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The real reason for grope-athon and porn-scanners

2010 November 21
by Ian Welsh

Matt Stoller notes:

Why does flying sucks more today? Rich people fly in private jets, so the powerful no longer hear complaints from their friends.

This comes back to what I wrote before, but with respect to public schools and the Iraq war.  If important people don’t have skin in the game, things don’t get fixed and the quality of whatever experience they don’t experience doesn’t get better.  Everyone, most especially the rich and powerful, must fly on the same planes, must be subject to the draft, must have their kids go to the same schools and so on.  Only then will the general quality be high.

To the extent possible the rich have created an entire alternative structure: they don’t fly on the same planes, their kids don’t go to the same schools, they don’t fight in the wars, they have hotels that you will never enter (can you afford 50K a night?)  They live in a system parallel to that of ordinary people.

The rich must never, ever, be allowed to opt out of the shared social and economic experience.  Fly first class?  Sure, but not on private jets.   Drive in a limo?  Sure, but not fly in a helicopter avoiding congestion.  Get a room to themselves in the hospital?  Sure, but not jump the queue for treatment in front of anyone.

As soon as you let money allow people to avoid the queue entirely, those people with power will not care about what is happening to ordinary people anymore.

This is true of general inequality as well.  Why don’t the rich take the decline of the middle class seriously?  Why aren’t they extending UI?  Why do they yawn about the current economic crisis?  Why did they do nothing to stop it from happening when any idiot could see it coming?

Because it’s not their experience.  For over 30 years they have gotten rich, rich, rich!  Everyone they know who matters to them — their friends, their spouses, their mistresses and boy-toys, their children — are doing not “just fine” but gangbusters!  And after the 2008 financial collapse, their wealth has rebounded and corporate profits are at near all-time highs.

Life is good, baby!  There aren’t any real problems.  Not for the rich.  And, as George Bush so memorably said, “who cares what you think?”

The porno-scanners are making important people rich, and those important people fly on private jets.  So, what exactly is the problem?

I don’t see a problem…

24 Responses
  1. guest permalink
    November 21, 2010

    Can’t argue with that, but the best part is the word porno scanner in the headline. I’m mostly concerned about the radiation. I don’t mind the gropes, but if calling it a porno scanner gets them removed that much sooner, I’m adding it to my vocabulary. And maybe I should take some viagra and a cockring to my next flight. I want to be prepared for my close-up, Mr DeMille.

  2. Mary Braunch permalink
    November 21, 2010

    excellent Ian..These molestations reduce security and potentially encourage evil doers . TSA employees are required to over-handle non-threats. Should an actual incident arise airport security would be too overwhelmed and distracted to perform any “terrorism abatement”…

  3. Cloud permalink
    November 21, 2010

    Funny how the words “republican” and “liberal” completely flipped meanings over the centuries.

    The rich must never, ever, be allowed to opt out of the shared social and economic experience. True. A republican belief, as opposed to a liberal-individualistic one.

    Maybe I should start a local political party (I live in Utah) known as the New Republicans — in the sense of the French Revolution and the Radical Republicans of the 1860s, but not everybody needs to be told that right away…

  4. November 21, 2010

    heh, the Puppy barks.

    this isn’t new. indeed, it’s pretty common and usually has been, in most parts of the world. look at many african nations; the extremes between rich and poor are myriad. the “shock” of the realization that such a dual system of privilege can exist only comes to middle class westerners who’ve always believed “it can’t happen to me! i did everything right, and my skin is the correct color.”

    no. you aren’t special. and for some of your (darker, poorer) neighbors, such inequality has *always* been in effect. (not dissing you, Ian, of course)

    as one of the Fallen, i have to admit it’s really amusing to me to watch it happen to others of my former class. again, not dissing Matt per se, just noting how this general narrative is popping up all over the place these days. “what do you mean, the Rule of Law and the ideal of the representative democratic republic of laws are dead? that just can’t beeeeeee!!!1!”

    welcome to the club. or should i say… the dreaded R word?

  5. anon2525 permalink
    November 21, 2010

    If important people don’t have skin in the game, things don’t get fixed and the quality of whatever experience they don’t experience doesn’t get better.

    It’s also a significant part of the reason that the way medical services are paid for was not reformed this year. People in congress are not at risk of being unable to get medical services (they have a subsidized “insurance” plan). Their family is not at risk, their friends are not at risk. Everyone that they know and associate with is taken care of, so they’ll happily listen to lobbyists and campaign contributors and let them write the legislation. If they, their spouses, their children, their siblings, their in-laws, their colleagues were at risk of not getting whatever medical services they needed, then we might have seen speeches and filibusters to get actual reform.

  6. anon2525 permalink
    November 21, 2010

    And, as George Bush so memorably said, “who cares what you think?”

    He repeated this in the excerpts of his interview that I have heard. He would be told that “critics say” or “people say”, and before the statement could be completed, he would blurt out “Don’t care!”

    “We have here a gathering of the Haves…and the Have Mores… or, as I like to call you, My Base.”

  7. S Brennan permalink
    November 21, 2010

    Normally, I agree with CDyke, but I disagree with her comment above, darker skinned elites get off the plane in the US and start beyond the dreams of a college educated son/daughter of working class white folks. Yes, racism is real and prevalent, but the deciding factor is now class. That was the point of Obama…obedient, subservient, submissive, docile, compliant…thinking of a word..starts with T.

    Only the most obsequious will be allowed to purchase a ticket for the raffle drawing that allows further advancement. We have regressed so much, we are almost feudal. That is what makes Obama historic.

    So many black men have stood against upper class oppression, willing to die for justice MLK, Mandela, Malcolm…to name a few. The elite needed to taint the brand, having no contact with black America until age 24, Obama was the perfect tool for this “historic” subterfuge.

  8. ekittyglendower permalink
    November 21, 2010

    The same can be said about Disneyland, Disneyworld, Universal Studio, etc, hence the reason I no longer go. When I went, my family had scraped and saved in order to go. However, the last time when we were unable to see any shows and only ride a couple of rides within a day, the waste of our money was evident. For an additional big sum of money, often twice and trice the amount of the original ticket, one can purchase a VIP pass that bypasses all the lines. I watched as I waited for the tram at Universal Studio that took us an hour and half to get on while many VIP people were able to catch the very next tram as all the peasants who paid base price had their time squandered waiting in line.

  9. Ian Welsh permalink*
    November 21, 2010

    So basically don’t go if you can’t afford the VIP prices. Interesting.

  10. Bernard permalink
    November 21, 2010

    Basically, they are pulling up the drawbridge and shutting the castle door. Only those who can pay, green is the new color that matters.

    The deciding factor has always been class, just cleverly packaged. Madison Ave. marketing geniuses know what they have been doing. and they have been “marketing” us for a long time.

    the tool of racism: black/white is just one part of the whole strategy. divide and conquer while we rob you BLIND! they are laughing all the way to the private island/Swiss bank account. Have been for a long long time.

  11. guest permalink
    November 21, 2010

    I didn’t know the Disney parks were like that. Never been and have had zero interest in going, at least since age of 12. But I hear my breeder siblings of the fascist affiliation go there regularly. Especially now that the redneck riviera is poisoned with corexit. I wonder if they fork over the VIP prices or seethe in line with the untermenschen. Now I have something to ask them at Thanksgiving. Thanks!

  12. Ian Welsh permalink*
    November 21, 2010

    I’ve considered going to Disney World for the experience. But my line waiting tolerance is… minimal.

  13. jcapan permalink
    November 21, 2010

    “I didn’t know the Disney parks were like that. Never been and have had zero interest in going, at least since age of 12″

    Ditto that. Though as a breeder (one and done), I may have a battle where Tokyo Disney is concerned.

    In any event, please post again after TG–would love to hear about that family “conversation” turns out.

  14. November 21, 2010

    I went to Universal Studios this summer as a side trip before a conference in LA and paid the after-4pm VIP price (about half the price of an all-day VIP ticket). I did get the tram quickly, and that part was kind of fun, but soon after discovered that there was nothing I was really interested in doing (not a rides person, and the shows I caught didn’t impress). There’s a lot of nice places to eat there but you don’t have to pay for a pass to do that and you don’t have to drive out to Universal Studios to find excellent food in LA.

    But if it turns out you like that sort of thing, Universal Studios is a very convenient way to experience it, as it is compact and conveniently located compared, to, say Disneyland, which is only convenient if you live in/near Anaheim, and it’s not *ludicrously* expensive for the VIP pass, I would say, speaking as someone who was entertaining himself on a budget.

    MUCH more fun IMO (and not far from Universal) is the Getty Center, and if you find a way to avoid parking there, it is free.

  15. November 21, 2010

    On the matter of the gropeathon, I’m half convinced they’re racheting it up enough to get a public outcry so that they can implement racial profiling. I’ve heard no shortage of complaints from conservative and “independent” complainers that they should adopt the “Israeli solution” which is code for racial profiling. (The actual Israeli solution is (a) usually presented with a thumb on the scale and (b) totally dependent on a pre-sorted population of true-citizens and “obvious” Fifth-columnists).

  16. November 21, 2010

    Mandos:
    Did you know that Yglesias went there recently? IIRC, he wasn’t very pleased with the process. From what I gather, they even harass American Jews. The only ones that get a free pass are Israeli Jews. So it’s not as pleasant a process as the RWNJ’s think.

  17. November 21, 2010

    I did, in fact. And he is (fortunately) not the only skeptic. Here’s Bruce Schneier on the Israeli model, the comments are (last I checked) very good.

  18. Stephanie permalink
    November 22, 2010

    “If important people don’t have skin in the game, things don’t get fixed and the quality of whatever experience they don’t experience doesn’t get better. Everyone, most especially the rich and powerful, must fly on the same planes, must be subject to the draft, must have their kids go to the same schools and so on. Only then will the general quality be high.”

    Wasn’t Congress originally set up so that some citizens would go to Wash D.C. to represent those at home, and then the representatives would go back home, and have to live under the laws they passed while in D.C. That, is the problem we have. Once someone is a congressperson, they get lifelong benefits, primarily health benefits, don’t know if there are others. But they seldom serve their two years and go back home, as originally intended. They become politicians and never have to live under they laws they pass. Boehner is flying first class on a public airline, but he gets no security radiation or groping cuz he’s in congress, not one of the lesser people.

    Yes, just like public schools — congresspeople, senators, the pres, don’t send their kids to public schools, will never be subject to them. And the Iraq and other wars — rich people will not have to worry about their family members not having other options.

    But of course, if there’s a deficit, all the lesser people must sacrifice, not only their dignity at the airport, but their social security benefits in old age.

    They don’t take inequality seriously because they are never subjected to it. Once elected, they are they are the ruling class…but Ian said that already.

  19. votermom permalink
    November 22, 2010

    Ok, our family has been lucky enough to go to both DisneyWorld and Universal, and while it is true that Universal will sell you a VIP pass (and you get an even better unlimited VIP pass if you stay in one of their 3 on-park hotel$), the same is NOT true for Disneyworld.

    DisneyWorld actually has a much more equal system. Anyone in the park can get a free fastpass ticket at kiosks in front of each ride, and the fastpass ticket tell you when you can come back (usually a couple of hours later) and go through the express lane. It’s free and anyone can use it, you just have to read the park brochures to find out.

    If you stay in a DW hotel, the only privilege you get is on specific days of the week you can get in one hour earlier or stay 2 hours later than other guests. This are known as Magic Hours. They are so popular that it actually makes sense to avoid parks that have a magic hour that day.

    For either US or DW, the best way to get to experience the attractions you really want to experience is to practice crowd-avoidance strategies. Plan your route to hit the big draws first and go early (as soon as the park opens) and go during the off-seasons. People who go there with no plan and stroll in at noon expecting to see everything get sorely disappointed. It’snot like going to your local amusement park where you can just wander around aimlessly.

    DW is a great experience if you can afford it, and it is actually not that expensive compared to even just staying a week at the shore. Lots of families save up a couple of years to go there and they should just do some basic research on how to most enjoy the splurge.

  20. madisolation permalink
    November 22, 2010

    To paraphrase Bush I: “Not gonna fly. Wouldn’t be prudent.”

  21. David Kowalski permalink
    November 22, 2010

    This great recession has had no impact on the super rich. The number of billionaires according to the Forbes 400 never dropped. This year unlike in 2008 or 2009 there were 400 billionaires.

    Who are these masked men (and they are mostly men)? Well they are old. While the ages range from 26 to 95, the median age is just short of 66 with 198 of the 400 aged 66 or higher and just 41 aged 49 or younger. They are white. They are male. Mostly the money comes from Wall Street inone form or another (investments, hegde funds, inheritance). Yes, even the youngsters in their 40s mostly inherit. All of those under 30 are associated with FaceBook. Throw in a few yahoos and googles and the younger group who made it on their own is pretty much accouinted for.

    As you say, these folks don’t share the same life as the rest of us. George W. Bush was not the first legal draft dodger to serve as President, but like Cleveland he presided over the start of a long, steep recession by seriously favoring the monied banker class. It’s a limited sample but proof that your thesis is right.

    Yhe back lash against these malefactors of great wealth under TR and FDR was substantial. They were regulated and taxed and as a result the United States enjoyed a long stretch of prosperity and created alarge middle class.

    What we see now is the priorities of the rich. Cops get paid more than teachers ($57 K v. $51 k nationally, but $90 k vs. $57 K here in NJ where the Gov wants toi give tax cuts to the rich and cut back teacher salaries, benefits, working conditions). We have a huge jail and prison population over 2 million that has plenty of room for drug offenders but can’t seem to find much space for the banksters and Wall Street thieves.

    Neither the administration nor the elite bothered to learn the lessons of the Depression. Income concentration is very bad. Cutting wages for 90% of the population despite making profits reduces demand sharply. Corporate profits are not an indicator of economic health. Hoover kept citing them while the number employed dropped and purchases dropped. Cutting unemployment insurance to the long tern unemployed is a disastrous idea. It has a very high multiplier unlike, say, continuing a policy of no estate taxes.

    Further I hear that the new class of Republican governors plans drastic cut backs.

    Something has to change or we are in deep doo doo, indeed. And that change means revoking or limiting the privileged status of the super rich and corporations.

  22. anon2525 permalink
    November 22, 2010

    Neither the administration nor the elite bothered to learn the lessons of the Depression.

    It is gratuitous to say it, but they learned the lessons very well — it is just that they didn’t learn the lessons that the non-right-wing learned. Instead, their “lessons” from the Depression were how to prevent the majority of the country from getting representation (in the form of legislation) in the gov’t. so as to prevent the majority from using the government to work in the majority’s favor in the form of New Deal regulation and programs. They also acquired the mass media outlets to prevent those outlets from informing the majority about this.

  23. November 23, 2010

    S Brennan: you sort of missed what i meant when i said i’m one of the Fallen. yes, i have in various times in my life, lived like the elite despite my skin color. but i’ve always known i’m mostly a token included in those spaces so that the more conservative elites can claim they’ve embraced racial equality. i also grok that many of today’s super wealthy are darker than i am, and get treated just like british royalty. but the truth is that around the world, the poor are mostly not white. if you look at things from a global perspective, the ranks of the second and even still first tier elite are chock full of pale folks.

  24. karnak12 permalink
    December 6, 2010

    Want to stop the wars? Re-institute the draft, open to everyone, no exceptions. When your number comes up, you’re in – 2 years minimum. Medical disabilities (serious ones – quadraplegics, amputees etc) and age limits (18-42, say) excepted. If you can’t see color codes correctly – tough. You get to learn how to type, or send Morse code.

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