A Safe Bet
Amidst yesterday’s bombshell news that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has brought together a Grand Jury, you might have missed the news about West Virginia Governor, Jim Justice. Justice, having won his re-election just eight months ago, switched parties from Democrat to Republican at Trump’s rally last night. You might look at this as an odd move, considering that the Republican brand has been taking a bit of a pounding recently, and by most measures you’d be right. But I’m looking at this move as if Justice is a man with nothing to lose. West Virginia is blood red, so its a safe move; and this could further isolate Democratic WV Senator Joe Manchin, who (as we talked about two days ago) is up for re-election next year.
In essence, think of this move as such: In a crowded sports bar, the Blue Team has held the Red Team to zero points against all likelihood. In response, everyone starts betting against the Red Team, driving the betting odds way, way up. Justice may only have a $20 in his pocket, but when you’re looking at 100:1 odds, you place your bet on that 1. If you lose, you’re only out twenty bucks. If you win, congrats on your rent payment.
Billionaires are Never Our Allies
Mixed into this swirling concoction of deceit and back-scratching is Jim Justice’s 2015 re-acquisition of the Bluestone coal mining operation. Bought back from Russian mining company Mechel for less than 1% of what he sold it to them for, it could be possible that Justice seems some short/mid-term financial profitability in switching parties- on top of whatever political capital he believes the move will net him. Regardless of how coal plays into this, though, I believe this illustrates the point that billionaires are never, ever our allies; I doubt very much that last night’s party switch was a spontaneous move, and was likely one he’d wanted to make since his successful 2016 re-election as a Democrat (if not before). Justice is just another in a long line of industrial magnates playing on peoples’ tribalism for his own profit, but whether its Justice with the coal industry, Zuckerberg with Facebook or Musk with Tesla, we should never assume that billionaires have our interests at heart.