You know, I had assumed the crème de la crème of the 1% were not malicious. I really thought their entitlement was based on the fact they were deluded and clueless and ignorant and selfish. I assumed their Mammon worship was more about “getting theirs” than “taking yours”. I honestly didn’t think they sat around an guffawed at us peons struggling to make end’s meet. I thought, “Sure, there may be some outliers but I am sure most of them are human beings who don’t KNOW they are evil”. Right? I mean, even the Nazi’s had convinced themselves that they were the “good” guys. The patriarchy is a hegemony; it’s not some rancorous entity.
I was really fokking wrong.
The elite of the Wall St. 1%, a group of (go figure) white men in a fraternity called Kappa Beta Phi, are a bunch of malignant asshats who openly mock the Americans they are destroying, and anyone else who doesn’t get to be a straight rich white guy. A reporter named Kevin Roose, who was doing real actual journalism like a we had once upon a time, snuck into the annual Kappa Beta Phi dinner and what he saw (and filmed) made my stomach turn. Here are some of the worst excesses:
“After cocktail hour, the new inductees – all of whom were required to dress in leotards and gold-sequined skirts, with costume wigs – began their variety-show acts. Among the night’s lowlights: Paul Queally, a private-equity executive with Welsh, Carson, Anderson, & Stowe, told off-color jokes to Ted Virtue, another private-equity bigwig with MidOcean Partners. The jokes ranged from unfunny and sexist (Q: “What’s the biggest difference between Hillary Clinton and a catfish?” A: “One has whiskers and stinks, and the other is a fish”) to unfunny and homophobic (Q: “What’s the biggest difference between Barney Frank and a Fenway Frank?” A: “Barney Frank comes in different-size buns”) … Warren Stephens, an investment banking CEO, took the stage in a Confederate flag hat and sang a song about the financial crisis, set to the tune of “Dixie.” (“In Wall Street land we’ll take our stand, said Morgan and Goldman. But first we better get some loans, so quick, get to the Fed, man.”) … A few more acts followed, during which the veteran Kappas continued to gorge themselves on racks of lamb, throw petits fours at the stage, and laugh uproariously … Here, after all, was a group that included many of the executives whose firms had collectively wrecked the global economy in 2008 and 2009. And they were laughing off the entire disaster in private, as if it were a long-forgotten lark. (Or worse, sing about it — one of the last skits of the night was a self-congratulatory parody of ABBA’s “Dancing Queen,” called “Bailout King.”) These were activities that amounted to a gigantic middle finger to Main Street and that, if made public, could end careers and damage very public reputations … The first and most obvious conclusion was that the upper ranks of finance are composed of people who have completely divorced themselves from reality. No self-aware and socially conscious Wall Street executive would have agreed to be part of a group whose tacit mission is to make light of the financial sector’s foibles. Not when those foibles had resulted in real harm to millions of people in the form of foreclosures, wrecked 401(k)s, and a devastating unemployment crisis."
Those guys who are donating so heavily to both political parties and writing our laws? They do not give a rat’s ass about us. They KNOW we are all up against the wall and they think it is funny; like French aristocrats amusing themselves by throwing pennies under carriage wheels to see if the hungry kids scrabbling for the money get trampled or not. Of course, the French aristocrats went to the guillotine, which I don’t want at all. Not even for these monsters. For one thing, I think taxing their asses would hurt them more than death would. For another, innocent schlubs working for them would get the chop too. Revelations that strong always get out of hand.
Instead, we need to revolt the way we did in 1904, when we re-elected Teddy Roosevelt in a massive landslide. Why? Because he moved the “GOP toward Progressivism, including trust busting and increased regulation of businesses … Roosevelt called his domestic policies a "Square Deal", promising a fair deal to the average citizen while breaking up monopolistic corporations, holding down railroad rates, and guaranteeing pure food and drugs. He was the first president to speak out on conservation, and he greatly expanded the system of national parks and national forests. By 1907 he propounded more radical reforms, which were blocked by the conservative Republicans in Congress.” In short, Roosevelt saved America from falling to Communism because he saved Capitalism from itself. Capitalism is only benevolent when there is a strong government’s hand on the reigns and taxation to even the playing field.
We need another Square Deal, and we need another Teddy Roosevelt to fight for us. I’ll take a person from either party. Seriously. ANYONE who would reenact Teddy’s administration would get my vote.
Kevin Roose has written a book about his fun times examining the cesspit known as Wall St entitled Young Money. I hope I am not the only one who buys it and decides to fight the good fight against Mammon.
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