FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

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

More articles by:

David Macaray is a playwright and author. His newest book is How To Win Friends and Avoid Sacred Cows.  He can be reached at dmacaray@gmail.com

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

June 22, 2017
Jason Hirthler
Invisible Empire Beneath the Radar, Above Suspicion
Ken Levy
Sorry, But It’s Entirely the Right’s Fault
John Laforge
Fukushima’s Radiation Will Poison Food “for Decades,” Study Finds
Ann Garrison
Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party, and the UK’s Socialist Surge
Phillip Doe
Big Oil in the Rocky Mountain State: the Overwhelming Tawdriness of Government in Colorado
Howard Lisnoff
The Spiritual Death of Ongoing War
Stephen Cooper
Civilized, Constitution-Loving Californians Will Continue Capital Punishment Fight
Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla
Cuba Will Not Bow to Trump’s Threats
Ramzy Baroud
Israel vs. the United Nations: The Nikki Haley Doctrine
Tyler Wilch
The Political Theology of US Drone Warfare
Colin Todhunter
A Grain of Truth: RCEP and the Corporate Hijack of Indian Agriculture
Robert Koehler
When the Detainee is American…
Jeff Berg
Our No Trump Contract
Faiza Shaheen
London Fire Fuels Movement to Challenge Inequality in UK
Rob Seimetz
Sorry I Am Not Sorry: A Letter From Millennials to Baby Boomers
June 21, 2017
Jim Kavanagh
Resist This: the United States is at War With Syria
James Ridgeway
Good Agent, Bad Agent: Robert Mueller and 9-11
Diana Johnstone
The Single Party French State … as the Majority of Voters Abstain
Ted Rall
Democrats Want to Lose the 2020 Election
Kathy Kelly
“Would You Like a Drink of Water?” Please Ask a Yemeni Child
Russell Mokhiber
Sen. Joe Manchin Says “No” to Single-Payer, While Lindsay Graham Floats Single-Payer for Sick People
Ralph Nader
Closing Democracy’s Doors Until the People Open Them
Binoy Kampmark
Barclays in Hot Water: The Qatar Connection
Jesse Jackson
Trump Ratchets Up the Use of Guns, Bombs, Troops, and Insults
N.D. Jayaprakash
No More Con Games: Abolish Nuclear Weapons Now! (Part Four)
David Busch
The Kingdom of Pence–and His League of Flaming Demons–is Upon Us
Stephen Cooper
How John Steinbeck’s “In Dubious Battle” Helps Us Navigate Social Discord
Madis Senner
The Roots of America’s Identity and Our Political Divide are Buried Deep in the Land
June 20, 2017
Ajamu Baraka
The Body Count Rises in the U.S. War Against Black People
Gary Leupp
Russia’s Calm, But Firm, Response to the US Shooting Down a Syrian Fighter Jet
Maxim Nikolenko
Beating Oliver Stone: the Media’s Spin on the Putin Interviews
Michael J. Sainato
Philando Castile and the Self Righteous Cloak of White Privilege
John W. Whitehead
The Militarized Police State Opens Fire
Peter Crowley
The Groundhog Days of Terrorism
Norman Solomon
Behind the Media Surge Against Bernie Sanders
Pauline Murphy
Friedrich Engels: a Tourist In Ireland
David Swanson
The Unifying Force of War Abolition
Louisa Willcox
Senators Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, Tom Udall Back Tribes in Grizzly Fight
John Stanton
Mass Incarceration, Prison Labor in the United States
Robert Fisk
Did Trump Denounce Qatar Over Failed Business Deals?
Medea Benjamin
America Will Regret Helping Saudi Arabia Bomb Yemen
Brian Addison
Los Angeles County Data Shows Startling Surge in Youth, Latino Homelessness
Native News Online
Betraying Indian Country: How Grizzly Delisting Exposes Trump and Zinke’s Assault on Tribal Sovereignty and Treaty Rights
Stephen Martin
A Tragic Inferno in London Reflects the Terrorism of the Global Free Market
Debadityo Sinha
Think Like a River
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail