Cognitive Dissonance

"Democracy! Bah! When I hear that I reach for my feather boa!" - Allen Ginsberg

Posts tagged Wealth

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Being Privileged Is Not A Choice, So Stop Hating Me For It

There are some things I can’t abide today. This is one of them. This article is full of choice passages like this one: 

"I want to stop lying about the suits I buy for my internship. I want to stop saying they are hand me down’s from my cousin. I want to be able to say thank you when I receive a compliment on them. I was taught that you should always dress for the job you want, not the job you have. I want to be taken seriously at my internship and look professional—and I have the resources to buy nice-looking suits and have my hair professionally highlighted.

I’m tired of justifying my address and the backlash I receive when I tell people I am a student and live in a high-rise apartment. I’m tired of the looks my doorman gives me when he hands me my package (of work clothes) delivered from J.Crew.

So stop making me feel like I’ve done something wrong. Stop making me feel like I am less deserving. I didn’t ask to be born into this kind of circumstance and I’m tired of being judged for it.”

Does she seriously not understand how much she is flaunting her privilege with this post? If this is how she talks to the poors in person, perhaps there’s a different reason people think she’s insufferable. Maybe it’s not the wealth. Maybe it’s regaling others with stories about how uncomfortable you feel making eye contact with your doorman when he brings you your packages of (work clothes) from J. Crew. And maybe your doorman gave you the stink eye because you didn’t tip like a lot of privileged douchecanoes. 

I went shopping for (work clothes) at the thrift store. So thanks for implying that I’m somehow less than you because I’m not looking “professional” like you. 

And the next time someone gives you a compliment? Just say “thank you” like you want. People don’t care where your suit came from unless they said, “Nice suit. Where did you get it?” Trust me, no one is expending that much mental energy worrying about where you — you special little snowflake, you — got your hair done or your suit. You are not the center of the universe.

Let’s pretend for a second you’re right, even though you’re not. Everyone is critiquing you on whether or not you are dressing for the job you want. Good news, snowflake! If you fail that critique, well, you can always order another round from your pal, J. Crew. Those of us without said resources get judged, too, and there isn’t a goddamn thing we can do about it except pretend it isn’t happening, smile, and move on. Because if someone is judging us for last season’s suit, there’s no way to fix that when the electric bill is overdue and the cupboards are empty.

I just can’t with this shit. Your parents worked hard. Good for them! Mine worked hard too, and they’re living on social security and a pension. Plenty of people are working hard RIGHT NOW and aren’t even able to put food on the table, i.e. a good portion of SNAP recipients who have full time jobs. 

The tl;dr version? Maybe it’s not all of us. Maybe it’s you. And that’s the ultimate privilege — not having to look in the goddamn mirror and see what inane vanity it’s reflecting back.

Filed under privilege I can't wealth culture really? rich poor little rich girl whine money

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As more lives and communities are destroyed by the system that creates vast amounts of wealth for the few, the more heroic it sounds to “give back.” It’s what I would call “conscience laundering” — feeling better about accumulating more than any one person could possibly need to live on by sprinkling a little around as an act of charity.

But this just keeps the existing structure of inequality in place. The rich sleep better at night, while others get just enough to keep the pot from boiling over. Nearly every time someone feels better by doing good, on the other side of the world (or street), someone else is further locked into a system that will not allow the true flourishing of his or her nature or the opportunity to live a joyful and fulfilled life.

And with more business-minded folks getting into the act, business principles are trumpeted as an important element to add to the philanthropic sector. I now hear people ask, “what’s the R.O.I.?” when it comes to alleviating human suffering, as if return on investment were the only measure of success. Microlending and financial literacy (now I’m going to upset people who are wonderful folks and a few dear friends) — what is this really about? People will certainly learn how to integrate into our system of debt and repayment with interest. People will rise above making $2 a day to enter our world of goods and services so they can buy more. But doesn’t all this just feed the beast?

I’m really not calling for an end to capitalism; I’m calling for humanism.

Money should be spent trying out concepts that shatter current structures and systems that have turned much of the world into one vast market. Is progress really Wi-Fi on every street corner? No. It’s when no 13-year-old girl on the planet gets sold for sex. But as long as most folks are patting themselves on the back for charitable acts, we’ve got a perpetual poverty machine.

Peter Buffett, “The Charitable Industrial Complex" | The New York Times, July 26, 2013

This thought-provoking editorial about the ultra-rich reinforcing global inequality by supposed “charitable” endeavors is a must read.

Filed under Charity Guilt Inequality wealth accumulation 1% one percent politics economy poverty

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You know, I think it’s about envy. I think it’s about class warfare. When you have a president encouraging the idea of dividing America based on the 99 percent versus one percent — and those people who have been most successful will be in the one percent — you have opened up a whole new wave of approach in this country which is entirely inconsistent with the concept of one nation under God. The American people, I believe in the final analysis, will reject it.

I think it’s fine to talk about those things in quiet rooms and discussions about tax policy and the like. But the president has made it part of his campaign rally. Everywhere he goes we hear him talking about millionaires and billionaires and executives and Wall Street. It’s a very envy-oriented, attack-oriented approach and I think it will fail.

Mitt Romney, on Wednesday’s Today Show, discussing criticism of Wall Street and the rich. In other words, “Hey, poor people. Y’all are just jealous.”

Funny that. A Pew Poll released yesterday shows nearly two-thirds of the public (66%) believes there are “very strong” or “strong” conflicts between the rich and the poor—an increase of 19 percentage points since 2009. Also, participants identified the conflict between rich and poor as the largest, strong source of conflict in society:

If Romney is to be believed, at least two-thirds of Americans are just jealous.

Filed under Mitt Romney Politics Rich class warfare President Obama Obama Republican Republicans 99% 1% class warfare class economy Wall Street wealth inequality income

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On the 1% advocating for the 99%

The red and blue is not be taken as representative of political party. However, it IS an interesting breakdown of where the interests of the US Congress fall. Alan Grayson has also pointed to lobbying influence as well. At a 2010 conference, Grayson said, “We’re now in a situation where a lobbyist can walk into my office…and say, ‘I’ve got five million dollars to spend, and I can spend it for you or against you. Which do you prefer?’”

Much has also been made of Occupy Wall Street promoters like Michael Moore being in the 1%, so why don’t they just give away all of their money and make everyone equal, etc… I’m tired of this strawman counter. That’s like telling a group of physicians concerned about the situation in Appalachia regarding medical care to stop advocating for change, and to instead donate all their time, money, and supplies to fixing it, or else they are an illegitimate organization and have no right to bitch.

Moore has given generously to charity, including 60% of the profits from Fahrenheit 9/11, he donates half of his royalties from books sold at local bookstores to local libraries (plus the bookstores running the events have all agreed to donate $1 from their sales price) at each stop on his recent book tour, he works with several progressive organizations and with unions, and began the non-profit, mostly volunteer-run Traverse City Film Festival in Michigan - among other efforts. Here, he further explains his thoughts on charity to Sean Hannity.

So let’s pretend for a moment that the rich redistribute to the jobless of their own free will. Then what? Do jobs magically appear out of thin air? The need never re-occurs?

Moore explains his viewpoint well on being a member of the 1% and fighting for the 99% in a post entitled "Life Among The 1%" [emphasis mine]:

"How can you claim to be for the poor when you are the opposite of poor?!" It’s like asking: "You’ve never had sex with another man - how can you be for gay marriage?!" I guess the same way that an all-male Congress voted to give women the vote, or scores of white people marched with Martin Luther Ling, Jr. (I can hear these righties yelling back through history: "Hey! You’re not black! You’re not being lynched! Why are you with the blacks?!"). It is precisely this disconnect that prevents Republicans from understanding why anyone would give of their time or money to help out those less fortunate. It is simply something their brain cannot process. "Kanye West makes millions! What’s he doing at Occupy Wall Street?!" Exactly - he’s down there demanding that his taxes be raised. That, to a right-winger, is the definition of insanity. To everyone else, we are grateful that people like him stand up, even if and especially because it is against his own personal financial interest. It is specifically what that Bible those conservatives wave around demands of those who are well off.

Anyhow, money is not electing Michael Moore. However, money is electing those who set the policies leading to such wealth disparity in this country. We must pay attention to those who’ve sold us out and continued the same policies since before many in my generation were even born. Campaign finance reform is crucial, and perhaps we should begin rethinking this whole neoliberal, late capitalism thing.

If your biggest bone to pick with Occupy Wall Street is that Michael Moore is advocating for it, we’re well on our way to winning.

(Source: cognitivedissonance)

Filed under Michael Moore inequality politics protest 99% 1% poverty capitalism economy financial reform crisis late capitalism wealth injustice charity

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Wall Street denizens mock Occupy Wall Street protesters by sipping champagne. Really. Gawker first discussed this with a posting about the Facebook event trying to organize the upper crust:

As the first week of the #occupywallstreet protest against corporate stuff draws to a close, some classy capitalists have decided to dust off their favorite Nixon-era jargon and hold a champagne-soaked counter-protest of their own. Free laxative-enriched muffins for all “hippies,” LOL.

A “pro-business Democrat” tipster sent us some screenshots of the Facebook event page for today’s corporate counter-protest, titled “Anti Hippy Protester Champagne Toast on Wall Street.”

Well, here’s the video. Police brutality, counter-protesting with champagne toasts… Who says there’s a class war? Nothing to see here, folks. </sarcasm>

Filed under Wall Street champagne class war politics inequality top one percent wealth poverty Occupy Wall Street Days of Rage

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The richest 1% of US Americans earn nearly a quarter of the country’s income and control an astonishing 40% of its wealth. Inequality in the US is more extreme than it’s been in almost a century — and the gap between the super rich and the poor and middle class people has widened drastically over the last 30 years.

Meanwhile, in Washington, a bitter partisan debate over how to cut deficit spending and reduce the US’ 14.3 trillion dollar debt is underway. As low and middle class wages stagnate and unemployment remains above 9%, Republicans and Democrats are tussling over whether to slash funding for the medical and retirement programs that are the backbone of the US’s social safety net, and whether to raise taxes — or to cut them further.

The budget debate and the economy are the battleground on which the 2012 presidential election race will be fought. And the United States has never seemed so divided — both politically and economically.

How did the gap grow so wide, and so quickly? And how are the convictions, campaign contributions and charitable donations of the top 1% impacting the other 99% of Americans? Fault Lines investigates the gap between the rich and the rest.

This episode of Fault Lines first aired on Al Jazeera English on August 2, 2011 at 0930 GMT.

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Filed under Al-Jazeera politics inequality poverty wealth income Wall Street Globalization Capital capitalism Working class working poor labor finance capitalism crisis economy economic crisis public policy deregulation

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Wealth Gaps Rise to Record Highs Between Whites, Blacks, Hispanics


The median wealth of white households is 20 times that of black households and 18 times that of Hispanic households, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of newly available government data from 2009.

These lopsided wealth ratios are the largest since the government began publishing such data a quarter century ago and roughly twice the size of the ratios that had prevailed between these three groups for the two decades prior to the Great Recession that ended in 2009.

The Pew Research analysis finds that, in percentage terms, the bursting of the housing market bubble in 2006 and the recession that followed from late 2007 to mid-2009 took a far greater toll on the wealth of minorities than whites. From 2005 to 2009, inflation-adjusted median wealth fell by 66% among Hispanic households and 53% among black households, compared with just 16% among white households.

As a result of these declines, the typical black household had just $5,677 in wealth (assets minus debts) in 2009; the typical Hispanic household had $6,325 in wealth; and the typical white household had $113,149.

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With liberty and justice for some… equal opportunity my ass. I know, that as a white woman, no matter what happens, I still have an advantage called white privilege. That disgusts me. We must work for equality for all people if we ever want to be an equal opportunity society. It’s not identity politics - it’s human rights.

(via )

Filed under Wealth politics social justice race gender ethnicity inequality

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Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%

Economists long ago tried to justify the vast inequalities that seemed so troubling in the mid-19th century—inequalities that are but a pale shadow of what we are seeing in America today. The justification they came up with was called “marginal-productivity theory.” In a nutshell, this theory associated higher incomes with higher productivity and a greater contribution to society. It is a theory that has always been cherished by the rich. Evidence for its validity, however, remains thin. The corporate executives who helped bring on the recession of the past three years—whose contribution to our society, and to their own companies, has been massively negative—went on to receive large bonuses. In some cases, companies were so embarrassed about calling such rewards “performance bonuses” that they felt compelled to change the name to “retention bonuses” (even if the only thing being retained was bad performance). Those who have contributed great positive innovations to our society, from the pioneers of genetic understanding to the pioneers of the Information Age, have received a pittance compared with those responsible for the financial innovations that brought our global economy to the brink of ruin.

A sobering look at inequality in the United States that raises a serious question: Where do we go from here?

Filed under Inequality Wealth economy economic crisis economic violence top 1% United States

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Billionaire ruled unfit to stand trial due to drug addiction

Financier and cricket mogul Sir Allen Stanford was unfit to stand trial on charges of running a $7-billion fraud and needs treatment for a drug addiction, a US judge ruled.

Stanford’s trial had been due to begin this week but was postponed indefinitely until he could be considered fit to prepare his defense.

The financier has pleaded not guilty to 21 counts of fraud, money laundering and obstruction. He faces up to 375 years in jail if convicted.

"The court finds Stanford is incompetent to stand trial at this time based on his apparent impaired ability to rationally assist his attorneys in preparing his defense," US District Judge David Hittner wrote in his ruling in Houston, Texas.

Hittner denied a request by Stanford’s lawyers to release him on bond and place him in a private treatment facility for his addiction.

Instead, he order the inmate to be committed to the custody of the attorney general to “undergo medical treatment for his current impaired mental capacity” and get a psychiatric evaluation.

The judge also recommended that the flamboyant Texan be sent to a medical facility within the US Bureau of Prisons, namely citing the Federal Medical Center in Butner, North Carolina, where Wall Street swindler Bernard Madoff is currently serving a 150-year term for defrauding investors of $20 billion. 

Further proof justice is different for the rich. Imagine a judge ruling this way in favor of a meth addict. About impossible to imagine, no?

Filed under justice wealth inequality financial crimes are still crimes Allen Stanford drugs drug addiction

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The Class War Launched by America's Wealthiest Is Getting More Savage

In the ’50s and ’60s, family income was usually earned by a single person. Today, family income normally comes from at least two people.

At the same time, income for the richest soared. In 1979 the richest 1 percent of Americans earned 9 percent of all U.S. income. Now they earn 24 percent of all U.S. income. One percent of Americans earn nearly one-fourth of all the income in the country.

Then came the crashes of 2001 and 2008 and the recessions that followed.

The crash hasn’t changed anything. Things have become worse.

From 1990 to 2005, adjusted for inflation — the minimum wage is down 9 percent, production workers’ pay is up only over 15 years 4.3 percent.

At the same time, the rich get richer:

Corporate profits are up 106.7 percent. The S&P 500 is still up 141.4 percent since 1990. CEO compensation is up 282 percent. Call it transfer of wealth. Or call it class warfare.

Anyone who denies the existence of the class war in this country is either oblivious or on the winning side.

Filed under Class war America Inequality economic violence economy GOP government politics wealth poverty

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Wealth: When Will The 98% Tell The 2%, Enough Is Enough?

The governments of countries such as Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain are pushing for unpopular austerity measures, and richer countries such as the UK and France are trying to implement the same type of economic policies often by cutting social benefits and programs.

If austerity is the trend in Europe, it is certainly not the case in the United States. The US political and financial ruling class, which can be credited for starting the global financial meltdown of 2008, is still betting on the “virtues” of shock capitalism by cutting taxes and not cutting spending. What Congress did last night is quite simple: Our politicians made the decision to charge our common national credit card with a $700 billion gift to themselves and their real constituents, which are the wealthiest 2 percent Americans. And, once again, future generations will have to pick-up the astronomic tab. That is, of course, unless the United States goes completely bankrupt from 30 years of reckless financial and economic policies.

If you think bankruptcy is not a possibility, that’s just naive. 

Filed under Economics wealth America Rich versus poor