Saturday, December 21, 2013

Income inequality

Peggy Noonan loved Ronald Reagan. Loved him. If some unknown party were to dig up and steal Reagan's corpse, any detective's logical first move would be to check Peggy Noonan's bedroom.

That's why I'm a little surprised to learn that she has published a few words bemoaning income inequality. Or rather, she has published someone else's words on that topic, gleaned during air travel:
A billionaire of New York, in conversation: "I hate it when the market goes up. Every time I hear the stock market went up I know the guillotines are coming closer." This was interesting in part because the speaker has a lot of money in the market. But he meant it. He is self-made, broadly accomplished, a thinker on politics, and for a moment he was sharing the innards of his mind. His biggest concern is the great and growing distance between the economically successful and those who have not or cannot begin to climb. The division has become too extreme, too dramatic, and static. He fears it will eventually tear the country apart and give rise to policies that are bitter and punishing, not helpful and broadening.
Ooooh. Which New York billionaire? There are only 442 in this country, and not all of them live in NY -- and most of them use private jets. So the identification game should not be that difficult.

Warren Buffett, Michael Bloomberg and Si Newhouse Jr. all seem like fair suggestions. Soros? No. Noonan would not have preserved his incognito.

Whoever this billionaire was, he revealed the fears of his class. They all sense, deep down, that if they were to get their fair desserts, their fates would be determined by some future version of citoyen Robespierre. Even the Koch brothers must know that justice demands the striped back, the unlit cell, the jeering crowds, the forced march to the Place de la Concorde...

Incidentally, in the same column, Peggy bemoans the fact that air travel sometimes forces her to share cabin space with scary black people. A decade ago, that statement might have led to media outrage, but not now. We live in a time when nobody cares if you insult black people. But God help you if you injure the precious, onionskin-thin self-esteem of a farmer -- as a certain hirsute hillbilly recently learned.
Your farmer references are as obscure as ever.
I don't agree with you that there are different standards regarding ethnic insults that favor Euro-Americans.
But I do believe one should question why Noonan never elaborates in an empathetic manner on the immediate fears and plights of the working class regards job security and complete loss thereof, especially since 2008.
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