-By John Dillon. John blogs at Pension Vocabulary
Marcus Licinius Crassus (115 – 53 BC) early on recognized his enormous wealth could buy him an army and quite possibly the consulship of ancient Rome. In fact, his military victories over rivals and enemies allowed the proscription (seizure) of their assets for his own – a swift kind of vulture capitalism with a sword.
In Robert Harris’ historical narrative Imperium, Cicero recalls how the savvy Crassus lined the pockets of his close friends by sending teams of slaves into burning neighborhoods and offering to buy the owners’ endangered homes for next to nothing. When the owners agreed and ran away with their belongings, teams of slaves with water pumps would arrive and quench the flames. The buildings could then be sold to friends at a profit but still cheap enough to provide for their own later fiscal enhancement.
…Like promising to declare bankruptcy once one takes over the Chicago Public Schools while CPS is desperately seeking bond purchases to pay for much-needed cash. The resultant jump in interest rates will cost the taxpayers dearly but earn capitally for fellow investors. Ironically, just like 73 BC, in 2016 AD it’s good to have friends in high places; but the repeating of history can also have its darker and quirkier sides.
For while Marcus Crassus hoped to be named singular consul of Rome, the highest political office of the state upon his return from various victories, he was instead forced to share that power with his most-hated rival Pompey (Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus), who upon return to Rome declared his own victories surpassing those of Crassus’.
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? All we need at this point is a Turnaround Agenda…
But if past is indeed prologue, can we expect much to happen differently when Governor Rauner takes the podium – one week after Obama’s return to Springfield and the President’s call for a cessation of partisan bickering – to give his annual State of the Budget speech to the General Assembly?
Probably not one iota (sorry, it’s a Greek theme – so, blame the Field Museum).
During his campaign to become Governor, it is estimated Rauner personally spent nearly $36 per vote (or nearly $24 million of his own wealth in the last three months of his race for the gubernatorial race). By the way, according to Rauner that would be less than 5% of his assets.
“Overall, Rauner’s campaign spent $65.3 million since it began in March 2013, and the Republican received more than 1.8 million votes in his general election victory compared with nearly 1.7 million votes for Quinn, who was seeking a second elected term. That translates to $35.83 per vote for Rauner…The documents also showed Rauner raising more than $40 million the last three months of 2014, including $22 million from Oct. 1 to Election Day.
Of that $22 million raised, Rauner accounted for nearly $13.5 million out of his own pocket. That amounted to nearly half the $27.6 million in personal funds Rauner contributed.
Since winning election, Rauner has given his campaign fund an additional $10 million in personal funds and two wealthy allies, hedge fund CEO Ken Griffin and businessman Richard Uihlein, combined for another $10 million. The $20 million is aimed at helping promote Rauner’s still-unstated agenda as governor and helping buttress Republican state lawmakers to support it.”