Some people I know….

    <div class="node-header">               Published on Monday, October 10, 2011 by <a href="">The New York Times</a>                                                                                                                                                                  <div class="node-title">  <h2 class="title">Panic of the Plutocrats</h2> </div>                                                                               <div class="author">              by  <a href="">Paul Krugman</a>           </div>              </div>                          It remains to be seen whether the Occupy Wall Street protests will  change America's direction. Yet the protests have already elicited a  remarkably hysterical reaction from Wall Street, the super-rich in  general, and politicians and pundits who reliably serve the interests of  the wealthiest hundredth of a percent. And this reaction tells you something important — namely, that the  extremists threatening American values are what F.D.R. called "economic  royalists," not the people camping in Zuccotti Park. Consider first how Republican politicians have portrayed the  modest-sized if growing demonstrations, which have involved some  confrontations with the police — confrontations that seem to have  involved a lot of police overreaction — but nothing one could call a  riot. And there has in fact been nothing so far to match the behavior of  Tea Party crowds in the summer of 2009. Nonetheless, Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, has denounced  "mobs" and "the pitting of Americans against Americans." The G.O.P.  presidential candidates have weighed in, with Mitt Romney accusing the  protesters of waging "class warfare," while Herman Cain calls them  "anti-American." My favorite, however, is Senator Rand Paul, who for  some reason worries that the protesters will start seizing iPads,  because they believe rich people don't deserve to have them. Michael Bloomberg, New York's mayor and a financial-industry titan in  his own right, was a bit more moderate, but still accused the  protesters of trying to "take the jobs away from people working in this  city," a statement that bears no resemblance to the movement's actual  goals. And if you were listening to talking heads on CNBC, you learned that  the protesters "let their freak flags fly," and are "aligned with  Lenin." The way to understand all of this is to realize that it's part of a  broader syndrome, in which wealthy Americans who benefit hugely from a  system rigged in their favor react with hysteria to anyone who points  out just how rigged the system is. Last year, you may recall, a number of financial-industry barons went  wild over very mild criticism from President Obama. They denounced Mr.  Obama as being almost a socialist for endorsing the so-called Volcker  rule, which would simply prohibit banks backed by federal guarantees  from engaging in risky speculation. And as for their reaction to  proposals to close a loophole that lets some of them pay remarkably low  taxes — well, Stephen Schwarzman, chairman of the Blackstone Group,  compared it to Hitler's invasion of Poland. And then there's the campaign of character assassination against  Elizabeth Warren, the financial reformer now running for the Senate in  Massachusetts. Not long ago a YouTube video of Ms. Warren making an  eloquent, down-to-earth case for taxes on the rich went viral. Nothing  about what she said was radical — it was no more than a modern riff on  Oliver Wendell Holmes's famous dictum that "Taxes are what we pay for  civilized society." But listening to the reliable defenders of the wealthy, you'd think  that Ms. Warren was the second coming of Leon Trotsky. George Will  declared that she has a "collectivist agenda," that she believes that  "individualism is a chimera." And Rush Limbaugh called her "a parasite  who hates her host. Willing to destroy the host while she sucks the life  out of it." What's going on here? The answer, surely, is that Wall Street's  Masters of the Universe realize, deep down, how morally indefensible  their position is. They're not John Galt; they're not even Steve Jobs.  They're people who got rich by peddling complex financial schemes that,  far from delivering clear benefits to the American people, helped push  us into a crisis whose aftereffects continue to blight the lives of tens  of millions of their fellow citizens. Yet they have paid no price. Their institutions were bailed out by  taxpayers, with few strings attached. They continue to benefit from  explicit and implicit federal guarantees — basically, they're still in a  game of heads they win, tails taxpayers lose. And they benefit from tax  loopholes that in many cases have people with multimillion-dollar  incomes paying lower rates than middle-class families. This special treatment can't bear close scrutiny — and therefore, as  they see it, there must be no close scrutiny. Anyone who points out the  obvious, no matter how calmly and moderately, must be demonized and  driven from the stage. In fact, the more reasonable and moderate a  critic sounds, the more urgently he or she must be demonized, hence the  frantic sliming of Elizabeth Warren. So who's really being un-American here? Not the protesters, who are  simply trying to get their voices heard. No, the real extremists here  are America's oligarchs, who want to suppress any criticism of the  sources of their wealth.                                        <div class="copyright-info">© 2011 The New York Times Company</div><br clear="all"/><br />-- <br /><div><br /></div>90% of success is showing up.  Getting the math right is the other 50%.<div>  -T</div><div>Aut viam inveniam aut  faciamaut viam inveniam aut faciam.</div><div>-Hannibal</div>  <b><br /></b><br /> 

Leave a Reply