Poor Little Rich Boys

This piece, titled “The Rage of the Privileged Class,” is guaranteed to give your blood pressure a good bump:

As the hue and cry to return the money grew, the traders had thought that Liddy would stand up for them. The ruddy-faced, 63-year-old former Allstate CEO, who had been installed by Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson in September, was, if not exactly one of them, at least someone who understood the rules of the game as it had been played—and who understood what they were entitled to under those rules, even if those rules were unspoken. In AIG’s glory years, executives like Joseph Cassano, the former head of financial products, took home more than $300 million. That was the kind of money you couldn’t talk about.

But as Andrew Cuomo stoked public outrage by threatening to release the names of the bonus recipients, it became clear that the game was changing. When AIG employees had arrived at their desks that morning, they found a memo from Liddy asking them to return 50 percent of the money. The number infuriated many of the traders. Why 50 percent? It seemed to be picked out of a hat. The money had been promised, was the feeling. A sacred principle was at stake, along with, not incidentally, their millions.

We’re talking about people at a company which, without considerable taxpayer largesse, would cease to exist. They would be getting nothing. They would not even have jobs. But the idea of giving back just half their “bonuses” when their company was a stinking shitpile costing hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars- that was just too much for them. There was a “sacred” principle at stake. It gets worse:

“No offense to Middle America, but if someone went to Columbia or Wharton, [even if] their company is a fumbling, mismanaged bank, why should they all of a sudden be paid the same as the guy down the block who delivers restaurant supplies for Sysco out of a huge, shiny truck?” e-mails an irate Citigroup executive to a colleague.

“I’m not giving to charity this year!” one hedge-fund analyst shouts into the phone, when I ask about Obama’s planned tax increases. “When people ask me for money, I tell them, ‘If you want me to give you money, send a letter to my senator asking for my taxes to be lowered.’ I feel so much less generous right now. If I have to adopt twenty poor families, I want a thank-you note and an update on their lives. At least Sally Struthers gives you an update.”

Ladies and Gentlemen, there you have it- Freedom Fonzarelli’s “producers.”

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72 replies
  1. 1
    Arclite says:

    It’s amazing that you’ve already slept, and I have yet to, yet we live in the same country.

    Hope you are feeling better…

    P.S. Also, too: Fvck those greedy bastards. I hope they go Galt.

  2. 2
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    The only thing they do is produce bullshit. They eat it, shovel it, sell it and expect to be paid millions for it because they’re better than the rest of us.

    I wish these fuckers would go Galt.

  3. 3
    Xboxershorts says:

    Ya all gotta read Robert Sheer’s new book “The great American stickup”. Jeebus, it’s 250 pages of shit like that, a privileged few lobbied to corrupt the legal framework of our financial system, then worked overtime within that industry to milk every damn penny from the loopholes they gave themselves, until the whole system collapsed from it’s own greed, then jumped right back into government to ensure they and their pals in the industry would never, ever be held accountable. The Reagan revolution, really WAS a revolution. The Banks took over…..

  4. 4

    Yeah, life is rough. Poor babies.

  5. 5
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    Here’s a thought:

    My wife and I have physically worked our asses off in our careers, will continue to do so for the rest of our lives and between us we will never see even 1% of the 300 million that Cassano got paid during his stint at AIG shoveling shit that he claimed was gold.

    We are one fucked up nation in need of a rude awakening.

  6. 6
    bkny says:

    fuck them. ask the steelworkers, uaw and millions of others who’ve seen their contracts and pensions gutted — they had agreements too made promises now broken.

    fuck those whiny wall street bitches with a rusty chainsaw.

  7. 7

    Cole, you’re obviously stoking the flames of class warfare here, and that’s just not right /republican asshole.

    Thanks for starting monday off with a bang. Grrrr.

  8. 8
    Moses2317 says:

    Krugman has a great column today asking why the wealthy elite are so angry. Personally, I think they should be grateful that they live in a country that has provided them with the type of stable, functioning society needed for people to succeed. I know I am, and that is why I am happy to pay my fair share in taxes.

    Winning Progressive

  9. 9
    mad the swine says:

    Look, class warriors, I know you want to be all ‘fuck the rich’, but take a minute and think. If your boss suddenly told you ‘Hey, I fucked up this company, so you guys are losing your yearly bonuses and taking a 50% pay cut’, wouldn’t you be pissed off? You were promised a certain amount of money, and, through no fault of your own, you’re being denied it. Fairness is fairness, and a contract is a contract. The principle doesn’t change just because you and Fartbama hate everyone who makes over $250k.

    It’s exactly the same situation as the auto workers’ unions found themselves in. GM and Ford and so on went under specifically because they had to pay out so much of their income in generous pension plans and inflated salaries. Would you want to force retired auto workers to give up their pensions? If the government said ‘this crash is all the unions’ fault, so we’re going to break the contracts the auto companies made with them’, would you support it and rail against the greedy workers who complain? The principle is exactly the same. There’s no moral difference between a stockbroker and an assembly line worker, except that one makes more money than the other. Inspiring hatred against the former but not the latter is class warfare at its most obvious and loathsome.

  10. 10
    Comrade Mary says:

    @mad the swine: You’re forgetting that these teeny tiny dicks don’t operate in a teeny tiny bubble. They have their jobs now only because outside parties — taxpayers — saved their company.

    (And “Fartbama? Really? Shouldn’t you be on the school bus right now?)

  11. 11
    Emma says:

    Mad the swine: AH, but that’s where you get it wrong. IT WAS THEIR FAULT. They rewrote the rules so they could rip off the rest of us. Then, when the whole thing collapsed under them, came begging hat in hand for a bailout. They firmly believe that the rest of us should bear the burden for their misdeeds.

    And I don’t know why I’m even addressing you. Anyone who gets nyacks nyacks from addressing the President as you have done should be locked in his mom’s basement until he learns manners. I won’t go as far as rational thinking. That, you ain’t got in you.

  12. 12
    Keith G says:

    No offense to Middle America, but if someone went to Columbia or Wharton, [even if] their company is a fumbling, mismanaged bank, why should they all of a sudden be paid the same as the guy down the block who delivers restaurant supplies for Sysco out of a huge, shiny truck?

    Common sense, as I mentioned previously, is not a friend to our President.

    Had he decided to run against these clowns, he would have co-opted a good deal of the anger that is now funneled into the Tea Party. This is becoming Lord of the Flies time and Barak Obama is channeling Ralph.

  13. 13
    mad the swine says:

    @Comrade Mary: the unionized auto workers only have their jobs because taxpayers saved their companies. Should they be condemned, spat on, forced to take massive pay cuts? Or is this just about envying people who make more money than you do?

    @Emma: the failure of the auto companies was the unions’ fault. Again, do you hate unions as much as you hate brokers?

  14. 14
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    @mad the swine:

    Sure, so we just have the company get cash from the government to pay them, right? Never mind the till is empty, just get the cash from some other rubes, right? Never mind that these same employees helped to run the company into the ground with their bosses and the board, they deserve to be paid!

    What part of “we’re broke and can’t pay you the money we promised you” are you having a problem understanding? Businesses have no problem breaking contracts when it suits them but their employees need to have their contracts honored?

    You are a fucking idiot and your excusing shit like this is part of the problem.

  15. 15
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

     

    Should they be condemned, spat on, forced to take massive pay cuts?

    Um, they were condemned (by the repukes and teapissers), spat on roundly by every Galtian whizBang out there and they took massive pay cuts.

    Try again?

  16. 16
    JPL(formerly demo woman) says:

    The definition of Class Warfare is I got mine and the rest of you are suckers.

  17. 17
    MAJeff says:

    Class warfare? Yes, please. But from below for a change.

  18. 18
    Jack says:

    @mad the swine: Wait what? Many thousands of employees all over the globe had to put up with “lol i fucked up, now we’re being acquired by our biggest rivals and most of you are going to be fired or demoted and our prior commitments to you revoked” from their bosses after mergers and acquisitions became real popular sometime in the 80’s. That’s the privilege thing again. When little people end up getting canned and shifted around the country because their bosses and co workers screw up that’s their problem, but when it happens to the super clever traders who are really awesome and eat what they kill it just isn’t fair!

  19. 19
    El Cid says:

    L’Ancient Regime were also utterly horrified at the demands placed upon them by the starving masses.

    The rich (the real rich, not these insta-mansion owning dumbasses with $1 or $ million who think they’re among the true power elites, wake up you relatively impoverished little shits b/c you’re embarrassments to the centimillionaire and billionaire and generationally super-wealthy no matter how impressive you are on the city council) impose social reverses for the majority when they can, and counter-revolutionary violence when they need.

    It’s no different than the US-backed Latin elites slaughtering those pressuring for things like land reform and fair taxation and less corruption by officials, except we just haven’t gotten to that point yet.

  20. 20
    SRW1 says:

    @Moses2317:

    Krugman has a great column today asking why the wealthy elite are so angry.

    Cause they don’t remember the purpose of a guillotine any more!

  21. 21
    Marc says:

    @mad the swine:

    There are two explanations for your defense here. You could be one of the rich guys, but your childish nicknames and incoherence make it unlikely. Or you could be a dupe who gets off defending the feudal lords. I vote for column B.

    You’re defending a bunch of parasites who contributed nothing except an enormous financial crisis to the country, and who in exchange leeched money out of otherwise productive enterprises in a manner similar to the M.O. of the Mafia.

    There is a difference between paying an autoworker to make a car and paying a parasite millions to do nothing of actual value. And – you will doubtless find this shocking, but it is nonetheless true – the unions aren’t the ones who ran the big 3 automakers. Now in Germany the unions do have partial control of the boards of directors, and there the companies are doing just fine..um, never mind. That doesn’t fit libertarian dogma. Can’t be true!

  22. 22
    Ash Can says:

    @mad the swine: Oh, I’d be pissed off, all right — at the boss, for fucking up the company. Because that’s what happens when companies get fucked up. It happened to the company I used to work for — top management screwed up our operation, we became a money loser, and our department was eliminated, along with all of our positions. That’s the way the cookie crumbles in a system that has no guaranteed employment — you know, capitalism. These AIG guys, however, still had jobs due to the federal government bailing the company out. This by definition puts the company under public scrutiny — taxpayers like to know what’s being done with their money, ya know? AIG proceeded to use that money as though the company was still turning a hefty profit, i.e., paying its employees sums above and beyond base salaries, a.k.a. bonuses. That’s when things ceased to make sense in the eyes of the general public.

    And a word to the wise, if you insist that “a contract is a contract” with respect to this case, you will be held up as an object of scorn and ridicule by all those who are union members, know union members, or simply have heard about the various union contracts that have been abrogated and rewritten over the years.

  23. 23
    brantl says:

    @mad the swine: No, the failure of the car companies wasn’t the unions’ fault. The failure of the car companies was due to their inability to get customary credit, credit that they’ve gotten for decades, as evidenced by Ford being in very little difficulty, as they had stockpiled money, that the other companies didn’t.

    You’ve been reading idiots too long, bub, and the union auto workers have been making concessions for years, unlike the swine on Wall Street.

    Prinmay Republican rule: when the rules favor me, they can’t be changed, when the rules favor anybody I don’t like, the rules must be changed.

  24. 24
    Honus says:

    @mad the swine: “The failure of the auto companies was the unions’ fault. Again, do you hate unions as much as you hate brokers?”
    Pretty blanket and unsupported statement there, piggy. The management of the auto companies, who continued to design and manufacture things like the Hummer while foreign automakers developed more efficient cars had nothing to do with the industry’s problems?

  25. 25
    Dennis SGMM says:

    Yes, but they’ll get theirs: look at all of the indictments that have come down down from the Obama DOJ. No, wait…

  26. 26
    El Cid says:

    The Krug-Man documents the Khmer-Rouge style, Golden Goose egglayer slaying horrors that today our hard-working somewhat higher-income types face from threats of over-taxation:

    Everywhere you look these days, there are terrible stories. I live in a very sheltered world, yet I know young people just out of college who can’t find jobs, men in their late 50s who have lost their jobs and can’t see how they’ll ever find another, families barely scraping by and terrified by what might happen if anyone gets sick.
    __
    Meanwhile, wise men tell us that we all need to make shared sacrifices — especially with regards to Social Security, of course; gotta keep those manual laborers working until they’re 70, you know.
    __
    And in this world people with secure jobs, with incomes of around $450,000 a year, are feeling very sorry for themselves over the possibility that they might end up paying somewhat higher taxes next year.
    __
    By the way, let me highly recommend the Tax Policy Center’s new tax policy calculator. As best I can figure, the aforementioned sorry-for-himself person might end up paying higher taxes — it depends on the details of his family situation — but probably not more than 2 percent of his income.

    Yeah, I would be so utterly horrified if as a person earning a few hundreds of thousands of dollars but not blowing it all on insta-mansions and the ritziest of belongings to pay a few percent more marginal rates on that portion of my income which exceeds the threshold, because I would totally become a pissy wimp, right?

  27. 27
    El Cid says:

    @SRW1: Missed this, but I did add the text. Assholes, the whole lot.

  28. 28
    4tehlulz says:

    They mad because their dicks aren’t getting sucked as hard as before the crash.

    So sad.

  29. 29
    Dennis SGMM says:

    It would probably hurt their already bruised feelings to mention that if they hadn’t so badly trashed the economy we might not need to raise their taxes.

  30. 30
    El Cid says:

    @Dennis SGMM: Eggs, breaking, omelets, etc.

  31. 31
    JD Rhoades says:

    This is what happens to people’s minds when they tie their entire sense of self-worth to the size of their paycheck.

  32. 32
    Napoleon says:

    I saw/heard an interview with Andrew Sonkin (sp?) of the NY Times who wrote a well received book on the financial crisis and he said in it that the thing that has surprised him the most is how the bankers have taken this attitude, so this isn’t just this author’s slant on the subject.

  33. 33
    Meanderthal says:

    Wow. @mad the swine knows how to troll, that’s for damn sure. He doesn’t know fuck-all about anything else, but credit where credit is due…

  34. 34
    Steeplejack says:

    @mad the swine:

    There is a difference between “salary” and “bonus.” I don’t have a problem with the banksters’ salaries being “guaranteed,” but if the company is going down in flames–or would cease to exist without massive government aid–then I can see how bonuses might be lessened or, gosh, even omitted entirely.

    If the argument is that “My bonus is an integral, expected part of my compensation, and it’s based on the fact that I did those seven sweet deals, regardless of how the company as a whole did,” then that is a commission, not a bonus, and maybe it needs to be codified and considered as such. Someone at AIG lost a shitload of money, but I have not heard of a single case of anyone missing his bonus. Someone must have been in charge of those not so sweet deals.

    Oh, and “Fartbama”? That’s some sophisticated political humor there. . . . Ah, I see Comrade Mary covered this already. Now off to school with you, you little Galtian scamp!

  35. 35
    Joe Bauers says:

    “No offense to Middle America, but if someone went to Columbia or Wharton, [even if] their company is a fumbling, mismanaged bank, why should they all of a sudden be paid the same as the guy down the block who delivers restaurant supplies for Sysco out of a huge, shiny truck?” e-mails an irate Citigroup executive to a colleague.

    Because your fellow citizens are as yet too kind to have you and all the other sociopathic assholes who cratered the economy executed, decorating Wall Street with a thousand heads on pikes, and have instead as an act of charity allowed a worthless parasite like you to make as much money as a delivery driver who actually creates economic value during his work day, you fucking piece of shit.

    No offense.

  36. 36
    Comrade Dread says:

    This is why I wish we had let them all fail. Worthless ****s, every one.

  37. 37
    Steeplejack says:

    @mad the swine:

    [. . .] the failure of the auto companies was the unions’ fault.

    Do you have anything to back up this assertion?

    ETA: I see from the breadth of your oeuvre this morning that you seem to be a troll. Hope you have a good bus ride to school, and don’t let those mean seniors shut you in your locker again. You’ll be late for the Young Teabaggers meeting.

  38. 38
    Xboxershorts says:

    Speaking of Galtian Scamps (ty Steeplejack), Ayn Rand once postulated that free markets would be an expression of the deepest truths of human nature.

    Oh boy was she right about that.

    She was entirely wrong, however, about the true nature of the”deepest” truths of human nature.

    People are assholes. And yes, free markets reflect this admirably.

  39. 39
    Ash Can says:

    @Meanderthal: Sometimes it feels good to work on a speed bag for a while. Invigorating, eh what?

  40. 40
    marcopolo says:

    @mad the swine:
    As for the failures of the auto manufacturers being the union’s fault–last I remember there were (and are still) executives running those companies and they were the folks responsible for (aka the deciders) the product mix (including overproduction of SUVs versus gas efficient models to maximize “short-term” profits), the way they marketed their product (buy now with no payments for a year and no interest on the loan for the first 5 years–remembers stuff like this to keep sales up a few years ago?), and they negotiated the union contracts, including what you probably think were overly generous retirement and health benefits. On the other hand, I have rarely read complaints about the line auto workers–most analyses I have read have praised the average assembly-line worker for their productivity, their professionalism and the pride that they take in putting out a good product.

    As for addressing the actual theme of this thread, if I thought our banking and finance system (and the companies that make up that system) were still playing a more productive (versus destructive) role in helping to grow our economy and allocate capital resources where they would do the most good in encouraging the development of new industries, I wouldn’t have a problem with what seems to be their out of whack compensation regimes. However, my view is that a lot of the financial folks and companies have decided to screw worrying about how to allocate capital and have decided that making money is the most important thing and the best way to make that money is to game the system by co-opting our government and getting industry favorable rules and regulation, jam the consumer with finance charges making them pay for the privilege of parking their money somewhere, and generally over-leveraging themselves and gambling with other peoples money on side bets that enrich themselves when they pay off and destroy the economy when they go wrong.

  41. 41

    @mad the swine: Better trolls, please.

    Fartbama? Really?

  42. 42
    Q says:

    Great piece, and I read it at the time, but that thing is about a year-and-a-half old. Just wondering why yr promoting it now.

  43. 43
    Ash Can says:

    @Xboxershorts: Wow, for once I’m in complete agreement with Ayn Rand, although like you I doubt that she ever read Lord of the Flies.

  44. 44
    El Cid says:

    @Joe Bauers: Wait — so if they only get half of, say, a $10 million bonus, they’re earning as much as the Sysco delivery guy?

    Man, I should have been a delivery driver. I had no idea they were getting paid millions of dollars a year. Damn greedy unions!

  45. 45
    Remember November says:

    a 48% tax rate on these two percenters would shut them up damn quick. And what exactly did they “produce” in the first place? A near collapse of the economy, and then got supbsidized by John Q Public. So the bonus money was never theirs to begin with. For every Bill Gates and Richard Branson there will be 20 Lloyd Bankfiends.

    new money nouveau riche cackwaffles. Hope they all get mugged in an alley some day.

  46. 46
    Ash Can says:

    @Q: Hmm, you may be on to something here. Maybe JC is looking to perk things up around here by citing an old chestnut of a class-warfare piece, then trolling his own threads as “mad the swine” to get us all in a dither. John, you’re such a smart aleck.

  47. 47
    John S. says:

    I didn’t know you could stack shit several feet high, and then teach it to type. But there is no other explanation for mad the swine.

  48. 48
    Svensker says:

    We have a friend who could have been quoted in this article. He said, “We’ve got MBAs, we EARNED our money,” when I asked him why he shouldn’t suffer for his company being badly managed and having to take a taxpayer bailout.

    First there was American exceptionalism, now it’s Wall Street exceptionalism, apparently.

  49. 49
    scav says:

    __

    “No offense to Middle America, but if someone went to Columbia or Wharton, [even if] their company is a fumbling, mismanaged bank, why should they all of a sudden be paid the same as the guy down the block who delivers restaurant supplies for Sysco out of a huge, shiny truck?” e-mails an irate Citigroup executive to a colleague.

    Note to Self. New law of the jungle appears to be that if you walked though the correct educational doors 30 years ago, you need no longer prove yourself as the wild macho world-beater that you undoubtedly are. It’s a whole new Jungle out there.

  50. 50
    gnomedad says:

    Paul Krugman’s take on Brad DeLong’s smackdown of Todd Henderson:

    What Brad doesn’t say, but is also true, is that the status anxiety created by high inequality means that the rich-but-not-rich-enough often lead worse lives than their somewhat poorer counterparts did a few decades ago: they work longer hours, take fewer vacations, and spend more on things that don’t give them pleasure but that they hope will impress others.

  51. 51
    Kirk Spencer says:

    @mad the swine: Recall, please, that as these people were keeping their bonuses those same banks fired a number of the lower echelon. At THAT point the whole argument dies.

    I point with increasing frequency to the events that led to the estates-general of 1789, and the idiocy that came out of it. For those who don’t recall history, the short version:

    The rich, led by the king, wanted to spend without worry. The rich OTHER than the king had numerous tax exemptions. The growing deficit forced them to realize they’d have to do something. So they pushed for an increase of taxes on the not-rich.

    At its heart, the French Revolution was driven by the fact the rich wanted to get richer on the sacrifice of the not-rich. Not just the poor, but everyone who wasn’t one of them.

    If you’re in the mood for black comedy, go read what many of the second estate were writing prior to the Revolution, especially as the Estate-General and National Assembly were being formed. It’s unsurprisingly similar to what you see today: “It’s mine, how dare they take it and spend it on the poor.”

  52. 52
    El Cid says:

    This particular quote might be older. But there is no lack whatsoever of similar recent complaints. I.e., the CEO quoted in Krugman who compared Obama to Hitler for recent statements about the greed of corporations. Or the freakout from the asshole law professor who can barely meet his monthly bills at a household income of I think $450K.

  53. 53
    Hugin & Munin says:

    Thought & Memory say: Americans? Huh, never met ’em.

  54. 54
    SpotWeld says:

    Remember at this level of society, “Giving to charity” generally means giving money to people to throw huge lavish galas/fashion shows/balls that end up coating about 90% of the money raised.

  55. 55
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    @gnomedad:

    My thought on that idiot and his wife was that they made the wrong choices in life. They could have been the ‘rich’ family living in a nice house in a good neighborhood whose kids were the ‘rich’ kids at the local public school and have lots of disposable income. Instead they chose to be the ‘poor’ family living in an expensive house in a rich neighborhood whose kids are the ‘poor’ kids at the local private school and have little to no disposable income.

    Goes to prove that an expensive education does not make you smart.

  56. 56
    Xboxershorts says:

    ya wanna kick these whiny douchebags in the teeth? Let’s organize a write in campaign to elect Brooksley Born as President.

    Now THAT’s a poor man’s wet dream!

  57. 57
    Kirk Spencer says:

    @El Cid: Or the article Ben Stein wrote yesterday.

    “Waaah. Drastically raising my taxes is punishment.”

  58. 58
    Xboxershorts says:

    @SpotWeld:

    No, at this level, giving to charity means contributing to politically connected non profits and 501c3’s run by ex-congress critters….

  59. 59
    Mark says:

    John – two eye-opening posts this weekend (one from Doug) that describe a friend of mine to a ‘T’.

    He’s an institutional trader. We’re both electrical engineers. When he got started in trading 10 years ago, he actually thought he was taking the low-paying route. People still thought Electrical Engineers would go work at a startup and make millions off their stock options. He sold his car and moved in with four roommates – but it was what he was interested in doing.

    Fast forward 10 years…Whatever millions were supposedly going to accrue to engineers never did. Something like 1/3 of the profession is no longer doing it – in just 10 years. Jobs get outsourced, the brilliant IIT graduates who founded my company no longer get student visas and green cards because of our xenophobia, and all of that DARPA money that built America’s advantage in electronics and communications is doing who knows what.

    My friend, on the other hand, just bought a $3M house. It has fucking granite countertops, of course. And a gate that opens electronically. And what does he say to me? “The guys in the middle, like me and you, get screwed in favor of the ultra-rich.” Unlike the U of C law professor, he’s not strapped for cash, but he (and his wife) feel that given the amount of money he makes, they should have everything. And they couldn’t buy a $4M house in the city and afford private school for their kids…Ergo they are hard-done by…

    He hates Obama. He forgets that he was shitting himself in October 2008, when he said there was a 10-20% chance he and everyone he knows loses their jobs. He forgets that he was looking longingly at the stability (!) that being an engineer would have offered him. He got his shit bailed out – mostly by Democrats, unfortunately – and he survived. Today, he thinks Ayn Rand is public policy. He rails against “entitlements” and the way that the ultra-rich avoid taxes. I think he actually has a point on the second one – salaried compensation gets hit much harder than all of the ways that the truly rich compensate themselves, but the fact remains that he’s one hugely subsidized mofo, and he shouldn’t be looking to pass the cost of his mortgage subsidy and his kids’ education and his health insurance subsidy on to other people.

    One minor point about him: we’ve discussed risk-taking on Wall Street. That wasn’t how he operated. He is incredibly risk-averse (as am I – we grew up in Canada, where risk is not tolerated) but he would constantly piss off his boss who would demand immediate returns on investments. If you didn’t close out ahead at the end of the day, there was hell to pay.

  60. 60
    hilzoy says:

    @mad the swine: As others have said: I would be mad, but not at the President.

    I think the important point about the auto workers is not that the government saved their jobs and the jobs at AIG’s. It’s only that the people at AIG caused the problem in the case of the specific people at AIG who did — as opposed to all those insurance executives who didn’t. (And it’s wrong that union members did the same at the auto plants: even to the extent that it was union contracts, not other stupid management decisions, that caused the problems at the auto makers, management voluntarily signed those contracts, and did so in part because you only have to pay pensions later.)

    It’s that the whole reason this was happening at all was that this was an enormous terrifying crisis. In an enormous terrifying crisis, people need to pull together, and some people have to sacrifice things they would ordinarily not be asked to sacrifice. Things like their bonuses, or their contracts. Of all the people in the world who should complain about this, people who have pulled in seven figures a year for years are just about the last.

    (Note also: this article is a year and a half old.)

  61. 61
    bjacques says:

    @48 Svensker:

    America was just holding Wall Street back, and had to be cut loose for the wolves to eat. Then Lehman Bros were holding Goldman Sachs back, and then it became Goldman Sachs exceptionalism. A crazy but cool philosophy teacher told us (in high school, no less) that the Marquis de Sade defined total victory as standing on a pile of the corpses of all one’s enemies, and then cutting one’s own throat.

    I can’t wait.

    @Hugin & Munin:

    They sound like a couple of foreigners. Someone who grew up in the 1970s might recognize them from TV as Heckle & Jekyll.

  62. 62
    Xboxershorts says:

    @hilzoy:

    And don’t forget that Union employees voluntarily gave themselves an across the board pay cut too, just as GM got into serious trouble financially in early ’07.

    half brains like madwino always refuse to acknowledge full history of events when the full history doesn’t fit their preconceived world view.

    And GMAC dabbling in risky mortgages caused a LOT of problems for GM overall. Adjustable rate mortgages are designed to be resold/refinanced or they will explode on both the underwriter and the borrower. It was totally insane to repackage exploding mortgages into derivatives and then trade them on private markets with zero oversight.

  63. 63
    Riggsveda says:

    John. I agree that the article is chilling and crazy-making, but it was actually called “The Wail of the 1%”, written back in April of last year by Gabe Sherman for New York Magazine. It revealed just the tip of the gradually-appearing iceberg that has become the sputtering froth of Ben Stein’s rage.

    Sadly for them, they are so insulated by their wealth that they probably won’t even notice the groundswell of anger that develops as they become more reckless in exposing their real attitudes to the poor and middle-class. And who knows? Maybe even the fat, stuperous American public may be eventually roused from their media-induced torpor to pick up a torch and a pitchfork.

  64. 64
    mclaren says:

    @El Cid:

    It’s no different than the US-backed Latin elites slaughtering those pressuring for things like land reform and fair taxation and less corruption by officials, except we just haven’t gotten to that point yet.

    Sure we have.

    Robert F. Kennedy.

    Martin Luther King.

    Just coincidence they were calling for fair taxation and less corruption by officials. Lone gunmen. Complete coincidence. Move along, nothing to see here.

  65. 65
    hilzoy says:

    One other thing bothers me about mad the swine: “Look, class warriors, I know you want to be all ‘fuck the rich’ …”

    I hate it when people make assumptions about the motives of whole swathes of people they’ve never met. Speaking for myself: I’m not a class warrior. I grew up among the rich. I presently count myself as rich, but it’s a much closer call than when I was growing up, in part because I made less lucrative choices than I might have (the decision not to keep working in computers in 1981 chief among them.) That professor at Chicago would probably regard my five-figure income as unimaginably tiny.

    I have been in favor of much higher taxes on the wealthy than we have now for as long as I can remember. And it’s not because of envy or hatred or anything. It’s because I am very, very aware of the many, many ways in which the deck is already stacked in favor of me and people like me, and I cannot begin to imagine why we should add more.

  66. 66
    wasabi gasp says:

    I have to adopt twenty poor families.

    Super idea. Rebuilding a brighter tomorrow one remote control fight at a time.

  67. 67
    fasteddie9318 says:

    You guys just don’t understand how much our overlords are struggling just to get by. I mean, by the time Charles Koch has paid for his 20 or so 6-figure cars, his 3 or 4 private jets, couple of helicopters, I’m guessing a yacht or two, and his ~15 houses and condos around the world, PLUS funneled enough money offshore to avoid paying taxes, PLUS filled an indoor swimming pool with enough $1000 bills to swim in, he can barely afford to have caviar and champagne with every meal! Don’t you see? He’s pinching pennies just to be able to eat and drink!

  68. 68
    El Cid says:

    @mclaren: Well, it’s true that there have been assassinations and government repression, it’s just not on the ‘slaughtering hundreds to hundreds of thousands’ scale. And the slaughter of the Native Americans was a different thing.

  69. 69
    El Cid says:

    @Riggsveda: We have been reminded repeatedly on this thread that this is an older article. Please people stop informing us of this. We get it.

  70. 70
    fraught says:

    @Joe Bauers: You have a lovely way with words. Like poetry.

  71. 71
    Riggsveda says:

    EL Cid–Mea culpa…I’m at work and don’t have much leisure time to scroll.

  72. 72
    asiangrrlMN says:

    @Joe Bauers: Yep. You got it in one. Even if this is an old piece, the attitude still holds true today. These fuckers would be gone without the help of the taxpayers. They need to be reminded of that time and time again.

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