Joe Biden and the American nomenklatura

Thomas Lifson
The old Soviet Union used to boast about the flat income distribution under socialism, as compared with the "savage inequalities" found under capitalism. This never stopped its leadership cadre from living very well indeed. The secret was to allow them access to special shops featuring goods unavailable elsewhere, and provide access to fine housing at little or no cost. Membership in the list of special officials - the nomenklatura - allowed one to live well while maintaining the fiction of income equality.

Senator Joseph Biden appears to have mastered the techniques of living nomenklatura-style. Biden poses as one of the least wealthy members of the United States Senate. Yet he manages to live well above his reported family income of a quarter million dollars a year, with

...a 6,800-square-foot custom-built colonial-style house on four lakefront acres, a property worth close to $3 million.

Mike Mcintire and Serge F. Kovaleski of The New York Times have earned my respect for chronicling some of the legal (they aver) dodges used by the faux "working class" guy from Scranton, whose father was a sales executive able to send him to a very fancy private school. Today, in fact, there is a report that Biden has falsely claimed  to have been a "hard coal miner."

Here are some of the (apparently legal) rackets Biden has engineered to live above his income, as chronicled by the NYT:

A review of his finances found that when it comes to some of his largest expenses, like the purchase and upkeep of his home and his use of Amtrak trains to get around, he has benefited from resources and relationships not available to average Americans.

As a secure incumbent who has rarely faced serious competition during 35 years in the Senate, Mr. Biden has been able to dip into his campaign treasury to spend thousands of dollars on home landscaping and some of his Amtrak travel between Wilmington, Del., where he lives, and Washington. And the acquisition of his waterfront property a decade ago involved wealthy businessmen and campaign supporters, some of them bankers with an interest in legislation before the Senate, who bought his old house for top dollar, sold him four acres at cost and lent him $500,000 to build his new home. [....]

"He was a V.I.P., so he was treated accordingly by the bank," said Ronald Tennant, a former loan officer who handled the mortgages Mr. Biden used to build his house. The bank did not give him a below-market interest rate, a perk that has caused embarrassment for some other members of Congress. But, Mr. Tennant said, "We paid particularly close attention to make sure everything came out right."

The bailout bill just passed by the Senate is sparking disgust among not just conservatives but most Americans. The ways in which the political class manages to feather its own nests while taking care of its friends is a symptom of a serious disease in our political system. I am disgusted that this behavior of Biden is legal.

Update:

A second unofficial branch of the nomenklatura consists of employees of non-profits, or as liberals like to call them, NGOs -- non-governmental organizations (a biazarre term, since families, churches and corporations are all non-governmental organizations, too).

Readers may remember that Al Sharpton escaped paying $345,000 in damages to Steven Pagones and others he defamed in the Tawana Brawley case. Despite dressing in expensive suits and traveling first class, he claimed poverty, suggesting that he didn't own the suits he wore.

In large and prosperous non-profit organizations I have gotten to know, I have observed all sorts of compensation to senior executives that doesn't show up as income. Lavish offices, ample free time (some even offer paid "sabbaticals"), flexible work schedules, expense accounts, first class travel to exotic destinations for conferences, research, and other pleasant activities, superb dining facilities and cuisine, and on and on. 

The net effect of wealth is transferred without the appearance of wealth.
The old Soviet Union used to boast about the flat income distribution under socialism, as compared with the "savage inequalities" found under capitalism. This never stopped its leadership cadre from living very well indeed. The secret was to allow them access to special shops featuring goods unavailable elsewhere, and provide access to fine housing at little or no cost. Membership in the list of special officials - the nomenklatura - allowed one to live well while maintaining the fiction of income equality.

Senator Joseph Biden appears to have mastered the techniques of living nomenklatura-style. Biden poses as one of the least wealthy members of the United States Senate. Yet he manages to live well above his reported family income of a quarter million dollars a year, with

...a 6,800-square-foot custom-built colonial-style house on four lakefront acres, a property worth close to $3 million.

Mike Mcintire and Serge F. Kovaleski of The New York Times have earned my respect for chronicling some of the legal (they aver) dodges used by the faux "working class" guy from Scranton, whose father was a sales executive able to send him to a very fancy private school. Today, in fact, there is a report that Biden has falsely claimed  to have been a "hard coal miner."

Here are some of the (apparently legal) rackets Biden has engineered to live above his income, as chronicled by the NYT:

A review of his finances found that when it comes to some of his largest expenses, like the purchase and upkeep of his home and his use of Amtrak trains to get around, he has benefited from resources and relationships not available to average Americans.

As a secure incumbent who has rarely faced serious competition during 35 years in the Senate, Mr. Biden has been able to dip into his campaign treasury to spend thousands of dollars on home landscaping and some of his Amtrak travel between Wilmington, Del., where he lives, and Washington. And the acquisition of his waterfront property a decade ago involved wealthy businessmen and campaign supporters, some of them bankers with an interest in legislation before the Senate, who bought his old house for top dollar, sold him four acres at cost and lent him $500,000 to build his new home. [....]

"He was a V.I.P., so he was treated accordingly by the bank," said Ronald Tennant, a former loan officer who handled the mortgages Mr. Biden used to build his house. The bank did not give him a below-market interest rate, a perk that has caused embarrassment for some other members of Congress. But, Mr. Tennant said, "We paid particularly close attention to make sure everything came out right."

The bailout bill just passed by the Senate is sparking disgust among not just conservatives but most Americans. The ways in which the political class manages to feather its own nests while taking care of its friends is a symptom of a serious disease in our political system. I am disgusted that this behavior of Biden is legal.

Update:

A second unofficial branch of the nomenklatura consists of employees of non-profits, or as liberals like to call them, NGOs -- non-governmental organizations (a biazarre term, since families, churches and corporations are all non-governmental organizations, too).

Readers may remember that Al Sharpton escaped paying $345,000 in damages to Steven Pagones and others he defamed in the Tawana Brawley case. Despite dressing in expensive suits and traveling first class, he claimed poverty, suggesting that he didn't own the suits he wore.

In large and prosperous non-profit organizations I have gotten to know, I have observed all sorts of compensation to senior executives that doesn't show up as income. Lavish offices, ample free time (some even offer paid "sabbaticals"), flexible work schedules, expense accounts, first class travel to exotic destinations for conferences, research, and other pleasant activities, superb dining facilities and cuisine, and on and on. 

The net effect of wealth is transferred without the appearance of wealth.