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Pity The Poor Plutocrats

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Pity The Poor Plutocrats

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Pity the poor plutocrats.

What with Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign having come to an ignominious end, new champions have been called forth lest mobs of pitchfork-waving grandmas and torch-bearing old men rendered fearless by Dentu-Grip breach the walls of their elegant suburban redoubts.

One such hero is Lloyd Blankfein, the universally revered CEO of Wall Street investment bank Goldman Sachs. At least that’s how anchorman Scott Pelley presented him in a November 19 CBS News interview. Adopting a tone of awed deference most often reserved for British royalty and Hollywood actresses with breasts bigger than their heads, Pelley depicted Blankfein as “one of the world’s most influential bankers.”

Who better to advise the nation how to avoid the dread “fiscal cliff”—the latest phony, made-for-TV Washington melodrama? The great man even permitted CBS cameras into the Goldman Sachs trading floor, which Pelley treated as a signal honor.

A bunch of guys in neckties sitting in front of computer screens, in case you missed it. It could have been the sports betting room in any Las Vegas casino, essentially a high-tech bookie joint.

“When we asked Blankfein how to reduce the federal budget deficit,” Pelley said “he went straight for the subject that politicians don’t want to talk about.”

To guys with multimillion-dollar salaries, see, the deficit qualifies as the nation’s Number One Problem. Never mind the millions out of work, although as Paul Krugman keeps pointing out, the soaring interest rates and runaway inflation that deficit scolds keep predicting keep not happening. Investors seemingly can’t buy enough U.S. bonds at record low interest rates.

Now, there are several topics Goldman’s head honcho might be reluctant to talk about. Such as 2008, when Wall Street investment banks damn near destroyed the world financial system by gambling on crap securities based on subprime mortgages. Or the $10 billion federal bailout Goldman Sachs took to remain solvent, since repaid.

I doubt Blankfein would have much to tell CBS about the 2010 civil fraud lawsuit the SEC filed against Goldman for peddling junk derivatives it allegedly designed to fail. Many thought criminal charges would have been more appropriate. The bank ultimately settled for a $550 million fine. Blankfein testified to the U.S. Senate that Goldman Sachs had no fiduciary duty to inform clients it was betting against securities it was selling.

You wouldn’t buy a used limousine from this guy.

Gene Lyons

Gene Lyons is a political columnist and author. Lyons writes a column for the Arkansas Times that is nationally syndicated by United Media. He was previously a general editor at Newsweek as wells an associate editor at Texas Monthly where he won a National Magazine Award in 1980. He contributes to Salon.com and has written for such magazines as Harper's, The New York Times Magazine, The New York Review of Books, Entertainment Weekly, Washington Monthly, The Nation, Esquire, and Slate. A graduate of Rutgers University with a Ph.D. in English from the University of Virginia, Lyons taught at the Universities of Massachusetts, Arkansas and Texas before becoming a full-time writer in 1976. A native of New Jersey, Lyons has lived in Arkansas with his wife Diane since 1972. The Lyons live on a cattle farm near Houston, Ark., with a half-dozen dogs, several cats, three horses, and a growing herd of Fleckvieh Simmental cows. Lyons has written several books including The Higher Illiteracy (University of Arkansas, 1988), Widow's Web (Simon & Schuster, 1993), Fools for Scandal (Franklin Square, 1996) as well as The Hunting Of The President: The 10 Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton, which he co-authored with National Memo Editor-in-Chief Joe Conason.

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40 Comments

  1. nobsartist November 28, 2012

    Blankfien needs to explain how his college room mate, bill ford jr. just happened to take out a 26 BILLION dollar loan 1 year before the financial collapse thru Goldman Sachs.

    Why did he tell bill about this? Why did he advise Ford about what he was doing but not the rest of America?

    Isnt that “insider trading” and illegal?

    Reply
  2. Dominick Vila November 28, 2012

    Of course the Wall Street parasites want to keep capital gain taxes low and loopholes in place. Their God is the Almight dollar and their moral compass is the accumulation of wealth. These people don’t create jobs, they don’t care about country, and they don’t care who is thrown under the bus if the end result is more money in their Swiss accounts. The current capital tax rate is unsustainable, it must be raised and the sooner the better. The same goes for dividends taxes and the estate tax. These tax breaks only benefit the wealthy, those who do not need our help to enjoy the best money can buy. Their portfolios will not suffer if the tax rates for the wealthiest Americans go up, they will continue to invest and profit regardless of how much they pay in taxes because, in the end, the only thing they produce is profits for themselves.

    Reply
    1. Clarence Swinney November 28, 2012

      Top 2%
      own 50 Financial Assets
      Get 30% Individual Income
      need a tax beak????

      Reply
      1. Dominick Vila November 28, 2012

        Distribution of wealth in the United States
        Top 1 percent Next 19 percent Bottom 80 percent
        1983 33.8% 47.5% 18.7%
        1989 37.4% 46.2% 16.5%
        1992 37.2% 46.6% 16.2%
        1995 38.5% 45.4% 16.1%
        1998 38.1% 45.3% 16.6%
        2001 33.4% 51.0% 15.6%
        2004 34.3% 50.3% 15.3%
        2007 34.6% 50.5% 15.0%
        2010 35.4% 53.5% 11.1%
        If you break it down a little farther you will find that about 1,000 individuals in the top 1% own the largest percentage – per capita – of all the financial wealth in the USA.
        Incredibly, as soon as anyone in the bottom 80% dares question the inequity of this situation, that person or institution is immediately accused of class warfare by the privileged few. Most Americans respect hard work and admire those who through their own efforts succeed and rise to the top, but most of us also understand that the current distribution of wealth, and the financial losses endured by the middle class in recent years, is untenable.

        Reply
        1. CPANewYork November 28, 2012

          Mr. Vila:

          So, if I understand your chart, in 2010, the top twenty percent own eighty-eight point nine percent of the wealth in America and the rest of us “poor slobs” own eleven point one percent? Is that what you’re saying?

          I’ve read this before, but I’ve never been given the source of those figures. Do you have it?

          Reply
          1. Dominick Vila November 28, 2012

            My response, which included a website address, went to the moderator for approval. Google something like “the top 1% own % of all the financial wealth in the USA” and you will get several websites with information on this subject.

            Reply
        2. jarheadgene November 28, 2012

          The BS these guys are full of is UNREAL. Most of that 1% did not EARN any of that wealth, they inherited it. NO hard work involved….the hard work is being done by those in the middle. You cannot served TWO Gods.

          Reply
      2. JREX_TheRexReport December 1, 2012

        With this philosophy, I would be careful to not become too successful. If you do, your irresponsible friends will want to label you a capitalist, and take it all away from you.

        It seems that this way of thinking should keep anyone from wanting to work. Just one question: who is going to pay the bills?

        Reply
  3. Clarence Swinney November 28, 2012

    REVENUE + SPEND DEBATE
    ——Spending —-Revenue (% gdp)
    1985—14————–17
    2000—18————–21
    2008—24————–17
    2010—23————–16
    Percent increase/decrease 2000-2010
    Spend + 28%–Revenue minus 25%
    We borrowed 7000 Billion

    Reply
    1. mavilasr November 28, 2012

      McCain and his crew are looking more and more ridiculous!!!!!

      Reply
  4. latebloomingrandma November 28, 2012

    I did not see this interview, but Scott Pelley should be fired. I thought 60 Minutes was supposed to be a hard hitting news show. He could have asked why does a person with a $16 million a year salary + bonuses have such an objection to an average SS yearly payment of $14,000? Can this smart, rich idiot even fathom such a thing? I would love to see the journalism profession really bring back investigative peices unstead of tabloid stuff and the pressure to get out the “story” first, even if it is false or, worse, manufactured. We never used to need “fact-checkers” because news organizations employed their own. Who does now? I would be interested to know.

    Reply
  5. gargray November 28, 2012

    Wasn’t Goldman Sachs part of the problem, They think they run this country, mabye they do.

    Reply
    1. CPANewYork November 28, 2012

      Yes, gargray, they do run this country.

      Reply
    2. JSquercia November 28, 2012

      I have ALWAYS felt that Paulson LET Lehman fail was because they were Goldman’s competitor . I don’t think he anticipated the reaction

      Reply
  6. CPANewYork November 28, 2012

    I beleive that we are headed for a revolution, because the rich guys like Blankfein refuse to be reasonable. They aren’t satisfied with the ill-gotten riches that they have. They want more and because the economic pie is getting smaller, that more has to come from the middle class and the poor.

    I’m not sure when the revolution will come and how violent it will be, but given the pace of the decline of the middle class and poor and the ascension of the rich, I think that it will come in the next fifty years and I think that it will be violent.

    What will come after that? I think that it will be a reprise of the “Dark Ages” that came to Europe immediately after the fall of the Roman Empire to the Vandals.

    Reply
    1. kinklu November 28, 2012

      Your prognosis is so close to mine that it’s scary. I don’t think it’ll take the next 50 years either, based on the rate of change in the past. I think we can still change but I wouldn’t bet the ranch on it.

      Reply
    2. tobewan November 30, 2012

      Actually, CPA, what will come after the anarchy ( you call revolution), Scripturally symbolized by fire, the incoming welcomed universal empire of Christ will take full-sway, bringing sense and relief to all, and it doesnt look like 50 years away. Setting a time limit for what is intentioned, predicted, and promised by the Creator, is guessing. We are in the “Time of Trouble, such as never before, and never will be again.” Our continuing prayer “Thy kingdom come, Thy Will be done,” will be answered, is not too far future, as current events give indication of leading thereto.
      The ONLY and BEST answer to current trouble is HIS kingdom, administered through His Son. Meanwhile, be observant ant prayerful. Righteousness will prevail.

      Reply
    3. JREX_TheRexReport December 1, 2012

      Distress among nations, wars and rumors of wars… earthquakes everywhere! Even if they saw a miracle, they would not believe.

      Reply
  7. TSB November 28, 2012

    All these wars and political plumbs must be paid, so follow the money, we know who has it…………lump all the cash together and start a 25% rate over the cost of living, no exemptions, no deductions, not exceptions. Abolish the current, complicated tax system that doesn’t work, except to help the wealthy. Fair enough?

    Reply
  8. SeekingOut November 28, 2012

    That’s why I don’t bother to look at these stations…..not even CNN, except for a very few specific programs. Either they carry the agenda of their conglomerate owners or try to stay on the good side of their guests (in order to have them available for future interviews) by not asking the hard questions or not challenging them.

    Reply
  9. JSquercia November 28, 2012

    Let’s not forget that Goldman Sachs benefitted MIGHTILY from the bail out of AIG and the fact that AIG paid 100% on the Credit Default Swaps that Goldman had . they could have been made to settle on less than 100% in exhange for being bailed out

    Reply
  10. JSquercia November 28, 2012

    Scott here’s a CLUE Blankfien is NOT universally admired in fact quite the opposite . This is head of a firm that together with John Paulson ripped off its customers by creating CDOs designed by them to fail ,selling them to unsuspecting customers while they bet against them .That was what the SEC fined them for IMO both parties should have been CRIMINALLY prosecuted for FRAUD . So according to BlankLloydfein his firm does NOT have a fiduciary responsibility to its customers . All I know is if that crap happened on the streets instead of the Suites Lloyd would have earned himself a BEAT DOWN .

    Reply
  11. howa4x November 28, 2012

    CBS has become a puff ball new network. I remember how Pelley threw Romney puff questions and never dug into off shore accounts, like why he created them or when did he cash in. Maybe Goldman has a majority stake in CBS and throws its weigth there. The problem is our society where we annoit winners who make millions and disparage loosers who are getting entitlements and subsidys. We claim to be a religious country and the right wing who claim to be Christians, rail against pre marital sex and abortion but keep silent about the growing gap between the 1% and everybody else. What would Jesus do in this situation?The middle class whose wages were flat for 8 yrs under Bush saw the income of the richest 1% jump an astonishing 256% . We now have the largest income inequality in the world, and republicans can stand there with a straight face and say these people should not have to sacrifice one penny to close the deficit that they helped to create. The deficit was a republican creation, and happened when Bush 2 engaged in 2 unfunded wars ,which helped out investors on wall st the most since all the weapons companies are publically traded, Haliburton which got a 6 billion no bid contract, and the unfunded tax cut, worth 1 trillion.. Yet here we find Lloyd Blankfein wringing his hands about how dangerous that deficit is and to solve it we sould curtail the recipients of their meager SS and medicare. Not the beneficiaries like him mind you. They are above reproach. Remember they are the job creators,except that they didin’t create any. People like that Wall st tycoon Romney though it was more profitable to ship manufacturing jobs to China and India where people were forced to work 16 hrs a day for less than minimun wage we pay here, in hazardous conditions, and he is a bishop in his Church. In fact 2.6 million jobs left America during this period, so the job creation mantra of the republicans is a myth. Now it’s time for the wealthy and their puppet Grover Norquist to pay up for the sins they perpurtrated against this country and to shoulder the burden that they created, and not make the middle, lower middle, the elderly and the poor bear the brunt of this. It is time to fight for all the people instead of the priviledged few.

    Reply
  12. Robin O'Brien November 28, 2012

    It’s time to throw those greedy folks under the bus!!!…..

    Reply
  13. jarheadgene November 28, 2012

    Did I miss something…did Rupert Murdoch buy CBS? Give me a break….more of what RYAN and ROMNEY were trying to sell…..Doesn’t matter who is the salesman, 53% of America isn’t buying it.

    Reply
  14. tobyspeeks November 28, 2012

    I was finished with NBC about two years ago after they jumped on Scott Walker’s bandwagon labeling his detractors as violent and chaotic protesters with no regard for personal safety or property, now it seems CBS is out the window too. The little amount of time I spend watching the idiot tube I’ll watch old movies and reruns on Netflix. My news will come from a cornucopia of worldly online news outlets and Jeff Daniels from The Newsroom.

    Reply
    1. Dol5 November 28, 2012

      I also gave up CBS, NBC and ABC for better reporting on other stations. The big three couldn’t even get the weather report right most of the time! And all they really reported was the sports, and way too much talk about the entertainment industry!

      Reply
      1. viewfromtheleftcoast November 28, 2012

        it seems the big three are owned by the richest of the rich corporations, what else can be expected??

        Reply
  15. patuxant November 28, 2012

    Anyone on Social Security could see the flaws in Blankfien’s assertions that people collect more payments than they put into the system. The math doesn’t add up does it folks? And this guy is a banker? No, oh, no…he is a thieving crook! He brings shame to anyone who calls themselves a capitalist. Get him out of our faces. And while we are at it, get rid of “interviewers” who can’t ask challenging questions!

    Reply
  16. JOAQUIM November 28, 2012

    Why don’t we stick some of these birds in jail?

    Reply
  17. Mimi2kool November 28, 2012

    “Figures don’t lie, but liars can figure.” Mark Twain said it and it was true then and is still true to this day.

    Reply
  18. charleo1 November 28, 2012

    Since the historic economic slide in the fall of 2008, Americans have essentially heard two
    explanations as to the cause, or causes of this financial tsunami that washed away our
    homes, and savings, and shook the very foundations of faith we have in our institutions,
    and ourselves. Whether one is inclined to see the recession as a result of big government,
    high taxes, burdensome regulations, and a population that expects too much, and is unwilling
    to make the necessary sacrifices a global economy demands. Or, you clearly see the
    problem as a consequence of the growing wealth disparity between the uber-rich, and everyone
    else. A system skewed, and corrupted by the access, influence , and the power of money.
    A Nation dominated by multi national behemoths. Not only too big to fail, but too big to tax,
    too big to regulate, and too big to break up, or even stop the consolidation, that has eliminated
    millions of jobs, and competition in core industries. Energy, healthcare, transportation. With the one exception of placing American labor in direct competition with third world workers being
    paid a few cents per hour.

    Reply
  19. Bart Grossman November 28, 2012

    We need a hunting season for plutocrats. I’d like to see Blankfein’s head mounted on the wall of some well armed tea bagger.

    Reply
  20. emadis41 November 28, 2012

    Blankfein can refer to Reagan, his fiscal god, who said “SS is not part of the problem, SS does not add to the budget deficit”
    We, the recipients of the SS and Medicare, paid our does, did he?

    Reply
  21. David J. Parker November 28, 2012

    We in Canada also believe in fairy tales told by plutocrats but we have nothing on the USA. I guess the majority see through the mythology but such a large number who eat it up. Maybe it says something about your education system, your value system or even your ability to self delude???

    Reply
  22. MARK November 28, 2012

    I have always wondered why more white collar crime is not prosecuted in our country.I guess money really does talk doesn’t it?

    Reply
  23. onedonewong November 28, 2012

    And yet the great humanitarian and guy who wants everyone to pay their fair share own income tax was 19% with no deductions since the us taxpayers pay for even his grannies food and travel Thank you barak!!!

    Reply
  24. Martin Carlson November 28, 2012

    This guy should be beheaded with a dull stone.

    Reply
  25. jstsyn November 29, 2012

    Where is this guy from? Did he learn this nonsense growing up in America? He and his kind belong in jail before they do any more harm. Tax some sense into him. History proves that when the rich are taxed heavily they produce more rather than sitting back with too much time on their hands to create mischief.

    Reply
  26. JREX_TheRexReport December 1, 2012

    Be careful to not get too successful. If you do, all of your irresponsible acquaintances will call you a capitalist, and demand that your wealth be redistributed.

    Come to think about it, this kind of thinking is certain to keep anyone from trying to work too hard in the future. Just one question: who is going to pay the bills?

    Reply

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