Wednesday, April 22, 2009

blind pig nation

The central figure in this engraving [The Cockpit] is the blind Lord Albemarle Bertie, who stakes money he cannot control on the outcome of a fight he cannot see. – England in the Age of Hogarth, Derek Jarrett

This is the time, oh most certainly the time, for Lord A. Bertie! What a perfect description of the financialized economy, dominated by sharps, financed by the greedy blind, and staging a lower-life fight to the death. That’s us, sweethearts.

Hogarthian comparisons mass and pass through the papers and magazines, and I, poor bard of the Zona, the appalled and sniggering spectator of every vile move, can hardly cut and paste fast enough. That the bubble in which our worst live is as transparent as the bubble in which Glenda the Good Witch traveled through Oz, and thus displays sights desired by all, the whole open mouthed world, as long as you have been able to divert some capital flow (oh, it flows like piss, or blood, or the blackest shit from the bowels of an almost ossified and incredible monster, a monster composed, can you believe it, of the beads of sweat of billions of suckers?) into your bank account. And to think, there is a lack of appreciation on the part of some of the merely unmentionable outside the bubble! There are rumors of taxes. Taxes! As if these were not the great captains of industry, the great minds, the ever spinning wheels, the great and oh so hardworking slicers and dicers, doing so, so much for us, and asking in return merely to sit on our necks and ride us for the rest of our living days.

Quick quick to our scissoring. Here is the New York article that really should be printed on every zek forehead, just in case the angels above want to index the winners and the losers. It is all about what the very very rich think about having gorged themselves nicely on a couple trillion dollars of government monies – that it is yesterday’s news, that’s what. They’ve already forgotten it. And that is cause they are smart and hard hard hard workers:

“No offense to Middle America, but if someone went to Columbia or Wharton, [even if] their company is a fumbling, mismanaged bank, why should they all of a sudden be paid the same as the guy down the block who delivers restaurant supplies for Sysco out of a huge, shiny truck?” e-mails an irate Citigroup executive to a colleague.

“I’m not giving to charity this year!” one hedge-fund analyst shouts into the phone, when I ask about Obama’s planned tax increases. “When people ask me for money, I tell them, ‘If you want me to give you money, send a letter to my senator asking for my taxes to be lowered.’ I feel so much less generous right now. If I have to adopt twenty poor families, I want a thank-you note and an update on their lives. At least Sally Struthers gives you an update.”

It is difficult to sympathize with these people, their comments laced with snobbery and petulance. But you can understand their shock: Their world has been turned on its head. After years of enjoying favorable tax rates, they are facing an administration that wants to redistribute their wealth. Their industry is being reordered—no one knows what Wall Street will look like in a few years. They are anxious, and their anxiety is making them mad.”

I’m so worried that the poor and grateful are being screwed, again, by those who want to tax the proud, proud products of Columbia and Wharton! And not only are they so smart, but hard workers? You can’t believe it!

“A few weeks ago, I had drinks with a friend who used to work at Lehman Brothers. She had come to Wall Street in the mid-eighties, when the junk-bond boom spawned a new class of globe-trotting financiers. Over two decades, she had done stints at all the major banks—Chase, Goldman, Lehman—and had a thriving career directing giant streams of capital around the world and extracting a substantial percentage for herself. To her mind, extreme compensation is a fair trade for the compromises of such a career. “People just don’t get it,” she says. “I’m attached to my BlackBerry. I was at my doctor the other day, and my doctor said to me, ‘You know, I like that when I leave the office, I leave.’ I get calls at two in the morning, when the market moves. That costs money. If they keep compensation capped, I don’t know how the deals get done. They’re taking Wall Street and throwing it in the East River.”

And then there is this: "Part of the problem, the Goldman vet explains, is that there’s a vast divide between where the public is and where the bankers are. The public registers how fundamentally the system has changed; the bankers are far from getting to that point. “When I talked to my friends in November and December at firms like Goldman, they would tell me, ‘If the government doesn’t bail us out, we’re going down.’ They really thought they were going to zero, and without exception, they all forget that now,” he says. “They forget that their company’s stock was going to zero. It’s a state of delusion; they don’t remember those days. The flip side of that is, every guy except the Goldman guy remembers that Goldman was bailed out.”

So, this is the culture, these are the people, to which a couple of trillion dollars in bailout money has been directed. Cute!

For a change of pace, let’s go to the near criminal class. I’m talking losers. I’m talking people who endanger our feudal way of living. Yes – nurses who want to unionize! Can you believe it? Luckily, the Dems, who promised to make unionization easier when they needed votes, now need corporate money to live in the way they are accustomed to live in D.C., so their new motto is: eat shit and die.

“The battle has ground on for 20 years. In 1989 and again in 1994, a clear majority of nurses at a Louisville, Ky., hospital signed cards saying they wanted a union. But each time a majority of the nurses later voted down the idea when it was put to a secret ballot.

“Given the deceitful tactics unions employ when trying to get nurses to sign these cards, this is dangerous legislation that should not be enacted,” Stephen A. Williams, president of the hospital’s parent, the nonprofit corporation Norton Healthcare, wrote to the nurses in March.
In the Louisville fight, the National Labor Relations Board ruled that the nurses had changed their minds about the union in 1994 mainly because management conducted an often illegal campaign against unionization.”

Now this would seem to be an easy one for the Dems, right? Pass the fuckin changes to the onerous labor laws that heavily favor capital. But the Senate has, in Dem hands, suddenly changed into such a precious, peevish institution that can’t, that just can’t, have a debate – thus, legislation always has to begin with a vote to close off debate. If they have the debate, land sakes, it would be terrible. Filibustering and stuff, when a senator has to meet with many important people and map out the lobbying groups his wife and kids will work for and like that.

“The N.L.R.B.’s rulings described weeks of psychological warfare. Management put television sets in the nurses’ stations. “They would show these horrible old movies showing miners’ strikes and violence involving unions,” said Betty Schmitt, a nurse who has since retired.

She said management put up signs reading: “Be careful with whom you associate. You can be found guilty by association.” Many nurses were scared to be seen talking to union supporters, she said.
“It didn’t feel like America,” Ms. Schmitt said. “It felt like Nazi Germany.”
In 1994, the nurses voted 366 to 220 against unionizing — a sharp reversal considering that a majority of 348 nurses had originally signed pro-union cards. Management said the nurses in the majority did not want to pay union dues or have an outside party speak for them.”

If I had time time time, I’d end this collage with the current quiet collapse of efforts to change the outrageous and completely stupid bankruptcy bill – another Dem promise – cause, well, those bank lobbyists just don’t like it. And the legislature is paralyzed in a self-captivity of its own making.
Faites vos jeux, monsieurs et Mesdames.

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