Friday, September 27, 2013

Plutocrats Feeling Persecuted

New Krugman:

So here’s what Mr. Benmosche did in an interview with The Wall Street Journal: He compared the uproar over bonuses to lynchings in the Deep South — the real kind, involving murder — and declared that the bonus backlash was “just as bad and just as wrong.”

You may find it incredible that anyone would, even for an instant, consider this comparison appropriate. But there have actually been a series of stories like this. In 2010, for example, there was a comparable outburst from Stephen Schwarzman, the chairman of the Blackstone Group, one of the world’s largest private-equity firms. Speaking about proposals to close the carried-interest loophole — which allows executives at firms like Blackstone to pay only 15 percent taxes on much of their income — Mr. Schwarzman declared, “It’s a war; it’s like when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939.” 


Well, I have a theory. When you have that much money, what is it you’re trying to buy by making even more? You already have the multiple big houses, the servants, the private jet. What you really want now is adulation; you want the world to bow before your success. And so the thought that people in the media, in Congress and even in the White House are saying critical things about people like you drives you wild.  

More here.

I have another theory, one that complements Krugman's theory of adulation quite nicely.  The very rich have always fully understood that if the rabble ever get their shit together, their goose is cooked.  Deep down these people live in terror.  They know it is wrong for them to have such vast wealth while others can't afford to see a doctor, or pay the rent, or eat.  They know there is a special place in Hell for them.  They are terrified that the people on whose backs they bolster their fortunes will one day send them to that special place in Hell.  I mean, after all, that's what they deserve, isn't it?  This is why there has always been a class war, why it's almost always been one-sided, their side: the very wealthy know they're outnumbered 1000 to 1.  They know their comfort and opulence is grossly unjust.  They live in fear of their eventual comeuppance.

It is no surprise that terrified people will make totally irrational statements, especially when they feel like their existence is on the line.  So simple criticism of the wealthy is tantamount to "lynching."  Makes sense to me.