Power can only exist in a sterile bubble from which reality is excluded. The most efficient method of keeping this reality at bay is to build a dike out of quantified data and believe that it represents reality.
Data is so sanitary. It never cries out or moans or bleeds or stinks. It is the foundation stone upon which the fantasy world of theory is built that serves as the justification for power’s actions.
And according to Paul Krugman, Barack Obama’s bubble is in fine shape. He quotes an interview Obama had with Business Week in which Obama justified the bloated bonuses Wall Street bankers have awarded themselves.
After reading it one wonders if he occupies the White House or Never-Never Land. He praises them as “savvy businessmen” even though their actions as financial fools damn near tanked the economy. If a lowly store clerk behaved with the same recklessness this bunch did he’d be out on his ass. But that’s the difference between the rich and the rest of us. When the rich screw up they’re bailed out and use the bail-out money to award themselves healthy bonuses. (Of course there’s always Goldman Sachs Lloyd Blankfein in sack cloth and ashes who is doing penance by reducing his bonus to a paltry $9 million.)
Obama then goes on to illustrate how he’s the “people’s” president by saying that, “I, like most of the American people, don’t begrudge people success or wealth.” Of course we have to understand that Obama’s definition of people differs from Lincoln’s use of the word in his Gettysburg Address. By “people” Obama means the one-percent harboring most of the nation’s wealth.
But the high point of the interview came when he praised the Wall Street bankers for their influence on his economic policies. And there is no doubt they have had their influence. Hell, they wrote the bailout legislation. Nor can one deny their influence on our economy, just as one can’t deny Typhoid Mary’s influence on New York City’s public health policy.
Krugman has his finger more firmly on the public pulse when he says, “There is good reason to feel outraged at the growing appearance that we’re running a system of lemon socialism, in which losses are public but gains are private.” After all, he points out; the Wall Street banks are wards of the state. Though in this case, the ward are ordering the adults around.
But then, has there ever been any doubt that Obama is primarily a shill for the corporate interests that put him in office. No politician worth his salt is going to bite the hand that feeds him. Nor is the fault Obama’s alone. He is simply carrying forward a long and established presidential tradition.