Sunday, April 11, 2010

a last chance for changing the 50 dollar bill

I do like Matt Taibbi. But sometimes I think he misses a trick or two – that he could easily have avoided by reading me. In his latest column, he strikes gold – or, what is even more valuable for a satirist, fool’s gold – in the latest ‘conversation’ between David Brooks and Gail Collins. The two NYT columnist speak of the great events of the week – such as the Duke Butler basketball game – and Brooks wraps himself up in a visionary frenzy:

David Brooks: “The rich are not always spoiled. Their success does not always derive from privilege. The Duke players — to the extent that they are paragons of privilege, which I dispute — won through hard work on defense.

Gail Collins: I’m sorry, when the difference is one weensy basket, I’d say Duke won neither by privilege nor hard work but by sheer luck. But don’t let me interrupt your thought here. I detect the subtle and skillful transition to a larger non-sport point.

David Brooks: Yes. I was going to say that for the first time in human history, rich people work longer hours than middle class or poor people. How do you construct a rich versus poor narrative when the rich are more industrious?”

Taibbi – as any sentient human being below the 250 thou per year level, which includes 99 percent of the world’s population – finds Brooks’ comment, on the one hand, sublimely funny, and on the other hand, a troping of the word ‘work’ that most of us would kill to be able to so trope:

“I would give just about anything to sit David Brooks down in front of some single mother somewhere who’s pulling two shitty minimum-wage jobs just to be able to afford a pair of $19 Mossimo sneakers at Target for her kid, and have him tell her, with a straight face, that her main problem is that she doesn’t work as hard as Jamie Dimon.

Only a person who has never actually held a real job could say something like this. There is, of course, a huge difference between working 80 hours a week in a profession that you love and which promises you vast financial rewards, and working 80 hours a week digging ditches for a septic-tank company, or listening to impatient assholes scream at you at some airport ticket counter all day long, or even teaching disinterested, uncontrollable kids in some crappy school district with metal detectors on every door.”

Although heartfelt, Taibbi’s wish scenario is a little too, shall we say, lacking in ferocity.

To get to the servility complex, here, that allows the middle class to look up to its predators, who are even now actively digging the middle class grave, one has to put a bony skeletal finger in their very heart, or up their very rectum. My own bony finger was lodged as far up that rectum, at Limited Inc, for as long as I could stand it. Perhaps I lost my sense of humor in trying to mix proctology and memento mori – but in any case, surely, to speak of the industrious rich, one has to speak of one of the 00s most outstanding predator – of course, I’m speaking of former head of Exxon, Lee R. Raymond, and his pay package, which amounted to $144,573 a Day.

I went into the science of his pay package in 2006:

“For the better understanding of this great man’s tres riches heures, remember that each day includes lunch and, surely, a pee and a dump. Now, given that Raymond is in his sixties, I imagine that a dump takes about ten minutes. Of course, he could have had some young Brazilian man’s rectum transplanted into his (no doubt, you can check Exxon’s quarterly reports to see – such an operation would surely be a courtesy given by the company, for services rendered, rather than being paid for straight out of his own compensation package – but until better information, I will put it at ten minutes). I’m including wiping and washing the hands – something his fourth wife has surely taught him by now.

So, a full Raymond dump is worth more money than I made last year. Or is it about the same? In any case, your average Cameroonian or Egyptian or Sri Lankan doesn’t make near a Raymond dump. I would put them at half a Raymond pee.”

My calculation was I think off – it really took two dumps by Raymond to equal what I made in 2006. But I am pretty sure a Raymond pee was equal to the year’s earning of an Egyptian. As for Taibbi’s minimum wage woman, I’d put her at three Raymond shits.
The culture of the 00s hasn’t changed a bit, except that all the Raymonds were in danger of losing their money in 2008, so Obama took a bullet for the team and made Wall Street’s financial sector realize that they have friends in D.C.

Which is why it is more urgent than ever that, with the current dispute about putting Reagan on the fifty dollar bill, my plea is heard!

“… we could order the finest engravers of the greatest Republic the world has ever seen to render, in full, rich detail one of the great Raymond dumps, substituting for a history we don't remember a sign and symbol we all revere, a veritable american eucharist? I hasten to add, not a scape of the whole mass and accumulation of excretia. Currency is meant to be exchanged, and we don’t need bills that high. I was thinking, however, that to honor the magic of the marketplace, of which the U.S. is a veritable monument and museum, that one finely etched turd, one rich, ravishing portion of the great man’s scat, could, perhaps, take the place of paltry Grant. For smaller denominations, I would suggest we send some of the great chefs with their finest cutlery to slice into appropriate portions that product of great man's dyspepsia. A portion of the turd on the one, the five, the twenty-five and the fifty would remind us by its majestic look in whose country we have temporary residence.“

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