Hooray, the Super Rich Have Totally Recovered From the Collapse!
Have you been worried that maybe the super rich global elite has been suffering since the economic meltdown began three years ago? Well thanks for worrying, but they are doing just fine. Sure, there was a bit of turbulence in their NetJets charter over some of the poorer parts of America and the larger world --you try going from $1 billion a year to, say, $650 million! -- but it's smooth flying from here on out. It turns out that no matter how unemployed or cash strapped or stressed out all the non decamillionaires and hectomillionaires and cold straight billionaires might be today (and forever, until the invisible hand of death finally relieves them/us of the banal Sisyphean struggle of modern existence), the poors continues to help the super rich stay super rich.
That cell phone in the pocket of the day laborer standing on the corner is paying real money in the form of royalties, sales and service subscriptions to the richest 1% who desperately need to keep ahead! Just multiply his meager contribution to, say, almost everyone on this planet, and you see why even the lowliest laid-off Wal-Mart seasonal stockroom slob is doing his or her part, just by watching teevee or getting diabetes!
The communist journal Atlantic Monthly has a very long, very awful-to-read feature on the lives of these buoyant mega-richie-riches who have somehow risen even higher than their high-water mark of the mid-2000s:
Meanwhile, the vast majority of U.S. workers, however devoted and skilled at their jobs, have missed out on the windfalls of this winner-take-most economy—or worse, found their savings, employers, or professions ravaged by the same forces that have enriched the plutocratic elite. The result of these divergent trends is a jaw-dropping surge in U.S. income inequality. According to the economists Emmanuel Saez of Berkeley and Thomas Piketty of the Paris School of Economics, between 2002 and 2007, 65 percent of all income growth in the United States went to the top 1 percent of the population. The financial crisis interrupted this trend temporarily, as incomes for the top 1 percent fell more than those of the rest of the population in 2008. But recent evidence suggests that, in the wake of the crisis, incomes at the summit are rebounding more quickly than those below. One example: after a down year in 2008, the top 25 hedge-fund managers were paid, on average, more than $1 billion each in 2009, quickly eclipsing the record they had set in pre-recession 2007.
Ronald Reagan must be jizzing in his grave!
The good thing, we are told, is that today's super-dooper mega-billionaire is not just laying about his 5,000-room mansion banging child sex slaves like the aristocrats of old. No, today's global elite are Do-Gooders. They have many important causes and it's hard to argue with the goodness of most of the causes -- we leave out such foul behind-the-scenes demagogues such as the Koch Brothers. About the only Good Cause you won't see on this list is the forced global redistribution of wealth:
Inspired and advised by the liberal Soros, Peter Peterson—himself a Republican and former member of Nixon’s Cabinet—has spent $1 billion of his Blackstone windfall on a foundation dedicated to bringing down America’s deficit and entitlement spending. Bill Gates, likewise, devotes most of his energy and intellect today to his foundation’s work on causes ranging from supporting charter schools to combating disease in Africa. Facebook’s Zuckerberg has yet to reach his 30th birthday, but last fall he donated $100 million to improving the public schools of Newark, New Jersey. Insurance and real-estate magnate Eli Broad has become an influential funder of stem-cell research; Jim Balsillie, a co-founder of BlackBerry creator Research in Motion, has established his own international-affairs think tank; and on and on. It is no coincidence that Bill Clinton has devoted his post-presidency to the construction of a global philanthropic “brand.”
So, if you want to take these folks down to a 1950s or 1970s level of Massive Wealth -- that long-gone world where CEOs rarely made more than five times' the salary of the lowest-paid worker in their companies -- you're going to have to get off your ass and do it yourself, aren't you?
But even that sounds hollow. First, because you'll do no such thing. And second, because capturing a bigger individual share of the world's global wealth concentration might "feel good" for a while, until you realize that making $250,000 a year is not incredibly different than struggling on $50,000, because like defeated robots as soon as we get a little higher up that insanely tall ladder, we pick up all the trinkets and ridiculous annual expenses we've been programmed to accumulate, so that on April 15 we are usually left muttering to Turbo Tax and wondering how, exactly, we might follow Siddhartha's very good advice about "giving away our cows." [Atlantic Monthly via Cryptogon]