I have long been familiar with, and loathed, that particular breed of sycophantic
human being who elevates the ultra-rich to lofty heights based solely on their
capacity to amass inordinate amounts of wealth, despite their often deeply
flawed characters, and what they did to make their money.
You know these
people. They typically come across as reality-show aspirants, live wildly beyond
their means and do things like put their retirements and kids’ college savings
accounts in peril to drive luxury cars, live in “McMansions,” wear egregiously
oversized designer logos and flashy jewelry like badges of honor, vacation only
at Facebook-picture worthy locales, and generally judge the value of people based
on their earning power.
In short, they’re much like the cast of Jersey
Shore, minus the speech impediments, borderline- illiteracy, atrocious hair,
Oompa-Loompa skin coloring and STDs. At least I hope so. (Sorry, “The
Situation” and “Snooki.” You deserved better.)
HOWEVER, MY contempt for their
cubic-zirconium existence is nothing compared to the ire I harbor for the
clinically sociopathic human beings they worship. The same people the Occupy
Wall Street demonstrators are righteously denouncing.
Indeed, I look at
the heads of AIG, Bear Stearns, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Fannie Mae, et al.,
and don’t see the other side of the rainbow – I see greed and narcissism run
amok and a warped value system that appears based on the theory that “he who
dies with the most toys, wins.”
Nevertheless, they are entirely the
product of popular culture.
TO THIS day, I have vivid memories of
listening, as a kid, to countless misguided peers proudly quoting the “Greed is
good” mantra of fictitious billionaire-villain Gordon Gekko from the 1987 film
Wall Street, as if they were evangelists citing Scripture.
was far more impressed by the visceral indignation of Martin Sheen’s character
when he condemned his son (in real life and the film) Charlie Sheen, as aspiring
billionaire “Bud Fox,” for the sin of judging a man “by the size of his
Maybe that’s why I got into journalism.
Still, I’d be
disingenuous if I didn’t admit that I was intrigued by Tom Wolfe’s portrait
of the greedy and ostentatious Zeitgeist that permeated the ’80s in The Bonfire
of the Vanities
, and the “Masters of the Universe” he so brilliantly captured,
who have brought us to this point.
Hell, I’m only human. Sure, it’s
fascinating to read about people who bathe in Evian, have a singular Botox-induced facial
expression, decorate their homes with the hides of endangered species, own
tropical islands and travel in their own jets.
But at the end of the day,
the truth is that I always found such extravagant conspicuous consumption to be
obnoxious, and little more than a futile attempt to fill an otherwise gaping
hole in one’s soul.
EITHER WAY, as the international economic crisis has
proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, the whole greed thing doesn’t work out so
well, and the chickens have officially come home to roost.
once had a brilliant line encapsulating the perpetrators who orchestrated the
“quant-jocks” behind the derivatives-based voodoo that led to the economic
meltdown: “They want to publicize risk, and privatize reward.”
I find it amusing that the plutocrats and oligarchs, who inbreed their wealth in
perpetuity like genes shared among first cousins, dismiss the protesters – now
demonstrating in 25 US cities, and internationally – as lazy and ignorant.
They’re neither. They’re disgusted.
And rightly so.
They know all
too well that the American dream has been co-opted by the Skull & Bones
Societies of the world, and they’ve had enough.
Frankly, I’ve had enough,
THE BIGGEST lie perpetuated about capitalism is that it’s a
meritocracy. That if you work hard and smart, you will achieve all the trappings
of success. It’s bullshit.
The game, ladies and gentlemen, is
It’s fixed by the same sociopaths who run the “too big to fail”
corporations that created this mess, and then had the audacity to take billions
of dollars allocated by the Troubled Asset Relief Program from hard-earned
taxpayer money to bail themselves out.
By the same people who had the
shamelessness to pocket millions of dollars in bonuses for their failed
enterprises, and sail through the sky with “golden” parachutes made from the
blood, sweat and tears of honest men and women – while the general public was
going through a bankruptcy and foreclosure crisis.
For my non-Jewish
friends, that’s called “chutzpah.”
The vast majority who win at the
capitalism game at the aforementioned rarefied levels are predestined to do so
by birthright, the color of their skin and the friends of their family. It’s not
a meritocracy, it’s a lottery.
Even a kindergartener has the critical
reasoning to understand how absurdly unfair this disproportionate allocation of
milk and cookies is.
I HAVE watched with astonishment over the past
several months as the once nameless and faceless members of Arab society have
overthrown their monarchs one by one like demonic dominoes, in a revolution that
once seemed unimaginable.
That said, the correlation between what the
Arab Spring has come to represent and what Occupy Wall Street represents cannot
It’s about justice.
LEST THERE be any confusion, let
me be perfectly clear: There is absolutely nothing wrong with hard-earned wealth
and success achieved through integrity. Indeed, I’m inspired by the countless
men and women who created successful businesses and lives based on ingenuity,
hard work and honesty. The late Steve Jobs is a shining example.
grandma would say, “What’s not to like?”
However, if you’re one of the former
masters of the universe who made your millions by manipulating and exploiting a
system in a way that you knew would put others in jeopardy, I’m delighted to say
that the party’s just about over, and I hope your hangover serves as a bitter
reminder of how shamefully you behaved.
MEANWHILE, WE can only hope that
the next generation of professionals will recognize the consequences of
flagrant, immoral greed, and instead harbor dreams of success based on a moral
foundation that has been profoundly distorted by their party-animal
If I could say one thing to the young men and women taking
this important stand against greed and immorality, it would be this: Keep
fighting this brave, worthy and long overdue fight. This revolution is being
As for the (hopefully) soon-to-be deposed masters of the universe they are
denouncing, my suggestion to you is to watch Citizen Kane
, and pay close
attention to “Rosebud.”email@example.com