Careless people

I’m not sure anyone has made this analogy before, but in any case, it’s spot on:

I think Republicans see themselves the way Wall Streeters see themselves — as people to whom nothing really bad could possibly happen, no matter how dire America’s problems are. If they get in, push more tax cuts that increase debt, and make spending cuts that worsen unemployment and leave more infrastructure to crumble, they’ll just find some scapegoat, sexting or illegal immigrants or Dodd-Frank, to blame everything bad in America on. If that doesn’t work, they’ll start a war, and make it just controversial enough that Democrats will hesitate to support it, then treason-bait those Democrats for their hesitancy.

I think this is true for America in any state of decay short of civil war. And perhaps even that qualification doesn’t apply.

This approach will work for years. It worked for George W. Bush for six years, didn’t it? (I think that’s what Cheney meant when he said his crew had proved that deficits don’t matter — if you can gull the voters with distractions like Saddam, you can get away with anything.)

That’s the central political reality of our time: the establishment will never, ever be held accountable for anything. Sometimes they deliberately fuck things up in order to advance their own interests or those of their patrons (“starve the beast”, “drown it in the bath-tub”). Sometimes they fuck things up because they’re stupid and careless. It doesn’t matter, either way they’re rewarded with corporate board positions, think tank sinecures, tv “news” gigs for their family.

I usually leave the pretentious art stuff to others, but I can’t get this passage from Great Gatsby out of my mind:

They were careless people, Tom and Daisy — they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made…

48 replies
  1. 1
    schrodinger's cat says:

    Apparently it is the Left’s fault that corporations are gigantic, an idiotic blog post highlighted by Andrew Sullivan. Has the idiot never heard of economies of size and scope?

  2. 2
    patrick II says:

    I usually leave the pretentious art stuff to others

    It’s not pretentious any more than your music references are. Everyone has their own perspective.

  3. 3
    BGinCHI says:

    Well that’s why it’s called Gatsby’s Old Party, isn’t it?

  4. 4
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    “F. Scott Fitzgerald, call on line two for you!”

    Tom and Daisy, updated for the 21st Century.

  5. 5
    JCT says:

    Yes, well, when you think that “there but for the grace of g_d go I” doesn’t apply to you and all of your wealthy friends — this is what you get.

  6. 6
    schrodinger's cat says:

    I usually leave the pretentious art stuff to others.

    May be you could give us a math problem to solve. One of those lizards going up and down the walls, I can never get those right.

  7. 7
    Yevgraf says:

    Actually, the mindset that drives them is that they can never, ever be criticized, no matter how badly they fuck up.

  8. 8
    shortstop says:

    I don’t think most of them think it through clearly enough to be coolly planning escape hatches or scapegoats. I suspect the majority of these guys have mastered the art of never looking six seconds down the road.

  9. 9
    schrodinger's cat says:

    My first comment has disappeared. Did Tunch eated it?

  10. 10
    Pat says:

    The fallacy of self-attribution seduces.

  11. 11
    slag says:

    That’s the central political reality of our time: the establishment will never, ever be held accountable for anything.

    Isn’t that the central political reality of all time? Unless you’re suggesting that Gatsby is our time as well. Wheels on the bus…

  12. 12
    DougJ says:

    @patrick II:

    It’s a joke nor a dig, remember Tom called himself “pretentious art douche” for a while.

  13. 13
    patrick II says:

    @DougJ:
    You are right. I need to relax.

  14. 14
    RalfW says:

    I think the strong corollary is that a of of people think that bad things can’t happen to them.
    They lack basic empathy.

    So when other people fall on hard times, it’s because they’re lazy or made bad choices.

    That jerk Doug Mataconis encapsulated that cool detachment when, a wile back, I was trading comments with him at OTB and I pointed out that a lot of poor, black young adults were the first in their families to graduate college into a shit-bad economy right now, and some of them were at OWS making a stink. His response? People make bad choices. People have bad luck.

    Yeah. And the 1% are not the least bit culpable for dangling the promise of edumacation as giving you a pathway out of poverty, selling you $50K in gubmit-backed private loans (thank g*d that’s changing, despite plenty of bank and 1%-er whining), and then pulling the job-rug out from under much of the middle class as they gradumatate their kids out from college.

    Nope, blowing up the economy and the future of the middle class, not their problem-o. Bad choices were made by the middle class! By the poor!

    Punish them by slashing the safety net.

    Calvinist fvkers.

  15. 15
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    What was Nick’s father’s advice? Something about remembering that other people hadn’t been given the advantages that he had….

  16. 16
    Roger Moore says:

    @RalfW:

    People make bad choices. People have bad luck.

    And when those people are banksters, they get bailed out to the tune of $7 trillion in loans from the Fed. It’s only little people who have to live with the consequences of bad choices and bad luck.

  17. 17
    General Stuck says:

    I think Republicans see themselves the way Wall Streeters see themselves—as people to whom nothing really bad could possibly happen, no matter how dire America’s problems are

    Don’t agree with this in the all important electoral sense. I think what we are seeing as brash power plays from the republicans, along with increasing obstinate belligerent behavior in their approach to governing, is underpinned by equal increases in fear approaching panic in some ways. Fear of loss of control in the democratic process, that was brought to the front and center of the lizard brain with Obama’s election.

    The only question is whether there are enough white Americans that can process the big demographic changes that are occurring, bringing unstoppable increases in minority voting power. With greater participation in governing this country past the white male rule that has always been, and now is threatened. Or, we pull up to that crossroads, and either fulfill the provisions in our founding document, and become a true melting pot of sound democracy and sharing of power, or we don’t, and have to fight each other again on a battlefield for real.

    And I don’t think we can wiggle out of this reckoning, nor keep up what is happening now, with rising resentments on both sides, due to deepening structural economic problems, and one sides nihilism and wealth hording that will bring the pot to a full boil.

    We have some profound fiscal problems that have to be dealt with as the boomers age and stress the system, and lingering laissez fare economic policies continuing to drain the treasury into the pockets of fewer and fewer Americans. Something is going to have to give, and fairly soon.

  18. 18
    trollhattan says:

    @DougJ:

    In self-mocking response to being called “pretentious art douche” in comments, making it all the better.

    Sincerely,

    Insufferable Pedant

  19. 19
    Judas Escargot says:

    @Roger Moore:

    And when those people are banksters, they get bailed out to the tune of $7 trillion in loans from the Fed. It’s only little people who have to live with the consequences of bad choices and bad luck.

    Note that comes out to a little less than $20K per citizen.

    Don’t know about you, but I could do a lot with a $20K loan at, say, 2%. But I’m not a TBTF bank. And neither are you.

  20. 20
    RalfW says:

    Economic Calvinism. That’s what I’m realizing we have.

    With a massive dose of corporate welfare, of course. But justified by good old-fashioned Calvinism.

    No wonder they came up with Americans Elect as their trojan horse of economic rightwingerism without all the Newtie/BachmannOverdrive/Cain lunacy.

    They’re the Elect. So elect them a nice Calvinist for the White House.

  21. 21
    cpinva says:

    you are quite wrong. your reasoning only applies to republicans (ask any village person). democrats are always responsible, whenever things go bad, even if they aren’t the majority in congress, and don’t occupy the oval office, because they didn’t stop the republicans from doing great damage.

    when it comes to responsibility for actions, republicans are treated like 5 year-olds, who couldn’t possibly have known any better. democrats are treated as the adults, who should have know enough to stop them. and really, 5 year-olds are kind of cute, it’s so hard to stay angry with them for long.

  22. 22
    k488 says:

    I re-read Gatsby last spring for the first time in quite a few years, and was struck by how contemporary it felt. When I first read it in the ’60’s it felt much more distant (of course I was a lot younger…). But those sentences about the heedlessness of the rich ring brighter and truer every day. Meanwhile, a re-read of Elmer Gantry is also striking me as very timely. I guess we just don’t learn.

  23. 23
    r€nato says:

    @RalfW: Imagine being raised by a fucker who thinks that way. I was.

  24. 24
    Palli says:

    Something is going to have to give, and fairly soon.

    I think they have known it for a more than two decade. Hence 2000 enthronment, the wars, the mercenary forces. the high imprisonment of males, the de-regulation, the corporate personhood…

  25. 25
    MikeJ says:

    “If you have the 1 percent saying, ‘Tax the 99 percent’ and the 99 percent saying, ‘Tax the 1 percent,’ you have a standstill.”

    Joseph Zarelli, lead Republican budget negotiator in the Washington State Senate, as quoted in the New York Times.

  26. 26
    Brachiator says:

    I think Republicans see themselves the way Wall Streeters see themselves—as people to whom nothing really bad could possibly happen, no matter how dire America’s problems are.

    Ran across this on the InterTubes this morning. Seems appropriate.

    Generation C
    __
    We, the thirty-somethings of the First World, are cynical. We have every right to complain. I mean, we followed their instructions perfectly. We took all of their tests.
    __
    And we were failed.
    __
    A college education wasn’t supposed to be privilege. It was an endowment, one that was suppose to unlock even greater entitlements. The 20th century’s advice to us: Don’t look at the price tag. Just show up….
    more…

  27. 27
    J says:

    On the Republican war on the Post Office, something whose benefits for everyone you’d think would be obvious,

    see Charles Pierce

    http://www.esquire.com/blogs/p.....ay-6610732

  28. 28
    Soonergrunt says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: Nothing in the mod filter from you.

  29. 29
    slag says:

    @MikeJ: It’s true. If you add 1 to 99, you get a hundred. And divide that number between the two different groups, you get fifty-fifty. It’s a coin-toss! What is one to do?

  30. 30
    Mnemosyne says:

    @RalfW:

    Yep. The fact that the banksters had money before they crashed the economy is proof that they are The Elect who just had a run of bad luck, unlike those losers who never had any money to begin with and therefore need to be punished.

  31. 31
    Donut says:

    I think this is true for America in any state of decay short of civil war. And perhaps even that qualification doesn’t apply.

    I made this same point, semi-jokingly, but not really, in Cole’s earlier thread re: Krugman.

    Drawing direct parallels is always sketchy, but I cannot think of a time in US history when our democracy and democratic (sic on the small “d”) institutions have been so non-functional.

    Include the Supreme Court in those dysfunctional institutions, and you see just how fucked we are and could be.

    It may not happen for awhile, but I honestly think that the country cannot afford, meaning literally survive, a GOP president for four years. It terrifies me to think what would happen if we have a Republican president, with a GOP House and a Senate that requires supermajorities to fulfill basic functions, like budgets. Thank god the filibuster was not removed from the rules; as frustrating as things have been with it in place, we would be fucked beyond measure without it, should a GOP majority control the upper chamber again.

    The Confederate Party is gunning to destroy the union again, whether they all intend to, or all realize it or not (I think most of them intend to and do realize it, but not all, obviously), that’s what is happening.

    Yay. Whee.

  32. 32

    @k488:

    Meanwhile, a re-read of Elmer Gantry is also striking me as very timely.

    I had an Elmer Gantry type in my family tree. Quite the huckster for a while.

    Funny thing was that one day he got religion. Really. And joined a rather demanding Christian sect and adhered to its rules faithfully for the rest of his life.

  33. 33
    Monkey Business says:

    @Brachiator: Given the bang up job everyone over the age of 30 has done, this 27 year old would rather they all just get out of the way and let us run shit for a while.

  34. 34
    Stooleo says:

    @RalfW:

    They lack basic empathy.

    This. This. This.

  35. 35
    kd bart says:

    Since 2000, I’ve felt that paragraph from The Great Gatsby was a perfect description of George Bush.

  36. 36
    srv says:

    @DougJ Political Nihilist at top:

    This is like the fourth blog this since Thanksgiving where I feel like I have to cheer everyone up.

    Contrarians! To happy troll mode!

  37. 37

    Short term profit trumps all. A company that outsources or hires illegally deliberately takes a profit today ignoring that they’ve fired/under-paid their own customers in search of an edge against a competitor. Aided and abetted, of course, by tax coding and laws.

    Politics has followed the same course and you could look to who finances that…

  38. 38
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @Soonergrunt: My comment seems to have surfaced again.

  39. 39
    DougJ says:

    @k488:

    I had exactly the same feeling.

  40. 40
    catclub says:

    @Judas Escargot: “Don’t know about you, but I could do a lot with a $20K loan at, say, 2%. But I’m not a TBTF bank. And neither are you.”

    Well, yeah, but it is even better to get it at 0% and loan it out at 5%. … Like the banks are getting.

  41. 41
    Svensker says:

    @Monkey Business:

    Given the bang up job everyone over the age of 30 has done, this 27 year old would rather they all just get out of the way and let us run shit for a while.

    Never trust anyone over the age of 30? Been there, done that. Y’all will screw it up, too, just give it time, my pretty, give it time.

    /old fartette

  42. 42
    Cap'n Magic says:

    Speaking of carelessness, the pretext queen from HP has reported to have died from ovarian cancer.

  43. 43
    Caz says:

    Well if you’re so upset about the status quo corruption, why do you keep supporting the D’s? They’ve basically had control of the entire govt the last 4 years and they’ve done nothing different, and actually made things worse. The first two years of Obama’s presidency, they controlled everything, and since then they’ve controlled the executive branch and the Senate.

    So remind us again why you support the D’s if you’re so against the status quo corruption.

  44. 44
    fuzz says:

    That’s one of the problems with the pundit and think tank class. These people are advancing positions that have a real effect on others but not on their own lives, because they’re protected by their wealth and connections. It’s almost like politics is just an extension of some high school or college debate club to most of them, and yet average people are greatly impacted by the positions they advocate. To someone like Bill Kristol domestic politics is just an intellectual topic and exercise (to his credit he has a son who is a Marine infantryman now and so foreign policy no longer is), and the same goes for numerous others.

  45. 45
    eemom says:

    @Svensker:

    Word.

    And I’d bet the rent that the little twerp has no idea what “Never trust anyone over 30” refers to, thus what a total caricature he is.

  46. 46
    Brachiator says:

    @Monkey Business:

    Given the bang up job everyone over the age of 30 has done, this 27 year old would rather they all just get out of the way and let us run shit for a while.

    That’s what we all say when we are around 27. Then, later, if we’re honest, we might ask ourselves, “Damn, how did we fuck this all up?”

    Always watch out for the hubris.

    And I’d bet the rent that the little twerp has no idea what “Never trust anyone over 30” refers to, thus what a total caricature he is.

    We are supposed to be young and stupid.

  47. 47
    Paul in KY says:

    @Linda Featheringill: Elmer Gantry also ‘got’ religion ;-)

  48. 48
    Rathskeller says:

    @Caz: better trolling, please.

    for instance, can you tell us exactly which of the GOP presidential candidates we should support to eliminate your vaguely defined “status quo corruption”?

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