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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Executive pay: Two different planets

I've been looking at some conservative sites and teabagger sites. (Don't you dare ask me to stop using that term.) One fact has become crystalline clear: These clowns inhabit an alternate Earth. For example, here's the Illinois Conservative Beacon, beamed to our world directly from Earth 2:
We can start by looking at his [Obama's] worldview. We know from his biography and life experiences that his worldview is socialistic. Throughout his life, his mentors and close associates have always been adherents of radical socialism.
Throughout his lifetime, he was trained and groomed to someday lead the socialist movement in America. With the help of that movement, he became the President of the United States.
Oooh! Conspiracy! Socialist conspiracy!

Apparently, the Socialist Party of the United States is incredibly powerful. Gosh. I did not know that.

Believe it or not, this teabagger goes on to make precisely that argument. The Socialist Party USA -- which non-insane observers consider a fringe group composed of about 2000 aging hippies who who enjoy sparking up doobies while trading blue-sky conjectures on how to bell the economic cat -- is, in the teabagger worldview, the Power Control Group which cajoled Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street firms into funding the Obama campaign. Thus, the Socialist Party platform may be seen as the revelation of Obama's ultimate goal.

(Old-timers like me may remember when Birchers insisted that the CPUSA was the single most powerful entity within American politics.)
The current tactics of the Democratic Party to demonize corporations and their high-paid executives and the attempt to cap executive pay and bonuses for segments of the economy receiving money from the government, in particularly the automotive and financial industries, may act as a model for future attempts to widen the effort to other parts of the economy.
That bit also comes from the Illinois Conservative Beacon, although the sentiment seems representative of much teabagger propaganda. Tip-toe through the fields of Google, and you'll see what I mean.

The tea partiers are infuriated by the idea of executive pay caps at the "too big too fail" banks. Just because those execs came begging (to W, as you'll recall) for massive bailouts -- just because they said they needed the cash NOW NOW NOW, lest the world's economic system implode and we all go back to living in caves -- doesn't mean that the gummint has a right to impose financial discipline on the crooks who lied and cheated and robbed us blind.

No no no. Any such discipline would be socialism.

Which brings us back to the great irony of our time: The tea partiers, who came to prominence protesting the bailouts (bailouts which they pretended were set up by Obama, not by Bush), are now the loudest voices calling for the continuation of Bush's policy of siphoning all of America's wealth into the offshore bank accounts of the Wall Street vampires. (See chart.)

According to our afore-quoted 'bagger, Obama wants "an annual minimum income of $31,200 for everyone and a maximum of $312,000 for CEOs and other high-earners." Hmm. Seems like a good idea to me. If Obama really wanted that, I'd have been working my ass off for him throughout 2008 instead of attacking him every day.

But is pay equalization Comrade O-bolshie's true goal? For the answer, let's visit Earth 1, by way of Paul Krugman. He quotes this Bloomberg story:
President Barack Obama said he doesn’t “begrudge” the $17 million bonus awarded to JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon or the $9 million issued to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. CEO Lloyd Blankfein, noting that some athletes take home more pay.

The president, speaking in an interview, said in response to a question that while $17 million is “an extraordinary amount of money” for Main Street, “there are some baseball players who are making more than that and don’t get to the World Series either, so I’m shocked by that as well.”

“I know both those guys; they are very savvy businessmen,” Obama said in the interview yesterday in the Oval Office with Bloomberg BusinessWeek, which will appear on newsstands Friday. “I, like most of the American people, don’t begrudge people success or wealth. That is part of the free- market system.”
To which Krugman responds:
Oh. My. God.

First of all, to my knowledge, irresponsible behavior by baseball players hasn’t brought the world economy to the brink of collapse and cost millions of innocent Americans their jobs and/or houses.

And more specifically, not only has the financial industry has been bailed out with taxpayer commitments; it continues to rely on a taxpayer backstop for its stability...

The point is that these bank executives are not free agents who are earning big bucks in fair competition; they run companies that are essentially wards of the state.
I agree with Krugman, of course.

When I compare the words of Earth 1 inhabitant Paul Krugman with the mad ramblings being transmitted by the media overlords of Earth 2, I'm left with eyes wide open, jaw agape, and three questions buzzing through my cranium:

1. How can we make any progress when our planet has been bifurcated in twain? Earth 1 can receive transmissions from Earth 2, but those Earth 2 folks can't get any broadcasts from Earth 1.

2. Is Barack Obama -- the businessman's friend, the Goldman Sachs golden boy -- really the only thing standing between us and an invasion from the brownshirted denizens of Earth 2?

3. How the hell do the tea partiers manage to maintain a hammerlock on the "populist" label? If those guys aren't elitists, who is?
The tea partiers are what used to be called "cop-haters."

They believe we must all join together in mutual hatred of government. Only then can we have a safe and harmonious society.
I agree he is about as far from socialist on economics as I can imagine-but socialist has another connotation.

You mention pot smoking hippies as being the classic socialist-I think that is the image the leaders of the tea party movement are trying to project on Obama.

They want people to see Obama as a cultural radical, Che Guevara lovin, strange guy with wierd radical friends who is different than you and me and can not be trusted.

I think Palin's role is to show the republicans are as ordinary as anyone you would meet in the supermarket.

Stupid Obama has been playing into this Rovian type strategy by dismissing and mocking Palin as a sort of stupid hick while having his media whores endlessly postion him as the next Einstein-proving to one and all that he is out of touch with mainstream America.

The added beneifit of the tea party strategy(you get that the name always elicits an image of kicked out msomething "foreign") is if he ever does anything vaugely humane the republicans will all scream-I told you so he's a socialist-so it encourages him to be more conservative than he would normally be.

The more I see of Palins behavior the more sure I am her whole persona is some kind of republican ploy. Writing on her hand? She did not know the totally predictable Obama crew would hop and and down and jeer and leer at that? Come on. She played them. Or someone advising her did and I think it may be Rove.

I agree with Krugman-with Obama-we are doomed.
please stop using that term, Joe. I like reading your posts too much, and when you use it - regardless of whether I agree or not with your despising the teapartiers - I can't read past it. It's just gross. And, it doesn't demean the tea partiers when you use it; it demeans you. It's like using the "c" word. Maybe some people deserve its use against them, but when someone uses it, I lose a piece of my respect for them more than for the object of their derision. And, I tune out anything else they say past the use of the word itself.

Plus - it seems so juvenile and unexamined. Why exactly use the word? What are you trying to accomplish other than turn off your readers (since teapartiers are most likely not reading you) or just saying "nyah nyah nyah - I will so use that term. Because I'm a naughty schoolboy and you can't make me stop."

I mean, honestly - is there a substantive point you are trying to make? Are you saying all teapartiers engage in that sexual fetish? If so, why should we care? If not, it's really unclear what point you are trying to make.

At least when Dan Savage coined the term "Santorum" to describe a particular fluid resulting from a particular sex act he married, exquisitely in my opinion, one particular public figure known for making specific disgusting homophobic comments with a particular act engaged in (although certainly not exclusively) by homosexual men. That was witty and delicious. Derivatively using some throw away term coined by Janeane Garofolo who ceased to be funny many years and many movies ago and who didn't put 2 seconds worth of thought into it - not so much.

Now another of your posts, one that's probably great that I can't read. Sigh.
Yeah, they hate the government--unless it is run by Republicans-- then it's so wonderful you can't even complain about it. So let's just call the tea-baggers what they are-- Republicans. They are populists only in the sense that we allow them to call themselves such. They are elitists and that should be pointed out at every opportunity. So, keep pointing, Mr.Cannon.
Joe, I think what's really got you worried is that the tea baggers own most of those 250 million guns in America.

And that when they get really mad, they go plumb crazy. You know, no rules, no quarter.

And the fact that there's a lot more of them than there is those east and west coast elitists who have had a great run living on the backs of those very same tea baggers.

Seems to me name-calling and mostly unfounded ridicule won't help a bit to defuse this mess.

Somehow, I keep thinking about the French revolution and how those elites living off the backs of the peasants never had a clue... Until they felt that big sharp blade coming down on their necks.

And Perry:

You may be more correct than you want to admit...

The cops always come down on the side of the privledged, the wealthy and the government. It's understandable why Mr. and Mrs. Teabag might not like them.

We have no need to hate the government, only the people in it who abuse their authority.

But we must never trust it.
I'm sure Caligula had his defenders and that there were common Romans who agreed that Nero could now live like a human since he had his 100 foot statue or whatever the heck that was.

These are people who honestly believe that they, or their children, are just one lucky break away from being fabulously wealthy (think Britney Spears here) and they don't want their income infringed when they finally meet their destiny. That's what all the "anyone can make it in the USA" rhetoric is all about. It's an incantation for them drawing their inevitable wealth nearer.

I've known some of these people. They really genuinely believe that they are of the same social class as these CEOs and that they're scratching the CEO's backs so the CEOs will scratch theirs later. It's very bizarre. They think that you and I see things differently, because we are of a fundamentally lower class. Krugman is one step removed from the trailer in this world view and someone to be looked down on.

Try pointing out to these yahoos that most wealth in the US is inherited and you will see an internet freak out of galactic proportions.

How are they populists? Because they're saying what the chattering classes want all of us to be saying. That's how they're populists. It's a dream come true, slaves arguing on behalf of slavery. What owner wouldn't use as proof that the common people are where they want to be?
"These are people who honestly believe that they, or their children, are just one lucky break away from being fabulously wealthy ... and they don't want their income infringed when they finally meet their destiny."

Bingo, Lori.

And, Joseph, I have to second what Marie said. It rather reminds me of Glenn Beck's calling "faggot" just a "naughty term" and of Rush Limbaugh's war on PC terms. Which is cool if that is your cause, too, and you're a-ok with bandying the term "faggot" around and using derogatory, sexist and racist terms such as Rush and Don Imus employs. I took a peek at your take on Imus and it seems strange that you championed his apology for using such terms. If your current stance is more than a passing mood, I would've thought your post would've read "Don't you DARE apologize for using those terms, Don!" ;)
Check with DC Comics. They're the experts on Bizarro World, where everything is backwards. Clearly, and again this has been presaged in the comics, there has been a merging of the dimensions or some cross-talk bleeding through.

There used to be a remedy for greedy bastards who lived lives of obscene luxury while the common man struggled. It was called "le Guillotine."

Is that too socialist fer ya?
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