The rich: “A class of people for whom humans are disposable commodities”

I want to give you a picture of our rulers, our betters. You may think of them as far-seeing modernists (Eric Schmidt, stand up please) or vaguely boorish (Mr. Trump? Mr. Adelson?). But even the lowest of your visions of them would, in the main, be generous.

Their depravity and psychopathology is worse than your worst imaginings.

The writer Chris Hedges was raised among the rich, though he was not one of them. In a piece that presses for popular resistance, “Let’s Get This Class War Started,” he starts with this observation and story. I think this is required reading.

A portrait of Our Betters. Hedges writes (my emphasis and some reparagraphing throughout):

“The rich are different from us,” F. Scott Fitzgerald is said to have remarked to Ernest Hemingway, to which Hemingway allegedly replied, “Yes, they have more money.”

The exchange, although it never actually took place, sums up a wisdom Fitzgerald had that eluded Hemingway.

The rich are different. The cocoon of wealth and privilege permits the rich to turn those around them into compliant workers, hangers-on, servants, flatterers and sycophants. Wealth breeds, as Fitzgerald illustrated in “The Great Gatsby” and his short story “The Rich Boy,” a class of people for whom human beings are disposable commodities.

Colleagues, associates, employees, kitchen staff, servants, gardeners, tutors, personal trainers, even friends and family, bend to the whims of the wealthy or disappear. Once oligarchs achieve unchecked economic and political power, as they have in the United States, the citizens too become disposable.

And now the story:

The public face of the oligarchic class bears little resemblance to the private face. I, like Fitzgerald, was thrown into the embrace of the upper crust when young.

I was shipped off as a scholarship student at the age of 10 to an exclusive New England boarding school. I had classmates whose fathers—fathers they rarely saw—arrived at the school in their limousines accompanied by personal photographers (and at times their mistresses), so the press could be fed images of rich and famous men playing the role of good fathers.

I spent time in the homes of the ultra-rich and powerful, watching my classmates, who were children, callously order around men and women who worked as their chauffeurs, cooks, nannies and servants. When the sons and daughters of the rich get into serious trouble there are always lawyers, publicists and political personages to protect them—George W. Bush’s life is a case study in the insidious affirmative action for the rich.

The rich have a snobbish disdain for the poor—despite well-publicized acts of philanthropy—and the middle class. These lower classes are viewed as uncouth parasites, annoyances that have to be endured, at times placated and always controlled in the quest to amass more power and money. My hatred of authority, along with my loathing for the pretensions, heartlessness and sense of entitlement of the rich, comes from living among the privileged. It was a deeply unpleasant experience. But it exposed me to their insatiable selfishness and hedonism. I learned, as a boy, who were my enemies.

Hedges sums up the consequences of our failure to imagine:

The inability to grasp the pathology of our oligarchic rulers is one of our gravest faults. We have been blinded to the depravity of our ruling elite by the relentless propaganda of public relations firms that work on behalf of corporations and the rich.

Compliant politicians, clueless entertainers and our vapid, corporate-funded popular culture, which holds up the rich as leaders to emulate and assures us that through diligence and hard work we can join them, keep us from seeing the truth.

“They were careless people, Tom and Daisy,” Fitzgerald wrote of the wealthy couple at the center of Gatsby’s life. “They smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.”

A look at the dark heart, the absolute core of the problem we face in America and indeed, the world.

I’ll comment at length on this later. But I want now just that you read this and absorb its images. Children bossing around adults with careless, thoughtless superiority. A world of Draco Malfoys, true children of the class that breeds them.

Image via DeviantArt

Image via DeviantArt

Or maybe you prefer this guy, Pete Peterson’s grandson, whom digby called “a living argument against aristocracy“:

P.C. Peterson: "A living argument against aristocracy"

P.C. Peterson: “A living argument against aristocracy”

digby adds:

I’m a little slow on the uptake, I guess, because I didn’t know that this little jerk is the grandson of Pete Peterson, scourge of the safety net. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a greater argument for an estate tax. A huge one.

digby also piles on here from her personal experience. Please do read.

Ladies and gentlemen, a portrait of Our Betters. Here until we make them leave.

GP

To follow or send links: @Gaius_Publius


Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States. Click here for more. Follow him on Twitter @Gaius_Publius and Facebook.

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  • FLeFlore

    Thanks for the clarification. You make excellent points.

  • lynchie

    Probably didn’t write clearly enough. I am not saying slavery should be restricted to blacks but so many white folks think that battle is ancient history but instead we have continued the oppression of blacks but now with the 1% owning 90% of the wealth and labor laws such that you can be fired for no reason we are all slaves to the banks, wall street and corporations. I would like to believe that this oppression will be turned against the wealthy but I really don’t see how that will happen. So many vote against their best interests. So many have let the unions just go by the wayside. So many are one pay check away from foreclosure. So many have had the will to stand up and demand fair wages, fair working conditions and a chance to provide a better life for their children. In addition i clearly said the slavery of today is not restricted to blacks that is hardly condoning or saying it should be.

  • FLeFlore

    I hope I’m not mis-reading your comment: Would you be OK with things if modern economic slavery were “restricted to the blacks?” I am black and I do not support slavery in any form.
    Perhaps the lesson for the white poor and middle class masses should be to give up the bargain made with the rich white elite to subjugate blacks through racist systems. The lesson should be that systems of oppression will eventually be turned against those who serve as enablers for the sociopathic among the human population who thrive on keeping others down.

  • cleos_mom

    In one episode, the undercover boss was supposedly appalled at how low the wages and how high the temperature in a warehouse was. His idea of correcting the situation was to buy fans and give the workers a 10-cent an hour raise: about $3 a week after deductions. Such a deal!

  • cleos_mom

    LOL, they’d better enjoy their cars, bling and Stupid Phones while they can. Nothing like distracting whole generations with trinkets and shiny beads; those are a better bait than the finest Red Wiggler ever hatched.

    Not long ago, in a discussion (not at this site) about America’s decline over the past three decades one of the younger participants protested indignantly that Reagan was “such a nice man”. Unless she was lying about her age, she was about 4 years old when he was elected.

  • cleos_mom

    Thanks for the link.

  • cleos_mom

    Most likely. There’s no shortage of people who think that duct tape can fix a dam that’s about to give way, and no reason to think the ultra-rich aren’t among them.

  • cleos_mom

    I saw this coming very clearly right after the 1980 election. There was no shortage of people who had a public forum and were speaking out, but cutesy sound bytes like “morning in America” trumped everything. Some of the same people who voted for Reagan twice have children and grandchildren who are paying the price for it and most likely they’d do it all over again even if they knew. At the time, many of them probably assumed that only other peoples’ children, who didn’t count, would lose out.

  • cleos_mom

    No matter the subject and/or venue of a discussion, the Obamaphobes just can’t help derailing it. It defines their world, bless their hearts.

  • Kim_Kaufman

    I’m coming to this late, just saw the link from NC and might even be a day late over there. Been working on other issues. I remember working for a rich lawyer – not as rich as his really rich clients – but rich enough to qualify, although we got along fine for a long time until I found his politics just too repulsive. I remember one day he complained it was an outrage that widows who had never worked a day in their lives (due to being housewives and caregivers to their children, presumably) were getting Social Security. Words failed me.

  • richardgrabman

    This has been entirely too much fun, though I have work to do to. One thought… would Gandhi (pre-televison era, of course) been nearly as successful had there not been the very real alternative of an Indian uprising that would have made the Sepoy Rebellion look like a picnic? And, one can’t discount the fact that the British had to speed up Indian independence under the gun of increasingly violent resistance (and genuine fears of Indians siding with the Germans and Japanese during WWII). That people were turned off by the violence associated with segregation somewhat proves what I’ve been saying… not that violence is NECESSARY to change, but change often comes through violence, OR that (if we’re half-way intelligent) we acquiesce to those changes that avoid violence. The trick is to head off the need for violence, and make the changes before it becomes an either/or situation. Enjoy your afternoon, too.

  • Badgerite

    You know what actually led to change in terms of Jim Crow in America. Television. Yes, television. What changed during the 1950’s with respect to the South’s time tested ways, which were seriously violent, of putting down any kind of civil rights movement was the advent of television. American’s didn’t just hear about or read about the violence inflicted on black people and those whites who allied with them, they saw it for themselves on television. They also saw for themselves the peaceful nature of the protests and the unwarranted violence of the response. What had been hidden for hundreds of years could no longer be kept hidden. And that lead to the end of Jim Crow. America had to take a good, hard look at itself. And what it saw was wholly at odds with how the country saw itself. At odds with its mythology and the mythology that the south had fed the rest of the country for decades. It shown a bright light on the repression and the repression of manifestly good people just trying to live as American’s are told they are supposed to and have a right to live.
    After that , the federal coercion of the National Guard to enforce the manifest of rights of blacks, was a given really. The country as a whole could not let that unjustified and violent crushing of the human spirit go on and still think of itself as the land of liberty and all that. And that is a very powerful mythology here. We strive, always, to make it a reality.
    Martin Luther KIng based the NAACP campaign on the lessons of Ghandi in fighting the British Empire. That there was something in people that if appealed to was stronger than the gun. And that movement won out in the end, at least in terms of its immediate goals. If the movement had taken up arms, they would just have been gunned down immediately and no one outside the South could have criticized the action and been listened to.
    Coercive power is all very well and good, but its results are unpredictable. The people who fought for the Russian Revolution were true believers. But none of them, including Stalin’s in-laws, could have envisioned the repression that came about under Stalin. Trotsky lost his family and eventually his life to that miscalculation. It isn’t that coercive power is never needed. In this country, we are kind of raised on the idea of ‘revolution’ through government. The ballot box, judicial decisions can change things in a way that eventually brings about acceptance as opposed to violence. Of course, we did have the Civil War. Have a good afternoon. Bye.

  • richardgrabman

    “It was the National Guard troops called out by Eisenhower and later by
    Kennedy who provided the threat of coercive force that made the south
    accept the end of Jim Crow laws”

    In other words, state violence (or the threat thereof) was needed to prevent what would have been unacceptable violence — in other words, the threat of a violent alternative led to change. While I much prefer (and any sane person does) non-violent change, those that oppose a change more often than not have to be “convinced” of the need for lack of an alternative… or rather, because they accept that NOT changing is a bigger threat than changing. On the U.S. Civil Rights Movement… going beyond just the end of legal “Jim Crow” laws, think of the social changes that happened once those with the power recognized that NOT tolerating minority persons could have violent consequences.

    Good for the U.S. that most changes for the better have avoided mass violence (though whether labor reforms, civil rights, etc. would have happened without the violence is something I can’t say), but not living in the U.S. nor writing U.S. history (I live and work in Mexico, and write on Mexican history), not every nation has that good fortune, and I do tend to view U.S. history within a more “international” context.

  • Badgerite

    That is not even close to accurate. It was the National Guard troops called out by Eisenhower and later by Kennedy who provided the threat of coercive force that made the south accept the end of Jim Crow laws. In short, it was the power of the EXISTING federal government that trumped the power of the states to enforce segregation. I would argue that actual segregation patterns still exist to some extent. They just don’t have the force of law behind them. You take away the force of law, of the federal government, segregation and worse would reappear. That is kind of what happened when the Soviet Union let go of Eastern Europe. They hadn’t created a ‘new man’ there. They had only suppressed the old bitter hatreds temporarily. In America, we are in the process of creating a new country every day. We have our first black president. And that is only the start. And this was accomplished through the gradual process of cultural evolution as expressed through the electoral process. Economic disparity in this country ( to say nothing of the world) is something that needs to be addressed. And it will be. Through the ballot box and the processes of peaceful protest and activism. . If the ballot box were so inconsequential in this country, than the moneyed interests would not be trying so hard to have their bought and paid for retainers suppress the vote.
    Integration started in the 1950’s. Urban rioting came much later. At the end of the era of great legislative triumphs. And accomplished what? It accomplished ceding the moral high ground to the likes of Richard Nixon and his southern strategy. Arguably the turmoil in the inner cities had more to do with Nixon’s election than Nixon did. Nixon appointees on the Supreme Court ( ever heard of the Powell Memo) put at end to attempts to use the law to strike down the economic barriers (specifically the San Antonio School District case that sought to make is unconstitutional for there to be disparity in school funding) but other cases as well. And the Southern Strategy has brought us the current Supreme Court that just gutted the enforcement mechanisms of the voting rights act.
    The leaders of the Black Panther movement were killed or imprisoned.
    The ones that fled abroad ( like Eldridge Cleaver who lived in Algeria, came back to America and became a preacher) ended up coming back and stating how much freer they felt in America.
    And the inner cities are still trying to recover. They have become havens of gang and drug activity and the people who have to live there suffer from it.
    Nothing was furthered by the burning and rioting in the inner cities except to discredit those in the political sphere who sought to break down barriers of segregation. Nothing. The temporary release of passions. Nothing more.

  • Badgerite

    You sort of do have that. It is called Act Blue.

  • Fireblazes

    No Nm participates. There is just nothing available. It is kind of like a game of 3 cups. Find the peanut. No wait there is no peanut. The website is so messed up and the support so confused it is hard to say whether this is a glitch or the reality. Support can barely navigate the messed up web design.

  • Fireblazes

    Sorry, I don’t believe in superstitious fantasies or god.

  • lynchie

    Could be that your state is like Pennsylvania and have decided not to participate and offer its citizens health care. If the state is not in the plan it is impossible to navigate to where they have something worthwhile

  • Indigo

    I wouldn’t call it “proof” but I would definitely say it’s a cautionary observation.

  • Bubbles

    Your reading comprehensive skills are lacking.

    It is said, that we need a mouse party on the left, to what the Tea Party is to the right. I suppose you could call them “subparties” or some such thing. Imagine if Mouse Party challengers ran against Corporate Friendly Democrats.

  • richardgrabman

    How much systemic violence would have been avoided had the South Africans rebelled against the Apartheid system earlier? For that matter, how much better would the Europeans be had the French Revolution spread to the “Holy Roman Empire”. As a historian, I don’t indulge in “what if” fantasies, and I do recognize we live in an imperfect world, but I also recognize that the “haves” never cede their power without either violence, or the genuine threat thereof. Not that it means the “have nots” are going to be the new “haves”, or that absolute equality is likely, but that if there is to change, the haves need to be forced into it. It’s like the U.S. civil rights movement… yes, by all means honor Martin Luther King for his non-violent struggle, but recognize that without the genuine threat of armed resistance and urban rioting, those that benefited from segregation weren’t about to peacefully integrate and accept a non-violent alternative.

  • Penny Dreadful

    What do they care? They have bred themselves to survive in deserts – Phoenix, Palm Springs, Dubai. They have no need of the outdoors. They will build a new environment to suit them.

  • Fireblazes

    There’s your proof.

  • Fireblazes

    I just spent 2 hours on the phone and healthcare.bs to learn there are no plans available in my exchange.

  • Corey

    I’ll tell u from my surroundings a once colorful area of Boston now one of the most sought after to reside in, just ask the mailman, myself and a few others who have been here at least a decade and we we tell u, the young yuppies, not all, but most, are rude, selfish and the last people I ever thought I’d see running to live in my neighborhood. I’ve even written about to the local paper and just today to one of the Reps of the area I am in.

  • Badgerite

    Yes and that is why,usually, when people are given the opportunity to pursue change through the political process, no matter how achingly slow, tedious, compromised or whatever it is, that is what they will opt for. Such was the case in South Africa. Nelson Mandela and the ANC decided on armed struggle only after all other peaceful political avenues were closed to them. When they were outlawed and banned from political activity is when they turned to armed rebellion. Not before. And what they faced was far worse than the system ‘not responding well’ or being compromised. Their system had to be totally closed to them before they would spill blood.

  • richardgrabman

    We’re a bit off topic, I know, but can’t speak for those living through the Napoleonic Wars…I imagine it wasn’t pleasant (what war is), considering my ancestors emigrated to the U.S. because of the various armies tearing up their farms.

  • Badgerite

    This is true. He did do all that. And it was better than what went before by the standard of how society functioned when it was all over. But would you want to be the one to have to live through the terrible societal dysfunction that resulted in the interim? Nader made a similar point in 2000. He said (paraphrasing) “maybe things have to get worse before they get better:”. Well, things got worse. We got 9/11, Katrina, the Wall Street melt down of 2008, Citizens United, the gutting of the voting Rights Act and a lot of stuff in between. And global warming was put on the back burner for a precious decade. Did I mention that our margin of error as a society in terms of survival is probably substantially less than that of France back in the 1800’s?

  • Badgerite

    Vote Mouse? By the time you get around to realizing that only about three people will vote mouse with you, there will be a Chief Justice Scalia running the Supreme Court. But —-no worries.

  • richardgrabman

    But at least the Emperor Napoleon dragged Europeans kicking and screaming into the 19th century, and opened the corridors of power to the bourgeoisie, and introduced the metric system, a rational legal code and decimal coinage throughout Europe and Latin America. It’s wasn’t liberty, equality and fraternity all round, but it was better than what went before.

  • http://www.americablog.com/ Naja pallida

    They also wrote an article when, in the show J.R. hired a public relations agent to improve his image, decrying it as “hurting the very profession of public relations”, and the Public Relations Society of America claimed that no one in the PR business would be ever be so unethical as to take on someone like J.R. Ewing, or his company, as a client in the real world.

    Seems to me that the disgustingly rich took shows like Dallas as a challenge.

  • Anonymous

    Not to mention public schools and other public buildings, where those employed are usually seen as slow and incompetent. Chris Christie has tried every option to shut down teachers’ unions. As if all teachers are lazy, to blame for bad grades, and deserve the brunt of an entirely subjective system (“merit pay”).

  • Bill_Perdue

    The rich are parasites of the sort found in sewers. The society formed in their image promotes social, political and above all economic parasitism and is a sewer of racism, misogyny. immigrant bashing and rabid Islamophobia.

    That will change and the changes will be as fundamental as those of 1775-83 and 1859-65. They’ll be revolutionary changes.

    Change will not occur as a result by futile attempts to ‘reform’ either the parties or the laws of a state owned by the rich. It will not occur because the rich see the light and try to evade discontent with concessions. It will not occur by applying political band aids and palliatives or by calling for ‘class’ peace after 35 year of determined class war by the rich and their political prostitutes in the Democrat and Republican parties.

    Change will occur after we abandon the twin parties of the rich, after we compel the AFL-CIO leadership to back a Labor Party to educate and organize working people (or start one on our own), after we build mass movements for fundamental social change and begin organizing in the workplace, ion the streets and in the barracks and after we create a workers state governed by workers parties.

    It’s long past time to get started on those tasks.

  • http://poodyheads.wordpress.com/ Daddy Bear

    But by doing that with politicians, the ten’r is from the voters, not from the guy being bought, so s/he thinks that’s a good deal…
    :-

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    ‘Greed is good ‘ is a new money meme—Trump or the Kochs. But they mimic old wealth, which sits silently, quietly away from the public eye engorging on self entitlement (ie. The Carlyle group). At base is the premise of quid pro quo: I give you a penny and you return a ten’r.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    I’ve always wondered about the ‘Princess’ syndrome in American culture and the fatuous adoration of the Windsor pinheads. Same goes for American Christians and their fixation with the ‘Lord,’ King of Kings. ‘Lord God Almighty’ and so on. No wonder the goloms have no idea of what consists democracy.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Obozo will always be famous in history as the first black (incompetent) president,

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    True and the galloping Duchess ain’t no Michele.

  • Butch1

    Slowly, this generation has gotten used to not having any real benefits associated with having their jobs. They work longer hours per day, lower wages, and have fewer days for vacations. They don’t realize it but they have digressed back to the times before where the unions won all those labor wins from the big businesses. Now they are getting used to working “slave-wages” again without any security. They do not know what it was like to have security in a job and they have been taught by the corporations to vilify the unions as something dirty and evil. Organizations that steal your money not unlike the “mob” does for protection money. The young actually begin to believe this crap. They don’t realize that the union speaks for them united as a voice against the big businesses where they cannot just fire you. Unions protect you. They are there to win you better pay and decent wages and benefits. Corporations are cold-hearted and do not give a fig about the common man. They used to have child labor for goodness sake and paid them even less because they were smaller. They need to be controlled and the only way is for the people to have a voice.

  • rudolf schnaubelt

    yes becca, our evil masters are afraid we will begin to resist. that is why they have built the surveillance state. these are not coincidences comrade.

  • lynchie

    He is not Romney but carries the same aloofness and disdain for rolling his sleeves up and completing the job. He or someone on his staff should have predicted how the unions would simply cancel insurance now that the ACA is law. There is no one on his staff who doesn’t have that same I’m so smart look at me attitude, at least I have never seen it. That is the point of the article. O quickly learned how to rub elbows with the wall street/banker types. Not that they rub back but as long as he is carry their carpet bags and he is a good little President they won’t chop him. Now with ACA and in his last term they have made clear they don’t want people having healthcare, that cuts a rung off their power ladder and they can’t have that.

  • lynchie

    Repubs have done a great job vilifying unions and the young have largely turned away from the union movement because they are so hated. We have all heard the story of the $75 an hour auto worker, or unions always represent the shitty worker. The young would rather have their money go for a new car, i phone, bling or whatever. This was a cleverly done campaign by the right (business) and I also blame unions who in a lot of cases are seen to be in management’s pocket. This decline started under Raygun with the air traffic controllers and the right turned the unions into something to envy and then hate. The loss of jobs overseas also cut union influence because we don’t want the middle class making a decent living or having a way to retire.

  • Anonymous

    Could you imagine if he was president? Obummer disappoints me, but he’s not R-money.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    At his center, Romney is a viscous, vacuous sociopath.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    “vaguely boorish (Mr. Trump? Mr. Adelson?).” I would go with swinish trolls.

  • Butch1

    It’s what bothers me about the younger generation when they want to get rid of unions or not want to join them them either. Previous generations, including mine fought hard to work for the right to band together to have a voice to stand up against the big bosses so they would not be able to do this type of behavior to the working man and get away with it. Unions made them comply with good working conditions, better working pay, hours, treatment, vacations, sick days, holidays, time off etc. Now, we seem to have forgotten all of that and have lost most of it again.

  • Anonymous

    He’s in good company, considering FL gov. Rick Scott’s company committed one of the most expensive cases of hospital fraud in the US. Of course, he was “not implicated.”

    http://freakoutnation.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Rick-Scott.jpg

  • Anonymous

    “Romney marveled at [Chris] Christie’s girth, his difficulties in making his way down the narrow aisle of the campaign bus,” the authors write. “Watching a video of Christie without his suit jacket on, Romney cackled to his aides, ‘Guys! Look at that!’”

    http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2013/11/mitt-romney-laughed-at-chris-christies-weight.html

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Brilliant story. I like it.

  • lynchie

    Don’t give up and don’t give in to the bullshit which you have to navigate.

  • lynchie

    Nothing but in a lot of situations the workers are required to blow management, put up with petty nicknames (like GW), take harassment just to keep getting their paychecks. I am convinced that the business community loves the current job situation. They can lower wages, trim staff, make 2 do the job of 4, and give next to nothing in increases because of their arrogance and feeling of superiority. They know the average employee has zero power. that is why business and their paid shills in congress don’t want health care. With some measure of heath care they can change jobs without going on Cobra or being forced to stay in a shitty situation because of a pre existing condition.

  • Bubbles

    I’ve said, quite a few times, that Franklin Roosevelt, was the greatest man of the last millennium. He was born into wealth and became a traitor to his class, and along the way help craft the solution to the international and economic crisis of the first half of the 20th century: a mixed economy, aka, the New Deal.

    A version of the New Deal (progressive economics) was implemented nearly everywhere American troops stood in 1945. The result was the global productivity doubled in less than 30 years after his death. The post war boom was history;s greatest golden age. In addition to advances in productivity we saw major advances in nearly every sphere of human activity, with the possible exception of painting (unless you like Jackson Pollock), culminating with a man landing on the moon and celebrated, I think future generations will be able to capture the mood of the times in the phenomina of the Beatles, which in a sense is itself captured in the movie “Hard Days Night” (I attribute this framing to something I read by Roger Ebert about that movie).

    This on top of ending the Depression and defeating Fascism. Roosevelt was not necessarily a herculean person. In some sense he’s a product of the the times and environment and the people that surrounded him. As Churchill wrote, it was an age of great contemporaries. Nevertheless billions of people have benefited beyond anything anyone in prior generations could imagine as a result of Roosevelt being Roosevelt. Born rich, perhaps humbled by polio, he was the Greatest man in the last millennium, and perhaps all millenniums.

  • Bubbles

    The father of Canadian universal medicare was a Baptist minister named Tommy Douglas who led the socialist party (NDP) to power in Saskatchewan. In his campaigns Douglas used the story of Mouseland.

    There once was a place called Mouseland.

    Mouseland was a “democracy”. Mouseland had a parliament and two parties: the Black Cats (BC) and the White Cats. The two parties would battle back and forth for the votes of the mice, making all sorts of promises about how good they could make life for the mice, or they talked of great and lofty ideologies, spinning stories of mouse justice and mouse liberty.

    But, when they got the votes of the mice, they would just eat the mice. The mice elected the White Cats, who promised cheese, but got eaten. And then they elected the reformist Black Cats who promptly kept on eating mice. The mice then tried a coalition of Black and White Cats. Same result.

    Then one proud, brave mouse stood up and suggested they elect a Mouse Party. “Socialist!!!” the Verry Serious Mice called her. But some mice thought it worth a try, and they put out some candidates. The Cats told the mice they didn’t understand free markets. But eventually the mice won, and the Cats stopped eating the mice.

    The U.S. needs a Mouse Party. The Democrats are a big business, conservative party which needs a subversive shock to its complacency. A Tea Party on the left.

    Vote mouse.

  • http://buddybest.tripod.com/index.html BuddyNovinski

    We’re in total agreement. I voted against to old fool in 1980 precisely because there was no way he could cut taxes, explode military spending, and still balanced the budge by 1983 (as he said in debate with Jimmy Carter 33 years ago on Monday — and I watched it again this time in color — on Monday). He also said it in debate with John Anderson — also on You Tube. He was right in that it would not be inflationary — he just began the borrow and spend syndrome. Then the Bushes kept up the welfare for the wealthy. Why don’t more people see it? My great aunt told me in 1980 that “there goes the country” if Reagan became president. I didn’t believe it. In fact, I agree with going back to the gold standard, for at that time Republicans were actually fiscally responsible. Reagan was the reason I went Democratic. I’ve voted for one Republican (his opponent was a prostrifer) in the last thirty years, and I vote twice a year.

    As our buddy John notes, Obama is a moderate Republican, like Gerald Ford. He appears to be unable to balance the budget in an economic crawl. Sometimes I wish we had Lyndon Johnson back and start over. This time we get Sirhan Sirhan out of the way (who’s still breathing). The emphasis from Great Society was to boost people into the middle class, which would bring more revenue to boost more. Then we imported only bananas, coffee, and tea, an autarky not in a global economy. In other words, we compete in highly skilled jobs, the opposite of Reaganomics, not in cheap labor..

    As I type these words, I am training to be a machine operator with thirteen other guys. I am trying to get a job that goes begging in this country. Of the guys, I am the only one with a college degree, let alone four, including an MBA. I am also the tallest and the oldest. It is my latest attempt to shake off the disease of Reaganomics. The last time I tried it, it failed miserably.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Nicho is a Muggle dear. They tend often to say silly things.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    I suspect most of them figure they’ll just build giant climate-controlled domes over their increasingly gated communities.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Neither has the rest of America.

  • Butch1

    That really bothers me. The arrogance of that man. Let him buy his own son the damn tickets. What does his son have to do with your son’s job? Wow . . .

  • Butch1

    And they say it in front of the “servants” without thinking because they do not exist to them. It was the only way we had an open window into their world to listen in and peek to see what they were saying to each other in private.

  • http://buddybest.tripod.com/index.html BuddyNovinski

    I realized it around the beginning of 1986 when I was still a hostage of Reaganomics. I’ve never recovered from the disease!

  • therling

    I agree with one of the comments about the wealthy not knowing how to do simple things.

    I used to live in the Hudson River Valley, where a lot of well-to-do people have their weekend homes. One such person, a neighbor of mine, asked me if he ought to keep the heat on in his cottage during the winter. I said, yes, if you want to keep the pipes from freezing and bursting. Well, he failed to contract with a heating oil company, the oil ran out, the furnace shut down, the pipes froze and burst, and his crawlspace had three feet of water in it. That also meant that our shared well kept running and running. It was suggested to him that he offer some form of compensation to the extra wear on the well pump, but we never saw a penny.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    I nearly wanted to, and it was just the commercial.

  • mirror

    In trying to understand the apparent indifference of the international moneyed elite to climate change I have wondered why concern for family and one’s own children wouldn’t motivate some of these people to want to change the way they do things. The observation of Hedges and a commenter quoted in Digby, that these sociopaths don’t end the end care all that much about family either, is a bit of an ahah moment for me.

  • emjayay

    He also went camping with John Muir. And wrote books. And was the anti-trust guy. Those Roosevelts were interesting rich guys.

  • http://www.americablog.com/ Naja pallida

    Oy vey. I’m gonna have to avoid watching that one or I might end up throwing stuff at my TV.

  • emjayay

    Thanks. Verrrry interesting.

  • emjayay

    I was thinking of that incident as an example of that mindset as well. Although bullying and ganging up to enforce conformity isn’t an exclusively Richie Rich thing.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    And still another one I saw a commercial for recently about ‘Secret Princes’– actual royalty from various European countries (I guess) who together get a cheap apartment, pretend to be poor, and date unsuspecting women who later learn they’ve been with some shallow dude with more money than is decent.

    Plays right into the old sexist “women need rescuing by a rich man” meme.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Why do you keep thinking of Mitt Romney? Because he epitomizes the uber-rich mindset.

    Just consider that infamous “47%” video. It clearly never occurred to him that the ‘hired help’ would listen to his paean to entitlement and wealth, or that their objections even if they did would matter in the least.

    As for the houses, yes, as Lynchie says, they’re tax deductions. But the other thing is the rich tell themselves “these are investment properties” — when actually they’re just another expression of “I want, I can have, therefore I should and am entitled to it.”

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Yeah, I can’t tell you how many comments I edited thinking I failed to do the embed, when what it takes is a refresh.

    Same thing when embedding graphics using that little widget in the lower left corner. Doesn’t show full-size until a page refresh.

  • Badgerite

    There is a reason the GOP has rejected Theodore Roosevelt of late. Once he got into power he turned on the more rapacious of the corporatists that help put him there. I think the GOP and the others need to take a page from his playbook. I’m not holding my breath. They are killing the country by killing the middle class.

  • Badgerite

    Well, I suspect the stuff in the square with the guillotine had something to do with that. And that eventually it was not just aristocrats who ended up there. And that there was an episode where Napoleon (early champion of the Revolution) turned into Emperor Napoleon. No one would much want to live through that. But no one would want to live through the reign of a Louis xvi and Marie Antoinette either.

  • lynchie

    the houses are a tax deduction

  • Badgerite

    Oh, thank you. And invariably the boss cannot even manage to do what his hired help does so well. They usually suck so bad it is ridiculous and then marvel at how hard their employees work. Well, Duh!

  • Badgerite

    I know. Who else but someone raised in that style would think they had a right to chase down another kid because he didn’t approve of his haircut?

  • emjayay

    As hard as he tried to backtrack later, he was indeed serious. He fits right in with what Hedges is describing.

  • emjayay

    Why do I keep thinking of Mitt Romney?

    Which reminds me, what is the point of having a whole bunch of big houses that aren’t even at ski areas or something? Even for free, which for people like him everything essentially is, isn’t just a lot of confusing trouble? We should have elected Warren Buffett for president just based on the house issue.

    I’m also thinking, what would a conversation between Chris Hedges and Gore Vidal be like?

  • Badgerite

    I always thought Romney was dead serious when he made his “47 percent” comments to a room full of such people. When they talk to each other, they feel free to say what they really think. If you can call that thinking.

  • lynchie

    Read this account of Leona Helmsley leaving her dog $12 million and the comments of some of her staff.

    http://www.nydailynews.com/news/housekeeper-slams-leona-helmsley-dog-12m-article-1.241200

  • lynchie

    I forgot about that show. Yeah it is all a hand job to the rich CEO who got “in touch” with the real workers. A couple of days trying to do this undercover job (like you don’t notice the fucking cameras following this dipshit around). Then we have the heart warming ending when CEO dude calls a couple of workers into head office and spends a few grand on them, cut to CEO with tears in his eyes and we all fell company X really gets it now and cares. The company I work at has a Friday a month call Food Day all the staff bring a dish in and everyone shares the top brass prepare nothing but sure show up to fill their plates, head back to their private offices and feel they really rubbed shoulders with the staff.

  • http://www.americablog.com/ Naja pallida

    You take that back! *cries in the corner*

  • nicho

    He also had magical powers. IOW — he is a fictional character.

  • lynchie

    As they worked themselves up in the company they never fraternized with the rest of the people. The ordinary worker knows he is connected and simply don’t trust that anything they say won’t be repeated to the boss and used against them. Many times the kids are useless and the staff ending up doing their job as well as their own but the kids “worked” their way up.

  • nicho

    Some of the worst are those who have forgotten their roots.

  • http://www.americablog.com/ Naja pallida

    It’s actually quite stunning how even some of the ones who worked their way up through a company, and once worked those bottom of the barrel jobs, have become so disconnected from the realities of their own business after they became management.

  • http://www.americablog.com/ Naja pallida

    There’s another one called Secret Millionaire that is basically along the same line. Rich people pretend to be poor and volunteer for causes of their choosing, and hear the stories of how shitty life can be if you don’t have any money… and then at the end of the show they give away a bunch of money. Every episode it’s exactly the same, they had no idea that there were people in such dire need, and they have a nice cathartic cry as they help that handful of people that they happened to come across during filming, and then they go back to their life in their mansion on the hill.

  • ronbo

    Everyone’s favorite millionaire is Judge Judy. She regularly demeans those earning less that $1200 a month as “food-stamp leeches” whom she berates daily using Bert as her every-man fool. She barely tolerates the working poor who rely on government assistance and she doesn’t understand that, as one man recently said, “I take food-stamps because I need to eat…every day.”

    The wealthy have deadened their conscious to reality. Other than than their cooks, maids and butlers, they have no idea or concern for others – unless it impacts them. They think themselves “special” so all others are but, chaff to be thrown to the wind.

    I don’t look forward to class war. But, It’s time for issues to be addressed.

  • Ford Prefect

    Ah, and so it is. Thanks! I forget to reload the page, although I did that with the embed code.

  • Indigo

    The times, they are a-changing . . . for the worse.

  • maria

    Speaking about “Greed Is Good,” what about Marc Leder, the super-rich gent who sponsored the Boca Raton fundraiser where Mitt delivered his 47% speech. Leder is part owner of The Scooter Store, now being investigated by the Justice Department and the IRS for ripping off Medicare. They advertised motorized scooters to the elderly and promised to do all the Medicare paperwork, and would provide the scooter for free if Medicare rejected the claim. Under the ACA, rules for getting motorized scooters tightened, and early investigations found many scooters going to people who had no medical reason to have one other than laziness or wanting to get something for free. The ACA requires that the recommending physician be the doctor of record of the patient for over a year and many of the forms submitted by The Scooter Store were doctors other than the one patronized by the applicant. And then there was a form where the doctor’s name was “Bart Simpson.” The Scooter Store’s records were seized in February by the IRS. So it appears one of the real “takers” was Leder.

  • pappyvet

    Another shooting. this time a LAX. And on and on and on.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    If you just include the YouTube link alone, it’ll automagically embed. No need for the iframe stuff.

  • maria

    Those of inherited wealth come off especially clueless on “Undercover Boss.” The heir that took over Hooters was shocked, SHOCKED! to discover women dislike his sex and mediocre bar food eatery. To which viewers across the country responded, “Well, DAH!” And he later set up a measly scholarship for his sub-minimum-wage ladies.

  • Ford Prefect

    Mentioning Dallas made me think of this piece by the Guardian’s media critic, Charlie Booker. He briefly had a show on the Beeb and ran pieces like this one on Aspirational TV. Embeds don’t work, so this is a link:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=59OJ17raqWw&feature=related

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    All you have to do is watch an episode of “Undercover Boss.” It’s the most revolting show on television. Every week CEO actually meets the people who work for him for slave wages and is shocked to find out how badly their lives suck because they get paid so little, have no benefits, etc. He does something that makes him feel good about helping ONE person which is good for that one of thousands of equally hard-working decent people in the same or worse situations.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    I’ll admit to watching Dallas for a season or two, but then I got tired of watching rich, appalling people doing appalling things to everyone around them.

    Larry Hagman (rest his soul) was a treasure though, and I think in his portrayal of J.R. Ewing tried to go out of his way to let everybody know, “Hey — my character is an evil rich bastard. Are you paying attention?”

  • lynchie

    My son worked for a privately held company and the vp of sales was the boss’ son. My son worked in IT and his boss came around with a note form the owner asking all staff to contribute to a birthday present for his son. He wanted to take him to the Master’s tournament and thought a fitting tribute would be to have the staff pay for it. There had been no raises for 3 years. I asked my son what he was going to do and he said…”well i don’t have any choice do I”. He coughed up $20 and found a new job and quit. This is the arrogance of the ruling class. This same arrogance is exhibited by our Congress, State pols, local mayors and council they all believe they are superior. Slavery hasn’t disappeared in America, it is not restricted to the blacks, we are all working at the whim of the 1% and they consider any largess on their part to be a sign of weakness. I hope in my lifetime to see the smirk (remember GW) wiped off their faces, remember Barbara B to the refugees in Dallas stadium “i can see it working out great for you”, or GW’s comments at a fund raiser “I am happy to be here among the have’s and the have mores”.

  • pappyvet

    It took them a while to instill the “Greed is Good” mantra and they are not finished yet.
    Make everyone panic,make everyone grasp but control the game so that the few always win.
    Then just shrug shoulders and say oh well that’s just the way it works.
    Bullshit, that’s the way it’s been DESIGNED to work.

  • Chef Kowalski

    Does anyone remember how the Wall Street Journal editorial page whined about how rich oil men — especially J.R. Ewing — were depicted in the TV series “Dallas.” They called it corporate porn. I wish I saved J.R. portrayer Larry Hagman’s laughing reply to WSJ, who noted that the portrayal was closer to the truth than the newspaper’s whine (after all, he grew up in Texas amid real oil men), and that nobody would watch the series if the Ewing clan were portrayed otherwise because the public wouldn’t believe it.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    I remember years ago seeing “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” with Robin Leach and thinking, “My god, what is this plutocratic propaganda BS?”

    Which then got me to thinking: Why have the history books increasingly been painting the French Revolution as a terrible event? When I grew up, there was at least an acknowledgement that the demands of the French poor had legitimacy. Now it’s as if that’s the worst possible outcome of any situation and any chance of such happening again must be put down at all costs.

    Then I remember, “Oh yeah — governments now, especially our own, consider their own citizens to be enemies.”

    I think perhaps they are terrified we’ll wake up and realize we don’t have to let them keep all the wealth they say is theirs, but which was in fact stolen from humanity itself.

  • Chef Kowalski

    The wealthy are like Leona Helmsley in that they believe that only the little people should pay taxes. Over the years they’ve had their paid politicians cut them tax breaks so that they pay no taxes or at least a far lower rate than working stiffs. They pass their property taxes onto middle class homeowners by threatening to move their businesses out of state and taking the jobs with them and then cutting a deal with the state to excuse their taxes for 25 years. Sears hasn’t paid a dime in property taxes to Illinois since 1969 under three agreements. We are subsidizing them and then they brand us as “takers.” The nerve!

  • pappyvet

    A CHRISTMAS TALE

    SANTA DOESN”T LIVE HERE ANYMORE !PRIVATE PROPERTY NO TRESPASSING. reads the sign the oil company planted just outside Santa’s house. Eminent Domain and the cunning use of military psychological warfare tactics having been used to “legally” obtain the property. Black smoke billowed from the bull dozer stacks as they slowly advanced toward the candy cane gates.

    The elves have returned to their mystic homelands vowing never to return to the world of men. Not a few of them limping due to being kicked by steel toed boots. The shouts of “dirty commie,” and “socialist dwarf,” still stinging their ears. We will not see their kind again.

    The miniature reindeer are gone as well. Being taken by “manly” hunters with their high powered rifles.

    A miniature reindeer is a rare trophy you see. Dasher was the last to go. I still remember that photo of the hunter with his chest puffed out as he stood next to Dasher who was strung up and dangling from a nearby tree. One bullet.A good clean shot. Cold mercy I suppose.

    Mrs. Claus now lives in a shelter and sobs daily with the memories of the fine treats she used to make. Now she’s just another “loser.”

    And as for Santa.Well you can find him downtown pushing a shopping cart and staring straight ahead. His once jolly frame reduced to bones and that bright red suit has become soiled in the breeches and hangs on him like a shroud. From time to time he whispers “Merry Christmas,” but nobody hears.

    You see , greed has finally won. And they do not need Santa. Oh his image is used without permission of course but the jolly old elf and his services are no longer required. When governments themselves can be bought what is needed with an old fat man and his wares.

    The Malefactors Of Great Wealth do not need this person who spends far too much time with assorted fairies and unchristian beings of questionable origins.
    And the poor? Well its quite logical . The poor have no chimneys.

  • Monoceros Forth

    Harry Potter is a pretty crappy example to be sure and I never would have used it myself. It’s pure wish-fulfillment fantasy rubbish anyway: kid who’s used to getting abused by a noxious surrogate family finds out that he’s sooper speshul and rich and the hero of millions all in a day or two, and he later finds out that he can break just about every rule in the book but a kindly and powerful mentor will make excuses for him. Garbage, but it’s popular garbage.

  • lynchie

    True but when you are pounded from all directions that you must adore the rich and famous it is a hard road to ignore the fact that wealth has benefits we don’t have. We get a constant supply of Kardashians and all their flavors, the reality shows which are all scripted yet we would all like to have our own. We see the music and movie industry given huge sums of money and their constant award shows. See these supossed stars bring their whelps in to be worshiped as if their turds are trophys and lack the stench of nepotism .We must watch our athletes compete for the bottom with DUI’s, wife beating, murdering, gun running, assault and battery and then walk out with a slap on the wrist. We see Trump declare bankruptcy (4 times) and are told he could be president and someone to emulate. Watch the video.

    http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/donald-trump-filed-bankruptcy-times/story?id=13419250

    So while I agree with this article and your post it is hard to break out of the pack of the adoring and revolt. we all depend on a job and the little money they let fall from the table, and they know it. I see little changing, they will continue to elevate their status at the expense of the poor and elderly, the minorities and women and never be hindered with even a hint of shame. This is one major reason I don’t believe in god or christianity as anything but another bullshit story created to keep the rubes in line.

  • Whitewitch

    Oh my…how sad. Evidence that they spent too little time and lavished not enough real affection (you know hugging, reading stories, crawling about on the floor and getting dirty with them) on their wee laddies and lassies.

  • Whitewitch

    The wealthy should actually be pitied I think – you see they are actually afraid of us. Yes…even Benjamin Franklin was know to say that the vote must be protected from the “lower classes” because we are just silly and ignorant and don’t have the capacity to see what is really needed…hence the reason that originally only landowners could vote (I paraphrase Mr. Franklin). I have worked with many very wealthy men and sadly although they are quite wealthy they were just as unhappy as I was…albeit my sorrow was based on hunger or worry about bills, while theirs was based in well need – need to have everything women, cars, food, travel….they were generally unhappy. I would love to win the lottery – don’t get me wrong – and I play with the hope of winning – however when I win (note WHEN, not if) I am spreading the money among as many of my children, friends and associates as possible. I intend to get a small home for my companion and I, pay off the car (no not get a new car) and all my debts (well they are not much – but it would be nice not to have them) and then give away the majority of the rest! Because JOY comes from sharing and caring – not hording and living in fear of what someone wants from you. (Sorry for the long post).

  • Monoceros Forth

    I just have to add: why did they pose little Petey Peterson up there with a chessboard in the background? I wonder if he even knows which way the horsie moves.

  • cole3244

    i was born dirt poor and have never been around big money but just from seeing donald trump lets me know that wealth is not a reason to respect the rich.

    although there certainly are people of conscience in the wealthy class its just they are few and far between.

  • http://blogdredd.blogspot.com/ Dredd Blog

    In another place Hedges says we need those in the bureaucracy to revolt along with us.

  • gratuitous

    Step one: Quit listening to these leeches, as if they have something positive to offer our society. Let’s just resolve to do that in the coming months, and we’ll get working on other things later.

  • cloudedimage

    But he never knew it, and was raised in abusive circumstances with hand me down clothes and confined to a closet. Therefore, when he found out he had money, he shared, and was otherwise unaffected. lol!

  • guest1

    Harry potter had a lot of money too! lol

  • Monoceros Forth

    I remember chatting about this sort of thing many years ago with a college pal of mine who had a semi-serious idea that having over a certain amount of money encourages people to go mad. His idea, which is not far different from Hedges’s, was that once you get rich enough you can basically pay other people to deal with your personal problems, problems that would be a serious hindrance to anyone in ordinary life. With enough money you can surround yourself only with people who will endure (say) your runaway drinking habit or your obnoxious racism or your dubious sexual appetites, whereas ordinary people would soon find themselves out of work and bereft of friends.

  • therling

    A New York Times Styles section article that made me nauseous was about how the children of the wealthy were whining about how their parents ought to hurry up and die already so they can get their inheritance.

  • A_nonymoose

    It’s a pet theory of mine that the recent upsurge of “Zombie” movies is actually an unconscious reflection of our culture. The poor are the zombies, and the rich 1% are the brave souls fighting them off.

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    Hedges had better and far different access to the rich than I did. I only worked for them in their offices. But everything I read here is consistent with what I saw. It wasn’t so much that it was terrible (it was often rather pleasant to be able to get IT to fix problems immediately, have phone calls and emails returned quickly and other things that aren’t common in big corporations until you are working for the CEO) as it was surreal. These people live in a different reality. Many of the things I saw were more funny than hilarious (so long as you have a thick skin). The executive stopping by the admin assistants’ cubicles to talk about what he or she did that weekend and then walking away without the least bit of interest in anyone else’s lives was a common occurrence. I know some of my colleagues were offended but it was moments like that when I realized what kind of people I was dealing with and not to expect anything from them. Most of them are sociopaths. Not all, certainly, and I would like to make that point, but I found that the majority were not concerned about anyone’s wants or needs other than their own, including their own family.

  • Indigo

    Um . . . yes, perhaps, in Indonesia and Bangladesh and rural Belize where they can find labor at fire sale prices. Fires included.

  • lynchie

    But they are the job creators

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