The aristocracy of money: don't be rude to the noble Job Creators

The aristocracy of money: don't be rude to the noble job creators

by digby

I read the hoohah over Nick Hanauer's TED inequality speech not being distributed on the grounds that it didn't meet their standards yesterday, but I didn't know at the time what the real reason was. Apparently, it's not because he was claiming that inequality is wrong, but rather that he was impolite about it.(I think the curator used the word "partisan" which is very revealing.)

In any case, what's new today is this, from Ryan Cooper:

The above TED talk, by Richard Wilkinson, is from October 2011, and it's all about economic inequality. There's quite a lot of buzz today about another talk on economic inequality which was recorded, then quashed by TED officials. You can check out the full transcript here, from National Journal.

At first glance, this is quite a strange discrepancy. Both talks are on economic inequality, and they do differ a bit, but if anything the Wilkinson talk is more radical. The gist of his is that once a country has reached "developed" status, wealth doesn't much matter for the health of that society, broadly speaking (including things like longevity, mental illness, crime, prison population, poverty, etc). Instead equality is what matters. More equal societies are better.

The censored talk, given by venture capitalist Nick Hanauer, makes a fairly banal point that starting a successful business depends entirely on having a population of people with the ability to buy your product.
The difference between the two, aside from the fact that the earlier one was much more radical and shocking, was the tone. It's very offensive, you see, for anyone to question the morality or social conscience of the entrepreneurial "job creators." In fact, it's just a "partisan rehash."

I think this little incident may be the first real proof we've had that it really is all about their feelings and their status as superior members of society. you can say what ever you want about income inequality --- even suggest that in order to survive they should be stripped of much of their wealth. But don't even think of suggesting that they are in any way personally culpable or that their very special function in our society is well ... overstated ... and they will fly into a rage.

We have created an economic nobility, about whom no ill will may be expressed. The European aristocracy had rules like that --- and they believed this privilege was ordained by God. Which explains this:

Is it possible to make too much money? “Is it possible to have too much ambition? Is it possible to be too successful?” Blankfein shoots back. “I don’t want people in this firm to think that they have accomplished as much for themselves as they can and go on vacation. As the guardian of the interests of the shareholders and, by the way, for the purposes of society, I’d like them to continue to do what they are doing. I don’t want to put a cap on their ambition. It’s hard for me to argue for a cap on their compensation.”

So, it’s business as usual, then, regardless of whether it makes most people howl at the moon with rage? Goldman Sachs, this pillar of the free market, breeder of super-citizens, object of envy and awe will go on raking it in, getting richer than God? An impish grin spreads across Blankfein’s face. Call him a fat cat who mocks the public. Call him wicked. Call him what you will. He is, he says, just a banker “doing God’s work”

One must not commit blasphemy.

They ended up posting the speech today:


Prince Romney of Bain conveys a royal objection as well:

Mitt Romney repeatedly condemned a Super PAC’s preliminary plan to use Jeremiah Wright in ads against President Obama, but complained to reporters in Florida on Thursday that Obama’s campaign was engaged in “character assassination” of their own by running ads highlighting layoffs at companies bought by Bain Capital.

“My work at Bain was to try to make the enterprises more successful, to grow them,” he said. “There is this fiction that some have that somehow you can be highly successful by stripping assets from enterprise and walking away with a lot of money…there may be some people that know how to do that. I sure don’t.”

He continued: “The purpose of the president’s ads are not to describe success and failure but to somehow suggest that I’m not a good person or not a good guy.

Yes, one simply doesn't.