The Fucking Balls on These People

Bailouts for me, but no “handouts” for thee:

Charles Munger, the billionaire vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., defended the U.S. financial-company rescues of 2008 and told students that people in economic distress should “suck it in and cope.”

“You should thank God” for bank bailouts, Munger said in a discussion at the University of Michigan on Sept. 14, according to a video posted on the Internet. “Now, if you talk about bailouts for everybody else, there comes a place where if you just start bailing out all the individuals instead of telling them to adapt, the culture dies.”

Bank rescues allowed the U.S. to avoid what could have been an “awful” downturn and will help the country as it deals with the housing slump, Munger, 86, said. He used the example of post-World War I Germany to explain how the bailouts under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama were “absolutely required to save your civilization.”

Maybe it is past time for this “culture” to die? I’ve long suspected/believed there is no God, but the fact that this prick didn’t choke to death on filet mignon at some point in the last year is all I need in the way of definitive proof.

Clearly this guy needs a tax cut so he can continue to be one of the Fonzi of Freedom’s “producers.”

(via email)

Poor Little Rich Boys

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So Is This Rich or Not?

One of the things I love about conservatives and our libertarians friends is the malleability of definitions. When you state that 250k is well off and the tax cuts for those making more than that will not cripple them, they scream and wail about how how 250k isn’t rich and the cost of living in the NYC area and on and on. We’ve all heard variations on the argument. For a refresher, here are our Fox bots driving the point home:

So- 250k isn’t rich, according to these guys. Yet, without missing a beat, the same folks can turn around and flip out over public employees making significantly less than that. Here’s the Business Insider, which exists solely to fluff Wall Street insiders and frat boy traders, trying to create another Brooks Brothers riot over those fat cat NY Transit workers:

Last night the MTA said a fare hike by January is a near certainty. This will be the third fare hike since 2008. New Yorkers will be most afflicted by the increase of the unlimited monthly pass from $89 to $104. Meanwhile, the MTA continues to pass major MTA service cuts.

But what’s really appalling is how much transit workers get paid.

We’re republishing data from SeeThroughNY showing that 8,074 MTA employees earned $100,000 last year. Fifty MTA employees earned more than $200,000 last year. And salaries are rising.

The first “fat cat” they profile is some LIRR conducter making 100k a year. And this isn’t an abnormality- this kind of stuff is pushed in wingnut and glibertarian circles all the time. Here’s glibertarian extraordinaire Matt Welch complaining about custodians making 50k a year in California.

There’s a class war on, alright. And the assholes that have the money are the ones waging it.

*** Update ***

In fairness, it may just be that I’ve not read enough Ayn Rand to understand how making 250k a year in NYC makes one “not rich” but making 100k a year makes someone a fat cat, but I do have an idea. Let’s just pay all public employees 250k a year, and then they magically will become one of Freedom Fonzarelli’s “producers”:

Because, as we all know, when fighting for tax cuts for Paris Hilton, it is important to remember that what makes you a producer is how much you make, not how much you actually produce.

Everyone just needs to tighten their belts

Via Atrios, an excellent post about the recession:

[Recession is] often taken as a big deal in the simple sense that the experience of recession sucks. But, people say, there are lots of bad experiences and this is just one of them. Sometimes we have to suck it up.

My argument is no, this isn’t just another bad experience. Its a failure of our most basic institutions and is leading to pure loss.

It would be as if the door to your apartment was ripped off and heat was spilling out into the atmosphere and people said “Well you know sometimes you have deal with the cold, lets talk about the ideal size of an apartment. Big ones are draftier you know. No small ones cool down too quickly”

What! No! Lets fix the fucking door. Do you understand: the door is missing. This is not the time to argue about ideal apartment size, this is the time to keep our heat from spilling out purposelessly.

I was going to say that the media has a tendency to talk about recession as something that just hurts people’s fee-fees, like the BurlingtonCoat Islamic Center, but in fact the discussion is much worse than that: when recessions hurt fee-fees, they build character — look at the Greatest Generation! — whereas the BurlingtonCoat Islamic Center is a debilitating, irreversible blow to the delicate spirit of Real Murka.

Right now, a few percent of the population is likely being doomed to a life of chronic unemployment. From the discussions politicians and elite media are having right now, I can only conclude that they just don’t give a fuck about that.

About That Free Market

Something I’ve been tossing around the last couple of days while not ranting or stressing is that it has occurred to me there are differing conceptions of the free market. To me, when I say the free market, I think of people being able to freely and openly share their wares, to purchase what they want and need, and with some degree of happiness on both the buyer and seller’s end.

It seems to me, though, that the folks who most discuss the free market and are the biggest free market advocates just don’t see things that way. They sort of view things much like the “pain caucus,” who seem to be unable of thinking a policy is acceptable unless a majority of the nation eats shit in the name of patriotism and fiscal responsibility. Instead of viewing the “free market” as I have described it, their vision of the free market is an economy in which those with power are able to freely fuck over everyone else. The free market needs energy, so those of you living in towns with your water polluted by mine runoff can fuck off and die, because any government intervention messes up the “free market.” The market demands oil, so Allah forbid we get in the way of oil spills that might ruin the Gulf forever- witness the freakout over a mild cessation in deep sea drilling by “free market” advocates. The free market advocates that there be Randian geniuses who vacation at the Hamptons after fleecing people who tried to do the right thing investing.

In short, it has become obvious to me (belatedly), that when a lot of free market advocates talk about the free market, what they mean is the right to fuck people over with no recourse. Hey- you should have invested better! Hey- you should have known those Iowa eggs were shit! It seems as if in their minds (and I’m thinking of total shitheads like Welch, Gillespie, and McMegan), there simply can not be a free market unless someone is getting screwed, which is completely contrary to my understanding of the “free market.” In my understanding of the free market, things are a win/win scenario, not a tilted table with a win/lose situation where the winner is predetermined by influence and power and connections and societal standing.

It’s just crazy and a really warped way of thinking, and it turns everything on its head. Maybe this is why there is such a resurgence in buy local- you deal with your producers, and know what you are getting. I dunno.

Like I said, just babbling.