Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, Ph.D.

I study people, technology, and the worlds they make

Matt Taibbi on “skin in the game”

A fabulous recent Bloomberg piece quotes Blackstone Group LP CEO Stephen Schwarzman on the unfairness of lower-income U.S. families, military retirees, pensioners, and others who pay no income tax: “You have to have skin in the game,” he complains.

Matt Taibbi counters, if you’re not paying federal income taxes because you’re earning working-class wages,

you’ve got nothing but skin in the game. You’ve got it all riding on how well America works.

You can’t afford private security: you need to depend on the police. You can’t afford private health care: Medicare is all you have. You get arrested, you’re not hiring Davis, Polk to get you out of jail: you rely on a public defender to negotiate a court system you’d better pray deals with everyone from the same deck…. And in the bigger picture, of course, you need the state and the private sector both to be functioning well enough to provide you with regular work, and a safe place to raise your children, and clean water and clean air.

The entire ethos of modern Wall Street, on the other hand, is complete indifference to all of these matters. The very rich on today’s Wall Street are now so rich that they buy their own social infrastructure. They hire private security, they live on gated mansions on islands and other tax havens, and most notably, they buy their own justice and their own government.

People like Dimon, and Schwarzman, and John Paulson, and all of the rest of them who think the “imbeciles” on the streets are simply full of reasonless class anger, they don’t get it. Nobody hates them for being successful. And not that this needs repeating, but nobody even minds that they are rich.

What makes people furious is that they have stopped being citizens.

1 Comment

  1. Check out this video…

    His honorable Jim Dear speaks with Melissa McGinnis from Greenopolis TV about the 1000th trash truck to be ran off of liquefied natural gas, which services his community of Carson California. This momentous effort helps to keep the air clean by reducing green house gases and carbon, since the harvested gas from landfills burns at a much cleaner rate than regular diesel gas. http://youtu.be/rbhIiwtmUks

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