This is the sort of privilege that upsets Glenn Reynolds, according to his latest USA Today column:
All over America, government officials enjoy privileges that ordinary citizens don't. Sometimes it involves bearing arms, with special rules favoring police, politicians and even retired government employees. Sometimes it involves freedom from traffic and parking tickets, like the special non-traceable license plates enjoyed by tens of thousands of California state employees or similar immunities for Colorado legislators. Often it involves immunity from legal challenges, like the "qualified" immunity to lawsuits enjoyed by most government officials, or the even-better "absolute immunity" enjoyed by judges and prosecutors. (Both immunities -- including, suspiciously, the one for judges -- are creations of judicial action, not legislation).Reynolds go on to complain about "the creation of two kinds of citizens" -- privileged people and the rest of us.
Lately it seems as if these kinds of special privileges are proliferating. And it also seems to me that special privileges for "public servants" that have the effect of making them look more like, well, "public masters," are kind of un-American....
You know what comes to my mind when someone talks about "the creation of two kinds of citizens"? This:
... "We're as busy as we’ve ever been," said Joe Farrell, the president of Farrell Building, during a recent interview and tour of his $43 million, 17,000-square-foot home [in the Hamptons]. The estate, called the Sandcastle, features two bowling lanes, a skate ramp, onyx window frames and, just for fun, an A.T.M. regularly restocked with $20,000 in $10 bills.When Glibertarian Glenn talks about "privilege," he wants you not to think about this. When he talks about a society with two kinds of citizens, he wants this sort of high living not to cross your mind.
To spend a day with Mr. Farrell ... is to see just how fully the Hamptons have rebounded, along with the confidence, and the bonuses, of their wealthier summer visitors.
With a customer base composed largely of Wall Street financiers, Mr. Farrell has more than 20 new homes under construction, or slated for construction....
He ... helped arrange a $900,000 summer rental for the hedge fund manager Marc Leder, who has since drawn scrutiny from Southampton authorities -- and gossip writers -- for boisterous parties that draw an endless stream of black S.U.V.'s.
... local Porsche and yacht sales are climbing once again, and [the club] Pink Elephant reopened this summer in East Hampton offering Methuselah (six-liter) bottles of Dom Perignon for $30,000. It is not just a novelty; the club's co-owner David Sarner said Pink Elephant had sold "a few" this season, and many more "trains" of smaller Dom Perignon bottles for as much as $8,000....
This is a longstanding right-wing project -- to make sure Americans never get angry at the country's real parasites, the financiers who contribute nothing of value, while demanding every cent they can get their grubby hands on. Right-wingers have been very successful in this project -- they have most of Heartland America convinced that the real parasitic "elites" are college professors and Prius drivers and unionized teachers and other folks who work for the damn gummint.
Meanwhile, Hamptons developer Joe Farrell has a theory about why the good times are back in his neck of the woods:
But most of all, he credits the Federal Reserve for the economic stimulus, which he said has helped the wealthy most of all. "The stock market's flying through the roof and who's that helping, the middle class? No, I mean that's the reality," he said. "Out here, life goes on."To a large extent, that's Obama's fault -- and yet he would have gone for a second stimulus, and he's called for more investment in public works projects, and, of course, none of this is allowable because Republicans won't hear of it. The only stimulus we can have is the one that helps the most privileged.
And yes, maybe Glibertarian Glenn has a point about public officials getting too comfy because they get perks the rest of us don't. But he stops there. To me, that means they identify more with their billionaire contributors than with the rest of us. To Glibertarian Glenn, identifying with the rich is a good thing -- but if you're in government, you'd better make sure the rich get all the privileges, and not dare to take any for yourself, because government is evil, while rich people in the private sector are sacrosanct.