Perhaps the Hitchens piece I just posted wasn’t curmudgeonly enough for you; seasoned Pharyngula veterans are already deeply cynical. If that’s the case, I have just the thing: Matt Taibbi has posted A Christmas Message From America's Rich, in which you can read about how corporate CEO’s are allowing you to have cake.

Most of us 99-percenters couldn’t even let our dogs leave a dump on the sidewalk without feeling ashamed before our neighbors. It’s called having a conscience: even though there are plenty of things most of us could get away with doing, we just don’t do them, because, well, we live here. Most of us wouldn’t take a million dollars to swindle the local school system, or put our next door neighbors out on the street with a robosigned foreclosure, or steal the life’s savings of some old pensioner down the block by selling him a bunch of worthless securities.

But our Too-Big-To-Fail banks unhesitatingly take billions in bailout money and then turn right around and finance the export of jobs to new locations in China and India. They defraud the pension funds of state workers into buying billions of their crap mortgage assets. They take zero-interest loans from the state and then lend that same money back to us at interest. Or, like Chase, they bribe the politicians serving countries and states and cities and even school boards to take on crippling debt deals.

What I’d like to give them for Christmas is a revolution, and a metaphorical row of pikes for their heads.


  1. 'Tis Himself, OM. says

    Damn, I did not want to spend Christmas writing an economic summary of 2011. Guess I’d better start gathering my thoughts now.

  2. carlie says

    Damn, I did not want to spend Christmas writing an economic summary of 2011. Guess I’d better start gathering my thoughts now.


  3. says

    They take zero-interest loans from the state and then lend that same money back to us at interest.

    That’s called making a profit. It’s what businesses do.

  4. 'Tis Himself, OM. says

    I was doing some reading in recent political and economic developments and I was struck by how the Republicans may have shot themselves in the foot.

    Last week House Republicans caved in and approved a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut. Charles Krauthammer is right that making tax policy two months at a time is a terrible idea. But the question is what the longer term implications of the cave-in will be. And what’s interesting about Krauthammer’s comments is that he employs language I’d never have expected to see a conservative use when speaking about a tax cut.

    When George McGovern campaigned on giving every household $1,000, he was laughed out of town as a shameless panderer. President Obama is doing exactly the same—a one-year tax holiday that hands back about $1,000 per middle-class family—but with a little more subtlety…This is a $121 billion annual drain on the Treasury that makes a mockery of the Democrats’ reverence for the Social Security trust fund and its inviolability.

    The Republican talking point on tax cuts is supposed to be the people’s money, and talking about a tax cut as a “drain on the Treasury” presumes the money really belongs to the government. In the debate over the payroll tax cut, this attitude has somehow come unglued, and it’s hard to understand why.

    My suspicion is that the underlying shift is increasing Republican concern that people in the bottom half of the income distribution pay too little in taxes. This idea has been kicking around conservative think tanks and the Wall Street Journal for a few years, and reached its broadest expression in the Tea Baggers’ “We Are the 53%” (i.e. those who pay income taxes) response to the Occupy Wall Street’s “We Are the 99%.” Another possibility is that Republicans are so strongly driven by a partisan desire to deny legislative victories to the president that they’ll torpedo even conservative-friendly policies.

    Without some such theory, it’s hard to explain the GOP’s stances during the payroll tax cut debate. Republicans tried to insist the payroll tax cut extension be paid for with cuts in spending, while they had never insisted that the extension of the Bush-era income tax cuts for high earners which they won earlier this year be paid for. They insisted they would approve the tax cut only if it included approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. They now argue that the problem with the payroll tax cut extension is that it’s too short, even though Democrats would have been happy to extend the cut for a year. In general, they treated the payroll-tax cut as if it were one of the opposing side’s priorities, which they would be willing to approve only if they received some goodies in return.

    If the acquiescence on the payroll-tax cut was just a matter of botched strategy and callow, impetuous Tea Bagger freshmen learning the ropes, then Republicans may be able to regain their footing and start dominating the Congressional agenda again next year. But if the actual problem is that the GOP is now only interested in tax cuts for the wealthy and not for the poor, that’s a political problem which will trouble them throughout the election cycle.

  5. madknitter says

    To paraphrase dear Eleanor in The Lion in Winter, “Metaphoric pikes? Why so modest? How about real heads on pikes? Now there’s a thought?”

  6. eigenperson says

    #4 humanape:

    Even to a confirmed idiot, the flaw in the line of reasoning “Businesses are allowed to make profits; therefore, anything that makes a business a profit is allowable” should be apparent.

  7. says

    A few months ago, I read an article in the New Yorker about Helena Rubenstein. The author also touched upon the history of L’Oreal and Oscar Schindler’s postwar business failures. The article made a very disturbing observation: a complete lack of empathy is a fundamental requirement for the degree of financial success that the One Percent enjoy.

  8. communistgoatboy says

    A collection of unsubstantiated claims, some argumentum ad misericordiam (my most hated logical fallacy to boot!), and ad hominems? As Titus Andronicus said, “For shame, villain, you could not beg for grace.” Cynicism is far more potent when it is backed with cold, hard, punch-you-in-the-gut facts.

    On a second reading of the article, I find that the whole business of quoting these particular individuals seems more like creationist quote mining as no frame of reference is given for two of the three direct quotes. What is more, is the author seriously arguing that three billionaires represent the entirety of Wall Street and the financial industry? That is perilously close to a genetic fallacy.

    While I happen to agree with the author’s point, I woefully disagree with his argument for it.

  9. 'Tis Himself, OM. says


    Sorry, but those quotes do represent the majority view of Wall Street. Just over a year ago at the old site I wrote an essay on the modern American economy.

    No longer does economic growth mean increases in the real earnings for the working class as their productivity rises. This was evident through Clinton’s last term when between 1997 and 2001 the top 10% of US earners received 49% of the growth in real wages and salaries; indeed, the top 1% got 24% of the total while the bottom half of workers received less than 13%.

    In the 2006 holiday season the top 20 Wall Street firms together paid out an estimated $36 to $44 billion to their employees. The bulk of it went to those masters of the universe who were restructuring employment prospects for US workers and extorting concessions from workers to finance debt. From 2000 to 2006, all 93 million American production and nonsupervisory workers had real earnings increases of less than half of the combined bonuses awarded by the top 20 Wall Street firms for just one year.

    In short, the rich are getting much richer and the rest of us are actually getting poorer.

  10. John Morales says

    It would be terrible (terrible, I tell ya!) if after-tax income for individuals were capped at (say) 1000 times the median after-tax income.

    (The horror!)

  11. 'Tis Himself, OM. says

    During the period 2000-2008 the median value of 401k plans dropped 43% (giving rise to the joke that your 401k became a 201k). Since that time the median value rose to where it’s 87% of where it was in 2004. So tens of billions of dollars were lost to 401ks.

    Except under very unusual circumstances, money doesn’t evaporate. So where did all that money go? Some $37 billion of it went overseas, primarily to German and Chinese financial institutions. Approximately $54 billion went to various American institutions. At least $30 billion went to the top 1% richest people in the country. And guess what, regardless of what Ronnie Reagan and George W. Shrub promised, it ain’t trickling down.

  12. autumn says

    There was an op-ed in the NYT last week discussed a hypothetical tax that would go into effect when the ratio of the median incomes of the top 1% to the median incomes of the 99% was greater than a certain number. I belive that they noted that the ratio now is around 30, about what it was in the robber-baron era. The idea was to tax income above the amount of the poorest of the 1% at a higher rate until the ratio dropped below the set threshold. That way, if the rich were actually making everyone richer, they could continue to get as rich as they wanted.

  13. says

    And guess what, regardless of what Ronnie Reagan and George W. Shrub promised, it ain’t trickling down.

    I have a theory:

    Greedy, rich, selfish, soulless bottom-feeders will constantly drain money and resources from everyone else. I call it “Trickle up” economics, which more closely models the reality we observe.

    Trickle down economics? Complete bullshit. :3