My Problem With Sully’s Statement

Was that it was just a load of horseshit:

Why are so many on the left incapable of acknowledging that many people who are rich – but, of course by no means all of them – earned it the hard way? Until more liberals internalize this, they will fail to persuade America of the occasional need for government because people will rightly suspect that what they are really about is penalizing or diminishing hard work. By the way, I favor an inheritance tax. But I also favor allowing those who work hard to keep as much of their own money as possible.

The only way that could get any better is if he started with a “some people say” and finished with a “sources said,” and somehow worked in a fifth column reference.

The problem in America isn’t that a simultaneously unknown and insufficient numbers of liberals are unwilling to internalize some nonsense about rich people that an Atlantic columnist made up on the spot. The problem, as far as I see it, is that too many privileged people can’t get it through their damned heads that most poor people aren’t lazy, drunk, or just living large on the welfare, but were born into far shittier situations that most of the wealthy people in America. I’m willing to agree that most rich and poor people work really hard for what they have. Just the rich have it a helluva lot better and their concept of “hard” is a little different. I’d also point out that the growth in income inequality and the stagnation of income mobility after the policies of the last 20-30 years would suggest that rich people, if they want their feelings catered to even more, should probably get a dog.

And if you think our Galtian overlords don’t have it easier than the working stiffs at the bottom of the food chain, you might sit and wonder why Undercover Boss is in Season 2 and getting more popular.






182 replies
  1. 1
    El Tiburon says:

    And on cue, the war on the rich continues:

    Rather Than Investigating Foreclosure Fraud, House Republicans Vow To Investigate Loans To Poor People
    http://thinkprogress.org/2010/.....ates-poor/

  2. 2

    Thanks for cutting through all of the bull, John.

  3. 3
    Tom Q says:

    When I was young (too long ago), a very popular expression about pretty much any white collar job was “indoor work, no heavy lifting”. Bob Dole even jokingly referenced the lin when asked why he’d want to by VP in 1976.

    Today, right-wingers wouldn’t get the joke. They seem to genuinely think their office work is harder than a furniture mover’s.

  4. 4
    b-psycho says:

    Fuck Undercover Boss, I wanna see Undercover Employee. Stick a low level worker in one of those board meetings and watch what happens…

  5. 5
    gogol's wife says:

    Tell it, brother.

  6. 6
    joe from Lowell says:

    Perhaps skepticism of the meritocratic nature of wealth in this country wouldn’t be so widespread if we didn’t stand out as having particularly low levels of mobility among economic groups, compared to other western democracies.

  7. 7
    DonkeyKong says:

    Wire Sully’s phone to dial up a hedge fund manager when he calls 911.

    Internalize that asshole.

  8. 8
    MikeBoyScout says:

    Some people say and unnamed sources inside The Atlantic have confirmed that creating straw men is hard work.

    Until the professional left bloggers internalize this, they will fail to be accepted by the Very Serious People at The Atlantic.

    ps. No McMegans were harmed in the creation of this comment.

  9. 9
    Violet says:

    I wish Sully would go Galt on his blogging and take a menial labor job and live off that income alone for a year. Bonus points if it involves heavy labor.

    Once he’s done that he can come back to us on his mythical-like-the-unicorn “so many on the left” who supposedly spend their time whining about how rich people don’t work hard. His definition of hard work and real hard work, the kind of stuff he would spend his year doing in my scenario, are two entirely different things.

  10. 10
    Carnacki says:

    Where is that bare=breasted woman who led the storming of the Bastille when we need her?

  11. 11
    MikeBoyScout says:

    @4 b-psycho:

    Brilliant idea!

  12. 12
    Bullsmith says:

    It’s not enough that they hold most of the money, their point is they want to hold most of the respect.

    Really, the only difference between todays corporate elite and the Mafia are the accents.

  13. 13
    Violet says:

    @b-psycho:

    Fuck Undercover Boss, I wanna see Undercover Employee. Stick a low level worker in one of those board meetings and watch what happens…

    THIS.

  14. 14
    ChrisS says:

    Just the rich have it a helluva lot better and their concept of “hard” is a little different.

  15. 15
    Mark S. says:

    Until more liberals internalize this

    That’s what takes an ordinary stupid comment and takes it up to eleven. Internalize this, Sully, mealy-mouthed apologists are the first ones up against the wall.

    The peasants are pissed today.

  16. 16

    Yeah. Fourteen hours in an air conditioned office is grueling. Sheesh, who wouldn’t give that up to work a regular 8 hour shift serving mediocre coffee, eggs, bacon and hash to other bleary eyed working stiffs? Or maybe a nice cushy shift in a coal mine? Oh, how they must be suffering sitting in front of the computer screen with all that paperwork piling up!

  17. 17

    @Violet:

    Under cover employee … hmm, remember when one of the news magazine shows smuggled hidden cameras in to fast food restaurants? IIRC the woman who scratched her crotch — UNDER her clothing — then returned to making Wendy’s sandwiches without washing her hands worked at a Nashville Wendy’s.

    Oh … is it lunchtime? Already? Tootles….

  18. 18
    Blue Neponset says:

    I would love to see Sullivan and Joyce preach that shit at a union meeting.

  19. 19
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @MikeBoyScout: The Atlantic is still a great magazine, but it never fully recovered from Michael Kelly.

    and could Andrew or some of the other “war on the rich” hysterics please explain to me how rich people suffered during the Clinton years?

  20. 20
    hilzoy says:

    I always hate this “so many on the left” stuff (along with “so many on the right”.) (And also: “But today, we no longer believe …” which often makes me snarl: “what do you mean “we”, white man?”) It’s just laziness, on a par with bewildered freshmen who write things like: Throughout human history, people have wondered about the morality of reproductive cloning.

    If you can think of some actual people, cite them. If you don’t have any idea whether these people are representative, let alone a majority, admit that. This is true if you’re just opining in general; it’s doubly true if you’re claiming to identify an actual social problem.

    For the record: I recognize that many rich people work hard. I also recognize that some do not. I do not regard taxation as a punishment, but as the price we pay to live in society. Whoop de do.

  21. 21
    freelancer says:

    Born on the one yardline, and eternally pissy at the ref for the excessive celebration penalty.

    Just in terms of sheer numbers it can be astounding. Nevermind the players’ Union and other aspects still in play here, but last night, on NBC’s Sunday Night Football, postgame, Rodney Harrison said each year, he would set aside $50,000 just for fines cause he knew he was going to play dirty and wanted to build that rep.

    That figure struck me as ridiculous simply for the fact that it is larger than the nationwide median income. Fucking ridiculous, and if “work harder” is the subtext of what Sullivan is saying (and I believe part of it is, intentional or not), he can go fuck himself.

  22. 22
    BTD says:

    I think a Bell Curve reference would fit better than a Fifth Column reference myself.

  23. 23
    Violet says:

    @Southern Beale:
    Ewww….I don’t remember seeing that. And I’m just about to head out for some lunch. Urp.

  24. 24
    cleek says:

    @b-psycho:
    we could call it “Brewster’s Millions” or “The Hudsucker Proxy” or “Dave” or…

    people love them some Little Guy Shows Hows It’s Done.

  25. 25
    BobFred says:

    Over the past thirty years the productivity of middle and lower class workers has increased while their income has decreased.

    Over the same period the percentage of wealthy people who got their wealth thru inheritance or by rent-seeking exploded.

    If you don’t believe that look closely at your own neighborhood or city and ask yourself if the wealthiest 10% got that way thru hard work or thru rent-seeking non-productive enterprise.

    The real story of the past thirty years is that republican politics has rewarded non productive rent-seekers whose income depends upon taxpayer funded infrastructure while increasingly productive workers have been punished with lower wages and higher taxes.

  26. 26
    cleek says:

    @hilzoy:

    Throughout human history, people have wondered about the morality of reproductive cloning.

    from experience, i assume?

    my dad’s a college English prof. he sends me all kinds of hilariously bad examples of freshman reasoning.

  27. 27
    trollhattan says:

    Born on the one yardline, and eternally pissy at the ref for the excessive celebration penalty.

    Man, am I ever stealing this.

  28. 28
    chris says:

    My problem with Sully’s statement is that it’s false. We have a country run by people who were born on third base thinking they hit triples. It’s a fratboyarchy.

  29. 29
    Bubblegum Tate says:

    @Tom Q:

    The other problem is that a lot of physical laborers are unionized, which makes them, by definition, anti-American and pure evil.

  30. 30
    Blue Neponset says:

    @freelancer: I thought the same thing. I am a Pat’s fan and I loved to root for Rodney and his misunderstood enthusiasm but when he was talking about putting “$50,000 aside” it really bothered me. What a waste of money!

  31. 31
    Steve says:

    Here on Wall Street, there are an awful lot of people who spout the Galtian rhetoric and think America punishes people for hard work even as they take home millions of dollars each year for pushing paper back and forth.

    But there’s a milder symptom of the affliction, one that makes people say things like “I wouldn’t mind paying my fair share if government wouldn’t insist on talking about me like I’m the bad guy.” Bullshit. They would mind.

    Remember when the GOP voted down the first version of the financial rescue, saying “we were going to vote for it, but then Nancy Pelosi alienated us with a nasty partisan speech”? People love to blame someone else. If you say you don’t like to pay your fair share in taxes, someone might think you’re a selfish asshole, so instead you claim that what’s really got you upset is some mean thing Barack Obama said. As if Obama is some sort of angry populist in the first place!

  32. 32
    Culture of Truth says:

    I know this point has been made many times before, but’s it worth noting that income not only does not correlate perfectly with hard work, it does not equal value to society. Athletes make more than teachers or nurses — sure in one sense they earn it, and many do work hard, and they were not born rich, but to assume they, or dot com billionaires, or investment bankers, or whoever, are that much more valuable you have to be a thick headed libertarian.

  33. 33
    Anne Laurie says:

    Shorter Sullivan: “Sure, maybe you peasants break your backs hewing wood and drawing water. But we in the Would-Be-Ruling Classes have to sell our very souls every day just to keep our multiple homes and gold-plated health plans!

    “If you could only be as refined and sensitive as we are, for just five minutes, the unbridgeable gap between us would make you weep with gratitude that you avoid the weight of our enormous range of choices!”

  34. 34
    Comrade Javamanphil says:

    …but were born into far shittier situations that most of the wealthy people in America.

    And cannot afford to take a year working an unpaid internship so they can then be knighted into the investment banker class and begin eating what they kill. But, you know, homeless people have cell phones.

  35. 35
    El Cid says:

    The problem is that the very very rich have been funding an all-out attack on the middle and lower working classes and the poor quite openly since the late 1960s, through hiring and/or funding generations of propagandists, think tanks, politicians, publications, broadcasters, broadcast commentators, political parties, referenda, political movement leaders, murderous ‘anti-Communist’ ultra-rightists worldwide, and the like.

    The problem is that there has been open class warfare waged by the super-rich, and though you do get your petty small business big guys getting to visit Republican party ‘inner circles’ and buying off politicians and the like to control local development thinking they’re among those highest level elites.

    The problem is that the super-rich are happy to have returned to the thinking of their peers in the 1890s and 1920s when nobody gave a shit how the nation would be 10 or 20 years from now, just give them all the damned money they can get away with, get the government the hell away from their money and their businesses, and make sure the poor and working classes are as disempowered and fucked over and miserable as possible, because we don’t want any wage and social support monies going to those worthless fuckers when it could be going to the rich and, most importantly, the super-rich.

    The problem is that a bunch of mediocre commentators think they’re able to philosophize in the grand tradition of telling the majority how to appreciate the hierarchical world they admire, the one they continually believe they made their positions in thanks to our entirely meritocratic system.

  36. 36
    Arclite says:

    Roger Ebert’s review of Scrappers:

    http://rogerebert.suntimes.com...../101009984

    Key quotes:

    They are strong. With dollies but no forklifts, they lever heavy loads into the backs of pickups with high plywood sides. Their trucks are weighed on the way into a scrap yard and on the way out — they’re paid for the difference. They work in all weathers, 14 hours a day, collect cash money at the end, come home to their wives and kids. The film reports there are thousands of scrappers in the Chicago area.

    and

    Fortunate people sneer at them, write them off as bums or thieves. Few in the middle class work as hard all day as these men do — and quite possibly, work as usefully. You cannot be a drunk and work this hard. You can’t support a drug habit. But you can support a family, and “Scrappers” goes into the homes of Otis and Oscar to meet their wives — stable, stalwart women — and their kids. The loyalty in these homes is palpable.

  37. 37
    slag says:

    My understanding of our class structure in America hasn’t yet risen to the level of knowing how hard people of different classes work relative to each other. I’m still trying to figure out why we–as a society–have deemed your average pro football player, Wall Street bankster, and reality teevee star to be many times more valuable than your average inner city school teacher. Breaks my brain to think about every time.

    I’m all for rewarding effort. But value matters too. And I just don’t understand our national value system well enough to see any rhyme or reason in our economic system. At this point, I can only look forward to working my way up to being resentful of wealthy, hardworking whiners.

    I guess I must be an anti-colonial Kenyan sleeper agent.

    Or…what CoT said.

  38. 38
    Phyllis says:

    I was in the trenches in Social Services when ‘welfare reform’ came down the pike. In all honesty, there were upper class folks who were willing to help our clients make the transition, but they had.no.clue.

    My worst experience was pulling together a group to meet with a certified financial planner who said, out loud, upon reviewing the standard 800 or so per month take home these folks were getting from their full-time, minimum wage or little better job “But but but, you can’t live on this.”

    Well yes they can, and in fact many, many do. Can they fund a Roth IRA and 10% a month savings and have a 6-8 month emergency fund on hand? No. But they can ‘live’ on that income.

  39. 39
    freelancer says:

    Also, does anyone else have the “Date Wealthy Women” ad in the right margin? Pure gold for this thread.

  40. 40
    Brick Oven Bill says:

    We should tax consumption, to encourage thrift.

    We should not tax work, to encourage production.

    We should tax teleprompters, to encourage Harvard grads to learn to publically address grown-ups.

    I am also cool with inheritance taxes.

  41. 41
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    @hilzoy: I think this:

    I do not regard taxation as a punishment

    is really the crucial difference between me and Joyner. I consider it an obligation as a citizen. Does that make me more patriotic?

  42. 42
    Comrade Mary says:

    Undercover Boss makes me twitchy. Yeah, it’s nice that the CEOs get smacked upside the head just a little about the ways in which their decisions — or lack thereof — affect people down the food chain. Maybe some horrible things, like that seven minute turnaround time to clean planes, get fixed. And some of the people they work with get a public acknowledgement of their value and maybe some goodies.

    While I suspect that most of the people featured are genuinely appreciative that Big Boss has treated them like deserving human beings, and I don’t want to piss on their afterglow, I’m just cynical about how real this reality show is.

    EVERYONE KNOWS THEY’RE BEING FILMED. Most of the employees may think this is some documentary (and even that will affect their willingness to genuinely badmouth the company), but given this is the second season, you have to think some employees have totally clued the fuck in, especially when the boss’s attempt at camouflaging himself includes a sad, dead squirrel on his head, as shown last night.

    I’d love to NOT see a real Undercover Boss. Have the CEO go in the trenches without cameras or a 5 minute opening hagiography, learn something, then change what needs to be changed. Maybe let him (or her) write a mea culpa afterwards. But the show as it stands feels so constrained and exploitive, so entrenched in furthering the narrative that the boss just needs to tweak a few things before going back to his mansion, that I can’t fucking stand it.

  43. 43
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    I predict that in less than 30 years we will have back the anarchism of the 1890s, only armed with 21st century weaponry. Why anybody would want this I have no idea, but if today’s apologists for post-industrial capitalism are trying to help stoke the fires from which a new, radical, and ultra violent anti-capitalist movement will fill the void left by communism, then they are going about it the right way.

  44. 44
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    Sully prolly met some flamboyant and fabulously wealthy bear top in Provincetown and now he’s all fangurl crush.

  45. 45
    hilzoy says:

    @cleek: I made that one up, I think — by now, I tend to gloss over instances of “throughout human history, people have wondered about X”, for values of X not in existence for most of human history. (Also for values of X that never cross most people’s minds.) So I’m not sure I’ve gotten that one in particular. But I have gotten lots like it.

    My favorite ever undergrad sentence is still:

    “Descartes divides the truths into three groups: true, false, and on slim grounds.”

  46. 46
    eemom says:

    I cannot believe that such reeking craven bullshit as this has been dignified with four threads’ worth of comments.

  47. 47
    Joshua Norton says:

    William Jennings Bryan once said “No one can earn a million dollars honestly”. Maybe the million dollar amount needs to be adjusted for inflation, but I still agree with his basic sentiment.

  48. 48
    Brian J says:

    Here’s my response:

    Why can’t people on the right either (a) campaign honestly on the need for a smaller government or (b) admit that those who have seen most, if not all, of the income gains in the last decade, if not longer, should share a larger burden of financing the government?

    In unrelated news, but news that should come as a welcome development for John Cole, “Chuck” is very close to being picked up for a full season.

  49. 49
    Mark S. says:

    @Culture of Truth:

    a thick headed libertarian

    Is there any other kind? If every libertarian thinker died and every piece of their writing vanished, would mankind be any poorer?

    Cue Radley Balko to comment how he’s done more for social justice than ten MLKs and fifty Gandhis.

  50. 50
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    wonder why Undercover Boss is in Season 2 and getting more popular.

    My favorite part is when otherwise normal people get all weepy with the new guy with the camera following him around. Yeah.

  51. 51
    hilzoy says:

    @eemom: “I cannot believe that such reeking craven bullshit as this has been dignified with four threads’ worth of comments.”

    New to the internets, I take it? ;)

  52. 52
    fasteddie9318 says:

    @eemom:

    Sully rules the BJ world.

  53. 53
    Sly says:

    When capital exercises its capacity to squeeze labor, it is a rational effect of the free market. The price of labor is always too high, you see, and decades of policies actively designed to limit the economic mobility of people who work for a living are a natural reaction to an uncompetitive labor market. People who earn their income through a weekly paycheck need a healthy dose of desperation in their lives, because thats the lubricant that makes the prosperity-shit fly frictionless through the rectum of the magical free market unicorn.

    When labor exercises its capacity to squeeze capital, HOW FUCKING DARE THEY?

    If Sully wants to know why the “left” doesn’t respect the struggle of their socioeconomic betters, I can give him a fairly succinct answer:

    It’s because the wealthy are a bunch of pussies.

  54. 54
    Warren Terra says:

    “some on the left” are hardly calling for the elimination of the kulaks here: we, if I may appropriate the label and refer to myself (myselves?) in the plural, are calling for slightly higher taxes on those most able to afford it, a level of taxation that’s still low not only by first world standards but even by our own historical standards. And we’re calling for this in order to fund not some massive program of ponies for all and every man a prince, but our existing government, which provides a safety net that’s barely adequate and that is, again, distinctly unimpressive by first world standards.

    Anyone who doesn’t support thus is saying one of two things: they want the government to spend a lot less, or they want the poor to pay more. If the former, they really ought to have some concrete notions about whence all the savings will come; this goes double if they’re a paid full-time blogger on politics and society with several staffers helping them. Since I’m not aware Sully has any such schemes in mind, he must simply want the poor to pay more. Like his hero Maggie and the poll tax, I guess.

    And the simple fact is that the rich are getting richer; they’re getting much, much richer, and they’re doing so faster all the time. The numbers for the percentage of income, and wealth, going to the top 1% and the top 0.1% aren’t just staggering, they’re also twice what they were a decade ago.

    Put more succinctly: this is typical libertarian fantasyland bullsh:t.

  55. 55
    bemused says:

    Sullivan is just another conservative who is in awe of the uber wealthy who thinks that someday he too will be one of them. People who don’t have a pot to pee in somehow believe if R’s are in power they will do much better even that hasn’t ever happened for them or their parents or grandparents. I’ve heard a person who couldn’t make more than $60K bitch about Obama taxing those who make more than $250K. When someone pressed him that he doesn’t make $250K, he said he might some day. Those with little money believe R’s will trickle it down to them. Those doing much better like Sullivan think if they hang with the very wealthy or defend them in print, more of the green stuff will come to them.
    I’d call that blind faith or a gambling addiction.

  56. 56
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    @Brick Oven Bill: So your goal is to punish those that need every penny they earn to make ends meet so that the wealthy get to keep even more of their money? Only if God puts his judgments on TV as a show.

  57. 57
    IM says:

    Isn’t it a bit irritating that even a troll has more sensible views than two public right-wing intellectuals?

    I mean at least he is pro estate tax.

    More generally now we see why communism was useful: It kept these people in check. Isn’t life unfair that communism only worked for the working class of capitalist countries?

  58. 58
    MikeBoyScout says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist:

    Sorry. I have not bought The Atlantic for years. And while there are some good writers and good articles it is all-in-all fly swatter material.

  59. 59
    Citizen Alan says:

    I hate Undercover Boss. It strikes me as the most repulsive example of corporatist propaganda I’ve ever seen — a fake reality show designed to show that CEOs are not all heartless assholes and actually care so, so much about their employees. Why just look at how this multi-billionaire gave this one kid a $1000 scholarship because he was so impressed with the kid’s work ethic. Just look at how the CEO of Hooters is shocked, shocked to learn that some people think his company is chauvinistic and that some of his managers sexually harass the Hooter Girls in his employee.

    The only parts of the show I liked came in the first 20 minutes, when (a) they show the home of this salt-of-the-earth CEO, which is usually a palace that looks like it came from the opening credits of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous and (b) the undercover boss had to start a bottom of the rung job for which he was usually completely unqualified and incompetent. In every episode I saw (four total, I think), the boss got fired at one of the places he was working for some screw-up.

  60. 60
    El Cid says:

    @Comrade Mary: When I’ve watched that show, the responses by many of the CEO’s are vague promises to ‘do things different’ and benefits to the exact individuals they worked with.

  61. 61
    artem1s says:

    OFFS, its HARD WORK to yell ‘let them eat cake’!

  62. 62
    Groucho48 says:

    In discussion with right wingers on their desire to gut SS, they continually make the point that SS taxes are exactly the same as income tax, so, just because someone has been paying into a SS fund that has had surpluses does not mean they are entitled to full SS benefits.

    So, taking their assertion at face value, currently, folks who earn between 34000 and about 82000 are paying a marginal rate of 37.4% while those earning more than 373,650 are paying a marginal rate of 35%. Less than half that if it is capital gains income.

    Let’s not even get into the fact that many of the most popular deductions…such as the mortgage interest deduction…favor the rich.

    Folks who shed tears at the plight of the rich having a higher tax rate have never once even thought about the fact that it is actually the middle class who pays the highest tax rate.

    As to penalizing the doers of society. The doers generally become rich AFTER they have done their great deeds. Is it a better idea to tax the Bill Gates types at a high rate when they are struggling? Or at a high rate when they have succeeded?

  63. 63
    b-psycho says:

    @Brick Oven Bill: Let’s tax lame jokes while we’re at it.

  64. 64
    El Cid says:

    @Citizen Alan:

    Just look at how the CEO of Hooters is shocked, shocked to learn that some people think his company is chauvinistic and that some of his managers sexually harass the Hooter Girls in his employee.

    Even I was surprised that the manager who made the Hooters girls eat beans out of a plate with no hands, just sticking their face in and having to lick around that way, in order to end their shift, didn’t get fired. I don’t recall much happening to him at all.

  65. 65
    Culture of Truth says:

    Is there any other kind?

    There may some who are just purely selfish and a little crazy.

  66. 66
    El Cid says:

    The logic that a higher marginal tax rates discourages people from becoming significantly wealthier when they are able is simply stupid beyond belief. Sure, there are levels at which the rates could make it less worthwhile to do whatever extra effort or investment is required.

    But what the fuck does this have to do with higher tax rates on multimillionaires and billionaires? What does this have to do with million dollar inheritances? What does it have to do with, say, a tiny tax on every financial investment transaction?

    What they have in common is that the very rich can wield their power against the majority in order to pay a lower proportional burden of taxation.

  67. 67
    jacy says:

    At this point, fuck Andrew Sullivan.

    The latest?

    And health insurance? We already have socialized medicine in America because of the guarantee of emergency room care.

    Well, I’ll just run over to the emergency room and get my emergency mammogram, my emergency cholesterol panel and my emergency pap smear. And if, dog forbid, they should find something wrong, I’m sure I’ll enjoy some fine emergency chemotherapy!

    Fucking wanker.

  68. 68
    NickM says:

    Amen, brother.

    What makes bloggin, lawyering or investment banking “hard work” and other needful activities, like picking up trash, growing and transporting food, caring for people in a hospital, teaching children, etc. not “hard work”? Different skills might well be involved, some of which society places more value on, perhaps for good reason, perhaps not, but we are not generally talking about how “hard” the work is, really. I’ve worked hard digging fence posts and I’ve worked hard in a lawyer’s office, and I’d much rather do the “hard work” of a lawyer.

    I had an epiphany a few years ago, walking down the street where the homeless shelter was and thinking about it. I thought about how many thousands of hours went into caring for teaching each one of those people: whether it was mothers, fathers, grandparents, teachers, etc. And I thought about the thousands upon thousands of hours each one of them probably had worked during their lives: most people do not spend 30 or 40 years being homeless and never once having worked. It was incredible to think how much our society is willing to waste all that effort it takes to raise and create a functioning human being, and how much of someone’s past service we’re eager to ignore because they are not currently being “productive.”

    I could have phrased this better, but I’m actually “hard at work” now (or should be), and I think I made my point even if awkwardly.

  69. 69
    b-psycho says:

    @Brian J: Because the largest parts of government spending go to war profiteers & old folks — their main constituencies.

  70. 70
    Ash Can says:

    @Arclite: I love those guys. They perform a real service, and they’re environmentally friendly on top of it, in that they’re recycling old junk that would otherwise be piling up in landfills. I’m happy to have them around; I know that there’s always a good way to dispose of metal junk as long as they’re around.

    @eemom: It’s therapeutic, and cheaper and less of a pain in the ass than kicking holes in the wall.

  71. 71
    Culture of Truth says:

    When I first saw “Undercover Boss,” it struck me as quite progressive, in this day and age when the GOP supposedly has all the enthusiasm, since the dominant theme of the shows was how really really hard most employees work in this country and how out of touch CEOs are. Compare this to “The “Apprentice” and Trump’s horrifying offspring.

    But yeah, now there is too much of the CEO giving scholarships and prizes like “Queen For a Day.”

    Om balance, though, I think the first message is still there, for the time being.

  72. 72
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @Citizen Alan: I look it at more as a game show, where if ya get a clue what’s going on, ya can mug for the camera and win valuable prizes at the end. I’d be crying my ass off for the free vacation.

    Of course, my actual job is one of the wankers around the executive table who nods sagely when the CEO announces his undercover plan instead of demanding to know if he’s lost his fucking mind.

  73. 73
    freelancer says:

    @trollhattan:

    Actually, the more appropriate construction would be:

    Born on the one yard line, and pissed that the guys walking around selling beer and cotton candy aren’t cheering.

    “We’re busy you smug prick!”

  74. 74
    JPL says:

    @El Cid: On the previous thread I mentioned that Joyner had no idea what class warfare meant.
    What percentage of sales tax do those making over 250,000 pay..
    What percentage of property tax
    What percentage of soc. sec
    on and on and on
    Class warfare against the rich my ……..

  75. 75
    Culture of Truth says:

    At least “UB” showed Hooters for what it really is on national tv. Plus CEOs get ritually humiliated for half an hour. Not all bad.

  76. 76
    Punchy says:

    Sully gets more run at this place than McBeam and Worthlessberger in a gay nightclub with 4 strays, a cat, a math textbook, kicking a soccer ball.

  77. 77

    I must say that this is the 4th time I’ve read Sully’s Prayer for the Uncommon Man and now I’m four times as pissed off as when I first read it. The man really is utterly stupid.

    But I also favor allowing those who work hard to keep as much of their own money as possible.

    Fine. People like nurses, construction workers, auto mechanics and fire fighters will pay no taxes. Trustafarians will fork over 80% of their cash. If that isn’t what he meant he can get fucked for me.

  78. 78
    PeakVT says:

    Neither Sullivan or Joyner know what hard work is really like. They should spend a few months doing something like shipbreaking. Maybe then they’ll be able to write something that isn’t complete and utter shit.

  79. 79
    Butch says:

    I know it’s kinda OT, but there’s a quote from a newspaper story over on Think Progress, and the newspaper was discussing a GOPer’s thoughts on “torte reform.” Let them eat cake, I guess.

  80. 80
    David Brooks (not that one) says:

    I think Sully might have got a more sensible argument if he had said what he meant. Because I believe he didn’t mean to say the rich work harder. I think what was in his head was that they take more risks.

    Financial, that is or ignore the inevitable rejoinder about miners, fishermen, and cops. People who succeed have mortgaged their houses, or sleep in their parents’ basements, max out their credit cards, just plain put it all on the line, and if they succeed, the risk should be rewarded.

    Problems with that, of course. There are many people without houses to mortgage or credit cards to max out. And the risk has very little downside: most failed entrpreneurs can pick up a decent salaried job afterwards.

    So, there. Replacing a strawman with another more meaningful, but still crap, strawman.

  81. 81
    Martin says:

    Watch Dirty Jobs instead.

  82. 82
    JPL says:

    I don’t have to time to verify the exact numbers but if my memory hasn’t totally gone in the toilet I’ll be close
    When McCain was running he released his tax returns and had an income of 400,000 and paid about 80,000 in taxes.
    How much of his income went to sales tax? How much went to soc. sec.
    Class warfare my ass
    I’ll try to verify the exact numbers in a little while but I have to finish up something.

  83. 83
    Brick Oven Bill says:

    Work is the process of applying a force through a distance. This is a purifying activity upon which society is built, and should be encouraged. Some beliefs consider work to be divine. Consumption ‘consumes’ resources, and should be discouraged through taxation.

    Now, consider Michelle’s recent weight gain. If we could limit Michelle to her arugula garden (work = no tax), and keep her away from various food vendors (consumption = tax), she would serve as a much better role model for our nation’s youth, yielding benefit. Actions by our leaders are much more powerful than words, and image is important.

    Imagine this benefit multiplied countless times over, and even the casual observer can appreciate the Logic of my taxation plan.

  84. 84
    El Cid says:

    @jacy:

    And health insurance? We already have socialized medicine in America because of the guarantee of emergency room care.

    You’ve got to be shitting me. If that’s a direct quote from the over-emoting Tory Sullivan, then I have another reason to thank the non-gods that I don’t waste the slightest second going to read him directly.

    I suppose that we have soshullized funerals because if there’s no one around to pay for your burial or cremation, there must be some public service which does it.

  85. 85
    Citizen Alan says:

    @freelancer:

    I will say this: I have a lot more respect for professional athletes and for highly paid entertainers than for nearly any other subset of the wealthy in this country, because they really do earn it. Nepotism is rarely an issue — being the sons of Archie Manning wouldn’t have gotten Peyton and Eli anywhere if they couldn’t throw the football. And unlike CEOs, athletes and entertainers deserve to be paid well because they create the product. Yes, it’s ridiculous that A-Rod gets paid $3.3 mill, but that’s for a ball club with an estimated value of well over a billion dollars! How much would the Yankees be worth after a year or two if the owners decided to fire all the players as a cost-cutting measure and replace them with players willing to work for $30k a year and no benefits? Vanna White gets paid $4 mill a year for Wheel of Fortune to quit literally do nothing at all (the letterboard is completely automated — she doesn’t even need to touch them for the letters to turn), but her presence on a fantastically profitable show is worth that much to the producers, who fear, quite rightly I think, that the ratings would slip if she were replaced.

    In short, I think A-Rod, Vanna and everyone else in those classes of high-wage earners deserve a huge paycheck because if they weren’t involved, there would be no product to sell. As opposed to the CEO of pretty much every Fortune 500 company, any one of whom could probably be replaced by any MBA who graduated last May magna cum laude with no noticeable change in the company’s bottom line (except possibly an improvement).

  86. 86
    curious says:

    @El Tiburon: it seems like the war on the rich comes earlier and earlier every millennium.

  87. 87
    ed drone says:

    @slag:

    your average pro football player, Wall Street bankster, and reality teevee star

    My son tells me that they are actually combining two of those — the pro footballer and the reality TV star — into one, with a reality show participant actually about to play for (or already doing so) the Dallas Cowboys. There is supposedly a show about getting a try-out with the Cowboys, and they’re putting some guy onto the team as a kick returner.

    I have not checked this for accuracy (though my son is pretty hip to the sports scene and rarely gets it wrong), but even if only apocryphal, it captures the truly insane nature of popular culture-driven “normality” today.

    Ed

  88. 88
    J.A.F. Rusty Shackleford says:

    @Brick Oven Bill:

    We should tax stupidity because business is a boomin’.

  89. 89
    stagemom says:

    when are so many period going to be able to understand that someone somewhere along the family line got a free-frackin’ HANDOUT in the form of free land, free water, or free natural resources?

    and then passed it on to the next generation for FREE?!!!???

    drink. my. milkshake.

  90. 90
    el_gallo says:

    It bears repeating, “What’s wrong with the poor is poverty, what’s wrong with the rich is uselessness.”

  91. 91
    freelancer says:

    Say what you will about B. O. B.’s disgusting, racist, math-based proposals, I find it genuinely hilarious. It’s like BJ has it’s own resident TimeCube guy.

    Of course this is the same reptilian part of the brain that, in DougJ’s skull is rooting for Rand Paul and impeachment.

  92. 92
    futzinfarb says:

    Fine, I’m out as one of Sullivan’s “so many on the left”. But in my meager defense there’s rich and there’s RICH. I don’t give a s**t about the rich – more power to ‘em. But I’ll be happy to “internalize… [that] those [RICH] who work hard [should] keep as much of their own money as possible” the moment a vocal element on the right internalizes and acts on the understanding of the utterly corrupting influence – on the social contract, on the possible future of the human race – of individuals amassing wealth comparable with the GDP’s of entire countries. For FSM’s sake, what has 2007 – 2010 been but a textbook study of that corrupting influence and its consequences? Heck, I’ll bow and scrape for the SOB’s once that happens.

  93. 93
    liberal says:

    Why are so many on the left incapable of acknowledging that many people who are rich – but, of course by no means all of them – earned it the hard way?

    If “earned it the hard way” means “parasitically collecting economic rents,” then this statement is true.

  94. 94
    PeakVT says:

    @El Cid: Yep, direct quote. I actually clicked over and checked.

    Sullivan is a horrible human being and I remain baffled why anyone on the left reads him for reasons other than to tee off on his stupidity.

  95. 95
    jacy says:

    @El Cid:

    Yep, it’s from a little ode to why he’s agrees with the teabaggers “core rationale.” Seriously, how much reefer does he have to smoke for entrance into the fantasy land he inhabits?

  96. 96
    liberal says:

    @David Brooks (not that one):

    I think what was in his head was that they take more risks.

    Yeah, it’s a standard right-wing shibboleth.

    It’s true that many of the really rich took big risks. It’s also true that successful career criminals take big risks.

    The real issue here is that most of the rich got that way either through inheritance, or through collecting rents, aka sucking the blood out of the rest of us (ie, producing nothing of value).

    Welcome to the toolbooth economy.

  97. 97
    blahblahblah says:

    @hilzoy:

    Throughout human history, people have wondered about the morality of reproductive cloning.

    Wait. Didn’t you know that Cato the Sr. wrote at length about the immorality of cloning as “birth without sex”?

    Hilzoy, I’m astonished at your lack of edmuication in classical history! You bloggers really need to take a class or two on the History Channel.

  98. 98
    liberal says:

    @Citizen Alan:

    I have a lot more respect for professional athletes and for highly paid entertainers than for nearly any other subset of the wealthy in this country, because they really do earn it.

    I agree with your point. Stupid economists, though, have tried to re-define rent collecting, so that the examples you cite are mere rent-collectors also.

  99. 99
    futzinfarb says:

    Oopsie. I think I did something bad to the thread format. I’ll just go stand in the corner with my tail between my legs, whimpering for pity.

  100. 100
    Citizen Alan says:

    @El Cid:

    Even I was surprised that the manager who made the Hooters girls eat beans out of a plate with no hands, just sticking their face in and having to lick around that way, in order to end their shift, didn’t get fired. I don’t recall much happening to him at all.

    Really? Really?!? I didn’t watch the whole episode. Honestly, the only reason I ever watched any part of that crapfest is that it comes on after The Amazing Race and during football season, the starting time would get pushed back randomly so I would just have Tivo record an extra hour. That episode cut out at the 30 minute mark. So if the CEO actually observes clear-cut abuse of employees by a supervisor, he won’t do anything about it except give the supervisor a stern lecture while menacing music plays in the background.

    Can I just mention once again that I favor using a guillotine to solve all these problems?

  101. 101
    Dollared says:

    I love you, John.

    Do not stop – Sully reads you and maybe someday he’ll get it.

  102. 102
    El Cid says:

    Via Obsidian Wings, this column in the New York Times by economist and professor Robert Frank:

    …[M]any economists are reluctant to confront rising income inequality directly, saying that whether this trend is good or bad requires a value judgment that is best left to philosophers. But that disclaimer rings hollow. Economics, after all, was founded by moral philosophers, and links between the disciplines remain strong. So economists are well positioned to address this question, and the answer is very clear…
    __
    …In a recent working paper based on census data for the 100 most populous counties in the United States, Adam Seth Levine (a postdoctoral researcher in political science at Vanderbilt University), Oege Dijk (an economics Ph.D. student at the European University Institute) and I found that the counties where income inequality grew fastest also showed the biggest increases in symptoms of financial distress.
    __
    For example, even after controlling for other factors, these counties had the largest increases in bankruptcy filings.
    __
    Divorce rates are another reliable indicator of financial distress, as marriage counselors report that a high proportion of couples they see are experiencing significant financial problems. The counties with the biggest increases in inequality also reported the largest increases in divorce rates.
    __
    Another footprint of financial distress is long commute times, because families who are short on cash often try to make ends meet by moving to where housing is cheaper — in many cases, farther from work. The counties where long commute times had grown the most were again those with the largest increases in inequality.
    __
    The middle-class squeeze has also reduced voters’ willingness to support even basic public services. Rich and poor alike endure crumbling roads, weak bridges, an unreliable rail system, and cargo containers that enter our ports without scrutiny. And many Americans live in the shadow of poorly maintained dams that could collapse at any moment.
    __
    ECONOMISTS who say we should relegate questions about inequality to philosophers often advocate policies, like tax cuts for the wealthy, that increase inequality substantially. That greater inequality causes real harm is beyond doubt.

    Plenty of economists, given the academics they followed, their peers, their positions in business schools or business-funded schools, their potential accessibility to paid speaking engagements, think tank positions and consultancy positions in enormously wealthy corporations and investment firms, invitations to print and broadcast media, and the like, have plenty of incentive to address inequality in the form of and justifying it.

    Not to mention the economic ‘schools’ of thought which both formed around and helped form these ideas — i.e., the “Chicago Boys” going around the world helping 3rd world countries undermine their own national economic development in favor of the local suzerainties and international investors.

  103. 103
    freelancer says:

    @Citizen Alan:

    Careful there, you’re coming awful close to showing solidarity with, and being sympathetic to Pat Sajack.

  104. 104
    El Cid says:

    @Citizen Alan: I was curious, and it was on Hulu and/or Windows Media Internet TV. I even watched a few episodes of the British version, and it was generally the same, although as usual, the British versions don’t require quite as many microsecond back and forth video edits and interjections of big music to keep the audience’s short attention span focus. Originally I thought it might be going somewhere and eventually there’d be something more exciting, and finally it occurred to me in a stronger way that, hey, these are produced by ultra-hierarchical media companies, they’re not going to suggest systemic reforms to the corporate system. Just ‘better management’.

  105. 105
    El Cid says:

    @stagemom:

    when are so many period going to be able to understand that someone somewhere along the family line got a free-frackin’ HANDOUT in the form of free land, free water, or free natural resources?

    Not to mention free air.

  106. 106
    benintn says:

    The part that bothers me about it is that it assumes that rich people work hard, whereas poor/non-rich people do not work hard. As it turns out, much of the “hard work” done by rich people is figuring out how to screw over others, engage in cutthroat capitalism, and then maintain an advantage.

  107. 107
    Historian says:

    @PeakVT: This. I highly doubt that Sully has ever done a real day’s work in his life. He has spent all his life sitting on his ass writing- first at Oxford, then at the New Republic, now at the Atlantic.

  108. 108
    Judas Escargot says:

    @Bullsmith:

    Really, the only difference between todays corporate elite and the Mafia are the accents.

    That, and the Mafia’s at least somewhat meritocratic.

  109. 109
    Brian J says:

    @b-psycho:

    I know that. It just goes to show you that the Republicans are, by and large, corporate whores, not libertarians. I may not agree with much the libertarians have to say, but at least the legitimate ones are honest.

  110. 110

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PvQiUku-Iqs

    “We’re unfortunately in that upper bracket you know that’s taxed the most… [blah blah flat tax]… instead of being penalized for being bright or smart or rich or whatever, they could just make it straight across the board.”

    “Rich people are constantly whining about how much they have to pay in taxes, and whenever I hear one of them bitch that they’re paying too much, I like to turn to them and say ‘Hey! Go Fuck Yourselves!'”

  111. 111
    trollhattan says:

    @Brick Oven Bill:

    Why, John Cole, why have you reconnected BJ to the septic tank. You know the leachfield is still clogged.

  112. 112
    peach flavored shampoo says:

    And health insurance? We already have socialized medicine in America because of the guarantee of emergency room care.

    And ERs are so apt and ready to clean your teeth, check your vision, and supply you with prosthetics.

  113. 113
    TuiMel says:

    The problem, as far as I see it, is that too many privileged people can’t get it through their damned heads that most poor people aren’t lazy, drunk, or just living large on the welfare, but were born into far shittier situations that most of the wealthy people in America.

    Ah, but the poor are “Lucky Duckies,” because they pay little or no income tax! Everyone knows that it is better to make minimum wage and not pay income tax than to make millions and flirt with that upper tax bracket. You enjoy more privilege if you are born poor and get a Pell Grant than those who score the lucky sperm and have that Princeton tuition a foregone conclusion. Life isn’t fair! Did you hear me? Life isn’t fair!

  114. 114
    kindness says:

    While I think that your suggestion for the rich to get a dog if they want unflagging devotion and constant licks of approval…..What about the poor dog? You should follow this thread with a pledge drive for critter rescues.

  115. 115
    Jamie says:

    Inheriting wealth should not be considered working hard to earn one’s money, even if your father is a pain.

  116. 116
    Citizen Alan says:

    @freelancer:

    The fact that Pat Sajak is a braying jackass does not change the essential fact that for some reason, millions of viewers love him enough to watch his show religiously. The show was not as commercially successful or as profitable under Chuck Woolery as it was under Sajak, and if and when Sajak retires (or possibly goes Galt), the show will likely be less successful and profitable than it is today. Pat Sajak and Vanna White deserve their fair share of the profits they generate, and I don’t begrudge them those profits even as I remain baffled as to what they bring that viewers find so compelling.

    Remember that they had to replace Bob Barker with a guy who actually had a high degree of TV stardom, because that was the only way to maintain interest in the show after Barker’s retirement. Remember also that when CBS got the bright idea to replace Bo and Luke with Coy and Vance just because John Schneider and Tom Wopat wanted a bigger share of the merchandising rights to the Dukes of Hazzard, what had once been CBS’s most profitable show never recovered.

  117. 117
    peach flavored shampoo says:

    Yes, it’s ridiculous that A-Rod gets paid $3.3 mill

    Not to pick nits, cuz I get your gist, but you’re off by approx a factor of ten. Unless you meant to follow that with “per class act on the field”.

  118. 118
    soonergrunt says:

    @Carnacki: grin.

  119. 119
    Mark S. says:

    I would just like to say because of all of your boorish behavior today, none of you are invited to the next David Brooks seminar at the Aspen Institute.

  120. 120
    soonergrunt says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist:

    and could Andrew or some of the other “war on the rich” hysterics please explain to me how rich people suffered during the Clinton years?

    Well, since there were more rich people created, they suffered because they weren’t as unique and special in God’s eye, what with there being more of them and all. That’s why they whine about the rest of us not showing appropriate respect from our low stations. If they can’t get it from God, then they’ll get it somewhere.

  121. 121
    Mark says:

    @Violet: Sully can’t go Galt. He has HIV. He can only work for a company that has a large group health insurance plan that won’t get creamed by the underwriting for him.

    @b-psycho: Undercover Worker was “Trading Places.” That movie should serve as a reminder of how difficult it is to succeed in finance.

  122. 122

    @jacy: They do bill you for those visits and they refer you to a regular doctor for anything less than a life threatening condition.

    Sully doesn’t know this because he’s a pampered piece of shit who thinks spouting well-worn fRightWing talking points will keep the goons off his back if they ever start Operation Infinite Jesus.

  123. 123
    Pennsylvanian says:

    When the rich pay a larger percentage of their income in taxes as I do, then maybe they can bitch. Right now I’m fairly sure most of them are paying less than 20% after all of their games and write offs and the hedge fund managers probably only wind up paying 8 or 10% with their insanely special status. Screw that. I’m more and more in favor of a flat tax because this tax rate bullshit is just that – the tax rate doesn’t mean anything after the accountants for the wealthy get done evading most dollars owed.

    I pay about 28% in federal taxes on every single dollar I make, less the mortgage interest and donations to the food bank and library. Find me a wealthy person with a bottom line tax bill of more than 28% of their gross and we’ll talk.

    When the richest 18 families in this country have spent half a BILLION dollars in the last decade trying to get the estate tax outlawed and they still have time to cry about getting a 2% tax increase after all of their hard work trying to avoid paying any taxes at all, I say, no quarter for you. Pay what you owe and shut the hell up like the rest of us.

  124. 124
    Face says:

    The part that bothers me about it is that it assumes that rich people work hard, whereas poor/non-rich people do not work hard.

    You are about to be sued by Mr. Bill O’Reilly and FNC, for stealing their entire schtik nearly word-for-word.

  125. 125
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Citizen Alan:

    Yes, it’s ridiculous that A-Rod gets paid $3.3 mill

    I agree with your larger point, but you’re off by roughly one McArdle: scroll down to the bottom of the Baseball-reference.com page for Alex Rodriguez.

  126. 126
    Kat says:

    @ b-psycho: Fuck Undercover Boss, I wanna see Undercover Employee. Stick a low level worker in one of those board meetings and watch what happens…

    In Germany, corporate boards are required to include a certain percentage of union employees, by law.

    @ benintn: much of the “hard work” done by rich people is figuring out how to screw over others, engage in cutthroat capitalism, and then maintain an advantage.

    Amen.

    @ El Cid: Even I was surprised that the manager who made the Hooters girls eat beans out of a plate with no hands, just sticking their face in and having to lick around that way, in order to end their shift, didn’t get fired. I don’t recall much happening to him at all.

    He made the manager apologize to the Hooters waitresses. No, he didn’t even ask the waitresses why they didn’t quit, rather than put up with that kind of treatment. Stupid me — I thought the waitresses should launch a class-action law suit against the company for gender discrimination.

    @ ThatLeftTurnInABQ: …if today’s apologists for post-industrial capitalism are trying to help stoke the fires from which a new, radical, and ultra violent anti-capitalist movement will fill the void left by communism, then they are going about it the right way.
    and…
    @ Citizen Alan: Can I just mention once again that I favor using a guillotine to solve all these problems?

    We’re getting close to that point now. And when it finaly happens, it’s going to get ugly fast.

    Regarding how hard the ultra-wealty work, why is we never hear that phrase anymore about money working 24/7?

    And They don’t pay 35-40% income tax — they only pay a 15% capital gains tax. Yet they still bitch so much, that must be the hard word they’re always on about.

  127. 127
    fasteddie9318 says:

    @Citizen Alan:

    Remember also that when CBS got the bright idea to replace Bo and Luke with Coy and Vance just because John Schneider and Tom Wopat wanted a bigger share of the merchandising rights to the Dukes of Hazzard, what had once been CBS’s most profitable show never recovered.

    I remember watching that show in syndication as a kid, and although I didn’t really know what the word “fuck” meant yet, the best way to describe what I was thinking when the replacements took over the show was, “who the fuck are these idiots?”

  128. 128
    El Cid says:

    It’s about time a candidate stood up for willful ignorance.

    “When I say ‘taxes are bad,’ I really am saying everything I know about that subject… And I won’t back down like some Washington crony who learns things… I won’t read any bill — details are for elitists.”

  129. 129
    Comrade Sock Puppet of the Great Satan says:

    “I have a lot more respect for professional athletes and for highly paid entertainers than for nearly any other subset of the wealthy in this country because they really do earn it”

    Well, insofar as they’re in industries with big economies of scale [thanks to mass-media] and where labor is distinct and non-fungible (because of talent and reputation/fame). So they get to collect some of the producer surplus.

    But even then there’s a lot of variation: Black musicians & singers in the soul music era tended to get shittier contracts, which explains why more of them still toured into their advanced years: they needed the money.

  130. 130

    @stagemom: Most of my ancestors got a free boat ride to the New World. Wheee!

  131. 131
    freelancer says:

    @Citizen Alan:

    and if and when Sajak retires (or possibly goes Galt), the show will likely be less successful and profitable than it is today.

    Wanna bet, they’ll just fine some other set of known saccharine, toothless douchebags.

    See also, AFHV becoming AFV, and Bob Saget changing over to Tom “I’m inexplicably famous. Seriously, why the fuck am I hosting two shows?!” Bergeron. (and I heart Bob Saget btw, he just knew how to sell himself as innocuous to the networks).

  132. 132
    beergoggles says:

    It just struck me that the reason the rich want to be validated by the likes of us is that in their heart they know they are a bunch of nepotistic, silver spooners who wouldn’t survive at a real job that doesn’t entail milking their family connections.

    So the only way they can feel better about themselves is when they see the people who bust their asses at regular jobs everyday compliment them on their ‘hard work’.

  133. 133
    John Bird says:

    Um, isn’t the reward of being rich in a meritocracy supposed to be, you know, being rich?

    The objection seems to be that if we do not engage in airy-fairy rhetoric about the virtue of the wealthy, we will see the moral and practical collapse of meritocracy.

    As no one is generally stupid enough to present any economy that includes a family-based system of inherited wealth and privilege as a pure meritocracy, this even seems to extend to the idea that what meritocracy does exist will be annihilated by a leveling spirit conjured among the masses by pointing out other aspects of how wealth is acquired.

    Put aside the bevy of further questions – whether our own meritocracy still functions, whether meritocracy actually morally justifies disparate wealth, whether Sullivan or other writers are competent to determine who earned their wealth and who didn’t, and to what degree.

    The question to me, something I examined in a couple papers back in the long-ago days of Britney’s first comeback, is whether an envious ‘leveling spirit’ is a bad thing itself – whether there is any real difference between a just system based on envy that is mediated through the language of justice, on one hand, and a system based on some sort of pure rational Rawlsian calculation on the other. If the latter turns out to be the former in disguise, as Glenn Beck so often implies, well, so what?

    Why would this necessarily cause the degradation of meritocracy as it exists? I think it wouldn’t, and practically, it doesn’t.

    Rawls spent considerable amounts of time explaining why envy was not the same as a desire for justice, presumably to address the concerns of the sort of folks who Glenn Beck and his listeners purport to understand – that what he was doing was simply appealing to the baser natures of the underprivileged.

    And my hunch is – and I’m far from alone – that this was time wasted. The baser natures of the underprivileged will out anyway, because they numerically outnumber the privileged in all societies, and they can either be expressed in responsive ways by social justice and democracy, or blocked and dammed until they explode in social revolution.

    This is easy to understand as a practical consideration in any political system, and concerned the ancients and the Founding Fathers greatly. Why should any of us assume that envy is necessarily a bad thing to incorporate – especially when so many are willing to fruitfully incorporate greed?

  134. 134
    Dollared says:

    @davidbrooks

    Yeah, they take more risks. You see, they can afford to.

    My problem is that if I take a risk and fail, then not only are two programmers unemployed, but my children don’t get to go to college – or they go, but start life with $60k in loans.

    If that whole Meecrosoft thing hadn’t worked out, Bill Gates would have spent six weeks up at his folks’ place on Lopez Island, then re-enrolled in Harvard, and later on would have been a 80’s VC.

  135. 135
    stagemom says:

    @El Cid: air being a natural resource of sorts…
    but, thanks for adding air-quotes for me!
    it PISSES me off that they get to foul our collective nest with no recourse. what animal would do foul their own nest?
    oh.
    yeah…a rich animal…

  136. 136

    @J.A.F. Rusty Shackleford:
    I am just wondering if this is the real B.O.B. or another of DougJ’s sockpuppets.

  137. 137
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @El Cid: We have a guy here running for re-election to the state house on the slogan “Fighting lousy government since 2000!”

    If you were that un-self-aware, wouldn’t you, like, die?

  138. 138
    eemom says:

    may I propose a thread about the Jack Conway ad against Rand Paul for being an aqua velva Buddhist or whatever, and Claire McCaskill’s reaction, and all the ensuing cacophany of babbling?

    I mean everyone is talking about it and it would be much more fun than this shit.

  139. 139
    Citizen Alan says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    So I am. I did a quick google search but miscounted the number of zeros. Which means I did more research than McMegan typically does, so that should count for something.

  140. 140
    Violet says:

    @Mark:

    Sully can’t go Galt. He has HIV. He can only work for a company that has a large group health insurance plan that won’t get creamed by the underwriting for him.

    I’m fully aware of that. But since he now thinks we’ve got socialized medicine in this country, why doesn’t he quit his cushy employer-based medical insurance and take advantage of our fabulous, free socialized medicine. I’m sure it would be great for his HIV issues.

    There are plenty of people out there without health insurance and who work minimum wage jobs who are also HIV positive or who have other chronic health conditions that require constant care and medication. I don’t have a lot of sympathy for the argument that because he’s got HIV he can’t quit and work a minimum wage job. Yes he can. He just won’t. Just like all his Villager buddies won’t. All while they’re telling us how we’re m33n to those poor rich people.

  141. 141
  142. 142
    TR says:

    OT, but there’s video of Joe Miller’s hired goons in action. Sweet Jesus.

  143. 143
    Michael says:

    @slag:

    I’m still trying to figure out why we—as a society—have deemed your average pro football player, Wall Street bankster, and reality teevee star to be many times more valuable than your average inner city school teacher.

    A football player as entertainer generates millions for the team owner. He breaks his body up, will suffer extra pain in old age, and has a shorter working life with the max governed by the punishment he takes.

    Even then, the team owner, front office honchos, agents and publicists get fat from his efforts. The only alternative to paying him huge money on his contract is to pay the team owner and affiliated office hangers-on even more money.

    Of course, the fans don’t pay the gate or buy merchandise to watch the owner own a team or the PR flacks make announcements – the fans want to see good football played by talented team members. The alternative – not paying the professional athlete as much – is to stuff even more money into the pockets of the front office drones.

    I look upon professional sports as the one blue collar career where the main worker isn’t getting hosed.

  144. 144
    Violet says:

    @TR:
    They are scary. I hope all Alaskans take a look at this to see just what Miller is about. Would “Uncle Ted” have felt the need to keep skinhead-looking thugs around him for “security”?

  145. 145
    JPL says:

    @eemom:

    may I propose a thread about the Jack Conway ad against Rand Paul for being an aqua velva Buddhist or whatever, and Claire McCaskill’s reaction, and all the ensuing cacophany of babbling? I mean everyone is talking about it and it would be much more fun than this shit.

    I chipped in a few more cents in honor of aqua buddha today and called a few friends and they are going to do the same.

    O’Donnell and Angle are sexist and they get away with it
    Gee..O’Donnell called Coons Marxist and everyone swooned.

  146. 146
    Emma says:

    El Cid: As I’ve said before, he is an overeducated (and likes to flaunt it in a phony-modest way), self-centered (if it doesn’t impact him personally, he doesn’t care to even find out about it before he starts bloviating), smug twit.

    Doug and John keep talking about his “good” stuff. Haven’t seen any myself. Perhaps because I don’t go diving for pearls in S-it.

  147. 147
    JPL says:

    At comment 82 I mentioned McCain’s tax returns

    McCain earned $419,731 in income in 2007, from a combination of his Senate salary, book royalties and his pension and Social Security income. McCain paid $84,460 in federal taxes

    How’s that progressive tax system working out for you?
    This obviously does not contain Cindy’s income since they file separately. She came by all her money by hard work.

  148. 148
    Redshift says:

    @El Cid: Tom Periello got his opponent to admit in a debate that he hadn’t read the healthcare bill he was committed to repealing. After being a bit flustered, he proclaimed that he had read “the only bill he needed to,” a bill that would repeal it.

    And this is from the supposedly mainstream Republican who beat the TP whackjobs in the primary.

    These bozos are impossible to parody.

  149. 149

    If you live in a system loosely named capitalism the first thing to recognize is that the structure rewards capital, ie assets and holding such means you will prosper. If you propose to moderate that feature or mitigate some of its outcomes you only have a few options and taxation is one of them. Such things as minimum wage, organizing, safety regs, product regs are other mitigation efforts.

    Taxation is not just a budgetary/responsibility measure, it is also an economic measure. Tax rates do help direct where capital goes. If tax rates encourage or discourage certain economic activities you direct outcomes to an extent. If capital gains are taxed at a much lower rate than earned income then economic resources are actually directed in that direction because rewards are maximized. When taking the last $100M is taxed at an effectively lower rate than actual work, resources will flow there rather than toward work. Treating large and short term capital gains and large incomes in a more favorable manner encourages the flow of economic resources there. A supposedly progressive tax schedual that tops out at a low number compared to acutual incomes encourages income disparity.

    The argument isn’t really all that complex to make, but it isn’t and results in this mantra of confiscation of wealth and fairness to the wealthy in a system designed for their benefit. Ludicrous.

  150. 150
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @Kat:

    We’re getting close to that point now. And when it finaly happens, it’s going to get ugly fast.

    Yuppers.

    The problem the ultra-rich have now is they lack imagination. They think “guillotines, psshaw! How hard is that to deal with. My gates and private security detail can take care of anything the filthy peasantry can come up with”.

    They should be reading less of Simon Schama’s Citizens and more of David Wingrove’s Chung Kuo series. I’m thinking we’re going to see some low tech Iraq/Afghanistan style 4GW on the domestic side pretty soon now, and then further down the road some serious 5GW war-between-the-levels shit which will make the post-911 anthrax attacks look like a warm-up drill. Genetically engineered intra-society biowar, and anything else the 21st century devil’s kitchen can cook up. And the only thing holding it at bay is the fundamental legitimacy of our social system. Mess with that (which is what our home grown apologists for, well for pretty much anything they are paid to justify), and you might as well cry ‘havoc’ as you let slip the dogs…

  151. 151
    Martin says:

    @David Brooks (not that one):

    I think Sully might have got a more sensible argument if he had said what he meant. Because I believe he didn’t mean to say the rich work harder. I think what was in his head was that they take more risks.

    More risks than firefighters? More risks than coal miners?

    These fuckers don’t know what risk means. Risk doesn’t mean losing $20M out of a $30M net worth. Pretty much every American would dream to be on the losing side of that deal.

  152. 152
    Ruckus says:

    @Arclite:
    Had a guy come into the family business about 25 years ago to see if we had any cardboard for him to recycle and he and I struck up a conversation. I asked if he didn’t mind telling me about how much could one make recycling cardboard. He told me and it was a decent sum. Hard work and all but a decent living. Then he told me that he was retired military and got that pension. He also worked enough time to get SS. He drove an old pickup and dressed for the job but he was pulling down about 50% more than me and I worked 6-7 days a week. But think about it, he had spent about 35-40 years working to arrive at that point and was still doing hard, dirty manual labor, the likes of which few rich have ever done or will ever do.

  153. 153
    Sly says:

    @Pennsylvanian:

    When the rich pay a larger percentage of their income in taxes as I do, then maybe they can bitch. Right now I’m fairly sure most of them are paying less than 20% after all of their games and write offs and the hedge fund managers probably only wind up paying 8 or 10% with their insanely special status.

    One quibble: The wealthy pay less not because of write-offs, but because a disproportionate share of their income comes from capital gains, which is taxed at 15% for everyone: From people making 40K a year who have an average capital gains income of precisely one dollar, to the people making 10M who have an average a capital gains income of roughly 6M.

  154. 154
    El Cid says:

    @Emma: Yeah, well plenty of academics with far more qualifications than Sully has have spewed a bunch of bullshit. Just more formally written and footnoted.

  155. 155
    Mark says:

    @FlipYrWhig: I don’t think it’s ridiculous how much A-Rod gets paid. As Chris Rock said: “Shaq ain’t rich. Man who signs Shaq’s check is rich.”

    I side with labor on this one. if you want to say it’s ridiculous how much money pro sports rake in, then I’m with you.

  156. 156
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    McCain earned $419,731 in income in 2007, from a combination of his Senate salary, book royalties and his pension and Social Security income.

    IOW, he did very little work for it.

  157. 157
    JPL says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead: That’s why Cindy has to support him.

  158. 158
    schrodinger's cat says:

    Why do we care so much about, what the self important British twit, Andrew Sullivan thinks?

  159. 159
    PhoenixRising says:

    I’ve worked hard digging fence posts and I’ve worked hard in a lawyer’s office, and I’d much rather do the “hard work” of a lawyer.

    Yeah, I’ve worked hard lifting heavy stuff and packaging it for resale, and I’ve worked hard writing marketing reports, and I can’t agree more. I think the big failure of empathy that the ‘rich’ are suffering is caused by the increasing stratification of this society.

    My dad’s grandfather got a job with a builder fresh off the boat; his sons were beat cops, one of whom became the head of the union; and his son, my father, was a philosophy professor. Class mobility like that can’t happen anymore, because my dad had scholarships for undergrad that no longer exist.

    My kid will either attend the local state U or find other ways to learn, because her parents ($120K of debt for undergrad and terminal masters’) aren’t going to let her hock her future. As a result, the kids at the liberal arts college she might have attended will not meet anyone there whose parents have have done manual labor, let alone done it themselves.

  160. 160
    mai naem says:

    I have forgotten what it exactly was but Sully had a deal set up with TNR for his health insurance so that he could get his AIDs meds, otherwise chances are he at least would have had a very tough time getting his meds. I do not mean this as a low blow but it’s amazing how Sully wants everybody to share his higher medical expenses but when it comes to him paying higher taxes to cover for other people’s higher expenses, it’s big fat “wahhhhhhhh what me??” Seriously, what a pathetic selfish POS.

  161. 161
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @PhoenixRising: FWIW many good liberal arts colleges have very good financial aid packages. Don’t rule them out.

  162. 162
    mai naem says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead: Don’t forget McCain’s dad was an admiral. You damn well know McCain’s mother is getting decent money from the dad’s pension. My guess is that the inheritance has already been given to McCain’s kids of will go to McCain. Plus, I bet McCain’s money is all for himself. I bet he doesn’t have to contribute a dime to living expenses such as a mortgage, utilities etc. You have to figure that’s worth at a minimum, another $120K.

  163. 163
    Paula says:

    @PhoenixRising:

    No indeed, don’t rule them out.

    It’s already problem enough for the “liberal” part that there were never enough students with that background @ liberal arts colleges in the first place. Are you familiar w/ the Washington Monthly’s college ranking system? It’s pretty dismal how some of the country’s “best” private liberal arts institutions are actually pretty dismal about promoting upward mobility.

    What’s valuable about that kind of education is that the value of what you learn isn’t always predicated on what you might earn later … contra jackassery from Sullivan and Joyner.

  164. 164
    andre says:

    hard working like the guys in the stock markets and banks we the real hard working men and woman who produce goods and services are tried of the rich acting like they really work!

  165. 165
    El Cid says:

    @mai naem: He works harder than you.

  166. 166
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @JPL: Nah, both Admiral McCains married oil heiresses. McCain has always been rich, it got overshadowed by the beer fortune. The old coot may not have as much money as his wife (or even his daughter, who IIRC came into about twelve million from Grandpa Budweiser), but I’m betting a good chunk of that 400K came from investment or trust income, more than came from “book royalties”

  167. 167
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @John Bird:
    Envy is like cholesterol. There is good envy and bad envy. Good envy powers the invisible hand of the marketplace and makes the ghost of Adam Smith shine with a celestial nimbus. Bad envy is what lower class people have – it comes from too much corn in the diet, and can be traced using carbon isotope ratios.

    /BOB

  168. 168
    D-Chance. says:

    And if you think our Galtian overlords don’t have it easier than the working stiffs at the bottom of the food chain, you might sit and wonder why Undercover Boss is in Season 2 and getting more popular.

    Wow. The “proof” of Cole’s claim is a fucking “reality television” series? Oh, my…

  169. 169
    El Cid says:

    @D-Chance.: The proof of supply side economics was a napkin.

  170. 170
    TrishB says:

    @PhoenixRising: So the time that my dad spent working construction on the NYS Thruway is a figment of my imagination, all because I went to an upper tier liberal arts college. Thanks for the info.

  171. 171
    Chris says:

    Once again: Sullivan should go back to his own fucking party, instead of being an asshole and pretending to be one of us.

  172. 172

    @mai naem: That’s not a low blow at all. It’s the damn truth. He benefits from the system, but gripes about contributing to it–like all the damn Republicans. I’m with Violet. When he goes Galt and has to pay for his own damn insurance, then he can talk about the evils of sociaIist healthcare all he wants. I will never understand why he gets taken as a serious thinker.

  173. 173
    b-psycho says:

    @Kat:

    In Germany, corporate boards are required to include a certain percentage of union employees, by law.

    Interesting. Strikes me as absurd that this isn’t the case here — or fuck it, EVERYWHERE. They’re part of the company too, they should be represented.

    Trying to find more information, not having much luck though.

  174. 174
    Lysana says:

    @kommrade reproductive vigor:

    Most of my ancestors got a free boat ride to the New World. Wheee!

    Some of mine had to walk the long way. No wonder those bozos think Natives are shiftless freeloaders.

  175. 175
    kuvasz says:

    Mr. Cole, Andy Sullivan is a fucking asshole. Why do you read his excrement? The man’s only socially redeeming value is as an example to children of who not be like as a grown-up.

    His premise is absolute bullshit. The only millionaires who work hard are professional athletes. Anyone who has ever worked with their backs and legs in a manufacturing factory knows full well how hard they have to work for a paycheck, and how little the owners work. The rich have others do their heavy lifting. They do not do it themselves and I would challenge Andy Sullivan to work one single forty hour work week in a steel, auto, or textile mill and try to compare it to working as an arbitrager in an air conditioned office.

    The problem with the Andy Sullivans of the world is that they actually never have done hard physical labor for any real extent of time and think that having to work past 5pm in an office is “hard work.”

    I worked third shift in a dyehouse through my four years of undergraduate work and NEVER worked as hard in my adult life even though I retired holding both an MS and PhD in chemistry as a national sales manager for a chemical company, making six figures, plus car, plus bonuses.

    The issue is that the wealthy do not work hard for their money. They just don’t.

    Count me as stupid, but for the years I worked as a plant manager I split my bonuses with the men working for me on the floor because had it not been for them and the back-breaking tasks they performed daily, my work would have been meaningless.

    And Andy Sullivan remains a schmuck.

  176. 176
    PeakVT says:

    @Chris: Don’t worry; he’ll go back as soon as liberals help him resolve a few anti-gay discrimination issues. And lot of other well-off white homosexuals will join him.

  177. 177
    Church Lady says:

    @JPL: To get down to that, he had to have a boatload of deductions, even before the phaseout. How much of that money did he donate to charity? I seem to remember, back during the presidential campaign, that he donates all of his book royalties to charity. Is that right?

  178. 178
    mclaren says:

    Maybe because nobody who’s rich earned it. Maybe because every great fortune starts with a crime–like Bill Gates lying to IBM that they already had an operating system ready to go, and then scamming the inventor of CP/M-86 and swinding him out of his life’s work for $50,000.

    Maybe because the start of the Bush family fortune resulted from Prescott Bush (one of the fascists who conspired to try to overthrow FDR and install a military dictatorship in 1933) getting paid by the Thyssen arms combine to help arm the Third Reich.

    Maybe because companies like Monsanto make their fortunes by crushing and starving impoverished farmers in the third world by forcing them to pay for “terminator seeds” genetically designed not to be viable after the first planting, so the farmers have to keep paying and paying and paying until they go broke and lose their farms.

    Maybe because giant corporations like Phizer sell out-of-date pharmaceuticals to sick people in the third world who then die horribly because the pharmaceuticals’ potency is gone.

    There are no fortunes made by decent people who work hard and play by the rules. To make a great fortune, you must steal and rob and kill. That’s how the big money gets made in capitalism. You climb to wealth over a mountain of corpses.

  179. 179
    Tim Connor says:

    This post is right on the money. Thank you.

  180. 180
    AK the official business and economics editor emeritus of Carmen Road Elementary School says:

    Soylent Green aint rich people.

  181. 181
    Kat says:

    @b-psycho:

    @Kat: In Germany, corporate boards are required to include a certain percentage of union employees, by law.

    Interesting. Strikes me as absurd that this isn’t the case here—or fuck it, EVERYWHERE. They’re part of the company too, they should be represented. Trying to find more information, not having much luck though.

    Thom Hartmann was talking about it a couple of months ago on his radio/tv show, which airs just after DemocracyNow on one of my cable tv’s public access channels.

    That kind of non-msm information tends to stick in my brain. ;-)

  182. 182
    Xenos says:

    @Kat: Apparently by having union members on the board, German companies deal with unions that can be confident that they are not being ripped off by management.

    Like this guy on the BMW board

    :
    Horst Lischka serves as Assistant Representative of the IG Metall Trade Union, Munich Office. Mr. Lischka has been Member of Supervisory Board at BMW Group since May 14, 2009. He served as Member of Supervisory Board of Knorr-bremse Ag.

    He is on the Audit Committee. He may not be an expert, but he has access to all the books. So when the Board decides to ask the union to cut back hours, or wages, the unions actually agree to do it.

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