Investigative Journalism that is as
Radical as Reality Itself.

When the Rich Jump Ship

by DAVID MACARAY

In the wake of the 2008 financial meltdown, one of the arguments you heard Republican economists and Wall Street executives repeatedly use to defend the amounts of money being paid investment bankers and hedge fund managers was that if these guys didn’t receive exorbitant salaries and bonuses, they would be forced to leave the U.S. and find jobs elsewhere, presumably in Western Europe and Hong Kong.  In other words, if we don’t pay them what they demand, they’ll find someone who will.

Even though a simple examination reveals that federal income taxes are lower than they’ve been in many decades, you also hear something similar in regard to raising the taxes on the very rich.  You hear pundits say that if we did that, if we nudged their brackets any higher, we’d risk having these people close up shop and abandon the country.  Give these armchair pundits credit for being able to something that silly with a straight face.

Instead of being cowed by those absurd threats—instead of being intimidated into abandoning plans for a fairer tax system and stricter regulations on the banking industry—we should greet those condescending arguments with
delight.  In truth, those defections would not only be welcomed, they would prove salutary because they would give ambitious men and women on the lower rungs the opportunity to move into the top spots.

There’s a corollary to that replacement argument.  Wall Street cautions us that, should these financial prodigies leave the industry, the newbies who replace them wouldn’t be nearly as competent or reliable.  That line of reasoning may have worked a few years ago, but it doesn’t today.  Ever since we learned that it was those very “prodigies” who precipitated the financial disaster that almost destroyed the world’s economy, and required a trillion-dollar taxpayer bailout just to keep us afloat, that old, “We’re too damned talented to be replaced” argument has pretty much lost its luster.

Unfortunately, despite all the hand-wringing and chest-pounding, most of these Wall Street vultures aren’t going anywhere.  They can huff and puff all they like, but on Monday morning they’ll show up for work just like the rest of us for the simple reason that they have no place to go.  If they honestly believe all they have to do is report to Zurich, briefcases in hand, and they’ll be offered multi-million dollar banking gigs, they’re even more arrogant than we thought.  Those European banking jobs are already taken.  By Europeans.

But it would be wonderful if they did leave.  These soulless whores may, technically, be citizens of the U.S., but by no index are they patriotic Americans.  These ultra-materialistic people are cultural eunuchs.  They have no sense of honor, no sense of community pride, no sense of “belonging.”  They not only live rarefied, privileged lives in gated mansions or penthouses far, far away from the “herd,” but given a choice, they would rather watch America’s great industrial cities fall into decay and despair than voluntarily part with so much as a nickel of their own money.

More condescension:  Those Wall Street executives who argued that we’d be losing invaluable “expertise” if we allowed these guys to get away are the same Wall Street execs who argue that if the very wealthy were, in fact, to leave the United States because of higher taxes, they would take their money with them, and that would put a sizeable dent in the economy.  That’s a bad argument.

It’s already happened.  Wealthy people already have their money squirreled away in places believed to bring them the maximum return.  If one of those places happens to be the U.S., then lucky us, because that’s where they’ll keep it.  But they’re far more likely to have money invested in convoluted off-shore bank accounts or foreign businesses.  And that’s where it will remain, no matter where they live or work.

Let’s be clear.  If the very rich threaten to jump ship, we need to do everything in our power to ensure they carry out that threat.  What a cathartic moment that would be!  The entrenched, inbred, self-perpetuating moneyed class being abruptly vacated—and new blood, new ideas, new faces and new ethnicities rushing in to replace it.  Ain’t that what America was supposed to be all about?

DAVID MACARAY, an LA playwright and author (“It’s Never Been Easy:  Essays on Modern Labor”), was a former union rep.   He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, forthcoming from AK Press.  He can be reached at dmacaray@earthlink.net

July 08, 2015
Norman Pollack
Post-Senescent Stage of Advanced Capitalism; EU and Greece
July 07, 2015
Bruce K. Gagnon
Sanders Bullshit Meter Goes Off the Charts in Portland, Maine
ANDRE VLTCHEK
In Ecuador, Fight for Mankind; In Greece, Fight for Greece!
Nile Bowie
Obama’s Pacific Trade Deal Trails Behind China’s Development Vision
Binoy Kampmark
Warrior Economist: the Varoufakis Legacy
Shamus Cooke
Unions Must Act Now to Survive Supreme Court Deathblow
Dave Lindorff
The Greek People Have Voted ‘No!’ to Austerity and Economic Blackmail
Mateo Pimentel
The Pope’s Letter: Neoliberalism and Fukushima
Raouf Halaby
Beware Those Who Speak With Forked Tongues
Ron Jacobs
The Grateful Dead: The Ship of the Sun Bids Farewell
Jonathan Cook
Hasbara Industry: Why Israel’s Army of Spin-Doctors is Doomed to Defeat
Rev. William Alberts
Charleston: a Reality Check on Racism in America
Ellen Brown
A Franciscan Alternative: the People’s Pope and a People’s Bank?
Colin Todhunter
The Warped World of the GMO Lobbyist
John Wight
Who Will Join With Greece?
W. T. Whitney
Colombia’s Fensuagro Union is Revolutionary, Persecuted, and Undaunted
Mel Gurtov
Keep It in the Ground, Obama
July 06, 2015
MICHAEL HUDSON
Greece Rejects the Troika
Steve Hendricks
Will FIFA’s World Cup Sexism Ever Die?
Binoy Kampmark
Oxi in Greece
Gareth Porter
How US Spin on Access to Iranian Sites has Distorted the Issue
Peter Bach
ISIL and Ramadan in the Rag
Paul Craig Roberts
A Rebuke to EU-Imposed Austerity
Robert Hunziker
Looking Inside Fukushima Prefecture
Quincy Saul
The View from Mount Olympus
ADRIENNE PINE, RICHARD JOHNSTON, FIONA WILMOT, et al.
Seven Reasons to Scrap the USA’s $1 Billion Aid Package to Central America
Norman Pollack
Capitalism’s Self-Revealing Practices
David Macaray
Could Justice Scalia Be the One to Rescue Labor?
Linn Washington Jr.
Storm Smashes Chris Christie’s Presidential Candidacy
Benjamin Willis
US and Cuba: What Remains to be Done?
Robert David Steele
The National Military Strategy: Dishonest Platitudes
Joan Roelofs
Whatever Happened to Eastern European Communism?
Weekend Edition
July 3-5, 2015
Mike Whitney
The Pentagon’s “2015 Strategy” For Ruling the World
Jason Hirthler
Going Off-Script in St. Petersburg
Rob Urie
Greece and Global Class War
DIMITRIS KONSTANTAKOPOULOS
The Future of Greece Without Illusions
ANDRE VLTCHEK
Ecuador Fights for Survival – Against its Elites
David Rosen
White Skin Crisis
Jerry Lembcke
Nobody Spat on American GIs!
Stavros Mavroudeas
The Greek Referendum and the Tasks of the Left
Andrew Levine
Dumping on Dixie Again
Richard Pithouse
Charleston (It’s Not Over)
Arun Gupta
What Does It Mean to Call Dylann Roof a “Terrorist”?
Michael Welton
The Tragedy of Harper’s Canada
Brendan McQuade
The Right Wing Resurgence and the Problem of Terrorism