Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Rich and Powerful Need Love Too!

As my understanding of politics and power has evolved over the years, one thing that has really stunned me is how even the richest most powerful elites we have need more than their power and vast riches. They often need to be loved, or at least thanked for all the great work they think they're doing by being rich or powerful. I had always gone under the assumption that if you're a really powerful senator, or a really rich hedgefund manager, why would you give the slightest fuck about mean things said about you... but the evidence keeps piling up that they do.

And let's be clear, this is a good thing, because it opens up a point of leverage on these elites that I didn't think previously existed. There have been a lot of examples of this recently, (some involving a campaign at work so I don't want to get into it here, but shoot me an email or ask offline if you're curious), and I've been absolutely fascinated by these stories.

A perfect example from the other day about a rich hedge fund manager:
Last week, Cooperman circulated an “open letter” to President Obama that accused him of a ”divisive, polarizing tone” that risks further inflaming an “already incendiary environment.” The letter was a sensation on Wall Street, so Andrew Ross Sorkin interviewed Cooperman to find out what exactly ticked him off badly enough to inspire him to write it:
“What pushed me over the fence was the president’s dialogue over the debt ceiling,” Mr. Cooperman said, explaining that just when it seemed like a compromise was near, President Obama went on national television and pressed harder on “millionaires and billionaires,” a phrase that has stuck in the craw of many of the elite.
For example, Mr. Cooperman zeroed in on what he described as the president’s belittling remarks about taxing the wealthy: “If you are a wealthy C.E.O. or hedge fund manager in America right now, your taxes are lower than they have ever been. They are lower than they have been since the 1950s. And they can afford it,” the president said back in June. “You can still ride on your corporate jet. You’re just going to have to pay a little more.”...
Mr. Cooperman acknowledges that, in the debt ceiling debate this summer, it was as much the fault of Republicans and House Speaker John Boehner’s inability to gain support for a compromise as it was the Democrats that a deal did not get done. And Mr. Cooperman accepts that taxes are indeed at record lows.
But he says the president could do a better job of pressing for higher taxes on the rich without “the sense that we’re bad people.”
As Greg Sargent points out in the post, the most staggering thing about this is that he agrees with Obama on the fundamentals. He accepts that taxes are at record lows, and that the Republicans are also at fault for the debt ceiling nonesense. But this billionaire's feelings are so hurt because Barack Obama said the most milk toast possible line tweaking the rich for not paying enough taxes. It's not like Obama was breaking out some Che Guevara or even FDR style class warfare, he merely pointed out (in the tamest terms possible) facts that this billionaire largely agrees with, and yet what he said made him mad enough to write a angry letter to other rich people about it.

Being rich and powerful may seem great, but apparently it just isn't what it's cracked up to be unless someone is also telling you how awesome you are.

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