I, Me and Mine: The super-rich enter Sociopath Land

Bad behavior from the upper crust is out of control

| May 24, 2012

I hope you're enjoying the new parade of bad behavior by the super-rich. There's certainly been plenty of it from the "We can do whatever we want at any time, and to hell with you if you don't like it" crowd. Here are some examples, both local and national, that show what I mean.

We saw JPMorgan Chase CEO James Dimon announce a loss of at least $2 billion from irresponsible, risky trades. Pundits and politicians, sensing another disaster in the making, wailed, "They're at it again!" Dimon's main concern, though, was that the feds would react by passing financial regulations that might stop investment banks from using the economy as their personal casino and, you know, tanking the damn thing once and for all.

Next up was billionaire Eduardo Saverin, one of the founders of Facebook, who renounced his U.S. citizenship (he retains his Brazilian citizenship) in order to avoid taxes on his multiple billions of dollars. Saverin's move sparked widespread disgust among what I like to call "normal people." But it also sparked disturbing reactions like the Forbes magazine column titled, "For De-Friending The U.S., Facebook's Eduardo Saverin Is An American Hero."

That article should be enshrined in a history museum somewhere, framed and flaunted as the moment when it became official that the United States' super-rich and their apologists had slipped off the rails and entered Sociopath Land. At the very least, they have completely lost touch with a fundamental underpinning of any organized society — the commonweal, or a concern for the common good.

The common good isn't a popular concept these days in D.C., particularly among members of the Tea Party-cowed GOP, whose legislative guru Rep. Paul Ryan proposed a budget in late March that would practically dissolve what little social safety net this country provides, pump up the war machine and, of course, give massive tax breaks to the wealthiest one-hundredth of one percent of Americans. When Obama stated the obvious, calling Ryan's budget "social Darwinism," he was roundly rebuked by today's nasty-edged purveyors of what used to be called conservatism.

Locally, we learned from the Observer's superbly reported series on hospitals that Carolinas Healthcare System has a split personality: First-rate, caring treatment of patients on one side, and policies that make financially strapped former patients' lives miserable (while the hospitals sit on billions in reserves, and pay their execs millions) on the other side. Those revelations are on top of the continual local whining by Ballantyners who hate paying for lesser folks' roads and schools so much, they want to secede from the city. Meanwhile, real-estate fat-cat Richard Pittenger is shamelessly wielding his personal money hammer to try to buy a seat in Congress. And don't forget Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan's infamous complaint that he was "incensed" about criticisms of BofA, which more than earned its status as America's most hated corporation. All of these actions derive from a firm belief, popularized in the Reagan era, in the supremacy of money over ethics, never mind the common good.

The Observer's hospital series came to life recently during a visit to a friend's house. My friend, L., is a freelance graphic artist, whose finances had already been hurt by the bad economy when she suddenly required major surgery last August. L. pays through the nose for health insurance, which after the hefty deductible was paid, covered about two-thirds of the cost of her surgery. Her lengthier-than-expected recovery further worsened her financial predicament. The day I visited her at home, the phone rang seven times in the first hour. Five of those calls were from bill collectors who, like Carolinas Healthcare System before them, wanted L. to pull thousands of dollars out of thin air.

"That happens about four times a day," she said of the calls. "I told CHS I would definitely pay them, but I didn't know when I'd be able to do it. That wasn't good enough, so the calls started pretty soon after the surgery. I really can't pay them squat right now, and they won't take that answer. It's weird to be treated like a queen by doctors and hospital staff and then come home to this. They hassle me every day, and they could very try well to get a lien on my house ... they're just acting like swine. ... it's like all their money couldn't buy them a little decency."

Of course, L. just doesn't understand that the moneybags who run CHS, as a healthcare industry honcho wrote, have a responsibility to sue former patients in order to "maintain a sustainable business structure." Sigh.

"A little decency." Hmmph. What kind of country does L. think we're living in?

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Comments (3)

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"The common good isn't a popular concept these days in D.C., particularly among members of the Tea Party-cowed GOP, whose legislative guru Rep. Paul Ryan proposed a budget in late March that would practically dissolve what little social safety net this country provides, pump up the war machine and, of course, give massive tax breaks to the wealthiest one-hundredth of one percent of Americans. When Obama stated the obvious, calling Ryan's budget "social Darwinism," he was roundly rebuked by today's nasty-edged purveyors of what used to be called conservatism."

There ain't a dime's difference between Tea-Party cowed GOP and the corporate-controlled Democratic party. The same Obama who criticized Paul Ryan's proposed budget convened a Deficit Reduction Commission whose real objective is to gut Social Security (including moving some SS funds into the stock market), Medicare, and related safety net programs. The president stocked this commission with Social Security haters from both sides of the aisle - including naming Republican Alan Simpson - noted SS hater extraordinaire - as chairman.

Both parties have equally pumped up the war machine. This includes the continued farce that is Afghanistan; the "withdrawal" of troops from Iraq that left thousands of Blackwater-type contractors there to wreak havoc; the invasion and destruction of Libya based on WMD-ish lies; the continued drum beat for war with Iran and Syria; the usual covert ops to overthrow democratically elected govts in Asia, Africa, and Latin America who don't kowtow to US interests.

Obama has continued Bush's tax breaks for the super-rich along with making the US Treasury a personal ATM for Wall Street banks who have destroyed the world economy. After the the mainstream press revealed JP Morgan's 2 billion dollar loss, Obama was on The View hailing Jamie Dimon as "one of the country's smartest bankers."

Creative Loafing presents itself as an alternative news source. However this image is sullied when columnists' commentary and news reports are as devoid of important details as any mainstream pressitute rag. Mr. Grooms needs to comes to grips with the reality that the Dems are as embedded with/corrupted by the powers-that-be as their Republican brethren. More often than not, the Dems are proving to be the more effective evil because newsfolk such as Grooms, along with the usual advocates for the masses refuse to report the evil being done when it's done by a Democrat. Until journalists like Mr. Grooms call out both sides of the toxic political coin, we the people will continue to get the excrement end of the stick.

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Posted by brice on 05/27/2012 at 6:20 PM

"for the common good" was a phrase oft used by the Communists in their bloody rise to power.

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Posted by Pokeinthenose on 06/10/2012 at 11:38 PM

Yes, and it was also used by the Founding Fathers, if you want to reduce arguments to ridiculous non-sequiturs.

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Posted by John Grooms on 06/15/2012 at 3:18 PM
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