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In other states, the super-rich pledge to give their wealth to charity. In Arkansas, we'd be happy if they just quit trying to tear down the public schools.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette asked in-state moneybags if they'd join Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and other billionaires in giving away their skillfully inherited money. Not on your life, Rich Arkansas responded.

A South Arkansas heir, invoking the mythical "death tax," was fairly typical of the group. "I know they're [Gates and Buffett] both advocates of keeping the death tax and keeping it at a high and confiscatory rate," he said. ("Death tax" is what people who're rich and dishonest call the inheritance tax, which is levied only on a tiny number of very rich people, none of whom has been forced to take a real job.) "I don't believe I'll succumb to the blandishments of social pressure when we're already engaged in what we believe are appropriate philanthropic practices."

That's the voice of people who've been brought up to believe that because they're richer than other people, they're better than other people. How often do they claim exemption from the rules applied to their lessers:

"I don't believe I'll succumb to the blandishments of statutory law." "I don't believe I'll succumb to the blandishments of organized religion." "I don't believe I'll succumb to the blandishments of common decency."

Will they succumb to the blandishments of their less fortunate neighbors, who need the public schools for the education of their children? Not these boys. Many of the same ones who were named in the D-G article, or should have been – Waltons, Stephenses, Murphys, Hussmans, Demings et al – are members of a Billionaires Club that is using its considerable wherewithal in a campaign to replace traditional public schools with charter schools teaching what rich guys like to hear – reverence for wealth, principally. Their plan to crush teachers unions in the process – they hate it when the non-rich lack servility – has brought the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce to their side. The chamber stands for nothing if not cheap and docile labor.

Arkansas doesn't have a monopoly on self-satisfied billionaires, if that helps. Rupert Murdoch won't be joining the Gates-Buffet project. When Murdoch turns loose of money, such as his media conglomerate's recent million-dollar gift to the Republican Governors Association, he expects a sizeable return on investment. The Republicans' "pro-business agenda" is what attracted Murdoch, a spokesman said, hinting that groups with a pro-consumer agenda shouldn't look that way for help. Shouldn't go to Fox News, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Post for fair reporting, either.

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