Ruth Marcus don’t get it:
Could we put down the pitchforks for just a moment and have a reasonable discussion about the bonuses at American International Group?
No thank you.
The problem with close-reading back-and-forths about the fine points of the AIG bonuses is that, however well-intentioned, the AIG bonuses are not The Point. These bonuses, Dubya’s speaking fees, Paris Hilton’s diamond-encrusted dashboard are rounding errors on the $10+ trillion economic clusterfuck, and poor Paris really didn’t help cause it. The Point is that these situations exemplify, for a great many regular people, a fundamental unfairness in American life, which is that the rich get over on everybody else. When times are good, the rich benefit disproportionally. When times are bad, and it’s entirely their fault, they get bailed out by the rest of us. So it goes.
I’m a liberal. I don’t believe in Fairness. Some people are luckier than others, the powerful will get what they want (that’s a fair definition of “power”), none of these asymmetries ever seem to work out in my favor, and I’m pretty sure I’m getting a cold sore. That said, there are degrees of economic inequality, and the last ten years has seen this inequality deliberately exacerbated. It is past time for a pushback. If the AIG outrage is where it starts, then I guess it can start there. I’m not getting bogged down in the details.
Of course, the danger is that libertarians will “Go Galt“, abandoning the collectivist, statist, parasitic Liberal Fascist dystopia of Obamerica and retreating to a world of heroic individualism where a man can be truly free to make his fortune with no obligations except to himself, and perhaps a few like-minded and similarly superior comrades. Why anyone is supposed to care how much time these losers spend playing WoW, I certainly don’t know, but we here at the Institute believe in taking every threat seriously.