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Saturday, November 16, 2013

Rich and shameless doesn't begin to describe it

by digby

I wrote the other day about how the lying Prime Minister of Great Britain, David Cameron had admitted in a speech that austerity was permanent despite his promises just a couple of years ago that it was a temporary measure. Here's what he said:

Cameron made the announcement during the annual Lord Mayor’s Banquet speech in the Guildhall, where he said austerity should last forever, and Britain must get used to being a “leaner, more efficient state,” British media reported.

The remarks are in clear contrast to those the prime minister made when he came to power in 2010, saying he “didn’t come into politics to make cuts.”

“We’re tackling the deficit because we have to -- not out of some ideological zeal,” said David Cameron at the time.

The prime minister added that if Britons want the economy to get healed they should also be expecting “a smaller state and a bigger and more prosperous private sector.”

He emphasised that Britain needs a fundamental culture change to champion “that typically British, entrepreneurial, buccaneering spirit, and that rewards people with the ambition to make things, sell things, and create jobs for others up and down the country.”

What I didn't know when I wrote about it was that he made these comments from a gilded throne. Literally:

Yes, that's him giving the speech where he says that average citizens will have to learn to live with less.

Here's a first person account:
I work evenings and weekends at an events company. The company is great and the hours are flexible, which allows me to combine it with my main job of an internship. It's tough, and I've been in a state of semi-tiredness for the last two months. I do get to work at interesting events, though, and the fanciness of the Guildhall banquet was breathtaking. Although, as one of my colleagues said: "I thought Boris Johnson was the lord mayor, that's the only reason I agreed to work!"

The guests enjoyed a champagne reception, and then were served a starter ("a celebration of British mushrooms"), a fish course and main course of fillet of beef, all served with wine of course. In the break before dessert, coffee, dessert wine, port, brandy and whisky were served, Cameron gave his speech. We retreated downstairs to a steam-filled kitchen, where we polished the cutlery. Most of us were exhausted by this point. Dinner service is physically demanding, and I am by no means the only person who combines two or three jobs. The contrast of the two worlds was striking; someone said it was like a scene from Downton Abbey.

Maybe Cameron didn't see the irony; perhaps he forgot about the army of waiting staff, cleaners, chefs and porters who were also present at the banquet. Perhaps he thought he was in a room of similarly rich people, who understood the necessity for austerity. Perhaps it didn't occur to him that this message might not be as easily comprehended by those who hadn't just enjoyed a four-course meal. Perhaps he forgot about those of us, disabled or unemployed or on the minimum wage, for whom austerity has had a catastrophic and wounding effect.

In his speech, Cameron talked about a "leaner, more efficient, more affordable state". He argued that austerity could be a permanent government policy; a way of trimming down the administrative excesses of some public services. He framed it in the context of the current tough living conditions – a minimising of state spending, as it "comes out of the pockets of the same taxpayers whose living standards we want to see improve".

No word yet, of course, on what changes will be made to the banquet he was speaking at. Perhaps next year there will only be three courses, or the dessert wine will be ruthlessly culled.
Each of us has just one chance at existence, and so many people's lives are being blighted by these cuts. If this is the cruel and damaging reality of permanent austerity, then we should be telling Mr Cameron we don't want it.

You'd think that after Mitt Romney was lambasted for being caught on tape by a wait staffer being a smug, rich prick talking to other smug rich pricks that rich pricks would be a little bit more cautious about this sort of thing. On the other hand, why bother? He's doing what he's doing and there seems to be little downside for him. For any of these people.

Speaking of which, here's a prick who's poised to get very rich, very soon:
Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, one of the architects of the federal government's rescue of the financial system, is joining private-equity firm Warburg Pincus LLC.

Mr. Geithner, who has spent most of his career outside the private sector, said in an interview he plans to start in March at the New York-based firm, known for its role in buyouts of companies including eye-care firm Bausch & Lomb Inc., luxury retailer Neiman Marcus Group Inc. and stadium concessionaire Aramark Corp.

Mr. Geithner has been credited with helping to slow the momentum of the financial crisis in 2008 and 2009, but also has been criticized as too soft on Wall Street banks at the time. He has said he did what he felt was best for the economy and financial markets, and that he views the 2010 Dodd Frank financial law, in which he had a strong hand, as an antidote to risk-taking on Wall Street.

At Warburg, he will serve as president and managing director, not the kind of figurehead or advisory positions that public-sector figures often land after government stints. Mr. Geithner, 52 years old, is expected to work on mapping the firm's strategy and management, investor relations and on matters related to the firm's investments.

"When they approached me, they clearly wanted me to play a substantive role in helping them manage the firm," he said. Citing the firm's global reach and "low-key" nature, he said Warburg is "culturally very compatible with what I was looking for."

Warburg Co-Chief Executive Charles Kaye said Mr. Geithner will be "absolutely a full-time member of the partnership. He will very much be here every day." Mr. Geithner will report directly to the co-CEOs.
I guess it's time for that big payday. Lord knows he's earned it.