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August 04, 2012

You're Under Arrest

One of the positive things about our giant economic collapse has been an outbreak of honesty among the billionaires who run America. Now they seem to feel free to express how they truly feel about the rest of us.

Here are the views of David Siegel, timeshare mogul and star of the new documentary Queen of Versailles. He and his wife Jackie first got national attention for their attempt to build the largest house in America, a 90,000-square foot Versailles replica:

David and Jackie have been surprised by the criticism of their lifestyle. “So much negativity. You would think they would be happy for someone living the American dream,” Jackie says. … As for the notion that the divide between the wealthy and everyone else is grotesquely wide, David says: “There’s always been rich and poor, the 1 percent and the 99 percent.” And then he adds, “It’s like a prison. If you only have prisoners and no guards, you’d have chaos.”

So that's pretty straightforward: America is like a prison, and all non-billionaires are the prisoners. (Also, the prisoners should be happy for the guards.)

But it's not just this honesty for which we can thank David Siegel. There's also this:

A lot of people are wondering how much influence a few rich businessmen will have on the presidential election. The rich businessmen might be wondering, too. But mostly they’re not talking about it. There’s one exception: David Siegel…In [The Queen of Versailles], Siegel says that he was personally responsible for the election of George W. Bush in 2000…

Here’s Siegel’s account of how he swung the election in Bush’s favor: “Whenever I saw a negative article about [Al] Gore, I put it in with the paychecks of my 8,000 employees. I had my managers do a survey on every employee. If they liked Bush, we made them register to vote. But not if they liked Gore. The week before [the election] we made 80,000 phone calls through my call center – they were robo-calls. On Election Day, we made sure everyone who was voting for Bush got to the polls. I didn’t know he would win by 527 votes. Afterward, we did a survey among the employees to find out who voted who wouldn’t have otherwise. One thousand of them said so.”

In the movie Siegel says he isn't sure whether what he did was legal. I wonder too, especially about using corporate resources to support candidates. Fortunately we don't have to worry about illegal election manipulation anymore, since now nothing's illegal.

—Jon Schwarz

Posted at August 4, 2012 05:19 PM

I understand how Kissinger's Nobel killed irony but these guys have killed comedy altogether. Comedy is supposed to be stuff one creates, but when reality gives you lines like "It’s like a prison. If you only have prisoners and no guards, you’d have chaos," what's left there to create?

Posted by: bobs at August 4, 2012 06:49 PM

I would call them filth, but that would be degrading to filth.

I sit and smile, though, thinking of what happened to the last official residents of the real Versailles, and thinking the same thing couldn't happen to nicer people.

Posted by: NomadUK at August 5, 2012 02:42 AM

I was already planning to see this film, but this solidifies it. Thanks for passing on the appalling tidbits.

Posted by: Batocchio at August 5, 2012 03:53 AM

I would love to hear / read the "That's not the way I intended it" defense of the prison comment when someone (I would hope) confronted him on it later. Even more unintentional comedic gold, I'm sure.

Posted by: Vinnie at August 5, 2012 11:09 AM

Interesting analogy. I wonder if it dawned on him that prisoners are not prisoners voluntarily and are kept prisoners by force. Would a prison with no guards result in chaos? No, it would result in no prison.

Posted by: Todd S. at August 5, 2012 11:21 AM

Your first link isn’t working.

Heck, I stopped worrying about elections of any sort years ago. We do have one freedom left, we are free to starve and live on the streets, freedom!

Posted by: Robert Payne at August 5, 2012 02:48 PM

And yes, we have the FREEDOM to be shot in PUBLIC PLACES.....again and again AND again!


Posted by: Rupa Shah at August 5, 2012 03:12 PM

Mr Schwarz, how could you forget to mention how GENEROUS the Prison Guards are.....
"“Why is everyone so concerned about how we spend our money? We give a lot to charity. We keep the economy going.” The Westgate Resorts Foundation has given $6.2 million to various charities since 2001 and has raised an additional $8.6 million, according to the company. Siegel says he has also donated thousands of free nights at his resorts."
I guess the FREE NIGHTS are for other billionaires or may be for ........... ??? And the prisoners are supposed to feel grateful for their generosity!!

Here is the link to the article....

Posted by: Rupa Shah at August 5, 2012 03:24 PM

Racist, do we even have to fucking say it?

A negro population is naturally lazy and requires to make a profit on it a master who will make himself a slave His life must be a steady struggle to compel other men to make that property for himself which they have no motive to make for themselves Nor is this the consequences of their colour The ancients in the same situation have urged the necessity of the masters being first up and last down Those who are curious may find this and much more on the same subject verified in the economies of Xenophon The ancients however had an advantage over us They were sterner stuff The obligations of a mild and merciful religion were unknown to them Hence they could treat their slaves like cattle and the Censor Cato did not consider it a derogation to his character to recommend to the and careful farmer to get rid of his and feeble slaves just as he would of his and worn out stock. 1829, The Friend. "Comparitive value of free and slave labor"

Posted by: Lewis at August 5, 2012 06:42 PM

The prison comparison struck me as notable considering Howard Zinn used the exact same analogy in a People's History of America to say that the middle class were the guards of a prison designed to protect the rich from the poor. To hear it in the mouth of one the plutocracy implies that he was right on the money.

Posted by: Royal Constantine at August 5, 2012 11:10 PM

On the plus side, every time I come here to check on the latest comments, I'm treated to that image of Mrs Siegel's astounding rack. So I guess I'm getting something out of the plutocracy after all....

Posted by: NomadUK at August 6, 2012 02:29 AM

And, of course, I trust everyone here is familiar with the Chomsky line, that the ruling class have always been real, staunch Maoists (only from the other side of the glass).

Posted by: saurabh at August 6, 2012 10:39 AM

Bob Dylan sang

"Sometimes I think that this whole world
Is one great prison yard
Some of us are prisoners
And some of us are guards"

And a few are highly paid executives and/or stockholders of The Very Big Prison Corporation of America Inc.

Posted by: mistah charley, ph.d. at August 6, 2012 02:25 PM

Here's a another treasure, a pro-Slavery advocate making exactly the same point:

If in consequence of the evils incident to hireling labour because there are severe heartless grinding employers and miserable starving hirelings it were proposed to abolish hireling labour it would be quite as just and logical as the argument to abolish Slavery because there are sufferings among Slaves and hard hearts among Masters The cruelty or suffering is no more a necessary part of the one system than of the other . -- William John Grayson, "The Hireling and the Slave" 1855

Posted by: Lewis at August 6, 2012 06:10 PM

Here is some interesting information about REAL prisoners.....
Why does it ALWAYS boil down to "POVERTY" or "RACE"? Do they come naturally with label of 'CRIME'?.... in some people's minds!!!!


Posted by: Rupa Shah at August 8, 2012 03:48 PM

There are "prisoners" and there are PRISONERS.... AND, there are "prisoners" who become "Prisoners of their Minds"..... thanks to GUARDS of different kind...

SOMETHING HAPPENED TO JEFF: "Hell Broke Luce"( by Tom Waits )


Posted by: Rupa Shah at August 8, 2012 07:47 PM

If nothing's illegal, then everything is!

Posted by: En Ming Hee at August 9, 2012 08:35 AM