Please allow ‘Puter to introduce himself, he’s a man of wealth and taste.* Actually, ‘Puter’s a simple Upstate New York lawyer, unaccustomed to your big city ways. And if you believe ‘Puter’s a naïf, he’s got a bridge in Brooklyn he’d like to sell you.
‘Puter’s a transactional attorney practicing in a lucrative (for investors, not as much so for ‘Puter) niche in the financial markets. Think “middle market nonperforming commercial debt portfolios acquisitions and workouts for hedge funds” and you’re close. ‘Puter’s been privileged to do such work for 20 years or so now, all of it for a privately held company. ‘Puter tells you this not to brag, but so you have a better sense of where he’s coming from when he tells you the following.
America’s f*cked, well and truly f*cked.
Why? Because America no longer fosters an economy where anyone with skill, initiative and a good idea can succeed beyond her wildest dreams.
America’s become a place where people get rich (and stay rich) based on who they know, not what they can do. America is no longer a capitalist nation with regulations designed to promote equality of opportunity. It’s a crony capitalist nation with regulations designed to promote inequality of outcome.
Income inequality, no matter how much liberals wish it were so, is not a major issue in this country. Sure, the rich have a metric buttload of money. Sure, the poor don’t have two nickels to rub together. But America existed like that for centuries, from the colonial era wealthy plantation owners, to the post-Civil War filthy rich industrialists, to the early 20th century robber barons, to the post-WWII military industrial complex, to the 1990s tech giants, to today’s financial barons. America has always had and will always have income inequality.
America’s problem is corporations and certain wealthy individuals have captured government regulators. Together, corporations and government created a new beast, similar in effect to the robber baron’s monopolies but different in form. ‘Puter calls these malevolent new hybrids kleptopolies, derived for the Greek words for “thieving greedy criminal crony bastards.”
Corporations no longer need purchase and consolidate industries themselves. That work’s below them now. Today, corporations hire swarms of predatory lobbyists to pay government regulators to regulate away their competition. Lobbyists get paid, regulators get better paying private sector jobs and corporations get their nascent competitors strangled in their cribs. Monopolies and kleptopolies differ in methods, but their effects are the same.
Teddy Roosevelt, America’s great Progressive trust-buster, is spinning in his grave. His trust-busting government regulators of old have become enthusiastic partners in creating America’s kleptopolies. Government officials routinely “transition” from public service to private industries they previously regulated, using their connections with their former government employers to game the system for high paying private sector clients.
And this brings us back to ‘Puter. As noted, ‘Puter’s doing fine. ‘Puter expects to keep doing fine for the remainder of his career. See, ‘Puter’s industry’s relatively captured. Financial industry regulators work to maintain high barriers to entry in the banking industry while at the same time turning a blind eye to the consolidation of risk occurring at breakneck pace after the 2008 meltdown. With the consolidation of risk, banks (on their own or at the insistence of regulators) sell their bad paper, of which there is no shortage. Hence, ‘Puter’s relative job security.
But job security’s not the norm these days, particularly for the middle class and even more particularly for the unskilled. Kleptopolies stifle growth and innovation, killing jobs that would have been created but for oppressive government regulation and thereby further depressing wages for those fortunate enough to have jobs. The jobs killed aren’t predominantly at the top end of the pay scale. The jobs killed are the entrepreneur’s jobs, the lower and middle management jobs, the semi-skilled blue collar jobs. The jobs killed are the jobs that enable lower and middle class workers to better themselves economically.
No matter how much liberals want to blame income inequality for today’s economic ills, it’s not the true cause. Hell, income inequality isn’t even a symptom of our current economic ills, rather a fixed feature of all capitalist systems. In a properly functioning capitalist system, workers receive wages commensurate with their skill, the rarity of their skills and their efforts. Of course a meritocratic system will have wide variances in income.
Government regulation in service of private industry and the resultant kleptopolies are the primary causes of our economic ills. Saying so certainly doesn’t benefit ‘Puter and his fellow upper income, middle-aged, white male patriarchs, but it’s the truth.
America’s economy will not meaningfully improve for the middle and lower classes until we insist government break up the kleptopolies just as Teddy Roosevelt once busted the trusts. Until that day, economic improvement for the vast majority of Americans will be nothing more than a dream.
* Although ‘Puter would like to kill The Czar and his ministers, that’s not going to happen. The Czar’s a light sleeper and always sleeps with his battle axe which he affectionately calls Molly. It’s creepy really, Czar’s affection for his battle axe, but that’s for another day.
Always right, unless he isn’t, the infallible Ghettoputer F. X. Gormogons claims to be an in-law of the Volgi, although no one really believes this.
’Puter carefully follows economic and financial trends, legal affairs, and serves as the Gormogons’ financial and legal advisor. He successfully defended us against a lawsuit from a liquor distributor worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid deliveries of bootleg shandies.
The Geep has an IQ so high it is untestable and attempts to measure it have resulted in dangerously unstable results as well as injuries to researchers. Coincidentally, he publishes intelligence tests as a side gig.
His sarcasm is so highly developed it borders on the psychic, and he is often able to insult a person even before meeting them. ’Puter enjoys hunting small game with 000 slugs and punt guns, correcting homilies in real time at Mass, and undermining unions. ’Puter likes to wear a hockey mask and carry an axe into public campgrounds, where he bursts into people’s tents and screams. As you might expect, he has been shot several times but remains completely undeterred.
He assures us that his obsessive fawning over news stories involving women teachers sleeping with young students is not Freudian in any way, although he admits something similar once happened to him. Uniquely, ’Puter is unable to speak, read, or write Russian, but he is able to sing it fluently.
Geep joined the order in the mid-1980s. He arrived at the Castle door with dozens of steamer trunks and an inarticulate hissing creature of astonishingly low intelligence he calls “Sleestak.” Ghettoputer appears to make his wishes known to Sleestak, although no one is sure whether this is the result of complex sign language, expert body posture reading, or simply beating Sleestak with a rubber mallet.
‘Puter suggests the Czar suck it.