Two recent events have elicited reactions from participants
The recent Israeli attack on the the Hamas military resupply flotilla (as it must surely be called in U.S. media) forced Patrick Buchanan (Wikipedia)—perhaps most famous for having such stridently and racist nationalistic views that the fact that so many Florida Jews voted for him was cited as proof that something was rotten in Florida in the 2000 presidential election—to write the article, Lift the Siege of Gaza (Antiwar.com). In all fairness—and ignoring his checkered past—this is a wonderful article, filled with humanistic and eminently logical sentiment. He exhorts “President Obama [to] end his and his country’s shameful silence over the inhumane blockade of Gaza that is denying 1.5 million beleaguered people the basic necessities of a decent life.”
Does it really take a Buchanan to point out for us that, while Israel is only an ally of sorts (no formal treaty), Turkey—the country under whose aegis the Marvi Marmara sailed—is an official ally with an actual treaty and a fellow NATO member nation. And yet, “[w]hy are we not at least even-handed between our friends?” (Again, citing Buchanan.) Does it take a Buchanan to point out that we should stand for some modicum of decency and justice instead of just going along with “whatever Israel decides to do in the name of her security”? This can no longer possibly be the will of the American people…given that they even have a will anymore, to say nothing of a pulse.
The opinion piece, And now, a moment of populism (The Economist), appeared recently, discussing the machinations of Billionaire Edward Lampert in order to pay as little tax as possible on his fortune. He is worth approximately $3 billion. The article describes the series of loopholes by which he aims to keep as much of that as possible.
“The [E]conomist thing to say is that it’s obviously rational to avoid taxation when possible […] [b]ut let’s be honest for a moment. If [Lampert] earns just 1% per year on that fortune—and he certainly earns much more—then he takes home $30 million in income. Per year. That’s 600 times the median household income in America. It’s more money than a person can reasonably spend. […] As far as I can tell, this is entirely within the law. But I don’t think it’s improper to declare it obscene. Shameful, even. […] You can afford to be a grown-up and pay the same taxes as everyone else. (Emphasis added.)”
Now that would ordinarily be enough for the Economist. The British economics magazine most well-known for its nearly unswerving dedication to anything that deigns itself “free-market” or can be construed to be naked capitalism had clearly done enough for one day. With the paragraph above, they had chastised a rogue of the financial world, an outlaw whose activity needs to be reigned in lest his behavior harm the reputations of all the other upstanding capitalists who form the pantheon of the Economist.
But they didn’t stop there; instead, the article goes on to note that there is something very rotten, not in Denmark, but in the financial press and the U.S., in particular.
“It sounds horribly populist to say so, but the fact that this kind of behaviour is lauded in the financial press when it ought to be scorned is a real problem. It’s a problem in that it reveals big money men to be as brazen in their behaviour as they were before the crash. But it’s also an indicator that something remains broken in America’s attitude toward wealth. (Emphasis added.)”
That’s not only a categorical denunciation of much of what has happened in the last several decades—because the attitude prevalent today is nearly wholly unchanged from that of the 80s—it’s nearly an accusation levied against America for engendering the philosophy that led to the ongoing financial crisis.
As with Buchanan above, why can the American financial press not lead the way in denouncing this socially irresponsible behavior? Where is the Wall Street Journal? Ah, in Rupert Murdoch’s pocket, of course. Not that it was of much use on ethical questions before its purchase by the notoriously predatory media magnate.