Saturday, March 17, 2012

Unemployed or on SSD? Then You're a BUM to Charles Murray!

Make no mistake: the REAL BUMS are the money sharks and parasites on Maul Street!

In previous blogs, I excoriated the statistical boffin named Charles Murray for his arrogant takes and dismissive treatments of working class whites in his book, 'Coming Apart:The State of White America: 1960- 2010' , e.g.


In my rebuttals I observed that contrary to Murray's mythology, it is the economic system that creates immoral people, not the converse! It is also the most immoral people (e.g. the elites) who are able to profit and advance from within this corrupt system because they are privvy to all its loopholes.

Thus, the true villains have been those who unjustly profit and benefit from real moral hazard, getting away with murder in a Pareto-distribution based system. We've seen it with the S&L crisis in 1989, when staggeringly massive public bailouts were made. In effect, private entities collected massive public rewards. Same with the bailout of Long Term Capital Management in 1997, and more recently, AIG and the banks in 2008. The latter, especially, were guilty of using public money - put into the banks on trust - to speculate in the securities markets via credit default swaps. (See the movie, 'Inside Job', if you haven't already!)

Now, Murray's most recent comeback to his critics (WSJ, 'Why Economics Can't Explain Our Cultural Divide', Mar. 17-18, p. C3) is that even if the overall economic condition of the working class were enhanced, they'd still be mostly lazy bums. In his parlance:

"Reasonably healthy males who aren't working or even looking for work...must be regarded by their fellow citizens as lazy, irresponsible and unmanly. Whatever their social class, they are, for want of a better word, bums!"

He implies in the piece that even if Repubs had essentially destroyed trade unions, and brought domestic wages down from $18 /hr (on average) or shipped 7 million jobs and industries overseas, it still behooved the working class white dudes to then work in the fields- say harvesting sugar cane, or avocados, or tomatoes or earn their keep ....else be regarded as "feckless" and "Bums". No excuses!

A guy collecting unemployment or Social security disability is therefore a bum and feckless if he's still able to stand on two feet, put one foot in front of the other - but isn't out pounding the pavement 15 hrs. a day or doing whatever work might be had or available, even field hand work at $7/hr. usually taken by illegal immigrants. Murray isn't having any excuses or suffering fools (or critics) lightly when it comes to work. If it's there....ANY kind....a proper manly male will take it for whatever amount is offered, even if there's no benefits. THERE!

This perspective on who should be called a 'bum" and "feckless" is very interesting and intriguing. Because, I would have thought the true bums and feckless imps are the rat fuckers on Wall Street who can get away with anything these days, even sitting behind their blinking monitors and flash trade computers as they drive the price of gasoline up by 50 cents a gallon each month at the touch of a finger - via speculation on oil in the Commodities Futures markets. Thus, gas prices are detached from the supply (of which we have more than ample) and the costs are increased by these speculators BETTING on increased prices! (Making the increases a self-fulfilling prophecy and putting money in their slimey pockets.)

To me these guys are not only bums but degenerates and criminals! Also the ones identified in one of the most famous exposes ever ('License To Steal: The Secret World of Wall Street Brokers and the Systematic Plundering of the American Investor') about Wall Street tactics in screwing little guy investors. In the book the author documents the gut-wrenching details of any and every mode of chicanery from "burning yields" to "micro-cap" trading within a fund or stock in which multiple small trades are effected to ratchet up commissions, expenses. All in all, the book is a sordid repository of all the nefarious weasel tricks used by these troglydytes to steal money at will from unsuspecting customers.

So WHO is the real BUM? The guy on Social security disability at age 60 who's looked for work for 20 months and was unable to find anything that will feed his family, or the slimey little rat on Wall Street who finagles every way to screw his clients and ...oh yes....also compliments them with the epithet "dumb order flow"? I say it's the latter! Never mind he's "working" - he's working at theft!

A thief is a bum and I don't care if he's in some Gucci shoes and a Brooks Brothers $1,000 suit.

But how is it that Murray has gone so far wrong in perverting the meaning of "bum" and "feckless" and applying it to those who are victims of a corrupt economic system based on Vilfredo Pareto's model, e.g.


The answer here is because he treats those receiving any social assistance as willing recipients of a moral hazard committed by the government, but he overlooks those parasites and predators who game the system to serve their own ends. In other words, for people like Murray (mainly Libertarians) moral hazard is largely a one-way street. The workless working class (or even middle class) dudes are in it up to their eyeballs, and the predators at Goldman, or wherever, are not. (Which is why Greg Smith's recent revelations in The New York Times on the culture at Goldman shouldn't come as any major surprise. Fact is, it's endemic on Maul Street).

In this sense, a much more important tract-book to read is that by University of Pennsylvania prof Tom Baker: On the Genealogy of Moral Hazard,”

He notes that: “Moral hazard signifies the perverse consequences of well-intentioned efforts to share the burdens of life, and it also helps deny that refusing to share those burdens is mean-spirited or self-interested.

But the question that occurs is why this attribution and designation is so selective? Tending to focus on the missteps, benefits (earned or unearned) or foibles of ordinary working class people- having no problem labeling them "feckless" or "bums" but overlooks the real bums ensconced in hedge funds, giant banks or Commodity Futures Trading floors. Notably here, Baker also adds (ibid.):

"The economics of moral hazard work to convince us that, however well intentioned, social responsibility is a bad thing,”

And this is critical, because it is the core of Libertarian ideology which Murray has always embraced. If you doubt it, read Ayn Rand's The Virtue of Selfishness, and the extent to which she demonizes and castigates anyone who would help another in an act of unvarnished altruism. TO Rand, such people are little better than rodents. To Rand, in that same book, all human transactions if they are to be valued, must be predicated on trade and it is the "trader" who is the noblest human of them all.

Only the trader is able to effect objective value within the scope of his trading, because as a rationalist he will never trade for an item unless there is equal value in what he seeks. By contrast, the altruist is sub-human because he or she sacrifices values and worth willingly without any deals. To just stop on the road, and perform the act of a Samaritan when a driver is trapped under his car or in it? That to Rand is the epitome of foolishness because there is no upside trade for the Samaritan. He or she is an idiot to stick his or her neck out.

Take Rand's ideology and reshape it to the work world, and be sure to call anything that smacks of giving to others (including gov't benefits) and you have Charlie Murray's world of moral hazard - which applies strictly to people who need help, not to the rich white rats in suits on Maul Street.

No comments: