Having just endured an epithet laced derision of all things socialist from a well-to-do friend, Your Takethe5th editor could empathize first hand with Paul Krugman’s editorial about The Angry Rich. Yes, its true they are very angry – not just my friend but an echo experiences attending a Board of Trade meeting and other social events would appear to amply confirm the notion of increased distemper among the very wealthy. Yes, its true they are not very grateful for the rescue of their millions [or billions] from the ledge of a 2nd Great Depression. But hey, nobody is.
Yes, they have never been enamored of paying for the national defense, education of their own and all the skilled workers their enterprises need [besides they get it for free with H1B foreign temporary workers]. And as for Health Care and Social Security – they don’t need a Social Safety Net, only freeloaders do. Ohhh … and for unions and the Labor department, they have reserved Dante’s 6th Rung of Hell for these depraved ones.
This anger really is about blame and futures as much as the immediate sufferings the rich are enduring. First, about blame for the Financial Recession. True Wall Street is taking the brunt of blame, and it has only 40% of all corporate profits in US industry. And many other non-financial businesses have been hurt hard by extra expensive access to capital and sizable revenue downturns. So they have had to cost cut and out-source jobs at unprecedented rates. Hey, they can’t blame their bankers so they redirect their anger. Toward governments. It sounds a lot like this:
a)they got us into this mess by encouraging mortgage financing to the destitute;
b)their regulatory agencies were remiss on controlling the move to and unfolding financial crisis; and
c)governments are bloated , inefficient, and not nearly effective as business when“they just let markets work”.
But the blame game is really about futures as well.
First and foremost on futures, Europe and North America are rapidly losing their top tier positions economically and technically to the BRIC and other developing countries. In a Free Trade and Web Infused world, traditional Western dominance of business, trade, and even innovation are waning, and in some sectors very rapidly. BRIC determined the success and failure of Climate Change talks. BRIC have the fastest growing economies. BRIC is leading in green innovation and businesses. BRIC has hindered as much as it has helped in the War on Terror and the Campaign against Nuclear Proliferation. Hey the OECD and Davos elites don’t like to have to share power. And as for the prospect of losing economic pre-eminence to China and Latin America, this is almost as bad as having to pay taxes to governments that got us into this mess in the first place.
The second future that the very rich dislike intensely is loss of their political power. Most of the very rich are Bautocrats. They have paid very handsomely through their corporations and personal wealth for more than one-man-one-vote access to political influence. The Supreme Court in the US has unleashed unlimited Bautocratic funds for campaign finance and special interest lobbying. But except for the Bush Interlude, they have had to endure a lot of Democratic meddling in their best interests. Health Care Reform and Wall Street Financial Controls are the tip of the iceberg. And the ability of Obama to harness middle class and youth for a counter balance to their Bautocratic investments – that is downright dangerous. This sense of elite disenfranchisement is echoed profoundly in Australia, England , Italy, France … many of the same countries that are suffering the most from the Financial Recession and/or ceding economic, educational, and technical prowess to the emerging tigers.
So now the very rich are demanding more from their agents. Really, Paul Krugman is spot on:
You see, the rich are different from you and me: they have more influence. It’s partly a matter of campaign contributions, but it’s also a matter of social pressure, since politicians spend a lot of time hanging out with the wealthy. So when the rich face the prospect of paying an extra 3 or 4 percent of their income in taxes, politicians feel their pain — feel it much more acutely, it’s clear, than they feel the pain of families who are losing their jobs, their houses, and their hopes.
And when the tax fight is over, one way or another, you can be sure that the people currently defending the incomes of the elite will go back to demanding cuts in Social Security and aid to the unemployed. America must make hard choices, they’ll say; we all have to be willing to make sacrifices.
But when they say “we,” they mean “you.” Sacrifice is for the little people.
What? Did you think the very rich were a bunch of Undercover CEO heroes?