What is Going On?

I drop out and leave the country for one week and when I come back everyone is having mass hysteria over some bonuses paid out at AIG. Thankfully, though, I am not the only one asking why we are so mad about $160 million paid to executives when we didn’t approach nearly this level of ire while paying out one thousand times that amount bailing out the company.

When do the pitchforks come out? Felix Salmon wonders over at Portfolio:

As inequality grew in America over the past 30 years, there was always the risk that it would snap back violently and dramatically. That day is not yet here, but it’s closer than it has ever been, and its possibility cannot be discounted. Barack Obama smells the public mood, and is trying to respond to it in a grown-up and non-incendiary way. Congress smells it too, and is being rather less grown-up about things.

But is this really the “public mood,” or are we just watching too much television? Joe Klein at Time points out that there haven’t been any actual riots here, as there have been in places like China, where peasants gather in the streets from time to time and spill blood to show how pissed off they are.

But most of the anger we see and hear comes from people who are paid to be angry, on cue, on cable television–as opposed to people with actual grievances. Suddenly, the White House press corps goes barking mad over the AIG Bonuses. It is said that the bonuses are an aspect of the bust that the “public” can understand; in truth, the bonuses are an aspect of the bust that reporters can understand. Suddenly, the Obama Administration has a “crisis.” The President has to go on television and act as if he’s angry, even though he knows these bonuses are the tiniest outcropping of outrageousness.

One of the best moments of Obama’s press conference last night was when he cut off the breathless CNN hack who wanted to know why it took the President “two days” to get on the teevee and act mad about the AIG bonuses. Obama slapped him down: “It took us a couple of days because I like to know what I’m talking about before I speak.”

Ouch. Still, that’s not really what we’re talking about, is it? Wealth being wiped out or handed out is not the issue. People in the streets, with guns – now that’s something to be worried about. This guy pretty much nails the paranoia:

Civil unrest will break out before the end of the year.  The Military and Guard will be called up to try to stop it.  They won’t be able to.  Big cities are at risk of becoming a free-fire death zone.  If you live in one, figure out how you can get out and live somewhere else if you detect signs that yours is starting to go “feral”; witness New Orleans after Katrina for how fast, and how bad, it can get.

Yep. There ya go. (Emphasis mine).

To protect ourselves, the Junta is looking for a seriously underground location to meet – like a nuclear bomb shelter in the East Village. Likely date: April 9 (Thursday).

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