The Poor Man’s Stimulus And The Rich Man’s Plunder
The only reason I can afford some pretzels, beer, and if I'm feeling really frisky, some chicken wings, is because I'm not sending any goddamn money to the vultures holding my debt. So, putting this thought in the category of "provocative" is perhaps a bridge too far:
Here’s a provocative thought: what if ‘extend and pretend’ within our nation’s troubled mortgage markets is actually providing a lift to consumer spending? It’s not as far-fetched as the idea might initially sound, and it might help explain some interesting data we’ve seen as of late — and it also might explain why the statistical recovery we’re seeing now doesn’t really feel like a recovery to most Americans.
Or as I might say, "no shit Sherlock!" This is exactly what's going on. Fuck, the only reason I'm not out there starving in the street right now, is because I can't be thrown out of my house under my state's law for another 7 months. As Yoda might say, "Some big fucking mystery, it is not."
But this is what it all comes down to, isn't it? The rich get bailed out by the government securing all of the securitized debt "assets," so when I go broke, whoever holds my mortgage, credit card debt, and/or student loans doesn't share in my misery. Meaning they have no incentive to negotiate down the amount that I owe them - why the fuck would they? They get their money no matter what. At the first sign of trouble the government steps in to secure the payment stream, and nobody says boo about that monumental plundering of the public treasury to protect the rich.
So put this under least surprising new ever, the rich are spending again:
But even people who came out of the financial crisis relatively unscathed are pulling back. The possibility of losing their wealth has become more real.
“Today if they buy, they are not willing to be embarrassed by overpaying,” said Jane Bayard, executive vice president at Warburg Realty Partnership of Manhattan. Though the Manhattan residential market has held up reasonably well, “there were times in 2007, for example, when there were multiple offers and people paid millions over the asking price,” Ms. Bayard said. “Today, nobody wants to be the last monkey in the tree.”
In an economy that remains weak, no one expects a rapid recovery.
And just how the fuck would they get scathed? As soon as it even looks like the shit might hit the fan, Timmeh Geithner comes rushing in, begging Congress to guarantee every debt in the financial system. But the struggling homedebtor or overeducated and underemployed slave to Aunt Sallie is left to twist in the wind, ground under hundreds of the thousands of dollars in debt. With the pay from whatever horseshit low-wage job they're able to find, garnished to fund bonuses for Richard Fairbank or Jamie Dimon. But if the poor or formerly middle class apply for any help, no matter how minimal, they have their spending - right down to fucking penny - examined, questioned, and judged by a bunch of assholes:
Let me begin with a word to the wise for HAMP applicants: unless you believe Snooki is now in charge of approving HAMP applications, it might be a good idea to cut back a bit on some of the creature comforts to which you have become accustomed at least a month before submitting your HAMP modification application.
Allow me to explain. The guidelines for servicers participating in HAMP stipulate that the borrower must submit a “hardship affidavit”. This, ostensibly, is to serve as their sworn testimony that they have been driven into default due to some particular hardship they encountered, and despite making every possible sacrifice, they can no longer “maintain payment on the mortgage and cover basic living expenses at the same time".
The very first ‘HAMPlication’ that your correspondent pulled up recently showed a wanton disregard for minimizing spending. On the contrary, it looked like “cutting back” for this applicant does not involve such Draconian cuts as eliminating:
• visits to the tanning salon
• the nail spa
• some kind of gourmet produce market (have you seen the price of arugula?)
• various liquor stores
• A DirecTV bill that must involve some serious premium programming or pay-per-view events (or both?).
• And over $1,700 in retail purchases, including: Best Buy, Baby Gap, Brookstone, Old Navy, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Home Depot, Macy’s, Pac Sun, Urban Behavior, Sears, Staples, and Footlocker.
Hey cocksucker! Any chance that was the spending profile for December? Maybe trying to paper over their hardship by buying a few presents for the kids? Maybe buying some suits for job interviews? Or maybe just trying to fend off depression with a few trinkets? To sum up, go fuck yourself!
But hey, at least the rich are able to take their vacations on private jets without being judged:
Blair LaCorte, chief executive at XOJet, which owns 23 jets and leases them for charter, said that his business was picking up. But he concurred that prices remained flat.
“The problem is that it is often hard to distinguish whether companies or individuals are opening their wallets,” Mr. LaCorte said. “Some small-company owners buy planes in the corporate name for personal use, and corporate jets are often used for personal agendas, including golf trips and vacations. We tend to use a criterion of whether there are children or pets on board, or how much wine was drunk,” he said. “I believe that business is growing faster than personal use, but personal use went down less in the downturn.”
Believe it or not it actually gets worse - really! David Brooks, aka the World's Biggest Douchebag is rooting for the rich, because they work so fucking hard:
David Brooks: Yes. I was going to say that for the first time in human history, rich people work longer hours than middle class or poor people. How do you construct a rich versus poor narrative when the rich are more industrious?
Yeah, gee, it sure is hard to come up with a rich versus poor narrative. Seriously, can no one at the NY Times rid us of this meddlesome douchebag? At least, Taibbi isn't having it
I had to read this thing twice before it registered that Brooks was actually saying that he was rooting for the rich against the poor. If he keeps this up, he’s going to make his way into the Guinness Book for having extended his tongue at least a foot and a half farther up the ass of the Times’s Upper East Side readership than any previous pundit in journalistic history.
I would give just about anything to sit David Brooks down in front of some single mother somewhere who’s pulling two shitty minimum-wage jobs just to be able to afford a pair of $19 Mossimo sneakers at Target for her kid, and have him tell her, with a straight face, that her main problem is that she doesn’t work as hard as Jamie Dimon.
Only a person who has never actually held a real job could say something like this. There is, of course, a huge difference between working 80 hours a week in a profession that you love and which promises you vast financial rewards, and working 80 hours a week digging ditches for a septic-tank company, or listening to impatient assholes scream at you at some airport ticket counter all day long, or even teaching disinterested, uncontrollable kids in some crappy school district with metal detectors on every door.
Most of the work in this world completely sucks balls and the only reward most people get for their work is just barely enough money to survive, if that. The 95% of people out there who spend all day long shoveling the dogshit of life for subsistence wages are basically keeping things running just well enough so that David Brooks, me and the rest of that lucky 5% of mostly college-educated yuppies can live embarrassingly rewarding and interesting lives in which society throws gobs of money at us for pushing ideas around on paper (frequently, not even good ideas) and taking mutual-admiration-society business lunches in London and Paris and Las Vegas with our overpaid peers.
Brooks is right that most of the people in that 5% bracket log heavy hours, but where he’s wrong is in failing to recognize that most of us have enough shame to know that what we do for a living isn’t really working.
Update: Made a few edits for readability.
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