The American ruling class

While the Royal bank of Schotland is proposing tho pay out bonnusses to the value of US$ 3 billion after it had received a bailout of US$ 30 billion just months ago just to stay afloat and it appears that almost 10.000 Banksters have charged hookers to their business accounts to the value of thousands of dollars an hour Obama (Remember? The guy that promised you change) purported to set a cap on the bonusses to be received by CEO’s of banks who receive bailouts. A good thing I hear you think. Yes, it would be if it weren’t just another piece of shite with mansize loopholes.

On Wednesday President Barack Obama announced measures that purport to restrict executive compensation to $500,000 at financial institutions receiving billions in government assistance. The figure does not include stock options, which could be redeemed after financial firms pay back loans from the federal government. Nor does it apply to the original recipients of tens of billions in TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) money.

The measures are essentially a public relations exercise. Their aim is to provide political cover for a new and even larger Wall Street bailout, which Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner will unveil next week.

Yet the discussion that has emerged in the wake of Obama’s announcement sheds light on the domination of government by a tiny financial elite and the increasingly threadbare pretense of democracy in the US. This financial aristocracy, the episode reveals, is a power to be approached on bended knee.

The media have responded to Obama’s proposal of a $500,000 limit on executive compensation, which would affect only a handful of firms, as though this were a severe and astonishing punishment. Yet the figure represents approximately 12 times the annual salary of the typical worker. To the majority of the population, a salary of a half million dollars is a staggering amount of money.

Obama’s servility before the financial aristocracy was summed up by the reassurances he gave it in announcing his limits on executive pay. “This is America,” Obama said. “We don’t disparage wealth. We don’t begrudge anybody for achieving success.”

Such a vision of America is at odds with both its present circumstances and its history, which has been characterized by deep democratic and egalitarian traditions that date back to before the Jeffersonian democracy of the early Republic. And while liberals are busy attempting to equate Obama to Franklin Roosevelt, the latter, in the midst of the Great Depression, attempted to capitalize on the tremendous contempt for the rich in the population at large by regularly issuing bromides against the “money changers.”

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