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Johnstown Flood 2: New Gilded Age Boogaloo

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The Johnstown Flood happened in 1889 when an elite hunting club led by the vile capitalist Henry Clay Frick and frequented by other lovely people such as Andrew Carnegie and Andrew Mellon didn’t bother maintaining a dam on their property. The dam burst and a mere 2,200 people died.

The Johnstown Flood wasn’t a natural disaster. It was one of the prototypical murderous incidents of the murderous Gilded Age. So of course, we are going down that road all over again.

In 2006, the clock was bearing down on Lee Mueller’s family.

Heirs of the founder of the Boy Scouts of America, Mueller and his relatives needed to reinvest money from the sale of an Illinois property in less than a year — or pay $600,000 in taxes to the IRS.

Eventually, a solution came to Mueller, an architect who lives in Las Vegas, and his cousin, Michel d’Avenas, a California musician who is the son of a French count and is now known as the Pebble Beach Bagpiper.

They would avoid taxes by purchasing four small hydroelectric dams in mid-Michigan near Midland, according to hundreds of pages of federal court records reviewed by Bridge.

The deal was troubled from the start for trustees of the William D. Boyce Trusts, which manages the fortune of a Chicago publishing magnate who founded the Scouts at the dawn of the 20th century. In the 14 years that have followed, Mueller and the trust have clashed repeatedly with state officials, federal regulators, local homeowners and even fishermen.

The source of friction: money, according to neighbors and court records.

Mueller “hates government, he hates paying taxes, and nothing makes him happier than when he can stick his finger in the eye of government,” said Joe Manelis, a longtime Sanford Lake homeowner who has clashed with Mueller over one of the dams on his lake.

Last week, after Boyce Hydro Power LLC, as well as prior owners, failed for decades to heed demands of federal regulators to increase flood capacity at the largest of the four dams, the Edenville Dam failed, sending billions of gallons downstream, destroying homes, property and prompting the evacuation of some 10,000 residents of Midland, Gladwin and Saginaw counties.

Our rich elites are psychopaths.

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