other financial institutions have triggered a profit margin among them unseen since the 1890s.

So why do these guys (and they are all guys) now suddenly hate Obama so much?

Well, Obama has been heard to say that perhaps it might be time to raise the taxes on the wealthy by … let’s say one or maybe two percent. Horrors!

He did say, quietly, at his first debate with Mitt Romney that he thought a modest tax on corporate jets might be in order. Horrors!

And then of course there’s this whole Obamacare thing. When the Affordable Care Act goes into full effect in 2014, a number of health insurance moguls will be out of work. Horror of Horrors!

Finally, there is also the magnetism of his opponent. A true to-the-manor-born plutocrat and fellow traveler, one who really understands the burden of great wealth, of responsibility, of being a maker rather than a taker. Romney understands, appreciates better than Obama ever will, just how difficult it is to manage the layabouts—you know, that pesky 47 percent who just don’t get it. They don’t understand, as Romney so clearly does, that their purpose in life is to make sure that the rich remain rich—or become as rich as possible—so that everybody else (the lower classes) can someday, perhaps, maybe, if they work for the rich long and hard enough—and for God's sakes, without complaining—well … they just might get rich, too. And isn't that the American Dream?

If you like to write about U.S. politics and Campaign 2012, enter "The American Pundit" competition. Allvoices is awarding four $250 prizes each month between now and November. These monthly winners earn eligibility for the $5,000 grand prize, to be awarded after the November election.


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Siegel outside his mansionin Florida.  (Photo:  AP)
David Siegel poses outside his Florida diggs. (Photo: AP)
Herbert Dyer, Jr. is based in Chicago, Illinois, United States of America, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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