OWS and the Hurt Feelings of the 1%

by lizard

Mother Jones is reporting on the dire psychological state of the 1%, causing one of its members—Tom Perkins—to freak out in an op-ed at the Wall Street Journal, of course.

By asking if a “progressive Kristallnacht” is coming, Perkins has curiously decided to begin by going full Godwin. You’ve got to read it to believe it:

Regarding your editorial “Censors on Campus” (Jan. 18): Writing from the epicenter of progressive thought, San Francisco, I would call attention to the parallels of fascist Nazi Germany to its war on its “one percent,” namely its Jews, to the progressive war on the American one percent, namely the “rich.”

From the Occupy movement to the demonization of the rich embedded in virtually every word of our local newspaper, the San Francisco Chronicle, I perceive a rising tide of hatred of the successful one percent. There is outraged public reaction to the Google buses carrying technology workers from the city to the peninsula high-tech companies which employ them. We have outrage over the rising real-estate prices which these “techno geeks” can pay. We have, for example, libelous and cruel attacks in the Chronicle on our number-one celebrity, the author Danielle Steel, alleging that she is a “snob” despite the millions she has spent on our city’s homeless and mentally ill over the past decades.

This is a very dangerous drift in our American thinking. Kristallnacht was unthinkable in 1930; is its descendant “progressive” radicalism unthinkable now?

Tom Perkins

San Francisco

Hilarious, right? It get’s better. Clearly that whole Occupy thing really hurt the feelings of the wealthy. Here is a quote from a therapist who provides therapy to the wealthy (Mother Jones):

“I think that with Occupy Wall Street there was a sense of the heat getting turned up and a feeling of vilification and potential danger,” Jamie Traeger-Muney, a psychologist who counsels people who earn tens of millions of dollars a year, told Politico on Thursday. “There is a worry among our clients that they are being judged and people are making assumptions about who they are based on their wealth.”

The article goes on to cite a previous story Mother Jones did about the increasing need for therapists to counsel the wealthy, post economic crash:

Although wealth counseling has existed for years, the 2008 financial crisis really sent the aristocracy sprinting for the therapist’s chair. The 2010 Capgemini/Merrill Lynch World Wealth Report, a survey that takes the pulse of zillionaires around the world, found that after the crisis, spooked clients were demanding “specialized advice.” Financial advisers must “truly understand the emotional aspects of client behavior,” the report warned…

“Any time there’s an outside focus on wealth,” it’s not fun for the wealthy, [Traeger-Muney] says. Heirs, she adds, have it the worst: “They feel like they’re in this 1 percent position. They get bad press from people who make fun of them. It feels like their worst nightmare coming true: the idea that they’re now responsible for other people’s unhappiness and lack of wealth, when they didn’t ask for [their millions].”

When you de-personalize wealth accumulation, then yes, wealth accumulators are partly responsible for the unhappiness people have experienced as it relates to the exploding disparity, lack of opportunity, and increased misery of late-stage crony capitalism.

Instead of being upset at those meanies involved in OWS, Tom Perkins and his ilk should be happy that the US police state coordinated such an effective reaction to their encampments.

I do wonder if the message of supporting violent protests in other nations, like Ukraine, might not be a little worrisome for people like Perkins. Clearly our political class doesn’t mind if protestors use violence against governments that are not aligned with US interests. The problem is if you extend that logic to America, Timothy McVeigh is a freedom fighter taking on a corrupt government.

I think Tom Perkins should be worried. The vast, obscene disparity in wealth will lead to greater and greater social unrest as the safety net unravels, opportunities disappear, and people can’t afford to feed their kids. In a world where 85 of the wealthiest people have as much wealth as the poorest half of the entire global population—3.5 BILLION people—something has got to give.

The street battles in Ukraine may be happening half a world away, but I think it’s worth trying to understand what underlies the violence being expressed on the streets of Kiev.

In a previous post about US foreign policy supporting fascists and other extremists, JC provided a link everyone should check out—a photoblog of the protests in Ukraine. It offers both a visual perspective and some important context, important enough to quote at length:

I came to Kiev. I came to see for myself what is happening here. Of course, an hour after arriving at Maidan, you begin to understand that everything what you’ve read in dozens of articles, saw in TV news reports is total crap. In the upcoming reports I will try to, as objectively as possible, to sort out this new wave of Kiev revolution.

Usually reporters try to answer the question: “Who came out to Maidan and why.” Depending on the political leaning of MSM, the answers are different. Some say it’s “fascists who came out to lynch the Moscali (Ukranian derogatory for Moscovites and Russians in general).”, some say “they’re bums and slackers, who’ve got nothing better to do” and “instigators on the government payroll.” In reality, there is no answer. Those who came out are completely different. Remember, how a couple of years in Moscow there was a MSM buzzword “angry townspeople.” Here you see football fans, retirees, office plankton. And everyone is standing together. A sweet, ol’ grandmother is pouring Molotv cocktail in a nationalists’ bottles; and a manager of a large company is carrying ammunition to the student. And as it seems to me at this time, these people do not have a specific plan, nor idea of what to do next. Of course, individually, everyone has their own plan to “save Ukraine.” For some its “we need a couple of crates of AKs and grenades, we’ll sort things out here quickly.” Others “need to ask the world community for help and bring in the UN troops.” At this time there is no central idea of what to do, an idea that can unite and point in one direction the people at Maidan.

The only thing that is completely clear – people came out against Yanukovich.

The burning barricades are visited by people who have come to let out anger and resentment that have accumulated over the years – for the excesses of cops; for the corruption; for the ‘golden toilet’; for the stupidity of the sell-out officials. An elderly man, 80 years of age, walks up to young guys in masks and asks them for a bottle of flaming liquid. They ask him:

“- Grandad, you wont be able to throw it far enough!
– Just give me one, I want to show these beasts that they cannot treat me like this”

Unfortunately, the Ukranians had bad luck with opposition. The street mob is not controlled by anyone. Klichko and his company met with Yanukovch yesterday. Later they came out to the people, began to say something, but no one believes them. And no one wants to follow them. The main mass of people are completely non-political. They come out to kick Yanukovich and his company’s ass. Everyone has their own grievances and vision of the future.

So what’s the message here? If American citizens have no redress for their grievances regarding the corrupting influence of money in our politics are we justified to occupy buildings, build barricades, attack police, and burn DC to the ground?

The use of violence was a heady topic of conversation during OWS. Chris Hedges wrote extensively about avoiding protestor violence and letting the violence of the police state stand in stark contrast to peaceful protests. Chris Hedges will actually be in Missoula tomorrow to give a talk at the University, which will start at 8pm.

But that’s tomorrow. Today is Super Bowl Sunday, a day where money and violence reign supreme. As Roger Goodell pulls in a salary of nearly 30 million dollars, and the NFL enjoys revenues topping 9 billion, you might want to ask yourself why the NFL is a non-profit that hasn’t paid taxes since 1966.

Go Seahawks!!!

  1. JC

    “My administration is the only thing between you and the pitchforks.”

    I think almost 5 years have taught us what he really meant by that statement, issued in April ’09 as Obama warned bankers to tone down their rhetoric.

    I’m sure Obama’s current rejoinders about criticism of the accumulators flies under the radar now, with all the flies on the wall having been mollified with honey pots.

  2. Oh that’s cute. Rich people – they say the darndest things, don’t they?

    • Craig Moore

      Teddy Roosevelt, when he came West to imitate a cowboy he was known to say to the real cowpokes, “Hasten forward quickly there.” Had them falling out of their saddles with laughter.

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