Saturday, December 20, 2008

Apparently change=a new oligarchy

What the hell, here's another post on a Saturday during which I have chosen to do little, close to nothing, really, except read, write, and think a little bit. Anyway, I add my voice to that of Mr. Wieseltier, writing for The New Republic about how tiresome Important People have become, especially in the aftermath of President-elect Obama's 4 November victory. The promised change seems to be taking the form of a new elitism. I also heartily second the thoughts expressed by Mr. Friedman in his New York Times editorial, The Great Unraveling.

From Important People: "No class of Americans has done more to damage America than the financial class. A generalization is an ugly thing, but every day's newspaper refreshes my impression that the titans, the insiders, the big players, the boldfacers, the movers and the shakers-the hoshover menschen, as we say where I come from-have been, many of them, fools or thieves." He also writes correctly about how appointing Caroline Kennedy to the Senate would be an "obvious mutilation of the meritocratic ideal." Bushes, Clintons, Kennedys, Murkowskis. It stands to reason that hereditary and martial political dynasties are inherently undemocratic.

How is this generalization about the financial class accurate? Let's turn to Tom Friedman for an answer:

"I have no sympathy for Madoff. But the fact is, his alleged Ponzi scheme was only slightly more outrageous than the 'legal' scheme that Wall Street was running, fueled by cheap credit, low standards and high greed. What do you call giving a worker who makes only $14,000 a year a nothing-down and nothing-to-pay-for-two-years mortgage to buy a $750,000 home, and then bundling that mortgage with 100 others into bonds — which Moody’s or Standard & Poors rate AAA — and then selling them to banks and pension funds the world over? That is what our financial industry was doing. If that isn’t a pyramid scheme, what is?"

Who besides Bernard Madoff, who turned himself in, has even been indicted? Did nothing untoward or illegal occur in the respective collapses of Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns? What about that hole in A.I.G. that $125 billion of taxpayer money has not been able to fill? Given that, why not chuck $14 billion, a mere 11.2% of what's been flushed down the A.I.G. toilet, Detroit's way? For that matter, what about Mr. Paulson and his oh so urgent bailout, which appears to be nothing but another brazen executive power-grab by the Bush Administration? Dear Hank, what has your scheme to keep those whom you personally deem to be important people afloat corrected, fixed, or gotten headed in the right direction, how many foreclosures has it forestalled? Why is the only fix I ever hear mentioned more consumer spending? Isn't this ridiculous, given that more and more people do not even have jobs? Besides, isn't out-of-control spending, lending, and borrowing what got us into this mess in the first place? If I understand this idiotic reasoning correctly, we do not need regulatory reform and sounder national economic policies, consumer education, better personal financial discipline, and higher overall savings rate. No, our broken and shattered economy will be fixed by everyone buying new microwaves and iPods on our credit cards; that's like saying our greenhouse gas emission problem will be solved by everyone returning to the use of coal furnances and barbecuing with charcoal brickettes every night, while idling our cars in our driveways. Hey, it's almost Christmas and, as Ricky Bobby might say, "Baby Jesus needs a new pair of shoes!" Let's go for broke! Wait! We're already broke! Well, it was fun while it lasted.

At least as regards politics, promises of change and hope notwithstanding, "Ain't no use in prayin'/Thats the way its stayin". Good thing that is not where our hope is placed. All of this elcits a Primal Scream, dedicated to the leading lights of the financial class.

Deep diaconal bows to Paper Clippings and Sharon for keeping track of things over on Cahiers.

1 comment:

  1. One word only to add to yours:

    entitlement

    ReplyDelete