Tuesday, December 01, 2009


Bloomberg columnist Anne Schroeder tells us that the fattest of fat cats fear violence may be in the offing:

"I just wrote my first reference for a gun permit," said a friend, who told me of swearing to the good character of a Goldman Sachs Group Inc. banker who applied to the local police for a permit to buy a pistol. The banker had told this friend of mine that senior Goldman people have loaded up on firearms and are now equipped to defend themselves if there is a populist uprising against the bank.

I called Goldman Sachs spokesman Lucas van Praag to ask whether it's true that Goldman partners feel they need handguns to protect themselves from the angry proletariat. He didn’t call me back. The New York Police Department has told me that "as a preliminary matter" it believes some of the bankers I inquired about do have pistol permits....

I knew these guys were out of touch with the rest of America, but this confirms it. Yes, Main Street blames Wall Street, and would like to see Wall Street punished, but we don't actually attack businessmen in this country -- it's just not done. It would be an unthinkable act of "class warfare." We don't do class warfare in the U.S.A. -- if we go from Great Recession to utter financial collapse, or if the recession drags on for years and years, we'll just make some familiar or newly minted scapegoat (Mexican immigrants, black teenagers, ACORN) a target for our anger. It's the American way.

At the Market Ticker, Karl Denninger explains why just owning a pistol isn't going to help a Goldman guy much -- pistols are accurate only at close range, and only if you've developed shooting accuracy, while many Americans, if they're out for blood, are going to be armed with hunting rifles. But those are precisely the folks who are no more inclined to come to New York than Sarah Palin is -- they're afraid of the city, even fully armed. And if they do come, they're more likely to take a shot at Katie Couric than at Lloyd Blankfein, because that's who they've been trained to hate.

No, nothing like this is going to happen -- Main Streeters won't attack and, as Schroeder says, Goldmanites won't really fight back:

... talk of Goldman and guns plays right into the way Wall-Streeters like to think of themselves. Even those who were bailed out believe they are tough, macho Clint Eastwoods of the financial frontier, protecting the fistful of dollars in one hand with the Glock in the other....

[But] if the proles really do appear brandishing pitchforks at the doors of Park Avenue and the gates of Round Hill Road, you can be sure that the Goldman guys and their families will be holed up in their safe rooms with their firearms.

Indeed -- if proles come after the Masters of the Universe, other proles will risk their lives in the Masters' defense.

And if by some chance a violent battle did take place between Main Streeters and Wall Streeters, who'd win the ensuing propaganda war? I wouldn't bet on the rebels becoming folk heroes -- lefties would condemn the violence, righties would regard them as the hellspawn of ACORN and welfare-state indolence, and mainstream media coverage would focus on the teary-eyed plutocrats and their families holed up in their mansions. That's not the way it's gone in the past in this country, but that's the way it would be this time -- Main Street America resents the moneymen, but that resentment is never validated by the media or the rest of the culture, so no challenger of capitalism-as-we-know-it is ever acclaimed for such a stance. No reason to think that would change even in a complete financial meltdown.

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