Bill Moyers: The Plutocracy Will Go to Extremes to Keep the 1% in Control
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CHRYSTIA FREELAND: I agree with Matt. And I think what you’re really seeing , actually, it's sort of the battle of the millionaires versus the billionaires because this winner take all dynamic is not just between, you know, the 10 percent and the 90 percent or the one percent and the 99 percent.
What's quite interesting and leads me to really believe that there're some deep economic forces involved is it's happening just as much within the top one percent. We saw it in the recovery. You sited those statistics, Bill, about 93 percent of the recovery going to the one percent. Thirty-seven percent of the recovery went to the top 0.01 percent.
So even in there, there's, you know, even more of a gap. And the people one layer down can be very, very aggrieved precisely because, you know, they see what's going on. They see that unfairness. And it makes them really, really mad.
You know, one of the things that I found as I was writing my book and talking to plutocrats was, you know, as Matt says, these are very, very smart people. And many of them, not all, some—
BILL MOYERS: They work very hard too, don't they?
CHRYSTIA FREELAND: This is not Downton Abbey. These are not people, this is not a landed gentry. These are people who even, and even if they're sort of a Mitt Romney or a Bill Gates who grew up very affluent, their actual business, they did build themselves. They built in a society that was very supportive of that, but they built it. So, you know, they're hardworking. They have to be thoughtful about the world because they're making investments.
And what I found was very interesting was they were very keen to divide the world into the good plutocrats and the bad plutocrats. And what was very funny was everyone was happy to make that division. But everyone felt that they themselves and their particular type of business belonged to good plutocrats, and somebody else belonged to bad ones. So you talk to the Silicon Valley guys, they love talking about this, especially after the financial crisis because their view was, "Of course income inequality is a problem. Of course there has been state capture by those bad guys in New York. "We however, are the innovators. We created value ourselves. We are completely pure and good. And these issues really have nothing to do with us."
BILL MOYERS: Do you think they think they're really defending honest capitalism?
MATT TAIBBI: Oh, absolutely. I, you know, the one thing that's consistent in my exposure to the financial services industry is that the people who work within it, and particularly the people you know, at the very, very top, sincerely believe that they have not done anything wrong. And, you know, when you bring up things like the mass sale of fraudulent mortgage backed securities, it's just like you say.
It's always somebody else who made that mistake. You know, "We didn't know at the time that we were selling billions and billions of dollars of junk and we were dumping this on pension funds and foreign trade unions." It was always somebody else who was doing that. And they also have built up this very, very powerful insulating psychological justification for their lifestyles. They've adopted this sort of Randian point of view, where--
BILL MOYERS: Ayn Rand.
MATT TAIBBI: Yeah exactly, you know, they genuinely believe that they are the wealth creators and that they should get every advantage and break whereas everybody else is a parasite and they're living off of them. So when you bring up to them, for instance, how is it that nobody, despite this mass epidemic of fraud that appears to have happened before the 2008 crash, how come nobody of consequence has gone to jail after that?