Some rare insight into the minds of the super greedy

Before digging into the main course I want to make a point that gets easily lost these days: self-made zillionaires are not all greedy devious bastards looking to pocket granny’s hard earned pension and healthcare. This is a fact, I’ve personally interviewed a few people who handily qualify as self made zillionaires, where I occasionally talked to them at length about their progressive ideology and generous personal philosophy off the record. But there definitely are some zillionaires who could be described that way, especially around Wall Street. Courtesy of Ezra Klein’s interview with Chrysta Freeland, author of The Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else, here’s a look into their self entitled, insular world:

WaPo — Chrystia Freeland: There’s a great joke on Wall Street which is that the bet on Romney is Wall Street’s worst bet since the bet on subprime. … They were all flying into Logan Airport for the victory party. There’s this stunned feeling of how could we be so wrong, and a feeling of alienation. The Romney comments to his donors, for which he was roundly pounced on by Republican politicians, I think they accurately reflected the view of a lot of these money guys. It’s the continuation of this 47 percent idea. […]

Let me be clear that I’m not defending any of them. But I think the way it works — and I think Romney’s comments were very telling in this regard — there are two differences in the mind of this class. First, they’re absolutely convinced that they’re not asking for special privileges for themselves. They’re convinced that it just so happens that their self-interest coincides perfectly with the collective interest. That’s where you get this idea of the “job creators”.

So guys who were dead wrong about subprime to the tune of trillions of evaporating taxpayer dollars, millions of lost jobs, and immeasurable misery are shocked — shocked I tell you! — that they could goof up on who would win the election? The dark side of the force runs deep in these jokers …


  1. fastlane says

    Unfortunately for the rest of us, these ‘jokers’ have the ability, and worse, the history, to do much damage to almost every american (except themselves and their fellow uber-rich) by totally fucking the economy.

    They are much more of a threat to us and our livelihood than ‘the poor’ or even your typical low level criminal. Yet only the latter get any real punishment in the US judicial (I won’t call it a justice) system.

  2. Didaktylos says

    The plutocratic version of the Golden Rule: “He who has the gold makes the rules.” (gender-specific pronoun used deliberately)

  3. naturalcynic says

    Hey, what they did was perfectly legal [in at least their own eyes]. The problem is how it got to be legal. A few thousand lobbyists saw to that.

  4. left0ver1under says

    Why be surprised? They’re the “people” who whine about the poor receiving welfare and entitlements, yet feel absolutely no compunction about receiving corporate welfare and entitlements for the rich.

    As the recent Business Insider study showed, the careers with the greatest number of psychopaths included CEOs and lawyers, among others.

  5. nathanaelnerode says

    The correct field to study these people, the super-greedy, is “abnormal psychology”.

    There’s some evidence that there’s more than the average number of clinical psychopaths amongst this group. With the current understanding of psychopathy, last I checked, being about an inability to have anticipatory fear, it does explain the pervasive short-term thinking; there is no long-term enlightened self-interest amopng these people.

    They are unlikely to all be psychopaths, but groupthink can explain a lot of the rest of them.

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