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You have to understand the psychology of the leisure class.  As explained by Thorstein Veblen in The Theory of the Leisure Class, it has to do with "conspicuous consumption, as a function of social-class consumerism, which proposes that the social strata and the division of labor of the feudal period continued into the modern era. The lords of the manor employed themselves in the economically useless practices of conspicuous consumption and conspicuous leisure, whilst the middle and lower classes were employed in the industrial occupations that support the whole of society."

[ Warning: Strong language below .]

It goes to reason that these human parasites, not content with their ongoing ability to manipulate the gullible masses into being their servants, would also carve out for themselves a separate an unequal legal system, in effect reducing the once promising United States of America into a veritable Banana Republic with a two-tired justice system, one for the leisure class parasites of society, and one for the rest of us.

It is in such environment that the economic theory of "moral hazard" ceases to be a theory and becomes a way of life:

In economic theory, a moral hazard is a situation where a party will have a tendency to take risks because the costs that could incur will not be felt by the party taking the risk. In other words, it is a tendency to be more willing to take a risk, knowing that the potential costs or burdens of taking such risk will be borne, in whole or in part, by others.
Of course, as corporatist interests worked diligently during the last 40 years or so to take over our entire government, it was just a matter of time before we would experience the barbaric debauchery, wholesale looting and pillaging of the nation's coffers, war profiteering, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, of the George W. Bush administration.

When we voted for Obama we hoped that this awful chapter in our nation's history was going to be addressed; that there would be war crimes investigations; that the obvious pillaging and looting by Wall Street was going to be properly addressed...

But once Obama took office, and Wall Street crooks started filling government positions, it started to become obvious that the election campaign speeches and rhetoric were mainly that: rhetoric.

As the pronouncements from the administration about the need to "look forward, and not backwards," at that point I knew we were going to get into the next stage in the process of becoming a veritable Banana Republic.

Yes, all the basic oppressive infrastructure has been put in place by the odious and criminal Bush regime, including the wholesale curtailment of constitutional rights, in the name of security--tyrants excuse in every era--and the total-information-awareness police state.

And now, as the country descends further into what Matt Taibbi describes as Griftopia, these greedy motherfuckers don't even care about endangering millions of people with a nuclear power catastrophe.  In a way, it provides a good metaphor to explain the current level of corruption and impunity: Griftopia has gone nuclear.

Sen. Barbara Boxer has accused Southern California Edison and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries of knowingly installing faulty steam generators at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, resulting in a leak that revealed widespread damage and has kept the plant offline for more than a year.

In a letter to the Nuclear Regulator Commission released Wednesday, Boxer called for an investigation of both companies.

“All people in our nation, including the 8.7 million people who live within 50 miles of the San Onofre plant, must have confidence in the NRC’s commitment to put safety before any other concern,” Boxer wrote.

- Fountain Valley Patch - Sen. Boxer Alleges Deliberate Safety Violations at San Onofre

And so as the Griftopia spreads, like a disease, what are low level administrators and managers and city council members around the country to do, than to join in the looting, trying to grab everything they can while the orgy of corruption lasts?  After all, there is no greater example of the damage of "moral hazard," than for people in positions of responsibility to see that those in power who commit grievous crimes never go to prison.  That jail time, and the fear of being fucked in the ass by force by a scary-looking, tattooed, and muscular inmate must only be felt by the working class, as more onerous and draconian laws are put in the books, pushed by for-profit business interests and their goddamned puppets in government.

And so as the country descends into a mentality of graft, of every man for himself, and the ethos of public service are replaced by the ethos of greed and avarice (resulting from the wholesale takeover of our government institutions by corporatist interests), not even school lunches for poor, hungry kids, are safe: "School lunch funds misused, report says"

School districts across California have illegally misused nearly $170 million in funding meant for free or reduced-price student lunches...
While the intentional misuse or misappropriation of the money is a criminal act, no one has been charged with a crime...
The most significant problem was found in the Los Angeles Unified School District, which the state has ordered to repay $158 million it received for free and reduced-price lunches. The district has repaid $120 million so far.  Some of that money paid for employees of the district's television station and financial managers

And of course, we are not only talking about greedy bastards taking school lunch money away from poor kids to line their own pockets with nice salaries; we're also talking about a level of greed that actually leads to the incineration of an entire neighborhood: "PG&E memo: Downgrading leaks would cut costs"

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. suggested to managers before the San Bruno pipeline explosion that downgrading more than 2,300 natural-gas leaks - and potentially not fixing them - would save the company nearly $5 million, according to an internal document obtained by The Chronicle.
And take a wild guess where some of that $5 million went to?
The bonus system rewarded supervisors whose crews found fewer leaks and kept repair costs down, The Chronicle reported in December. PG&E scrapped it in 2008 after three company whistle-blowers complained to top utility officials and the board of directors that PG&E was encouraging supervisors to overlook possible safety threats.
I'll stop here... This stuff is happening all over the country, in San Francisco, in Seattle, in New York City, in Atlanta, in New Orleans, in Miami, and most of all, in Washington, D.C.

And now, in the face of this brutal, sadistic, and degenerate level of greed and graft, and corruption, they want our permission to allow them to kill American Citizens extra-judicially, all in the name of security!  Talk about chutzpah! Only in America.

Ok, I'll tell you what, I know that I, by my own little self won't be able to get one million people to occupy Washington, D.C. to demand that all the fascist and surveillance laws that took away our constitutional rights (in the name of security), be rescinded.

And I know that the citizens are probably going to buy into the bullshit "memos" explaining why the government needs to awesome power.  I get that.

But let me ask a small humble petition: Why don't you (government) at least prosecute the Wall Street criminals you are now protecting, and throw them in jail?  Not in "country-clubs," in in real prisons, with the rest of the population.

Do that, won't you?  Then, and only then, maybe in the future, when some asshole "supervisor" or "manager" or "executive" or "hospital administrator" puts his own greedy self ahead of their fiduciary duty and the safety and well-being of the public, may think twice, knowing that there is a real possibility of doing some fucking jail time.

If we get real security by avoiding the killing of dozens of people by being incinerated in their own homes, in their own neighborhoods, as a direct result of some scam by an public utility official in order to line his own pockets, then maybe I won't feel so bad about the fact that I know my government now has the awesome and unprecedented power, breaking two thousand years of precedent, to kill American citizens extra-judicially, occasionally.


Originally posted to Ray Pensador on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 10:30 AM PST.

Also republished by Income Inequality Kos, ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement, American Legislative Transparency Project, and In Support of Labor and Unions.


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Comment Preferences

  •  Ray, (4+ / 0-)

    I was just thinking about this the other day.  The idea that we need to make the safety net smaller and raise taxes on the poor and middle class so that we can cut the 1%'s taxes boils down to this: "You people don't need enough to live on.  We need more of the too much we have already."  

    "The light which puts out our sight is darkness to us." Thoreau

    by NancyWH on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 02:22:06 PM PST

  •  everybody should read Thorstein Veblen (3+ / 0-)

    If Marx didn't convince you, Veblen will.  The rich - the owners and their managers - are predators, pure and simple.  They do not produce anything of value; instead they only consume the labor of others.  They are the spiritual descendants of barbarian raiders and feudal lords, holding up their predation as proof of their superiority.

    Something's wrong when the bad guys are the utopian ones.

    by Visceral on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 03:19:09 PM PST

    •  Proudhon's "What is Property?" (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Silvia Nightshade

      is also worth the read. He had a lot of points of contention with Marx, to be sure, but the conclusion he comes to, "All property is theft." is a tasty one to mull over.

      When we think about all the yelling and screaming going on regarding property rights of all kind (digital, intellectual, etc.) and when we think about who is doing the yelling, then it also fits that it is not just their leisure that the Leisure Class is trying to hold on to.

      •  property is the basis of leisure (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ray Pensador

        When you own the means of production and can thereby compel other people to serve you and/or pay you to use it, your money and your freedom to indulge yourself with it is most definitely at risk if your property is at risk.  The leisure class can only ever make up a tiny fraction of a population and then only if everyone else is essentially deprived of the ability to support themselves.  Even the old Jeffersonian libertarian ideal of a society of yeoman farmers would also significantly weaken (if not eliminate) the leisure class: too many people own a piece of the means of production (in this case land) and are implied to be economically self-sufficient, so there's no room for the idle rich to live off the labor and dues-paying of others.

        Veblen was a socialist, and in some respects even more extreme than Marx.  Marx thought capitalism was an improvement upon feudalism (at least in terms of its productive powers), but Veblen thought that capitalism was at its sociological core no different than feudalism and even more primitive and predatory modes of accumulation, and that the vast majority of the goods that capitalist societies produce is wasteful consumption for its own sake.

        Veblen basically arrives at Marx's conclusions about a socialist workers' society but from the opposite direction. While Marx argued that society and culture are byproducts of economics, Veblen argued that economics was a byproduct of culture, and that both feudalism and capitalism were merely elaborations of a fundamentally predatory aristocratic culture originating among primitive hunters and warriors who held other less "manly" and "honorable" work in contempt, despite it being more productive and beneficial to society as a whole.

        Something's wrong when the bad guys are the utopian ones.

        by Visceral on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 08:59:29 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I think Veblen is right (0+ / 0-)

          that capitalism is feudalism in another, less honorable, guise and that culture is primary and economics secondary.

          Unfortunately, at the core of it all is the notion of "ownership"; that is, property, and what Proudhon made clear, at least to me, is that questioning this most fundamental assumption is long overdue.

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