The voice of plutocrats yearning for dominance and control

Summary:  The concentration of wealth and power during the past forty years continues, even accellerates. Anyone familiar with history can see how this will change America. Now we enter the next stage.  Like the plutocrats of the gilded age, they claim virtue and efficiency in addition to wealth.  Such as Peter Thiel,  speaking as a voice of the New America.  Money always finds its spokesman.

(1) Talking tech with Peter Thiel, investor and philanthropist“, CNet, 3 October 2011 — “CNET chats with Peter Thiel, billionaire tech investor and philanthropist, on startups, the state of the tech economy, and what he’s interested in now.”

Question:  You once told The Wall Street Journal, referring to President Obama: “I’m not sure I’d describe him as a socialist. I might even say he has a naive and touching faith in capitalism. He believes you can impose all sorts of burdens on the system and it will still work.” Is that still true?

Thiel: Yes. I think there is an incredible faith in capitalism — that you can put any burdens on business, and people will just work. It’s like people are hardwired to make money and there’s nothing you can do to change that, irrespective of politics. In that sense it is an incredible faith in capitalism that I don’t quite share.

Theil seems delusionally unaware of US history.  The excesses of the Gilded Age that prompted the regulations of the Progressive Era and New Deal. And that the US has experienced 30 years of tax-cutting and deregulation, taking both taxes and regulations now at levels far below those during the post-WWII years of rapid growth.  His belief that Obama has imposed unusual burdens is equally absurd (Obama’s a laisze-fair conservative by comparison with Nixon’s regulatory surge).

(2)  The unhinged whining of a plutocrat:  “The Education of a Libertarian“, Peter Thiel, Cato Unbound, 13 April 2009

(3)  An alternative to reading this fascinating and self-revealing essay: “Libertarian inadvertently argues for 90% marginal tax rate“, Amanda Marcottte, Pandagon, 23 April 2012.

(4)  And for entertainment we have some articles about the whining of the rich. These describe only a small fraction of whining by the rich during the past few years:

For more information

The rich always find courtiers to justify their wealth and power: “The Creative Monopoly“, David Brooks, op-ed in the New York Times, 23 April 2012 — A giddy Brooks describes Thiel’s love of monopoly, dressed in tinsel for gullible Americans.  Anyone familiar with real monopolies and near-monopolies, from Standard Oil to Microsoft, will laugh at this.

A dose of reality:  “Poor little rich minds: The price of wealth“, Michael Bond, New Scientist, 18 April 2012 — “Psychologists now have evidence that money breeds greed and kills empathy. Knowing how could help solve social ills.”

Other posts about inequality

  1. A sad picture of America, but important for us to understand, 3 November 2008 — Our low social mobility.
  2. America’s elites reluctantly impose a client-patron system, 5 November 2008
  3. Inequality in the USA, 7 January 2009
  4. A great, brief analysis of problem with America’s society – a model to follow when looking at other problems, 4 June 2009
  5. The latest figures on income inequality in the USA, 9 October 2009
  6. An opportunity to look in the mirror, to more clearly see America, 10 November 2009
  7. Graph of the decade, a hidden fracture in the American political regime, 7 March 2010
  8. America, the land of limited opportunity. We must open our eyes to the truth., 31 March 2010
  9. Modern America seen in pictures. Graphs, not photos. Facts, not impressions., 13 June 2010
  10. A pity party for America’s rich and powerful, 8 September 2010
  11. News You Can Use to understand the New America, 14 March 2012 — Articles about rising inequality
  12. The new American economy: concentrating business power to suit an unequal society, 27 April 2012
  13. Should we despair, giving up on America?, 5 May 2012

12 thoughts on “The voice of plutocrats yearning for dominance and control”

  1. Peter Thiel is a certifiable wack job. He pays young people to drop out of college. He donated 2.5 million dollars to Ron Paul’s presidential campaign — Ron Paul is a guy who thinks we should shut down the IRS and let individual citizens print their own money, Ron Paul is a doctor who’s a creationist…how he reconciles that with prescribing vaccines, I’d really like to know.

    My favorite moment in the debate twixt Peter Thiel and Eric Schmidt, the CEO of Google, was when the moderator said: “Crazy is a term of art, you understand, right?”

    So Thiel might not be the best representative for the billionaire class. Somebody more stable and reality-based, like Bloomberg or Bill Gates, might better represent that group.

    1. We don’t have the data to give definitive answers, but IMO Thiel is typical of the 1% that are shaping the New Merica.

      That’s done by the committed, will to use their money and influence to change America. You might prefer the quiet ones who use their money in a traditional manner, they’re seldom the sort of people who mold history.

    1. Actually — if it weren’t for the fact that the nationalists, Dominionists, plutocrats, self-appointed Pharisees, etc. have in many respects already succeeded in hijacking it for their own purposes — I might be inclined to recommended Christianity with its repeated emphasis on concern for the less fortunate and cautionary statements regarding preoccupation with the material world.

      1. If we wanted to try something really crazy, we might read about the Jesus guy. He said some interesting things. Someday we might try some of his ideas. Perhaps even create an organization focused on spreading his ideas, and helping people live by them.

        I don’t know if that’s a practical idea, or even possible.

    2. If we wanted to try something really crazy, we might read about the Jesus guy. He said some interesting things. Someday we might try some of his ideas. Perhaps even create an organization focused on spreading his ideas, and helping people live by them.

      Yeah…what a concept, eh?

    3. “Perhaps even create an organization focused on spreading his ideas, and helping people live by them.”

      This was not unknown in South America. What was the quote? Ah yes,

      “When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why they are poor, they call me a communist.”
      — Dom Hélder Pessoa Câmara, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Olinda and Recife.

      Of course, under some circumstances this could lead to death by murder of the Catholic clergy espousing such beliefs. I need not list examples, I think. Brave men and women who gave their lives fighting against truly wretched poverty. The name Oscar Romero comes to mind here, but sadly he’s not the only example.

      Here is the US, however, the brilliant, transcendent and glorious teachings of Ayn Rand are considered to be entirely compatible with Roman Catholicism, as long as you pay lip service to a few pet Catholic issues. Just ask Paul Ryan, who gloriously unites Rand and Jesus Christ in his person. Truly, we live in glorious times!

      In the words of Yakov Smirnoff, “What a country!”

  2. People don’t seem to get the simplicity of how the higher personal/corporate/capital gains taxes worked in creating higher growth levels in the post WW2 to about 1970..

    It was ‘use it or lose it’. Say if you were a corporation and you made a great profit. Then you had to spend it or the Govt took it .. and then it would spend it. So you paid higher wages , thanks to that people bought more, so you also spent on capital investment. The Govt had lots of money and it spent on people and infrastructure, which lowered your costs and increased demand. So you made larger profits .. and so on.

    It ended with the 72 oil crisis. And all those, waiting in the wings, ‘neo-liberals’ seized their moment. Just like their later, much more violent cousins, the ‘neo-cons’ did after 9/11.

    It was all nonsense of course. We, much oil dependent societies at the the time, took a major hit which created a wave of inflation. It was dealable with. Some countries, like Japan and France dealt with it quite easily. The real issue was to reduce oil dependence and improve energy efficiency.

    The way the ‘Anglo-Saxon’ countries did it was to smash unions, living standards and their economies while exploiting new oil finds like Mexico and the North Sea. The damage done by people like Thatcher to their economies was papered over by the subsequent lower oil prices and/or oil income .. for a while.

    Note that what is known as ‘neo-liberal’ economics, or the ‘Washington consensus’ was purely a political ideology, which had about as much relationship with reality as communism or national socialism. And will go the same way into history as both those did. Any system based on systemic, organised looting is not going to survive.

    I mean, most of it didn’t even pass the ‘laugh test’ … like the efficient markets theorem (EMT) where everyone in the market has perfect information and perfect knowledge of the future. I mean who took this seriously? Or Greenspan or Bernanke, who say that ‘financial crime cannot happen’ (because of the EMT, you like the circular logic?)). Bit like Hoover saying ‘organised crime does not exist’. But therefore no one gets prosecuted, since their crimes are impossible.

    Sadly too many did drink the ‘cool aid’, including nearly all the suckers who got screwed by it.

    Now we are in the end game. Their nonsense has so impoverished their overall societies, made them so incapable of building for the future or even dealing with relatively straightforward issues.

    But as their societies get poorer, they have to loot more, just to maintain their position. Which means the society gets even poorer, which means they have to loot more .. and so on … the classic ‘downward spiral’..

    Like Zimbabwe.

    Meanwhile the US Fed is now printing unlimited money, not one single cent of which an ordinary person will ever see. Like pay off their mortgage, pay their student loan, pay for an infrastructure project, pay for R&D, pay for a whole new transport system … and so on.

    But asset values will be inflated and the speculators can have unlimited money at no cost .. to them.

    Hmmm, what can possibly go wrong with this scenario?

    1. I always said that we had Reagan in the actual government, but we also had a shadow government of folks like “Neutron Jack” Welch and Al “Chainsaw” Dunlap. Ridiculous men with ridiculous gangster nicknames who did as much damage to this country by starting business trends and corporate policies as some of the more boneheaded government policies did through the law. It’s not just that they damaged the companies they themselves mismanaged, they did so to such personal financial success (never mind what they did to actual American wealth) that there destructive ideas were replicated throughout the corporate sector.

      Dunlap was influential in his day, but was ultimately to openly crooked to survive. Other, more careful men (Mitt Romney, for instance) were able to prosper using the business model that Dunlap pioneered.

      “Neutron Jack” is still revered by many in the business world. And concepts he pioneered like Stack Ranking are still creating rack and ruin throughout society.

      Microsoft’s Downfall: Inside the Executive E-mails and Cannibalistic Culture That Felled a Tech Giant“, Vanity Fair, 23 July 2012

  3. Pingback: A safety checklist for America during the Ebola panic. #1: are we cowards? | Ahaa

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