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When the phrase “out-of-touch” is too mild…

We need a measure of just how far out into space a commentator has launched themselves. I propose that we use the unit, the TomPerkins.

Last week, he sent a letter to the opinion page of the Wall Street Journal, and they published it, despite the fact that it is certifiably nuts, because Tom Perkins is an obscenely rich venture capitalist. Never mind what he says, he’s rich. Yet this letter blithely compares the fate of obscenely rich venture capitalists to that of European Jews in World War II.

Writing from the epicenter of progressive thought, San Francisco, I would call attention to the parallels of fascist Nazi Germany to its war on its "one percent," namely its Jews, to the progressive war on the American one percent, namely the "rich."

Whoa. He kind of red-lined my TomPerkins meter there.

But now you have to go read his book. Yes, he’s written a whole book, and it’s not what you think it is: he was once married to Danielle Steel, and this book is pure one-percenter porn. Go read the excerpts and gag, or you can buy your own copy on Amazon. The latter is not recommended; while the article says it’s available for 1 cent online, it doesn’t seem to be true any longer — there has been a run on Tom Perkins literature, no doubt driven by aficionados of awful writing.

Comments

  1. says

    Perkins needs to spend some time reading about the Third Reich. The German “one percent” types largely supported Hitler’s rise to power. And let’s not forget the paragon of 20th Century American industrialism, Henry Ford, who published antisemitic propaganda in his newspaper, and was awarded the Grand Cross of the German Eagle by the Nazis in 1938.

  2. Becca Stareyes says

    Wow. That’s some Grade-A wannabe martyr complex.

    Also, if Tom Perkins thinks we’re going to kill all the rich people, why is he still here*? It’s not like he’s got a shortage of money to travel with, and I’d bet he could find at least one country to let him and his piles of money stay. And, unlike the Jews in Nazi Germany, where laws, among other things, cut off their ability to emigrate, Tom Perkins has no additional travel restrictions.

    (Which really proves Godwin’s Law: Tom Perkins doesn’t seem to believe he is in danger, but he reaches for Nazi Germany and the Jews as his first choice for ‘analogy of Bad People doing Bad Things to Good People’, despite the fact it is entirely un-suitable.)

    * I guess he could be overseas and warning his fellow rich venture capitalists.

  3. Howard Bannister says

    …he once killed a man with his yacht.

    Wikipedia notes.

    In 1996, Perkins was convicted in France of involuntary manslaughter arising from a yacht-racing collision, forcing him to pay a $10,000 fine.[15]

    Hmm.

    http://gawker.com/269896/tom-perkins-manslaughter-conviction

    In 1996, the yacht-crazed financier was racing off the French coast when he collided with a smaller boat, killing a French doctor on board.In a passage from the Valley veteran’s forthcoming memoirs, Perkins writes: “I was arrested and tried in a foreign court in a language you don’t understand, by judges indifferent – or worse – to justice, represented by an inappropriate lawyer with the negative outcome preordained.”

    A man died, he paid a fine for it, and he’s convinced that it was a terrible injustice.

  4. gussnarp says

    So the Jews in Nazi Germany had their inheritance tax eliminated, their capital gains that made up a huge portion of their income taxed at 15%, their top marginal tax rate slashed from 90% to 39%, benefited disproportionately from most income tax deductions, and saw their incomes rise dramatically while wages for everyone else remained fell yet productivity increased? And we firebombed Dresden over that? Something seems a little off here…

  5. barbarienne says

    Rich people have no sense of history. The only reason they’re even aware of Nazi Germany is that (a) it’s less than 100 years ago, and (b) millions and millions of people were murdered. Rich folks don’t seem to understand what that second point means, but it at least does make the whole historical event kind of loud in their perception.

    If they really want to talk about being persecuted and in fear for their lives, they should go back to la Terreur. Sure, lots of innocent ordinary folk got caught up in that, but at least they could point to the fact that the genuine 1% of the time were getting genuinely beheaded just for being the 1%.

  6. kevinalexander says

    A man died, he paid a fine for it,

    GOD gave him that holy money and some cheese eating surrender monkeys STOLE it from him. If that’s not injustice, I don’t know what is.

  7. Snoof says

    A man died, he paid a fine for it, and he’s convinced that it was a terrible injustice.

    It was a terrible injustice. He was criminally negligent and he bought his way out of gaol for pocket change.

    The fact that he thinks he was wronged makes me sick.

  8. chigau (違う) says

    barbarienne #6
    re: la Terreur
    That is an excellent point.
    I think that the 1% should be reminded of this more often.

  9. says

    To read that today, on the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp by the Red Army is somewhat even worse.

    Tis my birthday too and Mozart’s also, on a more up note.

  10. doublereed says

    I have no idea why the WSJ would publish this. It seems that they thought he was making a serious point or something. Or maybe the fact that he’s an obscenely wealthy venture capitalist means that they are obligated it to publish it no matter the level of offensively silly.

  11. Howard Bannister says

    Apparently the comments thread at the WSJ is filled up with people agreeing with him.

    I can’t quite make myself go there and check for myself. I’m nauseated enough at this distance…

  12. says

    It amazes me to no end when people like Tom Perkins act like poor people can become rich by doing things like getting out of bed a half hour earlier or working 60 hour weeks, but the put-upon rich simply have no way to stop being obscenely wealthy, so please stop picking on them.

  13. unclefrogy says

    well it is not all bad, it highlights the feelings of entitlement and superiority that is held by many of the 1%. It is nice to see those attitudes in black and white. No longer do we need to infer from their actions that they feel that way.

    uncle frogy

  14. Nepenthe says

    I have a great idea. Why doesn’t this Perkins dolt give enough of his wealth away to anti-schistosomiasis initiatives and the like that he isn’t part of the %1 anymore? Having to have only one house seems like a minor annoyance compared to being subject to (imaginary) genocide.

  15. moarscienceplz says

    What’s extra galling is that he made his money as a fucking venture capitalist. Don’t get me wrong, I live in Silicon Valley and it would not exist without VC’s, but Perkins got rich by doling out other peoples’ money to smart, hard-working engineers and then sat in his comfy chair waiting for the stock buyouts.

  16. zenlike says

    Howard Bannister

    Apparently the comments thread at the WSJ is filled up with people agreeing with him.

    It is. And that also answers the question why the WSJ publicised this; they and a large part of their readership largely agree with Tom Perkins’ idea expressed in his letter. They might scoff a bit about hyperbole, but this is directly in line with their ‘job creator’/just world-bs beliefs.

    A man died, he paid a fine for it, and he’s convinced that it was a terrible injustice.

    Of course, 0,001%ers like him normally are never prosecuted. The law is for the peasants.

  17. zenlike says

    As an aside, I think it was just this week that a report was published which came to the conclusion that the 85 richest individuals have as much money as the poorest half of the entire world population (3,5 billion people).

    Maybe it is time for those guillotines…

  18. sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d says

    Mr. Perkins is 82 years old.
    If I were one of his business partners or an investor in one of his companies I’d want a psychiatrist and a gerontologist to examine his mental condition.

  19. unclefrogy says

    the other day I heard someone commenting about that report on poverty and income and population. His argument was it was not as bad as it looked it was distorted by the fact that so many people were in debt that it reduced their net worth and reduced their spendable income or something like that?

    they are poor
    uncle frogy

  20. barbarienne says

    doublereed @15: The WSJ is owned by NewsCorp. It’s another mouthpiece for Rupert Murdoch.

  21. says

    sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d #24

    Mr. Perkins is 82 years old.
    If I were one of his business partners or an investor in one of his companies I’d want a psychiatrist and a gerontologist to examine his mental condition.

    Plenty of people manage to be arseholes without having mental health issues. Plenty of people with mental health issues are not arseholes. Consider the good possibility that Perkins is merely an 82-year-old arsehole.

  22. ck says

    Maybe I’m seeing things that aren’t there, but isn’t that a little anti-semitic, too? I mean, one of the racial stereotypes of the Jewish is that they’re wealthy and control the major industries. That he would link his imagined future fate to the Jewish people’s past fate does not seem a coincidence to me.

  23. zenlike says

    26, barbarienne

    doublereed @15: The WSJ is owned by NewsCorp. It’s another mouthpiece for Rupert Murdoch.

    And Tom Perkins was on the board of directors of NewsCorp a few years ago . That explains a lot.

  24. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    What’s extra galling is that he made his money as a fucking venture capitalist. Don’t get me wrong, I live in Silicon Valley and it would not exist without VC’s, but Perkins got rich by doling out other peoples’ money to smart, hard-working engineers and then sat in his comfy chair waiting for the stock buyouts.

    If it was real gambling, that would be one thing: you take your best guess at the people to support and you get a return if it pays off, which is rare since many good ideas don’t pan out economically.

    But it’s not even that. The risk that VCs take is real, but the perception of it is inflated b/c IPOs are such a manipulated market. Much of the stock, if not all, is pre-sold at a level that is intended to guarantee a profit and then the stock is hyped, the initial buyers create the impression of demand, there is little stock available at the opening price on IPO day, so price goes up, the people that guaranteed the VCs income cash in, and only then will the market figure out what the company is worth.

    You still need to have a marketable idea and take the company to a profit making stage, but the switch to public ownership is manipulated in all kinds of ways that are more complicated than I’m even describing.

    Ugh.

  25. stevem says

    I too am so out of touch… I have no idea why he could even possibly compare our disdain for the 1% to the horror the Jews sustained during the Holocaust. Is he comparing our *words* of hatred for the 1% to the furnaces of the N@zis? Are we making them wear yellow $’s on their clothes like the yellow (hexagram) stars the Jews had to wear? My imagination is running away with me. what is he REALLY accusing us of? The tawdry excerpts PZ pointed us at just appears to be soft-porn, like an adolescent wannabe-man (i,e. “boy”) would write when fantasizing about the “life” of the rich man he wishes he will become. Whatevah, doesn’t matter what we are actually saying, (all the actions we are taking against the 1% are just words) his OPINION is dismissed pffft! He’s a totally ‘out of touch’ person… not worth reading, nor even talking about at all.

  26. nrdo says

    I can’t help but think statements like that are analogs of stories told about the “madness” of Emperor Nero. In a millennium from now, assuming people survive that long, historians will be debating about whether the Perkins and his ilk could have actually been that ignorant and blinded by privilege.

  27. sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d says

    Consider the good possibility that Perkins is merely an 82-year-old arsehole.

    He could well be, Daz.
    However, someone whose brain was functioning properly would realise that saying this was foolish, even if he thought it- a bad business move, Mr. Perkins has lived eighty two years without being stupid enough to draw attention to himself like that until now. This isn’t merely arguable and self-aggrandising- like remarks that venture capitalists are the motors of the economy and deserve all they get- this is a grotesque misperception of reality. Two grotesque misperceptions of reality in fact: both as to the truth of his claim and the likely response to that claim.

  28. adobo says

    stevem @32

    He’s a totally ‘out of touch’ person… not worth reading, nor even talking about at all.

    Here. Here! Nothing to see here. Just another sociopath with a grand delusion of self-importance. I say, we feed the bastard to the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal or worse, tie him up and force him to listen to an endless loop recording of Tiny Tim’s Tiptoe to the Tulips.

  29. says

    sc_77…etc #34

    However, someone whose brain was functioning properly would realise that saying this was foolish

    You mean like this, or this, or this, or… I think you can see where I’m going with this.

    Here’s the thing. The suggestion that he said what he said because a mental health problem diminished his ability to think through the consequences has the implication that he shouldn’t be held as responsible for his actions as he might have been were he compos mentis. It says that we should cut him some slack.

    It’s also highly insulting to the many people who manage their mental health issues without making arseholes of themselves.

    And all without providing evidence that he actually is of diminished responsibility. It’s just supposition on your part.

  30. voidhawk says

    Why do they go for Kristallnacht when they have perfectly good persecutions of the rich to draw from? As commenters have said, the French Revolution or the Russian revolution would be more appropriate for their purposes.

  31. sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d says

    I think you can see where I’m going with this.

    Round and round in circles, Daz…?
    No. I wasn’t suggesting we should cut him some slack. I was suggesting his colleagues and investors would be well-advised not to let him do anything with the companies and shares he controls without their authority.
    Mr. Perkins has gone through fifty quietly-profitable years without drawing much attention to himself. All of a sudden he starts making speeches that get himself noticed. Even if this is what he’s always thought there must be a reason for the foolish talkativeness. Mental impairment is one worth considering. As I said, if that is the case, it probably won’t mean he just writes foolish letters in future.

  32. sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d says

    All incidents involving people who should have realised what they were saying was foolish.

    But this is a different kind of folly, Daz, and comes from someone whose schtick is his supposed possession of a particular kind of wisdom.
    sorry- not “making speeches that get himself noticed”. Writing letters that get himself noticed.
    Traditionally, letters like this are supposed to be in green ink.

  33. ChasCPeterson says

    A man died, he paid a fine for it, and he’s convinced that it was a terrible injustice.

    Come on; the dude got in the way of his yacht. Be reasonable.

  34. says

    sc_77 #39

    No. I wasn’t suggesting we should cut him some slack.

    I don’t give a rat’s arse what you thought you were saying. If someone has a mental health issue which, as you implied, leads to them not being able to think through the consequences of their actions, then they certainly should be held less responsible for those actions.

    Mr. Perkins has gone through fifty quietly-profitable years without drawing much attention to himself. All of a sudden he starts making speeches that get himself noticed. Even if this is what he’s always thought there must be a reason for the foolish talkativeness.

    Yes. He’s an arsehole.

    Mental impairment is one worth considering.

    Are you qualified to diagnose such? Are you certain that a snap-judgement, made on the basis of a very short web-post, without ever having met your patient, is the correct way to make such diagnosis?

  35. sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d says

    I don’t think Mr.’ Perkins’ investors would show the same consideration for his errors that other people would, Daz. If he does have age-induced mental frailty affecting his judgment he shouldn’t be in charge of wealth of $8000,000,000. If he goes round publicly saying things like this he’s bad for business and shouldn’t be in charge of wealth of $8000,000,000 from their point of view either.
    I am qualified to assess his mental health. I certainly wouldn’t say this is “the correct way to make such diagnosis”, but, then, I’m not diagnosing him. I’m pointing out that there are other likely explanations for his behaviour besides the assumption that he has always believed there are parallels between “fascist Nazi Germany to its war on its “one percent,” namely its Jews, to the progressive war on the American one percent, namely the “rich.”” Someone who believed that all their life would be too distanced from reality to be a successful venture capitalist over a long period.

  36. says

    sc_77 #43

    I certainly wouldn’t say this is “the correct way to make such diagnosis”, but, then, I’m not diagnosing him. I’m pointing out that there are other likely explanations

    Umm, stating that he likely has mental health issues, age-related or otherwise, is making a diagnosis. A vague one, but nonetheless a diagnosis. On the basis of nothing more than a short opinion-piece.

    You want an easy-to-spot scenario? He’s flogging a book, for Pete’s sake. Controversy makes headlines makes publicity makes free advertising.

    People say stupid things. They don’t have to have mental health issues in order to do so. And sometimes (see above) they say them on purpose.

  37. sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d says

    He wrote the book in 2006, actually, Daz. Mind you, if Mr. Perkins is trying to flog it, it’s an interesting revelation about the variant value of different kinds of money; $8,000,000,000 from venture capitalism versus a few thousand dollars- if he’s lucky- from what he thinks is creative writing.
    All of the discussions of what Perkins said are based on a short opinion piece and what little we know about him. However, “People say stupid things. They don’t have to have mental health issues in order to do so.” The worrying thing here is that a man who is supposed to control wealth of $8,000,000,000 has said deranged things. I think that if someone says deranged things it’s as well to check if they actually do have mental health problems. Mr. Perkins could harm a lot of people if he follows on from what he said. Paradoxically, the ones best able to restrain him are the people who’ve made money out of what he said in the past- not out of altruism or public-spirit, but out of concern for their investments.

  38. unclefrogy says

    I have seldom heard anyone say that because person X has a mental health issue that we should “cut them some slack” even less read it here.
    There is a difference in law concerning that being mentally unfit for trial and being mentally fit for trial. The result of which are prisons full of are mentally ill that still held responsible for their actions.

    I took the comment about that was objected to as meaning that after all this time maybe his partners should begin question his judgement a little closer nothing more. Maybe his self-conceived status as a supper genius who can predict the future is no longer as true as it once seemed to be.

    uncle frogy

  39. says

    sc_77

    Bored now. I’ll finish with this:

    I have, many times, seen Someone On The Internet claim that someone most-likely had a mental-health problem of some kind, merely because they’d said something stupid/bigoted/both. All I can say is, if even a substantial number of them were right, then we’re living through a mental-health disaster-period of unprecedented proportions: and nobody’s even noticed.

    Arsehole-ish behaviour is not uncommon. The obvious conclusion is that there’s a fuckton of arseholes in the world.

  40. sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d says

    I don’t say Perkins “most-likely had a mental-health problem”. I do say his investors would be well-advised to check.
    Actually, we are living through a mental-health disaster-period. Whether it’s of unprecedented proportions is another matter but take a look at rates of diagnosis and treatment for mental illness. “1 in 4 people will experience some kind of mental health problem in the course of a year” http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/help-information/mental-health-statistics/
    I don’t know whether the disaster is the number of problems or the number of diagnoses.

    Arsehole-ish behaviour is not uncommon. The obvious conclusion is that there’s a fuckton of arseholes in the world.

    …which doesn’t preclude widespread mental health problems too.

  41. Rob Grigjanis says

    Daz @49:

    I have, many times, seen Someone On The Internet claim that someone most-likely had a mental-health problem of some kind, merely because they’d said something stupid/bigoted/both.

    Like PZ’s ‘certifiably nuts’ in the OP?

  42. says

    I know this is tangential, but…

    It was natural that they found their way into his bedroom. He turned down the bed and lit a couple of candles, while she withdrew to the bathroom. Shortly, she returned, wearing nothing at all. Steven came forward to kiss her marvelous breasts, but she said, ‘My darling, I am so sorry, but it’s the wrong time of the month for me. We will have to wait until we’re on the yacht.’

    She goes to bed naked when she has her period? I don’t think so.

  43. unclefrogy says

    one can be an asshole and one can be mentally ill
    one can be an asshole and not be mentally ill
    one can be mentally ill and not be an asshole
    they are two different characteristics and not dependent on each other

    I would say that after over 2000 years of religious domination along with 1000’s of years of despotism not forgetting the many pointless wars we seem to engage in almost constantly, a few 100 years of constant struggle for liberty, equality and fraternity. We are still struggling against real enforced ignorance and economic exploitation while our collective actions in total are threatening to upset the ability of the earth to support our very civilization. If that would not lead one to question the mental state of the human population please tell me why.

    uncle frogy

  44. sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d says

    There’s a difference between a turn of phrase and a seriously-made suggestion that someone guilty of nothing more than extremely crass behaviour should be checked for mental-health problems.

    Well, one person in eight of Mr. Perkins’ age has some degree of dementia. Given his job, it’s likely that even a very mild degree would have a strong adverse effect. An ordinary man of 82 who showed extremely crass behaviour isn’t of much interest to anyone but those directly affected. A rich and powerful man who also controls and advises on investments on behalf of others is a matter of wider concern.

  45. says

    Sc_77 #39

    Mr. Perkins has gone through fifty quietly-profitable years without drawing much attention to himself.

    No, he hasn’t. There was the time he killed someone with his yacht, the HP scandal, another HP scandal, plus a number of assholish but less inflammatory statements made on various media over many years. He’s got a long. long history of being an out of touch asshole.
    #40

    But this is a different kind of folly, Daz, and comes from someone whose schtick is his supposed possession of a particular kind of wisdom.

    His supposed wisdom involves the skill of accumulating lots and lots of money. Public relations is an entirely different skill set and there’s no reason to expect him to have it. Lots of people who have lots of money say asshole tone deaf things in public. It’s not unusual.

  46. says

    sc_77 #57

    This really is my last on this: it’s 10 past 1AM here.

    An ordinary man of 82 who showed extremely crass behaviour isn’t of much interest to anyone but those directly affected. A rich and powerful man who also controls and advises on investments on behalf of others is a matter of wider concern.

    I have no problem with the idea that someone guilty of making stupid statements should be eased out of a job, if PR is in any way part of that job. I merely see no reason for mental-health problems to be so quickly considered, based on nothing more than the information that he acted like an arsehole, when mentally-healthy arseholes are a dime a dozen.

  47. Rob Grigjanis says

    Daz @56:

    Your use of the word “insidious” implies that you believe PZ is deliberately trying to imply that Perkins has some form of mental-health problem.

    No it fucking doesn’t. I’m guilty of using the same sort of ‘turn of phrase’. If my use of ‘insidious’ implies anything, it’s that reading comments here has educated me about the damage that careless language can do. Please try to be more careful about inferring someone’s beliefs.

  48. says

    Rob #56

    Look it up. The word implies intent, which I how I read it.

    1. Working or spreading harmfully in a subtle or stealthy manner: insidious rumors; an insidious disease.
    2. Intended to entrap; treacherous: insidious misinformation.
    3. Beguiling but harmful; alluring: insidious pleasures.

    http://www.thefreedictionary.com/insidious

    That said, your reaction makes it obvious that you didn’t mean it that way. Please accept my apologies for my implication that you did.

    Goodnight all.

  49. says

    Daz @54: Yeah, the difference is that turns of phrase are more insidious.

    Acceptance of the bogus claims of biopsychiatry is far more dangerous than any colloquial expression, and is what leads to the problem with colloquial expressions. (I’m just going to leave that comment here and leave, because I’ve had enough of what tends to follow.)

  50. Rob Grigjanis says

    Daz: No apology necessary. Different understanding of a word’s meaning shouldn’t cause rifts.

  51. David Marjanović says

    Here. Here!

    Hear, hear!

    She goes to bed naked when she has her period? I don’t think so.

    + 1

  52. cm's changeable moniker (quaint, if not charming) says

    Crip Dyke @#30

    The risk that VCs take is real, but the perception of it is inflated b/c IPOs are such a manipulated market. Much of the stock, if not all, is pre-sold at a level that is intended to guarantee a profit and then the stock is hyped, the initial buyers create the impression of demand, there is little stock available at the opening price on IPO day, so price goes up, the people that guaranteed the VCs income cash in, and only then will the market figure out what the company is worth.

    For various reasons, I can only offer links. (Caveat lector: they might include language that wouldn’t pass muster at Pharyngula).

    http://epicureandealmaker.blogspot.co.uk/2011/05/jane-you-ignorant-slut.html
    http://epicureandealmaker.blogspot.co.uk/2011/05/dan-you-pompous-ass.html
    http://epicureandealmaker.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/as-long-as-right-people-get-shot.html

    HTH.

  53. genealogygirl says

    The comparison of taxing the wealthy to the Holocaust is something that Grover Norquist and his lobbying group Americans for Tax Reform pushes. Heard him say this same thing to Terry Gross on Fresh Air years back and I thought she was going to swallow her tongue. Not sure he invented it or if it’s just a meme that ricochets around the right-wing echo chamber.

  54. says

    Mr. Perkins hits bottom and continues to dig. He arrived on the set of Bloomberg News to apologize over the weekend. He started off well, with what sounded like a read apology, and then he veered into the same hole he should have exited.

    “I’m your classical self-made man, if you will. I think the 99 percent is struggling and really struggling to get along in America. We have ever-increasing regulation, higher costs I think caused by more government than we need. Small businesses – it’s difficult to form and prosper in a small business these days. It’s difficult to hire. And that in my view is what is hurting and causing – hurting the 99 percent and causing the inequality.

    “So I think that the solution is less interference, lower taxes. Let the rich do what the rich do, which is get richer.”

    http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/when-apology-isnt-apology

  55. says

    Josh Marshall on Talking Points Memo analyzes the Perkins problem:

    […] But I think we’re missing the point if we see this as the gaffe of one aging, coddled jerk. Because it’s only a more extreme and preposterous version of beliefs that have become increasingly widespread in the wealthiest sectors of American society, especially since 2008 and the twin events of the global financial crisis and the election of Barack Obama.

    Let me state the phenomenon as clearly as possible: The extremely wealthy are objectively far wealthier, far more politically powerful and find a far more indulgent political class than at any time in almost a century – at least. And yet at the same time they palpably feel more isolated, abused and powerless than at any time over the same period and sense some genuine peril to the whole mix of privileges, power and wealth they hold.

    There is a disconnect there that is so massive and glaring that it demands some sociocultural explanation. I’ve written about this before. But I confess not terribly well because I’ve found it a difficult issue to get my arms fully around and to reorient my focus on day to day events to the longer horizon. But I do think it’s one of the core political and economic issues of our time and deserves real explanation. […]

    More detailed explanation of the embattled rich man at the link.

  56. Azuma Hazuki says

    Paul Krugman wrote an interesting (finally!) editorial recently speaking about the “paranoia of the plutocrats.” While I normally find him…distressingly naive, shall we say, he hit this one out of the park.

    There seems to be something poisonous and cannibalistic about mammon; acquire enough of it, and you are constantly paranoid over losing it, well past the point that survival would be threatened by its loss.

    Perhaps it’s a subconscious acknowledgement that they’ve done things to make the vast majority of moral, rational humans hate them. Maybe they know the bloodstains won’t ever, ever, ever go away…