It seems that those nestled snugly in the crack of our nation's ultra-wealthy are confused about why they seem to be unpopular in the media. Many are now publicly expressing their support of the financial-legislative complex, but still wondering why thousands of people all across the country are identifying with the Occupy movement. Maybe it has something to do with the disturbing mentality of the elite that asks with arrogantly wide-eyed obliviousness, "Is it too much to ask that everyone just sit down and be nice while we destroy the middle class?"
In response to the protests, Chase CEO Jamie Dimon recently stated:
"Acting like everyone who's been successful is bad and because you're rich you're bad, I don't understand it... Sometimes there's a bad apple, yet we denigrate the whole."
Let's clarify once and for all that the Occupy protests are not about targeting "successful" or "rich" people. Here, Dimon is twisting the issue by trying to equate "rich" with "I-teabag-senators wealthy." When I was a kid, I thought my aunt and uncle were rich because they could afford to make their toilet water blue; however, I wouldn't say that those successful people had anything to do with tanking our national economy. The Occupy protests are about singling out the top 1% that has seen their income triple over the last generation (while other wage classes have remained largely stagnant) and the Houses of Ill Finance that they run.
Dimon implies that the economic collapse bugaboo must have been caused by a bad apple. I mean, a trillion-dollar crash snafu couldn't have been caused by a good apple, right? A good apple would never engage in robo-signing (forgery) on foreclosure notices, or mislead (defraud) investors in a mortgage securities scandal, make illegal payments (bribe) civic officials, or leak false information (lie) when trying to overtake another bank. A good apple wouldn't probably wonder aloud how in the hell it became the head of a multi-national financial conglomerate before going home to his kiwi.
In response to the Occupy protests, John A. Allison IV, ex-CEO of BB&T bank said: "Instead of an attack on the 1%, let's call it an attack on the very productive. This attack is destructive."
Allison's words are the destructive force here, as they paint a disturbingly myopic portrait of working-class Americans and ring of class warfare. Allison, whose bank took $3 billion in TARP bailout funds, basically said "You're an unproductive shlub who punches a timecard. Is that what they're called? Timecards? Haha! Just kidding! I know what timecards are, I keep a fresh roll of them next to my crapper! And I got a picture of your momma at the bottom of the bowl!"
Allison's aggressively elitist words aren't those of a good apple, but rather, the words of what is said when you try to hold your tongue and say the word 'apple.'
Robert Rosenkranz, CEO of Delphi Financial Group defended the 1% by saying: "It's simply a fact that pretty much all the private-sector jobs in America are created by the decisions of the 1% to hire and invest. Since their confidence in the future more than any other factor will drive those decisions, it makes little sense to undermine their confidence by vilifying them."
Actually, it makes a lot of sense to vilify those who created an unhealthy, unsustainable bubble of predatory lending that has, apparently, given the 1% the excuse to stop investing and hiring, which is clearly exhibited by the doubling of the unemployment rate between 2008 and 2009. (It would also really make sense to jail many of those people, as well, but we'll explore that at another time.)
The 13.3 million people who are currently unemployed and those who have been hit with an estimated 8 million foreclosure filings between 2009-2011 aren't worried about offending the delicate sensibilities of the 1% or shaking their confidence. Rosenkranz's defense not only makes him complicit in these matters, but it reeks of oblivious, ivory tower cocktail party chatter. It's bad when a well-documented philanthropist like Rosenkranz stands up for his cronies rather than the marginalized majority.
Leon Cooperman, chairman of Omega Advisors Inc. and former CEO of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS)'s Money-Incubation Unit, recently wrote an open letter to President Obama in which he very thoughtfully and articulately lays out his legitimate concerns for the country. Unfortunately, his heartfelt evaluations boil down to simply chastising the president for framing the debate along partisan lines.
The Occupy protests aren't a partisan issue and the president doesn't have the ability any more than you or I to make it one. This shows a severe disconnect between the situation as it stands and Cooperman's perspective.
Cooperman also said, without even the slightest hint of irony that he can't walk through the dining room of St. Andrews Country Club in Boca Raton, Florida, without being thanked for speaking up. I know how he feels; I can't walk through the dining room of St. Andrews Country Club without being tackled and cuffed with the ol' Exotic Brownie Shackles.
"You'll get more out of me," Cooperman said, "if you treat me with respect."
I'm pretty sure that the billionaire is usually treated with a large amount of respect, which means that we're already maxed out on what we're going to get out of him. Again, this unfortunate obliviousness from the uber-wealthy shows that even when they speak out on the matter of the protests directed at the economic inequality gap in this country, they present themselves as comically out of touch with exactly what they are trying to address. It's never a good sign for the health of a culture when the power brokers expose themselves to be woefully disconnected from the society they inhabit.
And when Home Depot co-founder Bernard Marcus was asked about the protestors, his response was, "Who gives a crap about some imbecile? Are you kidding me?"
Someone should tell Marcus that he'll get more out of the imbeciles if he treats them with respect. Someone should also remind him those same imbeciles are the ones who made him rich because they thought they could save a few bucks building a backyard deck that was never quite level. Forget the bad apple theory here, Marcus sounds like a bushel of dick apples.
I recently saw the film It's a Wonderful Life for the 2011th time, and I couldn't help but notice the parallels between the villainous Henry Potter, the richest man in Bedford falls, and the financial titans of today. Mr. Potter devoted his life to squeezing as much blood capital as he could from the stones of the middle class while our current financial heads devoted their lives to artificially inflating a housing bubble with toxic mortgages and then robo-signed millions of foreclosure notices with a complete lack of social conscience.
Jamie Dimon, Bank of America CEO Brian T. Moynihan, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, as well as a bevy of high-ranking executives from AIG, Citi, Morgan Stanley, etc... are the equivalent of Mr. Potter, the foil to the hard-working George Bailey, and therefore represent the absolute embodiment of evil in American culture. George Bailey's dad said that Potter was, "Oh, he's a sick man... sick in his mind, sick in his soul, if he has one." This statement echoes what many believe concerning those who reap the benefits of fleecing the American people amongst the highest wave of economic inequality since the Great Depression without an iota of humility to split amongst them.
Jamie Dimon was right about the "bad apple" but something else he doesn't understand is that nobody is upset simply with his personal success. It's just that we, as a culture, are taught to harbor a disdain for people who aggressively exploit the many simply for the sake of material gain. We are taught that the Mr. Potters of the world are bad people.
But the Potters of the world aren't bad because they're rich. They're not bad because they're successful.
They're bad because... they're just simply bad.