Skip to main content

Why are the billionaires always laughing?

Because they know the corporate media will never call bullshit on their bullshit.

Why are the billionaires laughing?

It’s easy to laugh when the corporate press treats you as a glorious success instead of the epitome of a broken social order. Billionaires laugh because they know the corporate media prefers to fawn over them rather than hold them to account.

Today, we ask you to support our nonprofit, independent journalism because we are not impressed by billionaires flying into space, their corporations despoiling our health and planet, or their vast fortunes safely concealed in tax havens across the globe. We are not laughing.

We are hard at work producing journalism for the common good. With our Fall Campaign underway, please support this mission today. We cannot do it without you.

Support Our Work -- Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Every donation—large or small—helps us bring you the news that matters.

Environmental activists protest outside of the Harvard Club where Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt was scheduled to speak, June 20, 2017 in New York City. (Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

"A Slap in the Face": Victims of Big Oil Pollution Speak Out Against Pruitt's Luxury Flights

"If he is putting people's lives in danger and that is making them angry, maybe he should face that."

Jake Johnson

After the public was informed last week that Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Scott Pruitt has been forced to take luxury first-class flights because people were yelling at him for destroying the planet in coach, few expressed sympathy.

"I wish that I could get away like that from my situation, but I don't get a day off from living this nightmare."
—Amy Brown

But those who live in heavily polluted areas are particularly appalled by the EPA head's "hollow" excuse, because while Pruitt can run to the front of the plane to evade criticism, families throughout the nation can't escape their toxic communities—which will likely be made worse by President Donald Trump's pro-fossil fuel agenda.

"It's so insulting and a slap in the face, that he is above sitting with people who have questions, who might be the people who have been affected by his decisions," Amy Brown, a North Carolina mother whose water is under threat from a nearby coal ash pit, told ThinkProgress in an interview. "I wish that I could get away like that from my situation, but I don't get a day off from living this nightmare."

This sentiment was echoed by several Americans who live in areas that have been heavily exploited by Big Oil. Speaking to ThinkProgress, they expressed disgust that Pruitt is hiding from public scrutiny while actively working to undermine public health and safety.

Alden Cleanthes, a Virginia father whose son suffered from pancreatitis that was likely caused by water pollution, tore into the EPA's claim that Pruitt has to fly first class for "security" reasons.

"Is he afraid for his life when he sits in coach? Because I'm afraid for my life every time I think about whether the water is dirty and is going to make my son sick," Cleanthes said.

Pruitt has been intensely criticized by environmental and ethics advocates since the Washington Post revealed that the EPA chief spent tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars on luxury travel during his first year in office. The EPA later told the press that Pruitt flies first-class to avoid people who tell him, for instance, that he is "f***ing up the environment."

As Common Dreams reported on Sunday, Pruitt was forced to cancel a planned trip to Israel as advocacy groups called for his ouster.

In policy terms, Pruitt has moved at breakneck speed to dismantle environmental regulations put in place by the Obama administration. As ThinkProgress points out, the EPA under Pruitt's leadership has also been far more lax with regard to enforcement.

According to an analysis (pdf) by the Environmental Integrity Project, environmental enforcement under Pruitt is 44 percent lower than it was under his predecessors.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

New Whistleblower Sparks Calls to 'Crack Down on Facebook and All Big Tech Companies'

Hours after another ex-employee filed a formal complaint, reporting broke on internal documents that show the tech giant's failure to address concerns about content related to the 2020 U.S. election.

Jessica Corbett ·


'Catastrophic and Irreparable Harm' to Wolves Averted as Wisconsin Judge Cancels Hunt

"We are heartened by this rare instance of reason and democracy prevailing in state wolf policy," said one conservation expert.

Brett Wilkins ·


West Virginia Constituents Decry 'Immorality' of Joe Manchin

"West Virginia has been locked into an economy that forces workers into low-wage jobs with no hope for advancement, and after decades of this our hope is dwindling," said one West Virginian. "The cuts that Sen. Manchin has negotiated into the agenda hurt our state."

Julia Conley ·


'Texans Deserved Better Than This': Supreme Court Leaves Abortion Ban in Place

The nation's high court set a date to hear a pair of legal challenges to the "horrific" restrictions.

Jessica Corbett ·


'Like It Never Happened': Federal Judge Tosses Trump Attack on Clean Water Rule

Denying a Biden administration request to temporarily retain the rule, the judge reestablished "the careful balance of state and federal power to protect clean water that Congress intended when it wrote the Clean Water Act."

Brett Wilkins ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo