wall street new york stock exchange

Hearing the words “income inequality” spoken by members of the One Percent and their defenders – like economist Greg Mankiw, most recently – reminds me of the Julia Roberts movie Sleeping with the Enemy where the physically-abusive husband, played by Patrick Bergin, just finished smacking Roberts’ character around the house, and then refers to the beat-down in the next scene as a “quarrel.”


You – with a weight, height and strength advantage – just beat the scarlet syrup out of someone because you suffer from yet another paranoid episode, and you call the whole thing a QUARREL??

When America’s middle class incomes over the past three decades have remained flat – or even decreased, depending on which middle class segment you talk to – while the rich continued to make insane amounts of money during the same time period, the phrase “Income Inequality” sounds like “Quarrel” to me.

The 2008 financial crash has been called one of the most significant transfers of wealth for a few good reasons: The rich made a mountain of loot by underwriting loans to the masses under the most dubious of terms, and then leveraging those loans 40 times over to create betting money securities that helped the rich become richer. After the markets tanked, the rich soaked up virtually all the income gains in the economic recovery while the 99 Percent is not only suffering, but the social bottom-dwellers are also being asked to sacrifice more – presumably for sake of the rich country. (See here and here.)

Does that sound like “Income inequality,” or “economic butt-rape” to you? Although I understand why the mainstream media can’t use the latter term…

Back to Mankiw – look at what he wrote in the NY Times as a justification for why the One Percent deserves the big bucks. He first makes a “quarrel” reference while discussing actor Robert Downey, Jr’s payday:

These questions go to the heart of the debate over economic inequality, to which President Obama has recently been drawing attention.

Then, Mankiw just goes completely batty:

A similar case is the finance industry, where many hefty compensation packages can be found. There is no doubt that this sector plays a crucial economic role. Those who work in banking, venture capital and other financial firms are in charge of allocating the economy’s investment resources. They decide, in a decentralized and competitive way, which companies and industries will shrink and which will grow. It makes sense that a nation would allocate many of its most talented and thus highly compensated individuals to the task.

In addition, recent research establishes that those working in finance face particularly risky incomes. Greater risk requires greater reward.

In other words, Risky Incomes = Greater Reward.

Hope you don’t mind that I introduce a couple of new equations which arguably make more sense:

IF Risky Actions ∈ {Risky Jobs}

THEN Risky Jobs → Greater Rewards

⇔Job Actions performed  RESULTS IN Greater Social Good

If you dig my math, then you would have to agree that my friend – whose gig had something to do with rescuing civilians and firefighters from the most sketchy of situations – should have made Jacoby Ellsbury money.

You would also agree that my retired police officer friends should be members of the One Percent.

But can you tell me with a straight face that bankers, who raked in millions betting that homeowners will default on their mortgage payments, and who also made similar bets on countries becoming deadbeats with sovereign debt, are engaged in socially useful activity? I mean, how many of these Wall Street gamblers even visited Hungary for vacation?

I don’t have to single-out bankers. Apparently, there’s an ongoing discrepancy about the value some CEOs return to the companies they lead.

Too bad money can’t buy rational thinking…

song currently stuck in my head: “cease the bombing” – grant green

[Image: New York Stock Exchange]

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