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Frank Rich explores the rage "ordinary Americans" are feeling these days in his Sunday column.  I was particularly struck by a figure in this paragraph:

Citigroup had one highly visible asset that Lehman did not: Robert Rubin, the former Clinton Treasury secretary who sat passively (though lucratively) in its executive suite as Citi gorged on reckless risk. Geithner, as a Rubin protégé from the Clinton years, might have recused himself from rescuing Citi, which so far has devoured $45 billion in bailout money.

$45 billion to one company?  To one private company?  That's three billion dollars more than would make California solvent.

We "ordinary Americans" are not insane.  We know that California is more important in every way than Citigroup.  It's time to admit that our so-called leaders are, indeed, insane.

Crazy.  Cracked.  Bonkers.

It is insane to save Citigroup when California is sliding into chaos.  Robert Rubin is not a Duke.  His private jet is not more -- is not as important as the teachers' salaries at Warren T. Eich school.

I'm not calling "insanity" because I'm resentful.  I disagree with Rich's quoting of Robert Reich:

Americans "resent people who appear to be living high off a system dominated by insiders with the right connections."

I actually don't think this is true.  Americans love those who live large on the basis of insider connections.  Just look at how we adore celebrities.

What I resent, what I think most of us resent, is the utter contempt the insiders openly feel for "ordinary Americans."

Susan Collins thinks that we are not worth a stable state budget, well-fed children, a doctor's visit when we're sick.

John Kyl has no problem with the fact that I lost my house to a voracious, rapacious, unregulated financing system.  He probably thinks it's my fault.

Joe Lieberman does not care how many of us are homeless and hungry tonight, nor does he have feelings for those who are about to be.

We don't resent their insiderness.  We don't resent the fact that they will never shop for groceries with the worry that they won't be able to pay for everything.  We don't resent it that their children will all be found smart enough to get into the best schools and graduate with beginning salaries well over 100,000 dollars a year.

This is what we resent:  Not that our leaders are insane, which they are, but that they are heartless.  They don't even pretend to care about us anymore.

Originally posted to LindaR on Sun Feb 08, 2009 at 12:08 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tips against the insane (25+ / 0-)

    heartlessness of revised-downward Senate version of the recovery bill juxtaposed against Citibank getting 45 billion dollars.

    American democracy broke /renewed my heart -- and I /still don't have health care.

    by LindaR on Sun Feb 08, 2009 at 12:10:46 AM PST

  •  And AIG got even more than that! (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    danmac, Lovo, Terra Mystica, Lujane, maggiejean

    it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses

    by Addison on Sun Feb 08, 2009 at 12:11:47 AM PST

  •  Thank you for asking the right question. Or one (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bluesee, LindaR, Lujane, rfall

    of them anyway!  DC lacks perspective.  Congress should be forced to meet in Omaha or Nashville or Columbus or NOLA for a session or two.  It would provide  local jobs by the thousands, as well as seeing how actual people were being affected by their myopia.  Just a thought.

    Question though.  Can't CA raise taxes or borrow to cover it's shortfall?

    TFTD.

    "Peace be the journey. Cool Runnings!"

    by Terra Mystica on Sun Feb 08, 2009 at 12:24:53 AM PST

    •  California can't borrow by law and (8+ / 0-)

      can't raise taxes because of the supermajority rule -- there aren't that many Republicans in the legislature, but there are enough to block anything they want.

      And they'd rather the state go under than raise one dime in taxes to pay for things.

      They are like teenagers with the swager and the appetite and the expectation that somebody else pay their bills.

      American democracy broke /renewed my heart -- and I /still don't have health care.

      by LindaR on Sun Feb 08, 2009 at 12:29:08 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  That's an interesting thought, and hits home for (8+ / 0-)

      ...me in the following manner:

      Since I've be a resident of Silicon Valley for all of my professional life, there are times when I realize that I have a very distorted view of the world.

      In SV, there's real sense of "self made" people, that your only limited by your intelligence and how hard you work, and so on.

      Some truth to these, but if taken to an extreme, these biases can result in thinking that people who are out of work are lazy or stupid, that poor people are that way as the result of some moral failing, that there's always a way out if you just think hard enough.

      I have to remind myself from time to time--usually with trips elsewhere, talking with friends who live elsewhere--that we live in our own world here in SV, one that doesn't always reflect what it's like for everyone else.

      Silly, and perhaps trivial observations, I know, but the takeaway is that you may be right about our representatives in DC.

      "Certainly the game is rigged. Don't let that stop you; if you don't bet, you can't win." Lazurus Long

      by rfall on Sun Feb 08, 2009 at 12:50:03 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  what I think is interesting (7+ / 0-)

        is how people can think they exist in a world that is detached from other parts of the world -- especially politicians who have to, from time to time, acknowledge that worlds exist outside their bubbles.

        Even brain surgeons and nuclear physicists could not be who/what they are if the government (the people) had not built the universities and the infrastructure of learning where they "act out."

        American democracy broke /renewed my heart -- and I /still don't have health care.

        by LindaR on Sun Feb 08, 2009 at 12:58:10 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Fun Times (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DaleA, Lujane, yellow dog in NJ

    I, we, went through this when I was a kid, in 1970's New York City.

    It meant that the city became a desperate place to be in, never mind live in.  It meant scurrying home to your apartment, and huddling with your loved one on the sofa watching TV while your doorknob would rattle from time-to-time as criminals would roam the halls of your apartment house, casing the joint.

    This is a story I heard, not my direct experience.  I stayed out of New York City.  Except when I would hitchhike there, but that was only on weekends, never on a school day.

  •  God the BS about the 'poor' executives having to (4+ / 0-)

    change their lifestyles to live on a paltry $500K a year was simply breathtaking.

    "God, they'll have to pull their children from $200k private schools!"

    Oh, the hardship!

    Fucking unbelievable.

    Hey, Linda, here's another state v corp stat for you:
    Exxon's quarterly profits are more than the state of Michigan's entire yearly budget. They make $11B per quarter and Michigan's budget is $9B per year.

    It's astonishing.

    Great diary!

    Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

    by k9disc on Sun Feb 08, 2009 at 01:30:16 AM PST

  •  Over 700 billion for the financial sector, (5+ / 0-)

    but 350 billion would balance every state budget, and save millions of jobs, which are disproportionately decent union jobs.  Ridiculous.

    -5.38, -5.90 Deus mihi iustitiam dabit.

    by cjallen on Sun Feb 08, 2009 at 02:02:37 AM PST

  •  You're right! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lujane

    I don't resent someone else's success.  I have no problem with them having excesses of everything as long as I have what I need to live.  

    I'm feeling lucky because I have $10 to last until Friday.  There is enough gas to get me to work if I'm careful.  I'll have to reschedule (a second time) a routine doctor appointment for after payday because I don't have the $15 copay,  but that's no big deal.  I had to work out payments with my mechanic because I had an unanticipated problem with my brakes.  Fortunately, he is a good guy and trusts me to pay him as soon as I can.  Other bills are behind, but manageable.  

    How many people would be happy to be in my shoes?  I'm thinking there are lots of them, and yet these filthy (and I use that word on purpose) rich would be happier if I didn't have even the little that I do.  If I have my paltry little wages, they haven't got it all.  That's GOT to make them crazy!  

    Many of us have dreamed on occasion about winning the lottery or becoming rich by other magic means.  When I've thought about it, I usually figure out how far I could spread the wealth to friends, family, and charitable concerns.  The rich just use $$ to make more.  I can't get my head around that.  What kind of person can never have enough money?

    -7.62, -7.28 "We told the truth. We obeyed the law. We kept the peace." - Walter Mondale

    by luckylizard on Sun Feb 08, 2009 at 06:57:55 AM PST

  •  "Centrists" tax cuts.... (0+ / 0-)

    I suppose you could look at the $600-$1000 tax cut that they want to send out as a good thing. That would make a difference - for about 2 weeks [longer if you have a job].

    The only tax cut many Californians will see is the one from falling into a lower income bracket because they got "furloughed," "right-sized," or just plain "laid off." What's unemployment now? 60-80% of your regular salary [until it runs out]? Why there's a tidy tax cut in the making right there. Lower income tax bracket for sure!

    When did we screw up?
    When union jobs started to be replaced with overseas jobs to "keep the costs down". When the cost of living kept going up- but the wages didn't keep up. When we all realized that we either had to live in a way that everything in all the media said was semi-poverty just to live "within your means" or put it on the card for later. When we decided we don't want to pay taxes on our stuff but still want all the shiny freeways and things that the taxes paid for.

    Can we get out of this?

    -Eventually.

    "...because they're so used to giving us cock and bull stories they don't know what the truth is anymore" Ronald Ribman in "Cold Storage"

    by daddybunny on Sun Feb 08, 2009 at 08:38:10 AM PST

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