Thursday, March 17, 2011


First (via Bad Attitudes), I want to direct your attention to this:

U.S. millionaires say $7 million not enough to be rich

... More than four out of ten American millionaires say they do not feel rich. Indeed many would need to have at least $7.5 million in order to feel they were truly rich, according to a Fidelity Investments survey.

Some 42 percent of the more than 1,000 millionaires surveyed by Fidelity said they did not feel wealthy. Respondents had at least $1 million in investable assets, excluding any real estate or retirement accounts.

"Every person in the survey is wealthy," said Sanjiv Mirchandani, president of National Financial, a unit of Fidelity. "But they are still worried about outliving their assets." ...

I interpret this as "No, I don't think society has treated me well -- or certainly not well enough. I'm just moderately compensated for what I do."


Meanwhile, one rich guy in particular seems to be on the verge of a presidential run, and seems to be similarly out of touch with reality:

Donald Trump, the business mogul who continues to claim he is seriously interested in mounting a bid for the White House, says he has doubts about whether President Obama was born in the United States.

In an interview with ABC, Trump said he finds it strange “nobody knew” Obama as a young child in Hawaii.

“Let me tell you, I’m a really smart guy. I was a really good student at the best school in the country. The reason I have a little doubt, just a little, is because he grew up and nobody knew him,” Trump said in the interview that aired Thursday.

More from that interview:

He ... weighed in on the recent spate of high-seas piracy.

"Give me an admiral and a couple of ships and [I'll] wipe them out of the sea so fast. Think of it," he said.

Steve Benen says:

No one is quite this stupid unless they're trying to be stupid.

In other words, "Is Donald Trump putting us on?" Yeah, I'm pretty sure he is.

No, I disagree -- he's just a stinking-rich guy who thinks he can do whatever the hell he sets his mind to do and who believes everything would go his way all the time if he were in charge of everything.

And why shouldn't he think that? As it is, he's lived for years in a world nicely organized to serve him -- the American plutocracy in the Reagan and post-Reagan eras -- and even though he's screwed up in business any number of times, he's still cock of the walk. He's still rich. He's still famous. He still lives like a prince. Why wouldn't he believe he can just snap his fingers and end piracy? Why, on the subject of birtherism, would he have to be any smarter than some idiot who watches Beck?


The society is custom-built to keep the rich rich and (most of the time) actually make them richer, no matter what they do. This leads to what you might call the George W. Bush Phenomenon: if you've never, ever suffered seriously no matter how badly you've screwed something up, how can you possibly learn the cause-and-effect relationship between failure and negative consequences? It's the worst-case scenario of moral hazard.

DougJ points out a post in which Matt Yglesias puzzles over the fact that the entire fat-cat community rejects moderately liberal regulations and taxes, even though some fat cats would seem to benefit from some of the regulations and taxes. Yglesias writes about

the extraordinary level of solidarity manifested by the corporate executive class in the United States of America. There are plenty of individual firms that benefit from this or that public sector spending stream, but essentially all business organizations are solidly united in opposition to essentially all possible ways to enhance government revenue. On financial reform, it's not merely that the big banks opposed the Dodd-Frank bill, but there was absolutely no counter-lobbying from firms in the non-financial economy in favor of it....

Presumably most American firms would, in fact, benefit from the existence of a sensible and sustainable financial regulatory scheme. But there's no lobbying activity whatsoever dedicated to creating it.

But they just don't think they need this stuff. Even if the world economy is destroyed and regulations might have prevented that cataclysm, they won't regret opposing the regulations because they'll be made whole regardless. They never suffer -- not for long. As soon as negative consequences happen to them, the government moves heaven and earth to remove those consequences. Better that than regulations and taxes!

In general, what's the problem? We had a fat-cat-generated meltdown and ordinary citizens came out in droves to vote for pro-fat-cat politicians. Fat cats caused the crash and voters responded by picking politicians who do stuff like this, in Michigan:

This legislation -- which allows the Governor to declare financial emergencies and appoint individuals or corporations to serve as city managers with the power to dissolve local elected councils and nullify employment contracts for public servants -- is the first step in an effort to do away with municipal and local government altogether in favor of quite literally having private enterprises replacing government and contracting out its functions to the lowest bidder. How beautiful it will be: Wackenhut cops and local jails, Waste Management goons collecting trash, utilities sold off to Aqua America and Exelon, tax assessments mailed to homeowners from a financial services boiler room in Bangalore, and municipal employees of all types fired and replaced by temps from Manpower, Inc.

Gives a new and literal meaning to the phrase "company town," doesn't it?

Of course the fat cats have a skewed sense of cause and effect. Wouldn't you? Of course they think they're bulletproof and don't need regulations and taxes to preserve a society in which they might thrive. Wouldn't you feel the same way under the circumstances?

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