Bill Moyers: The Plutocracy Will Go to Extremes to Keep the 1% in Control
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They always, you know, they always argue against more regulation and more enforcement because they say, "We need room to, we need air to breathe, we need room to create jobs. And this is just counterproductive to put people in jail. It'll cast a pall over society.
CHRYSTIA FREELAND: If I may say so Bill, this very sincere, absolutely, absolutely sincere self-justification, I think, is one of the most dangerous things that's happening because in our society, and I would say this is particularly powerful in America. Really since the Reagan era, there has been this vision of the successful businessperson as really a leader for the whole society. And there has been a view that the businessperson, what he thinks, and, by the way, all of my plutocrats are men.
But, you know, what he thinks about how society should be ordered, we should all listen to because he, after all, is the hero of our time, is the hero of capitalist narrative. And I think it's so important for us to really understand that what is good for an individual business, particularly in this age of very high income inequality and the ways of thinking, the ideas that are no doubt absolutely the right ones for this particular business, may very well not be good for society as a whole.
BILL MOYERS: Both of you write in different ways that, with irony, that they threaten the system that created them.
MATT TAIBBI: Well this was another thing, another image from Russia that always stuck in my mind. And I studied in Russia when it was still communist. I remember going through the countryside. And you had all these villages and people walked around in the villages.
And then suddenly in the mid to late '90s in Russia you drove through the Russian countryside. And suddenly there were these big brick houses that had these huge walls on the outside, these big brick walls with guards on the outside. It was the rich had sort of built this wall that insulated them from the rest of society.
They were living, there was one society on one side of those walls, and then one society on the other side of it. And I think that's where we're headed now. We have this kind of community of rich people who sort of live, hop from place to place. And they never have any sort of intercourse with the rest of the world.
BILL MOYERS: Disconnected?
MATT TAIBBI: They're completely disconnected. And so they've built this kind of nation where inside, it's all, you know, nice and everything works logically. And it makes sense to them. But they never really see what goes on on the outside.
BILL MOYERS: Do they feel entitled?
CHRYSTIA FREELAND: Yes. Absolutely. And, you--
BILL MOYERS: For what reason?
CHRYSTIA FREELAND: Because they are treated so well. So my favorite story about this was when I was at Heathrow Airport, about to go to a fancy conference. And I ran into someone also going to a fancy conference, a Silicon Valley senior technology person. You know, I didn't have a car. But he had a car coming to picking him up and so he offered to share the ride. So we're in the car and this technology guy said to me, when you live our life, you are surrounded by such power and such entitlement, you lose touch with reality." And his very personal example was he said, "I was recently staying at this lovely Four Seasons Hotel. And I was beside the pool. I was eating a melon. And my spoon fell to the ground. And he said, "Before I could summon anyone, someone rushed up to me with three spoons of different sizes on a linen napkin so that, God forbid, you know, I shouldn't have the wrong size spoon."