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January 30, 2014

i think the class war is fun

The really frustrating thing about the hack-job double-down on Max Perkin's Kristallnacht that ran this morning — from the Free Market's mind straight to the Wall Street Journal's lips, is that I just can't get any love.
Five days on, the commentariat continues to drop anvils on Tom Perkins, who may have written the most-read letter to the editor in the history of The Wall Street Journal. The irony is that the vituperation is making our friend's point about liberal intolerance--maybe better than he did.

Then there's all this blather about how the IRS and Cuomo and de Blasio all did/said mean things, the kind of thing that wouldn't be out of place in a Daily Caller "thinker."  Whiny bullshit and bad facts, mostly.

But what about me and people like me?  You don't have to bend the truth or take things out of context; we are ardently opposed to people like Tom Perkins, who do nothing but suck equity out of the system and keep it for themselves.  We are unambiguously reproachful of Perkins in the same way that good-minded citizens were against the robber barons of the late 19th Century (who at least employed people, FWIW).  We're volunteering.

I mean, it's a fabulously dumb argument: "Liberals are mean to rich people and that's bad."  Oof.  Maybe money can ameliorate this self-possessed insecurity?  But whether we give you the credit you so richly deserve for being a bad person or not, the issue is not "tolerance."  The issue is income inequality, and all the tsk-tsks in the world are not going to stop the conversation.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:28 AM

January 29, 2014

sotu 2014

The State of the Union speech is about the only political theater I allow myself in non-election years.  It's a very impressive ritual!  The whole rigid chain of events to start, knowing when to clap, when to stand up, when the camera is on you, etc.

And last night was no exception.  That was some theater-y theater!  President Obama was about as chipper and upbeat as you see him.  Some had suggested that the chumminess of the SOTU rivals that of the White House Press Correspondents dinner; Obama's tone matched it.  And the topics he chose to highlight were fun too!  He's finally on the income inequality bandwagon (though he frames it better than most), he managed a bare mention of gun control, he drew a foreign policy line in the sand, and he even gave a few minutes to the economic rights of women.  That last won was unexpected, and I appreciate it on a substantive level and cackle with delight on a tactical level.  When the opposition party has a hard time tripping over its dick on issues like abortion rights and birth control, why not throw 'em another one?

Speaking of the opposition party, has there ever been a Speaker of the House more fun to watch during SOTU than John Boehner?  He gets the pomp and he knows how to walk through it, but that dyspeptic look he gets belies his congniscience of the hypocrisy of going through the motions and the fact that everyone can tell that he is aware of the hypocrisy of everything and then even yet all he can think about is Dean Martin's hamburger recipe.  Also: he is very orange, a condition complicated by his predilection for green ties.

I had fun!  And then the nice ladies came out for the GOP official response and I fell asleep thinking I was watching a low-rent Oprah rip-off.

But I made it through another one!  I believe that makes ten, right here on titivil.com.  Cheers.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:14 AM

January 27, 2014

it's always uncomfortable agreeing with blodget

This is Henry Blodget, again saying the right thing on his website that I am sometimes dismissive of even though I'm officially on the author's page (awkward!).  Enough about me:
One reason inequality is so bad right now, after all, is that the owners and senior managers of companies are hogging a greater percentage of the value the companies create for themselves than they ever have in history. Meanwhile, they are paying the lowest wages (as a percent of the economy) than they ever have in history.

Blodget writes this in the context of the wake of the World Economic Forum in Davos last week, during which the Great Men of the Planet duly noted the problems and causes of wealth/income inequality, and then looked all innocent as they claimed to have no idea how to fix it.

I mean, it doesn't really take a whole lot of creativity to figure this out.  Let's take JP Morgan Chase's Jamie Dimon, who just got a raise.  He's going to make $20 million next year, cash, before you even talk about stock options and private jets and the like.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual wage of a bank teller is $25,790.  So, a little quick division, and you get that Jamie Dimon makes as much as a little less than 800 bank tellers.

Or, to look at it another way, the Chase overdraft fee is $34.  Roughly five hundred and eighty-eight thousand customers have to bounce a check to pay Dimon's salary.

But hey, don't listen to me.  Listen to Blodget:

The idea that there's a law of economics that you have to pay people as little as possible is just an excuse designed to make senior executives and investors feel better about taking almost all of the company's value for themselves. It's not a law. It's a choice -- a selfish choice.

And that's the simple truth.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:10 AM