What's So Awful About the 99%?
A couple of days ago, Bradley Schiller, "a professor of economics at the University of Nevada-Reno", wrote an op-ed piece for the LA Times that has to be read to be believed. The title, "What's So Awful About the 1%?" pretty much tells you everything you need to know about the eventual intent of the article. It begins on pretty firm ground by reiterating concerns with which virtually everyone in the 99% can agree:
In the rhetoric of this war, we are fighting the 1% because they possess most of the nation's wealth, bankroll their handpicked political candidates, control the banks and get million-dollar paychecks and billion-dollar bailouts; yet they don't pay enough taxes or invest their wealth in creating American jobs. They're the "millionaires and billionaires" President Obama has called out as needing to pony up more for progressive reforms of our healthcare, banking, tax and political systems. They are the enemy of "us" — the 99% who toil at low-wage jobs, hold underwater mortgages, face foreclosures, suffer recurrent and protracted job layoffs and plant closings, and yet pay our fair share of taxes.
But, apparently, that was set up as a fake straw man argument that the Schiller for Wall Street then imagines he effortlessly deconstructs by continuing,
But there's a flaw in this strategy. The Occupy Wall Street movement envisions the 1% as a monolithic cadre of entrenched billionaires who have a firm and self-serving grip on all the levers of the economy. But a closer look at that elite group reveals how untrue that perspective is.
He then lists Forbes 400 people such as the co-founder of Apple, Steve Jobs, by saying, "The late Steve Jobs was in that elite club this year. In his earlier days, Jobs would have been camped out with the OWS crowd, probably passing around a joint."
Uh huh. So Jobs, the avaricious version of Skeletor, a guy who in 1974 fucked his own partner out of money and had no problem whatsoever installing tracking software into his iPhones that outright fractured the 4th amendment and outsourced thousands of US jobs overseas to Chinese sweatshops in which suicides are rampant, didn't belong in the "bad" 1% and, instead, ought to continue being exempted in our ongoing collective hagiography by being kindly reinserted in the "good" 1% (I guess that would be overseas job creators who are more interested in making another several billion dollars that can't possibly be spent in one's lifetime.).
#OWS also smokes pot like Jobs would've if he'd been, like, young and alive again and still, you know, smoking pot and had been at Occupy Wall Street. Just ignore the countless hypotheticals this scenario requires and squint harder, Goddamnit!
Schiller also lists for conscientious omission Facebook founder Mark "Zuckerman", another thief by whom Steve Jobs would've been proud to be boned up his bony ass, someone who not only has made his tens of billions by similarly violating the privacy of his website's followers by selling their private information to Wall Street companies but even earlier this year crawled into bed with Goldman Sachs. He did that 500,000,000 times so it could continue to avoid scrutiny by federal auditors. Yes, that Goldman Sachs, one of the biggest targets of Occupy Wall Street. (Sidebar: Not only did Zuckerberg fuck over his best friend just as Steve Jobs did in the 70's, even the name "facebook" isn't original, as Harvard alumni will attest.)
Predictably, Schiller the shill then dives more deeply into his rabbit hole and comes up with the names of the founders of Google, whose own phone, the Android, has also been charged with violating privacy. Sergey Brin, Larry Page and Eric Schmidt were, until recently, complicit with the Red Chinese in their vicious, ongoing censorship of over a billion people, has a mysterious, top secret data storage facility in Oregon and recently agreed to spend $200,000,000 building three more data storage facilities in the Far East.
Considering Google's generous cooperation with the Red Chinese and American governments (94% of the time, in fact), there's really nothing to worry about, is there? Throw in sundry and assorted other charges such as "possible misuse and manipulation of search results, its use of others' intellectual property, concerns that its compilation of data may violate people's privacy, possible censorship of search results and content, and the energy consumption of its servers as well as concerns over traditional business issues such as antitrust, monopoly, and restraint of trade," and we're supposed to believe that Google is staying true to its promise to "not be evil?"
Schiller goes on to say,
Not every member of the Forbes 400 is a high-tech folk hero. There is a lot of inherited wealth on that list too (the Mars, Walton, Cargill and Ford dynasties). But 70% of the Forbes elite are self-made billionaires. Those entrepreneurial successes include not just the names behind Facebook, Google, Apple and Starbucks but also EBay (Meg Whitman, Pierre Omidyar), Yahoo (Jerry Yang), Nike (Phil Knight), AOL (Steve Case), Amazon (Jeff Bezos), Subway sandwiches (Peter Buck, Fred DeLuca), "Star Wars" (George Lucas) and even Beanie Babies (Ty Warner). Does anyone doubt that these members of the reviled 1% have enriched the country in significant ways?
Steve Case (who said earlier this year on Twitter, "@SteveCase They say dream big,I say do it big. they say money is the root of all evil/I say the lack of it is the root of all evil.")? THE Steve Case now working for the White House to head a program designed to bring together the fraternal orders of corporations?? Meg Whitman??? Really, Brad??? These people aren't the enemy and don't deserve to be lumped in with the reviled 1%?
Shill is obviously cherry-picking who shouldn't be lumped in with the "bad" 1% (Making a distinction between the good and bad 1% harkens back to when doctors were making distinctions between "good" and "bad" lipids) while painting the entire Occupy Wall Street movement as a bunch of latte-sipping, pot-smoking pseudo-intellectual elitists.
But fear not, for Bradley has pinpointed as only a pinhead can do who the REAL bad guy is:
Our frustrations are more the product of Washington than Wall Street. We have been promised a lot and received little. Obama (who made millions in book royalties the last few years) sowed the seeds of disillusionment when he overpromised what his February 2009 stimulus package could deliver. A series of policy failures and political deadlocks has left people feeling disenfranchised and forgotten. Calling out millionaires and billionaires as the culprits in this economic saga is disingenuous and ultimately self-defeating. Those 1 percenters are not an avaricious "them" but in reality the most entrepreneurial of "us." If we had more of them and fewer grandstanding politicians, we would all be better off.
Gee, and here all this time I thought that Obama's stimulus package wasn't watered down at all by a hostile Congress and that it was the product of failed imagination on Obama's part (although I almost hate to point out to his right wing detractors that the President's stimulus bill still created about 3,300,000 jobs, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. Oh, by the way, Brad: Sarah Palin, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld all also made millions in book royalties and advances this year. Did any of them create 3.3 million jobs like the President? Didn't think so.)
So to Occupy Wall Street: You all can go home now or move on to Washington DC so you can blame the real evil overlord, President Barack Obama, the guy who kicked off his presidency by creating 3.3 million jobs. The people who outsourced your jobs overseas to save beaucoup bucks by getting around those pesky minimum wage laws, moved their headquarters overseas beyond the jurisdiction of the IRS, the Wall Street banks who bundled your mortgages and made billions by betting against them while making sleazy, backroom deals with the Treasury and the Fed...?
Those aren't the bad guys, you pampered potheads. They're not the 1%. They're what the Great Frank Luntz now calls "entrepreneurs."
I think that if Frank was put upon, he might even rechristen Bradley Schiller as a "pro-corporate first line historian." I just call him a semen-flecked, shit-stained tool of Wall Street whose effigy should be impaled on the bull's horns and burned at both trading bells.