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Taibbi writes: "Most of us 99-percenters couldn't even let our dogs leave a dump on the sidewalk without feeling ashamed before our neighbors. It's called having a conscience: even though there are plenty of things most of us could get away with doing, we just don't do them, because, well, we live here. Most of us wouldn't take a million dollars to swindle the local school system, or put our next door neighbors out on the street with a robosigned foreclosure, or steal the life's savings of some old pensioner down the block by selling him a bunch of worthless securities."

Matt Taibbi at Skylight Studio in New York, 10/27/10. (photo: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)
Matt Taibbi at Skylight Studio in New York, 10/27/10. (photo: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)

A Christmas Message From America's Rich

By Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone

22 December 11


t seems America's bankers are tired of all the abuse. They've decided to speak out.

True, they're doing it from behind the ropeline, in front of friendly crowds at industry conferences and country clubs, meaning they don't have to look the rest of America in the eye when they call us all imbeciles and complain that they shouldn't have to apologize for being so successful.

But while they haven't yet deigned to talk to protesting America face to face, they are willing to scribble out some complaints on notes and send them downstairs on silver trays. Courtesy of a remarkable story by Max Abelson at Bloomberg, we now get to hear some of those choice comments.

Home Depot co-founder Bernard Marcus, for instance, is not worried about OWS:

"Who gives a crap about some imbecile?" Marcus said. "Are you kidding me?"

Former New York gubernatorial candidate Tom Golisano, the billionaire owner of the billing firm Paychex, offered his wisdom while his half-his-age tennis champion girlfriend hung on his arm:

"If I hear a politician use the term ‘paying your fair share' one more time, I'm going to vomit," said Golisano, who turned 70 last month, celebrating the birthday with girlfriend Monica Seles, the former tennis star who won nine Grand Slam singles titles.

Then there's Leon Cooperman, the former chief of Goldman Sachs's money-management unit, who said he was urged to speak out by his fellow golfers. His message was a version of Wall Street's increasingly popular If-you-people-want-a-job, then-you'll-shut-the-fuck-up rhetorical line:

Cooperman, 68, said in an interview that he can't walk through the dining room of St. Andrews Country Club in Boca Raton, Florida, without being thanked for speaking up. At least four people expressed their gratitude on Dec. 5 while he was eating an egg-white omelet, he said.

"You'll get more out of me," the billionaire said, "if you treat me with respect."

Finally, there is this from Blackstone CEO Steven Schwarzman:

Asked if he were willing to pay more taxes in a Nov. 30 interview with Bloomberg Television, Blackstone Group LP CEO Stephen Schwarzman spoke about lower-income U.S. families who pay no income tax.

"You have to have skin in the game," said Schwarzman, 64. "I'm not saying how much people should do. But we should all be part of the system."

There are obviously a great many things that one could say about this remarkable collection of quotes. One could even, if one wanted, simply savor them alone, without commentary, like lumps of fresh caviar, or raw oysters.

But out of Abelson's collection of doleful woe-is-us complaints from the offended rich, the one that deserves the most attention is Schwarzman's line about lower-income folks lacking "skin in the game." This incredible statement gets right to the heart of why these people suck.

Why? It's not because Schwarzman is factually wrong about lower-income people having no "skin in the game," ignoring the fact that everyone pays sales taxes, and most everyone pays payroll taxes, and of course there are property taxes for even the lowliest subprime mortgage holders, and so on.

It's not even because Schwarzman probably himself pays close to zero in income tax - as a private equity chief, he doesn't pay income tax but tax on carried interest, which carries a maximum 15% tax rate, half the rate of a New York City firefighter.

The real issue has to do with the context of Schwarzman's quote. The Blackstone billionaire, remember, is one of the more uniquely abhorrent, self-congratulating jerks in the entire world - a man who famously symbolized the excesses of the crisis era when, just as the rest of America was heading into a recession, he threw himself a $5 million birthday party, featuring private performances by Rod Stewart and Patti Labelle, to celebrate an IPO that made him $677 million in a matter of days (within a year, incidentally, the investors who bought that stock would lose three-fourths of their investments).

So that IPO birthday boy is now standing up and insisting, with a straight face, that America's problem is that compared to taxpaying billionaires like himself, poor people are not invested enough in our society's future. Apparently, we'd all be in much better shape if the poor were as motivated as Steven Schwarzman is to make America a better place.

But it seems to me that if you're broke enough that you're not paying any income tax, you've got nothing but skin in the game. You've got it all riding on how well America works.

You can't afford private security: you need to depend on the police. You can't afford private health care: Medicare is all you have. You get arrested, you're not hiring Davis, Polk to get you out of jail: you rely on a public defender to negotiate a court system you'd better pray deals with everyone from the same deck. And you can't hire landscapers to manicure your lawn and trim your trees: you need the garbage man to come on time and you need the city to patch the potholes in your street.

And in the bigger picture, of course, you need the state and the private sector both to be functioning well enough to provide you with regular work, and a safe place to raise your children, and clean water and clean air.

The entire ethos of modern Wall Street, on the other hand, is complete indifference to all of these matters. The very rich on today's Wall Street are now so rich that they buy their own social infrastructure. They hire private security, they live on gated mansions on islands and other tax havens, and most notably, they buy their own justice and their own government.

An ordinary person who has a problem that needs fixing puts a letter in the mail to his congressman and sends it to stand in a line in some DC mailroom with thousands of others, waiting for a response.

But citizens of the stateless archipelago where people like Schwarzman live spend millions a year lobbying and donating to political campaigns so that they can jump the line. They don't need to make sure the government is fulfilling its customer-service obligations, because they buy special access to the government, and get the special service and the metaphorical comped bottle of VIP-room Cristal afforded to select customers.

Want to lower the capital reserve requirements for investment banks? Then-Goldman CEO Hank Paulson takes a meeting with SEC chief Bill Donaldson, and gets it done. Want to kill an attempt to erase the carried interest tax break? Guys like Schwarzman, and Apollo's Leon Black, and Carlyle's David Rubenstein, they just show up in Washington at Max Baucus's doorstep, and they get it killed.

Some of these people take that VIP-room idea a step further. J.P. Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon - the man the New York Times once called "Obama's favorite banker" - had an excellent method of guaranteeing that the Federal Reserve system's doors would always be open to him. What he did was, he served as the Chairman of the Board of the New York Fed.

And in 2008, in that moonlighting capacity, he orchestrated a deal in which the Fed provided $29 billion in assistance to help his own bank, Chase, buy up the teetering investment firm Bear Stearns. You read that right: Jamie Dimon helped give himself a bailout. Who needs to worry about good government, when you are the government?

Dimon, incidentally, is another one of those bankers who's complaining now about the unfair criticism. "Acting like everyone who's been successful is bad and because you're rich you're bad, I don't understand it," he recently said, at an investor's conference.

Hmm. Is Dimon right? Do people hate him just because he's rich and successful? That really would be unfair. Maybe we should ask the people of Jefferson County, Alabama, what they think.

That particular locality is now in bankruptcy proceedings primarily because Dimon's bank, Chase, used middlemen to bribe local officials - literally bribe, with cash and watches and new suits - to sign on to a series of onerous interest-rate swap deals that vastly expanded the county's debt burden.

Essentially, Jamie Dimon handed Birmingham, Alabama a Chase credit card and then bribed its local officials to run up a gigantic balance, leaving future residents and those residents' children with the bill. As a result, the citizens of Jefferson County will now be making payments to Chase until the end of time.

Do you think Jamie Dimon would have done that deal if he lived in Jefferson County? Put it this way: if he was trying to support two kids on $30,000 a year, and lived in a Birmingham neighborhood full of people in the same boat, would he sign off on a deal that jacked up everyone's sewer bills 400% for the next thirty years?

Doubtful. But then again, people like Jamie Dimon aren't really citizens of any country. They live in their own gated archipelago, and the rest of the world is a dumping ground.

Just look at how Chase behaved in Greece, for example.

Having seen how well interest-rate swaps worked for Jefferson County, Alabama, Chase "helped" Greece mask its debt problem for years by selling a similar series of swaps to the Greek government. The bank then turned around and worked with banks like Goldman, Sachs to create a thing called the iTraxx SovX Western Europe index, which allowed investors to bet against Greek debt.

In other words, Chase knowingly larded up the nation of Greece with a crippling future debt burden, then turned around and helped the world bet against Greek debt.

Does a citizen of Greece do that deal? Forget that: does a human being do that deal?

Operations like the Greek swap/short index maneuver were easy money for banks like Goldman and Chase - hell, it's a no-lose play, like cutting a car's brake lines and then betting on the driver to crash - but they helped create the monstrous European debt problem that this very minute is threatening to send the entire world economy into collapse, which would result in who knows what horrors. At minimum, millions might lose their jobs and benefits and homes. Millions more will be ruined financially.

But why should Chase and Goldman care what happens to those people? Do they have any skin in that game?

Of course not. We're talking about banks that not only didn't warn the citizens of Greece about their future debt disaster, they actively traded on that information, to make money for themselves.

People like Dimon, and Schwarzman, and John Paulson, and all of the rest of them who think the "imbeciles" on the streets are simply full of reasonless class anger, they don't get it. Nobody hates them for being successful. And not that this needs repeating, but nobody even minds that they are rich.

What makes people furious is that they have stopped being citizens.

Most of us 99-percenters couldn't even let our dogs leave a dump on the sidewalk without feeling ashamed before our neighbors. It's called having a conscience: even though there are plenty of things most of us could get away with doing, we just don't do them, because, well, we live here. Most of us wouldn't take a million dollars to swindle the local school system, or put our next door neighbors out on the street with a robosigned foreclosure, or steal the life's savings of some old pensioner down the block by selling him a bunch of worthless securities.

But our Too-Big-To-Fail banks unhesitatingly take billions in bailout money and then turn right around and finance the export of jobs to new locations in China and India. They defraud the pension funds of state workers into buying billions of their crap mortgage assets. They take zero-interest loans from the state and then lend that same money back to us at interest. Or, like Chase, they bribe the politicians serving countries and states and cities and even school boards to take on crippling debt deals.

Nobody with real skin in the game, who had any kind of stake in our collective future, would do any of those things. Or, if a person did do those things, you'd at least expect him to have enough shame not to whine to a Bloomberg reporter when the rest of us complained about it.

But these people don't have shame. What they have, in the place where most of us have shame, are extra sets of balls. Just listen to Cooperman, the former Goldman exec from that country club in Boca. According to Cooperman, the rich do contribute to society:

Capitalists "are not the scourge that they are too often made out to be" and the wealthy aren't "a monolithic, selfish and unfeeling lot," Cooperman wrote. They make products that "fill store shelves at Christmas…"

Unbelievable. Merry Christmas, bankers. And good luck getting that message out. your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+134 # Tippitc 2011-12-22 19:29
These whiners are breaking my heart - poor little fellers are being picked on - extra set of balls indeed!! Balls in place of a heart!! Their 'pity party' makes me want to throw up!! Even The Grinch could be reformed, but I don't think there is any hope for these swine.
+175 # CandH 2011-12-22 20:50
Okay, I'm trying to let the steam out of my head before it explodes as I write this...

"What makes people furious is that they have stopped being citizens." F*cking Bullsh*t Taibbi!

What makes people furious, crazy-livid is that they have completely and totally, alas utterly corrupted the entire financial/monet ary system in the developed countries of the entire world FOR THEIR BENEFIT AND THEIRS ALONE, AT THE EXPENSE OF MILLIONS OF LIVES LOST AND DESTITUTE, AND THE MAJORITY OF THE WORLD'S POPULATIONS; and yet, have the insane psycho-chutzpah to say things like, "You'll get more out of me," the billionaire said, "if you treat me with respect." WTF!!!

(Hm, didn't get all that steam out yet I guess...)
+70 # wherefore 2011-12-22 23:44
"Stopped being citizens" is a very good description, without foul language and capital letters, of the problem. Only people with no connection to or concern for the rest of humanity would do these things.
+18 # ruralhorseman 2011-12-23 11:31
Quoting wherefore:
"Stopped being citizens" is a very good description, without foul language and capital letters, of the problem. Only people with no connection to or concern for the rest of humanity would do these things.

Yes, keep talking with a soft voice, perhaps even a whisper, so the powered elite don't hear you and think everything is just fine. Muffle those sounds, so that no one knows what you think or what you fear or what you need or cries of hungry children in the streets of great America. Be quiet and too soon "we" will be dead.
+27 # CandH 2011-12-23 13:24
No. People with no connection to or concern for the rest of humanity are not just "not being citizens." They are beyond the esoteric description of "citizens," that then depicts them as simply "unengaged" or possibly "illegals" in some way. That's not what they are. They are psychopaths, pure and simply, destroying, LITERALLY destroying people, animals, the planet, en masse, all for their very own benefit and power. That's precisely what they are, and "citizens" doesn't even BEGIN to engage that reality.
+12 # Gringaryan 2011-12-24 17:48
Not citizens.. sociopaths and parasites
+38 # vitobonespur 2011-12-23 00:52
I'm pretty sure that's what Matt meant. He merely said it in different words.
+26 # CandH 2011-12-23 13:30
I've read Taibbi turn-up-the-vol ume before in his pieces. The apt descriptor of "vampire-squid" for GS is frankly brilliant. But this sentence, with the descriptor "citizens," is completely flat in the utter depravity to describe the behavior of people who wantonly engage in the evisceration of tens of millions of people, tens of billions of animals, and the massive destruction of the planet...for what? Their own benefit! "Not being Citizens" truly doesn't cut it. Powerful and brutally evil psychopaths does.
+13 # universlman 2011-12-23 16:02
wow - there are some tough readers out here

taibbi obviously thinks with his keyboard - he is answering why none of these shameless whiners have to face justice - they dwell "offshore" with vast machinery to hide their paw-prints all over our sinking prospects - this article is a celebration of them blowing their own cover - turning-up-the- volume is pointless

we can hear the music of this shameless swindle loud and clear - but the only possible cavalry, our government, can not
+70 # Cambridgemac 2011-12-23 06:06
I think you and Taibbi are saying the same thing. The word citizen has fallen our of use in the US, replaced by odious, slimy terms like "consumer" and "taxpayer," which don't mean the same thing at all.

To be a citizen is to understand that you are part of a greater whole and have an obligation to contribute to The Common Good.
+26 # CandH 2011-12-23 13:45
Okay, do I have to produce a video of the tens of millions of starving/dying children in Africa due to food commodities price fixing, or the multi-nat'ls who land-grab fertile land away from food production there?

Or the children in Africa who MUST become soldiers/sex slaves to adult soldiers in US MIC/arms manufacturers proxy wars for minerals/mining land-grabs there?

Or maybe the slave labor of children in Africa/Asia/Lat in America because US multi-nationals DEMAND all viable options for super-duper cost-cutting labor when producing those Christmas presents y'all are buying in those big-box stores this year?

Or how about the millions of Iraqis who have catastrophic injuries/multip le familial deaths/slave-tr ading proliferation/m igrating to survive, all suffered from the US/UK/EU multi-nat'l energy/MIC war there?

Or what about the diseases/deaths /displaced that are accumulating as we speak in/around/besid e/beyond the Fukushima nuclear power plant, including those abnormally high rate of deaths on the entire West Coast?

Seriously, "contribute to The Common Good" or "Citizen" doesn't cut it, not by a long, loooooooonnnnng ggg way for any decent descriptor of this kind of sick behavior from these people...
+13 # maveet 2011-12-23 16:22
THANK YOU CandH. We should all be OUTRAGED!
+17 # gdp1 2011-12-23 08:26
...and, as a result, creating a future world of indentured proles...with 270 million guns in America alone..
+12 # Aaron99percent 2011-12-23 12:21
I can't ONLY blame these ignorant billionaires for their view of we "imbeciles". A huge portion (if not a majority) of the blame goes to those who support and vote for the Repub (and some Dem) politicians who then make this easy skating through society legislation for these rich. Tea-Party supporters, and other "imbeciles" on the right, are the ones who fall for the then used line of ... "Well we can't tax the rich, since they will then not be able to supply us with jobs" line. It's a nice loop for these rich (who get legislation written in their favor) and the politicians (who get lots of perks from the rich) ... to which the righty voting public then gets played the fool in supporting. To me, they are the true problem. After all, without support for their actions, these elitists would not be able to get away with this loop at the literal expense of the American people ... including those who support them!
+25 # Activista 2011-12-22 21:42
It is OUR SICK MONEY CULTURE - system - the billionaires boys are product - top 1%.
We could go and STOP to buy CRAP for the Christmas - instead we sign for another CHASE credit card and march to Wall Mart.
+31 # TrustMovies 2011-12-22 22:47
Great! Keep it up, Matt. Your specifics are are-the-mark and SO necessary. Eventually, action will be taken, though you and I may not be around to experience it.
+32 # JayMagoo 2011-12-22 23:01
Could the combination of their total selfishness, their acquisitiveness , their greed and their arrogance push the OWS people into doing more than carry signs? It happened in the French Revolution when the nobles, the royalty, and the wealthy took a one-way trip up the stairs to the guillotine. When the 1% keeps getting richer and richer, and the 99% keeps getting large and poorer, and resentment turns to anger, and anger turns to fury, and then to blind-fury, and crowds begin gathering in the streets with pitchforks and torches, well, there is an historical precedent, isn't there. That would be a terrible way for America, the world's boldest experiment in democracy to end, will those arrogant billionaires see it coming in time and save America, and their own butts?
+17 # ruralhorseman 2011-12-23 11:56
Only we middle class citizens can change America en mass. The one thing they cannot buy is OUR vote. And with our vote we can change America. You can find every progressive candidate running for office in 2012 by going to and you can save up $50 by not buying Christmas presents for the adults and cutting down on what you buy for the kids. Most of the presents are made in other countries anyway. With that saved money you can donate to 10 or 12 good, honest progressive candidates and you can spread the word. You CAN protest and SHOULD protest when you can but to do anything that involves violence is TOTALLY counter productive. Our police forces have already been militarized. Our elderly have been beaten, our children have been pepper sprayed and shot with rubber bullets, our veterans have been beaten, nearly killed and arrested after fighting for freedoms we no longer have in hostile foreign lands fighting for their own democracies. No matter how Godly you are, no matter what religion you espouse, no matter where you live...your freedoms and human rights have been bargained away by our soulless elected officials. Only unified, non-violent protest and nationwide work strikes will bring this country back to center. No one is looking for socialism, nor communism, nor anything other than what is guaranteed us in the Constitution by those who fought the same evil we fight today. They became a proud part of our history. We all should too. Protest and Vote!
+2 # disgusted American 2011-12-23 19:20
Voting for Progressives won't change a thing. They dine at the same trough with the rest of the crowd on Capitol Hill.

Look at their capitulation on nat'l healthcare reform - a good many of them were signed onto Conyers HR676 but didn't debate it and voted for Obamacare which is despotism in the guise of health care reform. Conyers didn't even support his own bill. Most of them voted in favor of detaining Americans (very recent), they support SOPA which is going to curb social networking only they don't want you to know that part, and the list goes on.

They are part of the one-party system we currently have, but they'll tell you anything they think you want to hear.

Vote for Jill Stein or Rocky Anderson unless you want status quo which is going to get worse.
+55 # sol4u2 2011-12-22 23:29
Maybe it's time that us 99% imbeciles stopped shopping at Mr. Marcus's Home Depot... if millions of us minions boycotted a few billionaire's business / banks etc maybe the would not be so trite. BOA, Wells Fargo, Chase would hurt if 99% of their customers pulled their $$ out of these banks! Getting our America back takes action - think about it.
+10 # historywriter 2011-12-23 11:54
If millions of us boycotted these places, it might work. Along with thousands of others, I boycotted Target (and still do) for its contribution to a political group. I don't think they noticed. So, if we don't go to Home Depot, how about Menard's?
Well, it ve $2,000 directly to Scott "[Scott] Walker’s campaign and $25,000 to the Republican Governors Association, which is widely considered to be an indirect donation for Walker.
"Menards has also been involved in many other unethical, illegal and callous practices to workers and to the environment."
So where do we find some decent, ethical retailers? Maybe in smaller local stores, if you can find them. Maybe in bartering. Maybe in setting up our own co-ops, which I think is one of the best ideas around. (I belong to my local food co-op.)
If anyone knows any ethical and legal big box stores, it would be nice to know about them. After all, thousands of people moved their money out of big box banks and into credit unions this last year.
+30 # jnestler 2011-12-23 00:05
Keep telling it like it is Matt. You're one of the few we can count on to tell us the truth.
+17 # reiverpacific 2011-12-23 00:06
"Capitalists "are not the scourge that they are too often made out to be" and the wealthy aren't "a monolithic, selfish and unfeeling lot," Cooperman wrote. They make products that "fill store shelves at Christmas…"
-"And if we weren't so regulated, we could fill them with more colorful toxic stuff if people wouldn't whine when their children are hurt, killed or damaged by them"!
OK, I'm just speculating but------?
There's a lot of stuff in this article I've read on RSN before but I think we all get the message that "they" don't give a shit about us OR each other -if they could screw their own grannies or brothers they'd do it for the sport and power-play (and do) -I think- but then I'm not in a position to know, never having had a desire to wield power over anybody, and I ain't no saint, believe me! -Just a fallible "Poor Earthborn companion and fellow mortal", as Robert Burns wrote in "To a mouse".
I'd almost feel sorry for them if they hadn't damaged or destroyed so many people unfeelingly and often unknowingly. But -having brushed up against a few of 'em in more prosperous times, there is a detachment about them which has nothing but vanity and self-immolation at it's base and vacuous spiritual impoverishment at it's peak.
No solution suggested -I'm not that wise; I wish that there were but as a hint, community is something totally alien to them and which is all we have if we nurture it and be it for each other.
0 # Travlinlight 2011-12-24 02:13
reiverpacific, the super-rich are not stupid, and they may not actually be deliberately sadistic bastards--I did say may not be--but they are basically irrational addicts who can't stop craving material wealth. Filling store shelves means nothing if there aren't many buyers.

A rational rich person who is only moderately wealthy may realize that the demand side of the economy is the driver of GDP and economic growth. As someone recently said or wrote, wealth doesn't create jobs; jobs create the wealthy.

However, the billionaire bankers and CEOs of investment houses don't care about increasing demand; they seek short-term windfalls.

Essentially, they are slow suicides who will take down the entire moneyocracy in the end. They are consumed by a collective guilt, not consciously recognized as such; a guilt not for what they have done to millions of others but for what they have NOT done for themselves: evolve in spirit and consciousness to a point where they are no longer frightened, empty and disconnected narcissists.

Now, the failure to evolve is a general condition of the human species, but there are degrees of failure. The biggest failures are those that seek the greatest material wealth. What can be said about these people is that, ironically, nothing fails like success.
+34 # freeportguy 2011-12-23 00:09
These attitudes represent the REAL definition of ENTITLEMENT.

Being rich is NOT a sin. What can be a sin is HOW you made that money, WHAT you now do with it, and HOW one carries himself now that he's got the fortune.

The quoted pashas are nothing but disgusting.
+25 # wfay45 2011-12-23 00:25
Matt Taibbi; you are an incredibly good writer. Thank you for telling it like it is. And you said it very well. If it wasn't so obscenely true, it would be unbelievable. The 99% must never stop. Never surrender.
+5 # soularddave 2011-12-23 00:55
They need to sit in a corner until they figure out what they did wrong (iron bars around the corner). They'll be there a while, so use their money to breathe life back into those entities they've sucked it from.

Maybe what they did wasn't illegal (like what O.J. "didn't" do), but there's a civil suit there to get the money back. Don't make 'em pay for what they did, but compensate the victims for the damage they caused. I don't care if Jamie Dimon owns Birmingham's sewer system (a public utility board will determine the rates). Then every resident there can 'donate' to him without leaving their bathroom.
+15 # BobbyLip 2011-12-23 01:14
Cheer up. According to the network news, Christmas spending is up this year, a secret Santa is handing out C-notes, Lindsay Lohan posed naked for a million bucks, the kardashians haven't taken a ratings hit, Justin Bieber got a haircut, and two formerly gay penguins have girlfriends.
Nuthin' to see here, folks. Don't block the sidewalk. Ooh, here comes Snooki!
+27 # racetoinfinity 2011-12-23 02:32
You wrote:

"You can't afford private health care: Medicare is all you have. "

If you're under 65, you'd be lucky to have Medicare; you'd have to have a disability; otherwise, you'll be lucky to get the much inferior Medicaid, which many doctors won't take-and even requirements and benefits for that are being respectively raised and lowered in the faux-holy name of "austerity". More likely if you can't afford hundreds of dollars a month for basic health insurance, you'll have to rely on the way over-strained one hospital for charity in yo9ur city and then only when you're probably on your way out. One shame of this country is we're not civilized enough to have single-payer for all.
0 # disgusted American 2011-12-23 19:11
I was going to comment that I think Taibbi meant Medicaid, not Medicare. Many people mix these up.

That said, Obamacare forces people at 133% or les of FPL into Medicaid which will be expanded by revising Medicaid regs to include people up to age 64, childless adults and THE ASSET TEST will be DROPPED.

OBRA 1993 stipulates that any state receiving federal Medicaid funding (all states) must have an estate recovery program for Medicaid members who use benefits at age 55 and up.

HOWEVER, to date, OBRA 1993 has not been amended so that no state is required and no state is allowed to take the assets of Medicaid members 55 and up when they die (assets are your estate when you die).

So, all Americans forced into the Obamacare expanded Medicaid will be getting a mandated collateral loan if they use benefits at age 55 and up.

Many on Capitol Hill were totally aware of this during the nat'l debate but looked the other way or made disingenuous remarks.

People need to figure out how Obamacare works so they can plan ahead to protect themselves. Don't forget to read Medicaid regs and OBRA 1993 b/c the big deal of Obamacare is that it expands Medicaid.
+8 # angelfish 2011-12-23 02:44
These sorry excuses for Human beings that you describe Matt, are a dying breed. Like Dinosaurs their days are numbered. It may take a while, but in the long run, they're cutting their own throats exporting all the jobs to third world countries. As the gene pool declines from poor nutrition, neglect and poverty, the specters of Need and Ignorance will rise up and over-run these "geniuses". Those with nothing, have exactly that, NOTHING to lose. What was it that Louis XVI said, "Apres moi, le Deluge"?
+3 # ruralhorseman 2011-12-23 12:13
Nutrition has nothing to do with gene pool bud. Nutrition has to do with surviving. So plant your garden somewhere and nurture it. You never want to get to "NOTHING", you want to start way before that so you don't have to dig out of hole. The "sorry excuses for human beings" you talk about don't need a country to belong. They have created the enclaves they want and feel safe in being in the U.S. or in other countries. Many are multi-national citizens, like Dick Cheney. So stop spending energy on them and spend your energy on changing the system while you still have food in the markets. The system we are fighting is base on us buying something, from stocks and bonds to that new saber saw to those Xmas presents that will be broken or stored away in some drawer for 364 days a year, to that dress that will be out of style in a year. Stop spending your money and save it. Not in a big banks but in a small S&L or Credit Union where members are the stockholders and you make money off of helping each other with loans. Get involved, take to the streets and DO something, don't just talk about it. Each of us can do something that will multiply geometrically. Then those charlatans we elected to office will be forced to do something to save their own butts.
+11 # dfvboulder 2011-12-23 03:25
Thank god for Taibbi.

We ARE in a class war, and we are losing. Hell we just started fighting.

And if we hear one more time about these a**holes "paying their fair share," WE should be the ones to vomit.
+31 # dfvboulder 2011-12-23 03:29
These guys are in the Marie Antoinette let-them-eat-ca ke group.

We shouldn't be asking for their "fair share," we should be coming for their heads.
+29 # 666 2011-12-23 06:52
Here's a simple Merry-Christmas -now-get-the-f. ..-out solution:
1) Give these people 7 days to emigrate (respectfully) to Dubai or the tax haven of their choice where they can eat all the cake they want on their private island.
2) nationalize the banks and insurance companies and repudiate the trash debt (including most of consumer debt). states like Greece should follow suit. Catastrophic? perhaps; but maybe a reboot and tightly structured recovery is better than a slow collapse during which the rich continue to rape US.
3) set a 90% tax rate for those making 1 million+ a year - no exceptions, no loopholes. No one's forcing them to be rich.
4) add a new bill of rights

Remember Marie Antoinette? She had skin in the game too -- until she lost it.
+3 # je proteste 2011-12-23 17:16
Important addendum to 1): Emigrating should not allow one to avoid a much-needed surcharge on wealth. (We need that as much as a hike in upper income tax rates and a similar change in the inheritance tax.)

And there needs to be a way to block them from draining even more resources - capital or natural - from the U.S.
0 # RLF 2011-12-23 07:01
"you need the garbage man to come on time and you need the city to patch the potholes in your street."

Yes Matt...but it should be a privatized garbage pickup these people pay through the nose for. American business has hit the wall on how many weapons they can sell to the world so to grow they have created these nice bubble to create privatization opportunities.. .like South America in the 80's. What works for Alabama, works great in Greece too! Right? Or wait...maybe they crash the whole kaboodle!
+2 # cuttengeezer46 2011-12-23 07:26
Um, CandH, I think that's what he meant.
+15 # Andrew Hansen 2011-12-23 07:34
You're spot on as usual with the analysis. But here's the thing, as much as the cry-me-a-river billonaires have sucked up all the money and corrupted (or obviated) the democracy of this country, to fix it, real people will have to stand up, stiffen their necks, and say 'no'.

And that is the secret sauce of the Occupy movement, no real secret. Your piece "How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the OWS Protests" hit the nail on the head in identifying a way forward. Obviously won't be easy and is therefore worth it. The need here is for people in the middle, not just the fringe or desperate, to learn and take up the cause. Get a new outlook.
-80 # Robt Eagle 2011-12-23 07:39
All those mentioned in Taibbi's article employ tens of thousands of people and provide services the rest of us utilize every day. The party Schwatzmann they that was rediculously excessive employed well over a hundred people and all the product used to throw the party were produced by thousands more employed Americans. Taibbi is just selling his message with no real thought as to who is benefitting by these ultra wealthy spenders. Also, companies like Paychex provide a great service that is used by tens of thousands of companies, oh yeah and they employ a ton of Americans too!
+36 # 666 2011-12-23 09:16
- Like the defense contractors (and other corps who benefit from the privatization of government) who make a fortune doing jobs that ordinary GIs used to do -- and at three to four times the cost?
- Like the mega-stores that have forced smaller concerns and mom-and-pops out of business, only to rehire them "part time, minimum age, & no benefits"
- Louis XIV provided jobs for tens of thousands at his palace at Versailles, that didn't make it "good" for society.
- The 19th-century cotton industry provided jobs, food, and housing for hundreds of thousands (of slaves) -- while the agents, insurance cos, banks, factors and other large concerns made millions. That's exactly the rationale these people have today: We should be happy to be slaves because "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" only applies to the 1%. For the rest it's "life, a job, and food" -- if you can get that, count yourself lucky.
+20 # John Locke 2011-12-23 09:48
Robert are you from here on earth? I have the impression you are from another planet!
+16 # tonenotvolume 2011-12-23 10:05
Oh Robt, your argument is shallow because (to borrow evidence from a list of fallacious arguments
)1) They are commonplace types of reasoning, and 2) they are likely to fool people. You're refusing to look beyond the "skin" of your own dreams. You want to be just like them. To do that, you'd have to be willing to live in the moral corruption, the excessive consumption, and the debased selfishness these 1%$ers have chosen. Because of your own thwarted desires (I'm assuming) you don't comprehend we're not asking for their heads...we want some equity and fairness. Give up some of that excess and pay your share. Not only is that the right thing to do but it's a smart business (and life) decision. Now, quit whining about your heroes and join the cause.
+6 # bugbuster 2011-12-23 11:36
Robert could never join the 1% in his lifetime. The system doesn't work that way.
+12 # Smiley 2011-12-23 11:37
The REAL job creators are a well paid middle class with money to spend on the goods and services they want and need.
+4 # Anarchist 23 2011-12-24 17:00
Robt Eagle-Yeah right! Great services-like the S& L rip-off in the 80's, the nuclear disaster of Fukushima-becau se they were too cheap to fix problems that were there before the EQ & tsunami,the gutting of programs for the less fortunate among us, all the while trumpeting how we are a 'Xtian' society, while throwing families out on the street, freezing and starving old people and children by cutting heating aid,and food stamps, off-shoring jobs. and busting unions to keep wages down. My heart breaks for the
poor little misunderstood Greedy One Percent.
+22 # Grinder Monkey 2011-12-23 07:51
Perhaps the best thing to do is take your "skin" out of the game and strike, it is the poor's only weapon. Try as I do NOT BUYING ANYTHING FOR AN ENTIRE WEEK. If everybody did this simultaneously and became accustomed to it, it would become endemic and the whole charade would come down like the piece of shit it really is.
+30 # Barbara K 2011-12-23 07:53
They screwed the world and us and they want respect? How much respect did they give to us when they set out to commit this massive crime against all of us? That is about all they deserve.

+40 # cuttengeezer46 2011-12-23 07:58
Sorry, RE, employing a florist and a hundred bartenders for a day does not constitute meaningful contribution to the economy. And just because your company employs hundreds, or even thousands of people does not mean you are deserving of our gratitude. The Mafia employs hundreds of people, but they are hardly a boon to our society.
+30 # Pufferly 2011-12-23 08:09
OK, people, get behind the Move to Amend to cancel Citizens United. It should be one person, one vote, not one dollar, one vote.
+20 # didderbops 2011-12-23 08:12
I think Matt may have written before about the recent study (which I don't have a link to) that showed that CEO's have a much greater likelihood of showing psychopathic tendencies than the general population. In fact, the only difference between a psychopathic CEO and a psychopath in prison is probably the opportunities afforded them in life, as the CEO probably was the beneficiary of elite private schools and universities, while the psychopath in prison was born poor and went to bad public schools. This article by Matt seems to reinforce the results of that study.
+2 # Scott479 2011-12-24 10:02
[quote name="didderbop s"] See: Conservatives Without Conscience by John Dean. In it he cites studies showing the psychopathic personalities of conservatives made clear in their responses to the study questionnaire.
+23 # sharsand 2011-12-23 08:27
What they they call successful, I call greedy self-centered egotism and money made on the backs of those workers they so detest. Everyone of these billionaires or multi-millionai res can have their money traced to shipping jobs overseas, cutting salaries and benefits for those left, gouging the public on health care, destroying collective bargaining rights, making inferior products designed to fail (planned obsolescence). The money lenders and so-called investment gurus don't make anything worthwhile, they just take exorbitant fees and interest charges at the expense of the consumer, who they say should be smart enough to read the fine print. The tech billionaires and other rich manufacturers and food conglomerates executives (those who don't want to pay taxes)have no right to even call themselves Americans: they choose to pay little or no taxes, are generally making inferior quality products, their factories and workers are outsourced, they refuse to end the environmental destruction of the planet, they refuse to build cars that would reduce or end fuel consumption, they load our food with unhealthy corn syrup and preservatives. They use America only as a source to sell their inferior products to real Americans, where we spend half the time talking to compouters about the problems with the products. but Americans are waking up, they are ready to take back our democracy. They want Citizens United overturned and real election reform where money can't buy our politicians.
+21 # vt143 2011-12-23 08:27
I've always wondered why MBA programs, who pore over transcripts and test scores to assess their potential students, don't simply give all incoming classes the MMPI or other simple personality test to weed out the budding financial Ted Bundys. Our financial system is being run, in a large part, by a bunch of sociopaths who seem, on the surface, to be normal human beings, but whose actions harm and even kill legions of people and they not only don't seem to be bothered by it, they're proud of it! Tell me Bernie Madoff's personality assessment wouldn't have sent up a flotilla of red flags.
+16 # Vegan_Girl 2011-12-23 09:30
They would use the MMPI to FIND the people who would do what is needed for short term profit. This system actively encourages and cultivates sociopathic behavior.
+2 # Scott479 2011-12-23 16:00
You are 100% correct-the last thing JPM, GS, BAC would want is a new hire with a conscience.
+16 # RNF123 2011-12-23 08:45
Thank god for Matt Taibbi for speaking on behalf of the majority of Americans. Those who don't live in gated communities, don't have others to drive them to work, have to pay for their children's education, who go to public schools and who actually do productive work. Unlike the bankers and Goldman Sachs, which is, by all appearances, nothing less than a criminal organization. Jamie Dimon is one of the most overpaid executives in the history of finance. Without him, Chase would never miss a beat. He could be replaced with ease. These billionaires,wh o believe they are unique are not. It is not success that makes others angry, it is the greed and lack of compassion for others that causes the anger while they, the job creators, spend without shame without concern for the fellow citizens. Success is a wonderful achievement but carries with it responsibility to our government and our neighbors. We should seek one great society rather than two that are incompatible. It is often luck rather than skill that allows those like Jamie Dimon rise to the top. Ask his father!
+17 # Travlinlight 2011-12-23 08:53
The people Matt is describing are just like the Marquis St. Evremond in A TALE OF TWO CITIES: they ride over and kill or mame the poor and near-poor and blame their victims for getting in the way.

Matt is right when he says they have stopped being citizens. For the super-rich there are no nations, and the individual citizen doesn't matter. Recall the movie NETWORK; what I have just stated is the Jensen philosophy as ranted to mad Howard Beale. Nothing exists but the great college of capital.

I had an essay posted to RSN titled "FAREWELL NARCISSUS" that explores the issue of super-rich egomania and indifference to the negative impact of their behavior. I don't know if it is still available, but, if it is, I suggest that RSN contributors try to find it and read it. The essay also discusses what may be the underlying motive for the Occupy revolt, and how that could be the start of a new and better worldview.

Accumulating vast sums of money has always been a poor substitute for what is really wanted: growth in spirit and consciousness toward a post-egoic state of freedom from fear and craving. Sadly, I don't expect the super-rich to ever understand that. They are sociopaths who have lost any real sense of being human. Creating a society in which every person is honored and treated justly will be up to men and women capable of common sense, human decency and good will.
0 # Scott479 2011-12-23 16:11
I have a link for your FAREWELL NARCISSUS essay:
-9 # Lute 2011-12-23 08:55
Aux armes, citoyens! Do the words Glock, Sig-Sauer or Smith&Wesson resonate with you?
Take back America
+8 # Scott479 2011-12-23 09:09
On 60 Minutes President Obama, bankster-in-chi ef said of his main source of cash, GS,JPM, BAC "I can tell you, just from 40,000 feet, that some of the most damaging behavior on Wall Street, in some cases, some of the least ethical behavior on Wall Street, wasn't illegal." So I guess a briefcase, unlike a gun, can never be considered a WMD.
+12 # Vegan_Girl 2011-12-23 09:20
Thank you Matt, for the great work. Thank you for speaking truth to power. I love your articles. They help us keeping us informed and focused. I hope that we imbeciles are starting to wake up and stand up to the 1%.

May the next year be better for the 99% than this one was.
+8 # wleming 2011-12-23 09:57
bravo matt--- in 1913 rockefeller was the most hated man in america-- his gun thugs had killed men, women and children during a strike in colorado. they were machine gunned. he hired a man named ivy lee, the founder of modern public relations- and second in line to eddie bernays- another pr guru. it cost rockefeller 100 thousand a year, its said, and twenty years to rehabilitate the name/image. lee suceeded- and the swine you mention, matt,will not be far behind. the u.s. helped create pr, marketing and advertising as global phenomena.... for lots of "good" reasons.
+8 # themunch 2011-12-23 10:19
And all the while we the tax payers support the military budget that provides them the secure position from which to play their crooked games on the rest of us; how's that for "skin in the game"?
+8 # Byronator 2011-12-23 11:12
Ridiculously arrogant comments, such as those dribbled by the nasty Mr. Schwarzman, remind me of the final words of the Roman Emperor Diocletion who, on his death bed, fatuously whined: "Oh dear, I think I'm becoming a god!...."
+7 # bugbuster 2011-12-23 11:21
Left to their own devices, they will starve the rest of us to death. Then who will feed them?
+2 # bugbuster 2011-12-23 11:24
There is a mathematical model that, like climate change, predicts what has happened in finance today under capitalism without reasonable taxation and constraint. You start with ten monkeys in a room, each with $10. They invest. Some win, others lose: it's always a zero-sum game. The winners now have more to invest, the losers have less. So the winners will make more money next time they invest, and the losers will make less, even if their investments pay off. Given that they all have the same luck, the money will end up distributed as it is today in the real world. Merit never had anything to do with it.
+4 # zepcat 2011-12-23 11:26
Sadly we have created these monsters who now stalk us and suck our blood. These bloated, greedy, money tainted vampires survive because for the last 30-40 years the middle class of this land, was as asleep as Rip Van Winkle and allowed a Frankenstein political system to feed these monsters until finally they were strong enough to feed on the middle class. The OWS is a start, but all of us who care about the future of the middle class must shake off the coma of the Bush Years or be nothing more than an after thought in history. If we intend to ever have any power in this country again. We must act now to show Congress the door and refresh it with incorruptibles and make our President Obama live up to the promises he made in his campaign. The Monsters have to be contained and down sized or we give up our rights as human beings forever. Let us get up off our collective asses and find those who are willing to make the sacrifice to change the system and then go to the polls and get them elected. The 1% may have all the money, but the 99% is the population who controls the labor and the politics, if we really want our country back with clean air and fresh water. It is now up to us to act.. If we can't stamp out the grapes of wrath with people power then we are doomed for perdition of our own making. All will have to sacrifice or suffer the consequences and accept things as they are now giving up the Bill of Rights and the Constitution which were created to protect us.
+3 # Donald 2011-12-23 11:32
All the commenters are pointedly correct. Just remember the old adage. "WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND". No matter how long it takes or how it happens.
+6 # reiverpacific 2011-12-23 11:39
To Robt Eagle.
"There you go again!" as the Reagan-plague put it.
Banks and brokerages are laying off people by the tens of thousands and have the rest of their employees in a head-lock of insecurity. I have a friend who was a (lady) manager of a branch of US Bank and just quit to form her own marketing company (which is helping my business try to recover from the depression) and who told me about many of the demeaning and hack-type tasks she and her (also female) tellers had to do to "make points" and survive month to month, while the upper management (Mostly male) earned obscene salaries on her back whilst making sure she and her subordinates knew how dispensable they were!
And have you ever worked for or been consultant to a large corporation. Again, there is a penury involved for all but the "Protected" few in the hierarchy and patriarchal structure (usually male and highly-paid for being non-productive but "supervising" the lower tiers for non-conformance ); the rest are as dispensable as the always uncertain work load who are often hired, moved to any given location when a project looks promising and then laid off when it suddenly evaporates, stranded in a strange town or city with no friends or community and fewer prospects.
And "Paychex" employees depend on small to medium businesses.
Please base your comments on substantiated fact and experience or drag your sorry self to a more reactionary place than RSN!
+4 # bugbuster 2011-12-23 12:49
Paychex was big from the start back in the mid 80s. It used its size and resources to flood the market with slick, full-color advertising. Small local firms like ours, pioneers in cottage industry desktop computer-based payroll processing were blown out of the market. Our service was better, but we didn't have the glitz.
+2 # Italia47 2011-12-23 11:59
Damn straight, Matt Taibbi! No one hates these guys for being successful. We hate the greedy who live off the poor; we hate manipulators; cheats and liars! Should any of them ever happen to lose all their money, just see how fast those young chickies, they so proudly escort about town, take off like bats out of hell!
+6 # mclaire12 2011-12-23 12:24
When i was in my 20's 1/2 a century ago my then husband left me for a fashionista- with 2babies,no health insurance,an eviction notice ,and 10$10.00 bills. While he supported the children over the years i didnt get a nother dime, didnt want it, remarried,went into business, and he made $400 million with his 2ndwife. $400 million!! i am now moving to a retirement bldg. and when asked if he could contribute just a little he said no he was busy leaving for his island mansion with the 50 year old girl friend and had "lost in the stock market". My son calls him a "douchebag" and he cries about that. mclaire12
+3 # jwb110 2011-12-23 12:30
The concept of having "skin in the game" is really very interesting because in the long run when no 99% has any skin in the game they will have nothing to lose relative to the decisions they make. It can come down to a case of "why do I care one way or the other if the rich live or die, I have no skin in that game."
The 1% revel in being pariahs at this point but one day they may actually need something as simple as a glass of water and no one will have "skin in the game" and care if they die of thirst.
It is ONE game and when seen as such everybody plays. The 1% have made it two games. The second game , the one for the 99%, is a non-game. There is no joy in the game no matter how much "skin" you have in it.
History, lore, fables and the like give us an un-interrupted chronicle of how these things work out. Badly, as a rule. The rich may not need us at present. If they do, in future, they might consider how their present behavior will fill an empty glass.
+6 # DLT888 2011-12-23 12:38
Yup, what a bunch of spoiled brats these billionaires and millionaires are. They deserve a good smack. Karma will give it to them sooner or later.
+4 # Terrapin 2011-12-23 12:54
The only reason these Parasites are still alive is because the PIGS are too brainwashed to question WHY they are protecting their rich, fat, useless Asses.
+3 # janetcpa 2011-12-23 14:40
What we need here is a Historian. I remember learning that the only reason Mercantile England didn't buy slaves was there were enough poor people in the community and, to keep people in line and working, begging was punishable by death.
+3 # James Marcus 2011-12-23 15:09
Don't forget. Most of these jerks, our 'elected' Politicos, and their 'Funders', Corporate and Personal, are mere 'Players'... in a very sick, and slick, game, the rules of which they make, and break, at will. (Suckers beware)
They are the Well-Paid Operatives/Corp oratocratists/ Providers/Conne ctors/Lawyers/G rease-Men/ etc; Sons & Daughters of earlier generations of same, or newly bonded from recent 'Fraternal/Soro rital' connections.
But, they are 'expendable'; They are minions only, easily replaced with other Minions.
Obnoxious as they are, take 'Careful Aim' the Powers behind them all, (Generally Silent-and Removed) lest we squander precious time, and energy, on insignificant Minions, and miss The Heads of The Beast!
+2 # ericlipps 2011-12-23 15:12
Seems to me the sort of "respect" Goldman's Leon Cooperman wants is the sort Don Corleone demanded. The only difference is, he doessn't have people whacked, just their jobs, savings and pension funds.

Oh, an as for having "skin in the game" a la Bloomberg exec Stephen Schwarzman: put down that skinning knife, Mr. S, and we'll talk. It's way too easy for those who know they face no risk themselves to tell others to take risks, especially when the former stand to profit even if the latter lose--sometimes especially if they do.
+2 # bracero 2011-12-23 16:23
Matt missed a very important point in his discussion of the 1%. Most of these investors have no money in the game as they make their fortune investing other peoples money. They have no money of their own in the investment. If they make a profitable investment, they take their share. If they make an unprofitable investment, they still take their share but they lose no money as they have invested none of their money in the crap table of life. How sweet it is!
0 # fredboy 2011-12-23 16:57
While some who are wealthy give and do a great deal to help others, those boosting the GOP seem without empathy. Read Baron Cohen's The Science of Evil, an excellent and most revealing look at why some care not for others.
+3 # Texan 4 Peace 2011-12-23 18:12
I never cease to be amazed at those who have been so easily brainwashed to believe that the magnanimous super-rich are our benefactors who "create jobs" so the rest of us can (barely) survive. CEOs produce NOTHING! This is what happens when Marx gets censored from high school economics -- you get a whole generation who doesn't understand the concept of surplus value (and don't think the CEOs don't understand it).
+5 # GravityWave 2011-12-23 19:45
Organization is what's needed as several have pointed out. Bernie Sanders has published a list of 10 corporations among those who paid nothing or got tax REFUNDS from the fed. gov. Some of them are easy to boycott-Citiban k, Exxon, Chevron are in-your-face names. Citi-anything,( I just looked up) has Citi in it's product names, mostly financial products. Don't drive into these other two places. See Sanders' list and stick close to this man, a wonderful source of activism and info.
I just switched my cell from Verizon, Repug supporters, to CREDO. They have help available all the time who don't act like you are an "imbecile" whom they are stooping to help out. They help with the switch and some of your telephone money goes to help progressive causes.
It's a start.
I hope you have some good holidays this season, Taibbi. Telling it like it is as you have done here, has made my whole season. But I especially appreciate the paragraph that starts, "Most of us 99 percenters," etc. Made me feel less like a chump and more like a stable human being.
The contrast between these neurotically greedy sociopaths stands in gaudy relief as you intended. Great writing.
Read, think,write, boycott, march.
+1 # Texas Aggie 2011-12-23 23:25
People like Stephen Schwarzman, who whine that people on the low end of the income scale aren't paying income taxes, fails to note that he doesn't either. If he's upset that some poor sucker making $30,000 a year isn't paying income taxes, then maybe he should explain why the difference between his total income and what he pays taxes on is MORE than $30,000. That means that he isn't paying income tax on more than $30,000.

Frankly I suspect that he pays income tax on more than $50,000 less than he earns because of various deductions and similar legal shenanigans. That means he pays no taxes on income equal to the income of more than half of American families. He needs to put more skin in the game.
0 # Certified Cheezologist 2011-12-24 01:01
When Matt said these jerks have stopped being citizens, I thought "Mmmm, a bit understated there, Matt."

We may forgive Matt for his understatement. The overall article socks it to the a-holes.

Besides, sometimes understatement is more powerful than a lambasting.
+2 # melpacker 2011-12-24 12:17
These folks are psycho-sociopat hic individuals without morals, ethics or redeeming qualities or character. If we are to build a new world, we must return to the old methods of organizing mass resistance, in the streets, in our neighborhoods, as they are doing in so many other nations right now. Only then will we able create the conditions and world in which we live by the simple understanding of "we all live better when we ALL live better".
+1 # tomo 2011-12-24 14:56
Taibbi is marvelous. I love the insolent smile in the photograph that heralds this piece. As Albert Camus said, even as we are being loaded with all the burdens of Sisyphus, we can smile on in the confidence that we deserve better. If you can take it in, it may be helpful at this time of year to recall that the Son of Man was crucified. Today he is crucified again in us: male and female, Jew and Gentile, slave and free. Though I do not like being exploited, I would much prefer--no less in deed as in spirit--to find myself aligned (and contained among) the exploited than to reside complacently with the exploiters.

I DO pity Taibbi's non-citizen exploiters--his men and women without a country or a community. Nietzsche fantasized that those with the "brave heart to exploit without guilt or apology" could form among themselves a brotherhood-of- the-elite; but in reality the elite of our 1% is an assembly of Bernie Madoffs--summon ing their own sons to suicide. Not only do they harm, they DO hurt. They hurt so much they have locked themselves into altogether mindless compulsions in which, without the least reference to value or reality, the only word they can spontaneously say is MORE. The urgent question of the moment is: can we summon back these denizens of self-constructe d hells into some contact with reality before, in their race to self-destructio n, they take us and the rest of the world with them.
+1 # Magginkat 2011-12-26 09:38
WTF? $(%^*%&^@#(*()$ @#@*&$*()%)(*@% $#*#)()(#(**&&^ @#@!! And that's all I have to say about those vermin at the moment.
+1 # wrodwell 2011-12-26 11:51
At this point, it's time for forceful action not more complaints about how "insensitive" ultra-rich bankers are. I've heard that certain people who've had it with their B.S,. have sent out feelers to France asking if they might have any guillotines available for purchase. While not a high tech piece of equipment comparable say, to "smart" bombs, look how efficiently guillotines worked during the French Revolution. Once purchased, all they'll need is a tune-up and some blade-sharpenin g; then, The People can get down to business.
+1 # deck.hazen 2011-12-27 15:00
Understanding the motivations of the rich and powerful is a fun guessing game we can play with our friends. I grew up in a well- off household and I was always told to tell the truth and punished if I was caught lying, so it took me a while to understand why in public everyone was egalitarian, compassionate, and generous, but in private, perhaps after cocktails, it was always about how dirty and smelly poor people were if someone had to take the bus for example, or how ungrateful the staff was, or how you always had to keep an eye on "the help".
My point here is that it's rare to get comments like those in the article above. Talk is cheap and rich people are happy to lie if it will get them out of a jam, or ease their consciences.
My second point is that it really doesn't matter what rich people say when they are pushed, what matters is what they do and I have no doubt that at some point they will throw off their smiley face mask, pick up a gun, and empty a clip or two into a crowd of unarmed protesters.
Understanding this aspect of the rich is of vital importance to the movement. We need to learn the lessons of Kent State and realize that the more effective we become, the more of a threat we are to their positions of wealth and power. Failure to learn these lessons, and our failure to prepare for an escalation of the conflict will cost us a great many lives.
It could cost us the very future of human life on this planet.

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