The 0.1%’s Marie Antoinette Moment

When you think you’ve seen everything imaginable in the “shameless” category, count on someone in finance to reach a new low.

The latest example comes from Davos. Private equity billionaire, Blackstone’s Steve Schwarzman is famed for his spending ($6 million 60th birthday party) and verbal excesses (comparing a proposal to end the carried interest tax loophole that made him super rich as opposed to merely rich to Hitler invading Poland). But those have either been to gratify his outsized ego or to defend his money machine. And although extreme, Schwarzman is hardly alone. In fact, Wall Street throwing tantrums over even small-potatoes threats to its profits is part of the new normal.

But Schwarzman at Davos has revealed himself to be utterly out of touch. His remarks in a Bloomberg interview:

What’s remarkable is the amount of anger, whether it’s on the Republican side or the Democratic side. Bernie Sanders to me is almost more stunning than some of the stuff going on on the Republican side, How is that happening, why is that happening? What is the vein in America that is being tapped into across parties that’s made people so unhappy? That’s something you should spend some time on.

For someone whose major business consists of investing in real-economy businesses, that’s an astonishing admission of cluelessness. Schwarzman is undeniably a fine actor; you have to be to get to the top of his heap. Yet his tone of voice, as well as the cluelessness of his remarks, say he is genuinely perplexed. Haven’t people like him managed to create the best of all possible worlds? Why doesn’t everyone see that?

Read his statement again, or listen to the segment. “What is the vein…that is being tapped into…that is making people so unhappy?” has a bizarre lack of agency. And it also suggests that the the unhappiness is somehow being created or cultivated aso opposed to is a long-standing, genuine sentiment that has finally found political outlets. As Clinton said, “It’s the economy, stupid.” Yet Schwarzman blandly intimates that populists on both sides of the aisle have managed to stir up such malcontent. Something must have failed on the messaging front.

And that’s before getting to the fact that his remarks confirm what clued-in Americans know well: the top wealthy lead lifestyles that are so disconnected from the rest of the public that they are dangerously out of touch. And elites who think they can remove themselves from the societies on which their lifestyles depend at no risk are kidding themselves. Despite their greater ability to put themselves at a class remove, the considerable interdependencies of our modern world means they can’t achieve real independence. They need chips, medical care, food, and other necessities. Yes, in an extreme scenario, they might be able to lay up supplies to last for years against the scenario that some of the more paranoid, like Pierre Omidyar, are worried about, that of an uprising. But most of them hope to live longer than that.

Their best protection for the 0.1% is more engagement in the societies that have provided them with their lucre, and on which they ultimately depend, as much as they’d like to deny that. Yet most of them conceive the whole point of winning as circulating only in the most exclusive circles and being able to treat everyone else as inferiors. You can see that in Schwarzman’s interaction: he can’t refrain from giving the Bloomberg reporter an assignment to figure out why the natives are restless. But he’s a big part of the problem, if not the problem. Exactly how many jobs and even companies have been lost, and wages and pensions have been cut, to fatten his bank account? Does he truly not get it, or does he somehow think that if people like him say the right thing, the anger will go away? He’s not going to get the caliber of information he needs to penetrate his bubble even if he were to hire someone to investigate. Guys like Schwarzman are incapable of getting past their preening self-regard, and that blindness puts them at risk.

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106 comments

  1. Vatch

    In Peter Turchin’s book War and Peace and War, he identifies Ibn Khaldun’s concept of asabiyyah (asabiya), or social cohesiveness, as one of the primary factors in the successful development of nations and empires. When people of all or most social classes can share goals, the society succeeds. When asabiyyah decays, nations and empires fail. For many years, a large proportion of Americans shared many of the same values and goals, even though there were clear differences in wealth. Of course, not all Americans shared the same vision; there were some groups that were harshly alienated from the mainstream of society.

    Over the past few decades, with the continuing expansion of inequality, asabiyyah is diminishing. The United States is weakening significantly, and most Americans know that something fundamental is wrong.

    1. RW Tucker

      Ibn Khaldun’s concept of aasabiyah was published in his Muqaddimah, his introduction to a history of the world, written in the 1300’s.

      1. wayne reynolds

        Isn’t that the strategy of the .01 %, divide and conquer? They use it abroad as a weapon to foment civil unrest, e.x. Libya, Ukraine, Syria; and in the U.S.A. itself since the times of our revolutionary days to separate the poor whites from the slaves and disenfranchised black population. These people’s greatest fear is the cohesiveness of a united population.

    2. Frank

      Mr. Schwarzman started a graduate program at Tsinghua University in Beijing. I was considering applying, my mother was really the one who wanted me to do it, and I thought it could be a great opportunity. I looked into Steve’s background and determined he was a complete twat. After their website got developed more and I got to see who the advisors (Henry Kissinger, Henry Paulson… http://schwarzmanscholars.org/about/advisors/ ) and came to the conclusion whoever gets into that program will be groomed to the ‘leaders’ of destruction finance and foreign policy. Maybe one day I will get to meet Mr. Schwarzman, hopefully its when i check his name on my clipboard as he enters my reeducation work camp.

      1. bythenbrs

        Re-education work camp? Which flavor are you offering, Cambodia, China, Vietnam, North Korea or Russian Gulag? I assume that you are being intentionally over the top but it concerns me that you may actually mean it.

        I understand Schwarzman and his type on Wall Street. Pursuing wealth and conflating it with ‘doing God’s work.’ We have always had their type with us throughout human history. Greed has a long history. What I don’t understand is the presumed moral superiority that generates the glib comment about re-education camps. If you knew anything about the evil inflicted on those forced into these camps and yet you still choose to use it to make a point, I fear what you and those who share your world POV would do to others in your campaign of ‘justice’.

        Take a look at the French Revolution for an example of how the pursuit of justice turns into a pursuit of vengeance, consuming both the innocent and the guilty. And I am pretty sure that I do not want you to be the one making the determination of which is which.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Hey, pal, we already have a “re-education work camp”, it’s called the United States of America. “Work camp” because millions of people work 2 or 3 jobs, or even just 1 job, and they are losing ground fast, with median real net worth declining and less and less financial security. And “re-education” because they’re being taught that they’re worthless, unless of course someday they win the 0.01% lottery and get to live in a gated community or, better yet, become Silicon Valley robber barons or Wall St Socialist freeloaders using tax loopholes on earned income.
          OP is just inviting the lovely Mr. Schwarzman to enter the camp himself, perhaps on the way in his wife can utter “qu’ils mangent de la brioche!”

          1. Bythenbrs

            Really? If you do not know the difference between wealth inequality and re-education work camps, then you have neither a sense of proportion nor an understanding of history. Sad.

        2. Lawrence

          What exactly is wrong with a pursuit of vengeance? The French Revolution got out of hand, and many suffered who were not guilty. That’s why it was tragic, and the certainty that such things will happen is reason not to go that route. But don’t shed a tear for the nobility that were killed. They deserved it. As do our nobility.

    3. Deanna Clark

      Yes…the shared vision of what our Republic is about left the building around 1980. Before that about 10% of the citizens didn’t have it…they did nothing in WWII but cheat on war coupons, etc.
      But around 1970 the Harvard Business School, the Vatican of business, changed it’s vision and the religion to one of me-first corporatism and bottom line legal cheating. The letter of the law became the only consideration…not creating jobs, serving the public, and innovation. That religion of business then became the state religion with Reaganomics and disdain for the public interest.
      So sad that a whole generation only sees business and capitalism as a rackets.

    4. Rob Lewis

      Sociologists have long puzzled over what makes one society succeed, while an outwardly similar one collapses in a downward spiral of chaos and dysfunction. It turns out that one of the most important factors for success is simply the level of trust that people have for each other.

      Conservatives have spent the last 40 years fanning the flames of distrust in the U.S.: of the government, of the academy, of science, of people who look different from you. They now complain that the country is going to hell. It’s a hell of their own making.

      (Interestingly, societies with strong “family values” often do worse than others, because the “circle of trust” tends to be confined to the members of one’s family.)

  2. Gil Gamseh

    Extreme wealth is a cognitive impairment to the point of being a mental disease. The rest of us, in compassion, should cure the Uber Rich. It’s the least we can do.

    1. Inverness

      Cognitive impairment sounds about right. When you’re isolated from regular people, you lose touch. You also don’t have many to contradict your narcissism and keep you earth-bound and guide them away from extremely self-centred views and behaviour.

      1. Sev

        I suppose we could suggest he look in a mirror- though like Narcissus, he would probably like what he saw there.

      1. Jim

        Most likely most leaders in world history from Alexander the Great to Joseph Stalin and including people like Henry VIII and Napoleon have been psychopaths. Although everybody cannot be a psychopath just as an ecology cannot consist exclusively of predators, if the percentage of a population which is psychopathic is not too great the psychopaths present will have a considerable advantage. The result is an evolutionary predator-prey dynamic.

    2. PWC, Raleigh

      If not attributable to cognitive impairment, perhaps it’s a behavioral disorder subject to environmental triggers.

      In either case, “disease” strikes me as spot-on.

  3. Tertium_Squid

    Their best protection for the 0.1% is more engagement in the societies that have provided them with their lucre

    That’s what politicians are for. That’s why Schwarzman’s so disappointed – elected officials aren’t doing what they were bought to do.

      1. Synoia

        There is one historical record of the aristocracy yeilding it’s perks. The rise of the labor movement at the end of the 29th century resulting in high death duties and high marginal rates of income tax

        There are many instances of wars or revolutions stripping them of their advantages.

        Because the current set of Aristocrats have gamed and perveted the political system, and demolished the labor movement, to their own temporary afvantage, the only remaing remedy apperas to be violence.

        Witness the rage currently extant in Oregon. The aristocrats do not fear the emasculated left, but they really fear the disaffected right.

        Any leader who emerges to tap on the right and left disaffection, possibly Trump, will ferment a revolution.

      2. Jim

        It’s somewhat like predator-prey dynamics. If the number of predators becomes too large the predator population will crash. Of course as the number of predators declines things become better and better for the remaining predators so eventually their numbers start to increase.

        Under some circumstances a steady equilibrium is possible but generally the predator-prey populations fluctuate up and down.

  4. frosty zoom

    “That’s something you should spend some time on.”

    this is the kind a man i could really drink a beer with.

  5. frosty zoom

    and, mr. schwarzman, the question is not “‘what’ is in the vein in america, but ‘who'”.

  6. David

    Being able to Act and Lie with “conviction” publicly has been for some time as much a requirement for success as an MBA or a Law Degree.

    The truth is – there is little of it anywhere. I assume when reading the NYT or listening to obama et al that the message is false and there is always another agenda and other facts to support another more truthful case.

    obama says at the state of the union speech: “Anyone claiming that America’s economy is in decline is peddling fiction.”

    while the Baltic Dry / Freight stats / labor force participation rates / order books / part time jobs under 30 hours dominating the obama new jobs stats / and many many other metrics are confirming the worst.

    Obama is the standard for this type of communication. The word Obama is no longer a noun it is a verb as in:

    ObamaNation – which means Lying to the Nation.

    1. washunate

      Yep. And the important corollary to systematic lying: technocrats in academia, media, law, and other professions are not to challenge false statements in polite company.

      1. James Levy

        Can’t help it: when the “Left’ embraced postmodernism in the academy in the 1970s and 80s, they left themselves without a vantage point from which to call a lie a lie, as all truth was now deemed subjective and there was no such thing as objective reality. If everything is socially constructed, then whatever any group believes is just fine (think the dumbest form of multiculturalism and square it). Hey, who are YOU to judge what other people believe, Mr. Nasty Enlightenment Metanarrative White Guy? Thus the academic Left cut its own balls off and left itself incapable of coherent resistance to the tyranny of lies and stupidity that rules us today.

        1. Inverness

          I agree, James. It’s like they became bureaucrats of the mind, rendered incapable of taking positions, because that’s too naive.

        2. animalogic

          Absolutely correct. Post modernism has been an exercise in intellectual masturbation. It’s given some on the left the feeling of being engaged without the danger of conception or even fecundity. Postmodernism has sterilised a generation.

        3. Randy

          Blaming post-modernism for leftist wimps is like blaming evolutionary theory for eugenics. All intellectual frameworks are abused. All flexible tools for orienting inquiry are reduced to rigid ideological answer machines by the less nimble-minded.

    2. wendy davis

      Mr. Schwarzmnan might want to consider this talk at Davos: ‘What if your brain confesses?’ (neuroscience) Ooops, no, that would be to imprison the Rabble Class pre-crime thought

      http://www.weforum.org/events/world-economic-forum-annual-meeting-2016/sessions/what-if-your-brain-confesses

      Or perhaps he might attend: ‘Issue Briefing: The Inequality Challenge’, (get your bus transfer passes ready; it’s a mile or two away from the central site.

      http://www.weforum.org/events/world-economic-forum-annual-meeting-2016/sessions/the-inequality-challenge

      Actor Kevin Spacey is there ‘with an idea’. ha. DeCaprio’s there as well, perhaps for one of the coveted ‘Crystal Awards’.

    3. fresno dan

      Great quotes in out of touchness:

      Pauline Kael: “I don’t know anyone who voted for Nixon”
      Steve Schwarzmnan “What is the vein in America that is being tapped into across parties that’s made people so unhappy?”
      President Obama: “Anyone claiming that America’s economy is in decline is peddling fiction.”

      It is amazing that two political parties can both be so diametrically opposed, yet both still manage to be so wrong – you would think one of them would stumble into a corner of reality occasionally. Maybe that is because them actually disagreeing is like professional wrestling – all strum and drang of people who actually working to the same goal – fleece the rubes for the benefit of the millionaire owners of professional wrestling.
      Our politics has one policy – the super duper rich are extremely put upon, and that the only reform can only be having them get all the pie, the pie pan, the pie dish, the stove, and pay only North Korean wages to whoever prepares the pie…the repubs stating this nakedly, while the dems do it surreptitiously…

      1. nobody

        The real quote comes from a speech Kael delivered at the Modern Language Association, on Dec. 28, 1972, as cited by the New York Times (Via Wikipedia):

        “I live in a rather special world. I only know one person who voted for Nixon. Where they are I don’t know. They’re outside my ken. But sometimes when I’m in a theater I can feel them.”

        Rather than showing out-of-touch insularity on Kael’s part, the quote actually shows Kael is perfectly aware of that insularity and is in fact making light of it. It also shows she’s perfectly aware that there are people out there in the world who don’t share her views, as if she hadn’t yet gleaned that when she was 53 years old in 1972. Or for that matter in the previous election, which was also won by Nixon.

        http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2012/10/The-Fraudulent-Factoid-That-Refuses-to-Die

        1. fresno dan

          thanks for that! Like a lot of good quotes, too good to be true.
          I grew up in the poor side of Fresno. When I joined the Air Force, I met people from the south, the inner city, and other environs that I would never have met otherwise. And after getting my degree, the “diversity” of people I met, at least economically, decreased. Racially, maybe more Indians, Koreans, Africans, etcetera, and gays, but the poor and blue collar left the realm I frequented – and that is truly unfortunate.
          I don’t blame Kael for her lack of breadth of people she interacts with, and it is good to be aware of the segregation and stratification of society. But the question is – did that just “happen” or did she choose it to happen? I go to left wing sites, I go to right wing sites, but it is amazing how many people don’t want to even expose themselves to different points of view…

      2. David

        Fresno Dan You said: “It is “amazing” that two political parties can both be so diametrically opposed, yet both still manage to be so wrong”

        “Amazing” NOT that is because = Clinton / Bush Establishment Party – there is only one party!

        Fresno Dan You said: “the only reform can only be having them get all the pie, the pie pan, the pie dish, the stove, and pay only North Korean wages to whoever prepares the pie”

        The preeminent American Philosopher in the last 60 years was George Carlin who said at the Beacon Theater on Columbus Ave multiple times “a long time ago”:

        “They want EVERYTHING , they want it ALL, and then they are coming for your SOCIAL SECURITY”

      3. ffskitty

        ‘politics is the entertainment division of the military-industrial complex.’
        – frank zappa

  7. Carolinian

    Hey they named the historic NY Public Library on 42nd St after him so he must be a cool guy, right? Let them eat books.

    1. perpetualWAR

      If they begin eating books, that is when I will truly revolt. Unless, of course, they choose to dine on the fast-food section (Nora Roberts, Steven King, etc.)

    2. Vatch

      Reminds me of the joke by Erasmus:

      I have turned my entire attention to Greek. The first thing I shall do, as soon as the money arrives, is to buy some Greek authors; after that, I shall buy clothes.

      Sometimes this version is used:

      When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes.

  8. washunate

    My personal favorite out-of-touchedness will probably always be Nancy Reagan on TV at a baseball game urging Americans to Just Say No. Awe, schucks, sure thang honey, all those bad black men in prison will now be set free by your enlightened wisdom…And in finance specifically, Munger’s “Suck it in and cope” will probably never be topped. But it’s always fun to add more hilarity to the Greatest Hits real.

    For my money, Schwarzman is talking his book, not genuinely perplexed. It’s more like David Viniar, at Goldman Sachs, spouting the comically embarrassing nonsense about 25 standard deviation moves several days in a row. It wasn’t actually a math statement; he was just being hyperbolic to deflect attention from responsibility for financial fraud.

    http://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1103/1103.5672.pdf

  9. washunate

    Despite their greater ability to put themselves at a class remove, the considerable independencies of our modern world means they can’t achieve real independence.

    Yves, FYI, you can delete this comment after seeing this. I think you mean to write “considerable interdependencies” here.

    1. diptherio

      Beat me to it…the last paragraph could use some help too [suggested additions in brackets]:

      You can even [see] that in Schwarzman’s interaction: he can’t refrain from giving the Bloomberg reporter an assignment to figure out why the natives are restless. But since he’s a big part of the problem, if not the problem [Schwarzman is completely blind to what’s going on].

      Adding: I think most regular NC readers automatically correct Yves’ typos and understand that the capacity to thoroughly proof-read all content just doesn’t exist at NC…until the donation jar gets a few more bucks in it, that is [hint, hint].

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        My browser crashed several times at 9:30 AM after having been up all night, and I lost work each time, so yes, my patience with checking what I had written was lower than usual,

  10. RUKidding

    What I find interesting is that the likes of Schwarzman has any awareness of the US Presidential race at this point. However, I’m not surprised that he’s more “uncomfortable” with Sanders than with Trump. Trump, after all, is playing the role of Pied Piper and leading the “rats” to their continual “slaughter” from the predatory 1%. I’m sure Schwarzman figures, probably correctly, that Trump can be bought off and controlled enough to not cause any damage to Schwarzman’s lifestyle, etc.

    Sanders does, however, present something more concerning to the likes of predatory, parasitic rats like Schwarzman. The rest of his drivel is just the expected playbook. Why how could the serfs, you know, actually think for themselves? And my glamorous life is so fabulous, so what are these nonentities upset about? Eh? It’s what they’re taught to believe in their upwardly mobile predatory criminal thieving rise to the top. Certainly the Schwarzman’s of this planet aren’t going to waste their beautiful minds wondering why the common proles might be a little upset.

    If he’s gotten a bit nervous about Sanders, though?? Well that’s good news. Feel the Bern, baby! Maybe introducing Reason Numero Uno to vote for Sanders.

    1. tegnost

      I have to take issue with the characterization of these rats as predators…they’re much more scavengers, like hyenas who hunt in a big pack, overpowering and killing the weak, or stealing the kills of actual predators, or like rats who raid the storehouse under cover of darkness. Calling them predators elevates them to a stature to which their efforts do not rise. Like you i don’t believe a word that comes out from between his ratty whiskers. I think further that Sanders has the ability to bridge the disaffected gap, the two parties are both focused on a very small portion of the pie and count on being able to fool the rubes (“that’s something you should spend time on”) but we’re just so sick of it, aren’t we?

      1. RMO

        I can see why this jackass would fear Sanders more but I’m not so sure that Trump could be bought off or controlled if he ended up in power. I can think of a number of cases where elites mistakenly believed that a false populist was just getting the rabble riled up and would be easily controlled once made a figurehead but they ultimately ended up either dead or powerless themselves. I think he might be just egotistical, driven and ruthless enough to do the same if elected.

        And tegnost: Geez… what do have against scavengers that you compare them to people like this?

    2. greg

      Schwarzman should hope not only that Sanders wins, but that he brings the Congress with him. Otherwise there is no hope for reform, only revolution, and Schwarzman and his ilk would not fare nearly so well.

  11. flora

    Schwarzman gave the keynote speech at the 2011 Al Smith dinner at the Waldorf hotel in NYC. He humorously referred to the attendees as “occupying Waldorf” and described his hedge business as buying businesses and breaking them. Everyone laughed. In the serious segment of his speech he said,
    “there are individuals in the country who are facing conditions that are unprecedented in their lifetimes: high unemployment, collapsing housing prices, foreclosures, and an overall sense of economic and societal alienation. …We are in very real danger that the American dream is slipping from the grasp of the next generation. And if we lose that, we lose something essential about who we are and what makes us great as a nation. So these are issues that not only must be addressed, then must be successfully resolved. It can’t be done by the few, it has to be done by all of us. Because at the end of the day, this can’t be about who occupies one street.”
    He then went on to extol private charity as the answer.
    Note to Schwarzman: the economy hasn’t improved for most people and voters want an economy that works for them, not just the 0.1%.

    1. flora

      In the same speech Schwarzman said, “I worry that the social fabric of America is being ripped, purposefully, by people who are taking advantage of individuals who are suffering.”

      So, apparently, people are incapable of understanding their own economic situation and how it relates to the larger economic situation. Guess Schwarzman thinks the electorate is incapable of thinking for themselves. If they’re angry it can only be because some outside provocateur is misleading them.

      1. Sufferin' Succotash

        So it’s no big intellectual leap to conclude that the way to calm everyone down is to dispose of those pesky outside provocateurs.

        1. ex-PFC Chuck

          I seem to recall from my pre-post-Christian days some parable about rich men and eyes of needles.

          1. JTMcPhee

            Yah, but those Elite-ies get a lot of hot sex and great food and fast cars and big yachts and perfect bespoke suits and handmade shoes and fifteen or 20 “houses” to pick from and private islands and private jets and everyone takes THEIR calls and does whatever they want… This pre-post-Christian notes that there is zero effing evidence that there is retribution in the Hereafter — the Calvin and Knox I got fed finally came clear as just a message like “the meek shall inherit the earth:” a lot of ways to read that, and render unto Caesar, turn the other cheek, carry his coat for two miles not just one, all that crap that says shut up and dance for me, mope…

      2. low_integer

        Schwarzman said, “I worry that the social fabric of America is being ripped, purposefully, by people who are taking advantage of individuals who are suffering.”

        It is hilarious that he doesn’t recognise that him and his Davos buddies are the people he is referring to.

    2. PQS

      Wow. Private charity, indeed – you know, where the rich can tell everyone what to do in their personal lives, too, since it’s just not enough to buy off the political process and public life.

      These people never fail to repeat the same mistakes. Yet the problem is right there in front of them and they refuse to acknowledge it.

      We are truly in the New Gilded Age – same as the Old Gilded Age.

    3. Jerry Denim

      Very interesting quotes. So does Swarzman just mouth quotes he picks up from reading the Economist and the Wall Street Journal or does he actually have any kind of grasp of the effects of the 40 year war the rich have waged against everyone else in this country? I would like to believe he is so clueless he doesn’t understand Bernie Sanders base of support, but frankly I can’t. I think the Swarzman’s of the world are way more sinister than they let on. If anything he is so vain and arrogant he doubts the 99%’s intelligence in the face of his propaganda. “What? Sanders support is still going up in Iowa? Did they not read the Economist piece? I paid good money for that! That journalist won a Pulitzer! Sanders is a stinking commie I tell ya!”

      Swarzman’s lip service to private charity (if you can call it that) remind me of an experience I had in New York around 2013, when I still lived there and was volunteering at a food bank in Chelsea. I read a few articles, probably linked here, about how Citibank and a few other large Wall Street financial institutions had been spending hundreds of thousands dollars lobbying to get the City to cut its budget for non-profits operating programs for the poor and homeless. Apparently the banksters saw a profit motive in running usurious micro-lending schemes in poor neighborhoods and financing privatized operations that would charge for work being performed by charities and non-profits either free of charge to the city or with meager subsidies. A few weeks later the unpaid volunteer director of the food bank shared with the volunteers that our budget had been slashed by the City and the Food Bank was in danger of closing its doors. The very next week when I showed up for a busy Saturday shift I was informed by the director, with no sense of irony, that the food bank had received a new folding table due to the munificence of Citibank, and that we should be grateful to so-and-so bank functionary who was on hand to receive our praise for the gift. I wanted to wretch.

      So as a fig leaf for spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to get the paltry budgets of non-profits serving the homeless in New York slashed to the bone so rapacious bankers could profiteer from the cities’s most desperate and vulnerable, Citibank donates a $50 folding table? I believe this is what Swarzman has in mind when he speaks of “charity”.

      1. PQS

        To be fair, that $50 folding table comes with 150% markup, hidden fees, and an arbitration clause……/sarc

      2. tegnost

        some guy in accounting saw the $50 table going to the dump and couldn’t sleep thinking of the waste, but by the time he rose from his feather padded comfort controlled spine aligning rest cubicle he had the answer…$50 table +$50 cost to dispose (hey it’s wall st, dumps a long way off, and someone has to go there, that’s labor) then make a charity matching deal with the city and voila, $200 tax write off! For garbage! and we wonder why he gets the big bucks

  12. Synoia

    “The time has come,” the Walrus said,
    “To talk of many things:
    Of shoes–and ships–and sealing-wax–
    Of cabbages–and kings–
    And why the Aristocracy–
    Is now called Oligarchy?.”

  13. hemeantwell

    DeCaprio’s there as well, perhaps for one of the coveted ‘Crystal Awards’.

    According to the Guardian, DiCaprio kicked ass. He called out Big Energy, demanding that fossil fuels be kept on the ground.

    “Those entities with a financial interest in preserving this destructive system have denied, and even covered up the evidence of our changing climate.

    Enough is enough. You know better. The world knows better. History will place the blame for this devastation squarely at their feet.”

    I wish he’d extend that stance to broader economy, including Schwarzman’s ass, but it just may be too early for that.

    1. MRW

      Leonardo DiCaprio? The guy who recently claimed a Chinook wind was global warming?

      Oh puhleeze. Spare me. Double-Digit IQ.

  14. Steve H.

    – What is the vein in America that is being tapped into across parties that’s made people so unhappy?

    Is it just me, or is anyone else creeped out by the fact that his primary metaphor is bloodletting?

    1. abynormal

      (nervous) HT!

      “Option 1: Attempt to back out.

      Probable result: Death after painful torture.

      Option 2: Do the job and hope.

      Probable result: Death but probably no torture (good)”

      ~Nalini Singh, Angels’ Blood

  15. casino implosion

    Alex Jones is mainly a goofball, but there’s a part in one of his low budget documentaries that has always haunted me. He’s talking about the evil schemes of the ultra-wealthy one-world globalists, Bilderbergers, Soros types and, after summing up a list of crimes, intones in voiceover “…then they intend to upload their bodies to immortal machines and set off to explore the cosmos”. I had a flash of recognition–of course!–that’s exactly what you’d expect their real plan is. I’ve had a bit of a soft spot for Jones ever since I watched that documentary, for that one moment of insight.

    1. James Levy

      Oh, there is a brilliant documentary about such schemes called “Synthetic Pleasures” that was made back in the 1990s during the dot com era. Lots of very wealthy people were taking that talk very seriously. It sounds nuts, but that doesn’t mean big money isn’t going into research to achieve those very ends.

      1. polecat

        plop them into cryogenic vats and we’re all good! ……….just don’t forget to pull the plug…..

      2. fajensen

        I see a risk: If they could upload their glorious selfs into machines then they can probably also make perfect (and possibly customized) copies of themselves. So, why wouldn’t they leave some immortal overseers ala “Neutron Jack” behind to just keep squeezing that juice forever, just on principle?

    2. Quantum Future

      Casino – That kind of tech to actually explore the cosmos is still at least 30 years off.

      It requires coordinates or a juxtaposition through one dimension back to other. It would also require a configurations of consciessness into a very long string of electrons to travel through a very, very small hole and then be reconfigured in what you could simply called 4D.

      Why would certain people help his kind even if lets say, it is possible beyond theory? Help would have to entail being willing to bring the entire species and at this point in the cycle cooperation is a long, long way off. Besides, that kind of tech would get weaponized first. Think it should be hurried along?

      1. tegnost

        intergalactic space time continuum, you won’t have to hurry at all, you’ll be there until you need to be here, kind of like samantha in bewitched

  16. Oregoncharles

    “, an that blindness puts them at risk. ”

    Well, we can hope.

    But indeed, I very much fear that the public, still mired in complacency, will shoot right past the stage of ELECTORAL revolution to some sort of real insurgency. That would be a nightmare best avoided – the reason I’m a member of a reformist, not revolutionary party.

  17. Quantum Future

    Steve H – Dracula is complaining about his victims screams of terror after draining them. Hey man, I only drained 80% of your blood. You can still afford pop-tarts can’t you?

  18. ekstase

    Well, I know of two systems that predict where this sort of human will end up; one is psychology and the other spirituality, (the real kind). Either way, anyone whose self-esteem depends on a false feeling of superiority is going to be surprised.

  19. Davidt

    Don’t let the belief that we are looking at a governing process called an election and the abnormal personalities of most of the candidates distract you what is in front of you.

    We were brought up under the cowboy myth of “fair play” and the western movies taught when the cowboy is being cheated at the card table he kicks over the table and the mayhem begins.

    If I were involved in any way on the other side the game cheating the cowboy I would be way worried.

  20. crittermom

    If 1% hold most of the wealth, that leaves 99% of us to make a change. Strength in numbers. Get out & vote this election for that change you’d like to see happen (not just for someone you’ve been programmed to think will win, for fear of backing a “loser”).

    As a single woman turning 65 who (illegally) lost everything I’d worked a lifetime to achieve, I’m finding I can no longer even exist in this country I was once so proud of, on my meager SS.
    I hope I don’t die from this broken heart before the election, as I want my voice to be heard loud & clear.
    Enough is enough! Gonna join me at the polls?

  21. crittermom

    I signed petitions regarding the TPP & saw it go down in the first round.
    I signed petitions to protect Net Neutrality & saw that succeed, as well.

    I still wanna believe that change is possible at the polls (tho’ it will take all 99% of us), as that’s the only hope I have left as I struggle to exist amongst the mere remnants of my former life…

  22. Keith

    In the good times, prior to 2008, all we hear about are the wealth creators. How they are responsible for the boom and how they deserve to keep their rewards.

    In the bad times, after 2008, the easy profits have gone and so have the wealth creators. It is up to national tax payers and national institutions (Governments and Central Banks) to sort out the mess.

    The profits are privatised and the losses are socialised.

    Unconditional bailouts for bankers and austerity for the people.

    A globalist elite lining their pockets at everyone else’s expense.

    What is there not to like?

  23. sheila rossini

    Crazy stuff. Our country is no longer a Democracy – it is a Plutocracy. Obama promised “change” and didn’t deliver. Hilary is in the hands of Wall Street. For anyone who is interested in volunteering in B. Sanders campaign…he is having Volunteer Orientation and Recruitment Conference Calls. One of them is Saturday…EST at 12:30 pm. Hey…it will be snowing….so why take a moment to see if it works for you. You can register on his site. You can do this all while wearing your pajamas….:)

    You good folks have already probably done this. This is just a gentle nudge….

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