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Monday, January 27, 2014

Paul Krugman: Paranoia of the Plutocrats

Welcoming the hatred:

Paranoia of the Plutocrats, by Paul Krugman, Commentary, NY Times: ...billionaire investor Tom Perkins... in a letter to the editor of The Wall Street Journal,... lamented public criticism of the “one percent” — and compared such criticism to Nazi attacks on the Jews, suggesting that we are on the road to another Kristallnacht.
You may say that this is just one crazy guy and wonder why The Journal would publish such a thing. But Mr. Perkins isn’t that much of an outlier...
Now, just to be clear, the very rich, and those on Wall Street in particular, are in fact doing worse under Mr. Obama than they would have if Mitt Romney had won in 2012. ...
But every group finds itself ... on the losing side of policy disputes somewhere along the way; that’s democracy. The question is what happens next. Normal people take it in stride..., they don’t cry persecution, compare their critics to Nazis and insist that the world revolves around their hurt feelings. But the rich are different from you and me. ... They’re accustomed to being treated with deference, not just by the people they hire but by politicians who want their campaign contributions. And so they are shocked to discover that money can’t buy everything, can’t insulate them from all adversity.
I also suspect that today’s Masters of the Universe are insecure about the nature of their success. We’re not talking captains of industry here, men who make stuff. We are, instead, talking about wheeler-dealers, men who push money around and get rich by skimming some off the top as it sloshes by. They may boast that they are job creators..., but are they really adding value? Many of us doubt it — and so, I suspect, do some of the wealthy themselves, a form of self-doubt that causes them to lash out even more furiously at their critics.
Anyway, we’ve been here before. It’s impossible to read screeds like those of Mr. Perkins ... without thinking of F.D.R.’s famous 1936 Madison Square Garden speech, in which he spoke of the hatred he faced from the forces of “organized money,” and declared, “I welcome their hatred.”
President Obama has not, unfortunately, done nearly as much as F.D.R. to earn the hatred of the undeserving rich. But he has done more than many progressives give him credit for — and like F.D.R., both he and progressives in general should welcome that hatred, because it’s a sign that they’re doing something right.

    Posted by on Monday, January 27, 2014 at 12:24 AM in Economics | Permalink  Comments (64)

          


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