Monday, February 24, 2014

Week of 02/24/2014

A New Correction Is Needed For The Haves
– by David Matthews 2

There is a time when the world of trading would be in the uncomfortable situation of having to purge their investments in a particular market that has become grossly over-inflated in value.  Normally this would be done gradually.  Price of “something” gets too high, people stop buying it, the value of that “something” goes down because there’s more supply than demand.  But when you have hyper-inflated the value of that “something” and to the point where it cannot be sustained, then the value crashes hard.

Way back when, that would be called a market crash.  Today, it’s called a “market correction”.  It seems words like “crash” are just too “negative” for those sensitive people in Wall Street to handle.

Then again, maybe if they still called it a “crash”, they wouldn’t be so prone to have it happen again and again and again.

Think about it… the Savings and Loan failure of the 1980’s, the fall of the Dot-Com businesses of the 1990’s, the corporate failure of the early 2000’s, and then the housing bubble and “Too Big To Fail”… the pattern repeating itself over and over and over again.  Hyper-inflated values, the demand for quick profit, and then the “correction” when reality finally sets in.  The only difference between the Savings and Loan failure and “Too Big To Fail” is that the executives were allowed to get away with their criminal activities this time around.  And in some cases, they got fat stinking bonuses on top of it.

Maybe if it was still called a “crash”, our corrupt Department of Justice wouldn’t have been so eager to honor the banks’ “Get Out Of Jail Free” cards.  It’s a little hard to let corporate criminals get away with their crimes when words like “crash” are still being used.

But, no, we don’t call these things “crashes” anymore.  We call them “market corrections”.

And with these so-called “corrections”, there is the opportunity for those in the market to supposedly “learn their lesson” and make “positive” changes to prevent another “correction” from happening.  In theory, anyway.

Well, there is another “correction” that desperately needs to be made, and that one involves the attitudes of those at the top of our economic heap.

Back at the end of January, venture capitalist Thomas Perkins decided to open up his mouth instead of his bank account and pen a letter to the Wall Street Journal about President Barack Obama’s recent comments about income inequality.  In his little diatribe, he portrayed himself and his wealthy friends as being “poor persecuted victims” and equated it to the actual persecution suffered by the Jewish people in 1930’s Germany.

Right, because the wealthy have had to “suffer” through this Great Recession like the Jewish people did in the 1930’s… by having their stores smashed, by being forcibly evicted from their homes, by being dragged out in the streets, roughed up, and thrown into concentration camps.  Oh, wait, that only happened in “The Dark Knight Rises”… a fictional movie. 

In the real world, not only did the top of the top not suffer so much as a single hangnail during the Recession, but they made off like bandits.  The super-rich got richer and everyone else not only got poorer, but they were told that they only had themselves to blame for it because they supposedly didn’t “work hard enough” or didn’t “save enough”.

Mister Perkins would later apologize for his comparison… sort of.  He was sorry that he used the German word “Kristallnacht”, but he wasn’t apologetic for his sociopathic view.  He was just “sorry” that he used “that word”.

But if Mister Perkins was “sorry”, his friends and associates are not.  The Wall Street Journal – owned by Rupert Murdoch, who also owns Fox News – followed the neo-con script and doubled-down on the rhetoric.  And, of course, Murdoch’s Fox News hasn’t let up on the Orwellian hate-speak, because it fits right into their own “Non-Conservative Is The Worst Evil In The History Of Human Existence” script.  Even local newspaper editorials are doubling-down on the “poor persecuted rich people” narcissism. 

Just look at how Tom’s buddy Rupert is “suffering” through this “persecution”… after all; he recently had to shell out $57 million to buy a “meager” four-story penthouse in the Upper East Side after leaving his newly-divorced ex-wife with their $44 million home.  Or, one of his homes. He has so many of them around the world.  But I’m sure Tom is consoling his buddy Rupert about the “pain” and “degradation” he’s having to endure as one of the super-wealthy.  He might even make comparisons to the plight of famed author and Nazi victim Anne Frank while he’s at it, since Rupert is now also living in an “attic”.  It just happens to be a bit more “roomy” than the one Anne Frank had to live in with her family.

Oh, but that wasn’t all from the upper colon of Thomas Perkins.  He also decided that being wealthy should also give them more voting power than those “ungrateful masses”.

This is what he recently said“The Tom Perkins system is: You don't get to vote unless you pay a dollar of taxes...But what I really think is, it should be like a corporation. You pay a million dollars in taxes, you get a million votes. How's that?”

So, in his mind, “taxes” are like stock.  Funny, because I seem to recall that the über-rich hate paying taxes.  They’re always demanding tax breaks and tax exemptions and screaming bloody murder like horror-film virgins should anyone even remotely suggest that they pay even one red penny in taxes.  They’re the ones that passionately equate “taxation” with “theft”, and now they should get more voting power because of it?

As you can see, Mister Perkins has a problem thinking things like that through.  Makes you wonder how he became so wealthy in the first place.

To borrow from the late Texas Governor Ann Richards: poor Mister Perkins; he can’t help it.  He was born with a silver foot in his mouth.

But he’s not the only one with that problem.  In fact, Mister Perkins’s colon-scented narcissism is just one of many.

Then there’s aged rocker, avid gun nut, and political spewer Ted Nugent.  In his latest diatribe against the current White House occupant, Nugent called President Obama a “subhuman mongrel”.  He would later apologize for “using the term”, but only after several Texans, including U. S. Senator (and latest GOP savior) Ted Cruz and Governor Rick Perry, cried foul on the terminology.

But, just like Perkins, Nugent would only apologize for “using the term”, not for the attitude that spewed it.

And it is that very attitude that is at the core of our problem.

Let’s get brutally honest here… the “haves” have a serious attitude problem that needs to be corrected, and it needs to be fixed now before it goes too far.

Those up on top, the über-rich, the super-wealthy, the one-percent and even the one-percent-of-one-percent, have long insulated themselves from the struggles that the rest of us have had to deal with.  They throw about words like “persecution” when they have no actual concept of what persecution really is, and they have convinced themselves that they are somehow superior to the rest of the world simply because of where they are now.

And this is not mere speculation on my part.  This has actual science behind it.  In a 2013 TED convention, Paul Piff demonstrated how a rigged game of Monopoly, where one player was given fundamental advantages over the other simply through a flip of a coin, showed how their attitudes about that rigged game changed in just fifteen minutes of play.  The ones given the advantages didn’t just get more money, they also became more arrogant, ruder, and they began to feel self-entitled.  They actually believed that they somehow earned those advantages when in fact it was through a rigged game and a random coin toss.  And all in just fifteen minutes!

This is what is behind the unashamed arrogance, the sociopathic narcissism that you see in people like Perkins and Nugent.  Any talk of “income inequality” is treated as a personal attack.  Wealth is considered an entitlement.  Trying to fix a broken system to help those that truly need it is condemned as being “socialistic”.  And that arrogance and feeling of self-righteous self-entitlement has been getting progressively worse and worse as it festers and stews through the continual script rehashed through Murdoch’s Fox News and Wall Street Journal and through talk radio and local newspapers.

Much like the Savings and Loan debacle of the 1980’s, much like the Dot-Com craze of the 1990’s, and much like the housing bubble and the “Too Big To Fail” ways of the 2000’s, the attitudes of those at the top have become hyper-inflated beyond their own true value.

It also doesn’t help when their “friends” in politics and the media make promises on their behalf that they themselves refuse to honor.  Cut taxes for the rich, they claimed, and there will be more jobs.  Cut regulations, they claimed, and there will be more jobs.  Done and done, only to be told that there weren’t any more jobs.  That the market was just “too unstable”.  Oh, and Obama is in the White House?  Well then all bets are off because he’s a “tax and spend liberal”, don’t-cha-know, even if he’s still giving them everything they want.

And where does it end?  It ends where it has always ended historically; in chaos and violence.  Look at the American Revolution.  Look at the French Revolution.  Look at the first Russian Revolution.  For that matter, look at the fall of the Soviet Union.  Look at the more recent incidents in Egypt and Ukraine.  Those that have been insulated by wealth and power ultimately laid the foundation for their own downfall.  A “correction” of sorts, only this one is not economic.  It’s social.  And there is more that is lost in these kinds of “corrections” than just money.

The thing is… it doesn’t have to be this way.

There is an opportunity for those at the top to take a look where they and their brethren are heading and realize that it is up to them to change their attitudes.  They don’t have to make the mistakes of their predecessors.  They can actually heed the warning signs and take a step back.  They can either ease the bubble of arrogance and ignorance gradually and on their own terms, or deal with the consequence when the “correction” occurs.  It’s entirely up to them.

1 comment:

YhuntressE said...

It's behaviors like this that make me realize the Bahai have a point on how too much wealth is not a good thing.