The only form of bigotry still allowed in America?

Former Texas senator Phil Gramm and one-time Republican candidate for president says that there is only one form of bigotry that is still tolerated in America. Can you guess what it might be? Your first guess might be that it is the bigotry against transsexuals. Or against Mexicans. But that is because you are a bleeding heart liberal. Since Gramm is a conservative Republican, you might think that he is referring to Christians because they never stop claiming victimhood.

But you would still be wrong.

Gramm says that the one remaining bigotry is that against rich people. Yes, indeedy! And what does he provide as evidence of his claim?

Phil Gramm, a former three-term Republican senator from Texas who once ran the Senate Banking Committee, told the House Financial Services Committee yesterday that “it was an outrage” that his friend Edward Whitacre, the CEO of AT&T, only got “$75 million” when he retired in 2007.

“If there’s ever been an exploited worker” it was Whitacre, said Gramm, testifying on the fifth anniversary of passage of the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill. Gramm appeared genuinely aggrieved by Whitacre’s shabby treatment and literally pounded the table while speaking.

Whitacre actually received a retirement package totaling $158 million.

Gramm attributed public anger at CEOs like Whitacre to “the one form of bigotry that is still allowed in America,” which is “bigotry against the successful.”

These people are beyond parody.


  1. tbrandt says

    You know who else was bigoted against rich people? Jesus.

    And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

  2. says

    Just a few days ago, I watched the documentary below, “Bigger Than Enron”. It details the events leading up to the collapse of Enron and other companies (e.g. Sunbeam). One part early on talks about CEO’s calling it “unfair” how stock options would be taxed at the value of what the CEOs get, not what they paid for them, how it would “hurt the economy”. Bribery of politicians became rampant and reduced the SEC’s ability to stop fraud. The effects of the fraud could be felt in the 2008-2009 economic collapse.

  3. Knight in Sour Armor says

    If it’s bigotry, it’s deserved bigotry. If two dudes each work equally hard, but one lands a job making $50 million a year and the other guy is working retail, doesn’t the other guy have good reason to be losses at the “Just World” (and the rich bloke) we live in?

  4. Thor says

    “Gramm appeared genuinely aggrieved by Whitacre’s shabby treatment and literally pounded the table while speaking.”

    This sounds like a line right out on an Onion article. Too bad it’s not satire.

  5. Pierce R. Butler says

    When Gramm left the Senate, he also left the US -- for a high-level position at a top Swiss bank.

    A pity Customs let him back in, at least unhandcuffed.

  6. stumble says

    @3 I understand the sentiment, but I don’t think that is really fair either. A CEO of a large company does a substantially different type of job than a retail worker. He is under constant scrutiny, must be available 24/7, and the decisions he makes can have far lasting impact to the tune of billions of dollars to the company. Clearly there is a very small segment of the population that have the skills and expertise to do a good job in this situation.

    On the other hand the reality that a CEO probably deserves a higher wage than a retail worker doesn’t begin to explain the massive disparity between the two positions. At least for CEO’s the major issues is in the way that CEO’s and interlocking corporate board members are hired and selected. Boeings CEO as an example makes about $35 million/yr, while the CEO of Airbus makes about $4 million/yr. For running substantially similar companies.

  7. Crimson Clupeidae says

    I would like to see much tighter regulation of company pay. There should be a cap, based on the lowest paid worker times some amount (20ish?) that is all the highest paid employees can be paid. Extra would have to be paid back into the company, or given at the same rate as bonuses on an annual (at least) basis.

    If my company ever gets bigger than the 2 people it currently is, I plan on amending our papers of incorporation in a similar way, making it more like a co-op.

  8. bmiller says

    stumble: Maybe part of the problem is the trend toward massive consolidation and oligopoly capitalism that has resulted in a few firms dominating entire industries. Perhaps only a few people can operate at this level, but maybe the level is the size and complexity of the organizations. Better to have multitudes of small businesses that through creative chaos and, yes, the magic of a marketplace, can produce and distribute goods. There may be one Jeff Bezos (a horrible asshole, one reads), but there were certainly thousands of bookstore owners and recod shop guys out there that guy by. Throw in the factor that these Big Time CEOs are often also required to be smoozers and political contributors (corruption).

    Not really an answer to your point, as I understand the realities. But I would point out that these SUPERSTARS do seem to screw up an awful lot, with no personal consequences or punishment involved. How many HSBC executives served actual prison time for laundering money for terrorists and drug gangs (repeated violations-RICO Act, anyone?)

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