Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Pity The Billionaire
This book tries to explain one of the most baffling ideological robberies of all time : how, in the day of age where the billionaires have seen their incomes rise inexorably, and the majority of Western Civilisation have seen their incomes remain static or shrink over time, where the superrich have become ever more affluent at the expense of the many, and yet we find ourselves in a society that deifies inequality and applauds gross consumption. It is a strange world we live in. The tale is presented with some bias, as you would expect, but it is impossible not to have at least some bias in this most emotive of times : the very fraud of presenting market abuse of the populace as "free market enterprise", the deregulation of the financial instruments that resulted in mass poverty and riots, and
In a moment of no small irony, the current economic crisis has reversed the previous morality of the world : something I never really understood until I readthis, is that the previous sympathy for the underprivileged and the victims of vulture capitalism now, in many eyes, are not victims, but the deserving poor who earnt their poverty and hardship by not working hard enough, or by not wanting enough, or by not being competitive enough, and thus, worthy of extinction by financial Darwinism.
Frank explains, in his eyes, the process by which we were divided against each other ourselves through the triumph of ideology over fact, and the triumph of capitalism over the crushing dead hand of regulation that prevents abuse of power : and that the current crisis is the result of the 1999 market regulation whereby behaviours were uncontrolled and became reckless, and then the crazed culture that rewards failure with a bonus.
Over the 182 pages (and numerous pages of footnotes and quotation sources), Frank presents a strong but relentless argument - not one that necessarily demonstrates his argument on any moral level, for this is a matter of individual decision and conscience. To explain the current, merciless social, political, and moral climate of this - the harshest economic and political climate I have yet experienced - is explained by fact and history. These are cruel times, and those who experience them are those who are least able to influence them, pitying the plight of the billionaire. Or, as multimillionaire Rush Limbaugh said, "Participation in a recession is voluntary. It does not apply to me."