A Nation Run Not By Shopkeepers, But By Con Men, Protection Rackets, and Swindlers
JESSE’S CAFÉ AMÉRICAIN
25 OCTOBER 2011
Income inequality such that it suppresses the middle class is a practical matter for what I hope are obvious reasons of inadequate demand and economic stagnation. As the US currently has one of the most extreme income distributions since the Great Depression it is a currently topic of renewed interest not seen in many years.
Mark Thoma has an interesting discussion of this here: Income Inequality Is Hobbling the Middle Class
But in addition to this more practical discussion, Matt Taibbi brings out a key point in his most recent essay on the financial crisis. It is not so much the inequality per se that is troubling people, but rather the concomitant gaming of the system, the blatant cheating, that is making people angry.
The perception is that the US has slipped from meritocracy to oligarchy, with the implications for long term growth and competitiveness of course. Oligarchies are quite often a study in stagnation and decline, plagued by idiot sons and frivilous dissipation of wealth and vitality. It is the deep capture and ravaging of the American dream by dishonest and dishonorable men.
But in what is nominally still a democratic republic, the rise of an oligarchy is a tearing of the social fabric with some serious long term consequences. And there will be a serious price to pay if dissent and efforts at reform are further suppressed.
“At last count, there were 245 millionaires in congress, including 66 in the Senate. And we hate the rich? Come on. Success is the national religion, and almost everyone is a believer. Americans love winners. But that’s just the problem. These guys on Wall Street are not winning – they’re cheating. And as much as we love the self-made success story, we hate the cheater that much more.”
OWS’s Beef: Wall Street Isn’t Winning – It’s Cheating – Matt Taibbi