Remain Calm, Etc: What the Hell?
Posted December 26, 2013on:
Happy Boxing Day, Widdershins.
Boxing Day is an odd sort of holiday, steeped in British tradition. My Scottish paternal grandparents observed the day, and explained that it came from the upper class recognition of those who worked for them all year long. The servants were rewarded with boxes containing gifts or leftover food, and usually a day off to have their own if somewhat delayed celebration of the holiday.
As per Peggy Noonan, the new American aristocracy finds itself fretting these days about the current state of affairs. They are, in fact, becoming most uneasy about the ever-growing economic disparities that are further dividing our already polarized nation. Check this out:
The most arresting words heard this year? A billionaire of New York, in conversation: “I hate it when the market goes up. Every time I hear the stock market went up I know the guillotines are coming closer.” This was interesting in part because the speaker has a lot of money in the market. But he meant it. He is self-made, broadly accomplished, a thinker on politics, and for a moment he was sharing the innards of his mind. His biggest concern is the great and growing distance between the economically successful and those who have not or cannot begin to climb. The division has become too extreme, too dramatic, and static. He fears it will eventually tear the country apart and give rise to policies that are bitter and punishing, not helpful and broadening.
This year I came to understand, at meetings and symposia, that this has become an ongoing preoccupation of the wealthy. They are not oblivious, they are concerned. And though they give away hundreds of millions of dollars to charities, schools and scholarships, they don’t know what can be done to turn the overall economic picture around. Globalization isn’t leaving, industrial manufacturing isn’t coming back as it was, technology will continue to give jobs to the educated, and the ever-evolving mischief of men and markets won’t change.
Yep, they are “concerned”. They should be concerned. While I applaud their charitable efforts, and most especially those of the Gates and the Buffets who are leaving large chunks of their estates to charities, I would applaud plowing those dollars into job creation for our citizens even more loudly. These captains of industry are the same guys who offshored jobs and still clamor loudly for more H1B visas so that they might import more trained personnel who will work for lower wages. These are the same guys who relieved people of their $75,000/year jobs and offered graciously to rehire them into the same position for $37,500. It seems to me that the fix for all of this is to undo that which you so gleefully did, indeed that which has generated the very same obscene level of profit that now discomfit you so. If y’all cannot figure out how to fix this, please allow me to offer a few suggestions in the spirit of Boxing Day. Take that same money and re-open American factories, businesses and other jobs that actually provide a living wage to people. If you must attach your name to something, then take the money and finance the Warren Buffet Bridge and/or the Bill Gates Highway. Lots of jobs, fitting tributes, etc. I have to believe that the average person would rather bring home an honest check than accept your handouts. The money that would be lost initially is just as tax-friendly as a charitable foundation, and would be plowed right back into our sagging economy. Soon your profit levels would escalate again, and you will hardly notice the difference – however,, the rest of us will notice this immediately if not sooner.
The sound of the guillotine is out there. I really do not think that the American public will put up with much more disparity for all that much longer, A certain percentage of the population will remain distracted, but more and more will figure this out. Critical mass approaches.
This is an open thread.
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