Tag Archives: Taxes

The Tattlesnake – Clueless Wall Street Indulges in the Self-Delusion of the Wealthy Edition

… and it’s nothing new.

As 2011 settles in, some things haven’t changed, such as the investment bank aristocracy of Wall Street, already wallowing in obscenely large salaries, apparently believing they deserve bonuses for continuing to peddle worthless paper and hoodwinking their own customers. This addled belief, however, is nothing new.

Having misspent a part of my youth as an advertising director for a publishing company, I once had an opportunity to encounter some wealthy people at business lunches and dinners, and noticed a few habits of hypocritical thinking they had in common:

— To a man — and they were all men — they believed, even the silver-spoon-born trust fund scions and coddled bosses sons, that they were ‘self-made’ and everything they had was attained by their own hard work, even if their wealth was derived mostly from dividend income, the result of a long-dead relative picking the right investments or starting a successful business.

— Speaking of hard work, when these VIPs came in at 10:am to check the mail and sign a few letters, left for a two-hour lunch at 12:30, and then went golfing for the rest of the afternoon, leaving their overworked and underpaid secretaries to run the place, they would still insist that they had ‘worked hard’ that day.

— Whatever their educational institution, Yale or Harvard or a state university, they all thought they graduated because they ‘studied hard’ and ‘put their noses to the grindstone’ even though some would laughingly brag, after a few too many martinis, about how they had hired poor ‘scholarship brainiacs’ or ‘eggheads’ to teach them how to cheat on their tests.

— While every one of them abhorred any publicly-funded program that enabled poor kids to get a higher education, and especially affirmative action, they were blind to their own advantages, beyond just being born white. If Uncle Joe picked up the phone to make sure they got into the ‘right’ college, or Daddy was once a student and fast-tracked their ‘legacy’ acceptance into a university, that was fine — just the way the world worked. Of course, left unsaid was how they would have been able to make their way through college if such financially-strapped ‘scholarship brainiacs’ were not there to help them cheat, just one of many mental cul-de-sacs that these sons of privilege passed by quickly, lest they get hung on their own conundrum.

— Although all of them supported the war in Vietnam, none of them came close to serving in it. They either received school draft deferments like Dick Cheney; or, like Rush Limbaugh, had a note from the family doctor describing some dread condition that made them militarily unfit, but somehow didn’t interfere with their golf game; or had a family-friend Congressman intervene to keep them out; or, like Junior Bush, had Daddy pull a few strings to get them easy ‘Weekend Warrior’ duty in the National Guard. Privately, they had little regard or compassion for the troops in the field; in fact, they believed them stupid and that the grunts should show gratitude for the opportunity that military service provided to raise their lowly selves out of the ghetto or trailer park. Should they die or be maimed for life during this process of elevation – well, that’s just the price they pay for not having the foresight to be born in better circumstances.

— They all hated paying taxes, the hatred much more intense than that of those lower on the income ladder. Like Leona Helmsley, they thought taxes were fine — for the ‘little people.’ A couple of them were said to spend more money on lawyers and accountants to avoid paying taxes than the amount they owed in taxes. But they didn’t mind one bit freeloading off poorer folks by using roads, highways, airports, parks, and other public facilities paid for by the taxes of the non-rich; and they took it for granted their class would receive preferential treatment from cops and firefighters they didn’t want to pay taxes to support. I won’t even get into the courts, prosecutors, and military all arrayed to protect their precious property that they also didn’t want to pay for — suffice it to say that they didn’t believe in any taxes for themselves, even for those things that benefited them greatly. It would be a mistake to take this as any sort of reasonable consideration on the subject of taxes; it is not – it’s a nearly-hysterical emotional reaction born of mindless greed.

That’s all I can recall at the moment, but the one thread running through all of it is the massive degree of self-delusion practiced by those with wealth. It’s scary enough when they know they’re lying to make a buck; it’s pathologically dangerous when they buy into their own fantasies about themselves as have, it seems, the current crop of Wall Street scoundrels. In this particular case, it won’t end until Richie Rich, ensconced in an office at Goldman Sachs, dreaming up the next fraudulent financial instrument for his firm to foist on the gullible public, hits bottom – an inevitability since they refuse to learn from their mistakes — and seeks another ‘loan’ from the contemptible ‘little people’ taxpayers via the federal Big Daddy and, to mix metaphors, the cupboard is bare.

Then these Masters of the Universe will learn the tough lesson the cosseted Junior Bush as president had to endure: there are times when even Big Daddy can’t save you from the hard consequences of acting like a spoiled brat.

© 2011 RS Janes. LTSaloon.org.

The Tattlesnake Word on the Street Edition

In the spirit of the late Mike Royko’s Slats Grobnik, here are comments from the unFoxed Vox Populi:

— L.A. Mike, who was born and lived in Los Angeles for most of his life, on the Republicans paying $2K for simulated lesbian bondage at the Voyeur Club:

“What wrong with those dudes? It’s really stupid. For half that price in L.A. you could rent a motel room, hire a couple of hookers, see the same show up close and join in if you felt like it. You’d even have enough left for a bottle of some primo liquor. That’s really a stupid waste of money.”

— V.J., a small business owner for over 20 years, on Obama’s tax plan:

“I’m a middle-class small business owner and everybody was telling me, ‘watch out, Obama’s gonna raise your taxes!’ I just got my tax forms back from my accountant and I’m paying $800 less this year than last, and he specifically said it was thanks to two deductions Obama put through. If this is Obama’s big tax increase for the middle-class, keep it coming!”

— Anna, who worked in state government for 20 years, on Sarah Palin:

“I don’t get it how do you quit as governor and then pass yourself off as a winner? How do you tell other families to practice abstinence when your own kid gets pregnant when she’s underage? Why does anybody take her seriously?”

— Al, who worked at a mail order firm, on the ruthless corporate culture:

“Worked at the same job for 12 years. We heard the rumor that company was being sold, but my boss, the owner of the company, looked me straight in the eye and told me he’d never sell and I’d always have a job there. Six months later we’re all fired and the owner makes off with a fortune from selling the company. I asked one of the ladies in accounting what happened the S.O.B. was in the process of selling the company the very day he told me that B.S. that he’d never sell! The lady said he lied because he didn’t want people quitting to take other jobs before the new owner took over wanted to squeeze every dime out of the place, even if it left us flat. He lied to my face and I thought this man was my friend!”

— Vernon, who managed an office for 10 years, talks about Michael Steele’s RNC spending:

“I’ll tell you this: If I had been charging anything from Tiffany’s or the liquor store to ‘office supplies,’ and I had approved an expenditure of a couple grand to a strip club, there would have been about two minutes before I was fired and out on the street. I don’t know how he gets away with it.”

— Lily, a waitress at an upscale restaurant, on GOP tax cuts:

“Why doesn’t the media ever call these guys out? They get up there, these Republicans, always talking about tax cuts and they’re rich as fuck! Sure, they want tax cuts for themselves! Yeah, I got my little piddley-ass tax cut from Bush, and the price of everything went up, including my state taxes, so I went way further in the hole. They really treat us like we’re too dumb to know what they’re doing. Fuckers!”

— Rory, who once worked at a mental health facility, on the Teabaggers:

“These people must all have Alzheimer’s like Reagan. They don’t remember we had big deficits and big government under Republicans since Reagan? They don’t remember Reagan bailed out the savings and loans in the 1980s? I didn’t see them out there screaming and yelling then. They think the shitty economy started under Obama? Give me a break. They just hate him cause he’s black. These tea party people should go to their doctors and be tested for Alzheimer’s they’ve definitely lost it. I mean if they can afford a head doctor on their fixed incomes — oh, wait a sec, Medicare will pay for that, so they’re covered!”

The Tattlesnake Ruminating and Rumorating Edition

“Why don’t you guys use your brains like I do.”
— George Bancroft as mob boss Mac Keefer in “Angels with Dirty Faces” (1938).

1. Looks like impeached Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was right. He said as soon as the Powers-That-Be in state capital Springfield got rid of him they’d raise taxes, and now new Gov. Pat Quinn has announced he’s planning to do just that. (Taxes on a carton of cigarettes, for instance, have already gone up ten dollars in IL.) Quinn’s not a bad guy, but he was installed in office by House Speaker Mike Madigan, the same corrupt Machine politician that masterminded Blago’s removal. BTW, when does the other Pat, prosecutor Fitzgerald, indict Blago for his ‘crime spree’? It’s been four months and we’re still waiting, and Fitzy’s 90-day extension is coming to an end. Could it be he doesn’t have a case?

2. Word is, some GOP insiders are privately conceding more seats to the Dems in 2010 and the presidency in 2012. They know that short of a highly unlikely major blunder or meltdown on Obama’s part, the Republicans have no one who can beat him; current frontrunners Romney, Gingrich, Jindal, Huckabee, Sanford and (shudder) Palin just don’t have the heat. But this works to the advantage of the top party heads who would like to purge the Christian crazies, bigoted Dittoheads and nattering neocons from the ranks. (Keep them as voters and ground troops, of course, but well away from the levers of power.) Losing big in four consecutive elections just might accomplish that.

3. Speaking of the GOP, daffy duckster Michael Steele, the RNC Chair who has been hip-hopping all over the place, has turned out to be not so good at organizing much of anything he still hasn’t even fully staffed his office. In fact, it’s been noticed that his only true talent seems to be in babbling baloney in front of cameras and microphones — not that all Republicans don’t, but Mike’s brand of urban twaddle confuses the party’s base of rural white rabble down in Dixie. They want God, guns and gays and Mike’s offering rap, pap and mall rats instead. The money’s drying up over distrust of Steele and he’s on a greased rail, the end of which should be reached before summer begins.

4. So is Obama’s Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner on a greased rail, that is — only he’s on a shorter trajectory to oblivion. He’s managed to inspire confidence in exactly no one (except, supposedly, Obama), and his secretly playing point man for the tainted AIG bonuses and then dissembling about it has left him damaged goods in a government touting virtuous transparency. Watch for ‘Geit’ to regretfully resign for the good of the administration sometime on or about May Day.

5. Watch for the next AIG to be Bank of America, with a twist. BoA has assumed a boatload of debt buying up other failing banks and is now swimming in red ink. The chickens are nearing the roost, and soon the over-extended BoA could very well bankrupt the FDIC (unlike AIG, it’s a real bank), as the feds scramble to cover millions of depositors. The alternative would be to split up BoA into smaller companies and sever the gangrenous investments while retaining the profitable accounts. Obama would have to pull a Jimmy Stewart and encourage depositors not to withdraw their money, just until the crisis passes. Unfortunately, as it stands now with the boneheaded Larry Summers and ineffectual Geithner on the bridge, they’d probably break the treasury trying to save BoA from being split up, which means we’d be a nation of rag pickers by this time next year.

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