Krugman: Plutocrats Have Become Sociopaths with Their Persecution Complexes

Insurance giant AIG's CEO is latest to compare criticism of his bonuses to 'lynchings.' Is he nuts?

In his latest post in the New York Times, economist Paul Krugman is almost gleeful that AIG CEO Robert Benmosche has revealed himself to be the sociopath that he is. Benmosche actually went so far as to claim that criticism of AIG continuing to give executives huge bonuses while the company was on the government's dole, is tantamount to lynchings in the Deep South. Those were comments he made in public, to the Wall Street Journal.

Krugman has seen these kinds of insanely overblown statements before amongst the one percent. A few years back, Steve Schwarzman, chairman of the Blackstone Group, called the attempt to raise the taxrate on most of his income above 15% similar to Hitler's attack on Poland. 

“Sometimes the wealthy talk as if they were characters in “Atlas Shrugged,” demanding nothing more from society than that the moochers leave them alone. But these men were speaking for, not against, redistribution — redistribution from the 99 percent to people like them. This isn’t libertarianism; it’s a demand for special treatment. It’s not Ayn Rand; it’s ancien régime,” Krugman wrote.

Yet, Krugman has a theory as to why the rich spend so much time complaining that they are being persecuted when in fact they got everything they could have hoped for following the financial crisis fallout - namely Wall Street was bailed out at the expense of the workers and homeowners:

“When you have that much money, what is it you’re trying to buy by making even more? … What you really want now is adulation; you want the world to bow before your success ... It is, of course, incredibly petty. But money brings power, and thanks to surging inequality, these petty people have a lot of money. So their whining, their anger that they don’t receive universal deference, can have real political consequences. Fear the wrath of the .01 percent!” he wrote.

Read more atThe New York Times.

Jodie Gummow is a senior fellow and staff writer at AlterNet.


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